27 November 2011

Movies: Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320261/

Family-friendly comedy

If you're expecting a film adaptation of Jonathan Swift's classic 1726 satire you're in for disappointment. If you're expecting a modernized adaptation of the same, again, sorry. If you're expecting a Jack Black movie starring Jack Black being Jack Black, you got it right on the nose.

Gulliver (Jack Black) works in a newspaper mail room, has worked there for 10 years, has no ambition but to show up to work every day and play Guitar Hero between cart runs around the building. And he has a crush on travel editor Darcy. When a new mailroom hire is promoted to Gulliver's boss after one day, Gulliver finally gets enough courage up to ask Darcy out, but fails and volunteers to write a travel story about the Bermuda Triangle. He copies travel stories from various travel guides to pad a 'portfolio' to qualify for the assignment, then heads down to pilot a rental boat into the Triangle. Of course a mysterious waterspout picks up his boat and drops him off in Lilliput. A land of people that are 1 to 2 inches tall by our measure.  And there's shenanigans.

As mentioned before, Jack Black as Gulliver. Amanda Peet as Darcy. Billy Connolly as the Lilliputian king, Emily Blunt as the Princess, Jason Segel as Gulliver's new best friend Horatio.
Mostly effective to slightly less than effective CG integration of actors of various dimensions. Sometimes the ratios seem off.

It's a dumb movie, much as I expected it would be. But it is entertaining too. Probably a funny movie for the kids. I mean, what do they know? They don't have the expectations adults have when it comes to entertainment.
Yes they do hit on some aspects of Jonathan Swift's stories, but for the most part it is what you imagine it would be when you take an 18th century classic, ignore its satirical core, modernize it to 20th and 21st century pop culture references (yes, both), put Jack Black as the central character and let him loose.  It isn't Jack Black's best film either, just sortof there.
But I kinda liked the film anyhow, even though it wasn't a surprise on any level. I expected dumb but entertaining, that's what happened. It made a decent Saturday afternoon time waster film and didn't make me angry for having watched it by the end. So that's good.

26 November 2011

Movies: Trust

Trust (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1529572/

Drama

A 14yr old girl who wants to make the volleyball team chats regularly with a 15yr old online male friend, who happens to also play volleyball. He gives her tips to improve her game and increase her chances to make the team. As she develops her crush on him he admits he's not 15, he's a little older. After an initial "WTF?" moment she forgives him. Then blah blah blah he convinces her to meet him at the mall, he's way older than she thought, he talks her into his car, a hotel room, bada-bing-bada-boom. The rest of the film covers the impact on the family dynamic, individual family member's ability to cope with events, stuff like that.

Stars Clive Owen as the Dad, Catherine Keener as the Mom, Liana Liberato as the preyed-upon teen.
Owen and Keener - solid actors, always good to see them in film. Liberato - never seen her, but she really delivers a great performance.
Bonus: Jason Clarke as the FBI agent. I first noticed him as Wysocki in "Chicago Code", but apparently he's been a busy actor since the mid-90s. Just in a lot of stuff I've never seen.
Directed by David Schwimmer. Yes, Ross from 'Friends' David Schwimmer. I think I've only seen one other thing he's directed, "Run, Fatboy, Run". I kinda forgot about that one. No matter, this film is better.

Whenever I see Clive Owen in a film I immediately think of three things. First, I think of this scene from the series Extras. Second I think of the film "Shoot 'em Up", which is probably one of the best action-movie lampoon films out there. Third, I think of Karl Pilkington's film idea from the Ricky Gervais show. But I'm getting off topic.

The story is one that touches on the fears of any modern-day parent of online teens and draws from many a tragic news story.  The parent's reactions? I can't exactly say if I find them consistently realistic or not, especially because I've not been in that situation. Overall seems plausible, and the cast delivers really well on their performances.  Sure it could be a Lifetime flick, except it's way better produced, acted and directed.  The family is a bit too picture-perfect at the start of the film for my taste, but then I do understand they need to be that way to contrast the impact on the family.

