Hulk (2003)

3.5 STARS

General Information:

Information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286716/  

  138 min  –  Action | Sci-Fi   –  18 July 2003 (UK)

Director

Ang Lee

Writer

James Schamus; John Turman; Michael France; James Schamus    

Stars

Eric Bana; Jennifer Connelly; Sam Elliott

Plot:

Bruce Banner, a scientist, is a man with a horrifying past, a past which is the reason why he has a mutation which, when he’s angry, turns him into a giant green monster known as ‘The Hulk’.

Review:

Here with have an unconventional genre film: a superhero movie, where the ‘hero’ doesn’t do anything heroic, and where his powers are more of a curse than an advantage. This is an odd combination which may work for some audience members and may not for others; mainly because the director, Ang Lee does films about character as opposed to films about plot.

His films have developed characters with delicately placed back stories, carefully scripted dialogue, and real, proper emotions. His films are emotionally intense. Superhero films are about the occasional one liner, the fast paced action, the love affair with the hero and the girl-next-door’ character, the intrigue of the hero, and of course: how the hero will defeat the villain.

Here we have a film that is meticulously slow-paced and well crafted. It starts off with a sequence explaining how Bruce Banner (aka: ‘The Hulk) developed his mutation: David Banner (Nick Nolte) experiments on himself in an attempt  to improve human DNA. However, his genetic alterations have passed on down to his son Banner.

Bruce cannot remember much of his childhood when he is conscious, as the events that occurred when he was a mere boy where so brutal and horrifying, that he unconsciously suppressed them. Yet when he is dreaming, his memories come flooding back to him with a sharp, impenetrable force. He remembers how he was orphaned and had to be adopted. He remembers how his father disappeared. He remembers how his father stabbed his mother in front of him.

Later on in the film, we find out that Bruce’s father is not dead; he returns back to Bruce by working as a Janitor in the lab where Bruce works. As their ‘confrontation’ unfold, Bruce begins to get angry and he experiences feelings of distress (and confusion) as his childhood memories are driven to the very front of his mind. Which can only be a bad thing, because (due to Bruce’s mutation) when he gets angry, he turns into the ‘hulk’. The film then turns into the usual comic-book stuff, fight-scenes, chasing, smashing up objects, and our ‘hero’ jumping from rooftop to rooftop.

To complicate issues further, Bruce works with a girl named Betty (Jennifer Connelly). Betty’s father is concerned over his daughter’s safety, and as a result, he attempts to try to kill Bruce in the second half of the movie in a ‘cat and mouse style’. So the film itself as established a hero and a villain. Yet perhaps this is not the case. We see that Bruce is fighting over his emotions and his feelings, he’s discovering his identity and trying to work out who he is, yet, he doesn’t want to become the monster that he can become – meaning that the actions of Betty’s father only make Bruce more confused and experience more angst. Comparisons can be drawn with another Ang Lee’s: Brokeback Mountain – when the character ‘Ennis’ is battling his sexuality, Ennis doesn’t want to be gay, in the same way that Bruce doesn’t want to be the ‘hulk’.

The action sequences are particularly well done in Hulk as they are visually stunning, compelling and indeed, hypnotic. Yet, they are also engaging, I wasn’t bored in them because I cared about the characters in this film. I cared about them, I didn’t want pain to come to Bruce and any of the other good characters because they were so well-developed, so believable. This is very important, and unfortunately, cannot be said for most films.

Verdict:

Hulk is an odd film in the sense that it is a meticulous character-study-come-super-hero movie. All in all, it has more dialogue and character development than action and fast-paced violence, which may lead some audience members bored, and some intrigued and engaged. At times, the film tends to drag on a bit as I wanted some action some violence. As an action/superhero movie it fails. But as a character study it’s a definite winner to say the least.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

5 STARS

General Information:

The information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120663/

18  159 min  –  Drama | Mystery | Thriller   –  10 September 1999 (UK)

Director

Stanley Kubrick

Writors

Stanley Kubrick; Frederic Raphael

Stars

Tom Cruise; Nicole Kidman; Todd Field   

Plot:

Bill (Cruise) and Alice Harford (Kidman) appear to be a happily married couple, however their veneer of being in a ‘happy marriage’ is stripped away when Alice reveals all to Bill about how she almost cheated on him.

