Monday, January 31, 2011

Love and other drugs

I have a serious issue with the way in which Hollywood promotes their movies, especially when posters and trailers create a specific and unrealistic idea of a film, for the sole purpose of generating misguided interest. 'Love and other drugs' is the latest victim of Hollywood's marketing curse, made apparent to me when I realised that I was indeed part of the only non-couple group in the cinema. So, before you get the chance to wonder about this point further: No, this movie is not another run of the mill romantic comedy – it is in fact, much more than that (thank God).

Director Edward Zwick is well known for his epic adventure films like Blood Diamond, Legends of the fall and the Last Samurai, something that should already give you an idea that this movie will probably not be what you're expecting it to be. In this film, Zwick takes a break from his normal material, as he focusses on explaining his opinion of love and relationships, giving viewers a surprisingly realistic and quite hard to swallow look at the emotions that drives most of mankind's actions. In fact, the whole movie has a kind of sombre, almost depressing tone to it, as characters always seem to be more confused and alone, the more in-love they become. Also, don't expect any huge laughs with this one, as the comedy is kept to a noticeable minimum.

"In fact, the whole movie has a kind of sombre, almost depressing tone to it, as characters always seem to be more confused and alone, the more in-love they become."

The few laughs that do occur are all unfortunately wasted on a sad, uninteresting character, whose only real function in the movie is to make the protagonist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal look a tad better than he is. The rest of the performances are all luckily almost spot-on, with excellent chemistry and stage presence between Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway – Hathaway's performance is especially poignant and hard-hitting, as she is rightfully deserving of all the award mentions she is getting for this one.

The movie's major flaw only appears close to the end, as the director sadly and dumbly decides to revert back to the overused mechanics of your typical rom-com, with an ending that seems to have been taken right out of a Disney direct-to-DVD shelf filler. The uninspired and painfully cheesy soundtrack also doesn't help, creating the feeling that you have been suckered into expecting this film will not end like Lassie or that film about the Killer whale. Nonetheless, the film's fresh approach still make it more than worth watching and even with the soppy ending, gives its viewers a hard look at the sacrficies men and women are wiling to make for their better halves.

If the interesting approach doesn't sell the movie for you, please also consider the longish runtime, filled up with numerous scenes of nudity and a decent amount of profanity – what's not to like? 

Highlight: Watching Jake Gyllenhaal get punched in the stomach as well as the scene where Hathaway shows her boob (singular intended).

The only non-porno image I could find...

Rating: 3-and-a-half Meerkat Tails

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Prince of Persia: The sands of Time

The past decade has been good for Disney, as the company has managed to reinvent (to a certain extent) itself in order to adapt to the fast changing entertainment industry. Films like Prince of Persia: Sands of time stand as a testament of how Disney has had to shed its lighthearted skin to a certain degree in order for their movies to appeal to an even broader audience.

What makes Prince of Persia even more interesting than Disney's past non-animated adventure genre attempts (like 'The Pirates of the Caribbean' series of films) though is the fact that the film is actually based on a video game, which classifies as mostly uncharted territory for the company. This is something that should make fans of the original quite skeptical about the film, but do not fret, Disney has yet again managed to impress...

Don't get me wrong, Prince of Persia is far from being groundbreaking, but it does work great as a proper Sunday night diversion, as it focus is definitely primarily on style than it is substance. And it's a structure that works well, as the film has some of the most impressive, fast-paced action sequences of recent memory, with more than a few 'Wow!' moments to keep audience members thoroughly entertained.


"And it's a structure that works well, as the film has some of the most impressive, fast-paced action sequences of recent memory..."

A well put together cast, with Jake Gyllenhaal at the lead does a good job in filling the huge stage of this epic-feeling fantasy adventure.Gyllenhaal's chemistry with female lead and love interest, Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans and Quantum Solace) is more funny and entertaining than it is moving, but this seems functional as it gives the movie a needed sense of light-heartedness. This fantasy world is also very well imagined, with bustling cities and desolate desert sets to balance out all the openness. It would seem as though a lot of time was taken to plan this fantasy world and it really shows.