Honestly I watched it primarily because of the cast. The story was pretty much how I figured it would be in general, the details of the story not so much. Schwimmer did a great job directing this.  If someone asked if it was worth seeing I'd probably say that if you're in the market for a film about the subject go for it. You won't lose out on anything by seeing it or not seeing it.
Will this do for the internet what "Jaws" did for beach swimmers? If it does, it'll be for a select demographic, not nearly as wide-reaching. I suppose it'd be a great scare for parents with online younguns in that teen age group. And hey, if your online teen seems oblivious to the dangers, maybe this'll trigger some thinking.
Probably not a good training film for budding online predators.  The details they leave out will get you caught. Just sayin.

24 November 2011

Movies: TrollHunter

TrollHunter (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1740707/

Fantasy / Horror (comedy) from Norway

Three college student filmmakers are trying to track down a suspected bear poacher that seems to be present wherever licenses for bear hunting have been issued. They are making a documentary about the licensed bear hunters vs. poachers and are trying to score an interview with him. However they soon find his methods and equipment a little bit unconventional for hunting bears.  As you can guess from the title, they discover he isn't hunting bears.

Yep, a Norwegian film. Complete with subtitles.  Filmed in the cinema vérité style you'll remember from "The Blair Witch Project" or "Cloverfield". From the beginning the film reminded me plenty of "Blair Witch" as it starts with a message stating the whole of the footage making up the film was mailed anonymously and the resulting film comes from cutting the footage together in sequential order, nobody knows what happened to the film makers, stuff like that.  Plus it has a trio of young film makers stomping about through the forest, running through the forest, shaky camera work pointing every which way half the time, although the camera is surprisingly steady for most of the troll sightings.  Very low-budget feel.  As for scripting - if the dialog was unscripted the cast did well, if the dialog is scripted it had a good 'unscripted' feel to it. Perhaps it was a mixture of scripting and improv. It does help to have some knowledge or awareness of Norse mythology and folklore to understand some of the subtle joke references in the dialog and events.  On the plus side, if you've read any Tolkien you're probably prepared enough.

On the plus-side, the scenery and locations are amazing. Norway has some great mountain and forest areas. The CGI trolls are integrated into the environments well for the most part.  The 'night vision' scenes seemed more like 'tinted green' for effect footage.
The film does have its humorous moments, apparently the main "Troll Hunter" dude is a well known (in Norway) comic actor. He deadpans his performance well, which adds to the humor. Trying not to be spoil-ey, but the bit where the troll hunter puts on this crazy hodgepodge 'suit of armor' and approaches a troll to get a blood sample was particularly funny.

There's a couple of events in the film I wondered, "really? would people actually act that way after that?" But no matter. I think that once I was in a "Blair Witch" mindset I just let things slide. Which would probably be the best way to view the film. Sit back and don't think too much.  I can't say more without spoiling the film.

All in all, it was an amusing diversion of a film. I didn't feel my time was wasted, it was entertaining enough. Just be prepared for a bit of reading of subtitles.

Supposedly there's an American version of the film in development. I'm curious and terrified to see the result of that effort. Curious to see what they come up with, terrified it'll completely lose the humor and fun this production contains and make some crappy CGI fest worthy of SyFy channel.

19 November 2011

Movies: The Tourist

The Tourist (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1243957/

Thriller / Action / Mystery/ Comedy / Romance

Elise is being tracked by the French Police, who are working with Scotland Yard. They are trying to catch a dude named Alexander Pearce and they believe she will lead them to him. Pearce is wanted for tax evasion and suspected international criminal activity. He is also known to have stole $2.3 billion from a gangster named Shaw.
Elise receives a note from Alex telling her to get on a particular train at a particular time and find a guy that is about his height and build to throw off the police.  Apparently Alex already knows that Scotland Yard has assumed he has had radical plastic surgery to alter his face.
Frank, an American high school math teacher, happens to be sitting on that train and Elise chooses him as her mark. She feigns interest and tells him to invite her to dinner. While the police are trying to identify the man Elise is dining with, one Scotland Yard policeman, on Shaw's payroll, forwards Frank's picture on to Shaw.  So now both Scotland Yard and Shaw are hunting Frank down to recover their monies.

