The Dark Knight Rises (Mark's take)
01/08/2012. Batman is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement to face two villains. Bane is a big bull of a man in a really ugly mask. The other is Catwoman, particularly attractive in her skin-tight suit. The film has more action, more special effects, and more mystical philosophy than The Dark Knight, but less intelligence.
The Dark Knight Rises (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. As a filmmaker, how does one follow up on continuing the excitable exploits of the Batman film franchise and expect to top what is perhaps the greatest superhero film of all time in the spectacular The Dark Knight? Well if you are the highly heralded Christopher Nolan then you will instinctively find a way. Hence, the explosive and dynamic The Dark Knight Rises is certainly not a bad way to start.
Ted (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. It was a matter of time before subversive writer Seth MacFarlane took his brand of off-kilter, twisted imagination to the big screen after years of treating television audiences to his brash long-running prime time Family Guy cartoon. In Ted, MacFarlane’s (who incidentally provides the voice for the cuddly-looking, caustic titular toy) off-colour joke is clear: take a seemingly innocuous childhood icon—the teddy bear—and turn him into a flippant playboy at will.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. America’s favourite web-slinging wonder is back for some exciting summertime action in the heralded rebooted film franchise of Stan Lee’s celebrated comic book wall crawler. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel’s web-headed hero marches to the same beat of adventure, angst and adulation but there is a sense of freshness and purpose that is also distinctive from its animated predecessors.
Extraterrestrial - Mark's take
01/07/2012. Extraterrestrial is an amiable romantic comedy with a science fiction premise. Nacho Vigalondo follows up his Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes) with a lighter touch, neither as taxing nor as rewarding as his previous film. Waking up with a hangover, Julián Villagrán as Julio realizes he does not know the woman he has been sleeping with. He also slept through the coming of a giant alien spaceship hovering over his city.
Prometheus - Mark's take.
01/07/2012. Prometheus is a spectacular film and a spectacularly frustrating film. Full of earth-shaking ideas, much of the script just does not make even basic sense. It promises to give us at least science fictional explanations for some of the great questions of human existence, but it never has the courage to answer those questions. With tremendous special effects, much of the film is just plain unpleasant to watch. Spoiler warning: I will discuss some of the ideas of the film after the main review. I do not think it will damage the impact of the film, but be warned.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. There was certainly an opportunity missed when conceiving the concocted irreverence behind the historical horror actioner Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. Naturally the handlers behind his haunting hogwash wanted to tap into an offbeat joke about showcasing the 16th American president of the United States kicking some walking undead blood-sucking butt.
Chernobyl Diaries (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Chernobyl Diaries continues the tired trend of churning out toothless terrorising tales that bring neither any fresh ideas to the tortured table or generate distinctive debauchery. Generic, recycled and synthetically titillating, Chenobyl Diaries is just another hollow horror show going through the mechanical motions of shock value.
Men in Black III (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. It has been a decade since the last instalment of Men in Black invaded our cinematic sensibilities in 2002. Now ten years later Agents J and K are on the loose yet again to save the world from creepy creatures in the giddy-minded sci-fi chucklefest Men in Black III. No doubt that MIB fans will rejoice in the hyperactive third edition of the frivolous film franchise.
Prometheus (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Although Prometheus deserves its autonomy as a gorgeous and glossy piece of science fiction filmmaking steeped in imaginative imagery and exquisite escapism the reality remains that it is a promising prequel to the legendary moviemaking masterpiece in 1979’s sci-fi horror show Alien.
Snow White and the Huntsman (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Favourite fairy tale lass Snow White is getting her fair share of attention at the box office lately. First, she is the subject of the slight and sugar-coated Tarsem Singh’s decorative dud Mirror, Mirror that sputtered more than anything else. Now our childhood diva is getting a more sinister, suggestive makeover in an edgier version of her retelling in the gritty and grainy Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Avengers (Mark's take)
01/06/2012. This epic superhero film is the fulfilment of plot hints dropped in many previous Marvel films and brings together Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, and Black Widow into a spectacular dustup directed and co-written by Joss Whedon. While the film lacks the visual imagination of Thor or the period feel of Captain America, it has more of a sense of structures on a huge scale being blown up by even bigger explosions. This film can be seen equally well as a piece of literature or as some mindless screen action. It seems to be a real audience-pleaser.
Normal (Mark's take)
01/06/2012. Somewhere in the same category of film as Being John Malkovich is Normal, a new comedy with fantasy elements. Normal is the creation of fledgling writer/director Nicholas P. Richards. While there are plenty of fantasy ideas to build a strong comedy around, Richards does not give us characters we care much about. Too many ideas go nowhere.
Safe (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. Now folks, here is the dilemma: you knowingly give an overactive puppy one of your shoes to play with as you hope the critter can creatively be imaginative with the footwear until he rips the object to sheds in predictable fashion.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. The buried treasure is certainly not hard to find in Aardman Studio’s spry animated 3-D CGI family fable The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Gleefully high-spirited, irreverent, silly-minded and comically shrewd, co-directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt helm this delightfully bouncy buccaneer bonfire with an universal appeal that should rope in the cinematic interests of both the children and grown-ups alike.
Mother's Day (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. It is safe to say that the coat hanger-wielding Joan Crawford from Mommy Dearest has nothing on the menacing mama in the horror sideshow Mother’s Day. Veteran vixen Rebecca DeMornay sinks her teeth into another inspired twisted role as a warped woman with an unstable agenda.
