Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: The Last Lullaby (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Jeffrey Goodman
Written by: Peter Biegen (screenplay) & Max Allan Collins (screenplay)
Genre: Mystery
MPAA: Rated R for violence and language.
Released: 2009
Starring: Tom Sizemore, Sasha Alexander, Bill Smitrovich, Sprague Grayden, Omid Abtahi, Ray McKinnon, Randall Batinkoff.

Plot: A retired and weary Hitman comes out of retirement after being presented with an opportunity to make a quick buck in what would be an easy hit but instead found something of more meaning than money, now he must choose between carrying out the order he was hired for or venturing forth into the unknown.

Review: 7/10

The Story is about: Price, a former Hitman, is struggling to cope with retirement. He left the assassination business to live the "easy life." However, retirement arrived with its own agenda. It was not the instant peace and calm that Price expected. Rather, it was emptiness, boredom, and, worst of all, restlessness. Price is plummeted back into his old life and forces him into a corner from which he may never escape. Price's old ways no longer work for him when his heart opens, and he finds life beyond his profession. The tension finally boils, as Price must decide to close himself off again or open himself up to a world beyond his control.

My Thoughts: Someone once said “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” For those who have taken but never given back in return will reap what they sow, as for the life of an assassin or as they are called in more modern times, ‘contract killers.’ Living life is quite simple in the sense of only taking but never really giving back, they take payment in exchange for taking the life of others; everything in the life of an assassin is up for the taking, but never giving back. And so because of this they live the ending chapters of their lives empty inside and alone, an ironic sense of misery can be seen in the light of this, because though the ideology of being a killer for hire may make one ‘rich fast,’ it still leaves the mind and soul weary and filled with an endless herd of sleepless nights.

Much like all tales of murder, the cinema has shown over the years that, to kill one mustn’t have a conscience within them for if they do they will encounter an existence of misery filled with loneliness and the ever so widening void of emptiness. Recently I viewed a privet screening of actor Tom Sizemore’s latest film The Last Lullaby, which is the directorial debut of up and coming director Jeffrey Goodman. Goodman brings forth a film that presents the concept of having to deal with the emptiness that resides within all who face retirement after serving a life long career of doing what they are best at, that sense of purpose that drives us is no longer there, and suddenly we’re searching for it again someway somehow, especially if you’re a former assassin for hire like the film’s main character. The Last Lullaby showcases the tale about a contract kill named, Price (Sizemore) a man whose conscience come into play after coming out of retirement for one last job only to gain romantic feelings for his latest contracted hit. Unlike most films in its genre, Last Lullaby seems to bring something other films lack in, and that’s its sense of realism and legitimacy in the face of what a real life bought and paid for killer really is. Unlike many films which always depict a Hitman as a well built well skilled killer without a single inch of fear within them. However this is a very common mistake you see, because the real life killers don’t look anything like Hollywood’s elite A-list faces, they’re not like Jason Born nor are they at all fashion experts, because if they were than there wouldn’t be a reason for taking on such a bloody risky job now would there? No, real killers look just like you and me, they have their problems and daily struggles just like you and me, and much in the same respect live lives quite the same. Which is basically what this film shows, it shows that even the most harden of people go through the motions of emotional pain and problems as we do, and at the end of the day must make the same moral decisions as every other person.

The film is a terrific hybrid between a classic style noir and modern age noir that showcases the movie with a richly dark emotional undertone that seems to carry the film without ease, that at times there are moments where the actors body language is saying so much to the viewers without so much as a word being spoken, however I admit that when I started watching it I felt the film was running on a very slow pace for my taste, but after awhile it grew on me, because the film isn’t meant to be a fast paced loose action film, but rather a film in which develops slowly and allows the viewers to appreciate everything as a hole rather than one or two things individually. However there are a few things that I had problems with, both are in regard to the beginning and that ending of the film, the first being the fact that in the film, the events the eventually opens the way for the main plot to take place was just way too coincidental and came off a little cheesy in the sense, and for some, this may give the viewer an incoherent understanding of the film from the star unless they are a 110% focused on the story and nothing else. The other problem I had with the film was its ending, the problem was within the ending its self but rather in the false sense of buildup of a milled climatic ending, the ending gives you the impression that it will end with some kind of big boom, and yet it still does more or less, but just not the one I was hoping for, but other than that I thought the film was very enjoyable and despite the slight disappointment, it’s still worth looking into.

