Skilled thief DiCaprio gets what he needs by infiltrating his targets' subconscious. Can be a special-effects mess at times, but Nolan is able to execute the difficult task of keeping the audience on the same page as the plot despite the complexities of the storyline… unlike other sci-fi/action-thrillers (cough, MATRIX, cough). DiCaprio leads a cast of fellow young A-listers, and the actors don't crowd each other even though a lot of the characters don't actually have to be there (hush, hush; we'll pretend JGL actually serves a purpose here just because he's so cool). In Nolan we (continue to) trust… even when it comes to sci-fi.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Sequel to the 1977 smash hit follows Luke Skywalker (Hamill) training to be a Jedi from the lovable new character Yoda (Oz), while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader (Prowse/Jones), who himself has a life-changing secret. More epic and easily one-ups "A New Hope", not just with effects and designs, but also story; with all the characters becoming much more three dimensional, plus the introduction of numerous new character that add spice to the overall series. Easily one of the greatest sci-fi films of all-time, as well as one of the greatest sequels of all-time.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Werner Herzog's answer to the search for El Dorado is "Aguirre: The Wrath of God", with Klaus Kinski as the title character leading an expedition to "the golden city". Both Herzog and Kinski at their best--that alone could be an argument to support that this is a perfect film. Kinski lives up to his intense reputation, never delivering a dull moment. Herzog achieves so many difficult filmmaking obstacles. Everything about this film is beautiful. From the film's opening shot of the expedition hiking their way down the mountain, you know you're watching one of film history's most generous and sincere masterpieces. Absolutely brilliant.
Dante (O'Halloran) and Randal (Anderson) are back in this long awaited sequel to the 1994 cult-classic; but unlike the original, "Clerks II" is in COLOR and takes place at the fast-food joint Mooby's. The story is carried by Dante and Randal's strange, yet appealing and revealing, philosophies that charmed us in the amateurish first film. The film pays homage to the preceding movie, but some of its gags seem to work differently in this picture; some for better, others for worse. Kevin Smith took the story in the appropriate direction; many techniques differ, but its necessary due to the obvious success the original had (it doesn't make sense to continue filming a low budget picture when you have the money to make a big budget one). Nice to see Jay and Silent Bob up to their old tricks, and keep an eye out for a cameo by Smith's mother reprising her character as the Milk Maid at the tail-end. Dialogue and attitude starts off totally juvenile, but the film takes a turn in the right direction--far from perfect, but an overall excellent comedy.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
George Lucas' groundbreaking saga starts here, a epic space opera about rebels trying to save Princess Leia (Fisher) from the tyrannical Darth Vader (Jones/Prowse). Fun story with many of film history's most beloved characters; not to mention the impressiveness of its success and inspiration. However, the story-arc seems so light-weight knowing what follows in sequels "Empire" and "Jedi", and the absence of Yoda, Palpatine, Admiral Piette and Lando Calrissian certainly make you realize how dull this film is in comparison to the following two when you re-watch it. The most interesting conflicts of the series happens in the sequels, making "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" the least intense and impressive of the original trilogy.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Third installment came out the same year as the second installment, demonstrating right for the get-go that both sequels are completely unnecessary and inferior. This one tries too hard with the SFX and thrills, and it's understandable because the story lacks any reason and sense. Hugo Weaving was spectacular in the original as Agent Smith, but in this one the Wachowski brothers literally multiply the character infinitely; a desperately cheap attempt to outdo what worked so great for the original. The Wachowski brothers filled a void that separate nerds from tough guys when the original came out in 1999; but in 2003, the canyon reopened. Terrible. Just terrible.
2003 sequel lacks all energy that made the 1999 blockbuster a success. The story continues, but does it need to when it's this bad? Even the returning characters are as two dimensional as the new characters. Zion, a home that Morpheus (Fishburne) talked about like it was a place of beauty worth dying for, is disappointingly nothing short of a ghetto. To top that off, when we're introduced to a rundown Zion, we're also given an unnecessary lengthy corny passionate love-scene between Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. The only thing worth noting in this sci-fi failure is an impressive highway action sequence, as well as the inclusion of eye-candy Monica Bellucci—but even the beauty of Bellucci and the excellent SFX of the highway scene are hardly worth the watch.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Fourth installment deals with an older Jones (Ford is old too) battling Soviet agents while trying to uncover the mystery behind the crystal skulls. Mutt Williams (LaBeouf) accompanies Jones to Peru to find answers, including one from Williams' mother who's hiding a painfully obvious and predictable secret. Even after a nineteen year break, Idiana Jones seems tired, while Karen Allen returns to be as annoying as Capshaw was in "Idiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (instead of being just straight up dull like she was in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). All new characters are far from colorful. Too many sequel clichés to be fully entertained—Jones is a down-and-out has-been (eerily similar to "Rocky V" and "Rocky Balboa") who reunites with an old love-interest (so old, she's got bigger bags under her eyes than an insomniac) that we didn't know ended so bitterly (kind of like Dewey and Gale from "Scream 2" and "Scream 3"). More annoying than its predictably, corniness and clichés are actions sequences that were cheapened by CGI. You figure if another Indiana Jones was worth doing, they would've put in a little bit of effort.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sequel to one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films ever made—a genre so difficult to execute so wonderfully—comes along and sucks out any horror aspect that made "Alien" so fantastic. Instead, James Cameron replaces Ridley Scott in the director's seat and inserts sci-fi clichés and predictable thriller aspects, resulting in this overlong and unnecessary picture.
Cameron seems to spend a good length developing characters that are either unlikable and just there for the sake of dying, with a total disregard for driving the story forward. Even in comparing character development to "Alien", the sequel proves weaker. "Alien" was able to develop deeper and realistic characters in a much shorter timeframe, and didn't need more characters than the story required.
Anything new to Cameron's picture is nothing more than convenient plot-devices, thus lacking any shred of cleverness. Aside from Weaver's presence, the film hardly reminds us of the original. The film leaps too forward without any respect for its roots, totally lacking gratefulness.
At no point in the film is it easy to actually point out how "Aliens" is a necessary/needed follow up. The film may very well have worked better as it's own with all new characters and no continuity to "Alien", but it simply just doesn't work as a follow up; which is actually disappointing because if you want to look at what a "good" sequel is, Cameron accomplished it with "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". Everything on which the story stands relies on "The Terminator", however it doesn't need the "remember when"s to move forward. With "Aliens", the story itself is not heavily relied on by "Alien", and again, pretty much Weaver is our only feeling of continuation. And again, given the fact that it's just a small and irrelevant reminder, the movie simply doesn't work as a sequel but rather a film of it's own. The fact of the matter is, it's not a film of its own; "Aliens" is a sequel, and it simply wasn't done right.
Was it entertaining? Sure, whatever. But upon examining filmmaking basics, however, the film fails at the follow up aspect story-wise and goes way off in a direction of its own. That's not a bad thing if it's an original movie. It's not even a bad thing for a sequel of the film shows heavy purpose in the decision to ranch off.
After watching "Aliens", if the question rose: "Why does this particular story need to be a follow up to 'Alien'? What is it about 'Alien' that this film needs to be in the same continuity?" The answer is that it doesn't. "Alien" was a successful film, therefore the studio can have a head-start at making another film by throwing in meaningless nods and references to the successful film preceding it in hopes that this film ("Aliens") will be just as successful. Cameron probably wouldn't even be able to give a solidly confident contradiction to this claim.