Thursday, June 23, 2011

Black Death

Black Death is a hidden gem, as others have put it, and far from the Hollywood slop it so sharply contrasts. It could not be much more true to its' name, which is quite possibly the bleakest title a film can be given, while it feels genuine to its period backdrop. Everything here feels true to its' nature. And there is no excess of special effects or melodrama, or anything watered down, and instead the story is full of substance. 

In 1348, the young monk Osmund finds himself conflicted at the films start, as his secret love Avrill is fleeing their plague-ridden city and provides him the choice to meet her in the marshland. Upon asking for a sign for guidance, his monastery is visited by Ulrich and his party of Christian fundamentalists. On a mission to a village beyond the marsh in search of a necromancer and any other witches to stamp out, he asks for a guide and young Osmund obliges. Thus begins an ugly and gritty crusade across an English countryside that is riddled with fear, intolerance, and the Black Death. 

The struggle is personal as well as conceptual. For Osmund it is personal, as his love for Avrill causes him to question his own faith due to the charms and tricks of the pagans (huge plot twists underly this theme)and the brutality of the band he guides. And then the bigger picture, the struggle between the Christians and the pagans, is tastefully portrayed with an objective narrative. In the film, there are cruelties and acts of brutality inflicted from both belief systems. This was perhaps my favorite element to the movie. While personally I rooted for the pagans against the tyranny of the church, I found that my brother and I could argue over who was the demonized side, and the writing offered no kind of resolution. That the oppression of the church and the clandestine nature of the pagans only fueled one another is probably truer to history than textbooks will ever show, this movie portrays the idea brilliantly (despite the dark feel). 

If you think the movie sounds interesting, and are interested in it for plot, substance,and a gratifying experience, check this one out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Green Lantern

All I can say is that I was extremely impressed with this film. Based on the trailers, I was expecting this film to be mediocre, I was wrong. In my opinion, for a superhero film to work, it all narrows down to special effects and the acting. For this movie, both are great. This movie may not have been as good as X-men: First Class or The Dark Knight, but it is an above average superhero movie. Ryan Reynolds is good as always and Mark Strong delivered a strong performance as well. This movie is heavy on special effects and they are SPECTACULAR. The dialogue is nothing new but don't expect it to be excellent given the fact that its a superhero movie. Overall, this movie was very well done and I liked it a whole lot more than I thought it would. Hopefully this may be the first of many Green Lantern movies because this has the potential to become a great movie franchise.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Fox can breath easy again because I think it's safe to say the even the extreme fanboys will be putting down their pitchforks and torches and smile after seeing this amazing film. I know for a fact that general audiences are going to love this movie. I know some fans can be irrational and hold on to their hate because they expect certain things they read in their books but I can't seeing anyone being that irrational when faced with a result that delivers what First Class manages to deliver. It honestly is a genre-defining movie on a level with any comic based film that has come before it. Everything in this movie is exceedingly better than what Fox delivered in their last two efforts with this franchise. Going back to the beginning and re-hiring the guy that brought us those films was a splendid idea. The acting here is superb and the dialogue is rich. Every character feels absolutely believable no matter what abilities they have on display. No cartoonish villains or cheese in sight, every side of the issue is presented by people who believe they are the ones who are in the right and the underlying message of tolerance and bigotry only add to the depth of this film. If not a genre-defining movie than maybe it redefines the comic book genre. It restores the sense of epic adventure and grand-scale storytelling that we saw in X2. In fact, it perfectly complements that great film and probably surpasses it.

This film is to X2 what Godfather 2 was to the Godfather. Seriously, First Class is an exceptional "flashback" look that links the best of the X-Men trilogy to the past. Instead of DeNiro playing young Vito Corleone we get James McAvoy as young Charles Xavier. Marlon Brando and Patrick Stewart made their respective characters popular but both were more fleshed out by incredible younger talent. I'm not placing the X-Men film itself on a par with the Godfather but both have become legendary in their particular genre. I am, however, saying McAvoy has a bright future as a complex and talented actor. Just like the young cast of Godfather 2 was legendary, the young cast of First Class has many great days and projects ahead of them.

Love this entire cast but Michael Fassbender delivers the best performance with an amazing presence and command of the screen. Everyone was extraordinary. What many expected indeed happens. By that I mean every scene that Fassbender and McAvoy are in together absolutely sing. It won't surprise anyone to know that Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt and Jennifer Lawrence are superb in supporting roles but Nicholas Hoult did stunning work as the Beast and deserves some love as well. January Jones and Rose Byrne are hot as can be but aren't just simple eye candy. Sure, the story is compelling and the action is amazing but the performances elevate this movie far above a common summer flick.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm sorry everyone! I got off to summer and just didn't look back. Look forward to some new posts though in the coming weeks. There are some great movies coming out this summer, and some that have already come out!

