Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shrek Forever After

This movie was a big surprise for me. I had heard several people say that it was better than Shrek the Third, which was a positive thing to hear since that film was very forgettable. But I was skeptical nonetheless. The commercials had looked quite funny, but then again, so did the previews for Shrek the Third. So I finally watched this one and... it was very good.
I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this movie. The creators of the film made some very smart decisions with this film and it made for a very fun and enjoyable watch. I think that this actually might be my favorite Shrek film.
In this film, Shrek is feeling overwhelmed by the monotonous duties and demands of fatherhood and celebrity-hood. The conniving Rumpelstiltskin offers Shrek the chance to relive the past and, thinking it's a harmless deal, Shrek signs a contract and is flung into an alternate reality where he is once again a feared and horrible ogre.
As the Shrek film series has progressed, each film has become more crude and involved more pointless humor than it's predecessor. So, naturally, one would think that this film would be the most crude and most adult of the franchise. But it's not. The filmmakers decided to step away from the crude humor and focus their efforts on the story and the character development. The story plays off the idea of "You don't know what you have until it's gone" and we are treated to a very deep and very endearing story. We get to see layers of the characters that we never knew existed and we are actually touched by how charming and sentimental Shrek can actually be. This is very much a love story.
I think the creators did an excellent job of bringing the story full circle and ending the franchise with a very inspiring and moving story. The alternate characters we see in this film really give us a deeper look into the characters we know and love and takes the Shrek storyline to a much more personal level than we've seen before.
The animation is excellent, the voice performances are well done, and the musical score is superb. Good ol' Harry Gregson-Williams. This movie rose far beyond my expectations and was a real treat. Whether you are a Shrek fan or not, I think this is a movie definitely worth seeing.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Pictures.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Last Airbender

No matter how bad M. Night Shyamalan has disappointed us in the past, we seem to continue to have high hopes for every movie he releases, as if it will once again astound us the way The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village did. But alas, that has yet to come to pass.
One of the main things I heard about this movie before I saw it was that it was boring. That didn't bother me. I have seen movies that were really boring for the most part, but still had a great finish and left you satisfied. So I went in with low expectations, but high hopes. Well, it was boring. And the reason that it was boring was because it was so very poorly acted. Everyone seemed so emotionless and robotic. The lines were spoken, but the emotions were lacking or wrong. The wrong words in a line were emphasized, and you knew that because you could tell from the line what the emotion was supposed to be, yet the actor was acting out a completely opposite emotion. I will say that Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel did a decent job, but even he could have done more with the character than what we saw.
At first, I thought that maybe the movie was just poorly written, but in listening to the words, the script could be pulled off well if the actors were good. But the actors were just horrible in this film. I don't understand what happened. Shyamalan did some amazing work with the young actors in Sixth Sense and Signs, what happened to that ability? Where was his focus in this film?
Other than the acting, the film had good effects and fun fight scenes. But the movie was slow and anti-climatic. The film had awesome potential, but it was just so poorly crafted. I would say that this movie was really not even worth seeing once... well, maybe if it was free... and it was really late at night... because everything is better late at night... and we don't know why... but that's the only time I can really watch movies like Strange Brew and Monty Python and the Holy Grail... they're so much funnier late at night... anyways...

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crash The Superbowl...

Here is the link to one of the entries we submitted for the "Crash the Superbowl" commercial contest.


"Get Some More"

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Time for Similarity Showdown!...

Competition has always been big in Hollywood. But then it seemed that at least two movies would be released near the same time that almost seemed identical. And it just kept going and going and going. So we're going to take a look back at some of the most popular twin film competitions and discuss who the winners were in each fight. Let's get ready to rumble!

ROUND 1:

Volcano VS. Dante's Peak

LOSER
LOSER
Ever Since Twister was released, natural disaster movies began rising in popularity and have yet to fully calm down again. The next disaster films released after Twister were Volcano and Dante's Peak. Sadly, both are marked as "Losers" because neither one really exploded for the audience. Volcano sported big names like Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, and Don Cheadle. Dante's Peak had Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton. The special effects were intriguing, but both movies lacked in everything else. If you were to ask someone if they remember either of these movies, they may remember that there was a movie about volcanoes, but not much else. Sadly, these movies will float into the world of film limbo and eventually be forgotten while other movies rise to classic status.

