Monday, August 15, 2011

Mini Reviews - Rundown 15/08/2011

Here is the rundown of my reviews for these movies I have seen in the past weeks.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

I'm glad I got to know about this influential rap group that contribute heavily to the rap scene in the 1990s. The group's music is the main star of the film as it literally paints throughout the group's history. It convincingly illustrates the geniuses of the group when at the time, rap groups like Run DMC and De La Soul really took risks and made their craft into an art-form. The film presents both the high and low highlights of the group's career very well and takes it advantage in fleshing out the crew member's personality in both charming and interesting ways. Its now among the list of favorite music documentaries I ever seen like Don't Look Back and Some Kind Of Monster.

4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger - Full Review

Finally saw this after quite a long time...

Captain America was really first created as a propaganda piece during the Second World War, especially since the first thought that popped into the creator's head was to have Hitler be punched square in the jaw by someone dressed as a giant American flag. Someone like that would be only be taken seriously in the comic book and cartoon world, though many great comic writers had given this character many great stories and development throughout the time. It is understandably hard to flesh out the character into a live-action format as there were many attempts, especially the infamous 1990 low-budget movie. In a time where superhero movies are now grounded and realistically-based, bringing Captain America to the big screen in a serious way would be a not-so-easy task, when establishing his origins and selling on the Steve Roger character. How did they pull it off? Its first crucial move: setting it in the time where its not totally grounded and realistically-based - the 1940s.

In doing so, the explanation of all the origins of Captain America such as the costume, ideals and character flows very well for the casual audience and the people who knew the comic. And the film didn't rush the audience into bringing up Captain America, but it took its time in progressively illustrates the stepping stones in how he becomes that hero ala Batman Begins. Secondly and equally important was for Chris Evans to portray not Captain America the Super Solider, but Steve Rogers the human being and he did it so magnificently. He completely sold it. Man that guy came such a long way from "Not Another Teen Movie", you guys didn't know that?

During the Second World War, Steve Rogers wants nothing more than to serve his country by joining the army. The only problem is that he has only spaghetti arms rather than a full body tank the U.S Army prefer, not to mention he has all the known health problems like asthma. Only the kind Doctor Abraham Erskine (played effortlessly by Stanley Tucci) gives him a chance to serve his country by enlisting him into the Super Solider program. After a dose of the Super Soldier serum (seriously, not steroids) and some Vita-Rays, small weak Steve transforms into one perfectly-sculpted muscled solider, coined the name Captain America. There, he faces off against his equally-powered, but hideously-grotesque Red Skull as he plans to destroy the world.

The hero that is Captain America relies heavily on the humanity of Steve Rogers and the writers pulled it off so well. The character strikes such a balance in being a good nature and incredibly sharp person. There are pivotal character moments such as the flag and grenade scene of Steve are so simple, but yet illustrates his characteristics so beautifully. The supporting characters were alsso great such as the wise Dr. Erskine, the fiery Peggy Carter (played by "wolf-howl" Hayley Atwell) and Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). The action scenes in this film are ranged from top-notch to pretty average, but all are very enjoyable . Though, I really need to talk about the special effect especially how it was used for skinny Rogers that is just so seamless and much impressive.

Some of the complaints were by the middle of the film, it all went a bit rushed. It seems like the film took a good time establishing and explaining all the development of elements that they rushed through the middle without that much context. The film score isn't that memorable or doesn't give that much impact except for certain parts. However the film's ending is very heartfelt and thoughtful, concluding with such a graphic novel style instead of a comic-book movie style. That last line at the last second of the film will just hit you hard in the gut. 

Captain America: The First Avenger is no Dark Knight (I mean, what movie will ever be that?), but I'm proud to have it among my favorite superhero films. It is equally as good as Thor and Spider-man and its just gave me a solid faith in the upcoming The Avengers film. That and The Dark Knight Rises and all of the other BIG films... its gonna be one hell of a year next year. But the film just succeeds in not only being a big blockbuster film, but being a genuinely character-driven good film. The film had some problems, but only by an inch, I gave so much love for this.

4 out of 5 stars by an inch...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 - Full Review

Sh*t 's about to hit the fan!

