Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: The Wrestler (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Robert D. Siegel
Genre: Drama / Sport
MPAA: Rated R for violence, sexuality/nudity, language and some drug use.
Released: 17 December 2008(limited)
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller.Plot: A drama centered on retired professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson as he makes his way through the independent circuit, trying to get back in the game for one final showdown with his former rival.

Plot: A drama centered on retired professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson as he makes his way through the independent circuit

Review: 9/10

My Thoughts: In many stories told, the main character who starts from nothing rises up becomes the person we know and loves, he’ll save the day, get the girl, and rides out into the sunset having his own happily ever after, simple as that right. But, what about what happens after the story ends, what happens to our hero when his light has faded and his sun has set, what becomes of him when he is obsolete and no longer useful.

The Wrestler is a fictional story about wrestling superstar Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke) a man who at one point during the 80’s was one the biggest wrestlers in the business, his fame was beyond that of any other typical wrestler and was consider a legend in the wrestling industry. He had it all, a wife, kid, money, fame, and all the women he could ever want begging to be with him, he had everything a wrestling superstar could ever want and then some, but the one thing he did not have and proved to be his ultimate flaw was that he never had the strength to be there for those who cared for him and needed him most and instead took the easy rout out and left, and in doing so began his slow dwindle out of superstardom and into being forgotten by all those around him. The wrestler proves to be a heart touching story about a man who’s fighting a losing battle with father time and refuses to give into the failures of his past, but when he suffers a sudden heart attack he then turns to redemption and wants to try and pick up where he left off and fix the broken piece of his life. Director Darren Aronofsky, the man behind such phenomenal films like; Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain. Does it again by bringing us a coming of age film about life within the ring and how for some, the love of the fans is all they have left in life. The plot proves to be much much greater than I had originally anticipated. I went into this film with a medium level of anticipation but was suddenly blown away by a masterpiece of storytelling; emotions run high for The wrestler with almost no stopping to catch ones breath. Every scene for scene will either have you feeling great sadness, anger, and or pure enjoyment, I being at one point a fan of the art of ringside wrestling was brought back to the wonder years of the sport when it was purely for the entertainment and not always money, the film runs on a nice and steady peace, with an outstanding soundtrack of some of the best 80’s classic rock bands, and if you have lived through the 80’s or was born during it’s time then you’ll very much appreciate this film.

The most memorable part of The Wrestler would have to be its take on the main character among all things, because despite his choices and his outcomes you can’t help but relate to him in so many ways. Who hasn’t made mistakes in their lives, who doesn’t wish they could undo the wrong of their past mistakes. So despite the main character sounding like a dead beat you feel for him because he lives in regret. The best part of the film in my opinion would have to be the ending because of the past outcomes leading up to the big finally of the film it had me all teary eyed, yep I said it! I fell made me tear up damn it! [Laughs] but I won’t dare spill the beans to you on how it end because that it up to the viewers to find out for themselves, but I will tell you this; it will have you running high with emotions, I guarantee it! The cinematography is simply fantastic, it gives the film this biopic like setting that makes it feel very much real and ever so believable, you’d swear this film was based on a true story after watching it. But the part that makes The Wrestler truly great is the fact that this film is what you’d call out of Director Darren Aronofsky’s normal settings; I mean after looking at his past track record this film seems hardly the type of film he’d direct, which doesn’t mean it’s bad. No no no, hardly the case, in fact it proves that he is a batter director then one has thought of, because being able to leave ones cul-de-sac, or safety harness, and still succeed in telling a fantastically compelling story is very rare and admirable indeed and I commend him for doing such a thing because many in his case has done so and failed. 2008 was a year of many surprises, many horrible disappointments and many outstanding and surprising works, and Aronofsky’s The wrestler is now one film among them, I hope it’s nominated for an Oscar because there is no doubt in my mind that it deserves to be a contender for the Oscars. Overall it was well worth the watch, I will say it won’t be for everyone, that’s a guarantee, and it is for most part a love it or hate it type of film, for me I loved it and can’t wait to see it again someday.

The story is about; Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a 1980s-era pro wrestler, has become a burnt-out shell of his former self. After he has a heart attack during a small-time match, a doctor tells him he could die if he fights again. In an effort to build a new life, Robinson takes a job at a deli and rebuilds the relationship with his daughter. But the prospect of a rematch with his old nemesis, the Ayatollah, proves too tempting to resist, even if it means risking his life.

As for the acting; so rarely do actors make a comeback for a failing career, actor Mickey Rourke who has had a somewhat downhill career over the years went from being a hotshot to a nobody, the 90’s sure was not kind to him I will say, but his performance in The Wrestler proved to be powerful and a breakthrough, I will say if any films is to be his comeback film this would be it. He puts so much emotion and himself into the role of Randy "The Ram" Robinson that it’s more than just a role, it’s a part of him. Marisa Tomei is in my opinion a much underused actress in the business, she is a great actress who I will admit was not at all fond of her in the beginning, but over the years I have slowly began to like her acting, perhaps it’s due to age, but I found that as she gets older her acting has gotten better than ever, much like Rourke. She too puts a lot of emotion and herself into her performance which was a joy for my end. Evan Rachel Wood was spot on in her performance, I must say, I’ve been watching her career closely and I have to say; she has really blossomed in the last couple of years, being in such great films like; “Down in the Valley” “King of California” and the 2007 musical hit “Across the Universe”. I can tell you now, she is going places. The rest of the cast is built up on B and C-list actors and actresses who prove to be less than any real significant to plot, but still does a spot on job in doing their part in making this film as best it could be.

Final Say: The Wrestler has got to be one of the best films of 2008; it had an atmosphere that consumed me from start to finish, I enjoyed it a lot, and despite the style of wrestling being overall fake the film does teach it’s viewers one very important lesson, that as fake as it is, as scripted as it may be, you don’t work that kind of profession without make sacrifices and losing something dear to you. It is a sport that will work the individual down to the bone until they’re merely a shell of the person they once was. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: David Scarpa (screenplay) Edmund H. North (1951 screenplay)
Genre: Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence.
Released: 12 December 2008 (USA)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Kyle Chandler, Robert Knepper, James Hong, John Rothman, Sunita Prasad, Juan Riedinger.

Plot: A remake of the 1951 classic sci-fi film about an alien visitor and his giant robot counterpart who visit Earth.

Review: 6/10

My Thoughts: American science fiction editor and writer Harry Bates wrote a short story called "Farewell to the Master" which later became the bases to the hit 1951 black and white film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, which is known till this day by Sci-Fi fans as one of the groundbreaking films of its genre, much like the phenomena that was “The War of the Worlds” it was both entertaining and very terrifying, it was a coming of age cinematic sensation, and now after over 50 long years since its release a remake by the same name has finally arrived, but can this new millennium remake live up to the integrity might of the original? Well you’re about to find out.