As for the acting: Well, what can I say about actor Tom Sizemore that hasn’t already been said by someone else? He has preformed alongside some of the biggest of A-list celebrities and worked with some of the greatest filmmakers of our time. He’s been in some of the best films the 90’s has to offer, and has been highly praised for his acting talent by moviegoers for past work. And yet, a few personal mistakes take place in life and suddenly he’s demonized for it, I won’t dare to defend his actions of the last recent years nor do I agree with them, but one cannot deny that even with his flows he is an actor of great talent, and gave a performance that is nothing short of superb! His performance clearly shows a sense of sincerity that displays real life pain and emotion that connects the viewers to the character on a somewhat personal level that works quite nicely, though he does show a few rough spots in his performances from time to time it doesn’t hurt the film all that much and in some way adds depth to the character. Sasha Alexander was adequately satisfying, but I admit that other than the fact she used to be a part of the cast for the hit show ‘NCIS’ I know very little about her in general, but what I have seen of her in Last Lullaby does prove to be entertaining as performances goes, and warrants a closer look into her career on past, present and future works. Bill Smitrovich was fantastic in this, he’s one of those actors that you either enjoy watching him play one of the good guys in a film, or simply love to hate him as a villain, and in my opinion he gives the film exactly what is needed to balance it out nicely and gives a top notch performance. Ray McKinnon does a fairly good job, though at time I felt his performance to be lacking a tad bit, however he does give an acceptable performance none the less. The rest of the cast did pretty okay, but nothing memorable that’s worth mentioning here, and I simply live it at that.

Final Say: The Last Lullaby was a very entertaining piece that proved to be engaging and enjoyable. The film points out two great things, the first being director Jeffrey Goodman is a name to keep an eye out for in the near future, and the other being actor Tom Sizemore may have taken a few heavy blows by the public, but this old dog has still got some fight left in him yet. Overall, even though I had a few disagreements with the film on some levels, I still had a great time watching it. I recommend it!

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review: Red Velvet (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Bruce Dickson
Written by: Bruce Dickson & Joe Moe
Genre: Horror
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 28 August 2009 (USA)
Starring: Henry Thomas, Kelli Garner, Cristen Coppen, Michele Nordin, Bret Roberts, Eric Jungmann, Natalia Baron, Kevin Wheatley, Ryan Doom.

Plot: A man and a young woman have a chance encounter at a Laundromat which leads to a story about a birthday party where everyone has been killed by a madman in a white jumpsuit.

Review: 7/10

The story is about: A young man and young woman who meet at a Laundromat turn a simple laundry day into an afternoon lunch date. As they get to know each other, bizarre stories begin to unfold, some fact, some fiction about each other's past. Eventually, the Young Man delves into a story about a birthday party whose guests began to be systematically killed off by a maniac in a white jump suit. The Young Woman, oddly enough, becomes more and more intrigued with the tale as the mayhem mounts. Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship or a building block leading to a day ending in madness beyond fairy tales?

My thoughts: What’s in a horror story that attracts so many into its web of death and dismemberment? No matter what a person’s beliefs or lifestyle may be, we are all so driven into wanting to feel the thrill of fear. May it be on a supernatural scale or your typical slasher flick, everyone loves a good story, especially a scary story, even those who claim to dislike the genre still hold a curiosity towards it, because deep down everyone loves the thrill of fear because fear is what gets our hearts pumping and we get a certain sense of enjoyment out of watching others suffer at the hands of an evil force. To which you could say that to a certain sense that makes everyone just a bit cynical deep down inside for that matter. When I sat down to watch a film called Red Velvet I thought to myself that: it would be just another sad case of modern horror trying to be a carbon copy of previous films in its genre, but to my surprise this film was nothing of the sort, in fact it was a return to the iconic slasher area of the 1970’s and 1980’s, or as I like to call it the ‘GOLDEN AGE’ of horror films. But don’t let that give you the impression that this film is only for old school horror fanatics like me. But instead the exact opposite, the film, though it’s style may give one the impression that it’s trying to copy films of old it’s actually paying homage to the good old fashion horror genre while at the same time dismantling the original ideology behind it and coming into its own as a bloody stylish slice of gory entertainment.