Stars Johnny Depp as Frank. Angelina Jolie as Elise. Paul Bettany as Inspector John Acheson of Scotland Yard. Timothy Dalton as Acheson's boss.

So there's a bit of mystery, supposedly thrilling chase scenes, romance scenes, and light music that gives the impression it's not supposed to be taken completely seriously but possibly like a comedy of errors. Except it never really delivers on any of those fronts. The movie isn't terrible, it is watchable, but it doesn't really stand out in any way. And it doesn't seem to know exactly what sort of film it is trying to be. I'm surprised it didn't go direct to DVD.   Then again during pre-production they shuffled through a few actors and directors, all who quit over creative differences, before finally ending up with the cast and crew that made the film.

My impression was that the cast was way bigger than the script. Seriously bigger. Bigger in a way that their presence doesn't make the film any better at all, so obviously the big names were necessary to get the film made and distributed. Enough that some serious money was spent. $100million to produce for a gross receipts of $67million or so. Yeah. They spent out the butt to get the cast they had.
I think the problem with the script was it isn't really a new story, it was rather predictable. I stuck around to the end to see if my suspicions were correct.

To me it had a late 70s and 80s feel to it. Sortof a mix of 80s James Bond flicks, Miami Vice, Beverly Hills Cop, Remington Steele and Moonlighting. Granted the story itself isn't in any way reflective of those films/TV shows, but there was a feel to the film that was reminiscent of them.  I did also have an "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" flashback because a big part of the film takes place in Venice and there are boats.

A ho-hum film with a big cast. Your life will still be complete if you don't see this film. If you're looking for an action thriller flick, look elsewhere, there's better to be had. Then again, if you don't mind a puff piece with hints of romance between Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, go for it.  If your wife/girlfriend/mistress is twisting your arm to see the film, go ahead. But if all three of them want to see it on different nights you're probably going to want to be ready to fake choking on popcorn early on during the 2nd and 3rd viewings just to get out of having to watch it again.  Rub a little popcorn salt in an eye to make it water then start:
*hack* *glurk* *gasp* "it's okay honey... wrong pipe" *wheeeze* "just keep watching... i'll catch up...."  She'll take pity on you, you disappear into the bathroom, she'll go back to the film and forget about ya for a while.

18 November 2011

Movies: 13 Assassins

13 Assassins (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1436045/

Foreign film - Action Drama

Set in 1840's Japan.  The current Shogun's half-brother, Naritsugu, rapes and kills at his whim. As the son of the previous Shogun he is above the law. He is in consideration to be included in the council of advisers to the Shogun ruling Japan. After one of the top officials commits seppuku (aka harakiri) because he can no longer honorably both support his Shogun and turn a blind eye to Naritsugu's evil doings, senior government official Doi feels Naritsugu's actions are too outrageous and dangerous for the health of the country.  He calls upon other Samurai he knows feel the same way and asks them to form an assassination squad to take out Naritsugu. They know it is a suicide mission, but feel the health of the country outweighs the value of their lives and their loyalty to the Shogun.  After assembling a team of 12 Samurai and Ronin (masterless Samurai) they buy a town from its residents and set up a trap for Naritsugu to ambush him while he travels from Edo back to his home.

"13 Assassins" is a remake of an original 1963 film. I've not seen the original so I can't make comparisons between the two.  However this film reminds me in many ways of the 1954 classic "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa, a man considered one of the best directors of all time. If you've not seen "Seven Samurai" but have seen "The Magnificent Seven" then you could draw that same comparison because "Magnificent Seven" is a remake of  "Seven Samurai".
The point I was getting to was both films feature a small group knowingly throwing themselves against impossible odds in a suicidal attempt to right wrongs for the greater good of the common people.