The 2008 remake has style, flash, and a dazzling amount of special effects that is a spectacle wonder, however, the film lacks a great deal of substance, where the 1951 original hit it big with a quality storytelling, this sad attempt of a remake fails on a hug scale, what was an amazingly fantastic plot has been modernized into a travesty of mind numbing action, the only thing that seems to remain the same is a small handful of scenes and elements which are pretty much re-done scene for scene, other than that the film feels as though the filmmakers as well as the studio only used the title so that they could cash in on the successes of the original, this film in its own theme is much like the remake of War of the Worlds, where everything that made the film great is replaced with obnoxiously bad product placement and, lousy dialogue that proves to be a serious nuisance, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, the real problem lies within the plot of all things which I cannot stress enough was a great disappointment, the original’s plot was fantastic, which had the bases of terror embedded into its mysterious yet entertaining plot warning humanity of its ways and gives us the choice to abandon all forms of warfare and join the universe of peaceful alien races or suffer the consequences, this however was shot down in the remake with a more environmental approach, which proves to be a disappointing lackluster among other things, and to make things even more worse they even tried to add a few humorous moments into the film which proved to be more uncomfortable to watch than anything else, and some of the more serious moments (which felt more humorous than anything else) felt more like gap fillers for the films major action scenes which it’s basically just building up to and from, and when you think about it, this is not what sci-fi fans paid for, they paid for a film with style, excitement, mystery, and a rollercoaster rid of chills and thrills with a decent plot, but this unfortunately had none of that, but that just the beginning, please read on and see why the film WASN’T all that it could have been.

I’ll be blunt with you, this film started off very interesting and had me intrigued to continue watching it, and for a brief moment it had the chance of being a really great film, but that was flushed down the toilet after about 30 minutes into the film, it felt more like a chore than a pleasure, I was beginning to look at my watch continuously throughout the performance counting down the time remaining wondering when the ending would be approaching, and let me tell you, for a film that was only an Hour and forty three minutes long it felt like three hours, most of the film was predictable to the point I was able to call it long before it happened and it seemed as though the cast phoned in their performances the whole way, and if things where bad, it gets even worse when the filmmakers decided to make gort godzilla size! which the very first thing to come to mind was are you kidding me? this is most definitely NOT! The day the earth stood still, but rather the day the earth stopped due to a lack of good story telling, one of the biggest problems I found would have to be the lack of fear among the characters in this film, let’s be honest here; who wouldn’t be terrified at the idea of an alien bean invading the planet with an armada of mini ships all over the world? The fact that people were divided between accepting the current the situation or just going about their normal lively routine only further proved my point that it was a very cheese film, I don’t know about all of you, but if the planet suddenly got invaded by a hug alien sphere fallowed by an army of mini spheres I’d be already heading for the hills! The only ones acting out aggressively and being in a state of fear was the military. The point I’m trying to make here is that; remakes have and always will be nothing compared to the original, revamps, remakes and re-imaginings are all the same to the extent that they are and always will be second string, and never be able to live up to the full potential, in short this is a prime example that not all films (especially classics), should be modernized, something’s are best left alone.

The Story is about; renowned scientist Dr. Helen Benson finds herself face to face with an alien called Klaatu, who travels across the universe to warn of an impending global crisis. When forces beyond Helen’s control treat the extraterrestrial as a hostile and deny his request to address the world’s leaders, she and her estranged stepson Jacob quickly discover the deadly ramifications of Klaatu’s claim that he is a friend to the Earth. Now Helen must find a way to convince the entity who was sent to destroy us that mankind is worth saving--but it may be too late. The process has begun.

As for the acting; the acting was poorly done, despite the incredible cast put together for this film, I found myself in a real yawn-fest, I seriously thought that with a cast such as this the acting would at least be s sure thing for entertainment, but even that proved to be wrong; Keanu Reeves, who I’ve always enjoyed watching on the big screen turned out to be a real disappointment, I’ve always looked forward to watching his films, and even when the film in general would be a downer his acting would always save it for me, however he could not do the same for this film, perhaps this is a sigh that even he knew this film was beyond saving. The lovely Jennifer Connelly did okay, despite I calling the cast’s overall performance a bore-fest, but I do however feel that she could have done a heck of a lot better than she did, it felt as though she just phoned in her performance for a paycheck. Kathy Bates who I just adore her acting was, well, subpar; her performance did not measure up to traditional standards of her previous performances. Jaden Smith was, well, as much as I like seeing the offspring of big name celebrities picking up the mantel of their parents, Smith did not live up to his father’s name, and as I found his performance to be rather annoying above all things to do with this film, I know some will feel I’m over criticizing a child’s performance but, he is no Will Smith, or as I like to say; the acorn does fall far from the tree. Whoever decided to cast Robert Knepper as a military colonel must have done it as either a favor to the actor or lost a bet, but Knepper does not match the role he was put into. James Hong has a small part in this, and gave lest bad performance which I must say was appreciated on my end. John Cleese is yet another fantastic actor that suffers the fate of a lacking performance, it seems to me that there’s a pattern here, could it be a bad script, or bad directing, you decide. Both actors Jon Hamm and Kyle Chandler did an equal amount of ok acting, but for the life of me it sure was hard telling them apart! It’s not that they look alike or anything, but their characters are so much alike that half the time I confused them for each other which shouldn’t happen in a film.

Final Say: The Day The Earth Stood Still could have been so much more, this film did not come out as gratifying as the 1951 original, it had promised so much to the viewers and yet it lacked in all the places needed, if the earth stood still it would have been because of this lackluster, watch at your own risk.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Tim Hill
Written by: Jon Vitti (screenplay) Will McRobb (screenplay) And Chris Viscardi (screenplay)
Genre: Comedy / Family / Fantasy / Music
MPAA: Rated PG for some mild rude humor.
Released: 14 December 2007 (USA)
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney.

Plot: A struggling songwriter named Dave Seville finds success when he comes across a trio of singing chipmunks: mischievous leader Alvin, brainy Simon, and chubby, impressionable Theodore.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: Alvin and the Chipmunks – A group of fun loving critters that has been a household name since the 1958 Christmas classic; “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” With many singles and albums to follow throughout the 1960’s to the 1990’s, and a cartoon hitting TV networks in the late 60’s, with a revamp cartoon in the 80’s for a newer generation including a hit theatrical film called The Chipmunk Adventure (1987), but as the 90’s rolled in and the times began to change, so did their fan base due to the generation the show was revamped for had grown up, the cartoon began to die as well as the sales in the music, soon the show was canceled and they started to only release a new album every few years or so, with an occasional direct to Video/DVD movies which were very miner success, it was clear that the world had forgotten about our cute little friends and slowly by slowly they slipped away into a mere memory of the past. That is until in 2007 when they had been brought back to the spotlight, revamped and modernized for a brand new generation of viewers to appreciate their cute little voices, and of course to welcome back the older generation, which is a known fact is one of the main reasons why the movie was such a success at the Box-Office pulling in 356 + million worldwide for a budget of only 60 million, some could say it made a ridicules amount of money, and there is no doubt in my mind that a large amount of their audience was made up of the “baby-boomer” generation taking their children and grand children to see this film. Now let me tell you, I am a really big fan of Alvin and the Chipmunks, heck I grow up watching the re-runs of both shows as a child including the animated movie on VHS which I watched so many times that I literally ran the tape down [Laughs].

