Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Green Lantern

With the unavoidable advent of Marvel's trump card (The Avengers), DC Comics needs another big hit like Batman: The Dark Knight if they want any chance to still be taken seriously in the current comic book film adaptation war. But the next Batman movie is still a bit away, so what weird and wonderful hero do we get treated to in the interim? Enter The Green Lantern, probably one of the most misunderstood DC superheroes ever. 

Green Lantern has a few things going for it: Firstly, a strong cast of well-known Hollywood lovelies, like Ryan Reynolds (The proposal, Waiting, Adventureland) and Blake Liveley (The Town, The Sisterhood of the travelling pants), secondly some fantastic samples of CGI wowness and thirdly, an alien world where basically anything is possible.

When you however compare it to Marvel's counterpart otherworldly comic, Thor, the film's blemishes just become a bit more apparent. The first most noticeable problem is with the villain, whom is really hard to take seriously with his hilariously ugly features and quite apparent lack of ability to instill fear in his enemies. This fact becomes painfully ironic in the light of the film's willpower vs. Fear plotline, which bring me to the second serious flaw:

"The first most noticeable problem is with the villain, whom is really hard to take seriously with his hilariously ugly features and quite apparent lack of ability to instill fear in his enemies."

While the film's plot might sound fine on paper, it just doesn't seem to really take flight ever. Sure, I can handle an alien menace that consumes fear as its energy, but once this allegory is generalized to relate to the entire film, you're going to find it difficult to take all the corniness seriously.

The film also feels a bit out of balance when it comes to the amount of focus shared between the two worlds. To be honest, the alien world seems much more exciting than the silly earth world, but sadly we only get a few sneak peeks of this weirdly wonderful foreign realm. The benefit however is that the film spends a lot more time on the development of the relationship between the two human earth leads, resulting in an average degree of emotional attachment. 

Even with these few cracks in the Lantern, the film is a great night out, with some really funny moments, fantastic action sequences and a fair amount of delicious multi-gender eye candy.

Highlight: A terrifying aerial opening scene sets the mood for the thrilling trip you are about to undergo.

Alien breath is the least of Ryan Reynolds' problems in this action-fest.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Meerkat Tails

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Remember Me

I make my hatred for Romantic movies quite public, without any fear of retribution from the enslaved rom-com zombie community. One of the advantages of my obvious over-judgemental nature however is that I very easily appreciate a film that tries something different, even though it might be at the cost of its unintetional audience. 'Remember Me', starring Robert Pattinson is one of those inherently romantic movies that take a few splendid dark detours from the obvious 'man loves woman' plot structure.

At the centre of things is a young man with a serious lack of direction in his life, but a huge heart that he shares mostly with his younger sister, his new found love and his goofy New York roommate. Pattinson seems to have been born for this role, as he gives the film a heavy emotional centre, thus creating the perfect canvas for the film's unexpected, brilliant ending.

A strong ensemble cast joins Pattinson to fill up the ranks: Retired 007 agent, Pierce Brosnan plays a cold, detached father and the perfect wall for Pattinson to bounce his frustrations off. Love interest, Emile De Ravin (The perfect game, Public enemies, Carrie) plays her part adequately and Ruby Jerins is another child actress you need to look out for. Pattinson's roommate, played by Tate Ellington (Taking chance, The elephant king) is by far the most stereotyped character, but director Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland) actually manages to put a nice spin on the vagina-hungry roomie archetype, instilling his role with a great sense of profoundness.

As mentioned before, 'Remember me' is a heavy film to chew on, so don't expect a light and relaxing night in when renting this. All of the characters are passing through their own dark tunnel, giving the film a very serious and poignant feel.

"All of the characters are passing through their own dark tunnel, giving the film a very serious and poignant feel."

Even though there's a lot to appreciate here, critics have ridiculed the film for many reasons, stating that it is unnecessarily sentimental and depressing. I however enjoy my movies with a few proper dollops of dread, so I was quite happy observing all the sadness. The film is however cursed: Your typical Twilight fan will probably not appreciate the film's slow pace and more serious movie buffs will be put off from the onset, due to their presupposed opinions of Pattinson's acting talent, even though he does a great job. It is my hope however that you give this film a try, regardless of your opinion of that horrible vampire series of films.

Pattinson has a reason to be smiling, with all the dough is making from Twilight.

Highlight: A powerful ending will leave you a bit white in the face and puts a great spin on a tired subject.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Meerkat tails

Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men: First Class

As a massive fan of Marvel's X-Men comicbook series and its adaptations, I had extremely high hopes for the latest installment of the franchise. The first three movies were quite a bit dissapointing, in the sense that they didn't live up to the demanding legacy they were trying to aspire to. Luckily, it would seem as though a prequel was all that was needed to reignite the series' esteemed position in the comicbook universe.

