Welcome to my film critic's blog! A lifetime of loving movies has enabled me to do this. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NYC blog more active!

I haven't been able to update this blog in a while. Click here to see the work Im doing in New York City for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Hope you like it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer flick VII: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Verdict: The most introspective of all the Harry Potter films manages to be the most compelling.

Let me preface my review by stating that I am a huge Harry Potter buff and I love everything about the books. I also appreciate the meaning of the term 'movie adaptation' and am prepared to cut the films slack if they do enough justice to the amazing series from whence they emerged.

'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' is perhaps one of the more difficult films to critique because it takes huge risks and is completely different from all five flicks that have gone before. If I had to choose one word to describe this film, it would be 'beautiful' - in this instance, it means beautifully nuanced, beautifully shot and a story beautifully told. And that is a word that has not struck me with vigor since I saw the opening of 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' all those years ago. The film attempts a tightrope walk between light and dark tones and just about manages to pull it off. The story deals with Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as he discovers an old book belonging to someone called 'the Half-Blood Prince' and begins to learn about the secrets of Lord Voldemort's dark past. While the Dark Lord's death eaters threaten the world around them, the trio must also deal with raging hormones that thrusts their friendship into murky waters.

Though a Harry Potter book purist, I have learnt to see the novels and the films as separate entities that need to stand on their own. Liberties are bound to be taken when translating from one medium to another. The choices made by director David Yates ('Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix') and screenwriter Steve Kloves are honest, bold and for the most part display a brand of storytelling that is unique to the series.

I had to see 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' twice to properly grasp the various layers that have been interwoven into the narrative and internalize what worked for it. For one thing, Bruno Delbonnel's ('Amélie', 'Across the Universe') cinematography is some of the best work I've seen in a long time and definitely the finest this franchise has seen. For another, every actor delivers a performance that is captivating even if he or she appears only for a few scenes. Radcliffe blew me away with his comic timing (he is exquisite in the scene showing the effects of the luck potion), which was miles ahead of the others. Rupert Grint gets more screen time and dominates much of the quidditch scenes and romantic entanglements in the movie. Emma Watson holds her own as she always does and plays well off both Radcliffe and Grint. Michael Gambon shows us the Dumbledore that we are meant to know and Alan Rickman continues to confound as the enigmatic Professor Snape.

A special mention has to be made of Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn, the new Potions master. He is able to make the audience empathise with the character in a realistic way, which was not quite possible when seeing him on the page. His narration of a story about Harry's mother is an inspired addition that clicks wonderfully on-screen. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy also does some of his best work, which adds more dimensions to his character. And that brings me to the narrative flow of the movie - it has taken six entries to do it but it looks like the filmmakers have settled on the right formula. The soft romance angle is interspersed with Malfoy's dark mission, deadly threats that seem very real and light being shed on Voldemort's secrets - what's surprising is that the elements blend seamlessly in the narrative.

While it might appear that there is not much wrong with 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', the shortcomings present are very noticeable. The funeral of a certain lead character, in my mind, was crucial to tie off the end of the story. Having said that, the concluding scene put forward by Yates does bring quite a lot of closure in the context of the movie. A fault that cannot be ignored is Kloves's tendency to hand one character's lines to another - this is a serious problem because definitions of characters start to vary as a result. Talking about additions and deletions, some of Voldemort's secrets are omitted, a battle scene is skipped and another one is inserted. The merits of each can be debated ad nauseum but the rationale behind each choice is not difficult to see. Sometimes one needs to turn off that book lover switch and see if the movie succeeds by itself and this one clearly manages to do so.

So what makes 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' the most compelling of the films and quite possibly the best of the bunch? For one, I didn't feel the pangs of huge missteps like I experienced after watching each of the previous flicks. For another, there is nothing more impressive than a movie that is able to bury itself in character development at the cost of action set-pieces. Yes, this film is almost too quiet for a Harry Potter flick but it is a stillness that reaches deep within and makes you think. And perhaps the most important question of all, does it accomplish the herculean task of capturing the spirit of JK Rowling's novel on the silver screen? The query is best answered by recalling that day years ago when I finished reading the sixth novel soon after its release. I felt a mixture of sadness and expectation triggered by the way the tale unfolded in book six. The truth is that the same feeling of melancholic anticipation came home to roost as the credits rolled on movie six. I just cannot provide a better endorsement of this movie than that!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer flick round-up Part VI

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Verdict: Though a tad repetitive, Optimus Prime rocks the cinema and 'Transformers 2' delivers a special effects-driven popcorn extravaganza.

The Good

Do you hear it? The sweet melody of robot-on-robot nuts and bolts action that blows the first film away without even trying.

All hail Prime: Optimus Prime is a real crowd pleaser in this one with everything from his dialogues to his arsenal of weaponry and his fighting moves.

Now that's what I call special! The special effects are worth the price of admission alone. The film provides mind-blowing eye candy that doesn't get old.

Who let the humans out? The role played by the humans is dialled back a ton from the first flick. In a Transformers film, that's definitely the right approach.

Action overload: Did you say you wanted non-stop Transformer action? Be careful what you wish for because when the Bay says 'action', he means it. This is skyscraper-scale mayhem for the masses and there is very little down time.

She's a fox: Megan is not the only fox in this movie but she has to be mentioned for the sheer weight of her sex appeal.

That's real power: I enjoyed seeing the Fallen as a villain though he doesn't have a whole lot to do. His origins and powers are interesting to watch to say the least.

The Bad

Did you say 'get it on'? Excessive sexual humor! Yes, it might be funny in small doses but indulgence is dangerous. Bringing up stuff like robot sex stirs images that are better left alone.

What just happened? There are so many new Transformers introduced that it's tough to keep up. There are close to 40 and we don't even get to know most of their names before they meet an untimely demise. 

The twins: I don't know what purpose they served in the film apart from seeming like a device to lighten the tension. It got tiring after a while. If they were pushed forward as kids who have not grasped what's going on, then maybe it could have worked.

