luni, 6 septembrie 2010


This film is what it says it is. Nothing less. And perhaps a little more.

Most of Machete's critics that have given overall negative reviews, have fallen into a trap of their own devices. Machete is an exploitation film and was advertised as such. By definition, and exploitation film will include excessive violence, gore, nudity, and be high on intentional corny lines while low on plot devices and character development. To give low ratings to Machete because of one's distaste for the genre, would be like saying "The Shinning was awful because I don't like horror."

This is one of Rodriguez best films to date, side by side with Sin City (2005). Machete delivers on all accounts of action, gore, nudity, and corny lines. The plot is simple, but honestly, that's how it should be. The thing that sets this apart from other exploitation films is that the acting is top notch. I personally found that the three main female characters to be the most intriguing and diverse.

Jessica Alba plays the part of an ICE agent struggling with her loyalty to her nation and her people. She slowly begins to question her own logic on if people should follow law simply because they are laws. We see this struggle immediately, when she approaches a taco stand (apparently once every week) to by a coffee and lunch, despite her own people feeling from her site. Why does she continue this ritual? She says it is to check the papers of the character Luz, but really it is to try and hold onto a sliver of identity among her people.

Michelle Rodriguez plays said Luz (aka She) as an underground leader of illegal immigration. The character of Luz is a simple woman who believes in not bending to the broken system, but fighting for her people (the mirror image of Alba). "She" is only a myth on which Luz has built a cult following, understanding that sometimes being a myth can do more damage than flesh and blood. By the end of the film, Luz is reborn as the mythical She, just in time for the bloody battle.

Finally, the actress that surprised me the most was Lindsay Lohan. Despite only receiving 10-15 minutes of screen time (most are which she is undressed), she plays her character perfectly and flawlessly. The role seems to be written specifically for her and I applaud her for stepping up and taking on such a mature role. One of her first scenes is a tongue-in-cheek conversation about how she needs to give the people of the internet what they want, and that is more of her. Lohan played the part beautifully (in all aspects) and specks of talent are clearly visible. I hope that filmmakers and audiences (as well as herself) continue to allow her opportunities to showcase that talent.

Machete is an exploitation film at its finest. And, for the most part, if you are the type of cinema attendee who wants to see a movie called Machete in the first place, chances are you will be thoroughly entertained.

marți, 31 august 2010


The plot for this film does not need to be explained. It's basically a pastiche of The Italian Job, True Romance and melodramatic clichés.

The third element in the blender, mentioned above, along with a script short on genuine character development (You'll sometimes forget that Hayden Christensen and Zoe Saldana are in it) are distracting for a film which develops a serious tone, but there are positives, depending on your genre preferences.

The film moves along briskly, even as we deal with a cringe-worthy first half, and when the actual robbery gets going, the fun starts. Though the cinematography is modeled too much off of the Bourne-style shaky cam, the set pieces are still very well pulled off.

The extended car chases and shootouts contain a level of energy and suspense that really makes them standout, comparable to similar scenes in the above mentioned films, along with an on-foot chase clearly modeling itself off of the Madagascar chase in Casino Royale. Every car whizzing by, bone crunch or gunshot affects the audience due to mostly- proper use of slow motion, and great editing, both sound and film wise.

The melodrama may make some engaged viewers start laughing due to how it's put on screen, but as the stakes get higher, gels with the storyline.

The main cast, considering the material they are given, do the best they can, and their charisma is enough for us to care about them when the stakes get REALLY high, particularly in the case of Matt Dillon and Idris Elba.

It's highly unoriginal and contains several other elements worthy of nitpicking, but after evaluating how I had spent the past 107 minutes of my life, I think it got the job done.

luni, 30 august 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

The tagline for this film is "An Epic of Epic Epicness" and I couldn't agree more. After waiting in line for 3 hours after last night's Comic-Con and finally being sat in the gorgeous Balboa Theater, I didn't know what to expect. I loved the comics and the previews looked faithful. The moment the movie starts (literally; the Universal logo and theme are 8-bit) you are thrown into a comic book atmosphere with video game references aplenty.

The plot revolves around Scott Pilgrim needing to defeat the 7 Evil Exes of Ramona Flowers in order to date her and it is a harrowing sequence of battles. Each fight is crazier than the last and some are used purely for comedy, not excitement. Almost every other line is a punchline and they all work. References to TV shows, video games and comics (just like a 20-something's life would include) are everywhere and if you accept the concept of the plot, it all feels natural.

