Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I don't feel like Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993) was trying to top 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Theives, and I don't feel that Ridley Scott's Robin Hood was trying to top either of those, or even the Disney cartoon from 1973 (probably my favorite one). These are all films that approached the story of the mythical (but possibly real) Robin Hood in a different manner. While Scott's version is criticized for lacking the fancy-ness of the traditional Robin Hood, is that such a bad thing?
There have actually been over a hundred instances in film and television where Robin Hood has made an appearance, so in an age of film where realism sells (i.e. The Dark Knight, Casino Royale), isn't a realistic version of this classic story what we all wanted? If so, then why didn't everyone like it? One could assume that a realistic perspective of medieval action (also in Valhalla Rising) just isn't as popular as a theatrical (Lord of the Rings) perspective. It's a bold sacrifice Scott makes for his film, although some of the characters slip into Gladiator territory every now and then. People are calling this out as if Scott is ripping himself off, but apparently people haven't heard of auteurs.
Russell Crowe plays the legendary Robin Hood as he is fighting in the Crusades, part of Robin's story that is only mentioned rather than shown in other films. He's somewhat of a "true" person, one who demonstrates good character (in a Christ-like manner, ironically) while fighting for King Richard. The parallel of Robin's ideals compared to King Richard's fuels the beginning of the movie, until Robin moves on to other adventures, where his ideals once again conflict with those of other's. The action's really great, by the way.
While Robin knows that killing any non-Christian (the basic idea of the Crusades) is not exactly the most moral path, he also knows that Richard's choice is the "right thing to do" compared to what others in power are doing. While he sides with the "Christians" he personally sets an example simply by being a just person, which is ultimately what we all want to be, so it's easy to see how Robin became so popular. After Richard dies and Robin Hood must return home, he clashes with others who oppose Richard's throne, and we come closer to some of the stories we're more familiar with, although there never seems to be a central villain. Robin Hood's central obstacle really seems to be wooing Marian (Cate Blanchett).
I honestly enjoyed seeing Robin Hood portrayed as a real person with real problems while he is still seen by others as this grand, noble figure-icon. I see Robin Hood almost like I see Jesus. Maybe he was real, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was this super awesome noble guy, maybe he was just a normal guy. Rest aside, he was a celebrity of his time, and since some are saying he was actually real, this is the best image we are going to get of the guy (to date). Pop culture always seems to obscure the truth, so I can see how Robin's image changed so drastically over the centuries. While I can't say Scott's version is my favorite, as I enjoyed the other three Robin Hood films I mentioned earlier much more, I'm not going to say it's bad. I dig the search for truth, others find it boring for some reason.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The levels of ridiculousness fly sky-high in 'Knight and Day,' as do plenty of expensive cars, motorcycles and Tom Cruise. It's what we want to see in a good summer blockbuster. Don't expect it to win any awards, I don't think it was trying to anyway. It only wants a bit of your hard-earned money, and it's well worth it, as long as you weren't expecting something from the Coen brothers.
Honestly, this is a movie worth watching in theaters. The action is spectacular. I wish they had released it in 3D, because I would've gone back to see it then. Although besides that, the skill of director James Mangold ('3:10 to Yuma,' 'Walk the Line') fails to show as much as I expected. There were too many close-ups of Cruise and Diaz, and the script jumps from silly to serious to cheesy to down-right ridiculous. But then again, it's still entertaining.
What we have here is Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in roles they were born to play (maybe not so much Diaz, but definitely Cruise), and perfect timing to make them work terrificly together in this action-comedy, although I'd rather look at it as an action-thriller with a lot of charm. Cruise plays Roy Miller, who turns out to be a framed CIA agent. Haven't seen that one before. He meets Diaz's character at an airport and tries to prevent her from going on his flight, which he plans to sabotage and crash-land. Here's the point where I realized Diaz was the actual main character and not Cruise, as she boards the plane anyway, leading to an action-packed series of events that will turn her life upside down.
