Friday, November 16, 2012

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

NOTE: Due to the release of this movie things are getting really crazy at work (the work that pays, that is). So I'm not sure when I'll have the video review of it done. Just in case it doesn't come soon, here's the written version.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stephanie Meyer Isn't Through with Us Yet

On the eve of the release of the final Twilight film, just as thinking people everywhere are rejoicing at the news that we will never have to suffer through another one, a new trailer comes along to say "not so fast."

Yes, for those who had forgotten, Stephanie Meyer did in fact write something non-Twilight related: The Host (Not to be confused with the Korean monster movie). The story concerns a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has been possessed by body snatching aliens called "Souls" (gee, how long did it take you to think of that name, Stephanie?) Possessed humans are identifiable by their glowing iris's, because we all know how Stephanie Meyer loves her superhumans with weird eyes. Saoirse Ronan plays the heroine Melanie, one of the last remaining unpossessed humans, who is captured and possessed, but for some reason (if she's anything like Bella "you can't read my mind" Swan, those reasons will go unexplained) she alone is able to put up any kind of resistance.

I will admit, the premise is vaguely interesting. The basic idea is these two beings, one human the other alien, fighting each other inside the same body, and eventually finding some empathy towards one another through contact with each others memories & emotions.

Of course, being a Stephanie Meyer book there are two love interests, the twist apparently being one is in love with Melanie, while the other falls in love with "Wanderer" (the alien). This is of course downplayed in this trailer, the thinking supposedly being that Meyer's readers will show up no matter what, and making this seem as little like Twilight as possible will hopefully lure in any curious sci-fi fans.

The big tragedy here is the director of this project is Andrew Niccol, the man behind Gattaca who you'll remember me expressing a certain amount of admiration for in my review of In Time. He does have writing duties as well so maybe he was able to hammer out a decent script from Meyer's childish drivel*. But having talented directors didn't help the Twilight saga, and anyone who's seen S1m0ne knows Niccol isn't immune to failure. We'll see.

At any rate this is unlikely to be the second Twilight franchise they're doubtlessly hoping it will be. Meyer has yet to pen the promised sequel to The Host, and Taylor Lautner's failure at launching an action career indicates even the Twihards won't mindlessly follow anyone associated with Twilight wherever the go. I predict this one will quietly underperform and we'll never hear from Stephanie Meyer again...God willing.

*In the interest of fairness, I have not actually read The Host, I'm merely assuming it's childish drivel. Tried to read Twilight once, didn't make it past the first chapter before I quit in disgust.

The Best of 2012 is Yet to Come

2012 has been a pretty good year so far. Despite normally reliable stalwarts like Pixar and Christopher Nolan not bringing their A-game and an overall rather shitty summer, the normally unimpressive fall & spring have yielded one surprising gem after another: Cabin in the Woods, Chronicle, Dredd, Looper, ParaNorman, Beasts of the Southern Wilds, Argo, Seven Psychopaths, Skyfall, Cloud Atlas; and even the summer didn't feel so drab as long as Avengers & Ted stuck around for us to see over and over again.

And what's even better is that some of the most promising films of the year are still to come. Most of the country has yet to see Spielberg's reportedly awesome Lincoln,  the spectacular-looking Life of Pi is still to come, and this December will bring a trinity of movies that promises to make this the best Christmas in forever. Peter Jackson returning to Middle-Earth, Quentin Tarantino making a goddamn slavery revenge western, and most importantly: LES. FUCKING. MIZ.

As I may have mentioned a few dozen time, I'm a complete sucker for musicals, so naturally I would love Les Misérables. It's one of the most enduring and beloved musicals in all of theater. So believe me when I say that every trailer I see for this movie makes me jump up and down like a little girl.

Interesting to note that up until this particular trailer, we had yet to hear Russell Crowe's singing voice as the villain Inspector Javert. He was a point of apprehension among some of my Les Miz loving friends, as unlike Hugh Jackman he has no Broadway musical experience (though he has cut and albulm or two apparently, I've never heard them), and the fact that he was appearing only visually in most of the advertising suggested perhaps they weren't exactly proud of voice. This is the first trailer to feature said voice and...yes, it's not exactly great. Though I think is may be less of a problem than it has been in the past when musical movies have cast actors with no theater background who can barely sing. The big innovation that's being touted with this particular film is the method of recording the actors actually singing onset as opposed to lip-synching. This not only allows their acting to feel less wooden and deliberate, but also gives the singing a sort of raw emotional quality. Anne Hathaway's delivery of the famous "I Dreamed a Dream" has been featured prominently in all the trailers, and is very much NOT polished studio singing. Anne deliberately avoided giving, as she put it, "the pretty version" in order to give something more emotionally realistic. So basically, this seems to be a production where it won't matter so much if the actors can't sing particularly well, or if they're occasionally offkey because that's part of the point. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

The James Bond franchise has been an omnipresent part of Western culture for longer than most people alive today remember. My parents were toddlers when Dr. No came out in 1962. And 50 years later it’s still going, and for all we know will still be going 50 years and six Bonds from now. Sure it’s frequently stumbled or grown irrelevant from time to time, but it’s always been there, which isn’t something you can say about many pop culture phenomena.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths

It often irks me how eager people are to use the term “ripoff” when it comes to movies. Any sci-fi horror film about monsters picking people off in a confined area is an Alien ripoff, any action film where the hero picks off the bad guys in a confined space is a Die Hard ripoff, etc. Hell, any film that just involves treasure hunting is automatically an Indiana Jones wannabe, as if Steven Spielberg invented the genre or something. And by the same token, it kind’ve bothers me that whenever a director makes a career out of crime films with witty dialogue, dark humor, and infrequent bursts of ultraviolence, then they are inevitably compared to Quentin Tarantino: Guy Ritchie is the British Tarantino, Joe Carnahan is less famous Tarantino, Troy Duffy is shitty Tarantino, you get the idea. So while I’m loathe to oversimplify Seven Psychopaths director Martin McDonagh as the Irish Tarantino, it is probably the most succinct way of describing him.