Yes I'm a huge fan of Harry Potter. I love the Harry Potter series and fell in love with it when Rowling brought out book 4. From the first time I laid my eyes on the first book, it was an all-new kind of story filled with its own mythology and lore of magic and fantasy and dotted with very fun and interesting characters that soon we come to love for a long time. By the time the first film came out, it was uncertain of how the series would play out throughout as separate individual films. Yet it seem like a miracle that the film series would still keep the interest of audience and the successes in both financially and critically as well as all of the original cast holding on to the roles for all 8 films. It just makes me happy enough that a book series I hold dearly was given so much respect and care in translating to the big screen where most series/franchises won't be given a chance. Now at last the final film of Harry Potter have now been shown with all of the cast and crew be giving their last bow in the most emotional and spectacular way. How I came out of the theater would have me split in two ways, as a film-goer and a Harry Potter fan. And that is how I will be writing this review.

Knew it, you got pink eyes...
The storyline is somehow relatively simple as it continues where Part 1 left off as Voldemort (evil bad-guy number 1) is pretty much desperately wanting to kill Harry Potter by claiming the Elder Wand while the band of heroes (Harry, Ron, Hermione) are checking off one by one of the Horcruxes, which are parts of Voldemort's soul so they can finish him off once and for all. It is a fast, emotional and dangerously race against each other where many lives are in danger and lost, the stakes are highs, pasts are uncovered, courage are put to the test and many many sh*t blows up.

Stop spit-balling the castle!
Now as a Harry Potter fan, from reading the book, I could say that it translated respectfully and well enough from the book. I could understand of the many changes from the storyline and some of these changes work better than the book. Though the film still suffers from the same problem as many Harry Potter adaptations as many of fine and important details from the books are not included or that some of the events are not satisfyingly branched out/developed well enough where as the books has. It is understandable that the past films were allowed only a certain amount of time to develop these events. However at this point when they decided to split the final book into two films, they should take advantage of this and develop more of the story, events and characters, which in turn the film stop short of it. And as a fan who really loves the last Harry Potter book because of all the significant and great moments within, I would have love to see these moments to be grander and fully-scaled in film, which honestly didn't played out like that all all. As a film-goer, it is a pretty well-rounded and well-balanced film that had the appropriate amount of drama, emotions and spectacles while still retaining that epic feel. The pacing problem is still present, but not so much as the last film and the emotional and drama are consistently genuine throughout.

It is just amazing to see the three original actors who stuck on to the roles of Harry, Hermione and Ron for a decade, to have us grow up onscreen and to becoming such decent actors. Despite not being fully utilized well as in the books, the characters throughout the series have been shaped maturely physically and mentally and each have their own last hurrah in the film. Not to mention of how good-looking they have become. Daniel Radcliffe has had the weight of the entire film franchise on his shoulders for the past eight films and he is still great for each reprisal for the films. Rupert Grint have been the comedic support in the past films, but he still managed to pull serious dramatic chops in the last two. Emma Watson still pulls off being the graceful and strong Hermione and damn it is just so unbelievable that she became so hot. There are THREE times she had gotten herself wet and each time my tongue just swaggered. It was a nice change for Voldemort from being powerful and cocky to desperate and more dangerous. And hey the man of the moment is Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. Seeing him from a short chubby goody-two-shoe geek to a complete and utter badass gives a lot of hope for the nerds out there... well not all of them. Wish there was more screen time for him because he's just a badass, but there were two extremely awesome moments of him that I was just happy to leave that.

Try to make fun of my name, b*tches!

As I said by the time I exited the theater, my opinion is split by the two sides of me, the film-goer and the Harry Potter fan. It is inevitable that they will be details left out and plot points will be changed, so I had to forced myself to see this as a film version, instead of a direct adaptation. That said I couldn't be more impressive that a studio would reach and complete all seven books of the series without any hiccups and kept their quality intact. For this being a huge movie event, the story and character elements still remained important and essential while giving the audience grand and wonderful spectacles (You hear that Michael Bay!) As a Harry Potter fan, I'm a little disappointed that some of the points weren't executed or portrayed well and they can ranged from nit-picky to problems. Other than that it is a real satisfying and grand finale to the biggest and most beloved film franchises ever existed. Thank you JK, Heyman and Radcliffe for this and good luck in the future.

As a Harry Potter fan - 4 out of 5 stars

As a film-goer - 4 and a half out of 5 stars

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Top Ten: Best Moments in Harry Potter Films

Its been a long time and I'm back again with another Top Ten on ANYTHING!