It is hinted that "13 Assassins" has some historical basis. The Sakuradamon incident was suggested as the inspiration for the story. However the details of the incidents are quite different, about the only similarity is a government official being ambushed by samurai and ronin because of their displeasure with the direction the country was taking.  If you read up on the Sakuradamon incident before viewing the film your expectations for the story might be a bit off. Reading afterward is okay, you'll spot the similarities and differences immediately.

The American/International release version is about two hours long, which is cut down 20 minutes from the original release. The film is subtitled, not dubbed. Apparently some of the cuts involve supernatural goings-on that might be lost on western viewers that are not familiar with Japanese folklore. *

It takes about one hour and fifteen minutes of preparation before the actual attack begins.  As with many other aspects of the film this parallels the pacing and layout of "Seven Samurai".  When that attack began I forgot all about how long it seemed to actually get to that point in the film. When the opening attacks began I was so instantly awestruck I said, "Holy shit" out loud, and the remainder of the film flew by in a flurry of activity. Even as the film wound down into its parting scenes it was so worth the trip getting there.

Even if you don't like subtitled films, this one is worth watching. Especially for the battle scenes. Heck, "Seven Samurai" is worth watching even though it's subtitled. The power of the story and the action scenes trump any discomfort of having to read the translations.

I've heard some folks state they enjoyed this film more than "Seven Samurai". I can't argue that people's likes or dislikes are wrong, it's their opinion based on their esthetic preferences. But I would put forward that "13 Assassins" is only as good a movie as it is because "Seven Samurai" exists. The parallels between the two films are strong and obvious.
A lot of really good films are as good as they are because their directors studied Akira Kurosawa's film style, camera work and directorial technique (coughStarWarscough). Sure, the battle scenes and effects used in "13 Assassins" are more polished than films from the 50's. However the characterization and dialog in "13 Assassins" isn't quite as effective nor as polished as its "Seven Samurai" predecessor. Plus. in cases where a modern film is as good as a film that predates it by 60 or 70 years, I tend to give the nod to the older film because it came first and established the bar other films are measured against.  We can't view the modern films in a vacuum that excludes the influences of filmmakers past because nobody makes films in a vacuum that excludes the influences of filmmakers past. It would be interesting to see a feature length film made by someone who has never watched movies, television nor staged productions prior to making the film. I know there's plenty of crap out there that looks like whoever made it hasn't watched a film before, but I doubt that's the case.

Crap, I sortof wandered way off topic there at the end.

See it. It's good. 
-------------
* Note: The following is somewhat spoilery so I set it at the end to give you a chance to not read it if you wish to avoid having part of the ending spoiled.
One of the survivors of the battle, the hunter Koyata, the dude the 12 picked up when they were lost in the forest, is actually a forest spirit and thus immortal. That is why he is barely harmed at the end despite obviously mortal wounds during the battle.
The only reason I know that is because I read it. I know nothing about Japanese folklore so that part of the story was lost on me and left me a little confused because I had no basis to catch the contextual hints.  I'm sure I'm not alone when it comes to that.

14 November 2011

Movies: Priest

Priest (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0822847/

Fantasy Action Thriller Sci-Fi

Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, there was an ongoing war between vampires and humans over the span of history. Through the ages the vampires had the upper hand and humanity was barely hanging on using innovative technological advancement. Then the Church commissioned special battle Priests, super agile, quick and highly trained warriors that turned the tide, leading humanity to drive the few remaining vampires to reservations. By 'reservations' they mean prisons buried underground. With the vampires vanquished the Church decommissioned the Priests from their roles, ordered them to not speak to each other, and scattered them among the cities to fend for themselves.  The bulk of humanity lives in walled cities controlled by the Church, ensuring their protection. However some people choose to try to make a living in the wastelands, outside of the Church's political control. 
When a pack of vampires kill one particular Priest's brother and sister-in-law and kidnap his niece, he requests permission to retrieve her. The Church refuses to acknowledge vampires have organized and left the reservations and refuses to give him sanction to act, threatening excommunication and execution if he defies the Church. He strikes out to save her despite the warnings, teamed up with the Sheriff of the wasteland region she lived in to retrieve her.  When the Church finds out the Priest defied their orders, they recall four retired Priests and send them to retrieve him.

