Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nu Metro new release: Piranha 3D

Director Alexander Aja clearly kept four crucial elements in mind as he was making Piranha 3D: Boobs, Piranhas, mutilated human flesh and more boobs. And while this might sound like the recipe for a disastrously corny, cheesy film, it all comes together surprisingly well.

Aja's previous work, includes some horrible misses (Mirrors) as well as some terrifically disturbing hits (The Hills have eyes). Piranha 3D joins his list of successes, mainly due to the movie's total lack of pretence - Piranha 3D utilises its simple, unimaginative premise (a thought-to-be extinct species of killer piranhas treat  themselves to a beefy buffet of drunk teens on Spring break) to the full extent, resulting in a superficial horrorfest with just the right amount of awesome scares and intensely gory scenes of Piranha-induced carnage.

The movie's 3D effects may be some of the best I've had the honour of experiencing (for a horror film), as it is used sparingly but effectively to heighten the movie's most visually impressive and frightening moments.The fishy villains come over as terrifyingly viscous and unforgiving, giving the movie a wonderful sense of aqueous dread (rivalling the sense of dread in 'Jaws') that doesn't let go until the final victim meets his pitiful end at the 'hands' of these clever monsters.

 "...a superficial horrorfest with just the right amount of awesome scares and intensely gory scenes of Piranha-induced carnage."

Special mention must also be awarded to the movie's amazing cinematography (especially the underwater scenes) that contributes to the building of a thick layer of tension, as viewers are constantly clueless in regards to who will be fish food next.

The familiar ensemble cast (with only a few unknowns and two actual porn stars) play their victim roles convincingly, with Jerry O'Connell (Tom Cats, Body shots) serving for most of the comedic relief as an asshole porn director and Elisabeth Shue (Hollow man, Hide and Seek) as the protective supermom who does everything in her power to prevent her family from being eaten by aquatic carnivores. The film's actual protagonist (Steven McQueen) is so unsure of himself that he quickly fades into the scenery, giving one more time to enjoy all the horrific goriness and screams of agony from the rest of the cast.

Piranha 3D doesn't set any new ground or deliver any mentionable insights - it instead settles for great entertainment value that will leave you reconsidering your December holiday plans...

Highlight: 1. Spring break gets interrupted by the fishy fiends when hundreds of irresponsible teens get gorged, mainly due to their inability to heed the warnings of the coastal police force. 2. The movie's two adult entertainment stars shoot a tantalizing underwater 'mermaid' scene, totally ignorant of the impending doom heading their way.

See this as payback for being such an asshole to Dam Humphrey! xoxo

Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails

Thursday, October 28, 2010

M-Net Monday night Drama: Adam

Even at its worst moments, 'Adam' gives its viewer an interesting take on the world of people with mental disabilities, mainly due to its focus on a less well known form of mental retardation, known as Asperger's Syndrome - a mental disease that hampers one's social skills dramatically, as well as the ability to express one's emotions clearly.

At its best however, Adam is surprisingly honest and acted with supreme sensitivity. What is even more heartening is director's Max Mayer's ability to prevent the film from going down the route of melodrama, something that happens very often in movies that focus on a very real and serious form of disability.

In fact, Adam (played with excellent style by High Dancy) manages to become a type of symbol for man's constant sense of disconnectedness with those close to him, even though we continuously struggle to function without the affection of other human beings. This thick thread of irony is cleverly spun and developed as the movie progresses, rounded off beautifully by a unpredictable but honest ending.

While the movie isn't perfect (pacing could have been better and a stronger soundtrack could have done wonders), Adam delivers its agenda so effectively that you're sure to ponder its applicability on your own life long after the credits have rolled.

Social awkwardness 101.

Rating: 3-and-a-half Meerkat Tails

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Now @ NuMetro: Machete (Robert Rodriguez)

If you can forgive extreme profanity, unrealistic blood fountains, a predictable and choppy story and painfully bad dialogue, then there's really nothing holding you back from enjoying Robert Rodriquez's latest bloodfest - aptly named after its hero's favourite weapon, 'Machete'.

Spending time on unraveling Machete's plot is totally pointless as the plot itself only serves as an attempted mechanism for giving the gruesome (and often hilarious) scenes of violence a platform of execution.