The end is near for the one of the most beloved film franchises in movie history, expanding a straight decade and their final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will pull out all the stops with this grand epic spectacles. As a huge Harry Potter fan, it was emotional for me after I put down reading the last book and it will be the same when I go into the theaters. And as that too, I couldn't be more happy of a series of adaptation that is as faithful and respectable as it can be and I praise the filmmakers who translate the series very very well to the big screen.

So I'm going to present the list of best moments from the Harry Potter films, not the books. These moments may be the same from the books, but I'm going by how it is presented and performed on film. And plus this is a film blog site. These are the films before Part 2 of Deathly Hallows, which I know there are piles of GREAT moments in that part. But tha'ts not the case.

And without further ado...

(Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

In this big opening to the film, this shows that the Death Eaters (they're the badguys, noobs) really mean business for both the wizarding and human worlds. What looks like a mere field trip to abduct someone, they decided "Why don't we just kill a hundred of Muggles on our way back?". And did so in such devastating and spectacular fashion.


(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

You would expect me to put down Sirius's death as part of this list, but it is one of the bad things of reading the books before the movies that you can expect whats to come. And unfortunately for me, it wasn't enough impact on screen. Fortunately, the scene afterwards where Voldemort and Dumbledore duking it out was totally spectacular. This is what I envisioned to be when two of the most powerful wizards on the planet are battling out. All full of lights, spells and motions bringing every bit of elements to use and it was just thrilling and exciting to watch.

(Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

 Its one thing to sock your sniveling enemy in the face, but its another when you attack your friend at your most vulnerable. That is probably why I love the character Hermione so much, that she is such a strong female character. Even she had her heart broken for Ron, she still express her silence fury, launching bird missiles at the poor idiot. It was a simple, but great display of female strength from a young girl even when she's helpless and dejected.


 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

 Up to this point, all of the classes Harry attends didn't seem like fun to me as I watch throughout. Lupin's lesson on boggarts was so fun to look at, I wished I was part of that class. For all you noobs, boggarts are creatures that take shapes in the form of something their prey fears. Starting off with nervous Neville getting over his fear of Severus Snape (yeah, I would be scared too) in a pretty humorous way, the class just has fun tackling the boggart set to a bouncy bebop music, each with their own fear and how they attack it. All right up to Harry's turn, where it took form of a dementor and only that could stop the fun.

(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

 Of all the moments to choose, this one was simple, but significant to me. One because it struck a chord in me and possibly every other guy who experienced this, like building up a humongous amount of courage to ask a pretty girl like Cho and just get shot with a "no" in any way. And another is that we get to relate to Harry. Even as a famous wizard, even with his good looks and even as the protagonist of the series, he has trouble asking girls out at first and doesn't always get the girls in the end. We even see him not having a great prom experience afterwards and it just seems normal for us. Unlike some protagonist who simply gets the girl no matter what *ahem* Edward *ahem*... speaking of that...

(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

 The stain in both literature and movie world known as Twilight would kind of loosen the impact for Cedric Diggory. Now we're just glad to see Rob Pattison in any way, shape or form. But before Twilight came to existence, this was a very sad scene when you see the anguish and despair Amo Diggory express. Not he lost a son, but brutally taken away by Voldemort. And plus, Cedric was a pretty cool guy even as Harry's competitor in the Triwizards Tournament and was pretty awful to be killed off badly. Whats really awful is what he became afterwards in the his own movie franchise. But more over, there is nothing more sad than a mother or father losing their own child, own flesh and blood. Or is the the other way around.


(Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)

 The first Harry Potter was a full-on kids film and was filled with wonder, excitement and magic that any kid would dream of seeing. So we weren't expecting anything completely dark. Yet we do get a hint of something deep and heavy later on in the film. For Harry at a young age, seeing his dead parents in the Mirror of Erised whom he never get to see or know about them til that point was very innocent and moving indeed. Something he really longs for and proved impossible through his terrible relatives was just to have a family. It was very appreciative to have something like this in a kids film way before everything turned completely dark.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1)

 Before this film, Dobby was my very least favorite character of the series and even was made as a mockery for bad computer-generated characters. He annoyed the hell out of me in the second film that it nearly proved impossible for me to give him the slight respect. His last shining moment in the Deathly Hallows made me gave him all the respect he wished for. Its like he saw Gollum's performance in Lord of the Rings and said to himself, "I'll show them I can bloody act too". Dobby brought to be very heroic and yet innocent in his final act and darn well made most of the audience (I nearly did) brought to tears.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1)

 While it is very brief, this scene was just powerful. Throughout the films, we never get to see or know much of Hermione's parents as they are just regular muggles who are dentists and nothing more. Not dead or part of the faction or politics, just regular people who know of their daughter's uniqueness and yet loves her like any parents would. For her to erase their memories of her out of their existence just for their protection is just completely sad. It also serve as the starting point of how really dark this series was going to be as many lives are at risk and everything the heroes does are now at their up-most importance.

