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

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!