They after all were before my time, heck the animated movie itself came out in theaters only one year after I was born. But that didn’t stop me from watching it, you could say I’ve always had this passion for old films (80’s classic films) and old music (from classical music to 80’s cool rock) because they have this certain quality that films today don’t have, it’s hard to explain really, it’s more of a feeling from appreciation of the classics, you know? So with that said I wasn’t too happy to hear about this being made into a live action film at first because after witnessing the catastrophe that was Scooby-Doo (2002) and its sequel which fallowed two years later Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), and if that wasn’t bad enough I was even more so disappointed with Garfield (2004) and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006) which was so mind numbingly stupid I felt incredibly embarrass just watching it by myself which was on DVD of course (you couldn’t pay me to see it in theaters), so after having to endure these bad experiences with adaptations of classic cartoons turned live action film you can see why I had lost faith in the genre, so I avoided this film at all cost while it was in theaters because after all I felt it just wasn’t worth nether my time nor money.

So after giving it a chance, I must admit; it wasn’t at all bad, it was nothing that I expected it to be, I thought it was going to be as bad as the other films I mentioned above so naturally I had low expectations for the film, but instead I got something that was quite enjoyable and worth giving a chance on, if you are a fan of the genre or a downright Chipmunks fan. As I watched Alvin and the Chipmunks I was flooded with memories brought back to me, the very moment I heard Justin Long voicing as Alvin singing “Bad day” I was quickly overwhelmed with emotions from my childhood, something I honestly wasn’t expecting, as you know I grow up to these little critters singing and dancing around, not to mention the albums which I listen to like crazy, if you saw me listing to music at that time it was a good chance I was probably listing to one of the Chipmunks albums. Now there was a few things that had been changed for the very original concept, one of which was the fact they made Alvin, Simon and Theodore into life size chipmunks, unlike the cartoon and their original image which had always made them out as over grown chipmunks that where as big as small children, I normally wouldn’t like this sort of idea because anytime a film studio tampers with the original concept it never ends well, but this time it does, and does so in a very good way, also I liked how they introduce Alvin Simon, and Theodore into the plot, on their own like real wild animals and then finding themselves in the company of straggling song writer Dave Seville who together they form a unlikely family bond, and I must say the one chipmunk who was made 100% accrete was Theodore which I must point out if you like the chipmunks as much I do then; there is no way you are going to be able to make it through seeing little Theodore without tearing up a little, I know I did. Also I like the fine CGI work done on the little guys, although I will say there was one or two scenes where I thought it could have been worked on a little better, and also the fact there was one montage way too many (about 3) in the film’s second and third act which showed a bit of a weakness in the story, however it saves itself by backing up into full gear around the third act for a finishing wonderful fourth act.

The story is about; in a tree farm, three musically inclined chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, find their tree cut down and sent to Los Angeles. Once there, they meet the frustrated songwriter David Seville, they impress him with their singing talent. Seeing the opportunity for success, both human and chipmunks make a pact for them to sing his songs. While that ambition proves a frustrating struggle with the difficult trio, the dream does come true after all. However, that success presents its own trials as their unscrupulous record executive, Ian Hawke, plans to break up this family to exploit the boys. Can Dave and the Chipmunks discover what they really value amid the superficial glamour around them?

As for the acting: Jason Lee is a very talented actor whom I’ve come to enjoy watching over the years, however, playing the part of Dave Seville is not one of them, it’s not that he did a bad performance or anything, no far from it, it’s just he didn’t quite match the role, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t see him as Dave, all I could see was the character from his TV show "My Name Is Earl” and believe me when I say I really tried!, however this little bump doesn’t kill the film, after all he isn’t exactly the film’s main attraction, so in a way it balances out. David Cross did a great job playing the villain of the story, though I tend to find him a little annoying at times, I have to say isn’t that the who point of being the villain in this story, so in this case I say; mission accomplish Mr. Cross! Cameron Richardson was a sweet heart in this, but I felt at times she was being sidetracked a little from being the love interest and just forgotten during the film. Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney were spot on as Alvin, Simon and Theodore, I really didn’t think the three had it in them to do the parts justice; however I was wrong and they did a great job, perhaps this is a sign that movies such as these can be made in a manner that will be loved, oh well here’s to hoping it’s sequel lives up to this one.

Finale Say: Alvin and the Chipmunks was an incredible film to watch, I really didn’t think I’d have this much fun watching it, but I did and I’m glad I did at that too. If you have children and at least free spirited enough to enjoy movies like this, then this is without a doubt for you and I recommend it!

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Review: New York Lately (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Gary King
Written by: Gary King
Genre: Drama
MPAA: Not Yet Rated
Released: TBA 2009
Starring: Susan Cagle, Jenn Dees. Jared Asato, Mark DiConzo, John Weisenburger, Jeremy Koerner, Vanessa Streiff, Kether Donohue, Molly Ryman, Bridget Trama, David Winning.

Plot: A drama following multiple characters as they weave through their daily lives searching for happiness

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: As a film critic I see one to two films on a daily bases, which for the most part can be fun, however sometimes it can be rather agenizing due to the countless hours spent watching films that don’t deserves the time of day for my or anyone’s attention, however every once in a while there comes a film that is unexpectedly breath taking and emotionally powerful, one that grips the individual into its world of wonder, if you don’t know what I’m talking about than it’s pretty obvious that you’ve never seen a good film, than alone appreciate the fine art of filmmaking.

For me that moment of cinema satisfaction was New York Lately, a film written and directed by independent new comer Gary King, New York Lately is a film that grabs a hold of its viewers and takes them on a journey deep into the lives of a group of individuals dealing with their unhappiness one day at a time, the film proves to be strong on a emotional level with a deliciously divers blend of drama meets humor, as a fan of the fine art of Indy filmmaking I was captivated by this film from start to finish, the plot is covered with levels of atmosphere that continues to have layers of depth within itself, as the saying goes a picture carries a thousand words, well if that so than this film topples that tenfold with every shot with a fantastically written screenplay that can’t be fully understood through an explanation but rather being experienced firsthand, the film moves through its various stories without attempting to make a single character or story anymore meaningful than the rest, it is much in the same theme as the movie “Crash” with not trying to make one single entity conquering over the other, but instead giving its audience a generalize principle of the pursuit of finding happiness, and the loneliness many feel in the process, in short this film is what independent filmmaking should be, the fact this film was made with a small budget of only a $100,000 is astonishing and quite frankly impressive, because if I didn’t know any batter I would have thought this film was made with a much larger budget then a hundred grand, but that only future proves my point that Mr. King is… well, The King! Unlike other filmmakers who have a ridiculously large budget to play with and still end up making a film hardly worth being paid to see (trust me there’s a lot of them out there), King shows that a worth watching film doesn’t need a large budget, nor does it need an all-star cast of A-list celebrities, with that said it goes to show that with the right script, the right cast, and the right director put behind it anything is possible.

