Monday, June 30, 2008

The Great Wall Indeed.

I loved every minute of this film. First off, I thought the Presto short was fantastic. I was laughing so much that there was a moment when I started to wonder if "Wall-E" would be able live up to its opening act. Yet after a few minutes into the main feature, it was pretty clear that Presto had nothing on Wall-E. The detail in the animation was simply amazing. Sure Wall-E looks like Johnny 5’s younger brother, but the emotion that he conveyed with only the slightest of movements was captivating. While I would have liked to see the human characters a little more refined it; their look effectively showed the effects of rapid advancements in technology and consumerism. I also loved how the film was a throwback to Buster Keaton films and old-time movie love stories. I did not find Wall-E and Eva’s relationship to be cloying at all. In fact, this is one of the few films in recent years, similar to Brokeback Mountain, were I thought they actually got the love story right. Obviously it is no where near Ang Lee’s level of work, yet it was perfect for this genre of film. I also enjoyed that the whole dystopian future was merely a catalyst for the love story. While they do make references to taking better care of the earth, it was always secondary to Wall-E and Eva’s story. I will definitely be seeing "Wall-E" again theaters. So far its one of the year's best films.

Random Song 1: Peter Gabriel - Down to Earth (buy)

Random Song 2: Wolf Parade - The Grey Estates (buy)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Incredible...err...Tolerable Hulk

Random Song 1: Lil Wayne - A Milli (buy)
Random Song 2: Zak Sally - My Secret World (

The Incredible Hulk

His strength may be “incredible” but, lately, when it comes to the Hulk inconsistent seems be the word of choice. Five years ago Ang Lee’s meditative monster movie bored audiences to tears. Though the style was there, everything else from the effects to the acting was awful. Not only did the original “Hulk” potentially hurt, the then pending, film franchise; but it also did not help to bring new fans to the comics. Recently The Hulk has made some huge strides (in the comics at least) to renew fans faith with both the spectacular “Planet Hulk” and, to a lesser extend, “World War Hulk” series. Sadly, even this momentum in the comics has hit a wall with the current Hulk series (a.k.a. Red Hulk). Seriously, Greg Pak needs to get back to working on the Hulk books. Look at the great stuff he is doing with the Incredible Hercules storyline…but I digress. This slippery slope the Hulk has been riding over the last few years seems to be on the upswing again with the latest Marvel film, “The Incredible Hulk.” This version on the Hulk improves greatly on every single misstep in Ang Lee’s film. Edward Norton is far more believable as Dr. Bruce Banner than Eric Bana. The triangle between Banner, Betty (Liv Tyler) and General Ross (the always reliable William Hurt) is truer to the comics. The CG work in this film is fantastic, Hulk looks as good as he will probably ever be on the big screen. Yet probably the biggest improvement is that they actually gave the Hulk a decent villain to face (Tim Roth’s Abomination). Instead of having him evade the army for hours as he did in the first one. Plus the less said about Nick Nolte the better. Unlike Lee’s story driven film, which suffered from too much story, this movie is pretty much all action.

Although this movie is everything that one would expect from a Hulk movie; I still could not help but feel a little under whelmed by the whole thing. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Ang Lee version sucked away all the joy of seeing Hulk on the big screen. If, say, this was the very first Hulk movie I ever saw chances are I would have be going nuts for the film. Alas, I could not going into the film without think “boy, this better not suck again.” The second, and most damaging reason is that Iron Man still remains the most entertaining blockbuster of the summer. While a good movie in its own right, “The Incredible Hulk” only reinforces how well done Iron Man really is. Marvel may want to think more carefully on how close they release their products in the future. There is a certain level of humor and, a sense of wonder, that Tony Stark and crew had that is missing from this Hulk film. Besides one seeing were Banner’s mistakes the word ”hungry” for “angry” in Portuguese, all the jokes in this film fall flat. Yes it is suppose to be a monster movie, but even flicks like “Cloverfield” found ways to incorporate witty dialogue. Another thing that left me feeling kind bland, when I should have been jazzed, was Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns. On the one hand, I loved that they set up Sterns transition in the Hulk’s arch-villain “The Leader.” Yet on the other, I really was not feeling Nelson’s over-the-top performance. Tim Blake Nelson is a great actor, so hopefully he will tone it down a notch in the sequels. Despite the film’s imperfections, I did enjoy the “Incredible Hulk” movie quiet a bit. It is just a tough act to follow after Iron Man has set the bar so high.