A lot of people won't notice it, but by viewing Diaz as the main character, the story seemed a lot like a realistic (well, less surreal) Alice in Wonderland. Yeah, sounds crazy, but trust me on this one. In this case, Diaz is Alice, Tom Cruise is the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the White Rabbit all in one, while the corrupt government is the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat sits out on this one. I noticed the similarities when Cruise would continuously drug Diaz in order to get her to cooperate. Call me silly, but it made the film somewhat more entertaining than it already was for me.
See, since he brought her into his world by accident, when he tried to protect her and keep her out of it in the first place, he now has to protect her full-time now that she's stuck in it, because they apparently have a thing for each other. A somewhat uninteresting subplot pops up about halfway into the movie, when it is revealed that Cruise is carrying a very powerful battery that a lot of big organizations want. It's kinda cool because it's symbolic to the typical action-film immortality of Cruise's character, but besides that it still was kind of a downer after all of the opening action sequences seemed to lead up to something bigger. Another subplot appears later in the film when Diaz discovers the truth about Cruise's past-life, but it really goes nowhere with it.
You really can't take this movie too seriously. That does lose the film some credibility points, but at least it never gets too over-the-top that you start to wonder what's really going on. The ending is also a little far-fetched, but not really too bad. The movie's only purpose is to entertain, and it does it very well without ever seeming too cliché, although the only great acting performances come out of Cruise, Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard and a random appearance by Paul Dano. And as for Cruise and Diaz, I will reiterate what I said earlier that these roles were perfect for them. Cruise's character seemed to be a mix of his roles from almost all of his previous work. Name any of them, and they're here. And Diaz was starting to slip into forgetful territory, when she shines the most as that hopelessly-in-love girl that she plays brilliantly here. The interaction between the two is great, especially since we had already seen them together before in 'Vanilla Sky.'
All in all, 'Knight and Day' is full of laughs, great acting, eye-popping action and car chases that you won't forget, so if you want that, see this. As this summer doesn't have much to offer in the action-comedy category, this is probably you're best bet, although you won't be making a bad decision if you'd rather do something else time-consuming.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The seventh installment of the Harry Potter franchise starts with seven Harry's leaving Privet Drive. If you saw the 2nd movie (which hopefully you saw them all because these movies aren't stand-alone ever), you'll know how this works. Ron, Hermione and four others disguise themselves as Harry in order to get our hero out of his home and to safety. This scene is amazingly intense, and that was my first sign that I wasn't going to have a lot of trouble with this film, although I did sometimes.
Actually, I'm incapable of giving any Harry Potter movie a negative review, just because it's almost impossible to ruin these incredible stories. That doesn't mean I won't say anything bad about the movie though. While it is definitely the most well-acted, beautifully filmed, emotionally deep Harry Potter film to date, it is also the weakest of the series to date, simply because it is only an introduction to the highly anticipated Part 2. Imagine the previous six films as if they were 'The Matrix.' In that sense, this film is 'The Matrix Reloaded' and Part 2 will be 'Revolutions,' although I'm hoping Part 2 won't be as disappointing. Part 1 starts out with a lot of intense action but starts to lag, for a running time of over 2 hours, trying to fit in details that will give a better understanding for Part 2, but so much time is basically wasted stalling for the abrupt break/ending that it just makes this one missing something, although we all know what that is.
As an introduction, they somehow find it necessary to introduce literally every character in the story, just as it was done in the book (although it was okay there). Even though I read this particular book three times, the mentioning of so many characters almost confused me, so I know it wouldn't be any more helpful for those who haven't read the books. This aspect makes the story somewhat hard to follow, even if it is stretched out unnecessarily. That being said, they could've saved time by not introducing so many characters and shortening some slow scenes, and then Part 1 and 2 could've been one movie.
I know they pulled it off to look like it wasn't all for the money, but it's difficult for me to believe that. Simply because they were separated, I don't know if I will enjoy Part 2 as much as I would've if it the two parts were combined, and since it's difficult to see either one as stand-alone movies I can already say that neither one will be the best films of the franchise, although they are the most intense. I'll give it some credit, because Harry Potter is just so damn cool, but I don't see myself appreciating the split any time soon. Maybe it has something to do with everyone always "wanting more" and actually giving them more, but that doesn't mean another cliffhanger.