What New York lately reminded me of was the old days of movie making, when making a film was more than just making the big bucks, it was more than just trying to rush a film out so that the revenue could start rolling in, and it certainly was more than just trying to win awards, what it used to be about was a message to it’s viewers, may it be good or bad, for better or worse, directors of the past would set forward to make a film that had a message, or better yet, an ideal, it’s what filmmaking was all about, it didn’t matter if it made money, or if it won awards or not, rather the masses liked it or not it didn’t matter, just knowing that people went out to see it was its own reword, now days directors have forgotten that, they have strayed away from the morals and ideals of filmmaking, but not King, though new to the business he obviously knows that making films is more than just filming a story scene for scene, but about expressing one’s self through art in each and every scene, and what we get is a decent plot that moves nicely along as the story unfold, and a cast that is spot on goodness, and a scores setting that is perfect for the overall mood of the film, and the most important part is the fact this film is (unlike a lot of films seen this year) unpredictable makes me giddy just saying it, yes that’s right I said giddy, as a film critic who watch an average of one sometimes two film a say I have become quite the expert of predicting the outcomes of situations in films long before they ever arise, and because of this sometimes the films can become more of a chore than a pleasure, but not this film, no, not by a long shot, the fact I was unable to call it was impressive because it shows there are still undiscovered talents left out there, the only problem I had was (that is if you can call this a problem) I did not want the film the end, seeing these characters through their victories and happy ending, to their dark decisions and unfortunate defeats, you can’t help but feel as though you’re a part of their lives, like you’ve been there beside them the whole journey, I guess this is due to the fact Mr. King has built a stylish atmospheric world of character that we all can relate to in one form or another, and because of this I can see nothing but good thing for him in his career, so to the once hotshot Indie director’s, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, watch out! A new comer has arrived to the scene.

The story is about; a group of everyday people, living everyday lives living in New York city, each must fight their own battles of unhappiness, trying to find their own piece of happiness. Jared (Jared Asato), an unhappy corporate employee, grapples with his conscience on doing what is right for the company versus what is right for himself. Truly (Susan Cagle), an aspiring singer, struggles to create one meaningful song in her life while trying to maintain old friendships and new. Veronica (Jenn Dees), a self-conscious actor, works odd-Jobs looking for her one big break, until she gets it, Mark (Mark DiConzo), a voice-over performer, obsesses over the recent break up with his girlfriend Andrea (Molly Ryman), perhaps a little too much. Ringo (John Weisenburger), a self-proclaimed “know it all” when it comes to ladies hides an unexpected secret. Suspecting his wife of infidelity, Elliot (Jeremy Koerner), a one-time bestselling author, hires a spunky privet detective named Sam (Vanessa Streiff) to collect the incriminating proof only to discover more about himself than anything else.

As for the acting; it’s hard for me to judge the acting because to be completely honest, the cast as a whole was great, but I will however say a few things about some of the cast and the characters they played. Susan Cagle was amazing as Truly, her acting was nicely done, not over the top and not underdone, she is also a wonderful singer, listing to her singing as the credits roll was more than worth it. Jared Asato was fantastic as Jared, I could really see the harsh agony he went through doing a job he didn’t want to, Jenn Dees great, her pretrial of a struggling actress was spot on, not many people know the kind of things actors and actresses have to do or go through to get where they are in the business. Mark DiConzo did a great job, in my opinion I think his character really stood out, the pain of loving someone who no longer feels the same way is probably one of the most painful things to experience, and DiConzo did this spot on with great integrity and depth. John Weisenburger did a nice job, his character gives the viewers a few good laughs as well as a few touching moments, I don’t know why but for some reason Weisenburger reminded me a lot of actor Edward Burns, could be they look a little like each other, you decide. Jeremy Koerner was outstanding, I could really feel his character’s misery, and living with someone who you suspect is cheating on you with someone else can be a real emotional train wreck for anyone, and Koener did this role with great skill. I found Vanessa Streiff to be simply adorable, her acting was quite nicely, and her character is just one of those you can’t help but love. Kether Donohue, Molly Ryman, Bridget Trama, and David Winning, all did great jobs. Like I’ve stated earlier, all these actors gave magnificent performances that is hard to judge individually.

Final Say: overall I had a fantastic time viewing this film, the movie had a spot on cast with a spot on director, the film showcases the talents of an upcoming director as well as rising stars, and watching New York Lately was basically watching the talents of stars filmmakers of tomorrow, I can tell you now that these people will be somebody’s in the near future, I highly recommend!

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: Meet the Spartans (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Written by: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Genre: Comedy
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and some comic violence.
Released: 25 January 2008 (USA)
Starring: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Sorbo, Jim Piddock, Method Man, Ken Davitian.

Plot: The heroic Leonidas, armed with nothing by leather underwear and a cape, leads a ragtag group of 13--count ‘em, 13!--Spartans to defend their homeland against the invading Persians (whose ranks include Ghost Rider, Rocky Balboa, the Transformers, and a hunchbacked Paris Hilton--no one is safe when the Spartans take on the biggest icons in pop culture).

Review: 1/10

My Thoughts: 2007 was a year of many great film releases, one of which was a stunning and fantastic film called 300, it was so outstanding that during the film’s last minutes I was overcome with strong emotions, some of sadness (Because the ending was sad) and some of pure enjoyment. I loved every single bit of it, so much that till this day it remains one of the fewest of few films to ever receive a 10/10 on my behalf as a film critic, and believe me when I say I’ve seen a Lot of films in my lifetime. So it did not surprise me that not even a full year had pass before a spoof based on it would be made, after all it is one of the best films of 2007, so a parody is expected, just not one as soon as Meet the Spartans however, long before the film had been released fellow members of the film critics community had already criticizing that it was going to be by far the worst film ever and so on, I on the other hand knew it probably wasn’t going to be anything worth seeing, not even if it was free, but I believe that no film should ever be judged by a film critic unless that critic watches it from start to finish, no exceptions, and as a film critic I stand strongly by my belief through and through, no matter how much people told me it was bad I still held back my judgment on it until I saw it for myself, now since I did not want to waste money at the theaters to see it, I waited for it to come out on DVD, what I saw left me… speechless, but not at all in a good way I promise you that, I can’t begin to explain just how horrible this film was.

Actually I take that back, I most defiantly can! [Laughs] if I had to choose between watching films by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, or Uwe Boll (God forgive me for saying this…) I’d choose Uwe Boll any day of the week, now with that said I don’t even like Mr. Boll the least bit, but that shows you just how much I can’t stand the idiocy that is Friedberg and Seltzer, their style of film making is basically this; and this is how they’ve made all their films, according to them if you want to make a film spoofing another you need not see the actual film but only it’s teaser trailer, because you get a little insight on what the film is going to be like and you can have it out as soon as the real film is out or even maybe sooner… yes you read that right, they don’t even watch or do research on the film their spoofing, just watching a minute half teaser trailer is more than enough according to them to make it a good spoof, how ridiculously dumb are they to even think that, aberrantly very severely from what I see after watching this train wreck of bad one liner jokers and poorly done spoofs, I mean their style of filmmaking is so idiotic that even someone who is blind, deaf and suffering with Mental retardation would look be a Steven Spielberg of movie making compared to these two idiots, but then again some could say that they do this deliberately on purpose because they make these movies on a budget that can be considered next to nothing compared to the amount of case they walk away with after each film, and how is this possible you might ask yourself, because they spoof any and everything connected to modern pop culture.

and by doing this they end up tricking a hug fallowing of teens and tweens into viewing their film which is why they make sure all their movies receive a PG-13 rating by the evil MPAA, so out of their viewing audience only a small handful will be returnees, but these two don’t and won’t care because by the time their next film is due out in theaters there will be a brand new set of na├»ve adolescents awaiting to see what will only disappoint all. I for one continue to see their films for one reason and one reason only which is the same reason I continue to see everything made by Uwe Boll, to judge these films to the most honest extent a film critic like myself can, and also because no matter how much I dislike filmmakers like these I feel everyone should (even though many will disagree) be given the benefit of the doubt. But still aside from that this film was so horrible that by calling it horrible actually is being kind to it, the film has no real plot, just a series of failed dick and fart jokes that basically go like this; dick joke dick joke fart joke fart joke, and repeat until film’s runtime is over, the whole film basically tries so hard to kick everything that has been in the mainstream eye in the last six nine mounts prier to its release and mash it all together as one movie, not to mention they do so in such a sad way that I actually feel a great deal of sympathy for the actors and actresses who had participated in this film, I mean the embarrassment for being in a film that is as mine numbingly stupid as this is beyond comprehension.