Again, I'm sorry for the silence, but look for some great material in the up coming weeks. We have some great movies and some fantastic music festivals this summer. Some of the highlights being The Green Lantern, Captain America, and Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2. I'll also be heading to Knoxville, TN to see Framing Hanley at The Valarium in July.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fast Five

Sure the original was something fresh, new, and somewhat original. But the sequels have been anything but. Yeah i know it's high octane fun, but you can say the same thing about Michael Bay films. Am i saying that these sequels are as bad as Michael Bay films? No, but each one offers nothing new, well, unless you count drifting, and that isn't saying a lot. Hopefull this new installment can bring something fresh to the table.

I never thought i would say this, but i actually enjoyed this movie. I went in with low expectations, and came out pretty damn satisfied. Sure the movie had a lot of the same moving parts, but what really made this one stand out is how it actually changed the pace of how they normally do things.

First, they didn't have a damn drag race every 10 minutes. In fact, they barely had any. Which really is a genius idea, because when the time did come to have an awesome driving sequence, you were begging for it. Finally, someone with brains stepped into this movie and said let's save all of our bullets and unleash them in the end.

So with a series that relies heavily on their driving sequences and less on their script, how do you keep your audience entertained? Well, the first step is to incorporate another major actor, enter The Rock. Next, you really need to buff up your script. Okay, here is where it gets both good and bad. It's good because the movie takes a ton of it's credit from the "Ocean 11" films. Yeah, it's stealing an idea, but it injecting more action into it, which is pretty cool. But the reason why i say it's also bad, is because it's still packed with bad cheesy one-liners, poor acting, and some really tarnished plot outlines. But does that take anything away from the fun.......not really.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Water for Elephants

The film completely fulfilled my expectations. It is a well scripted, meticulously shot and finely acted period drama, the likes of which are increasingly less to come by at the movies these days. A big congratulations to all those involved with the production for having the confidence to delve into this venture. Actually I am very curious about its box-office. Last year was a surprisingly profitable year for adult dramas and if that is any indication, this fine film should continue the same trend.

Water For Elephants really impresses with the production design, atmosphere, costumes and stunts. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a classic film made during the studio era; it looked that authentic and faultless. The three main actors all seem satisfied for having such meaty parts and deliver more than satisfactory performances. Robert Pattinson shines and proves that he is capable as a serious actor. Reese Witherspoon has always been a true professional and here with her stunts demonstrates that again. She also fits surprisingly well to the 1930s platinum blonde beauty type. Christopher Waltz is a wonderful actor and here it becomes very clear that his success in Inglorious Basterds was not a one-off. The story is very emotional and while it touches the heart romantically, it also manages to lay down a heretofore unseen dark aspect of old era circus entertainment in particular and also crowd entertainment as a whole. I almost wished for a three hour epic after it ended; it left me wanting more. The whole thing was really interesting.

All in all a wonderful and deeply satisfying experience at the movies, well worth every dime. Go see it so that adult dramas of this caliber (in terms of star power, production budget and subsequent attention to detail) could continue to be made.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Another outstanding effort, Marvel does it again! It's hard to believe that a movie with this subject matter can make you think and challenge all your movie viewing skills but it does so and more. It's very artistic and you would expect no less from Kenneth Branagh. He presents the entire film in a way that can be savored. Many aspects are classical drama and yet other aspects are just plain old fun kick-butt action scenes. It's a perfect blend and this movie is far deeper then I would've thought. The pacing was perfect as is the link to the Marvel movie Universe... I can't wait to see what Captain America brings us. Overall, a summer movie that's superior to everything else that I've seen in years.

The director's background in Shakespearian themes comes in to play right from the beginning of the film and run throughout. Thor is a super-strong "god" and can travel through space with supernatural powers yet the story is paradoxical and contrary about those elements instead choosing to focus on the human elements. THAT elevates this film far beyond anything I was expecting but I should have known better considering the source material and the director.

The genuine and relatable qualities of these characters are what make it a great film. Sure, the action and fantasy are incredible but the story works so well. The family dynamics between fathers & sons along with sibling rivalry and the price of vanity and lack of humility all resonate. The choices made and the relationships on display are as wonderful as the brawling and action... which are as good as any summer movie that I've seen in years.