Monday, January 25, 2010

A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect GetawayRelease Date: August 7th, 2009

Click Here for the A Perfect Getaway Trailer.

Cliff Anderson(Steve Zahn) and his newlywed wife Cydney(Milla Jovovich) are enjoying their honeymoon by backpacking across one of Hawaii's islands to a beautiful remote beach said to be heaven on earth. While hiking the two come across a group of girls on vacation who were talking about two other newlyweds that were murdered on the island. Unsure about whether or not to continue, the two decide that they will continue their trip because the murders were on a different island.

While on the trail, Cliff and Cydney come across Nick(Timothy Olyphant), a supposed former Special Forces Operative and Iraq War Veteran, and his girlfriend Gina(Kiele Sanchez). The four decide to team up and hike together considering they are headed for the same place but as the trip goes on the threat of the escaped killers grows heavier. Before long Cliff and Cydney become paranoid and start to think that anybody could be the killers, even Nick and Gina.

While the group is relaxing at a waterfall, Cliff finds a backpack belonging to a girl named Cleo(Marley Shelton). Cleo and her newlywed husband Kale(Chris Hemsworth) were hitchhiking along the road and were almost picked up by Cliff and Cydney who decided not to give them a ride after they felt threatened by Kale. Between Kale and Cleo and Nick and Gina, Cliff and Cydney's paranoia becomes almost too much to bear as the next murder could happen at any moment.

When I first heard about this movie I thought it looked pretty interesting. I appeared to be a somewhat thrilling movie and the proposal of an interesting twist made it sound worth watching. I enjoy movies that have exciting plots and interesting twists. This movie was good for what it was worth but isn't going to be one of those movies "you have to see".

The plot of newlyweds on their honeymoon in the same place where somebody just killed two newlyweds is an interesting and potentially exciting concept. It makes you wonder whether or not the killers are specifically targeting newlyweds or just kill for the fin of it. I sometimes find thrillers like this to be somewhat dull or unimaginative and even lacking substance. However, this movie fared better than most movies of its kind. The story and writing was entertaining and it didn't feel cheesy or like the director was trying to get cheap laughs from you. I found the movie to keep me interested and entertained the whole time and I was even excited to see how it ended.

With movies that boast exciting plot twists or surprise endings, I get a little excited. I really love things that keep me guessing or surprise me though a lot of the time I find myself figuring out the twist before the end of the movie and while it doesn't ruin it, it does put a little bit of a damper on things. That is kind of what happened with this movie. I was able to figure out the main twist in the film fairly early on but I was still interested to see how it played out in the rest of the film. But one thing that did get me was the very end of the film. I was not expecting how the climax was going to play out and I can honestly say I did not see it coming.

Acting is always an important part of a movie. I am a big fan of Steve Zahn and have enjoyed many of the movies I have seen him in. I thought he did a great job in this film portraying the mild-mannered screenwriter character of "Cliff". He brought his notable humor into the role but also added some intense drama and other acting styles which we do not typically get to see out of him. Overall I was pleased with Zahn's performance. Timothy Olyphant was also really good. I loved how he played the slightly crazy war veteran. He really made you believe that his time in the service made him the way he was. Milla Jovovich, who we have seen in big action movies like Resident Evil, was able to step away from her fighting style that we are used to to become the timid and love-crazy newlywed Cydney. I thought all the actors in this film performed well and gave believable performances.

Because this movie was a psychological thriller, it had some action in it. Nearly all of the action took place in the climax at the end of the film when you finally figure out who the killers are. These scenes left me on the edge of my seat as I had no idea how it would play out and some parts even left my shocked saying to myself "whoa, didn't expect that". But the main part of the story that was good was the build up. Throughout the whole movie you sit there and wonder what's going to happen next and who the real killers are and if anybody will make it out alive.

Overall A Perfect Getaway was a good movie. It wasn't great, spectacular or amazing but it was still worth seeing. In my recommendation this one is a good one to go and rent from your local video store on a rainy or lay day when you just want to relax or a good one to watch with a group of friends.

I give A Perfect Getaway 7 Newlywed Murders out of 10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Book of Eli

The Book of EliRelease Date: January 15th, 2010

Click here for The Book of Eli Trailer.

Thirty years after a nuclear attack turned the world into an apocalyptic wasteland, a wanderer named Eli(Denzel Washington) travels across the scorched grounds of what was once America with nothing more than the pack on his back and a very special book in his hands. Driven by a desire and hope for the future, as well as a belief in something greater than himself, Eli has carried and protected his hope until he can finally reach the east coast where he believes his dream of a future can be turned into a reality.