One major flaw that the film does have is a noticable problem with pacing, as Director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire, Constant Gardener, Mona Lisa Smile) seems to rush along numerous scenes that could have contributed to a much more definite degree of emotional impact. This is probably a problem with adventure films in general, but for some reason this shortcoming felt really apperent here... The unnecessarily complicated plot doesn't help either, making it surpsringly hard to follow certain parts of the film.

Nevertheless, Prince of Persia is a very decent distraction for a Sunday night with family and friends, just be willing to invest some grey matter in the plot. 

Highlight: Every time someone opens the dagger... WOW! 

Wet princesses... need I say more? 

Rating: 3 Meerkat Tails

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy A

The Teen comedy drama has been defined by B-grade movie stinkers like the never-ending, ‘American Pie’ series of films, the equally horrible, ‘Euro Trip’ and a long list of other fishy entries that don’t give the genre any real sense of legitimacy. But, every now and then (more not than often), a film comes along that gives me new hope for a possible re-invention of the genre’s worn and stereotypical trademarks.

Easy A, starring the relatively unknown, Emma Stone (Superbad and Zombieland) is one of those rare Teen Comedy/Dramas that isn’t afraid to be clever, even if it is at the expense of its intended audience. So, what exactly makes ‘Easy A’ different than something like American Pie? The answer does not lie in the range of subjects covered, but rather in the way these subjects are presented and portrayed. Whilst most Teen movies settle for the effective ‘Slap stick’ comedy approach, Easy A isn’t afraid to take a deeper look at the lives of typical teenagers, focussing more on the ‘why’ of their actions, instead of the ‘how’. The film tackles some quite serious issues head-on like religion, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, inappropriate relations between pupils and teachers and a long list of other touchy subjects in a very honest manner... something most Teen movies would never dare attempt.

'Easy A isn’t afraid to take a deeper look at the lives of typical teenagers, focussing more on the ‘why’ of their actions, instead of the ‘how’.'

Except for its obvious focus on 'the things not mentioned', Easy A also benefits from an interesting and unpredictable plot, as Director Will Gluck doesn't hesitate to introduce new characters, central to the plot even long after the halfway mark. Whilst this does work wonders for the film's sense of engagement, it does subtract quite a bit from a definite sense of emotional impact, seeing how one gets the feeling that too much is going on all at once – even though this is how the life of a teenager typically presents itself.

Nevertheless, a strong cast of capable young movie heavyweights have been assembled to deliver the film's delicious off-beat comedic moments as well as more serious ones. Protagonist Emma Stone is perfectly cast as a teenager caught in a web of her own lies, playing her lost, but crazily funny role good enough to get some award mentions. Amanda Bynes (What a girl wants) plays the very 'spiritual' antagonist quite well, ensuring for some of the film's best comedic moments along with her rival in the film. Other strong performances include those from love interest, Penn Badgley (Gossip Girls), Dan Byrd (The Hills have eyes), Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spiderman) and the film's funniest and weirdest character, Patricia Clarkson (Good night and good luck, Shutter Island), as one of the protagonist's off-beat parental figures.

Fans of similar riskier teen movies, like 'Saved!' and 'Mean Girls' will find a lot to laugh about and appreciate in this rare mainstream gem. Not only does the film feel creepily relevant, but it should also hit home for both teenagers as well as older audience members, as they get the chance to take a hard look at their days as a confused teen. But don't stress, 'Easy A' is more about fun than anything else, so don't let the very direct approach put you off from this really hilarious addition to the Teen movie DVD shelf.

The start of one of the many 'love connections' in the film...
Highlight: In my opinion, an electronic greeting card, that plays a well-known song of Natasha Beddingfield serves for the best series of jokes of the entire film.

Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fighter

Whilst I won't go as far as to classify myself as a fan of boxing dramas, I do tend to enjoy them much more than I would let myself normally admit to. But with amazing movies like ‘Million dollar baby’ and the latest entry to this sub-genre, ‘The fighter', I just can't help but express my appreciation.

Director David O Russel's ('I Heart Huckabees' and 'Three Kings') take on the genre is not only refreshing (with its minimalistic focus on the actual fighting), but it also manages to work brilliant as an in-depth social class study session. At the heart of the story is a struggling semi-professional boxer that is torn between two very different worlds of support: that of his bit backward family and his new love interest, played with great vibrancy by Amy Adams.