This film is a gruesomely delightful blend of old school meets modern as a new hybrid class of horror and has a lovely touch of originality that hasn’t been seen in its genre in a very long time, the film’s plot is a very unique one that was (And this may come to you as a shock to hear me say it) original and kept me on my toes pretty much the whole way with twists and turns that will keep you guessing. And let me not forget to mention the horrific kills, oh the kills is the thing which really makes it so eye catching at times because though it may not be a huge kill count like some films, the death scenes are so unique from each other that it will stay with the viewer after it’s over, which really show how much the filmmakers are thinking outside of the box with this one. Without giving away too much spoilers, one of the graphic death scenes includes a man being gruesomely cut in two with a two-man saw right down the middle of his head. And if that wasn’t enough it appears that the filmmakers have a very sickly twisted sense of humor for that matter, which to be honest is actually a good thing because some horror films need a little humor in it every now and then and with Red Velvet the viewers get exactly that, it gives the viewers something to laugh inwardly about even during the most disgusting and disturbing of death scenes. But don’t let that description make you think the film is all about death and jokes (not entirely that is). Because the film does have a strangely bizarre side that one could say is almost dreamlike and surreal in the same manner that ‘Donnie Darko’ and ‘Psycho’ was, sort of speak. And for me it was a very thought provoking movie because it’s bizarre dark undertone doesn’t just touch the film’s plot, but every single detail of the film is covered in it.

The film in its entirety is so incredibly rich in colors and artsy style cinematography that it’s like being stuck in a madman’s dream with no clear escape in sight, but in a good way. What makes this film truly entertaining though is the seemingly adventures imagination the two main characters’ Aaron and Linda (Played by Henry Thomas and Kelli Garner) have. As the film starts off with a bummed out Linda who encounters an angered Aaron at a Laundromat by chance (even though they’ve been next door neighbors for an incredible long time) they don’t quite hit it off so well at first as the two are in a consent argument over each other, but after some time settles between them, it leads to Aaron telling a story about a birthday party where everyone is killed by a crazed killer that is unlike any other I’ve seen in quite some time. My only problem I had was that the film doesn’t give the main characters enough development for the viewers to appreciate them enough to feel anything for them and because of this there’s an emotional disconnection from the characters if only there was a little more development done I would have felt something for them whether than feeling nothing at all in their most darkest moments. However, even though the film lacks in character development, it does very much entertain. And like all film I watched I did a little research, and to my surprise I learned that the filmmakers are from Hawaii (the island of Oahu to be exact) which honestly makes a lot of sense after watching this, because there were some hints in the film that gave me the impression that they either was from Hawaii or visited the islands at some point, and take it from someone who’s from the islands like myself, it’s clear that though they may have left Hawaii, Hawaii has not left them.

As for the acting: Well, what can I say? It’s pretty much a mix bag on this one. While I thought some of the actors did great and some fairly good, I also thought some were just awful. Henry Thomas did a fine job in the role of ‘Aaron’, it’s clear that he put some hard work into his performance, and it’s nice seeing him in a fairly decent starring role again. it’s just too bad he isn’t a lead star in much more films now days, because he’s a much under-used talent in the business and it’s sad to see good talent like that go to waste. Kelli Garner was excellent as the ‘Linda’ she gave the character a lovely blend of saucy meets sexy, and I have no doubt that it won’t be long before this little vixen starts making a real name for herself in the business. Eric Jungmann did okay, though I was a little disappointed with his performance overall, because I remember him from his earlier years as an up an coming actor when he started appearing in minor roles in films like “Varsity Blues” and the not so humorous parody film “Not Another Teen Movie”, I really thought that with ten years of experience on his résumé he would gotten out of the position of always being ‘THAT GUY’ in all the films. And it seems that not only has he remained stuck in a rut, but he hasn’t expanded his ability to perform outside of his surroundings as an actor nor has he bettered the quality of it either. However I’ll still hang on to the hope and idea that he’ll broaden his career in the near future. Michele Nordin was moderately sufficient in her performance but was not entertainingly appealing to me, aside from her showing off her assets (And what fantastic looking assets they are!) I didn’t quite see anything about her in general that would make her stand out individually in the film, other than the fact she’s just eye candy thrown on screen for the male audience’s pleasure she seemed rather two dimensional and because of this I just could not relate to her character in the film nor her performance. Bret Roberts was great; I honestly tip my hat to him for giving a really good performance because few actors can pull off what he did in the film. First he was heterosexual in one part of the film and then he has a change of character later on where he becomes homosexual and pulls both off in a rather believable manner. Cristen Coppen and Natalia Baron was okay, but much like Michele Nordin, I didn’t find anything eye catching with their performances that would make them stand out in the film. Ryan Doom and Kevin Wheatley were my two lest liked actors in the film, because while I felt Doom over did his character to the point in which it came off as unbelievable, Wheatley came off as annoying to me because he really didn’t fit in with the rest of the group and seemed more like the un-cool dork trying to hang with the cool kids which I found to be such an overdone stereotype.