Review:

The main criticism that most people pin-point onto Eyes Wide Shut is the fact that none of it could actually happen, which seems odd considering the fact that films are supposed to take us to places that we would never ever go to. Most of Kubrick’s films involve this style: blending the real with the imaginary – yet, perhaps, this is because Kubrick explored the unconscious, our inner feelings, our primal, instinctual emotions. A Clockwork Orange explores the primal instinct of violence, and Eyes Wide Shut explores the primal feelings of lust and the fantasies that go with it. The film builds up and up to a surreal occult orgy, held in a mansion. My point being that even though the chances of an orgy actually occurring are second to none, Eyes Wide Shut involves it – not just as a plot element – but to explore Bill’s (and perhaps, Alice’s) deep, hidden fantasies, that are so deep, that they are locked and stored away in the back of their minds. In their unconscious.

Eyes Wide Shut is an intriguing film which not only explores lust, but also explores basic human emotions such as: obsession and anxiety. After Alice reveals all to Bill, the phone rings, and Bill is asked if he can visit the relative of a dead patient of his. As he is in the car going towards the patient’s house, his mind whizzes, and we are dragged into the hell-pit that is Bill’s mind: his thoughts are racing and his anxiety builds up and up; as we see that Bill is imagining that Alice is having sex with a stranger. The first time we see what Bill is thinking, Alice is just kissing the naval officer, yet as the film progresses, it builds up to Alice having full-blown sex with the stranger. 

After Bill has visited the dead patient’s wife, instead of returning home to Alice, he goes on an all night sexual odyssey, Bill is taking revenge. As Bill drifts around New York he has various encounters. He visits a prostitute, a clothes store, and as the film progresses he manages to get into an occult, underground orgy. Bill, is perhaps overreacting, yet, the film is a dream, the film explores Bill’s inner sexual thoughts, and the reason why he goes on this night-long sexual odyssey is because his mind is exacerbating the situation into something that it isn’t.

The film is fairly long as it is just over two hours, however, it is never dull. As I watching it I was intrigued, and I never knew what would happen next, as Kubrick takes us on Bill’s odyssey where various unexpected hairpin turns occur. Eyes Wide Shut is a film which explores sex, but isn’t sexy, it is of course a Kubrick film, each frame being cold and icy as ever, yet still intriguing. The orgy sequence is ritualistic, and mechanical, the camera glides past from one room to the other to produce cinema which is haunting, disturbing and hypnotic, all at the same time.

Eyes Wide Shut is a fascinating exploration of human sexuality, love, sex, obsession, desire, anxiety, and of course: relationships.

Verdict:

This is one for die-hard Kubrick fans, yet some who are willing to sit through a 2 hour surreal commentary on sex and relationships and like to think about films may find this an intriguing watch. Eyes Wide Shut is neither sexy or erotic, yet it is: creepy, disturbing, and at points, haunting. A masterpiece.

Evilution (2008)

0.5 STARS

General Information

The information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262416/

18        Horror

DirectorChris ConleeWritors

Brian Patrick O’Toole

Stars

Eric Peter-Kaiser; Sandra Ramírez; Tim Colceri  

Plot:

An alien bacteria has the power to raise the dead to life again, the bacterium manages to get into the body of somebody living in a suburban apartment, and as the day progresses, the amount of zombies increases and increases…

Review:

I was flicking through channels on my sky plus box in an attempt to find a downright apocalyptic, depressing, gory, nightmarish zombie film which could be compared to 28 Days Later, but isn’t actually 28 Days Later. (As you do). Anyway, I came across the horror channel and found Evilution, the summary described it as an ‘apocalyptic horror’ with lots of gore and violence. So hey, I recorded. It sounded quite good, and I watched it with a friend of mine a week later.

Now, I must point out, I like to watch a film with an open-mind, I can suspend my disbelief higher than most people can.

The plot begins around about twenty minutes in, the character ‘Darren’ injects a gangster named ‘random’ with the bacterial serum God knows why, but hey, it’s probably a pathetic, not very well thought out plot device which the writer’s put in because they wanted to go out for a cup of coffee down their local cafe…I imagine. (I later find out that he did this to somehow make Random feel better, because Random had just been shot by a couple of gangsters).

Now, obviously, once this happens, Random turns into zombie, the process is slow, at first, he begins to convulse and shake, almost like he is having a fit.