The two most central figures on the family's side is firstly the mom, played brilliantly and with loads of conviction by Melissa Leo. Whilst she's definitely one of the most antagonistic characters in the film, she plays her part so honestly that it’s nearly impossible not to consider her obvious shortcomings as mere human nature by the end of the film – Truly, worthy of her Golden Globe win.

The best performance of the film is however an obvious one: Christian Bale, as the protagonist's 'retired', crack-addicted brother, who is quickly spiraling down a life of crime and missed opportunities. Bale, who will be best known for his equally impressive performances as the new, more brooding batman, plays a much different type of character here, standing as a testament to his sheer flexibility as a performer. Not only does he serve for the film's most moving and dramatic scenes, but also for the few depressingly funny ones. Bale's award mentions and wins are well deserved here...

"Truly, worthy of her Golden Globe win."

The rest of the ensemble cast, especially the rest of the family members are just as well cast, helping to paint a painfully realistic picture of the complexities surrounding protagonist mark Wahlberg’s life. Oh, and Wahlberg isn't half bad himself, considering he manages to brighten up the very stale character type he plays. No awards though for him this time around though...

Whilst the acting definitely stands out as the film's best achievement, the rest of the elements like a solid and well-paced screenplay, powerful cinematography and a fitting score all contribute to a very neatly packaged film experience.

When compared to something like 'The Town', I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that The fighter has a better chance at awards this year... But is it strong enough to K.O. something highly relevant like David Fincher's ' The Social network' or Darren Aronofsky's extremely powerful, 'Black swan'? Time will have to tell...

Definitely not the real hero of the film, but the best pic I could find...

Highlight: A family meeting with the lead's new love interest becomes dangerously heated, as the two parties clearly don't see eye to eye on some matters...

Rating: 4-and-a-half meerkat tails. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Town

Whilst many might not associate Ben Affleck with the direction of outstanding cinematic gems, it is becoming very clear that this (and not acting) is his actual strongsuit in the film industry. His latest attempt, The Town has received a lot award buzz and a finer look at the film reveals why:

Much like Affleck's previous film (which also received high acclaim), 'Gone baby gone', The Town's main sell is its extreme realistic feel and poignant execution. A huge part of this effect is thanks to the clever use of simple dialogue that makes the interactions between characters seem noticably authentic. The action sequences (which has been used in trailers to attract audiences) are interesting and entirely believable, which also adds substantially to the film's sense of powerful realism. 


"...Whilst Ben Affleck isn't horrible as the main protagonist, he gets outshined by Jon Hamm, the film's extremely charismatic, funny and intimidating antagonist."

Affleck's clean and uncomplicated style creates the perfect framework for this hard-hitting, but familiar-feeling crime drama. An appropriate ensemble cast that includes excellent performances by Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, S.W.A.T.) gives the movie an even greater sense of widespread appeal. And whilst Ben Affleck isn't horrible as the main protagonist, he gets outshined by Jon Hamm (The day the earth stood still, Space Cowboys), the film's extremely charismatic, funny and intimidating antagonist. 

Don't get me wrong, The Town has a lot going for it, but personally, I feel the hype around the movie has been a bit misplaced. Whilst the film is well shot, has a solid plot and great acting, it doesn't really have a lot of resonance. The main love story feels a bit tired out and doesn't really add anything to the 'good girl falls in love with bad guy' sub-genre. The focus on crime and the effect it has on a person's future is probably more definitive, but also feels like more of a case of 'been there, done that'. 

Nevertheless, this movie is an important one for Affleck, as it cements his new reputation as a very capable director – I'm not expecting this one to take many 'Best film' awards home back to Charlestown though...

Highlight: The scene with the nuns, guns and coppers.

Affleck is good in directing and acting in scenes of heated confrontations...
Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Black Swan

When I saw a that a 'Suspense Thriller' received so many award mentions this year, I got more excited than a little girl getting ready for her very first pony ride (or something equally exciting). But when I heard that my personal king of the genre, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Wrestler) was the director, my excitement quickly warped into something even more wonderful: pure, uncontrollable fear. And I'm happy to report my fearful expectations were well placed, as Black Swan is by far the most psychologically intense and frightening film of 2010.