The annoying roommate: He just annoys without a break. We get that he's scared and upset and all that - just let him pass out and let the story move.

Recycled material: While the action and some of the ideas are imaginative, the novelty isn't there any more and it isn't as immersive as I remember.

So where does that leave us?

It does what summer blockbusters directed by Michael Bay do. It explodes onto your senses and you feel like you are taken on a huge ride. Forget character and enjoy the action spectacle. If that's what tickles your fancy, make a date with 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The trials of Movie Man!

Looking through this blog, I see a lot of film ruminating but very little of the unique life experiences connected with movies - so here are select pages from the diary of a movie enthusiast. 

Some are born movie buffs, some achieve that exalted status and some have film enthusiasm thrust upon them. On my part, it was very much a confluence of these three factors that have made an impact that is likely to last a lifetime. This trifecta was created by influences ranging from the family to cinema-going happenings and life experiences tied to movie memories. Here are some singular recollections:

The age rating does matter: Many people these days scoff at age ratings - they indicate that kids see so much on TV and are exposed to the internet, so anything goes with films. While I see their point, it still doesn't excuse disregarding age ratings. What if I told you that my earliest memory at the age of four was watching Jaws 1, 2 and 3? Granted it's an extreme example but it could not be more relevant because it's true that you never know what sticks in a child's mind. Let's just say that seeing a film like 'Jaws' before being able to spell 'shark' can have very bad consequences. But hey, sometimes that's how film buffs are born!

The beginning is the end is the beginning....: Movie buffs are drawn to strange tendencies and unusual incidents; like never being able to watch a movie from the middle (unless it's one you've seen before). Related to that is the abhorrence of being late to the cinema and missing the start of a movie. Case in point - it was a really hot day in one of the GCC States and I was rushing towards the cinema hall. Due to a minor miscalculation, I was as I dreaded 15 minutes late to 'MI:3'. Ticket prices there are a lot dearer than most would like but at that point I had been wanting to see the movie for so long that I could not imagine missing it. I rushed in with my ticket and caught most of the film. I loved all of what I saw but I had missed the opening action scene. That knowledge hung in the pit of my stomach like an itch I needed to scratch. As I walked out, I did a 360 and strolled right back in. Yes, that's right - 'MI:3' twice in consecutive shows. Do I regret it? Not for a single second!

Lather, rinse, repeat: Though movie buffs generally like to dwell in 'be kind, rewind' mode, many repeat performances are not the result of planning but the ordinance of a greater power. How about the time when I, as an early bird, booked six tickets to a summer blockbuster (which shall remain nameless so as not to offend concerned parties). I was given a rude awakening on the eve of said show with the news that the five remaining persons would not be in attendance. Fastforwarding past the hurried explanations and desperate bids to sell tickets on flick day, I watched the movie spread over six seats. But the tale is not done, here's the kicker. One of the other five bought six tickets the following day and insisted I tag along. Okay, so I saw the same movie twice in two days and paid for eight tickets. As I walked into the theatre on day two willing the events out of my mind, I was slammed head-on by the higher power. Two different people stopped me and posed the question I would have killed for just 24 hours earlier - "Say pal, would you happen to have a couple of extra tickets you could sell?" I looked up at the heavens and smirked: "You're up there laughing at me, aren't you?" 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer flick round-up Part V

The Hangover 

Verdict: One of the best broad comedies of recent years!

On first glance, the premise of this movie seems pretty familiar - a Las Vegas-set story centered around three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures. They must then retrace their steps in order to find him. How writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore create comedy gold out of this tired formula with Todd Phillips in the director's chair is really something to behold.

Firstly the setup is pretty great - the trio wake up in their hotel room with zero memory of what happened minus a tooth, a wedding ring and pants. Add a baby and a tiger in the bathroom into the mix and you've got a classic building up.

The leads aren't household names but they probably will be after this flick. Each of them delivers with immaculate comic timing. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis each bring something special to their characters. Justin Bartha and Heather Graham are also around. There have been many comedies that I've found funny but haven't laughed out loud watching them. This one is an exception - I laughed so many times that I surprised myself.

There is crude humor and over-the-top language but not a single element is overdone. Every facet is pruned just enough for us to savor the shocks and have our funny bones engaged. And the best part - we are never shown what really happened through that crazy night. Instead, you have an awesome credits sequence with photos of the mayhem.

There really hasnt been a comedy this good in a long time. This is not awful satire like 'Scary Movie' or pot-smoking humor like Apatow. This is truly something else and something to relish. This is 'The Hangover'. Sign me up as a fan!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer flick round-up Part IV

Terminator Salvation

Verdict: The film that aspired to be more winds up as a popcorn action movie.

First things first - take my word that T3 is a real waste of celluloid after the classic T1 and T2. Why does it matter now? Well, since Terminator Salvation is T4 and an attempt at a new trilogy, the viability of the franchise hangs on the quality of this film. The good news is that it knocks T3 to the ground without even trying. The impossible-to-ignore downside is that this franchise is way past its due date, which means not even Christian Bale can rescue it.

Yes, director McG tries to make it appear that it possesses that elusive filmmaking quality - depth - and winds up digging a shallow grave. If a popcorn flick is the focus then it's silly to pretend that there's more to this story. The narrative is barely creative and just moves from one action scene to the next. To give credit where it's due, Stan Winston's production design and the special effects are above par. However, the grimy desolate vision of the post-apocalyptic future is nothing new and one is never drawn into the story.

Sam Worthington as half-terminator Marcus does all right except for a muddled accent that rears its ugly head once in a while. Moon Bloodgood serves as the sex appeal and Common the muscle - both add zero to the film. Bale rasps his way into making another iconic character his own but this might be his least memorable portayal yet.

All things considered, the action might be worth the price of popcorn but it's not enough of a reason to keep going with this franchise. This movie has convinced me that I've had enough - no more Terminators please.....pretty please with Arnie on top!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer flick round-up Part III

Angels and Demons

Verdict: Langdon is just not interesting on screen any more.