Dark Shadows (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. The Tim Burton-Johnny Depp celluloid collaboration has been a reliable train chugging along the creative tracks throughout the years. The derailment in 2012: the callow costume creepfest Dark Shadows. Burton has always been a peculiar bird with bizarre creativity grounded in cutting edge imagination.
Battleship (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. There have been countless movies inspired by popularised video games. The list is endless in the “video game-to-big-screen” genre. In terms of board games being the blueprint for movie adaptations…well, let’s just say that this particular cinematic concept has not been as ubiquitous as their video game counterparts.
The Samaritan (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. Filmmaker David Weaver’s The Samaritan is a lightweight neo-noir that means well but never musters up enough credible tension to deem it distinctively intriguing. Besides a catchy title and cinema’s favourite reliable on-screen badass Samuel L. Jackson at the helm, The Samaritan misses the mark as a crime caper tiptoeing as a moody psychosexual thriller.
The Cabin In the Woods - Mark's take
01/05/2012. Drew Goddard directs a film he wrote with Joss Whedon and takes the viewer over a lot of very strange territory even for horror films. While the film is funny and frequently at the same time scary, it also looks at what makes horror films work before it dumps the viewer on the doorstep to one of the great master horror writers (who shall remain nameless). Spoiler warning: I do not think I gave away anything that should bother a viewer, but this is a film that it is best to see knowing as little as possible of what is to come.
The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne (Mark's take)
01/05/2012. Czech animator Karel Zeman, nearly forgotten now, was a genius of the animated film. Here, as his masterwork, he adapts a lesser novel by Jules Verne into a highly creative screen adventure. Showing great imagination on a tiny budget Zeman emulates the look of the lithographs of Verne's early editions and makes his film a pioneer in the style that since has been dubbed "steampunk".
The Moth Diaries (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. One thing is for sure…Hollywood certainly knows how to milk a cash cow. Serving up yet another vapid vampire entry to suck in (no pun intended) the ‘tween crowd, the low-budget gothic horror show The Moth Diaries tepidly arrives on the scene. A banal bloodsucking soap opera looking to shamelessly capitalise on the Twilight sensationalism, The Moth Diaries drains any remnants left of guilty pleasure goosebumps or recycled romantic regurgitation from the fidgety teen scream genre.
21 Jump Street (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Somehow the warning signs did not look very promising for 21 Jump Street. The regurgitation of bringing back another nostalgic television show from yesteryear would understandably have eyes rolling in back of one’s head. In all fairness the prospect of introducing old television programs that get the big screen treatment for today’s younger audience is not always a bust (witness successful entries such as The Brady Bunch, Star Trek and The Addams Family for example).
Mirror, Mirror (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Reinventing a familiar and favourite fairy tale that has been told over and over in many various generational television and movie adaptations is taking on a tall order of high expectations. After all, the gamble is a fifty/fifty proposition—either your latest version is considered ambitious and challenging or foolishly recycled and futile. Well, the latter option is probably the more apt selection in this case.
Wrath of the Titans (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Greek mythology has never been more mangled than the 3-D tepid tale that is Wrath of the Titans. This overwrought and flimsy fantasy is the fragmented follow-up to 2010’s delirious dud Clash of the Titans. Anyhow, Wrath of the Titans is basically wasted energy bogged down in butchered CGI imagery, drab suspense, sleeping pill-induced performances and a dull-minded, manufactured fury that would not challenge the potency of a warm glass of milk as sipped from Apollo’s lips.
ATM (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The USA-Canadian claustrophobic caper ATM is a little confining thriller that derives its psychological kicks from the logistical intimacy of an ATM kiosk where entrapment and nervous twitches should equal instant chills—at the expense of an unknown hooded winter coat-wearing psycho prancing about the vicinity with a sickened agenda in mind.
The Assault (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. French filmmaker Julien Leclercq’s intense-driven thriller The Assault recalls the horrific 1994 hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 at the hasty hands of four Islamic terrorists. The Paris-bound plane was to depart Algiers as the diabolical hijackers had other perverse plans in mind—mainly to crash the plane into France’s world famous symbolic architectural structure The Eiffel Tower.
Lockout (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The sci-fi futuristic fable Lockout is a sluggish slapdish of a space thriller that sputters about without an original bone in its bloated body. Bogged down by shoddy writing, weak-kneed acting, recycled special effects, choppy editing, indistinguishable lighting, a cascade of clichés and a familiar blueprint borrowed from a number of past movies catering to the genre, Lockout is an uninvolving actioner that wallows in its derivative dribble.
The Cabin in the Woods (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The ultra-cheeky frightfest The Cabin in the Woods finally does justice to its overexposed genre by instilling a sci-fi/horror vibe that resonates with fresh thrills, fun-oriented freakiness and a genuine outlandishness that never seems recycled or stale. Simultaneously chilling, introspective and funny, The Cabin in the Woods is joyously off-kilter and vibrantly wicked in its cunning goose-bump gumption.
01/05/2012. Earth Day is celebrated in the spirit as it is intended—to observe and appreciate the wonderment of our exquisite ecosystem. Well, Disney Nature has astutely made its notable tribute to our planet’s environmental cause courtesy of its affectionate nature documentary Chimpanzee, a gloriously quaint and affecting family-friendly movie that shines a touching spotlight on primates both in playful and periled predicaments.
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