The first thing that audience members should notice is the film's distinct old-fashioned feel, with a very classical soundtrack (fitting of the ballet background story and thus heightening the sense of realism) and traditional camera techniques. Whilst some might find this approach a bit alienating at first, Aronofsky does a brilliant job at integrating and justifying this interesting, almost nostalgic methodology, as all the individual elements of the film come together quite magnificently. 

At it's core, Black Swan is a character study, done in a way that will immediately remind fans of Aronofsky's most well known psycho-thriller, the chilling and disturbing 'Requiem for a Dream'. Black Swan does however feel more poignant, largely due to its more central focus (Requiem for a dream focusses on a number of different character's point of view), giving it an even harsher dreadful effect.

"...my excitement quickly warped into something even more wonderful: pure, uncontrollable fear."

As a character study, it is obviously important that a strong protagonist lead the piece: Natalie Portman, who is no stranger to extremely dramatic roles is more than well equipped to drive this riveting tale of a highly dedicated, but mentally unstable ballet dancer that gets the stage part of her life. A powerful ensemble cast of Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel as the main antagonists keep the plot moving along at lightning speed. Special mention must however go to cinema veteran, Barbara Hershey, playing the role of the Swan's concerned, but unpredictable parental figure.

Whilst the film definitely takes a 'style over substance' approach, it does say quite a lot about the pressures on performing artists as well as how most of man's intense confrontations are with oneself.

But for the most part, Black Swan just wants to freak the living daylights out of you, a feat it accomplishes with deadly success by means of disturbing imagery that leaves one more than just marginally unsettled. Aronofsky uses an effective combination of scare tactics that include everything from traditional horror mechanics, a disturbing look at sexual desires to quick-shifting camera shots that builds the tension.

This thick thread of tension is carefully spun by Aronofsky from the very first scene and never lets go, building up to a magnificent crescendo – the last 20 minutes of the movie takes the viewers by the throat, as the film spirals down a dark melodramatic gorge that only let's go once the credits thankfully start to roll. 

There's a lot more that one can say about this rare suspense gem, but the less you know beforehand, the better – Just make sure you don't miss it when is starts showing at theaters across the country!

Bloody eyes is the least of Portman's problems...

Highlight: The last 20 minutes of the film will shake you.

Rating: 4-and-a-half Meerkat Tails

Monday, January 10, 2011

Megamind

It's quite obvious that the animation genre is doing extremely well, with at least one big major release from one of the world renowned design studios every second month to keep us entertained and laughing ourselves sore. But the animation genre is becoming a bit overcrowded these days and the creators seem to be struggling to generate original ideas that can still capture audiences. This is exactly why original and daring concepts like Megamind from Dreamworks studio is an extremely refreshing find.

With the excellent voice talents of alternative comedy geniuses, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt and Will Farrel and Jonah Hill, one immediately gets the idea that this is a different type of animated adventure.

Though the ensemble voice cast do a great job (as one would expect), the movie's strongest asset is defintely the plot. Without giving much away, Megamind gives it's viewers an interesting and quite complex study of the boundary between good and evil, successfully raising some very thought provoking questions about morals in general. Most of these complexities will surely go over the heads of younger audience members, but there are luckily more than enough colourful and lively things happening on screen to keep the younger of mind thoroughly entertained as well!

"Megamind gives it's viewers an interesting and quite complex study of the boundary between good and evil, successfully raising some very thought provoking questions..."

A powerful comedic script complement the more matured subject matter perfectly - exactly the type of humour the leading voice cast members are so well known for, with Tina Fey and Will Farrell working together really well to make the laughs hit hard.

If you've missed your chance to see the film in your nearby cinema, do not fret - this rare complex animated gem will work just as well on DVD.  

Highlight: When Megamind plays with 'cars' in the city...

Like all proper villains, Megamind enjoys making a proper entrance.

Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails

Friday, January 7, 2011

My top 10 villains from live action TV shows

Let's face it, sometimes you just can't help yourself from falling in love with the villain of a show. The reasons why these villains are so popular however vary greatly from villain to villain, but they all have one thing in common - An unstoppable and relentless dedication to overcome the good guys. Please enjoy my top 10 live action (non-animated) TV show villains who have all proven that they truly deserve a spot on this list.

1. Russell Hantz (Survivor, Season 19, 20)

"Nobody said anything. That's how easy it was to manipulate these people. All of them. They really sucked."



Let's face it - love or hate Survivor, you can't deny the unbelievable impact the show has had on modern society over the last decade. Through the course of the show's run, it has obtained a reputation for introducing couch patatos to some of the most interesting characters ever to grace the small screen. Sure, there were some great heroes like Rupert, Colby, Cirie and JT, but deep down everyone knew they were actually rooting for the villains, as these were the contestants that truly gave the show some of its best and most memorable moments. To single out one great villainous mastermind seems therefore almost cruel, but I can honestly give Russel Hantz the top spot on my list without any sense of hesitation. As the only contestant voted the 'Best player" for two consecutive seasons, Russel played the game harder than anyone in the show's history. As a master manipulator, Russel effortlessly managed to get the other contestants to do his bidding - whether this involved voting out their strongest alliance members, giving Russel their immunity idol or just listening to him out of pure fear for the revenge that might follow. Even though Russel never actually won the game of Survivor, he will always be remembered as one of the most influential players of one of the best shows ever created - still think he doesn't derserve all the praise?

2. Jasmine (Angel)

Blurring the lines between good and evil.



The fact that Jasmine is black is great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s much more to her awesomeness than mere racial chauvinism. The cool thing about Jasmine is that she was the first truly ambiguous villain I was introduced to as a child, resulting in her having a profound impact on my sense of good and evil (no, really!). Just like Angel (the protagonist from the show ‘Angel’) Jasmine’s ultimate goal was world peace and acceptance (which is a good thing, right?). The problem however was in her methods (which involved brain fucking the entire universe) – something that Angel just couldn’t accept with a clear, vampire conscious, believing that natural human suffering made much more sense instead. Jasmine’s excellent skills in diplomacy and rhetoric meant that it was even harder to decide if one should cheer for her or not. Even after Jasmine’s death, Angel and his misfit friends contemplate if they did the right thing...does the end truly justify the means? Jasmine, I thank you for raising this difficult question.

3. Ava Moore (Nip/Tuck)

“You lubricate acid. If I stick my dick up you, it would sizzle off.”



It’s hard to single out one villain from a show with such a great list of awesome baddies, but Ava Moore, first introduced in Season 2 of Nip Tuck seems to be the role model that all other modern would-be villains should aspire to be like. While Ava is introduced as a life coach, it soon becomes clear that she has a few problems of her own, with the biggest of course being her two saggy, hairy balls (aka her shallow vaginal canal). Yes, while it’s hard to take a transsexual serious, Ava is so damn hot, it doesn’t really matter. Ava aspires to ruin the entire cast’s lives and proves to be very successful with this, proving she’s a much better home wrecker than a life coach. She also manages to make sweet man love with many of the show’s male leads, leading to a few awkward but funny... “I had sex with a man” moments throughout the show. Ava returns a few seasons later, proving that transsexuals are harder to get rid of than you would think!


4. Maryann Forrester (True Blood)

"Feeling sorry for things is just an excuse not to celebrate your own happiness.”



Sure, Maryann’s impressive assortment of strange abilities which include enhanced strength, superhuman speed, the power to influence or control the behaviour of others, immortality, blood that is black and toxic are more than enough to send chills down any vampire’s spines, but that alone won’t give her a mention on this list. No, what makes Maryann truly special is her unique demeanour and her very positive approach to life – not to mention all her great sex orgies that she throws for all her beloved demon-enslaved redneck friends! Maryann is as funny as she is scary and intimidating, making her antics a true joy to behold. Maryann also has the talent of excellent motivational skills, giving some of the show’s characters truly great advice on how to improve their quality of life. This advice is however always extremely contradictory when compared with her actions (she enjoys performing blood sacrifices), making her inspiring words even more hilarious as the show progresses. Maryann, thank you for showing me that friends that literally want to rip your heart out are those that you should keep the closest.