The story is about Writers/producers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE) use the film 300 as the basis for their latest spoof. Born to be the perfect Spartan, Leonidas (Magiure) faces numerous trials en route to becoming a man, including a face-off with the penguin from Happy Feet. Once he has proven himself, Leonidas not only becomes king, but also marries Margot (Electra). When Leonidas learns that Persia's King Xerxes (Davitian) plans to make Sparta his own, he has his captain (Sorbo) recruit Sparta's finest and prepares them for battle against invading Persian forces. Unfortunately, that amounts to only 13 half-naked men with painted-on abs who literally prance to their destination. To make matters worse, Spartan councilman Traitoro (Bader) is, well, a traitor. Still, Leonidas and his men face their enemy in battle, riffing on Stomp The Yard, Ghost Rider, Transformers, and numerous other films along the way, as well as the video game Grand Theft Auto. Freidberg and Seltzer poke fun at virtually every recent cultural phenomenon and pop culture personality, including Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, and Paris Hilton, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, and Deal Or No Deal. Even Ugly Betty makes an appearance.

As for the acting, well, I don’t think I need to tell you that there isn’t anything here that I can honestly deem worthy of praising but for the sake of fairness here we go, for starters; Carmen Electra who in my opinion is nothing more than a pretty face with a body to flaunt around, and if it wasn’t for her sex appeal she would been just another piece of talentless garbage in Hollywood, who uses sex to gain attention, her acting was downright awful, it was like she didn’t even try to act. Sean Maguire was probably the only thing more horrible than Electra’s performance. Unlike her however he does act, problems is he over does it by a mile, what could have been vertically hilarious jokes turned into uncomfortable and rather embarrassing moments, even as a view I felt embarrassed just watching, so imagine how some of the actors felt acting in it. Though it was nice seeing actor Kevin Sorbo on the big screen again I can’t help but ask; is this what he’s been forced to resort to? I mean he was once the man back in the day, I myself grew up watching "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, and it’s a real let down to see such a great actor such as him fall so greatly as to act in a film like this, in fact you could see that a part him thought the very same thing as he phoned in his lines on screen. Ken Davitian was horrible, the sad thing is I’ve seen him in quite a few movies now and I’ve always thought his acting was kind of good, but now I’ve lost some respect for the man after seeing this film. And for the record; any film that has Method Man in it is probably not going to be good at all.

Final Say: why oh why to people make such horrible films I’ll never understand, then again why do film companies allow such abominations such as the likes of this to even see the light of day? Seriously though, I have nothing personal against the film nor do I have a personal vendetta against the filmmakers, I am but a humble film critic that only judges to the full extent as a critic can and nothing more, I live to serve the people, and as your humble servant let me tell you; Meet The Spartans is not worth the money it took to make it, nor is it worth the time god gave each and every one of us on this earth, I highly DON’T recommend it, avoid at all cost.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Hancock (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by: Vincent Ngo & Vince Gilligan
Genre: Action / Comedy / Drama
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.
Released: 2 July 2008 (USA)
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Jae Head, Eddie Marsan.

Plot: A hard-living superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public enters into a questionable relationship with the wife of the public relations professional who's trying to repair his image.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: What is a Hero, that is the question?, some would say a hero is someone who saves lives, however this is both true and false, a hero can be anyone doing just about anything in the eyes of those who have been saved and doesn’t always have to mean literally, a hero doesn’t always get the hero’s praise that they deserved, while others are worship for doing little or nothing at all but just simply being the hero in the eyes for some is all that’s needed, to be more general on the matter brings me to the subject of “Superheroes” who in most cases are always looked at as those who uphold the peace and justice for all, they are looked upon as pure do-gooders who are as good and pure in the light of divinity can be, some would even go as far as to say to be a true superhero is almost to be holy,

basically most are usually stereotyped into being like “Superman”, when referred to as “pure” or “do-gooder”, do not mistaken someone like “Batman” as a hero when making such an analyses because there is a huge difference between a superhero and a vigilantly when doing such, but I’m going over my head with this and swaying of course now [Laughs]. the conclusion to my explanation of the term “Superhero” comes boiling down to this; people never see their favorite hero when the chips are down, in fact most people won’t even give into even the slightest of thought of how they’re reaction would be to such a horrible thing, because to give into such a thought would be giving into the thought of defeat, and to acknowledge defeat of one’s hero is to be defeated yourself, which is why when the film Hancock came around my neck of the woods I couldn’t help but become extremely intrigued by the plot, because it was the first time I had seen, then alone heard of a movie in which the hero of the story is hated by those he saves. I mean here is a hero who at one point could very well have been the greats superhero this world has ever seen, but when he couldn’t be the hero people wanted, his image took a dive, and let me tell you; when he fell, he fell hard. And so with spending some many years of being in the gutter ridiculed and deride by the general public he turned to drinking fallowed by simply not caring anymore what the world thought of him or the people who needed saving, in other words this film was really a tale of a hero who needed saving for a change.

The plot is pretty much solid with the exception of a few plot errors here and there, I was amazed at how the fantastic the special effects was, it sure was a real spectacle treat I can tell you, and the film even carries some really good laughs as well as some very touching moments that will make even some of the coldest of hearts tear up, the only problem I had however was the lack of villains, with a film that has a superman like hero the villains come off as less then common thugs who luckily get the drop on our hero, however some will argue that the lack of villains is because the real villain is the one our hero must fight within himself to become a better person, either way I feel that if there is to be a sequel a villain with power that ether equals or at least come near to Hancock’s, also the other problem I had, but I don’t think of it as a problem, but as an awkward feeling during the film, see the film’s overall feel takes a dramatic change a few times, first the film starts of as you’re usual Will Smith action comedy, but then around the halfway point, the film’s overall feel takes a huge change and suddenly becomes more like a straight out drama than anything else with fewer and fewer laughs as the time role, however by the time it’s nearing to the ending the film takes a very dark tone, with it playing more to the seriousness than anything else and here is where people may find themselves tearing up a bit, however before the film can wrap up to credits it falls back into the light tone it started off with in the beginning, like I’ve stated, it’s not really a negative for the film, but more like a bold leap of fate, ultimately it proves as a somewhat plus for them taking such a risk, and for that I give the filmmakers kudos for doing such.