Okay, so I was one of the minority (or majority if you look at DVD sales and worldwide box office) that actually enjoyed the translation of 'The Da Vinci Code' from page to screen (notwithstanding Tom Hanks's bad hair day). The hairdo is better this time but the film never manages to rise above the mildly entertaining level.
And the cause of the problems is most likely the fact that it feels like retread of 'Code' minus all the most intriguing elements of that film. For a narrative that deals with a race against a time bomb, there appear to be ample minutes devoted to exposition and ill-advised humor. Hanks gives it the old college try but the formula feels almost like a wrung sponge for long stretches of the running time.
Ewan McGregor plays an interesting character but the lackluster storytelling drags him down along with everybody else. The tension is lacking and the audience is unable to empathise with any of the characters.
In short, close the book on Langdon - he hasn't got it any more!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The heat is on: Summer flick round-up part II

Star Trek

Verdict: Quite possibly the movie of the summer! An awesome spectacle!

I have been a 'Star Trek' fan of old. I like to think of myself as that in-between fan - not quite costumes and conventions but very mindful and respectful of the pop culture phenomenon that Star Trek has been and always will be. 

There is only one Star Trek: TOS (the original series) though I preferred NXG (the next generation) to a large extent. The big screen NXG films were disappointing to say the least. So how can this franchise be rebooted without disregarding all that came before? A time travel ret-con is the answer. As per the story, this is an alternate timeline that tells the stories of the iconic characters - Kirk, Spock and their crew - and how they came together.

There is only one Shatner, Nimoy and the rest. Can it be made to work then? JJ Abrams figured it out along with writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Keep the essence of the characters the same and play around with the universe. And it heralds an epic result. All of the casting is spot on - Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock give stand-out performances. The action set pieces are imaginative and beautiful to watch. The humour and pathos work.

All in all, I have come to love 'Star Trek' again just as I was moving towards the jaded end of the spectrum. Well done, the team behind 'Star Trek XI'.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The heat is on: Summer flick round-up part I

Monsters versus Aliens 3D 

Verdict: The 3D works, the movie doesn't!

I haven't thought too much of this 3D revolution studios have been seeking to usher in as the next big thing. Of course, I also havent seen a 3D film at the cinema in a long time. Somehow those 3D glasses dont seem to be designed for people already wearing them. The glasses are better these days but the films from Dreamworks Animation havent improved. I thought they had finally learnt something when I saw 'Kung Fu Panda' but 'Monsters vs Aliens' is another big miss. 
I enjoyed the animation as the material worked well in three dimensions. However, the humour is bland, the story insipid and the characters pretty boring. I can't think of any reasons to spend money on this flick. Maybe you can catch it if it comes on TV some time, maybe.....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movie match-ups: The game is on

 An interesting idea that came to me recently is doing a match-up of two movies and deciding which is a better bet on a movie weekend. I'll try and pick pairings that have similarities and make it a full-on battle to choose the better film. So for right now, it's gonna be 'Marley and Me' versus 'Hotel for Dogs'.


'Marley & Me'

Based on the book by John Grogan, 'Marley & Me' is about a family that learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.

Pros: Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston - this odd coupling works very well and though it may seem like a romantic comedy, the dog Marley is very much the centre of the story. The narrative is touching, funny and anyone who loves dogs is bound to love this film. The plot contrivances fall into place nicely and nothing feels forced. You will get that warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the film.

Cons: Those who are not dog owners will find it tough to empathise with the characters. And the fact that the family is always in the background may turn some people off. The story moves at a very sedate pace and patience is needed to enjoy the movie.

'Hotel for Dogs'

Based on the children's book by Lois Duncan, the tale is about Andi and her brother Bruce, who are not allowed pets at their foster home. For the adorable dog they secretly care for, however, they're ready to risk everything. They find him shelter in an abandoned hotel and soon, he is joined by all kinds of furry friends; so many that it alerts the neighbors...and the local pound.

Pros: Emma Roberts - more people need to start talking about this girl. She reminds me of the talent I noticed when I first saw Lindsay Lohan in 'The Parent Trap'. Okay, so Lohan lost her way but Emma is one that will definitely go far. She shines in a strictly children's movie. Don Cheadle is a nice bonus. Oh and Lisa Kudrow is also there (though I'm not sure that's a pro in this particular case). The film balances kiddie film hijinks and serious issues very well.

Cons: Too much indulgence in the fantasy elements! Fine, Bruce is an engineering wiz but some of the inventions are fairy tale stuff - it is excusable only because it's a kid flick. Cliches abound and every twist is pretty predictable. 

VERDICT: While 'Marley & Me' is easily the superior film, it may be an unfair comparison as 'Hotel for Dogs' is so completely tailored for family viewing. 'Marley & Me' is the must-see of the two. 'Hotel for Dogs' provides a pleasant distraction, however.

Friday, April 24, 2009

'Fast and Furious' - still a guilty pleasure

  What is it about the 'Fast and the Furious' franchise that draws us back time and again? I wish I knew - it could be all the pretty people, fast cars and furious vehicle action. But there's something else - the first film was this generation's 'Point Break'. Less Swayze's Zen master stuff and more Diesel's muscle-bound street racing. And it worked - it worked well.

  Then '2 Fast 2 Furious' came along sans Vin Diesel and it wasn't a pleasure any more - it felt like a cheap attempt at creating a franchise where one wasn't feasible. Redemption seemed highly unlikely until 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' came along. With none of the original cast, it somehow managed to work with Lucas Black as the uncharismatic lead. The story and direction rekindled the franchise and it was ripe for a reunion. Enter this year's 'Fast & Furious' with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez all returning. Brian O'Conner (Walker), now working for the FBI in LA, teams up with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation. And it finally feels like the sequel we deserved all along. Set in the timeline before 'Tokyo Drift', it acknowledges all the other films and it is still the wonderful guilty pleasure we have come to expect from the series.