But it is in this never-ending list of obvious shortcomings that lies the movie's greatest beauty: Yes, Machete is supposed to be horrible, unoriginal and awesomely cheezy. Machete is in fact a spoof of itself, cleverly utilizing all the elements characteristic of B-grade action films to make fun of itself as well as the genre it is portraying.

"Best viewed with a large popcorn and slush 
or 10 years later on E-TV."

As soon as the movie-goer realizes and accepts this fact, Machete can be enjoyed in its full glory as a humorous and silly, but insanely fun take on America's border control legislation and those who enforce as well as oppose it. The movie also has a surprisingly lot to say about propaganda and how it is still used as an effective political campaign promoter (but this is definitely not explored deeply enough to make you question your views on the subject).

The movie also benefits from a star studded list of actors, that include Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Danny Trejo and the king of cheezy action movies himself, Steven Segal. Lindsay Lohan must also be commended for being willing to play a character very similar to herself, serving as a great chunk of irony that becomes more and more ridiculous as the movie progresses.

Machete joins the list of Rodriguez's films (like Once upon a time in Mexico) that are destined to be misinterpreted, but those who 'get' its amazing horridness will find themselves laughing all the way to the credits.

Best viewed with a Large popcorn and Slush or 10 years later on E-TV.

Highlights: 1. Machete's undeniable charm with the ladies is so irresistible, that he finds that he needs very few words to win their respect and admiration in the bedroom. 2. A discussion about the length of the human intestines inspires Machete to test the validity of the discussions' claims in the form of an unbelievably cheezy action sequence.

"Machete don't text." He is however very fond of killing and rough sex.

Ranking: 3-and-a-half Meerkat Tails (Add half-a-tail if you love brain-dead violence)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Look & Listen DVD: Iron man 2

While not as funny or exhilarating as the first, Iron man 2 still follows the same effective formula that made its predecessor so ridiculously successful. Downey once again steals the show, proving his confident words in the movie to be totally true: "I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one".

Johansson plays a subdued, slightly out-of-place member of the Avengers, with Rourke and Rockwell standing in as great villains. The uncomplicated script works well, but seems to move a bit slow in certain parts.

Nonetheless, a great addition to the Iron Man saga.

Who wears the suit? Stark wears the suit.

Ranking: 4 Meerkat Tails

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Showing at NuMetro: Män som hatar kvinnor (The girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

At first glance, 'The girl with the dragon Tattoo' will seem like an extremely inaccessible movie, something that will threaten  many mainstream audience members (some ignorant few will even get put off by the idea of watching a movie with subtitles). But after hearing the news that the movie will be showed at standard Nu-Metro cine's around the country, I started to have my doubts about how 'arty' this movie really is...

My doubts proved to be justified, as this Swedish beauty follows a relatively formulaic approach to the  mystery suspense/drama (as made famous by Hollywood), instantly reminding me of the work done by American Director, Ron Howard in the series of film adaptations of Dan Brown's Da Vinci code.

'The girl with the dragon Tattoo' however opts for a much safer central subject matter than that of 'Da Vinci code', resulting in a movie that is easier to follow, easier to get into, but at the same time, a little less profound. This, however proves to be the movie's greatest strength, as director Niels Arden Oplev balances his simple presence with a visceral level of graphical violence that gives the movie an impressive degree of poignancy. 

The movie's relatively safe subject matter also makes the movie premise (as well as the actual plot unravellings) totally believable, giving the director an ample amount of freedom to explore darker waters, (like the long-term effect of sexual abuse) without alienating the viewer. The movie must also be commended for its ability to keep itself from drowning in the finer details of the plot, as this has proven to be one of the biggest pitfalls of the mystery/suspense genre over the last few years.

Add to this almost perfect pacing, honest performances by the two leads (Noomi Rapace deserves special praise) and you get a movie that is extremely polished and enthralling. I truly hope that the movie does well at the local box office (it did horribly in the US), as I look forward to seeing this trilogy of films play itself out. 

* Not as good as David Fincher's 'Zodiac', but very close to it.

"You want to see my tattoo of a dragon, don't you?" 

Ranking: 4 Meerkat Tails (Subtract 4 if you can't be bothered to read subtitles)

Monday, October 18, 2010

M-Net Sunday night movie: Funny People

The greatest compliment that one can give Funny People is that it's just as funny as Judd Apatow's most successful films ('The 40-Year-old-virgin' and 'Knocked up'). But unlike Judd's previous successes, Funny people has a much darker and chewy centre, resulting in a very grown-up movie that won't strike a cord with all of Apatow's fans. 