For thirty years Eli has believed in this hope and for thirty years nobody has tried to stop him until he wanders into a makeshift town of thieves, beggars and gunmen under the leadership of Carnegie(Gary Oldman), the only literate man in the entire area. Eli enters Carnegie's bar in search of water and is attacked by some of Carnegie's men. But the drunken outlaws are no match for Eli, who has become a warrior by necessity instead of choice.

Carnegie, being a literate man, forces his henchmen to go out into the wastelands and look for any books they can find with a specific book in mind. After Eli deals with the outlaws, Carnegie realizes that Eli is also a literate man and forces him to stay at the bar for the night. But Eli soon realizes that Carnegie wants his book as it is the one he has been looking for since the final war. But Eli is determined to complete what he believes he must do and will let nothing, not even Carnegie and his outlaws, stop him from completing his journey.

We've seen post-apocalyptic films in the past, many of which have the same generic plot. Directed by the Hughes brothers, this film, however, delivers a completely new spin on how things would be in a world obliterated by war. In many cases, you have a single character just trying to survive in the apocalyptic world or maybe even becoming brave enough to create law (i.e. Mad Max) or save some poor imprisoned people. The Book of Eli, though, sets the audience on a path of righteousness and hope amidst impossible odds.

The story is what got me on this one because, for the most part, it was pretty mysterious. You always had a vague idea of what Eli was doing and what his mission was but it seemed like you could never quite grasp the full spectrum of it which keeps you hooked for the entire film. For a movie with this kind of setting to be good, there has to be a good plot, one that keeps you guessing and interested until you see the credits role and that is exactly what The Book of Eli does.

In addition to a good story, the mechanics of your movie also have to be entertaining. For example if its a comedy, the jokes have to be funny, if its a drama the emotions have to be real. This movie has a more action based focus. Throughout the whole movie Eli carries with him a handgun, a modified shotgun, a bow with some arrows and a razor sharp machete/sword thing and he isn't afraid to use them. In this film, we see Denzel Washington engage in fighting unlike he as in any other movie, and it works. In all the fight scenes Washington is outnumbered at least 5 to 1 but is able to quickly dispatch every foe without taking a scratch. On screen the fight scenes looked really cool. My only gripe would be that at times the camera moved to fast and in one scene you really only see the silhouettes of the people instead of the people themselves. But it is a very small complaint and one that is more personal preference.

I am a big fan of Denzel Washington and a huge fan of Gary Oldman so needless to say I was excited to see both of them in this film. Oldman gave a great performance as the desperate yet intelligent head of the makeshift town. He had this cunning style about him and this intellectual prowess that, even though he was physically small and nonthreatening, made him extremely powerful and feared. His performance was truly creepy at times but was overall very very well done, as are most of them. Washington brought a different character to the screen then we have typically seen from him. The wanderer character that Washington portrayed was a fresh take for me and it seemed that it was one that Washington truly enjoyed playing. His performance was passionate and it seemed that he put 110% into creating the character. I was very impressed and moved by Washington's performance and definitely think it was one of his best. Mila Kunis did a good job as Solara, the stepdaughter of Carnegie as did Jennifer Beals who played the blind mother of Solara and wife of Carnegie.

Visually the movie looked great. The settings and the look of the war-ravaged streets and buildings was really something to look at. One scene that stands out in particular was in the very beginning of the film. A hairless, skin-and-bones cat walks around a dark, wooded area filled with dead bodies. Ash from the nuclear blast is still falling from the sky and everything looks dark and dead. It was visuals like this that made the film really nice to look at and it really gave you a sense of what life in a post-apocalyptic world would be like.

But probably the best thing about this movie was the twist at the end. In some movies, they try to throw in a twist and if you pay close enough attention you can generally figure it out pretty easily. But in this film it really smacks you in the face and makes you go "whoa, I did not see that coming". And what really makes it even better is that after seeing the twist, you will think back to certain points in the movie and realize whats going on which will shock you even more. Truly, this was one of the best surprises in a movie I had ever seen. It truly did leave me speechless.

Overall this movie was amazing. It had a fantastic plot, great action, incredible acting and a twist that leaves you stunned. Add that to an interesting and long-over-due take on an apocalyptic scenario and you have a recipe for success. 2010 is already starting off to be a good year for film goers.

I give The Book of Eli 9 Incredible plot twists that will leave you speechless out of 10

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Release Date: December 25th, 2009

Click here for the Sherlock Holmes Trailer.

