Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

03
Mar
11

The Fighter

What’s not to like about a boxing movie that has Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in the lead roles with the delectable Amy Adams supporting?

 

 

Sure, the plot is pretty predictable and follows the same loose format that every boxing movie since Rocky does (down and out boxer gets his ass handed to him, struggles with internal and external conflict, sorts his shit out, trains like a beast and starts kicking serious ass) but the bottom line here is that, in one simple sentence, Bale MAKES this movie.

He might be a total asshole is real life, but holy shit the man can act, and watching him portray “Irish” Micky Ward’s (Wahlberg’s) manic, crack-addled brother Dicky in the movie is nothing short of mesmerising.

Mark Wahlberg is no slouch in this movie either and brings that same instantly likeable charm to the screen that he does in nearly every movie he’s ever starred in. It’s just a pity his character doesn’t have the same depth to him that Bale’s does, but conversely, if he did it could very well have diverted from Bale’s killer performance, which would have in turn affected the movie’s overall impact.

 

 

Wahlberg gets the job done and does it well. He’s also flippin’ MASSIVE AND RIPPED in this movie which is pretty lekker charna cause a oke who KLAPS IT is a pretty kief guy in my books hey boychay?

Amy Adams also does a decent job of playing Charlene, Wahlberg’s love interest in the movie and somehow manages to walk that fine line between getting you to like her and getting you to think she’s a total bitch at the same time. The scenes where she goes up against Wahlberg’s seven trashy sisters are highly entertaining as are the sisters themselves who seem to spend their lives slouching around their mom’s house judging people.

 

 

Bale deserved the Best Supporting Oscar for this one because of his flawless portrayal of a character type he’s never done before. His loose, goofy acting style and the fact that he lost so much weight for this movie are both testament to this man’s incredible ability to literally become a completely different person.

I’d highly recommend checking this film out if you’re a fan of Bale’s work or if you’re in the mood for a feel-good story about an underdog with a lot of heart who literally fights his way through life and ultimately wins.

Final Verdict: 8/10

-ST

17
Feb
11

Three Great Reasons Why Never To Watch The Human Centipede

Here, in no particular order, are three great reasons why never to watch the horror movie The Human Centipede:

Reason No.1: Only One Person In The Entire Film Can Actually Act

I don’t think I have to go into too much detail here except to further explain that that one person also happens to be the mentally deranged surgeon who is the film’s main antagonist and who randomly decides one day that it would be fun to kidnap three people and surgically attach them to each other ass-to-mouth to make, well, a human centipede.

I’m not joking. Someone actually made this film.

 

Reason No.2: Who The Hell Wants To Watch A Movie About People Who Are Surgically Attached To One Another Ass To Mouth?

Who indeed. Shelve your morbid curiosity for this one, you’ll be a lot better off in the long run without the mental images of three people crawling around on all fours, “feeding” one another.

Reason No.3: You See The Deranged Surgeon’s Naked Butt

Which is pretty much twice as terrifying as the actual monster he creates and then spends the rest of the movie hanging out with.

“Fetch the newspaper human centipede! Fetch the paper! Goooooood human centipede!”

I shit you not. This is the worst movie ever created. EVER.

Final Verdict: 1/10

-ST

19
May
10

Music Review: MGMT – Congratulations

MGMT’s first album, 2007’s Oracular Spectacular, tore through the music scene at the time like a loose propeller. Before they knew what had hit them, bandmates Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden went from gigging in local clubs and bars around New York to playing massive music festivals alongside greats such as Radiohead and Bloc Party to crowds of tens of thousands of screaming fans.

 

 

Three years later, the singles “Time To Pretend”, “Kids”, and “Electric Feel” still get dance floors jumping with happy, wasted people, belting out “Let’s move to Paris, shoot some heroine and fuck with the stars” while spilling their drinks over anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby.

Oracular Spectacular is one of those rare albums that is almost impossible not to like, no matter what your taste in music might be. Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind was ‘With such a killer debut album (well, technically it’s their second if you count the album they released under their previous name, The Management), haven’t they set the bar a little too high for the albums to follow?”

Sadly, the answer to this question in the case of Congratulations is yes.

 

 

Gone are the slow, fuzzy and infectious basslines and quirky riffs that made songs like “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” so powerful. Nowhere on Congratulations will you find a song that struts with the confidence that “Electric Feel” does, or trips out, stoned immaculate like “The Youth” without sounding forced or contrived.

Congratulations feels frantic in comparison to Oracular Spectacular. Songs like “It’s Working”, “Song For Dan Treacy” and “Brian Eno” all sound like Goldwasser and VanWyngarden wrote them after schnarfing one too many speed-rails while listening to old Beach Boys records at double speed.

The rest of the album is mostly made up of sluggish and floppy tracks like “Someone’s Missing” (with vocals that sound like a melancholic chipmunk singing at the bottom of a well), “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” (four and a half minutes of pointless instrumental circle-jerking) and “I Found A Whistle” (which sounds like a waltzy crystal meth comedown) that sure as hell won’t be topping any charts in the foreseeable future.

On the plus side, the awesome synths on “Song For Dan Treacy” should get your feet tapping and the Jackson 5-ish break on “Something’s Missing” is an interesting twist. “Siberian Breaks” also has some notable moments, but you’ll have to wade through all twelve odd minutes of this sprawling track to get to them.

 

 

In their defence, I don’t think that MGMT ever intended Congratulations to be compared in any way to Oracular Spectacular and seem to have made a concerted effort musically to distance the two albums as much as possible. Of course the downside of this is that the mainstream audience that loved Oracular Spectacular will probably greet Congratulations with the time-honoured cry “What is this shit?” halfway through track one.

At its best, Congratulations feels like a bad B-Sides album and at its worst, like something that Goldwasser and VanWyngarden should have maybe thought a little harder about before ever recording, never mind releasing.

From it’s bizarre, cartoony, Sonic The Hedgehog album cover to its rushed production, Congratulations should definitely not be taken seriously. In fact, let’s pretend that this album was never released, play Oracular Spectacular one more time and hang in there for album no. 3 shall we?

Final Verdict: 4/10

-ST

04
May
10

Movie Review: Iron Man 2

I didn’t go into Iron Man 2 the same way I’d go into just any movie, no. I went into Iron Man 2 with a pretty specific list of things I wanted to see that went like this:

 

  • Explosions
  • Wide-scale destruction
  • Dudes in metal suits bashing the shit out of each other
  • Robert Downey JR being smarmy
  • More explosions
  • Sexy bitches
  • Radioactive flying dinosaurs (in retrospect, maybe not a very realistic expectation)
  • Mickey Rourke fucking shit up and being badass
  • Did I mention explosions?
  • Explosions

 

And let me just say that hell yeah! Iron Man 2 delivered on pretty much all fronts (except one).

 

Iron Man director Jon Favreau takes the director’s seat once again on Iron Man 2, and he does a damn fine job of it, bringing all the energy, humour and action to the sequel that made the first movie such a hit.

Story-wise it picks up at the exact moment where Iron Man left off, with Tony Stark telling the world his secret identity, a confession that opens up a whole can of worms for poor ol’ Tones while simultaneously reminding us why superheroes should always keep that shit on the down lizzo yo.

Before he knows what’s hit him, the American government is trying to get its greedy paws on the Iron Man suit because “other nations will try and copy its design” and when they do, the American government want to be the ones calling the shots.

Yeah, whatever. Everyone knows they only wants to get its hands on the suit because it’s fucking cool and chicks dig it. Although little do they know that the paladium core inside the ARC reactor in Stark’s chest is actually slowly poisoning him to death. I liked that little twist. Irony is rad.

Anyway, predictably someone does copy the design. Enter Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash) played by Mickey Rourke, who shows up wearing a kind of leather and steel gimp suit with glowing electric whips attached which he then uses to pretty much destroy EVERYTHING in a seriously cool scene at the F1 track in Monaco.

 

 

Throw in Don Cheedle in an Iron Man suit suped up with enough firepower to take down an entire fleet of jet fighter planes, Scarlett Johansson in the most bitchin’, curve-huggin’ leathers you ever did see, Sam Rockwell (I fucking LOVE Sam Rockwell) trying to out-smarmy Downey JR and of course, Mr ‘I-shall-strike-down-upon-thee-with-great-vengeance’ himself, Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury and you’ve got all the makings of a really solid movie.

Just don’t go in there expecting mind-blowing plot twists or deep and philosophical forays into the nature of humankind and you’ll probably really enjoy Iron Man 2. What it lacks sometimes in plot, it makes up for in acting talent, visual effects and action sequences, all of which were the life-blood of the first movie.

The only thing that disappointed me about the film was the fact that Scarlette Johansson was almost completely superfluous to the bigger story except for one brutal action sequence. Oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow, she was cute in the beginning, but kinda got on my nerves after awhile.

 

 

If you liked the original movie, you’ll like Iron Man 2. If you like action movies with dudes bashing the shit out of each other in badass metal suits, you’ll like Iron Man 2. And if you like big explosions and sexy bitches, you’ll like Iron Man 2.

As for the flying radioactive dinosaurs *spoiler alert* there aren’t any. But one day there will be and when that day comes, don’t come crying to me when your brain explodes from the awesomeness of 50 tons of flying radioactive DEATH.

Final Verdict: 7/10

18
Jan
10

Movie Review: Where The Wild Things Are

I went into Where The Wild Things Are with high hopes after watching the trailer numerous times and hearing from a lot of people that the book, written by Maurice Sendak and published in 1963, was one of their favourite childhood stories.

 

 

Also, the movie was directed by Spike Jonze, who worked with writer Charlie Kaufman on two of my favourite movies of all time, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Besides that, Jonze mainly directs music videos and TV commercials, for which he has received numerous awards.

I have only the vaguest recollection of reading the book when I was young, and as such, went into the movie hardly knowing anything about the plotline or the characters, which was probably a good thing as the original children’s book was only 48 pages long and thus had to be expanded and changed considerably to make up the 100-odd minute screenplay.

Sadly, I found the movie didn’t live up to my expectations. The feeling I got from watching the trailer (which features the epic Arcade Fire song ‘Wake Up’) was that this was a deep and significant piece of filmmaking that was guaranteed to pull at the heartstrings and was loaded with meaning and profundity.

The actual experience of watching the film was very far from being meaningful or profound and I left the cinema feeling like I’d missed something, some kind of vital clue to help unlock this movie for me, because I found it disjointed and largely inaccessible.

 

Where The Wild Things Are tells the story of Max (played by Max Records), a troubled young boy who’s parents have divorced and who lives with his mother and sister, both of whom he has a difficult relationship with. After a huge fight erupts with his mother one night, during which Max dons his wolf suit and bites her, he ends up running away from home and finding a small boat, which he sails to a distant land, inhabited by the large, oafish Wild Things of the story’s title.

At first, the Wild Things want to eat Max and in a scene that takes a nightmarish turn, they surround him and are on the verge of devouring him when he convinces them that he has magical powers and can explode their heads at will. They then decide to make him their king after which he leads the Wild Things on a ‘rumpus’ through the woods that consists of them smashing trees and rocks, tackling one another and laughing all the while.

Yeah, just wait, it gets weirder.

After the rumpus, the Wild Things all collapse in a huge pile on top of one another and go to sleep, happy and content with their new king, who was sworn in on the condition that he would keep all sadness away forever.

The next day Max goes on a tour of the Wild Thing’s island with Carol (the Wild Thing in all the movie posters, voiced by James Gandolfini). Max is shown a model of the island that Carol has built in a secret cave where Carol likes to be alone. This inspires Max to command the Wild Things to build a massive fort, something that brings them all together as they unite toward a common purpose.

 

 

However, before the fort can be completed, Carol’s ‘love interest’ KW brings her friends Bob and Terry (who are owls) to the fort which causes Carol to become angry and overwhelmed with jealousy.