Now, whilst this is happening, Darren pops around to Mandy’s room. Mandy is the eye-candy of the film, and that is her only purpose. (The director is perverted). Mandy and Darren then have brief passionate sex, for no real reason – and then later on in the film, Darren wants to save her. (As if you’d develop emotions with your one-night-stand. Pah-lease!)

Now, whilst Darren is pleasuring Mandy, Random’s symptoms gets worse and worse and he escapes. So in simple terms, Darren had sex with Mandy as a plot device so that Random could run around the apartment, bite someone and then allow the zombie-count to build. Simple as that.

Evilution is a genuinely dispacable pile of garbage spewed out of cinema’s backside, it is whimpering, cowering attempt at a horror film, I wasn’t frightened by it, I laughed at it.

Now, the characters are equally ridiculous, we have somne gangsters who just stay stuff like ‘yeah blad, innit’, an army officer who shouts all the time, and a science geek who is just well…geeky. Obviously, as in most zombie films, these characters must unite as a team to defend themselves from the zombies. In the case of Evilution, shouty-screamy-ex-army-officer just well…shouts and screams. Hey, that’s ‘acting’ for you.

Other ridiculous things occur in this film. There’s a hallway sequence where a big muscular bodybuilder and a young woman step out of the room wondering what all of the fuss is about. Then (surprise, surprise) zombies turn up; the bodybuilder man says ‘bring it!’ The girl, is wearing a towel…and because this film is so low and unwitty and misogynistic (*see random sex scene between Mandy and Darren) a random zombie rips the towel off her soso that she’s completely naked.

As I draw nearer to the conclusion of this review, I must reveal my main point: a good horror relies on atmosphere and its characters. Evilution lacked any atmosphere, in fact, there was none. It’s characters were simple stock characters, the scientist was just a nerd, the army character shouted all the time (so much so that he pulled quite hilarious facial expressions. I found this rather good. So much so, I rewound and played certain bits over and over again. For my own entertainment…I need to go out more).

Don’t waste your time with this.

Verdict:

A poor zombie film in every sense: laughable rather than scary, un-atmospheric rather than atmospheric, and characters I couldn’t care about rather than characters I could care about.

5 of the Dullest Quotes in Cinematic History. Ever. And yes, they are all from 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is loved by all critics. Yet what’s striking about this fact is the fact that it is a story which lacks any character development, perhaps a tad hypocritical considering the fact that all critics do is moan all day about how bad the character development in Sex and the City was (yes, I’m being hypocritical). In fact the character development in 2001 is lacking so much that if I read the script I’d probably die of boredom when it came to reading the sections of dialogue.

Anyway, in no particular order:

1) Elena: Oh, we’re going home. We have just spent three months calibrating the new antennae at Tchalinko… And what about you?
Dr. Floyd: I’m just on my way up to Clavius.

2) Aries-1B stewardess: Here you are, sir, main level please.

3) Female computerized voice: Welcome to Voiceprint Identification. When you see the red light go on, would you please state in the following order: your destination, your nationality, and your full name; surname first, Christian name and initial. 

4) HAL: I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It’s going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.

5) Interviewer: [recorded broadcast on the BBC news] The crew of Discovery One consists of five men and one of the latest generation of the HAL-9000 computers. Three of the five men were put aboard asleep, or to be more precise a state of hibernation. They were Dr. Charles Hunter, Dr. Jack Kimball and Dr. Victor Kaminsky. We spoke with mission commander Dr. David Bowman and his deputy, Dr. Frank Poole. Well, good afternoon gentlemen, how is everything going? 

Well, wasn’t that riveting? Huh?…no! Well, check this out:

Top 10 Pulp Fiction Quotes!

 

Sex and the City (2008)

1.5 STARS

General Information:

Information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1000774/

  145 min  –  Comedy | Drama | Romance   –  28 May 2008 (UK)

Director

Michael Patrick King

Writer

Michael Patrick King

Stars

Sarah Jessica Parker; Kim Cattrall; Cynthia Nixon

Plot:

The personal lives of four women are intertwined in a story about love, sex and relationships.

Review:

Deep down, we are all consumerist suckers, we think we’re not insecure about who we are, yet actually we are. Men want ‘washboard’ abs and women want that slim figure. And if you’re in Sex and the City you need to get that Gucci handbag like now. NOW.