In the damp, dark streets of 1891 London, Sherlock Holmes(Robert Downey Jr.) along with his friend and partner Dr. John Watson(Jude Law) are in a race against time to stop Lord Henry Blackwood(Mark Strong)from performing a ritualistic human sacrifice. Holmes and Watson arrive just in time and arrest Blackwood. Three months later, on the day of his execution, Blackwood requests a meeting with Holmes at which point he tells him that three more people will die and that their deaths will change the very nature of their world. After this meeting Blackwood is hanged and pronounced dead by Watson himself.

After the execution Holmes is approached by Irene Adler(Rachel McAdams), the only person to ever outwit him. Irene offers him a job from her employer to find a missing person. In the meantime, Blackwood has been said to be risen from the dead and seen walking away from his own tomb. As Holmes investigates deeper into Blackwood's mysterious resurrection, he is led to the Temple of the Four Orders, an occult-dabbling secret society to which Blackwood previously belonged. The order wishes for Holmes to find and stop Blackwood as they believe he will attack them. Holmes deducts that Blackwood is attempting to cast a spell based off of the mythological sphinx, requiring Blackwood to kill for 4 different animal constituents. Holmes realizes that the fourth and final murder is the English Parliament. Holmes, Watson and Irene then race across London in an effort to find Blackwood and stop him before he can complete his takeover of all of Parliament.

It has been quite sometime since audiences have enjoyed a full featured Sherlock Holmes film and director Guy Ritchie aims to brings us a new and reinvigorated Holmes and Watson. Ritchie's direction of Holmes is one that we have not seen in the typical movies and shows based on the great detective. Robert Downey Jr. gives us a more bohemian Holmes. What I found particularly intriguing was how Downey and Ritchie's Holmes was a more physical character in the sense that he really knew how to take a man down. Reading other reviews I have seen a lot of negative feelings towards the brawling nature of the new Holmes with people saying it isn't how the character is supposed to act. Downey's Holmes does some serious fighting in this film but it is different from your typical "beat-em-up" fight scenes. Holmes, as we all know, is a master of detail, science and precision and all of those characteristics show in his fighting style. As Holmes analyzes his crime scenes and other situations for exactly the right way to do something, he does the same for his fights. Before a few major fights in the film, Holmes is shown, in slow motion, beating up his attacker while simultaneously describing what he is doing and what effect it will have on his opponent. Its kind of like you are in Holmes' head. Then the scene rewinds and you see Holmes' analysis in action. Many people who are great fans of the original written Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle say that Downey's fighting Holmes seems more closely true to the original character portrayed in the books.

But Holmes isn't the only one who can deliver a punch. Jude Law's John Watson character also had his own array of impressive fighting moves. Law's Watson was not the bumbling character typically seen in many adaptations of the classic character. The film made a point of reminding you of Watson's history as a soldier, doctor, womanizer and gambler which added depth to the character. Law had said in an interview that there was unexplored material in this film and that he was intrigued by the films exploration of Holmes and Watson's friendship. I think Downey and Law had an excellent chemistry between the two of them. Law's Watson was essentially the voice of reason in Holmes' life and his main companion in everything he did. I liked how Ritchie explored the relationship between the two characters. He showed how Holmes would have been effected if Watson were to discontinue working with him and how much Watson was apart of Holmes and vice versa.

The overall theme of the film was entertaining and the story was intriguing, like most Holmes stories are. I found the clash between Holmes' science and Mark Strong's character of Lord Blackwood's "magic" to be an interesting conflict. It made for an interesting twist in the film as well as a nice challenge for the great detective. Now anybody who has read a Sherlock Holmes novel or seen a visual adaptation knows that Holmes greatest weapon and asset is his attention to detail and his ability to perceive even the most minute detail of his surroundings. An interesting thing Guy Ritchie did with this is that he showed how Holmes' greatest asset was also his greatest curse. In a scene between Holmes', Watson and Watson's fiance Mary Morstan(Kelly Reilly), Holmes sits in a restaurant awaiting the arrival of the other two. While waiting, we see that Holmes is analyzing every single thing that is going on around him and we also see the strain it is putting on him. Only when Watson and his fiance arrive is Holmes snapped out of his near trance. I found this aspect to be very interesting and I loved how it showed a different side of the iconic character.

Overall I was impressed with Sherlock Holmes. I thought that this new envisioning of one of the most iconic characters in all of literature brought a much needed new life that has the potential to not only keep traditional fans interested but also grabbing the attention of new fans like myself. This film has a little bit of everything in it from smarts to action to humor to magic. Everybody can find something to like in this film. Why not start the new year off with a new movie?

I give Sherlock Holmes 8 Double-billed hats out of 10 (Note: Surprisingly, no iconic double-billed hats were used in this film)