The Story is about; There are heroes... there are superheroes... and then there's Hancock (Will Smith). With great power comes great responsibility - everyone knows that - everyone, that is, but Hancock. Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock's well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save lives of man, but always leaves a jaw-dropping trail of damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough - as grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy. Hancock isn't the kind of man who cares what other people think - until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all. Facing that will be Hancock's greatest challenge yet - and a task that may prove impossible as Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), insists that he's a lost cause, but never the less the fight to fix a broken hero will prove to be a fight both Hancock and Ray will have to face.

As for the acting, I don’t think I have to tell you that Will Smith was fantastic, like all his film he gives a 110% of his talent to the movie, which is a rare thing now days as most actor don’t usually give it their all in every film they shoot, some will give their talents to some films and then just phone it in for the rest of the time, but not Smith, who is simply amazing, he can make you laugh and when you least suspect it, cry. Jason Bateman who sadly I must say I am not a huge fan of, was, OK, he did an ok job but I honestly don’t see the hype some have for him as I find his style a little dry for my taste, it’s nothing personal as I’ve seen may interviews of him and he seems like a pretty nice guy, but for the life of me I can’t take in his performance without feeling a little nauseated after. Charlize Theron was wonderfully great; I must say I don’t really fancy her as much as other actresses when it comes to acting because I find her acting to be a little too ordinary, but she really came out in this one that even caught my eye; her chemistry with both Smith and Bateman was simply amazing and felt quite authentic, it was like watching a group of old friends having a world of time together and even more so breathless at times. Eddie Marsan who more or less portrayed the villain in this film did great; he did a nice job making you want to hate him as the bad guy.

Final Say: Hancock was a really good film, and even though it carries a few errors you can’t help but ask what films don’t in these times? Either way I had a magnificent time viewing it, it’s well worth taking a look see especially if you’re a will smith fan, then this is a must see, Hancock it defiantly a film I’d like to take another viewing soon, if you’re in the mood for a good film with laughs, mystery, nice FX and some very touching moments then I recommend Hancock!

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Review: Tropic Thunder (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Ben Stiller
Written by: Ben Stiller & Justin Theroux
Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy
MPAA: Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material.
Released: 13 August 2008 (USA)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte, Brandon T. Jackson, Steve Coogan, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise.

Plot: Through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying.

Review: 9/10

My Thoughts: Summer films are always known to be the films with the biggest of budget and usually the most anticipated of the bunch, which is why summer is known as the “POPCORN SESSION” for Movies, but with high anticipation also comes disappointment, many of the films never quite live up to the hype that is driven by it from moviegoers, but I must say that summer 2008 has been kind to me with an almost flawless summer for me, with great films like; The Incredible Hulk, Kung Fu Panda, Wanted, WALL·E, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Hancock, The Dark Knight, and now Tropic Thunder, this has got to be one of the best summer for me and movies in a really long time, never have I had such a great time with so many great films and so little bad ones, it’s just so unbelievable and it true, any true moviegoer like myself will tell you this, and will remember summer 2008 as a dream come true for going to the movies.

Tropic Thunder is the type of spoof film I’ve been waiting for a long time, ever since the fall of good spoof films in the late 1990’s it has become pretty bad for this particular genre with little or no hope in site, however, that is until Tropic Thunder came out, and let me tell you, I knew it was going to be a fun film to watch, however I didn’t expect it to be this fun, I was caught by surprise by the fake trailers presented before the actual film starts, I was laughing so hard I was dam near in tears, and that’s technically not even the film yet, and just when I though I couldn’t laugh any harder than I did, the film started to play, then that did it. I spent the entire time trying to catch my breath due to how hilarious the film was, I believe my eyes, the film basically is a great big spoof on Hollywood, but done right for a change, not to mention it look like about half of Hollywood showed up to be in the film, whit so many cameos left and right, I was left in awe, the film is greatly entertaining for both the action fans as well as those looking for a day full of laughter, the plot is outrageously fantastic.

I was amazed at how well written it was, given you a strong plot that doesn’t give up for a single moment, and so many memorable moments that it’s a film that will stick with you long after you’ve seen it, one scene in particular is a scene which involves Jack Black’s characters tide to a tree, and in an attempt to get someone to free him he offers a perform oral sex on whoever frees him, “I'll Cradle The Balls, Stroke The Shaft, Work The Pipe And, Shallow The Gravy!.” You can imagine just how shocked the audience was by hearing that, the entire room laughed so hard that it could be heard from outside the theater room, [Laughs], With all the action, all the laughs, this is easily the best comedy of 2008, and probably one of the best of the last ten years or so, the plot which is written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen is so fantastic that I’m convinced it’s a piece of pure genus, and with the cameos of so many of Hollywood’s A-listers you can’t go wrong, to sum it all into a much simpler terms; if Rambo, Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Zoolander had a wild orgy, Tropic Thunder would be its offspring, I seriously did not think I would have this much of a good time watching a Ben Stiller film, I most certainly will be looking forword to his next project!

The story is about a group of self-absorbed actors set out to make the most expensive war film. But after ballooning costs force the studio to cancel the movie, the frustrated director refuses to stop shooting, leading his cast into the jungles of Southeast Asia, where they encounter real bad guys.

As for the acting; Ben Stiller is outstanding, though at times his performance can be seen as unoriginal he still manages to give a few surprises that are very much enjoyable. Jack Black was fantastic, much like Ben Stiller; there are many moviegoers that don’t care for his out of control style brand of comedy, however rest assure that in this film he does hold some of it back for when it is needed, and let me tell you when the time calls for it, he sure has heck brings it! However the real attraction in this film is none other than Robert Downey Jr. who I cannot tell you in any way possible that will give it the justice he so greatly deserves, his performance is nothing short of magnificent! I found myself at time wanting to see him more on screen than any of his co-stars, to be completely honest it’s just something you’d have to see for yourself to understand, I knew he could act, but damn I didn’t know he could ACT! This is without a doubt one of his best. Brandon T. Jackson was awesomeness all around, as playing Alpa Chino the only black man in the movie they’re making in the movie, his chemistry with Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Kirk Lazarus who is a white guy playing the only black sergeant in the film works magnificently well together for an army of racially based jokes that will have everyone laughing, Jackson has a bright future ahead of him I can tell you. Jay Baruchel who is no stranger to the business has always played second string and often left in the back, however this time around he stands in the back no more; he stands besides the great actors of this film and proves his worth. Funny man Steve Coogan who is well known overseas but not so much here in the states has really made himself know this year with Hamlet 2, and now Tropic Thunder, though his role his small, much like a well oiled machine he is as much of an important component to the film to make it work. Nick Nolte was a real treat, I knew right off from the start his part was going to be pretty hilarious, just didn’t think it would be as hilarious as it turned out to be which I can tell you is a big plus in my book! Matthew McConaughey was great! And at the same time I felt at odds with him, because as most of you know he’s one to always take lead role in a film and never second string, but surprised ,e with this role and did exactly what I didn’t think he’d do and manages to rock the hell out of that role as well! And last but not least; Tom Cruise was, well, shocking! Don’t think for one moment that you know the guy when it comes to his style of acting, he goes way off his usual stuff with this role, and rather you like him or not this is a must see for Cruise lovers and haters alike.