  The story is pretty tight, the direction is sound and the must-have elements blend pretty well. It is true popcorn entertainment of the 2000s and the cast makes it work. Is it for everyone? No, a certain mindset is needed to enjoy it - if you enjoyed the first film you will enjoy this. Even if you're unfamiliar with the franchise, 'Fast & Furious' satisfies those popcorn impulses - big action, no-brainer plotline and an easy-on-the-eye cast. Yes, I'll have extra butter on mine!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Movie A Week: 'Rachel Getting Married' (2008)

Here's another for the 'A Movie A Week' record.

Rachel Getting Married: In a year of so many great films, this is definitely one of the underappreciated ones. And it has been overlooked for several reasons that range from unconventional camerawork to a narrative that enjoys meandering in every possible direction while telling its tale. Rachel Getting Married is about a young woman, Kym (Anne Hathaway), who has been in and out of rehab for the past 10 years and she has now returned home for the weekend for her sister's wedding. But that premise doesn't really tell you anything at all about what makes this movie tick.

   This film may seem to be about Kym (Hathaway was nominated for an Oscar for her performance after all) but it is really about her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding and how it affects all the people involved. The film is an ensemble piece that uses Kym's addiction to showcase how events can colour perceptions and how dysfunctional families struggle with making things work. The film is written by Jenny Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet, who brilliantly sketches all the characters without needing to spell out histories, emotions or motivations. Kym has to confront many of her issues and finds that to do that the rest of the family may have to as well. That includes her divorcee mother (Debra Winger), her father (Bill Irwin), her stepmother (Anna Deavere Smith) and the brother-in-law to-be, Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe). 

   The character of Sidney has a musical background, which allows an eclectic mix of characters and musical styles to populate the screen and it all intermingles in the melting pot of cultures that is Rachel's wedding. I don't know where director Jonathan Demme ('The Silence of the Lambs', 'Philadelphia') has been for all these years but this is a wonderful return to form for him. The visual strategy is interesting to say the least - cinematographer Declan Quinn shoots it like a home movie of a wedding, the hand-held camera walking in and out of scenes as randomly as you please. The best part is that the style works wonderfully well for the story that is being told.

   The only problem I had with the film is that it was written and shot so that it purposely slows down at unexpected points and spends an inordinate amount of time on scenes that perhaps add very little to the larger narrative. But I also recognise that Demme was going for Altmanesque feel where the trite scenes might actually pose some messages beyond the obvious. And it's a clever contradiction to use because you never know what is fitting together and feels so much more like you are not watching a film at all. Hathaway is off the charts amazing in this film and the Academy Award nomination was well deserved. DeWitt is equally good and she provides the rope for Hathaway to stretch herself. Winger has a smaller role but still manages to hold her own in one particularly powerful scene. And while moving around so many characters, the story does manage to cover many aspects of dealing with addiction and how it can affect everyone around you. 

   This is definitely one of those keep-an-open-mind type of movies because you need to embrace how different it is from any form of conventional storytelling for you to be able to enjoy it. At times it may feel like a raw wound or a reckless home video but it will also show real people muddling through some destructive situations the best way they know how. Weird, strangely cathartic and empathetic at the same - definitely one for the DVD collection!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Movie A Week: 'Outrageous Fortune' (1987)

I've decided that it would be a mistake to limit my 'A Movie A Week' column to contemporary films when there are so wonderful ones that don't get talked about enough. There are also some classics it's nice to be reminded about. I recently caught this one again and I remembered why I loved it so much - it just continues to stand the test of time.

Outrageous Fortune: The 80s had some truly great comedies - I still remember seeing 'Nine to Five' an extraordinary number of times and never tiring of it. Outrageous Fortune is a lesser known film but it is definitely right up there with any of the other comedy classics. I am a sucker for comedies with female protaganists and sadly there aren't enough of these movies around. 

Shelley Long and Bette Midler star as Lauren Ames and Sandy Brozinsky, two total opposites who are in an acting class together - and unknown to each other they also have a boyfriend (Peter Coyote) in common. When he goes missing under mysterious circumstances, the two women are thrust into a world of chaos and danger while trying to unearth what happened to him. Leslie Dixon pens an exceedingly smart screenplay that gives Long and Midler enough room to do what they do best. And their exchanges are absolutely brilliant - this flick has some of the best acting you'll see in a comedy. Each actress causes the other to continuously raise her game and the result is perfect comic chemistry. 

Interspersing comedy and action is tough to do without it becoming cheesy but this is one movie that does it effortlessly. The 80s just seemed to have a different brand of comedy that has an eternal appeal. Can you imagine anyone but Shelley Long delivering a line like 'How dare you defraud the legitimate theater community of New York City!' or a non-Midler rendition of 'What, was I supposed to let them unhook me from life support so I could pay my bills?'

If you haven't seen this one yet, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Movie A Week: 'Twilight' (2008)

I've been lucky enough (mainly because of an enthusiastic and resourceful movie buff family) to at least catch one movie every single week and it has been going on for a long time now. So, I'll run them down in this on-again off-again column 'A Movie A Week' as and when they come to me.

Twilight: I finally got around to seeing this one recently. After so much was made of Stephenie Meyer's young-adult vampire-romance novel being brought to the screen last year, I wondered which side of the fence I would be on. Unfortunately, not having read the book, I have no basis for comparison and cannot tell you how good an adaptation it is. On its own merits, it is a fairly mediocre film that reeks of low-budget filmmaking. I would guess that the novel has more depth because this one embraces shallowness and rushes through characterisation. I like the teen angst/vampire story idea but it's been done in so many different (and better) ways in recent years. The fact is that I've seen episodes of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' that kept me more interested than this one. Maybe the source material itself is lacking and the low budget didn't make anything easy. However, director Catherine Hardwicke and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen don't do themselves any favours. I could see what they were attempting to do with some mixed character motivations and stilted dialogue but the storytelling felt a little weak. Hardwicke may have been passionate about the material but she cannot direct action at all (the weakest element of the film) and maybe some more scenes and backgrounding for the rest of the Cullen household would have helped. Kristen Stewart and the second-tier cast actually give a pretty good account of themselves, so it's not a total loss. The film, on the whole, is difficult to recommend. I usually love a good vampire movie but Twilight just didn't deliver the goods - it winds up as a pseudo-hip teen romp that cashes in on the flavour of the season.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What dreams may come.... (what 2009 is all about)

And the list continues, here are more must-sees for 2009.