Sex and the City is a film where all women either stare at those dream pair of shoes, or at a topless man’s chest. It is a film where all gay characters are either helping out with their best friends wedding. And a film where walk-in wardrobes are a girls dream.

In essence, Sex and the City doesn’t really have a main plot as such, but rather, it tells the story of the lives of four separate womenm, so it has four plots. It is a film about characters, so lets see what we’ve got:

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker): Carrie is going to get married to Mr. Big (innuendo?…). However, the marriage ceremony doesn’t quite work out and she spends the rest of the movie feeling depressed and insulting Mr. Big for not getting rid of his pre-marriage nerves. Then at the end, we’re supposed to feel sorry for her (baring in mind she’s a woman with a wardrobe which is literally a ro0m, and on the day of her wedding she hit her husband with a bunch of flowers in the centre of a busy road).

Then we have…

 Samantha (Kim Cattrall): All she does is have sex, and lots of it. She thinks about sex, talks about it. Oh and surprise, surprise: loves it as well. Everything about her is to do with sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. SEX! With her, if it ain’t about sex…it’s probably about foreplay. The writing of her character defies logic, common sense and any sense of ‘humanity’ whatsoever. Everything about her is to do with sex, so much so, that all of the characters associated with her are about (you guessed it) sex. The bloke next door has constant one night stands. And her pet dog humps everything and anything: from pillows to people’s legs. Also of note, is the fact that later on in the film she splits up with her husband because she claims that it ‘isn’t working’. (I doubt this highly, as if we observe the character of Samantha, we see that she has a deep passion to have a rough session of passion with the bloke next door.)

Then we have Charlotte. Well…she doesn’t have a character. She’s adopted a baby, and errr…that’s it.

We then have…

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon): Her marriage is failing because there’s not enough sex in it. As a result, her husband cheats on her, and as a result she wonders around flailing her arms, crying all the time. I don’t need to tell you what happens later, it’s too predictable.

Here we have a movie which is ludicrous in terms of its writing. All women in it are either obsessed with sex or obsessed with handbags. Yes, in real life, people do like sex and fashion, but that does not define them as a person, it doesn’t define them as what makes them human. On a serious note, this movie is part of the media industry which is obsessed with bodies and how we look. The media industry has bred us in such a subtle way to want the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect home, and in the case of Sex and the City: the perfect pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes (OMG). Sex and the City relies on this factor to make a good movie, it wants us to envy the lives of these characters. Yet, these characters aren’t real. Nobody has the perfect life, let alone the perfect walk-in wardrobe, and due to this people are becoming obsessed with being thin, which explains the rise in eating disorders, such as: anorexia.

Now, Sex and the City is a movie that thinks it’s good. It thinks it has a message, it thinks it says something about love, relationships and fidelity, but it doesn’t. It’s no Eyes Wide Shut when it comes to observations and commentaries about love and sex. Eyes Wide Shut says a lot about what people do when they realise a partner may have been unfaithful, it is a detailed character study. The character Bill in it (Tom Cruise) in Eyes Wide Shut is a complex one, he spends the movie brooding and thinking about past events, things that could have happened, may have happened between his wife and other men. However, in Sex and the City, Miranda just shouts a lot, cries and says ‘don’t get married!’. That, says it all.

Verdict:

A film that says nothing about sex and relationships and gives out false stereotypes: women are obsessed with handbags and sex, and all gay men are camp and have around 300 fag-hags. A film that’ll brainwash its audience to want to be like the characters, even though the characters aren’t real, and surely, that, can be a very dangerous thing.

Commando (1985)

3.5 STARS

General Information:

The information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088944/ 

18  90 min  –  Action | Adventure   –  21 February 1986 (UK)

Director:

Mark L. Lester

Writors:

Jeph Loeb; Matthew Weisman; Steven E. de Souza

Stars:

Arnold Schwarzenegger; Rae Dawn Chong; Dan Hedaya

Plot:

John Matrix’s daughter, Jenny, is kidnapped in an attempt to make John kill the president. John has 10 hours to rescue Jenny, otherwise, she’ll be killed…

Review:

Commando is trash cinema of the highest calibre, it is a masterpiece in all its idiotic dumbness, it is the greatest film with: the best rubbish script, best rubbish acting, and  the best borderline idiotic ‘plot’. In simple terms, Commando is the greatest guilty pleasure cinema has ever spewed out since the invention of the romantic-comedy – and what the hell, I still love it. Yes, love it.