Final Say: Red Velvet was a very (Dare I say it) bloody entertaining film for me, and though I may have had a slight disagreement or two with certain parts of the film, I really had a lot of fun viewing it’s campy yet disturbing undertone and wouldn’t mind revisiting this coming of age horror film one day. I recommend it!

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: Knuckle Draggers (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Alex Ranarivelo
Written by: Alex Ranarivelo
Genre: Comedy / Romance
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 2009
Starring: Ross McCall, Paul J. Alessi, Amie Barsky, Danielle Nicolet, Justin Baldoni, Jennifer Alden, Serah D'Lain, Brandon Olive, Omar Gooding, Lisa Waltz, Jillian Murray, Matthew Rimmer, Ashley A. Schultz, Katrina Law, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Ben Brannon, Dan Brinkle

Plot: After the girl of his dreams dumps him, a nice guy (Ethan) recruits his misogynist brother (Kyle) to help him win her back.

Review: 8/10

The story is about: "Knuckle Draggers" takes a realistic, but comic look at how the behaviors of men and women have evolved very little since the caveman times. When Ethan, the needy nice guy, is dumped by his fiancée, he asks his misogynist older brother Kyle to help him win her back. Kyle tries to teach Ethan how to act like "a real man" and to never put a woman on a pedestal. Repulsed by his brother's harsh views on how to treat women, Ethan ignores his advice and ventures out into the dating world, where he slowly realizes that everything Kyle says seems to be true.

My Thoughts: What makes a man a man? Is it measured in his self confidence, his successes, his tough and arrogant nature, or is a man's true worth of being attractive to the opposite sex measured in his inner sensitivity? Whatever the answer may be, the one that most men look to is: what do women really want in a man? The answer isn’t as simple as men would hope, nor is it any easier the other way around for their female counterpart which is what really divide men and women into being opposites, men want apples and women want oranges simple as that, right? WRONG! nothing is ever that simple when swimming through these waters, but as the saying goes, ‘opposites attract!’

I recently dived into a fantastic film called Knuckle Draggers, a delightful romantic comedy that digs deep into the relationship problems from a man’s perspective. From nasty break ups to the lost of that spark in a relationship, the film doesn’t hold back on the issues and in fact brings some very valid points to the table that will have people thinking: with everything we human beings have achieved, have we yet to evolve from our primal selves? The answer is no (I just know I’m going to have a lot of people angry at me for what I’m about to say next) because what the film clearly points out which does make a lot of sense when you think about it is that: men and women still carry the very mentality of the “caveman”, most (not all) women want the perfect mate to spend their lives with but tend to settle for the lesser of the pack and go beneath their standards for the un-evolved male all for the sake of security and safety, while men may want the perfect intellectual mate that will not only pervade for their offspring but also remain a free thinking individual, will often at times settle for the most basic and sometimes degrading of choices, physical attraction over intellect (Because let’s face it, not all men think with their heads, or at least not the head you have in mind). This of course can easily be summed up to the fact that the dating scene hasn’t really changed since the days of fire and brimstone, and because of this we are brought up with a mentality of fallowing what our primal instincts are telling us to do and not what are hearts are saying. The film shows a lovely take from both sides of the sexes that are entertaining on an equally enjoyable level.