Stars Paul Bettany as the Priest. You may recall him as that creepy albino monk in "The Da Vinci Code". He was also the angel Michael in "Legion", and, incidentally, the voice of Jarvis in the Iron Man flicks. Karl Urban, Eomer in the "Lord of the Rings" flicks, awesome as Dr McCoy in the Star Trek reboot, the assassin Kirill sent after Jason Bourne in the "Supremacy" film, and generally great in any film he's cast in, plays a hybrid vampire/human and the antagonist to Bettany's protagonist. Maggie Q, of a few films and the new Nikita series, plays a Priestess. Appearances by Brad Dourif (awesome creepy guy actor); Stephen Moyer,  Bill fromTrue Blood but in a non-vampire role as the Priest's brother; Madchen Amick of "Twin Peaks" fame. You'd probably also recognize Christopher Plummer and possibly Alan Dale (Charles Widmore if you are a Lost fan, quite a bit of other stuff).

Based on a comic book series. I've never read the comic so I have no clue how true to the series the film is. At this point I don't care because as an uninitiated I thought the film was pretty good. Big budget action, effects, locations, settings, a mix of great cast members, and an interesting story.

Yes, it is another story that rewrites vampire lore. However the film does an awesome job of showing and telling you the history of the humans vs. vampires battles throughout the ages leading up the period of time the film is set in. As mentioned before, it is a dystopian future. Some of the technologies are beyond our current technologies, others not so much. Sort of a steampunk feel in some ways. There are nods to Orwell's '1984', Ayn Rand's 'Anthem', even "V for Vendetta" as far as the cities and the political/Church situation goes.  Basically the film does a great job of setting its stage for the show and stays true to that stage. Sure it rewrites vampire lore, but because they do such a good job up front of establishing that lore it works in the context of the film. Usually I complain about rewriting vampire lore, but it really works well here.  Lucky for us the vampires aren't emo, they don't sparkle. They are a vicious bloodthirsty species, although sunlight is still deadly to them. Which is the only reason humanity was able to exist for so long.

The film seems to draw together a lot of genres. Hints of Western coupled with Steampunk, Vampire horror, alternative history, sci-fi, dystopian future films. The core of the story, man recovers kin from the bad guys and goes against the establishment, isn't a new story, but how it is told and the world they build to tell the story in makes it fun.

So yes, if you haven't guessed, I liked the film and would recommend it. Definitely worth watching. Fills the Friday-night action film or the Saturday-night horror/sci-fi film slot equally well.

-----

Spoiler Alert : Musings about the film story that might spoil it for you if you haven't already figured out how the film ends before watching it. If you've already seen it, or already figured out how it'll end, go ahead and keep reading.




