Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

Garden State, Film Review

12 August 2010 1 comment

This cult film, written, starring and directed by Zach Braff (his feature film debut) is bizarre from start till finish and unfortunately a bit of a jumbled mess. Considered a ‘major success’ for the Scrubs actor it loses direction and meanders through to the end with no real climax or feeling of satisfaction for watching it.

Garden State

The film has an overall relaxed feel to it, reflecting the serene nature of the lead (Zack) and the drugged up medicated world he’s trapped in since actions in his tragic past whereby his father began dictating his life into a prescription-guided haze.

It’s all about him finally returning home to New Jersey (the Garden state) after receiving word from his father that his mother has died. He hooks up with his old friends who still live there and also meets and ends up falling in love with an equally eccentric person (Natalie Portman).

The film is full of oddball characters and awkward relationships that you probably wouldn’t relate to unless you were really unlucky (especially between him and his dad). It relies too much though on this for laughs as it doesn’t really feature any written jokes, though it will make you laugh out loud in places with its awkwardness and just plain bizarreness.

The themes of the film are about love and awakening (one of the scenes towards the end of the film where they all scream into the ‘abyss’ is a scene of rebirth for the main character). It’s just that these aren’t really formulated into a film with any direction or real meaning.

I haven’t seen a film in a long time where I’ve been waiting for the end credits to finally roll.

Categories: Film Reviews

300, Film Review

12 August 2010 Leave a comment

In 480bc an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. History states that although vastly outnumbered, a small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only passable road against the massive army of Xerxes I of Persia, resulting in three days of battle before the Greeks were supposedly betrayed by a local resident named Ephialtes.

Gerard Butler in 300

The Persians took the pass but only after heavy losses compared to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens time to prepare for a decisive naval battle at the Battle of Salamis where the Persian Empire’s navy was destroyed and Xerxes I retreated back to Asia.

The Spartans finally assembled a full strength army and defeated the Persians decisively at the Battle of Plataea, ending the Greco-Persian War and the expansion of the Persian Empire. This was a pivotal moment in history stopping the Persian empire at the height of it’s power, and the spread of their religion and culture into Europe.

Frank Miller’s graphic novel is based on this true-life story (somewhat embellishing of course) and the film 300 is basically a shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic book. Even Zack Snyder the director photocopied pages from it and planned exact screen shots using the illustrations.

Shot almost entirely with bluescreen to enable exact duplication of the imagery of the graphic novel, 300 is also framed by a voice-over narrative by the Spartan soldier Dilios. This soldier is revealed at the end of the film as telling the story to a Spartan audience before the Battle of Plataea, and allows the film makers to make the film so fantastical as it’s through his storytelling that the film is told.

The film is a macho action-packed blood-fest with plenty of gore, and to do this effectively CGI is heavily used – a total of ten special effects companies handled post production of the film which lasted for an entire year. Colours were manipulated (the contrast was increased and colours tinted) to give the film a gritty illustrative feel to match the graphic novel.

The ‘West’ (goodies) vs ‘East’ (baddies) polarization of the film was jumped upon, especially in Iran where they labelled it an attack on their historical identity. It doesn’t help that Xerxes is portrayed as a 8ft androgynous Kemal from Big Brother 6 (UK version). It is however missing the point as it’s just a heavily stylised film that is basically about guys slaying and kicking the crap out of one another. There’s no political agenda behind it.

The characters are one dimensional and the ultra-aggressive Spartans all sport bodies that would put the Chippendales to shame – they jump around easily slaying grey clothed Persians who look like they’re all on a deathwish. The spraying blood and lost limbs all add to the constant action and feel of the film. It’s not really shocking, but more entertaining in the way Tarantino’s Kill Bill action sequences are.

As such it’s very much stuck in that genre, but is one of the best in that category (better than Kill Bill anyway). A macho, heavily stylised film, it’s one that dazzles with it’s action sequences and battle scenes.

Go watch it if you haven’t seen it! Sparta!!!!!!!

Categories: Film Reviews

No Country for Old Men, Film Review

12 August 2010 Leave a comment

No Country for Old Men is a gripping ‘cat and mouse’ film that is well worth watching for it’s violence, suspense and most notably, the excellent character of Anton Chigurh, the unstoppable sociopathic assassin central to the plot (played brilliantly by the mop-topped Javier Bardem).

Javier Barden is brilliant in No country for Old Men and alone makes the film worth seeing

The Leon Brothers stay true to the original Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, but focus on their usual themes of time and place, moral choices, immoral certainties, human nature and fate.  The film is also notable for its minimal use of dialogue, relying mostly on imagery and editing to create the film’s dramatic tension and feeling of danger.

The storyline’s main character Llewelyn Moss, a retired monosyllabic Vietnam Vet played by the excellent Josh Brolin, stumbles upon the aftermath of a botched Mexican drug deal and makes off with a suitcase holding two million dollars in drug money.

The rest of the film involves the deadly assassin Anton who chases Llewelyn for the money and the indiscriminate death and destruction he leaves in his wake – amongst his armory includes a captive bolt pistol, his signature weapon, which he also uses to break into places by blowing out lock cylinders.

All this destruction exasperates the ageing Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who is growing weary of the changing times and in not being able to make a difference (hence the title of the film No Country for Old Men).

It’s an engaging, captivating film due to the suspense and the clever ways the characters chase/manage-to-avoid one another. The script is lean but well written (and funny in places too – especially between Javier Bardem and a shop keeper who doesn’t realise how close he comes to being killed). There’s a great cast and the acting is flawless, and of course the directing is fantastic and amongst the Coen Brother’s best.

The only quibbles I have though are with the storyline – one of the main characters doesn’t get the send-off he deserves, and Woody Harrelson’s character is overall a bit pointless (I guess though that this is a case of the ‘unstoppable evil’ winning over what you think is the good guy in the film).

The other thing which many film viewers may find disappointing, considering how good the rest of the film is, is the ending which trails off and doesn’t feature a neat round up of all the surviving characters (though it could be said this ending is very much in keeping with the whole feel of the film and the characters it contains).

All in all a brilliant film and one you should definitely see if you get the chance.

Categories: Film Reviews
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