Random Song 3: Duffy - Mercy (Remix ft. The Game) (buy)
Random Song 4: N.E.R.D. - Sooner or Later (buy)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Chronicles of Prince Jones

Random Song 1: N.E.R.D. - Everybody Nose (Live on David Letterman) (buy)
Random Song 2: Duffy - Warwick Avenue (buy)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The latest film in the Narnia franchise is full of talking creatures, large-scale battle scenes, and even a little romance. What is it missing? Originality, humor, and most importantly…originality! Picking up one year after the first film takes place, which is hundreds of years by Narnia’s clocks, the four main heroes (Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and Susan) are summoned back to Narnia by the exiled Prince Caspian. It seems Caspian’s uncle, Miraz, just had a son and decided that now is the time to kill Caspian and take over the throne. Hmm…uncle trying to kill next in line to the throne…film with lion in it…Disney production…hmm…it all seems a little familiar. Anyways, with the help of four siblings, Caspian must unite the creatures of Narnia and reclaim what is rightfully his. While “Prince Caspian” is not a horrible film, it is merely an average one. Which is a shame considering the first one was well done. One of the main problems I had, beside the plot/script, was that the nondescript villain. Compared to the White Witch in the first film, Miraz is not menacing at all. At no point does he display the cunning of the truly great villain. There is really nothing memorable about Miraz at all. I guess the same can be said for most of the characters this time around. There is no creature in Narnia that really keeps your interest, like Mr. Tumnus did in the first film. Heck, even Aslan the lion seems to be slumming it in this one. Trumpkin (played by the wonderful Peter Dinklage) is probably the closest thing to an interesting character. Yet even he at times feels like the poor man’s Gimli of “The Lord of The Rings” fame. Despite the numerous familiar aspects of the film, “Prince Caspian” at least keeps the audiences interest for the most part. Thought it is darker than the first one, families will probably enjoy this film quiet a bit. I just wish they decided to bring some new life to the franchise, rather than retread on material already covered in better films.

Random Song 3: Estelle - Magnificent (ft. Kardinal Offishall) (buy)
Random Song 4: Kardinal Offishall - Dangerous (ft. Akon) (Myspace)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Although I was excited to see Indy back on the big screen, I went into this film with moderate expectations; and got a moderately entertaining film in return. Though the film does not leave much of a lasting impression, there was much that I enjoyed in this film. I thought the chase sequence in the jungle was well done; and I am probably one of the few people that actually enjoyed Shia LaBeouf in the film (minus the swinging with the monkeys section). I think he will do a decent job with the franchise in the future. Hey, Hollywood has been ripping off Indy for years with films like “National Treasure,“ “The DaVinci Code,” and “ Sahara.” I doubt LaBeouf could be any worse than Nicholas Cage, especially with Spielberg at helm. Similar to James Bond films, you have to suspend most of your disbelief to really enjoy the films. Especially in this one, where an older Indy can still move and fight better than most twenty year-olds. Sure the plot had more holes than a cargo net…I still can’t figure out how a loopy Professor Ox was able to go all the way back and put the skull back were he found it…but really, when it comes to Indy the plot has never really been the strong point. Indy has always been about the adventure and humour. Which is what you pretty much get in this film. Granted I could have done without the nuclear bomb testing scene, and the whole temple scene at the end. Not to mention that Cate Blanchett’s seemingly indestructible Dr. Irina Spalko would have been better suited as a Bond villain rather than Indy’s. Still I was willing to let all that go and just enjoy the film for what it was. An entertaining piece of fluff that you will most likely forget about in the morning.

Random Song 5: Nadia Oh - N.A.D.I.A. O.H. (Myspace)
Random Song 6: Electrelane - To the East (buy)