5. Angel Zachariah (Supernatural)

"Well, can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. In this case, truckloads of eggs, but you get the picture."



Ok, most fans of Supernatural will be like "WTF? – From all the great villains you could choose from, you went for this dickhead?" A valid argument indeed... Supernatural has some great villains like the 'The yellow-eyed demon', Lillith, Lucifer himself, Ruby and the very slimy Crowley, to name but a few – all of which are trademarked by incredibly evil intentions and all the other great things that make an excellent villain. Angel Zacharia however has something that none of these have – the element of surprise! Think about it: Who would expect one of Heaven's higher ups to be such a complete dick? 'Zach' thinks of Heaven as a type of corporation where only the best and brighest get to climb the corporate ladder. It's a frightening picture, but one that makes a lot of sense...And that's exaclty what lies at the core of Supernatural – who exactly are the good guys – the forces of heaven or those from hell... or are mankind actually all on their own in this messed-up world? This makes Zachariah a very important character indeed, as he functions as the 'vessel' for the series' most resonating message.

6. Karin Walker (Will & Grace)

"Honey, you know what's really sad? Poor people with big dreams. Well, that's not so much sad as it is incredibly funny!"



Not only is Karen Walker arguably one of the most heartless characters ever portrayed on the silver screen, but she's also easily one of the funniest. Karen Walker's exact background story is never fully explored during the show, but a few things are sure: Karen is a borderline alocohlic with a deep love for prescription drugs and a very shaky moral balance. Add to this one of the most well-known high pitch voices on TV and you have a recipe for comedic brilliance. Even though Karen is obviously one of the most unstable characters in the show, she's also argubaly the most important one, as she functions as the link that joins this serious mismatch of characters. Even though the show might be called 'Will & Grace', it would have been nothing if it wasn't for the presence of this formidibale lady.

7.The mad Twatter (Skins)

"Yeah, yeah you could say that. You could say, ah, Pretty huge Dick."



Skins is definitely more well-known for all its great protagonists, but the Mad Twatter is such a diabolical genius that he definitely deserves a spot on this list of great villains. The slightly insane Twatter is first introduced at a brothel when Sid (the lamest TV show character ever) asks him for some weed. What follows is a whirlwind ride of deception and blackmail, as the Twatter tries to get the money back that Sid still owes him. The Twatter's induction into the hall of super villain fame is however due to a very specific scene where Twatter breaks a musical instrument as a symbol of his pure evil nature, proving that even something as beautiful as music is no match for him. The Twatter does however realise that all isn't well and therefore makes sure not to miss his psychiatry sessions before beating random strangers to a pulp. The Twatter might not be the most organised criminal mastermind around, but he definitely has some very original methods he uses to strike fear in his enemies' hearts.He also sports a very sexy moustache.

8. Sue Sylvester (Glee)

“You think this is hard? I’m living with hepatitis, that’s hard!”



Sue Sylvester, the primeval manifestation of the average high school cheerleader coach also happens to be one of the funniest characters ever portrayed on television. Sue will do anything to destroy the school’s Glee club and promote her Cheerio’s (the name of the cheerleading squad she coaches), even if it means getting dirty, using tactics like extortion, bribery, spying, verbal abuse, murder, nuclear holocausts and even staplers. Sue also has an extremely shady past: she euthanized her own mother, assisted in the capture of Noriega, torments the homeless, and is missing a uterus. Sue’s duels with her antagonist are a joy to behold, proving with each and every encounter that she is a force to be reckoned with. Cheerleading will never be the same again, thank you Sue!

9. Tuco Salamancah (Breaking Bad)

"This kicks like a mule with its balls wrapped in duct tape!"


This list is in serious need of a proper drug kingpin (and no, the Mad Twatter doesn't count). But choosing only one badass Drug pimp from a list of so many possible contenders is not an easy business. Luckily, this choice became much easier when I got the chance to meet the Mexican Druglord, Tuco Salamancah from the maginificent action-drama, Breaking Bad. Tuco's sociopathic nature makes him a sheer joy to watch onscreen, as he is not afraid to use extreme violence (some of the most intense I've had the pleasure of seeing on TV) to get results from his dealers and suppliers. Tuco also isn't an easy man to impress, as the main protagonist only earns Tuco's respect after blowing up his Drug headquarters ("You got balls. I'll give you that"). What makes Tuco even more frightening is his capacity for actual compassion as well as the ability to see the 'lighter side of a situation' – this whilst he beats and kills many a man during his time on the show. Pure bliss.