One gets the feeling through the very ambitious 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime that this movie was a true labour of love for Apatow. And while not every single moment is brilliance, the movie comes together beautifully, revealing a lot about the lives of people that have made it their jobs to keep others happy and entertained – with specific focus on the burden these entertainers carry, a burden their legion of adoring fans are completely ignorant of.

The second part of the movie does however feel a bit detached from the first, but in retrospect, contributes tremendously to the overall impact of this deep and surprisingly sombre comedy (verging on the edge of black comedy classification). Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen deliver their bromantic roles well, with Eric Bana stealing the limelight in the last part of the film (part due to extremely clever dialogue and part due to Bana's surprise role). An exceptionally diverse and experienced ensemble cast (and a few brilliant cameos) serves for the rest of the movie's best dry comedic moments.

Mainstream comedy lovers will like, but not love this movie - anyone that appreciates a daring concept and execution will however find a lot to fall in love with. Highly recommended.

Highlight: A special appearance by Eminem will leave you in stitches and stands as a testament to the impressive amount of small extra touches included to give the movie a sense of pertinence. 

Funny People daringly mocks it's own genre and more specifically, the exact type of slapstick its lead is most well-known for. Bravo. 

Ranking: 4 Meerkat Tails (Add half-a-tail if you've forgiven Sandler for atrocities like 'Little Nicky')

Friday, October 15, 2010

Look & Listen DVD spotlight: Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-ass is an awesome visual punch in the groin, as characters are continuously and gloriously beaten to a pulp to great cinematic success. This distinctly authentic take on the superhero genre spoils its audience with a refreshing departure from the formulaic approach used by the last few year's constant stream of new additions to the genre.

This results in an unexpected, but thrilling ride that seems to get to the core of what it means to be a real-life modern superhero. The movie could however have benefited from a more convincing performance by its lead, but this is easily forgiven in the greater scheme of things.

In-between all of the bloodshed, you might also find the movie's focus on some interesting themes like responsible parenting; dedication to a cause; mankind's never-ending thirst for recognition and other more subtle philosophical nudges quite enlightening.

The movie is also surprisingly funny, which will make it easier for more squeamish movie-goers to digest the movie's numerous ultra-violent scenes. Not the most accessible movie, but those who are willing to get a few bloodstains on their capes won't be disappointed.

Responsible parenting 101: Teach your children to defend themselves. 

Ranking: 4 Meerkat Tails

Thursday, October 14, 2010 DVD release: Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson is definitely back, but that doesn't really say a lot. At best, 'Edge of darkness' ('Edge of stupidity' could also have worked) manages to keep you slightly entertained, but something about it just seems horribly second rate.

Maybe it's due to the fact that the ensemble cast, which includes an out-of-place and slightly inaudible British actor, have no sense of onscreen chemistry. Or maybe it's because the movie's plot seems like something taken directly from a really bad Steven Segal movie?

The movie's very cheesy soundtrack and weird moments of unnecessary silence does not help either. Maybe director Martin Campbell was thinking he was skilled enough to pull this off... sadly, no, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Nevertheless, Gibson does a commendable job with the little he has to work with (even though Gibson himself is turning into a bit of a lunatic), making the movie not entirely impossible to watch if you have loads of spiked Coca-Cola to help you through it.

See, even Mel can't believe this bull was a hit at the box office!

Ranking: 2 Meerkat Tails (Add half a tail if action movies are your favourite movie genre)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 New Release on DVD Review: Toy Story 3

With two highly acclaimed prequels looming in the shadows, Toy Story 3 had a huge legacy it had to live up to (and even surpass to a certain extent) to be able to reach the same glorious film heights.

Fans and Toy Story newbies alike will however be glad to hear that the film is just as spectacular, inspiring and masterfully paced as both its predecessors. The final installment also benefits from an interesting plot line that helps to bring the movie to its natural poetic conclusion.

A long list of A-list actors once again imbues the movie with an undeniable sense of charm and emotional depth, giving the film more resonance that one would expect. Interesting new additions to the cast, that includes a evil strawberry-smelling bear, a Ken doll and even a creepy Baby doll give the movie a welcome sense of diversity and a true epic quality.