Now - the vampires have assembled under their queen and are making a comeback, rebuilding their numbers and have made the first vampire/human hybrid, which promises to be a great counter to the Priest ability to kick vampire ass.  They've planned the major attack on the city, wiping out the little outposts in the wastelands along the way. No word about those attacks have reached the Church leadership, nor the masses of humans in the cities.
So I pose this question:  Why ruin the full frontal assault on the city from the train packed with vampires by drawing attention to their plans? Why kidnap the Priest's niece? If they hadn't done that, the Priest wouldn't have gotten involved, the train would have made it to the city undetected, the vampires would've gorged like ticks on the blood of the unprotected masses.  Vampires would've set up a new foothold and been able to amass for the next assault.  They may have been able to find and transform whatever few Priests were slumming about in the city, building up their own hybrid counter to the remaining Priests.
I know - there would've been no film otherwise. But sheesh - why do the 'bad guys' always telegraph their motives so clearly giving the 'good guys' opportunity to oppose them?  Similar to the 'bad guys' telling the captured 'good guys' their diabolical master plans before they try to kill them with some overly complex Rube Goldberg machine that the 'good guy' can escape from in the last few seconds. Hint to future bad guys: if you capture your opposition, don't tie him up and tell him your plans. Just shoot him in the head, be done with it and go on with your world domination.  Or, in the case of this film, don't stir up the hornet's nest before you attack it. Just burn the nest down before they know what hit them.

13 November 2011

Movies: Good Neighbors

Good Neighbors (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1576440/

Victor, an elementary school teacher, moves to an apartment in a small Montreal neighborhood and tries to make friends with the other English speakers in the building, Spencer and Louise. Spencer lives on the 1st floor*, is wheelchair-bound and never leaves his apartment. 2nd-floor Louise loves cats and is fascinated with stories about a serial killing rapist in the neighborhood. Victor, living above the other two, quickly develops a crush on Louise, however his attentions are largely ignored.
Sounds like a recipe for boredom, except nothing is quite like it seems in this tenement house.

This is a smart little thriller with hints of mystery. A little bit of violence. Also, piranhas and kittycats.

Stars Jay Baruchel as Victor. You might remember him from "Freaks & Geeks" or "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" or a few other things. Scott Speedman of "Underworld" series is Spencer. Emily Hampshire is Louise. I didn't recognize her, I think I've only seen one thing she's been in ("Earthsea") and didn't even remember her from that.But it's been a few years since I watched that.

The acting is fine. The story is nice and twisty and stuff. Didn't seem especially dusty or a rehash of films past, yet isn't exactly new ground either. Regardless it makes for a good story from start to finish. The characters might do some unanticipated things, but in context of what you learn about them and their personalities, their actions aren't uncharacteristic.  The pace might seem slow at first, but give it time. Everything that happens and that you learn about the characters leads to the conclusion of the film.

I liked it. A decent import from the Canadians.

-----

* Note  - by 1st floor I don't mean the ground floor, 1st floor is the first floor above the ground floor. If you're confused, consider Spencer to be on the 2nd floor, Louise on the 3rd and Victor on the 4th.

12 November 2011

Movies: Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479997/

Action Fantasy

A couple of 14th century crusaders tire of the slaughter of innocents by their own hands in the christian god's name and walk away from the crusade. They're considered deserters, but when they return to plague-ridden Europe, Cardinal D'Ambroise, himself bedridden by the plague, charges them with transporting a witch to be tried at a monastery for causing the plague.

Stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as the ex-crusaders.

Serious "B Movie" feel to this production, despite the obvious budget at their disposal. Cage and Perlman work well together, but neither even attempts at affecting some sort of accent to fit in with the supporting cast. A lot of the dialog contains modern in humor, phrase and delivery, there's little attempt at keeping much of anything 14th-century-ish (or how us 21st century moviegoers imagine 14th century dialog sounds).
So yeah, B-movie dialog, B-movie action scenes, B-movie progression to a B-movie conclusion with big budget special effects, decent location selection and props, a couple of well-known actors with predictably appropriate character deaths along the way.

I was surprised to see Cage and Perlman in the film, all they had to do was phone it in. So either they were just collecting fat paychecks or they are friends with someone behind the film.  The film just doesn't scream "we need big names in this film to make it a blockbuster!" It almost amounts to "we were lucky to get big names in this film or nobody would've noticed an we'd have ended up on the SyFy channel."

The film isn't terrible, it isn't great. It's more of a Saturday matinee type film. Random entertainment.  You won't miss out on anything if you don't see the film, and if you do see it, your time won't be any more wasted than if you spent your viewing time on random reruns. Probably as historically accurate and informative as History Channel's Ancient Aliens series, though a tad more entertaining.