Commando is a film that fits nicely into that so-called ‘genre’ of film called the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre. But hey, don’t all 80s action flicks fit into that?

Commando genuinely doesn’t care how bad the quality of the acting or the script is, why would it? Does it even matter? We’re all having fun. After all, Arnie’s blowing up things and shooting people, and delivering gags in his trademark deadpan style. Like, when he’s trying to chase the Sully, he immediately sees Cindy leaving work, asks her if he can borrow her car and then rips one of the seats out so his he can’t be seen by Sully. (Note to self: Arnold Schwarzenegger is so big that even though the seats been ripped out, you can still see his head anyway.)

The film isn’t like most bad action films, it isn’t about how big the explosions are, or how big the death-count is, it’s about the build up to each bad guy being killed, and more importantly: how he’s killed. (Not to mention that cheesy gags.) In simple terms, it’s not directed by Michael Bay.

Most action movies, wouldn’t care less about how the bad-guys are killed. Yet here is a movie that does. Commando ensures that during the process of taking the bad-guys out, it’s still funny, engaging, involving, entertaining, and of course: cheesy.

Everything worked in this film: the chance encounter between John and Cindy, the cliché of good guys vs bad guys, the pace, the humour, oh, and the gag about how Cindy can’t use a rocket-launcher, yet when she ‘read the instructions’ she somehow could. Everything.

It is a shame that the action genre has slipped recently; there won’t be movies like Cobra, or Die Hard, or Commando. Hollywood has shoved its big neck in and dumbed things down. Hollywood believes that if you shove a few big-chested blonde 20-something women and some explosions in, it makes a good film. It doesn’t. Warmth and soul does; it is my firm opinion that even though Commando isn’t of good quality in terms of direction, narrative or acting, it at least has warmth and heart, and surely, that makes it a film worth going to see.

Verdict:

Yes, it may have bad acting, a bad script and be absolutely, mind-bendingly cheesy. But who cares? It’s got a heart, a soul, a certain warmth to it.

A-Z of Film…PART TWO

E is for Erin Brokovitch

Erin Brokovitch is a fiesty young woman who starts off as unemployed (and perhaps, even, ‘unemployable’), however, by chance – and a lot of begging – she is employed at a law firm. Can young Erin take down a massive water corporation? Based on a true story, Erin Brokovitch is powerful, brutally honest, funny and filled with a lot of ‘acidic’ language.

F is for Full Metal Jacket

Kubrick’s tale of the dehumanising effects of boot-camp and war itself packs more punch than most Vietnam war films stacked up together. The language (mainly from Hartman) is unforgiving and the violence is brutal. All in all Kubrick’s story about the human condition and war’s need for animalistic and instinctual violence is sharp, honest, brutal and thought-provoking.

G is for Goldfinger

Bond-fans – and film-buffs alike – will state that ‘Goldfinger’ is the ‘quintessential Bond-film’, it is the Bond-film that simply defines what Bond-films are all about: women, car-chases, out-of-this-world gadgets, cheesy gags, borderline-insane villains, and not to mention some crude-60s humour (‘Pussy Galore’ says it all). Bond investigates a Gold-smuggler and his side-kick (midget and deadly bowler-hat carrier Oddjob) who are attempting to corrupt the Fort Knox gold reserve.

H is for Halloween

Halloween is John Carpenter’s masterpiece of horror, it redefined the horror genre and invented a new sub-genre known as the ‘slasher film’. Due to this, several remakes and copy-cat films have been made, but none quite add up to this cinematic gem. Mike Myers escapes from a mental hospital to kill…again…and again…and again. As the film progresses, and the audience experiences shock after shock after shock until the film’s dramatic ending, Halloween sets itself to be a horror film that not only leaves you terrified, that not only keeps you at the edge of your seat, but best of all: it is a film which some – if not, most – horrors are compared against.

I is for Inception
A dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, and possibly: within another dream. Yup, this is Christopher Nolan’s modern cinematic masterpiece which oozes with complexity, and once you ‘get it’, pays you off well. Dom Cobb works as an extractor, he is paid to extract information from enemies of corporate businesses. Yet can he do the ‘impossible’? Can he plant a piece of information in somebody’s head? Can he carry out ‘inception’?…

Next time…J to N…