Highlight: Buzz's spacesuit undergoes a 'minor' malfunction, leading to some seriously hilarious translation issues between him and the rest of the gang.

Buzz and Woody epitomize what it means to be truly loyal to one's friends. A universally valuable lesson indeed.
Ranking: 4-and-half Meerkat Tails

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

M-Net Monday night Drama Review - Gifted hands: The Ben Carson story

As far as biographical drama's go, there's not a lot that one can fault 'Gifted hands: The Ben Carson story' for. While this statement might sound like an attempt at actually complimenting the film, it is actually intended as a cleverly disguised insult: You see, director Thomas Carter plays it so safe, (by means of a very one-dimensional protagonist, a predictable plot as well as the inclusion of many other genre staples) that the movie quickly becomes very tedious to watch.

Don't get me wrong, Cuba Gooding Jr. is perfectly suited for the role (referring to more than just his acting skills) of a black neurosurgeon that redefines his profession, but for some reason Cuba just seems too comfortable here, playing yet another 'under-confident character that learns to overcome his weaknesses caused by a broken past'.

Carter seems to like movies that revolve around themes of social oppression, a flimsy hero and a soppy, inspiring ending (Coach carter, Save the last dance etc.). While there's nothing wrong with this, it just seems as though more could have been done to give the film a bit of extra meat and depth.

Those who love these type of movies (Pursuit of Happiness is a great example), will find a lot to enjoy, but more demanding film-goers might leave the cinema longing for something a bit more juicy.

Ok wait, will the real Ben Carson please stand up?

Rating: 2-and-half Meerkat Tails

Monday, October 11, 2010

M-Net Sunday night movie review: The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth indeed has an appropriate title, as it confirms the very ugly truth about the romantic comedy genre: These movies will always settle for sub par acting, predictable plot mechanisms, a corny & unimaginative soundtrack and an pathetically unrealistic look at love.

What makes Ugly Truth even worse than the other members of its dreary flock is that it tries to inject the genre with a new sense of flair, by opting for vulgar toilet humour that manages to leave a nasty taste in one's mouth. Not only does this approach fail horribly, but it also succeeds in highlighting how Hollywood is desperately in need for more clever script writers like Diablo Cody ('United States of Tara', 'Juno') to prevent their romantic cash cows form being sent to the butcher.

Gerald Butler once again plays the stereotyped shallow man-whore character to utter perfection, making one wonder if we'll ever see him in something proper again. Katherine Heigl delivers an all-time career low performance as another stereotyped, flat character with no real point to her existence, except for the creation of a canvas on which the movie can paint it's horrible picture of the modern business woman.

Director Robert Luketic (the mastermind behind the laughable 'Monster-n-law' and 'Win a date with Tad Hamilton') should now realize that he wasn't destined for making movies about love and that he should rather stick to his action-adventure attempts like '21'.

I can't even recommend this movie for nights when you just want to be brain-dead, sorry. But you know what's the Ugly Truth? This movie was a huge hit at the box office... how sad.

A great example of Hollywood's willingness to make crappy movies for a few extra bucks. Tisk tisk.

Rating: 1 Meerkat tail (Add one if you can actually bare to watch Rom-coms without puking)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Now out on DVD Review: Robin Hood (2010)

If you're one of those people that believe that movies cannot exist as a stand-alone entity from its source material (which is the case with most critics), then you should stay far away from Ridley Scott's 'ADAPTATION' of Robin Hood.

If you can however wrap your mind around a different interpretation of the story's soul and conviction, then you will find a lot to enjoy in this engaging epic that features excellent performances, a solid and fast-moving script and satisfying action sequences. Crowe and Blanchett give the movie enough star quality to keep it entertaining till the very end, with commendable performances by the rest of the ensemble cast as well.

Add to this the potent and jarring action sequences that make Lord of the Rings seem like Teletubbies and you have a winning formula. The movie adds a tremendous amount of depth to the well-known and loved legend of Robin Hood, showing how the man came to be who and what he is.

Fans of similar epics like Gladiator and Braveheart, that infuses its tale with a fair amount of darkness and tribulations will fall in love with this movie, others (that expect more spirit and humour) will leave the cinema disappointed.

The best I've seen of it's genre in a long time, with a great amount of emotional depth to boot.

Yes, Crowe is the kind of person that will shoot an arrow up your ass.

Rating: 4-and-half Meerkat Tails

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

To say I was blown away by this movie is an understatement. The first 5 minutes already indicated that I was either going to hate this movie or adore it to bits. The latter option went into full swing by halfway through this ridiculously entertaining movie. 

Werner Herzog (not very well-known) tells the story of a morally skew and crack addicted police Lieutenant in New Orleans. What follows is excellent humour, amazing and flawless plot unravelling and all other things that makes a movie great. 

The biggest surprise however lies in Cage's performance, whom has been cursed by horrible film choices for the last few years. Cage is brutally fantastic as the protagonist, playing his role with so much conviction that I could swear Cage was playing himself. Eva Mendes surprises again, with Val Kilmer an co delivering great supporting roles. 

One of my favourite movies of the last decade and one of the most entertaining things i've seen since Kill Bill. You have to see this is you're into weirdly wonderful movies.

Cage contemplates who he's going to fuck up next.
Rating: 4 and-a-half Meerkat Tails

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

M-Net Monday night movie review: Two Lovers

If you have the stomach and the heart for it, you'll find the beautifully dismal 'Two Lovers' to be an extremely revealing and interesting character study. To not give special mention to Joaquin Phoenix's hauntingly entertaining and memorable performance seems an injustice, a sentiment that Hollywood 'surprisingly' didn't seem to share back when the movie was first released in 2008.

It would seem as though the film was conjured from the deepest trenches of  director James Gray's (a relatively unknown film master) mind as audience members are treated to a movie that strikes a painfully close emotional blow. A long list of themes are interwoven into the movie's bloody fabrics, that include the general awkwardness of life, the price of infidelity as well as the destructive power of sudden infatuation brought on by a damaged heart.

Special mention must also be awarded to the film's clever cinematography that gives the movie a consistent sense of urgency, complementing the protagonist's unstable state of mind as the story quickly starts to spiral down a black hole of tragedy.

Don't let the simple, nice-sounding title fool you - There's no 'nice' to be found in 'Two Lovers', but if you're willing to indulge in a bit of dark, you'll find loads to enjoy here.

Dark and broody... just the way I like me films..arrgh.

Rating: 4 Meerkat tails (Add half-a-tail if you're an emo kid)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Putting my disturbing obsession with violent, ninja-like owls aside, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a magnificent, awe-inspiring visual punch in the groin, that is unfortunately destined to be misinterpreted by many a critic and casual movie-goers alike. 

Firstly, this gem of a movie suffers from horrible marketing misrepresentation, as the poster creates an expectation that the Guardians can be compared to the b-grade musical kiddy fest known as 'Happy Feet' (as this is the nearest movie that the ignorant American movie-going audience will understand). The only similarity between these two films is that penguins (who are actually mammals) look kinda like birds and owls are an actual species of birds. The guardians does however have much more in common with director Zack Snyder's very dark & sombre 'Watchmen' and the super-violent bloodfest known as '300' (another good example of Snyder's extreme attention to detail and focus on the visual impact of a movie). 

Guardians' plot has been criticized for begin unoriginal and uninteresting, as critics struggle to grasp that this was an intentional choice by Snyder, as the thin, easy-to-follow plot (which isn't horrible by any standard) creates a wonderful spotlight on the movie's true accomplishment - beautiful, intensely detailed visuals: Each individual owl (from the finest detail on each beak and the beautiful patterns on each feather) comes alive as an entirely unique character. Extreme attention to detail like this cements guardians as an amazing visual achievement (far exceeding the previous benchmark set in Pandora's world of giant smurfs with spears).

An experienced, mature and serious voice cast (that includes Sam Neil, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Mirren) imbues Guardians with a unique atmosphere for a fully-animated Hollywood movie, successfully differentiating it from the usual animated fluff that Hollywood resells like expired cotton candy at a rundown carnival. 

The most exciting thing about the Guardians is the fact that it stands as a testament for the inevitable change in general movie taste (i.e. a higher tolerance for fresh interpretations of movie genres) that the mainstream film industry is gradually undergoing - the type of mindset that the anime-loving, forward-thinking citizens of Japan have managed to mold into a fully-realized & thriving stand-alone cultural movement.

Please leave your expectations at the cine door when you go watch the unbelievably realistic Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole in 3D - one of the most beautiful, engrossing cinema experiences ever imagined on screen.

Owls with helmets on. Nuff said
Rating: 4.5 Meerkat tails (Must-see)