07 November 2011

Movies: Red State

Red State (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0873886/

Horror / Thriller

Set somewhere in Middle America, three students find a guaranteed hook-up via a Craigslist-style message board over the internet. Instead of a promised threesome with an in-her-30s hotbody they find themselves on the wrong end of a local fundamentalist church's attention. Think Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) meets Branch Davidians (Waco, TX).

It's no secret, but probably not well-known, that I like Kevin Smith movies, granted some more than others. But this is a new direction for Kevin Smith, horror instead of the comedy/dramadies he's been making. I liked the result.
Sure there's some issues in pacing and tone, but the whole of the flick is enjoyable despite them. A 'sum is greater than the parts' sort of thing.

It has a great cast for the most part, especially Michael Parks knocking it out of the park as he tends to do in any production he's a part of. If you're unsure of who Michael Parks is, you might recall him as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Kill Bill Vol 1", "Death Proof" and "Planet Terror". Or as Estiban in "Kill Bill Vol 2". Heck, Parks has been in tons of stuff, not just Tarantino and Rodriguez flicks. But he gets roles that really let him shine from those guys, and now Kevin Smith. A good solid actor. The cast also includes Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad"), ever great Stephen Root, John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, Melissa Leo. Kevin Smith assembled a lot of good solid actors for the film and they don't disappoint.

Even more enjoyable is that not only did WBC protest the film's premier at Sundance, but they attended a screening that Kevin Smith invited them to, and they walked out about 20 minutes into the film. Awesome. Apparently a couple of ex-WBCers saw the film and complimented Smith on how realistic some aspects of the religious fanaticism in the film was depicted.

The movie unfolds in non-traditional ways in some aspects, goes places I wasn't expecting, and messes with the generally expected "hero/villain/protagonist/antagonist" story dynamic. And in general it's pretty messed up, so I like it.

If'n y'all don't fancy violence n such, or want monsters in your horror films, this might not be to your liking. Then again, it does feature the worst monsters of all. People. People coupled with fanaticism. And if you think the fanaticism is only happening in the wacko fundie's camp you're missing part of the film.

04 November 2011

Movies: Hanna

Hanna (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

Thriller / Action flick

Hanna was raised in isolation in Finland by her father Erik where he taught her how to hunt, fight, survive, and  book-taught sciences and languages. As the story unfolds you discover Erik is an ex-CIA operative and he's raised Hanna to be an assassin, specifically to take out the CIA handler he once worked with, the one who killed Hanna's mother.

Stars Saoirse Ronan as Hanna, Eric Bana as Erik. Bana you've probably seen in quite a few flicks, like the good flick "Munich", or "Troy", or the "Star Trek" reboot film, or perhaps "The Hulk".  I've seen Ronan in "The Lovely Bones" and "City of Ember". She's a good young actress that shows lots of promise to go far in the industry. Cate Blanchett plays the mean ol' CIA handler Marissa, you probably remember her best as Galadriel from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, or a few of other good films like "The Missing", "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", "Hot Fuzz", or the latest "Robin Hood" flick.

Cast did well. As Ronan played the central character she carried most of the film and did excellent. Not only in delivering dialog in an accent that seemed consistent from start to end of the film, but also in her action scenes. And lots of running.

The film has decent action scenes, cinematography and locations. The story and how they tell the backgrounds of the characters works well. Although some plot parts aren't new to film, the story as a whole is assembled well and is a refreshing departure from the glut of recycled and remake films the industry has shoveled on us recently.
I noticed one of the locations seems to be one used in the "Aeon Flux" film. It's a unique place, the Berlin Windkanal. After a bit of Googling I found out they built a small section to replicate it and used green screen and CGI for portions of the shoot.

Worth watching, makes a good Friday Night popcorn film.