Final Say: Overall I had one badass time watching Tropic Thunder, it (in my opinion) has got to be the best spoof film I’ve seen in well over ten years, it reminded me of the old spoof films of the 70’s and 80’s, which is a nice change of pace for once, I mean with all the crap Hollywood has flushed out over the years I didn’t think such a film like this would ever be possible, but now I see there is still some hope left in the world, and here’s to hoping for more films like this in the near future. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Review: Max Payne (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: John Moore
Written by: Beau Thorne (screenplay) Sam Lake (video game by Remedy Entertainment and 3-D Realms Entertainment)
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for violence including intense shooting sequences, drug content, some sexuality and brief strong language.
Released: 17 October 2008 (USA)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton, Olga Kurylenko, Rothaford Gray, Joel Gordon, Jamie Hector, Andrew Friedman, Marianthi Evans, Nelly Furtado.

Plot: Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a DEA agent whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy and an assassin out to avenge her sister's death. The duo will be hunted by the police, the mob, and a ruthless corporation.

Review: 7/10

My Thoughts: In 2001 the video game Max Payne made its debut at video game stores everywhere, and almost instantly became a smash hit among the gaming community, which fallowed by a sequel that proved to break the extremely high bare the first game had set, over the course of the years since its release it has carried on with a pretty big fallowing of what I’d like to call “Payne fans”, these fans, who over time had gone beyond just playing the game, but have gone as far as to making fan made live action short movies to give themselves a quick fix from time to time, to trying to look the part of our bullet time hero, and over the time since its sequel has it had thousands and thousands of fan mail sent to the developers pleading for a second sequel, however after a few long years (anything over three years is an eternity in the gaming community) of waiting fans were given something batter then a second sequel; they were given word that a live action film was to be made based of the first game, soon after actor Mark Wahlberg announced that he was in fact casted to play our dark haired leather jacket wearing hero with nothing to live for! This sent the fan base back into action once again causing a whole new frenzy of Payne madness in the gaming world and now in the moviegoer world.

But now the real question at hand is would this film be able to live up to the game and prove to be satisfactory? The answer is yes… and no. yes because the film manages to express the same dark cynicism in our human nature which is how it is in the game, showing the darkness and worst of humanity at its best, and it captures the essence of the plot’s foundation showing how far to edge of death a man will go when he truly has nothing left to live for, in this case our main hero, “Payne” is a man covered in layers of darkness in his very soul, he is more a shell of the man he once was then anything else with no light at the end of his tunnel, no salvation, only revenge, but he fights on hoping for a new day to arrive, or at least taking out the people he intended to before being taken out himself. The action proves to be very satisfactory and had me cheering with joy and although the film lacked in blood and gore it made up tenfold with very stylish gun fights that was more than worth it, in my opinion one scene in particular involves Max Payne (Wahlberg) diving backwards while holding a shotgun while in bullet time showing the bullets from his enemy just missing him by mere inches followed by him taking his target out while still in midair, now if that doesn’t rouse you to shear excitement than I don’t know what will, but know that is but a taste of the action this film carries. Now with that said on the more negative side; the film lacks in a few areas of the plot, for one thing the first act will get the viewers into the film and wanting more, however the second act slows down quite a bit and if that doesn’t make things bad the third act proves to be somewhat slower and will bore some, but this can be blamed on the fact that the games was a 50/50 when it came to story vs. action, and to make it into a full length live action would call for it to have more story, so this resulted in a few rewrites to the original story to properly adapt it to being movie materiel, which of course meant that certain characters and scenes and violent action from the first game wouldn’t make the cut for this film, however with that said it still worked out pretty good and left the viewers with a chance to see a sequel which will have much more meaning then the first one.

The second problem I had which was nothing big and hopefully will be corrected in the next film, which is the relationship between Max Payne and Mona Sax, in the game, these two characters had suffered the loss of people they held so close to their hearts that they were two people who had nothing left to live for, and started out as enemies at first but later became allies they lived off each other’s lose as it became a bond that they shared and eventually became a passionate love that neither couldn’t live without, in a more simpler term it brought meaning to their lives once again and made them want to live once more, this however was not in the film and the tension between the two on film didn’t go any further then a bond of vengeance which they only seems to be interested in, hopefully this will be develop into something much more in the next film. But with these problems I’ve mention mostly all can be forgiven after witnessing the wonders that is the special effects, the way the FX and CGI go hand and hand in this film is a spectacular wonder to see, one in particular is how well they made the effects of the demonic angels, it really was an eye sensation for me and gave me goose bumps, the only thing besides everything else I’ve said here that was missing the most was, and I know I’m not alone here, but more bullet time the next time they make another film, on another upside the film does in fact go more into detail on what the drug “Valkyr” does to its users then the game ever did, now I know you keep hearing me say there’s going to be another film, well if you really want to know for yourself then stick around after the end credits and you’ll see an extra scene showing you that the tale is far from over and Max and Mona will be back, overall I despite the slight dislike to some parts of it here and there I still liked it quite a lot and wouldn’t mind giving it another go around some day on DVD.

The story is about Max Payne is a maverick cop--a mythic anti-hero--determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murders of his family and partner. Hell-bent on revenge, his obsessive investigation takes him on a nightmare journey into a dark underworld. As the mystery deepens, Max is forced to battle enemies beyond the natural world and face an unthinkable betrayal

As for the acting; first off Mark Wahlberg did a fantastic job partying Max Payne in this film, I’ve read some critics say he couldn’t act, however I disagree with them, he did great job, it may not be Oscar worthy but who ever said the film’s acting had to be to begin with. Mila Kunis stole my heart in this film, for one thing I thought she could do this kind of role (action) however I was wrong, she did her best and her best won me over, true she looks nowhere near like the character from the game, but she does carry same energy that the character Mona Sax has in the game onto screen and make the character her own, I swear the more and more I see her movies the more and more I’m beginning to fall in love [Laughs]. Beau Bridges has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember, he and his brother are just outstanding in everything I’ve seen them in, and Beau does yet another outstanding job in this film, his acting is probably one of the best things in this film. Ludacris’s performance was a shocker for me, never did I think for a moment could he act, and sure enough the man proved me wrong, he may not do a great job at acting, but still an okay job, which is fitting for me taking everything else in the film of course. Chris O'Donnell was not so bad, although I felt as though he was lacking a bit, even for his standards, once upon a time he was well on his way to becoming a hug star, and now, he plays second string acting, he was a little bit of a lackluster to me and wasn’t fully needed. Donal Logue was okay, but in my opinion a bit too off his game, don’t get me wrong he’s a good actor an all, but he as I feel was a mismatched for this film. Amaury Nolasco did a great job as Jack Lupino, it gave the character that extra hint of psychotic energy that was needed to make it work, and it really came off him quite naturally. Kate Burton is a magnificent actress, however she was lacking a little too much for the role of Nicole Horne, for those of you who haven’t played the game, the character Nicole Horne was an egotistical conniving b**** who only looked out for her own ass, and I felt Burton just wasn’t really taping into that all that well. Olga Kurylenko was not so bad, although is this going to be her thing from now on or is she going to act in more than just video game movies (she was also in Hitman), either way it wasn’t a plus nor was it a negative to see her in this. Joel Gordon, Jamie Hector and Nelly Furtado just to name a few did pretty good jobs in this.