While the audience might've been biased (we held a 10-minute standing ovation for Edgar Wright when the movie finished) there's no denying that it's an excellent film. Edgar Wright has an uncanny sense of comic timing with edits and sound cues to make the picture tight and focused when it's looking for laughs.

I can't imagine a mainstream theater erupting in applause and laughter like ours did but make no mistake; this a crowd pleaser and the MOST enjoyable film I've seen in years. Don't hesitate to watch this masterpiece in a theater near you.

Kick Ass

You know that rare feeling... happens every year or so... when you pour out of the cinema SO excited at the film you've just watched, and every other word is "ohmygodilovedtwithbitwherethey"? Well 'Ding', Kick ass hits that sweet spot. Comprising teen comedy, kick-ass action (sorry) and a healthy dose of comic book style violence and gore, it rocks.

It's Superbad meets Kill Bill.

The film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the comic book, and where tweaks have been made, they make the plot more robust for the audience to empathise with.

Kick-ass is stylish, fun, daring, and the dark surprise of violence and gore kept the balance of comic teen angst fresh: a delicious perk me up when you were settling into comedy mode. There was never a dull moment in the pace of the film, never a flimsy plot point, and actually the audience guffawed their way through the film. Did I mention it has a cool soundtrack to boot? I've already got it on my Phone.


Dom Cobb leads a highly skilled team, specializing in stealing secrets from people's minds by entering their dreams. When they are hired by a mysterious businessman, Cobb finally has a shot at redemption, but not before achieving the near impossible. Rather than stealing an idea, they must do the complete opposite: Inception. Planting the seed of an idea.

Inception has a multi-layered plot, quite literally in fact. It focuses on the emotional journey of its lead character, Cobb, but at the same time thrusts the audience into multiple levels of action packed story- telling, very distinct from one another, but all finely connected. It has been described by critics as "a film that rewards intellect", and I can assure you that it is exactly that. Director Christopher Nolan challenges the audience to keep up, and rewards those who can with a breathtaking spectacle, one that has the capability to leave you awestruck. The best part about it is that while you may feel you need to watch it again to be able to fully absorb the experience, chances are, you will probably want to.

Christopher Nolan brings his unique vision to the screen with the help of a star-studded cast, including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio (The Departed), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days Of Summer), Ellen Page (Juno), Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins), and Michael Caine (The Dark Knight), as well some amazing photography by long time collaborator Wally Pfister. The thrilling music in the film is provided by none other than Hans Zimmer, who was also set the mood for Nolan's previous film, The Dark Knight.

While it may seem simple at its outset, Inception is an extremely complex film, delving deep into the subconscious of the human mind. Technical brilliance and visual splendor have rarely blended together as beautifully. The emotional depth and explosive action complement each other perfectly, delivering a film that is at the same time both heart- wrenching and heart-pounding. It's a film that manages to engross you with its complexities, yet comes together seamlessly, and will have you at the edge of your seat, quite literally from start to finish.

Inception is magnificent.

The Expendables

Get ready to cheer. Be ready to laugh. Be ready to be amazed with wonderful, live action fighting scenes using everything from fists, to blades, to guns. I don't know how this movie avoided being cheesy, but darn it, it did! Mindless explosions? Not really. Excessive? Again, not really. I hate the sort of climax usually seen in an action movie where the pyrotechnics are the show. I want to see the actors/stunt-men doing their thing. I want to see people. I can see fireworks on the Fourth of July. (Though, trust me, there ARE fireworks in this movie, too.) The balancing of this many stars is incredible and pulled off remarkably well. When Sylvester Stallone made his final Rocky movie (Rocky Balboa), he said he did it as a "thank you" to the fans. Maybe that was the idea behind this one, too, though I heard a quote from somewhere that after seeing wimpy Tobey Maguire as "Spiderman" full of CGI and a stuffed/padded suit, he realized action heroes like himself were, well, expendable.

This is fantasy baseball and fantasy rock-n-roll camp for adults all rolled into a wonderful action flick with enough of a plot to give the characters motivation for their action. A deep plot? Heck no. A predictable plot? Certainly. But trust me, if you thought you've seen it all before, you have yet to see "The Expendables." Thank you Mr. Stallone!