The best way to explain this however is to point out the main character of the film, Ethan (played by Ross McCall) a down to earth guy who strives to become successful at what he loves which is directing films, he hops to make something of himself in the LA scene so that he can provide for the woman he loves, however his pure unconditional love towards her may not be a mutual feeling she shares for him and thus not being enough a man to hold on to her as his one and only. And eventually leaves him for not wanting to give up his dreams for a nine to five job, after his break up he is deeply heartbroken and feeling out luck, and it’s up to his though as nails misogynistic brother, Kyle (Played by Paul J. Alessi) and his close friends Patricia, Russell, and Renee (Played by Amie Barsky, Omar Gooding, and Danielle Nicolet) to help and support him through this ordeal. While his friends assure him he’ll meet someone better and more fitting for him, his brother on the other hand convinces him that it’s his own fault for losing his woman because he was weak and not able to be a real man about it. This lead to him seeking guidance from his brother to become the ultimate mans man. However between his brother trying to change him into something new and his friends influencing him to remain being the sweet and sensitive guy he is, Ethan learn a few new things about life as well as a few things about himself in the process and gains the confidence to become the man he was meant to be. The film itself is touching and informative and will have any gathering of friends and family laughing and full of enjoyment because just about anyone can relate to the characters or the situations in this film, I personally feel the film is up lifting to both men and women alike and is to a certain sense inspirational to the very core of our human nature.

As for the acting: This is where a film normally will get major criticism from me, because the choice in actors or their acting ability can either make a film or in most cases break it. Fortunately for this film, I was very impressed with the overall acting choices because they matched their role quite nicely. Ross McCall was fantastic in the lead role of ‘Ethan’, he gave an authentic performances that was sympathetic and empowering, you couldn’t help but feel for the guy, which clearly shows how well of a performance he gave. Paul J. Alessi was outstanding in the role of ‘Kyle’, he pretty much is the strength behind the film because his character is a testament to being the ultimate man, men around will come to envy him for his arrogant attitude towards life in general in the film because he is not afraid to be himself no matter where he is, and Alessi and McCall’s chemistry works great in the film playing brothers and there are times in the film where you’ll actually believe that these two men are in fact siblings. Amie Barsky who plays the character ‘Patricia’ who is ‘Ethan’s’ female fiend and opposite Alessi’s character in terms of opinions, was fantastic, she gives justice to free thinking women in her performance which I feel was empowering to women everywhere. Omar Gooding was the great in the role of ‘Russell’ and really left an impression on me with his performance, it’s never a dull moment when he’s on screen and he really contributes hard honest dedication to his character and as far as I’m concerned, he has really come out onto his own as an actor. Danielle Nicolet was wonderfully delightful as ‘Renee’, I admit though that when I first saw her acting some years back I was not pleased with her, and my original opinion on her was that she was nothing more than a talentless actress without a chance of hope, however my view on her has dramatically changed after seeing this film, I see now there is in fact hope for her after all, she has made me a fan. Serah D'Laine was really good in the film as McCall’s love interest ‘Erica’, though I can’t fully judge or compare her acting because I haven’t seen any of her other works, I will say that she was very delightful in the film and really does make herself know to the viewers onscreen. Justin Baldoni and Jennifer Alden where equally fantastic in the film and serves as the film’s main antagonists and does so very well in terms of making you love to hate them.

Final Say: Knuckle Draggers was a very enjoyable film. I never thought I would have had so much fun with it, and even left me surprisingly smiling at the end which was a rare thing indeed, for a film that is made on an indie level, I was surprised at how it surpasses the quality of many big budget mainstream films. Knuckle Draggers is defiantly a driving force to be reckoned with. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.
Released: 24 June 2009 (USA)
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas and Ramon Rodriguez, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Glenn Morshower.

Plot: Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers. Joining the mission to protect humankind is Optimus Prime, who forms an alliance with international armies for a second epic battle.

Review: 7/10

The story is about: With the help of the Autobots, the soldiers of NEST, and an old adversary-turned-ally, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox,) must uncover the secret history of the Transformers presence on earth, and the sacrifices that have to be made to save it from an ancient threat sworn on returning here for revenge... an ancient Decepticon named THE FALLEN.

My Thoughts: In 2007 director Michael Bay wowed audiences everywhere with the release of the live action adaption of “Transformers”, a once popular cartoon and toy line produced by Hasbro in the 80’s, I personally was moved by his rendition of the never ending war between the Autobots and Decepticons onto the big screen, and eagerly awaited to see how he could top the action and story in its sequel. Well after a long two year wait the larger than life robots make their return to the big screen with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a sequel told on an epic proportion. With bigger robots, bigger action sequences, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher with it being on a more global scale than ever before, but the question remains; with the bigger than ever action scenes in the film and a plot in which the war is spreading out of control globally, does this block buster sequel live up to its predecessor?

The answer is yes… and NO! In the highly-anticipated sequel the audience is treated with none stop action practically from the beginning, with a larger than ever battle between the Autobots and Decepticon, not to mention we are also introduced with a slew of all new bots from both sides of the battlefield, however all these new additions don’t quite hold up well on the big screen. It should be considered common sense that to make a fairly decent action film one must keep a consent combination flow of story, action, Story action and so forth until the big climatic ending: however Bay seems to invasion a film in which the pace goes as fallowed: Action, story, action, action, action. Now believe me I love a good mindless action flick as much as the next movie buff, but you can’t seriously think that anyone with at least half a brain could possible watch this without feeling like the film is just dragging on way too much with the nonsense action. Honestly, it was just too much explosions and guns and not enough quality. The run time, which I can’t stress enough was too long, with a run time of two and a half plus hours this film had little going for itself and could have easily been cut down a bit without hurting it or had a touch more of filming done and cut into two complete films, because in all honesty it felt as though they were trying to mash every possible idea and scenario for an awesome fight scene that had come to mind into a single film without taking in a thought of what the consequences would be with little (if any) storyline left to be told. From putting in Pretenders to introducing the Insecticons this film had way to much going on while not enough going for itself at the same time, from too many explosions to one too many lame one liner jokes this film kept viewers like myself bored and exhausted long before it struck the midpoint of the film. I admit, that when I first saw the film I was blown away by the most epic of battles throughout the film’s course, however after allowing the film to mole over in my head and came back down to reality I realized that something was gravely missing; that spark of magic that the first film had was no longer there, the magic that made the first TF film work was absent and that I, the moviegoer was cheated out of what could have been one of the greatest sequels since Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”.

But to be fair, all the blame shouldn’t go directly to Bay alone, as you should know that director Michael Bay has never been a good storyteller, excellent in cinematography work, yes, and a god in making the most complex action scenes possible on the big screen, but a good storyteller he has never been. He has always relied on other well known filmmakers (Bruckheimer and now the likes of Spielberg) to help him in presenting a fairly decent plot for his films, hence the reason why Steven Spielberg was involved. This is also why the first Transformers film was such a huge success, because without the likes of well known filmmakers behind him, Bay’s films tend to come off as a lesser quality film with mindless action. But this of course is where the film also disappointed me; because where Spielberg is well known for fixing problematic plots into award winners, he failed in a very big way with the sequel and seemed to have allowed the plot holes and logical mistakes that both the writers of the film and Bay failed to notice, this was such a disappointment for me coming from someone like Spielberg, and even though he was only a producer of the film his influence alone could have made this film’s plot work magnificently with something as simple as a few alternate suggestions. Another common mistake Bay has made in this film which previous films of his has dictated to be his Achilles’ heel is that; he doesn’t seem to comprehend the logic of time and distance in his films (Don’t even get me started on the historic mistakes he made on the bombing of pearl harbor) he simply assumes that this little factor can be ignored and that the moviegoer audience will go with it because they don’t know any better, the fact of the matter is that the audience has noticed, and they will not ignore it. nor will they stay quite about it ether, Ultimately I still gave this film a 7 out of 10 which is basically a fairly decent (and to some very generous) rating because though the film’s plot was not as successful or enjoyable as the first film, it’s still considered more or less a guilty pleasure film for me, because let’s face it people: we’re talking about BIG ****ING ROBOTS FIGHTING EACH OTHER HERE! There’s just no other way of putting it that would get a movie buff like myself into watching it again regardless of what my opinion is on the film as a whole.

As for the acting: it’s no lie that I’ve been quite the Shia LaBeouf fan over the years, and one could argue that I have been somewhat bias to every film he’s acted in, and because of this some have gone on to say that as a film critic my criticism could be considered an impartial judgment, well I think it’s safe to say that Revenge of the Fallen has proven that I am no more biased than the Pope is Jewish, though LaBeouf gave an okay performance, it was simply lacking in many areas of the film that could have been done better, and it seemed more like he was just trying to fly through the scene’s with the only motivation in mind is to get it over with, this is certainly not Shia’s shining moment indeed. Megan Fox has been around for quite some time now but has only achieved mainstream stardom as of recently, with her career just blasting off to the big time there’s no doubt in my mind that with her gorgeous looks she’s going to be making marks and breaking hearts along the way, but is she a talented actress? Well to be honest that is up to debate, while I thought her performance in the first TF film was okay, I thought she gave a rather poor performance in the sequel, but this might not be entirely her fault as there was simply not enough stock put into her character’s development in the sequel and instead was seen mainly as eye candy running around the screen for the male majority audience. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson were fantastic, though I was very disappointed with the fact they received smaller roles this time around, they were one of the main reasons the fist TF film worked so nicely and in the sequel their characters were handled poorly. Why John Turturro was given a bigger role in TF2 I still can’t figure out, I mean nothing personal towards the actor, but his character ‘Agent Simmons’ is what I like to call the Jar Jar Binks of the TF franchise, though I will say Turturro does a much better job this time around, however I stand by my word when I say no matter how much you try to sell it, we ain’t buying, simple as that. I could go on and on about the rest of the cast but that would only make my head hurt!

Final Say: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had its moments of glory that would have moviegoers hanging at the edge of their seats in awe from the sheer epic scale of the film’s premise, however it gets old after awhile and the viewer begins to count the remaining time left before the credits start to roll. Though my review may seem as though I hated this film, I admit that there is a part of me that would be willing to revisit the film again someday, perhaps on DVD or something... Anyway I don’t recommend this to be viewed in theaters but rather you wait until it hits the DVD shelves as this is a rental-fair film.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: Knock 'Em Dead, Kid (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Christopher L. Golon
Written by: Christopher L. Golon
Genre: Drama
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 2009
Starring: Dirk Julian, Michael Resendez, Chad Post, Torey Marks, Erin Prieto, Angela Nordeng, Cody Cowell, Al Burke.

Plot: Bret (Julian) yearns to leave his Connecticut hometown and head off to college. He figures summer will be fun alongside his buddies before leaving in the fall but as a turn of events take place, Bret’s planes for going away to college are put in jeopardy.

The story is about: KNOCK ‘EM DEAD, KID” is a film about a 19-year-old who yearns to leave his Connecticut hometown and go off to college. But as the days progress, the situations he finds himself in spiral out of control. He has run-ins with the police, problems with his girlfriend involving another girl, and a revenge attack he never should have involved himself in. Needless to say, sometimes life can be a real riot.

Review: 6/10

The story is about: KNOCK ‘EM DEAD, KID” is a film about a 19-year-old who yearns to leave his Connecticut hometown and go off to college. But as the days progress, the situations he finds himself in spiral out of control. He has run-ins with the police, problems with his girlfriend involving another girl, and a revenge attack he never should have involved himself in. Needless to say, sometimes life can be a real riot.

My thoughts: I‘ve once been asked, which was the better of the two categories: Mainstream of Indie? It’s hard to say which of the two is better over the other, really, because both genres bring their faire share of contribution to the table that is an equally balanced amount of entertainment for its targeted audiences. May it be an incredible heartfelt story shot with little to work with and with no major studio backing it finically, or a mindless action flick with an insanely large budget behind it, and with enough stars to light up a sky for a cast, sure indulging in a little mindless fun is always entertaining, and sometimes a few rare cases will come along that proves to be more than your typical summer popcorn flick, but to be honest, the Indie scene has always been greatly known for not only bringing the very same pleasures to the table as mainstream films, but also bringing it's own brand of award winning films that are original and unique. So this brought me to another thought, just how small can an independent film’s budget get? This train of thought led me to the film Knock 'Em Dead, Kid, this labor of love is the latest feature length by writer/director Christopher L. Golon. Before giving this film a round of viewing I did my own little research on it, and what I found was that the film has being described by some viewers as a blend between ‘Over the Edge’ meets ‘Kids’, well I personally wouldn’t put it in those exact words, but I will say that I can certainly understand why for such a comparison, the film’s plot is set with a backdrop that is surrounded around a group of young individuals living life in the moment and not a care for the consequences that may come with their actions. I personally found the film to be edgy and set with a relatively dark overtone that showed some light hints of dark humor here and there.

I loved the dark overtone the film presented off and on throughout the film, it was very becoming of the times, but I’ll be honest here, when it came down to the film’s overall plot I found myself sealing adrift into boredom at times due to a lack of direction in its story, it’s not that the film was a major bomb in storytelling standards, no, but the direction that the film went at times seemed to blur the bigger picture rather than giving us a more clearer view, which isn’t to say the film is truly bad or anything, just seriously flawed. The plot holes do in fact play a big part in killing the film’s sense of direction and causes the viewer’s attention to wonder away from the film (except for a particular scene in the film where the viewers are treated to a very sexual eye catching make out session with Angela Nordeng and Michael Resendez), however the film’s shortcomings do prove to be a slight win for the film, because it’s ability to remain incoherent at times does if fact resemble the realism of the real world in more ways than you’ll ever realize. On a plus note though, the film does in fact have an original story that takes some big risks along the way. And to some extent viewers will relate to the character’s immaturity because much of it comes as basic rites of passage for all those that were once young and naive. I won’t go into further details, but I will say that the film is very gritty and street, which I did find to be enjoyable on a certain stand point. Also the fact that the film was made with a very low budget of three thousand dollars and still coming out looking a heck of a lot more is very impressive for my standards and director Golon defiantly gets my respect for it. If only a few things where done just a little differently this film would be a worthy film indeed.

As for the acting: Dirk Julian gave a fairly okay performance for a first time actor, but at times I found his narration to be very weak and out of place to the current state of the plot at times, his acting on the other hand was on an adequate level but still felt a little two dimensional at times. Michael Resendez was not so bad, well let’s put it this way, he wasn’t as bad as I originally thought in the beginning of the film, the problems I had with his performance though was basically the equivalence to a cardboard box, though it looks full, it’s really empty and hallow inside. Of all the performances the one I had the most problems with was Chad Post’s performance as ‘Jim’ because I found his character to be way too stereotyping as your typical ‘stoner’, and lacked depth as a key character in the film, we are given the chance to see a possible sup-plot dealing with Jim and Jim’s alcoholic father but instead ended up with a single layered character who is easily forgotten in a blink of an eye. Torey Marks was a real doll, though her acting wasn’t entirely the best nor was it at all in the running, I must say that she had a certain glowing presence about her that naturally made the film just feel a little less dark and added a little touch of gleam. Erin Prieto (In my opinion) came off as your typical piece of eye candy for the viewers and nothing more, sadly though, she’s meant to be much more than that, however her lack of skill in the arts really does hurt the film in the sense of it not having a single strong point when it comes to its actors, however I’m confident that where she lacks as an actress she makes up as a bright individual, and perhaps she will prove me wrong in the near future. Angela Nordeng was okay, but there simply wasn’t enough of her on screen for me to give a valid judgment on her performance. Cody Cowell didn’t do the role of detective Krej any justice and do be honest didn’t really feel the part at all. However actor Al Burke did a great job playing the cop, in fact you could say he did it on quite a good level.

Final Say: KNOCK ‘EM DEAD, KID wasn’t exactly what I had hoped, but then again I didn’t really know what to expect when going into this really, and in some sense the film still receives some respect from me on the notion it was made on a budget that is considered next to peanuts compared to other films in its genre, and if the film's sub-plots where given a little more depth to them it would have really made this film something. I may not be one who’ll jump up to see this film again anytime soon, but I’d still wouldn’t turn down the offer to give it a second view one day.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 1, 2009

BEAR FACT: The Lionshare movie coming soon to DVD!

Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing a little known film called ‘The Lionshare’, a film that proved to be a true testament to the Indie genre; the director had a clear sense of direction on where he was taking the film without having to spoil it in any predictable manner, and without having the overwhelming weight of the bigwigs coming down on the film, the cast though not exactly you’re typical A-lister type, provided a very stimulating and entertaining performance throughout, even though I didn’t totally agree with all of their performances it’s undeniable clear that a lot of hard work was put into this film on their part that without a doubt deserves kudos for making this little Indy all the more special, and that’s not including that fact it has such an incredible set of original music played in throughout the film that will bring sheer joy to any music lover’s heart.

Unlike other filmmakers, Josh Bernhard and his creative team doesn’t wish to be greedy and force moviegoers who share an interest into paying to see it, which is why they’ve made it available to be seen by people online for free! Yes you read it right, I said the word free! On their site you’ll find a full listing to where you’ll be able to view the film online, can do this by going HERE, aside from seeing it for free, if you wish to support them than you can perches the Lionshare film or supporting them in any way through donations by checking out their official website the DVD will be available in the first half of August, also if you’re out in the New York area than head down to check out the film as it makes it premiere at the Anthology Film Archives as a part of the NewFilmmakers circuit on September 1st. more info on the film’s schedule can be found on the festival’s website HERE and HERE