A huge part of X-men: First Class' appeal lies in it's refreshing approach, as Director Matthew Vaughn (Lock, Stock and Two smoking barrels, Stardust, Kick-Ass) shows its audience where everything began, focussing heavily on the development of the complex relationship between Magneto and Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy (Atonement, Becoming Jane). The most intense and moving scenes however originates from the very 'attractive' Erik Lehnsherr himself, masterfully played by Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre, Inglorious Basters, 300). Magneto's lust for revenge not only humanizes this villain, but it also gives a new level of depth to the X-men saga. In fact,  a viewing of First Class enhances viewings of the previous series installments with new levels of profoundness.

"Magneto's lust for revenge not only humanizes this villain, but it also gives a new level of depth to the X-men saga."

The other really interesting side to the film is the relationship between The Beast and Mystique, as they battle with their fears of social rejection, in a world where they are clearly out of sorts. In truth, the discussions they have stand as a striking parralel to anyone who has faced social prosecution at the hands of others. The ensemble cast's acting in general is very impressive for this type of movie, with special mention to baddy Kevin Bacon, the beastly Nicholas Houly, shapesifting Jennifer Lawrence and the only really noteworthy human in the cast, Rose Byrne.

But please don't let the above discussion concern you – Inbetween all the scenes of fantastic dialogue and acting is a great balance of amazing action sequences with new and old mutants, showing off their powers by means of spectacular CGI effects. Some scenes in particular will leave you gasping, mainly due to their sheer awesomeness. Whilst some mutants' powers might leave you more confused than impressed, most will have you jealous of what they can do with as little as a swing of the hips.

It's this impeccable balance between drama & action, light & dark as well as the brilliant pace that makes X-men First: Class the best of the series and also one of the best superhero movies I have had the pleasure of seeing.

Target practice gone wrong, horribly.
Highlight: A riveting final confrontation at sea results in more than a few 'WOW' moments.

Rating: 4-and-a-half Meerkat Tails out of a possible 5

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Source Code

Last year’s Inception seems to have rejuvenated the Sci-Fi genre, as its success has proven that the world is once again ready for a deliberate sprinkling of future technology, complicated & misleading plotlines and brave heroes to entertain them on screen. Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead, Prince of Persia, Donnie Darko), is one such movie and thankfully, it does more than a few things right.

With the risk of simply regurgitating the entire plotline in the form of a review (as many reviewers tend to do) taken into consideration: I won’t say a lot about the plot, as most of the film’s magic comes from the process of trying to figure out what exactly is actually happening and even more importantly, what is actually NOT happening.

Many reviewers will probably tell you that Source Code has an extremely complex story structure, but when you strip it down to its bare essentials, you’ll realize that it’s actually very straightforward. The real achievement here by Director Duncan Jones (Moon) is how he manages to masterfully hide most of the major plot revelations, only gradually revealing them very far into the film. Luckily for the viewer, the protagonist is just as lost and confused, as you both try to figure out what is the best plan of action under the confusing circumstances. It is this mutual mystery that keeps the film moving forward, even though you’re essentially just watching the same 8 minutes over and over again (This will make sense when you watch the film).

"The real achievement here by Director Duncan Jones is how he manages to masterfully hide most of the major plot revelations, only gradually revealing them very far into the film."

As most of the film is very action-heavy, Gyllenhaal probably won’t receive any award mentions, even though his performance is quite fittingly excellent and consistent throughout the film. The two supporting female actresses, Michelle Monaghan (Due Date, Gone Baby Gone) and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) are both just as brilliant, with special mention to Farmiga, delivering a very powerful performance that elevates many of the film’s more dramatic moments above the heights of your typical Sci-Fi action fest. The only disappointing and even slightly irritating performance comes from Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Syriana), as he delivers his lines so over-dramatized that it's hard to take him serious. 

The film’s soundtrack is quite typical action flick stuff and effectively imbues many scenes with a high level of intensity. But in some cases, the music just seems a bit too dramatic and even feels a bit overpowering and forced. The film’s special effects are great throughout, but to be honest, there was very few scenes that truly impressed with their CGI brilliance –These are however two very small chips in a beautiful gem of a cinema experience.

Source Code is an excellent Popcorn movie that might lead to a few entertaining discussions about the space-time continuum afterwards – Just don’t expect something that will change your outlook on life.

This scene is less cheesy than it seems, really.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Meerkat Tails