Without explaining the entire plot, let’s just say that relations degenerate even further from this point and eventually force Max to board his tiny ship again and leave the island. Back at home, he finds his mother waiting up for him with his supper, which he eats ravenously while his mother falls asleep watching him with a happy smile on her face.

The End.

My biggest problem with Where The Wild Things Are is the dialogue in the movie. The Wild Things all speak like children, which is understandable as the implication throughout is that the island Max has discovered is based purely on his imagination, however it makes all of the interactions between the characters in the movie really bizarre to the point where you’re never sure what to take seriously or what to dismiss as inconsequential banter.

This becomes a problem when the story approaches its major turning points because for me, none of them felt very significant. For example, Max decides to initiate a big ‘dirt clod war’ in an effort to bring the Wild Things together and encourage them to have fun, which ends in even more in-fighting when KW accidently steps on Carol’s head.

Watching the scene unfold all I thought was, ‘OK, so she stepped on his head and now he’s furious. Huh. Is this supposed to be important?’

At this point I can almost hear you all shouting ‘But it’s supposed to be a kid’s movie! Stop analysing it like an adult!’ to which I have only the following to say, the story of Where The Wild Things Are that Spike Jonze tells is far too laden with sadness, loneliness and melancholy to appeal to most children, trust me, most of the kids in the audience looked like they were about to fall asleep.

 

 

I strongly suspect that Where The Wild Things Are is a film that takes on a much greater significance the second time you watch it, or at least I hope so, because the first time I confess that I think I missed the point entirely.

Max Records’ acting can’t be faulted however and damn! That kid’s gonna grow up to be some kind of tri-athlete – he runs everywhere in the movie and is filled with a kind of wild energy that suits the film’s theme well.

All in all, I would recommend watching this film because it’s so different from other films in its genre, but definitely don’t shell out your hard earned bucks to go and see it at the movies because honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it. Oh, and the awesome Arcade Fire song in the trailer? It’s not in the movie, or even the movie soundtrack. Fail.

Final Verdict: 6/10

21
Dec
09

Movie Review: Avatar

I’d be lying if I said I knew where to start when it comes to writing this review. How do you dissect a world so carefully created and beautifully rendered? I feel like a biologist standing scalpel in hand over the body of one of the fantastical creatures featured in Avatar, with absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

 

 

For starters, let me tell you why movies like Avatar usually fail to impress me, because the reason is fairly simple. Usually in movies of this nature, where the protagonist is transported to another world and interacts with an alien species, that protagonist is some dorky, reluctant hero, usually a scientist who’s clumsy and bashful and unable to assert himself at the beginning of the movie, but who by the end has found the courage and fortitude to stand up to the bad guys and thus realise his own self worth.

Not so with Avatar. The protagonist in the movie is a marine, Jake Sully (played by Australian actor Sam Worthington) a grunt who is paralysed in combat back on Earth, but decides to stay in service when the army offers to recruit him for the project his twin brother was working on on the distant planet of Pandora.

Jake is instantly likeable as a character because of how he refuses to let his disability affect his life in any way. It’s part of the magic that writer and director James Cameron (who’s previous bests include Terminator 2 and Titanic) weaves to lure you into the world of Avatar.

It’s a fairly straightforward premise, if you can get the audience to connect with your protagonist as early as possible in the film, they will follow him, become emotionally invested in him and thus become emotionally invested in the film itself.

Well, from his opening lines as he comes out of cryonic suspension after the trip to Pandora, I liked Jake Sully.

 

 

From there, Cameron starts setting the stage for this epic ‘space opera’ as some critics have called it and in a series of well executed opening scenes we learn that the humans who have arrived and set up military headquarters on Pandora have done so because they want to mine a mineral called ‘unobtainium’.

The largest deposit of this mineral on the planet occurs right underneath a gigantic, 150 meter tall tree (known as the ‘Hometree’) where a tribe of the local inhabitants, an alien species called the Na’vi, have lived in peace for thousands of years.

In an attempt to learn their culture, gain favour with them and ultimately persuade them to move so that mining operations can begin, human scientists developed the Avatar program whereby human and Na’vi DNA is combined to create Na’vi bodies that have identical neural structures to their human counterparts, thus making it possible to transfer a human mind into a Na’vi body.