 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

 Who really does not love Fred and George? There are the kind of brothers who annoy you, but will no crap from anyone who is giving you crap. And plus they are so cool even if they get into mischievous pranks and cause trouble to the school or their mom. We always get to see them as a comedic device. So when an uptight and totally creepy teacher, Dolores Umbridge tries to take control of the school, they became much more. Who didn't cheer when Fred and George rebelled against the system and gave Umbridge a much needed fireworks up her behind? If you're gonna leave the school, might as well give a giant finger to them till the end.

So that is my top 10 list. What's your opinion?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sleeping Beauty - Review

I really wanted to sleep while I was watching this, but I don't think I couldn't after seeing so many pointless, yet horrifyingly things like an old man's junk. I mean really... in order to see Emily Browning naked, you have to go through many naked, yet ugly chicks and naked old men too while nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) goes on in this film. What it all worth it? What it worth going through something that was consider to them "an art film"? This week instead of hating on something that was brainless, immature and full of douchebaggery like "Transformers", I'll go to the other extreme and hate on something that is supposed to be high-brow and pseudo-artsy. And I know it is a sensitive word to use, but I have been forced to throw down the card. This was a boring, tasteless and (dare say it) PRETENTIOUS piece of crap.

Not before you tackle me, I watch slow and art films and I do love them. Some of my favorites of all time are
Darren Aronofsky's and Michel Gondry's films like "Requiem For A Dream" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Hell recently I saw a slow film called "Win Win" and I really like it a lot. These films I like are because they have a balanced emphasis on "art" and "film". I was intrigued of what I saw in the trailer and this became a hard lesson when it is at time "trailers lie". This Australian film was an excuse to fill seemingly two hours of tacky French-influenced artistic shots with old high-class people with their noses stuck up in the air. Nothing really goes on with the film's plot or characters, including Emily Browning's leading character. The film has her playing Lucy, who is a student and a waitress who answered a job ad where she becomes a prostitute and to be drugged to sleep naked, so horny old men can have their way with her except penetration. And these characters say the word "penetration" with such emphasis as if the film tries so hard to be shocking and outrageous, yet "artistic". And there's nothing else to it. There is no interest to Lucy or anything we have sympathy or the slightest care for her and any of real importance of why she chose to go through this other than she needed the money. Other characters try to come on and have a moment on screen like a completely boring monologue, yet they brought such little and pointless impact on the film because they don't have enough development, screen presence or even charm to make us give a crap about them.

The film's greatest sin is its pacing and editing. And with the lack of any music soundtrack and score, it makes the film a whole lot worse. It is as if the film tries so hard to be different and alternative that their use of storytelling becomes such a mess. I mean somebody must have a restraint on using the "fade-to-black" transition where it is just one damn too many and again pointless. There was even a scene coming from a "fade-to-black" transition where Lucy was doing something ordinary and after 4 seconds, it ends with a "fade-to-black". I just wanted to scream out loud from that. No fucking point or meaning to that scene. They have so many wasted frames on boring editing and pacing where they could have used it wisely on plot and character development to the point I'm so convinced they didn't have a story to tell. It was a waste on potential and my fuckin time.

This is a clear example of how to make a bad art film. This film contains so many element of why I hate films I considered pretentious like "Waking Life" and "Across The Universe". Sorry to use that word, but I'm just fuming with anger right. Angry at something that wasted my time with boring, pointless, pseudo-intellect and artsy garbage. If you are really that eager to see this as a completely different non-mainstream art film, go right ahead. If you are really really want to see Emily Browning naked (and I do say, she has a nice body), you have been warned.... naked ugly chicks and not one, but TWO full-frontal naked old men! And that is something you have to cleanse your eyes with corrosive acid. Which is what I'm doing now...

Half a fuckin star out of 5 stars!

Sunday, July 3, 2011 Thank You

Sorry I haven't gotten around to writing this after the Spill Dot Con Party as I was still settling down here back in Australia after a long flight home.

So what is this blog post about? Well it is just a big thank you to the people of Spill. No I'm not leaving this place, why would I? I just want to express my biggest appreciation and gratitude toward this wonderful website for giving me every day of my life a little more color.

I learned about this place by random chance back around late late 2007. I was looking for movie reviews for a particular movie on Youtube and I happened upon these guys. Nothing special to the introduction, just that. Although upon discovering Spill, I watched more of their videos and I knew there was something really special about them. They weren't seen as your typical high-brow movie critics you seen on TV or read in newspapers. They were just like us, except they have a good knowledge in movies, in filmmaking and the general idea of what a good movie should be. Each of the people in the crew have a well-distinct personality and yet their chemistry, timing and all-around humor are just impeccable. You can feel something genuine and honest about them and yet you were given a lot of information about the film they were reviewing. They just became my "go-to" critics whenever a new movie comes out and I immediately became a member of the site.

From there, I saw many moments of how the site came to be as the number of members grew, the number of redesigns to the sites and the number of new contents added. Podcasts like A Couple of Cold Ones gave some nice analysis of the movie industry and The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen introduces me more to the world of comics and geekery as they recommend me many brilliant pieces like The Walking Dead and Chew. Around 2008, I witnessed the birth of what ultimately became my all-time favorite podcast. As Carlyle dealt with his issues and was deemed "missing-in-action" for A Couple Of Cold Ones, the ever-reliable (and awesome) Co-Host 3000 swooped in and saved the day with one of the most memorable and funniest ACOCO episodes ever produced. The fans recognized something so great from this and the Comedy Duo realized they have something in their hands and so the legend was born: Let's Do This! Every week, I would listen to their random tirades based on world events, stories of their life or people's shameful foolishness, with the show always opening (however late it may be) to the energetic battle-cry and its metal tunes of "Get To The Choppa" by Austrian Death Machine. We even saw the creations of Spill's own like Goatsy, Taco Belagosi and the Bullshit train come into play, making the experience so much more. It just makes my train ride home all the more fun and awesome, through my good and bad times. When I was at a giant low, I wrote a question to Let's Do This just to get any answer, no matter how small it is and Korey and Co-Host 3000 gave a plentiful and a great sense of direction of what I should do from there. I listen to their answers on my Ipod just to get me through and it just built me up to be a better, confident and (more importantly) happy man. I would say if it weren't for them, I wouldn't know where I would be and it would be too sad just to think about it. So from there, I owe them a lot.

I have heard of their Spill parties and I have desired to go them especially with the announcement of Spill Dot Con last year. By the time I landed myself a full time job and earning my own income, Spill Dot Con 2011 was one of my priorities. And it was a huge adventure waiting to happen.

Attending Spill Dot Con 2011 was (in a way) my biggest compliment to Spill and its community. After actually listening to them for 4 years, it was leading up to this and I would be party of what it would be called the biggest and best party that the rest of Spill and I have ever attended. Starting from the unofficial Spill mixer, I would admit that I was a little intimidated when coming to meeting these people and I was worried that I wouldn't get along with them. But after a while, it would be proven wrong that all of the members of Spill were all friendly, unique and talented in their own way. We just didn't care where we were from, what we do or what is our status in life. No matter what culture, how good-looking or ugly, how cool or nerdy, class or gender, we were all the same and we just share that one passion and love in the end. We were a family of movie lovers. And for three extremely crazy nights, each of the members including myself gave such a huge impression within the community whether they rock out with Karaoke Apocalypse, dances their asses off, showed off their artistry or just being plain awesome while I have the extreme pleasure of meeting and making new friends. When it comes to meeting the people I admired the most like Leon, Cyrus, Caryle, Co Host and Korey, all I can do is just thank them non-stop because they have given so much to me. And to top off my time at Spill Dot Con and my entire vacation, just to share an extremely late dinner with Korey at favorite place, Magnolia Bar at 4am just talking about movies and everything else. It was the perfect ending to the whole experience. :)

So... to Peter, Grant, Harris, Toshi, Nick, Cat, Amanda, Kayla, Jeff, Rubio, Randy, Kevin, Caryle, Leon, Cyrus, Co-Host, Everyone else and Korey... I just want to raise my beer bottle and say Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have given so much and yet ask so little in return and just keep doing what you fuckin do best. You guys earned yourself to be among the definition of "awesome" and I keep looking forward to more from you.

Thank you...

By MaxJayJay aka Jordan Marquez


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Redesigned Muthafocka!!!!

I redesigned my blog site...

What you think?