May 1

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Do you remember a time when comic book movies were new and exciting? That first feeling of excitement on seeing 'Spider-man' in 2002 - yea, well times have changed and we need more from comic book films today. The Dark Knight and Watchmen have changed the comic genre and our perspective on the way these movies should be made. Every film needs to be seen in context and the Spider-man, X-Men and the Blade trilogy have all had an impact on the evolution of comic book cinema. However, what makes films like the 'The Dark Knight' enduring is the rewatchability factor - something the X-Men films lack severely. I loved them the first few times I saw them - they just don't work as well any more. And now we have X-Men Origins: Wolverine coming in May telling the comic origin of fan favourite Wolverine. But the trailer makes it seem very similar to the original trilogy (hopefully closer to 1 and 2 than 3). That old excitement has waned and one can only hope that it offers something different that is as exhilarating as a film like Iron Man. Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox is in charge and their comic book track record is abysmal at best - the most we can hope for is that a small measure of justice is done to one of the best comic characters ever created - Wolverine. 
   The good news is that two other eagerly awaited characters - Deadpool and Gambit - will also be seen on screen for the first time. Again keep expectations low because Fox does not seem to have aimed very high either story or character wise. Oh how I wish I could see Marvel Studios reboot this franchise themselves... but that continues to be my wish. Until then, check out X-Men Origins: Wolverine. At least Hugh Jackman should rock our minds as Logan a.k.a. James Howlett.

Friday, February 6, 2009

If there is a story, there is a way to tell it.... (what 2009 is about!)

As promised, here's the list that will continue to go on and on and yet never be truly exhaustive - the must-sees of 2009 (I reserve the right to include movies for reasons that range from the obvious to the kinky). Without further ado, here they are:

March 6

Watchmen: The perfect way to begin the list is with what is arguably the most anticipated film of the year! Created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins, Watchmen was published as a series by DC Comics during 1986 and 1987 and has been subsequently reprinted in collected form. It was the only graphic novel to be on TIME Magazine's list of the 100 greatest English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. The legendary Moore changed the comic book genre forever with his deconstruction of the superhero mythos and the material is still revered to this day. Moore has also since disassociated himself from film adaptations of his works and termed Watchmen in particular as 'unfilmable'. Watchmen has been in development for more than 20 years with talent and studios coming and going. Finally, it has got made and with Zach Snyder, who has claimed he fought to maintain a slavish adherence to the source material. It is a dirty, gritty and shocking tale of alternate reality where costumed vigilantes co-exist with the normal folk. If you're a fan of the novel, this is a must-watch. If you have a sensitive disposition, best to stay away. All of the footage seen so far has been brilliant and the early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. What is the least that is expected from this movie? That it redefines the superhero genre forever!

May 21

Terminator Salvation: I'm not usually prone to extreme reactions to movies, ideas for films or cinema buzz. However, this film was an exception - I hated the idea for this movie. For me, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines does not exist because T2 ended the franchise so superbly - T3 just felt like an insult to everything that was right about the first two. James Cameron gave us two great movies that have since become classics; the first was iconic and scary; the second was an action fan's dream come true. Then for some reason (dollar signs), they made a third that was an unintentional parody of all that came before. You know it's bad when a film ends with a nuclear holocaust and that's the best part of the whole flick. 
       After doing all they could ruin this series, I wondered why they were going back again. Gluttons for punishment, huh? Sure seemed like it when McG (yes, that's his name - director of Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle) was confirmed as director. I then decided to switch to a more measured approach. I saw McG's 'We Are Marshall' - showed some talent but still Terminator Salvation seemed like too much and I wrote this one off.
        Since then, three things have happened that changed my mind completely; 1. Jonathan Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) rewrote the script. 2. Christian Bale was cast. 3. The trailer is already better than the whole of T3. I always wondered what the man-machine war would look like on film and now we will see it. I am prepared to forgive timeline alterations if the film can keep me riveted for two hours. If nothing else, this film means that the bad taste of T3 can be washed away from our mouths. Looking forward to it!

March 13

Race to Witch Mountain: Now to shake things up a bit! Why should must-sees always be so predictable? For a change of pace, let's talk about a must-see family movie in 2009. If you're old enough, you probably remember the 1975 family film 'Escape to Witch Mountain' starring Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. If you don't, you can experience the story for the first time with Race to Witch Mountain. The original had a lot going for it and the 2009 version has just as much, if not more. Dwayne Johnson is on a family movie hot streak after 'The Game Plan' and (though I may be a little biased) any film that has Carla Gugino in it can only be the better for it. The trailer alone is probably one of the best Disney has come up with in a while. And if you talk about young talent, AnnaSophia Robb can give both Abigail Breslin and Dakota Fanning a run for their money. Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) plays the second lead in this tale of two alien kids with extraordinary powers who join forces with a cabbie and a UFO expert in a race against time to prevent global catastrophe. Sound like fun at the cinema? You betcha!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lots of extra butter on my jumbo popcorn please!