Jake is chosen for the program because his twin brother’s DNA was used to create an Avatar at great cost to the military and so, instead of letting the Avatar go to waste, they decide to use Jake to ‘drive’ it and act as a bodyguard to Dr Grace Augustine (Sigorney Weaver) in her efforts to re-connect with the Na’vi and further her peaceful attempts to learn as much as possible about Pandora, the Na’vi and their culture.

 

 

Once Cameron has laid these basic foundations, believe me, you will be more than willing to follow him anywhere. My disbelief was suspended in less than 10 minutes into the film and from that point I willingly let myself become completely immersed in the breath-takingly beautiful world that is Pandora.

I watched Avatar in 3D and the most amazing thing about the experience is that when I think back on it, I don’t remember it as a movie, but rather like some kind of intensely beautiful dream I had.

Everything on the planet of Pandora is connected through a kind of biological neural network, a system where energy is consciously transferred, conserved and shared in a far more efficient way than the synthesized manner in which humans do it.

Thus a kind of perfect balance is achieved and almost effortlessly maintained, that is, until humans arrive and fuck everything up.

The jungles of Pandora are like nothing you have ever seen before, they are literally teeming with thousands of plant and animal species. At night the jungles light up with glowing phosphorescent algae and plants, making everything look like the best imaginable acid trip anyone could ever wish for.

 

 

Avatar is also one of those rare movies where you are never bored watching it. With every scene, the movie turns, the stakes are raised and you are drawn further and further into the story.

What’s also rare about Avatar is the fact that at the movie’s climax you really, really hate the humans and everything they stand for, which is a stroke of genius on Cameron’s part because Avatar is actually a powerful piece of social commentary about mankind’s propensity toward ignorance and destruction and our complete detachment with the natural world.

Sam Worthington does an adequate job of playing Jake Sully, however, his American accent slips continuously throughout the movie, which can be a bit irritating if you pick it up. Sigorney Weaver really shines in her role as Dr Augustine though, the no nonsense biologist with a genuine interest in the well-being and preservation of the Na’vi people, but my favourite actor in the movie was Stephen Lang, who plays Security Chief Miles Quaritch.

You just can’t help but admire Lang’s character because the sunuvabitch just. Doesn’t. Die. He’s a giant asshole throughout the movie, but when it comes time to kill he opens up a can o’ whupass that would leave John McClane whimpering in a corner.

 

 

Zoë Saldaña also puts on a noteworthy performance as Neytiri, the princess of the Na’vi tribe (and yes, there is actually a person acting underneath all the blue-skinned CGI) and Michelle Rodriguez is excellent as Trudy Chacon, the badass, wise-cracking marine pilot who sides with Jake and the Na’vi when the shit starts hitting the fan.

As for the plotline itself, there are people out there who are criticising it for being overused, but to all those naysayers, all I can say is open your eyes. Hollywood only has 32 scripts that it keeps on permanent rotation, EVERY Hollywood blockbuster follows a plotline that is overused, they have no choice because if you completely discard the structure and formula of the genre in which you’re working there’s an 80% chance mainstream audiences will hate your film.

Cameron’s execution of what has become a fairly standard Hollywood story of zero to hero is immaculate and from a structural point of view, he hits every story beat perfectly and keeps the story lean and mean from start to finish.

Trust me, you will walk out of Avatar emotionally drained in the best possible way, you will marvel at how powerful Cameron’s imagination is and most important of all, you will come out of that theatre thoroughly entertained.

In a world of over-sensationalised violence and gratuitous sex in films that are badly scripted and haphazardly constructed, Avatar really stands out as a piece of film that, even if it’s in a small way, makes the world of film and popular entertainment a better place.

To sum up, my Girlfriend, J-Rab said it best – this movie will leave images in your mind that you will be happy to look back on and for that reason alone, I would highly recommend watching it.

 

 

Final Verdict: 9/10

-ST




A Word From The Kind Folks At Nokia

April 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Afrigator