Finale Say: Max Payne wasn’t the best film of 2008 nor was it in any way near to being in the running, however that certainly doesn’t mean it was a bad movie ether, it’s just it tried too hard at times which worked against it which is why the midpoint seems slow and a little boring, but with that said I’d say that it’s something worth checking out if you’re in the mood to kill a few hours.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Review: Brokeback Mountain (2005) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: Annie Proulx (short story) Larry McMurtry (screenplay) & Diana Ossana (screenplay)
Genre: Drama / Romance / Western
MPAA: Rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.
Released: 16 December 2005 (USA)
Starring: Heat Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Linda Cardellini, Kate Mara, and Randy Quaid.

Plot: Brokeback Mountain is the story of ranch hand Ennis del Mar (Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), two young men who meet and fall in love on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming in 1963. The film documents their complex relationship over the next twenty years.

Review: 9/10

My Thoughts: “Love Is A Force Of Nature” I believe much of what true love really is can be summed up to that very quote, love is indeed a force of nature, some will say that you find love, and not the other way around, however I disagree, love is not something that can be controlled, or decided upon, it’s what lies in the soul, and if it’s decided then there’s no changing it’s mind, for a long time I’ve been planning to see Brokeback Mountain but have always put it at the back burner of movies to watch, and I guess for some strange reason I keep putting it off for films that were less then worth watching is because as a film critic and an individual I didn’t want to get mixed up in the crossfire of the controversy that surrounded the film during the time of it’s release, among the masses if you’re a straight guy like myself you’d ether get put into one of two categories, one, being branded a “homo” for liking it, or two, a homophobe for hating it, these were certainly not the choices I’d like to have as both a moviegoer and as an individual, as most of you already know, I don’t care what two individuals do behind closed doors, may it be man and woman, man and man, or woman and woman, I’m ok with it, and neither should anyone for that matter should try to get involved in other’s affairs, because after all, when everything is said and done, all that truly matters is the love, and not who is showing that love to who, call it the one rare thing liberal about me if you will (cause I’m a conservative and a republican by heart and mind) but after finally giving this movie a chance I couldn’t help but feel happy and sadden for seeing such a magnificent film, happy because the film is downright genus work, truly a work of art in my opinion, and sadden because, well, like all love stories, it’s filled with so much romance and discovery which is always surrounded by fear, anger and above all, tragedy, first off, if you feel uneven over the idea of two men making love to each other don’t worry, the whole sex thing in the film was highly over exaggerated by the mainstream media, there is only one real love scene in the whole film between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters.

Thing is, it’s not even a whole big deal, not much is shown in the scene and it’s not even a little pornographic, it’s (and I will forever regret saying this [laughs]) passionate, the film starts off really slow, introducing both men meeting each other for the first time while looking for work, they both land a job being sheepherder for a ranching company, the two men are stationed near the sheep flock in Brokeback Mountain, at first it’s very slow, not much goes on between the two, they have very little to say to each other and rarely ever look at each other, but as time goes by and the months start to roll in the two begin to feel something between then, here is where things start to pick up, because both men begin to act more loosely among each other, and slowly both can feel there’s something odd going between them and yet they don’t even know it fully yet, well I won’t spoil the scene for you but after the dirty deed does finally happen both men see as a onetime thing that didn’t mean nothing, however even they can’t lie to themselves that it was much more than that, they begin to fall in love with each other, however all things must come to an end, and so does there little thing, after the job was done they go their separate ways, but as the story goes, fate doesn’t allow them to just have this one thing and leave each other for good, the film spans over the course of 20 years and the love that was and could have been so much more.

The plot was phenomenal, nothing short of top notch storytelling if you ask me, the directing was beautifully executed by director Ang Lee, he has made a masterpiece for the new and old era alike to enjoy, and truly deserving the Oscars in won, the film manages to do what others have failed at, and that’s helping those who are uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality, first by introducing our main characters as your usual heterosexual man, at first they act as friends, but over time they get to know each other, and slowly shown as two individuals in a time of extreme prejudice towards gays, slowly fall for each other, yes it may still sound unsettling for some, but trust me when I say on film it’s really not, I’m not saying the film will make you scream out you’re no longer intimidated or afraid of homosexuality, however Brokeback Mountain manages to peel away the unsettling feelings we have on the subject, and show that in a world filled with war, hate, fear, and despair, sometimes love no matter how, who, or where it comes from is the only thing we can truly hold on to and call our own. I really enjoyed myself while seeing this, like I said, at first I didn’t want to be taken in by the controversy, but now I see the controversy was nothing more but mere propaganda to stop those from watching it, but the most intriguing part is the fact that though this film is about two men, the love story behind it is as universal as any other love story ever told, and can be felt by all on some level, that my friends is what I call real movie making.

The story is about in the year 1963; two young men are hired on as ranch hands in the Wyoming Mountains. During the long months of isolation, an unusual bond starts to develop between them, one which they are only vaguely aware of--until one night when it raises to the surface in a passionate encounter. When the season ends, they part ways, only to realize the true depth of their feelings. Thus begins a decades-long affair that the two of them desperately try to hide from those around them one which will prove to be simultaneously beautiful and greatly devastating.

As for the acting; well I can tell you that aside from his exhalent performances in films like 2008’s “The Dark Knight” Heat Ledger gives a breath taking performance, without him this film wouldn’t be as great as it was, he breathes life into his character, and pours such power and sincerity behind it that it’s almost as if a part of him was put into the role, it’s sad that such a fine and talented actor such as him is no longer among us. Jake Gyllenhaal was outstanding, he matched dead on for the role, and some could say it’s because the two had already have a friendship outside of the film long before talks for it being made into film came about, I say that’ a loud of BS, he matched the role because he is a fine actor, and proved it in many previous films before this, and I’m confident he’s going to continue to do so as time passes. Michelle Williams was fantastic, her acting was a real sight to see, and what makes it even more interesting is the real life back-story behind making this great film, the fact her and Heat Ledger became an item while making this film could tell you that if it wasn’t for working together on Brokeback Mountain their love for each other would have never happened, meaning Ledger would have left this earth without a symbol of the man he truly was (the daughter with Williams is proof of the good man he was). Anne Hathaway was spot on, her acting has proven to be great as her beauty which is nothing sort of hypnotizing, I’m glad to see her out of the kid flicks and into the real grown up stuff. Linda Cardellini, Kate Mara, and Randy Quaid just to name a few were also a real treat to see in this, and even though their roles are small, it still adds to the overall art of this film and in some way helps add to this already near perfect masterpiece.

Final Say: Brokeback Mountain was a real treat, I must admit that when going into this I had the thought that this would turn out to be a homophobes worst nightmare, but instead what I got was a painfully beautiful love story of a forbidden love that wanted to become more than just what it was and yet could never be, this film is in my top ten films that should come for 2004, and among my all time top favorite films (which should be around 40 to 50 films by now). If you have one ounce of love in you, then I highly recommend this film to you.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved