Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Public Enemies

Directed Michael Mann

Written by Ronan Bennett and Michael Mann

Starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale

I think everyone can agree that 2006's reenvisioning of Miami Vice was Michael Mann's big career flop, luckily he learned from his mistakes and has redeemed himself in this years crime drama Public Enemies. Its the true story of John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp) the notorious bank robber from the 1930's, being chased by an FBI squad led by Melvin Purvis (played by Christian Bale).
All of the performances in this movie were wonderful. It's great to see Depp in a darker, serious role than what he has been doing the past few years working with Disney and Tim Burton. And Christian Bale leaves behind his Batman-car-muffler voice to play a down to Earth FBI agent. The rest of the characters and the story are very engaging and should keep the audiences attention throughout the movie.
What Mann's highest strength as a filmmaker is in his fire fights and scenes of violence. He drops the viewer right in the middle of the fight with some amazing camera and sound work. You feel the weight of a shotgun blast blowing through a wall, or a tommy gun shooting through a window. These scenes are truly visceral and the high points of the film.
The only criticism I have with the movie is on a technical basis. It was shot on a HD video cam (a trademark that Mann has used in his past few releases) and while some scenes look extremely crisp and clear others don't. When the camera or characters start moving too fast there is an awkward blurring effect that just doesn't look right. And in some needs the lighting seemed off and you can definitly see the grain from the underexposed video. Granted using HD video for feature films is still a new technique, filmmakers are still figuring out the best way to use them for optimal picture. But most veiwers won't even care or notice, so really it's not that big of a deal. Though usually I am a fan of the hand held shaky cam, there were points where it is excessivly shaky.
Otherwise Public Enemies is a great gangster drama that just about anyone can enjoy. So far its the years best crime movie that is smartly written, has great acting, and is intriguing, even if his filming techniques needed some work.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Directed by Michael Bay

Written By Ehren Kruger and Roberto Orci

Starring Shia Lebeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro

The follow up to 2007's biggest summer release is out, and man, what a horrible mess it is. This review is going to be harsh, and lot of you will think that I'm expecting too much from a movie about toys, but Transformers 2 is bad. Reeeaally bad. So let us begin.
Shia returns as Sam Witwicky, he has graduated from high school and is now moving on to college life where apparently every single girl is extremely attractive and acts like a slut. One day while putting on his favorite shirt, a small piece of the "Allspark Cube" falls out of his shirt, he touches it and goes crazy. In the entire two year span between the films take place, after all the times he has worn and washed that shirt, how does he not know about it until now? The movie is filled with these plot holes and just gets worse as it progresses. Speaking of plot, there is none what so ever. Yet the story gets so convoluted and wrapped up in its own bullshit. It becomes one giant clusterfuck. My mind literally shut down about half way through the movie for about twenty minutes. Then I snapped back to reality and realized I was still in this God forsaken mess.
But story isn't what Michael Bay is here to do. He here to make huge action sequences and to fit in the highest amount of explosions into one shot as possible. Even these scenes fall apart because there is no human element, no emotion into any of them to draw me in. Bay throws in a comedic one liner (that isn't funny) every 15 seconds, and separates viewers attention from the action and draws them even further away. I felt no connection with the characters or the action at all. The humorous dialogue is horribly written and in scenes when I'm apparently supposed to be sad, I felt nothing.
Being that this is a Michael Bay movie, there are certain signature camera movements that appear in everyone of his films. The famous slow motion 360 spinning track around the characters with a bright sun in the background gleaming into the lens of the camera. Bay went all out in this one, he over uses this shot way too many times. Its almost a cliche by now.
As a director, Bay has the job of "directing" his actors to bring out their full potential to portray emotion on screen.... Every single actor was terrible. TERRIBLE! One in particular is Megan Fox, who again redeems herself as the worst actress in Hollywood. She is only there for looks and to act like a skank.
Transformers is like a cake with 10 layers of icing, your least favorite flavor, and you're forced to eat it for two and a half hours. All flare, no substance. Mr. Bay has out did himself this time. He took his one "good" movie, mixed with the sequel formula (bigger, badder, dumber and more badass) and absolutely drove it into the ground. Only on an extremely hot summer day, when you want to escape the heat and you have absolutely, ABSOLUTELY nothing to do would I recommend seeing this. Hats off to you Michael, a 44 year old man child who can't do shit but make loud, stupid, obnoxious movies and still make millions from it.

1 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Hangover

Directed by Todd Phillips

Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha

The year's big comedy is finally here. The Hangover is crude, insane, and absolutely hilarious! The story is of four friends, one of which is getting married, spending the night in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. The morning after the groom is gone missing, and the other three men have no recollection of what happened the night before and set off on a quest to find their buddy before the wedding and understand what happened the night before.
The cast is spot on for their roles. Bradley Cooper plays Phil, the level headed, cool leader of the group. Ed Helms plays Stu, the worry wort dentist. For his first major role in a big film he was wonderful, it was good to see another side of Ed's talent instead of being a huge dork, like he does in The Office. But the best performance was from stand up comedian, Zach Galifianakis, who plays the bride's brother that is not-all-there in the head. Zach was meant for this role, anyone familiar with his work will know that Zach is just as insane as the character he plays on screen (check out his Live at the Purple Onion, or in The Comedians of Comedy, he is brilliant).
There are a couple things I have to gripe about. First is that there are some plot points that seem way too ridiculous and don't seem to fit in with the flow of the rest of the movie and are really out of place. Secondly, after all the events leading up the finale the ending was resolved way too easily and was a total cop out. You'll understand when you see it. And third, Ken Jeong's character is really annoying. He was funny the first scene you see him, probably because he didn't talk, but after that he just got worse and worse. But that's all I really have to say. I loved the rest.
The Hangover is the best comedy to come out yet this year. If your not into raunchy humor, or a lot (a lot) of cussing, then maybe it isn't for you. But for the rest of us, it should keep you laughing for a long, long time.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Land of the Lost

Directed by Brad Silberling

Written by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas

Starring Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, and Anna Friel

Land of the Lost is probably the most ridiculous movie to come out this summer. Viewers should know before to take all sense of logic out of their minds when watching this, as the movie itself doesn't take itself seriously at all. It pokes fun to all of the cheesy sci-fi/fantasy adventure movies from the 50's and 60's, you can tell from the cheap set design and laughable lizard costumes.
Will Ferrell plays a fumbling scientist who thinks he knows everything, but in fact seems to be wrong about 90 percent of the time. Its good to see that he isn't playing the same Ron Burgundy character that he has many times before, but there is still a Ferrell-ism to the movie which will be the deciding factor for audiences; whether they love or hate Will Ferrell. I don't mind him, and I think he is pretty funny, but his act gets old as the movie plays out. Danny McBride remains consistantly funny and is definatly the shining star of comedy for this movie.
About half way through the movie is starts to lose steam and there are many dry patches where you won't laugh at all. For only being just over an hour and a half long, the movie drags on too long and overstays its welcome. But for those looking for a ludicrous romp that has plently of laughs to share then it might be worth your time seeing.

3 out of 5 stars