10. Stefano DiMera (Days of our lives) and Massimo Marone (The Bold and the beautiful)

The transcendental God of the Soap Opera

Stefano has been reported dead 11 times in Days of our lives over a period of almost 30 years, wreaking havoc on Marlena and the other retards from Salem in that horrible soap time and time again. Stefano even managed to overshadow the devil himself, proving that Marlena’s demon possession was mere child’s play when compared to what Stefano was capable of. Stefano also has the bragging rights that come with 26 different henchmen – a very impressive number that should make most villains very envious! But what makes Stefano truly remarkable is his ability to even transcend the boundaries of his own lame soap opera universe – When Stefano finally decided that Marlena wasn’t worth all the fuss of the last few decades, he teleported his existence to another soap, reincarnating himself as Massimo Marone in the Bold and the Beautiful. Truly, a villain to be reckoned with!

Other worthy mentions that didn't make the cut: 

Lucretia (Sparatacus)

Miguel (Dexter)

Parvati (Survivor)

Brother Justin Crowe (Carnivale)

Death (Supernatural)

Mr G (Summer Heights High)

Colleen Rose (Nip/Tuck)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tron Legacy

It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that remakes are a really difficult thing to tackle in the film industry. Not only can the director be blamed for not being original enough in his/her interpretation, but he can also be criticised for not sticking to the core of the story that made it's predecessor what it is. Luckily, with no prior knowledge of this film to my disposal, I could safely watch it with no predetermined expectations.

This however seems to be part of the movie's biggest problem: Without a love and appreciation for the movie's roots, it's seems to be nothing more than another exploitation of the recent revival of the 3D cinema gimmick. The 3D effects, (which viewers are even reminded of to expect) are very average, to say the least. It would have been nice to see one of those shiny weapons pass in front of my face, but this never happened.

Nevertheless, Tron Legacy is extremely 'fun' to look at, with its shiny lights, but even this (it's biggest sell) becomes redundant as viewers are confronted with the same basic colour palette of red and white lights for the majority of the film. I'm sure this was necessary to stay true to the original, as it helps to create an intentional sense of 'roboticness' and perfection, but sadly also imbues the movie with a heavy sense of dullness. Even the flashy fight scenes start to dull out at some point, as the action sequences seem more 'Power ranger' than 'Matrix'.

And this is a serious problem, seeing how the movie spends most of it's time painting a picture of the world of the 'Grid' – the digital world where most of the movie plays off in. And this is where the seemingly unknown director, Joseph Kosinski really does a great job! The world of the Grid is well imagined, making it almost believable that such a world could really exist. Kosinski also does a commendable job in explaining the film's quite complicated back story, making it easier for one to immerse oneself in the digital happenings.

"Even the flashy fight scenes start to dull out at some point, as the action sequences seem more 'Power ranger' than 'Matrix'."

The rest of the film's elements however feel heavily neglected, as all the characters appear painfully two-dimensional, with Jeff Bridges and Michael Sheen as the only cast members that contribute to the film's sense of depth. Part of the problem is the very average dialogue that definitely hampers most of the cast, especially lead protagonist, Garret Hedlund (Eragon, Friday Night Lights,Troy) and the sexual interest, Olivia Wilde (Alpha Dog, Year One).

A fitting old-school soundtrack works well, but it's not nearly good enough to save the film.

To sum up, Tron Legacy really feels as if it is lacking a sense of spirit – A few more jokes (there are two in the movie and both are horrible) would have been a small touch that could have helped considerably, for example.

I'm sure many fans of the original will interpret the movie very differently, but the rest of us won't leave the cinema equally dazzled – Kosinki's 'style over substance' approach has not payed off.

Shiny... but that's about it.
Rating: 2 and-a-half Meerkat Tails