How do you describe the popcorn film? Many call it a waste of time, others call it perfect entertainment.... I like to call it one of the most popular genres of cinema. Plotlines are usually disposable, any stand-out acting is a bonus and the action on screen is usually worth the price of your popcorn. An example of one of the best popcorn films ever made is 'Con Air' - it has everything - an outrageous storyline, an awesome cast and even some above-average acting. And the action is enough to get your blood pumping every time. It is an eternally watchable popcorn flick and very few make it to that top tier! This year there are some fun popcorn films on offer and no matter what people say, if you can learn to enjoy it, there is joy to be had from a fun popcorn movie. These four stand out from the pack for various reasons for me - sometimes negative buzz can be a very good thing!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Before I saw Michael Bay's Transformers in 2007, I didn't know what to expect from seeing one of my favourite cartoons as a kid brought to life on the big screen. I was surprised but understood that the material lends itself quite easily to popcorn entertainment. And nobody does it better than Bay! This year's ultimate popcorn extravaganza is undoubtedly the sequel. Releasing on June 24, 2009, this second film in the franchise will feature even bigger Bay elements  - that means huge robots and huger explosions. Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are back - always a good thing (that's Fox to the left). Throw in Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and about 40 transforming cars into the mix - what have you got? To use the word of the moment - yea, that's right - 'Bayhem'!

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: When this film was first announced, my childhood memories came flooding back - this was actually happening! I had owned so many of the toys, I had religiously watched the cartoon and I had always wondered what a live action G.I.Joe would be like. It became my most anticipated film for a long time.... but with a heavy heart I am forced to include it in this year's popcorn roster. It has a 7 August 2009 release, but I came across the script for this one and I couldn't resist - boy, was it a letdown! In recent years, G.I.Joe has been such a popular comic with a serious and violent tone that I, like other fans, thought that the characters would be best served if taken seriously. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem to have decided there's too much realism going around, so it's time for a freaky military fantasy. Imagine taking the themes of the (frankly awful) cartoon, mixing in some random comic history plus dollops of lopsided humour and you'll get a fair idea of what this film is about. But it's not all bad news - you at least get to finally see Duke (Channing Tatum), General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), The Baroness (Sienna Miller), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) on screen. The cons include Marlon Wayans as Ripcord and a horrendous plot I won't get into. Of the lot, Park is brilliant casting and in a different movie could have been special (especially since they have Christopher Eccleston as Destro, Arnold Vosloo as Zartan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander)....G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra feels like such a missed chance - it's simply pure 80s nostalgia that will get me to the cinema. That and I generally love popcorn cinema, so if for right now this is the best they can do, let's see it.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li: After the abomination that was the 90s attempt to adapt the same video game, anything this film does will be infinitely better. Now, this film has had fanboys wringing their hands in fury since it was announced as they believe movies like this are a waste of time. And video game fans want the feeling they got while twiddling the controls without realising there wasn't much to begin with. The 1994 movie to be honest, does not deserve to be called a legitimate effort in filmmaking. For those who don't remember that atrocity starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and a host of forgettable people, it had choice quotes like - "For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday." Ohhhh (***shivers at the memory***). What they've managed so far is to restart the franchise following the chronology of the characters and yes, taking it a tad more seriously this go-around. You've also got Smallville's Kristin Kreuk (pic), Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Michael Clarke Duncan, Robin Shou and Moon Bloodgood to name a few. And if this does even moderately well, you might get to see other franchise characters get their own films. Unfortunately, popcorn flicks like this are very hit or miss and this one might well be coming at the wrong time (27 February) in the middle of the economic crisis. It's pretty likely it will get a cold shoulder and the Street Fighter franchise will be back in cold storage for some more years. Only time will tell!

Dragonball Evolution: If there was another film (apart from Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li) that was cursed by negative hype long before it completed filming, it's this one. These two films were declared the worst of the year before 2009 began. It's these extreme reactions that are silly - sure, we may not like how some films turn out but watch them before condemning them. And popcorn films, I generally believe, are critic-proof or they should be because they are not made for critical acclaim - it's mindless entertainment, nothing more. That being said, I can understand some of the anger - I never watched the anime series or read the manga on which this film is based, so I cannot judge how different this film looks. Obviously, if the source material meant a lot to me, seeing a mediocre adaptation would be insulting. But a little common sense goes a long way - stick with the source that you love and don't let the adaptation take away from your enjoyment of it. Sometimes the popcorn route works, sometimes it doesn't - these films need to cater to the masses, you can't recoup $100 million from fans alone. The trailer seems okay enough (some Mortal Kombat vibes - not a good thing) and it seems to be a get-what-you-expect kind of a deal. 8 April 2009 is the date for this one.

While on the subject of unusual popcorn films this year, I think I need to get started on an exhaustive list of Hollywood must-sees for 2009. Should be interesting - there are a wide variety of interesting films on offer. I'm still catching up on my must-sees of 2008, so the sooner the better with this list I think. Watch for that next!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What could have been....

As promised these are two films that should have been something else, but wound up being missed opportunities. Why are these two in this list and not in the turkey parade? Read on to find out...

The Spirit: Anyone who loves comics will tell you Frank Miller is a visionary. Yes, he is but is he a filmmaker? A co-directing credit on Sin City is not enough to convince me - not when Robert Rodriguez is your backup. Sin City may be one of the greatest comic adaptations but not all comics can make the transition. The Spirit is a beloved comic by another visionary, Will Eisner, Miller's mentor in many ways. By virtue of having its origins in the 1940s, a lot about the character is outdated. Miller figured that by keeping what he loved about Eisner's stuff and adding some Sin City aesthetics, he could make a watchable film. Unfortunately, this movie will be a hit only with those who love the 1960s Batman and The Green Hornet - it wears over-the-top like a morning jacket and campiness like a badge of honour. Was it a wasted effort? Not if it taught Miller that he has a lot to learn about filmmaking. Is it something that would make Eisner roll over in his grave? Not really but it is a hollow attempt and the great man deserves so much better.

Punisher: War Zone: The good news is that it is the best of the three attempts at bringing The Punisher comic book to life. The bad news is that a comic come to life can sometimes lose something in the translation and some cheesiness and crazy action can creep in as well as shock factors that do not work. The violence is for the first time Punisher worthy and Ray Stevenson is Frank Castle - no two ways about it. Unfortunately, director Lexi Alexander clearly chose to not portray the material in a serious vein and she plays everything straight only in a comic fantasy sense. It just felt lacking in the writing and those finishing touches that bring disparate elements together in a eclectic mix of comic book entertainment. Feels like a missed chance!

Why aren't these two called turkeys? Because they aren't - they are weird, outrageous almost-okay below-par films that might be cult classics in the making. They show that comics on film can be approached in so many different ways. And without so many different ways of looking at films, where's the fun?

Egad! What were they thinking?

Yes, that's right - how can i talk about the best of 2008 without naming the worst of the year? However, I will make two lists so that it is not a blanket condemnation rant on all below-par films. I will highlight the ones which ones are awful not matter which way you cut it in this list. In the next, I will highlight those that had massive potential but in the end were probably missed opportunities. 

And the turkeys are:

The Happening: He was once dubbed the next Spielberg but after 'The Happening', he may be lucky to be the next Paul Verhoeven. There's no doubt M. Night Shyamalan has genius hiding inside but he seems to be unable to tap it any more. I have cut his films more slack than many - in fact, I believe 'Lady in the Water' was his first real misstep. He probably did it because it was like a passion project and that's fine for a one-off. With this film, I am convinced Shyamalan either needs to take a break from writing his own stuff or collaborate with somebody so that his ideas can take the best shape possible. The good - I like the strange B-movie feel and unpredictability of it. The bad - everything else; special mention of Mark Wahlberg showing unusual talent in the scene in which he converses with a plant. The concept of plants fighting back against the human race, though outrageous, was workable - if it had more of a 'The Day of the Triffids' vibe as opposed to Shyamalan's idea of a campy horror-comedy. All in all, Shyamalan has lost most of his hard-earned cred! Time for introspection, pal!

Righteous Kill: If you had told me a year ago that I would be including a film starring both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a worst film list, I would have said, 'never in a million years', 'impossible' or 'when hell freezes over' - maybe in that order. That day is here and it is a sad one indeed. Simply put, this film is badly written by Russell Gewirtz and director Jon Avnet doesnt do it any favours. These legendary actors should never work together again unless they are provided with material that matches their talent. Their reunion is a lacklustre affair that feels like a paycheck film with phoned-in performances. Righteous Kill has an awful narrative that switches between a boring by-the-numbers plot and incredibly stilted characterisation. A waste of time, money and most importantly, talent!

Max Payne: The name says it all! As farcical as video game adaptations tend to be, Max Payne does not even rise to the level of a guilty pleasure!  "I believe in pain," says Mark Wahlberg as the title character. Boy, does he ever! Two of the year's worst films both star Wahlberg and one can only hope that the flicks looked better on paper than they do on screen. John Moore is more than a little competent but the film feels hollow and weak. It has a nice atmospheric feel and cool special effects but the so-called story does not feel like anything resembling a narrative. It fails to be remotely interesting for more than two minutes at a stretch. Definitely one of the worst movies of the year!

Speed Racer: I was a big fan of the anime series as a kid but I'm pretty sure the main reason I liked it then was because I was... well, a kid. What stood out for me when I was walking out of the cinema after Speed Racer was the fact that the concept does not age well. As a film aimed solely at kids, it is impressive - it is a multi-hued tapestry of live action, CGI and various cartoon elements. In other words, if the Wachowski brothers wanted it to feel completely like a cartoon come to life, they succeeded. Unfortunately, in striving for something different, this film fails to connect enough with the audience. Many claim this material should never have been adapted or the approach should have been serious, I would respectfully disagree. Thinking about it, there are very few films that scream: 'never should have been made'. I think even the below-par ones have something to teach us, even if it is what not to do when making a movie. The Wachowkis can feel good that in an industry that is suffering for lack of originality, they have gone out on a limb and experimented. It may not have worked but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have tried!

Babylon AD: I would love to rip director Mathieu Kassovitz apart for this travesty but I think in this instance he is not at fault since his original concept was a good one. In fact, the director himself termed it awful after developing the film adaptation for five years. So what happened? 20th Century Fox, that's what! Kassovitz said they interfered so much that not a single scene was filmed the way it was written or the way he wanted. In fact, they cut 70 minutes from the film to make it family friendly. Fox right now is the worst studio in business and Babylon AD is a good example - just because Vin Diesel is involved, the studio made it a point to create a mindless mess. And one can only feel bad for Kassovitz for having his name on it. Even Diesel should rue this missed opportunity to create something different from what he usually does. Fox Studios badly needs a management overhaul!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My top films of 2008 (subject to change)

 Yes, most best film lists are highly subjective or bandwagon influenced and even highly controversial. However, having seen as many films as I could and being an ardent Hollywood enthusiast, I've picked the favourites from the ones Ive seen - this will keep changing because there aren't enough days and logistical opportunities in a year to see all of the films Ive wanted to see. 
  As I experience more, I will share my experience with you - the blogosphere. Without further ado, here they are:

(in no particular order)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: There are very few filmmakers who, just by virtue of having their name on a film, act as a guarantee of singular vision and a level of outstanding quality that most others struggle to find. I always thought David Fincher ought to be on that list - and with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the proof is there for all to see. If 'Seven', 'Fight Club' and 'Zodiac' did not convince you, this movie definitely will. Based on the strangest of premises - the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences - this film manages to stay compelling throughout its nearly three-hour runtime. This is Brad Pitt's finest performance to date and he is matched note for note by one of the finest actresses working today, Cate Blanchett. I never expected to like this film but I found myself getting drawn in more and more with every scene. That is truly the mark of an outstanding film! It is thought-provoking, epic, surreal and dramatic while always managing to draw empathy as the narrative unfolds - this is the type of film that excites, inspires and showcases why it is so important for filmmakers to stay off the beaten track.

Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle outdoes all of his earlier efforts including '28 Days Later', 'Sunshine' and 'Trainspotting' for this unique offering that is a rare glimpse at India as it exists or more particularly Mumbai. The dramatics and suspension of disbelief kick in for the story of Dev Patel but the film doesn't lose its pacing. It loses some points for some unnatural dialogues and delivery of those lines along with muddled accents here and there from the protagonists but I guess maintaining as much English as possible was necessary for mainstream appeal. The battle to maintain authenticity but run with English whenever possible is a tightrope walk and it is here that the movie loses ground. The love story also gets a tad boring and disloyalty to the Vikas Swarup novel may worry fans. However, it captures the soul of that work and this is without doubt a top movie on my list because no Hollywood film has been able to do anything remotely close to what this one has done. The emotions and the feel of the movie are gripping and the camera work is exemplary. A story that hits home and makes you remember it - an A+ effort! 

The Dark Knight: For a detailed review, click here Without doubt it is one of the movies that defined 2008 and redefined the superhero genre. I actually liked it more the second time I watched it. Heath Ledger gives a mind-blowing performance that will live on in whispers in LA for years to come. Oscar talk for a comic book movie - egad, what has the world come to? The Dark Knight stands tall in the genre as one of the best comic book films ever made. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Maggie Gyllenhaal make it a wonderful and thoughtprovoking must-see flick. Quite simply, it is impossible to talk about 2008 without mentioning this very special movie.

Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood has still got it... not that the man ever lost it! He has a wonderful flair for direction and has produced some of the most memorable films of recent times. Gran Torino is another fantastic addition to his repertoire. He is in front and behind the camera on this one - the story of a disgruntled Korean war vet who befriends and acts as mentor to a young Hmong teenager in a changing neighbourhood. Eastwood chose to go with actual Hmong teenagers as opposed to professional Asian actors and the difference is stark. Even though there are some cliches in the script, the naturalistic feel of the narration makes it real and gritty. Eastwood's acting is amazing yet again - he is able to make you empathise with a very unlikable character and that is not easy to do. Ability to tell a great story time and time again - yup, that's Clint all right!

Iron Man: A left field choice no doubt and a controversial one as well given that it means having two comic book films in a top film list. This one however deserves it. Iron Man is the perfect yin to The Dark Knight's yang. A new A-list star is born and his name is Robert Downey Jr. Comic book cinema has rarely been as fun to watch or as intelligently written as this one. Loyalty to comic roots is an amazing bonus as well. The spirit of the character has found the best portrayal possible and director Jon Favreau is one of the main reasons for it. A supporting cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard is just the icing on the cake. Yea, comic book flicks are here to stay!

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Many say that a filmmaker as prodigious as Woody Allen is incapable of continuously producing films of enduring quality and that he is not the man he once was. And yes, like people his filmmaking has evolved with the times. However, the joy of the Woody school of cinema still exists and Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a great example. I was entranced and touched by the storytelling in a manner singular to an Allen film. Like the title suggests, the three biggest characters are Vicky (Rebecca Hall), Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and Barcelona. And each of them brings something unique to the table over the course of one extraordinary summer. Every performance and dialogue is so wonderfully nuanced that you are lost within the narrative - aided by a wonderful setting and great work from the cast, especially Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. It was one of my top films the second I finished viewing it.

Milk : After experiencing the wonderful storytelling of Milk  I simply had to include it in this list. Gus Van Sant's true story of California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece that should not be missed. Sean Penn received a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Milk. On receiving the honor for the biopic, Penn said: "As actors, we don't play gay/straight ... we play human beings. This is a story about equal rights for all human beings." And he could not be more right - this film touches on a subject that cinema has not tackled enough. Poignantly narrated, Milk's tale is every bit as moving as so many better known shapers of human history. If you are able to keep an open mind and enjoy embracing different types of movies, don't miss Milk !

Frost/Nixon is a dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. Featuring an outstanding turn as Nixon by Frank Langella and supported by Michael Sheen as Frost, this film from Ron Howard has everything going for it. The back and forth between the actors is stunning to watch and Langella channels Nixon in an convincing manner.  Definitely destined to be another classic piece of cinema!

WALL·E: Okay, i admit it, I find it extremely difficult to create a top flick list in a Pixar release year and not include their offering. But 2008 was different because of WALL·E - it would make the top film choices of any single year in which it was released. Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the man who created 'Finding Nemo', this is a new classic that transcends its genre and provides insightful commentary on the world we live in and the future of mankind. Pixar is batting a thousand and is showing no signs of slowing down. And the fact that they created this classic using the least amount of dialogue possible means that this is truly a unique piece of cinema. Thank God for Pixar!

Revolutionary Road: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite after a long time for Revolutionary Road, a film that impressed me much more than the one they are most famous for. Based on the novel by Richard Yates, the movie manages to capture the spirit of that work using powerful acting and a well-crafted screenplay to analyse the terminal angst that is able to pervade the soul of a 1950s couple. In spite of its period setting, the flick is an extremely relevant work and one is able to empathise to a great degree with the narrative. Both DiCaprio and Winslet show their evolution as actors by delivering Oscar-calibre performances. Director Sam Mendes has created a very important offering for modern cinema!

We are in the middle of economic recession and there is an increasing division of interests among so many forms of entertainment and yet I believe, despite what many may say, that this has been a great year for film. Those of us who have a deep passion for the medium should feel lucky to experience such times.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lists ahoy!!!!!

Yes, the year 2009 is here, fan boys and that means we are overloaded with hundreds of film lists from the best to the worst and everything in between. Im not usually a list person but this New Year is a time for experimenting so Im gonna foray into listing. Watch this space for cinema lists coming your way!!


  If you've found yourself here, this means you either are in search of good film writing or you typed an unusual search string in Google or maybe your name is Vineeth. Whatever the reason, welcome to my movie mind on the web! This is where I put all those hours of movie reading and watching to good use! I promise more insightful commentary and less fanboy ranting!
  So sit back, grab some popcorn and let me hear those rants!!!