ROUND 2:

Deep Impact VS. Armageddon

LOSER
WINNER
When these two films were released, there was a huge battle between the fans. You were either a Deep Impact fan, or you were the enemy Armageddon fans. Both movies did fairly well in the box office and both have lived on quite prosperously. I believe that Armageddon is marked as the winner mainly because it conquered Deep Impact with it's awesome soundtrack and its hit-Aerosmith-song, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." But I also think that Armageddon won out because the story was less about destroying the earth and more about preventing it. While it can be fascinating to watch Earth's monuments explode from asteroids and deadly floods, the story of a group of men traveling into space to destroy a meteor before it destroys earth makes for a stronger and more unique story. Both films were led by some very impressive actors and both had dazzling special effects. But in the end, bigger patriotism and rock n' roll will rule the day.

ROUND 3:

Antz VS. A Bug's Life

LOSER
WINNER
Antz was DreamWorks' first computer-generated film and the beginning of a rough hit-or-miss course for their animation department. A Bug's Life was Pixar's second computer-generated feature film and probably one of the least popular for them. Either way, A Bug's Life squashed Antz big time. While Antz was comprised of a fairly large celebrity cast, it suffered from poor storytelling, foul language, and cheesy animation. A Bug's Life on the other hand had likable characters, very impressive animation, and a great adaptation of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" fable. Pixar still trumps DreamWorks in computer-animated films, but their quality is improving. DreamWorks has now begun to stand on it's own two feet with original ideas, but Antz was the first of many identical-movie-competitions that they had with Pixar/Disney. Keep reading.

ROUND 4:

Mission to Mars VS. Red Planet

LOSER
LOSER
Ah, Mars, the perfect planet for havoc and chaos. Mission to Mars was a terrible movie. The action was ridiculously unbelievable and the whole movie just seemed tossed together into a random mess. Plus, the ending of the film was stupid; it just ended suddenly without any real closure and left you saying, "Wait. What just happened?" The film earns a "Loser" spot for that. Red Planet on the other hand was more intriguing and very much like a modern 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with Lost in Space. The problem was that it did very poorly, never taking off in the box office, and pretty much stayed grounded after that. I liked Red Planet a lot more than Mission to Mars, but both films lacked the ability to shift our interest from our own planet.

ROUND 5:

Finding Nemo VS. Shark Tale

WINNER
LOSER
Let the battle between DreamWorks and Pixar continue... well, let DreamWorks vainly attempt to supersede Pixar by doing similar themed movies. Finding Nemo is considered one of Pixar's best films and certainly earns that spot. The film has excellent voice acting, a powerful and engrossing story, amazing animation, wonderful character development, well-timed humor, etc., etc., etc.. Finding Nemo is an awesome movie. Shark Tale came out a little over a year later and went belly-up because of Nemo's popularity. The film never recovered and rests in a watery grave of forgotten DreamWorks' films. It's too bad really. I always hoped that Will Smith's first real voice-acting film would be a fun one. Oh well, I guess I'll just go watch Finding Nemo again.

ROUND 6:

Madagascar VS. The Wild

WINNER
LOSER
Now this was where DreamWorks finally beat out Disney (not Pixar). I don't particularly like Madagascar, but it was much better than The Wild. Madagascar was a love/hate film. You either adored it, or you completely despised it. I despise it, but it was popular enough to spawn small spin-off videos and a sequel. It didn't help that it had Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and David Schwimmer - all of whom I find really annoying. But many people were pleased with it and I hear a lot more people liked the sequel. The Wild arrived about six months after Madagascar and it was liking having bad déjà vu. The story was too similar to it's predecessor and attempted to replicate The Lion King's father-son relationship, but failed miserably. William Shatner was not helpful to the film in any way. The graphics for Wild were quite impressive, but certainly not enough to save the movie. I doubt anybody really even remembers it. Anyone? Anyone?

ROUND 7:

Happy Feet VS. Surf's Up

LOSER
WINNER
Now, many people may not agree with me in this round, but you'll still have to hear me out anyway. Happy Feet may have won the Oscar for Best Animated Film and had a pretty good soundtrack, but Surf's Up was definitely the better movie, in my opinion. Happy Feet was overrated and the last half-hour "Save the Penguins" PA was terrible to endure. Robin Williams was hilarious and Hugh Jackman's Elvis impression was fun, but the film's end was both unnecessary and non-fitting. It was like they got to a point in the script and didn't know how to end it, so they just wrote an evasive ending and called it good. I hated that! Happy Feet gets a "Loser" stamp for that. Then there was Surf's Up. Surf's Up was a very different penguin movie with a different overall style, a killer soundtrack, some powerhouse voice-acting, and a satisfying ending. The film was passed up because most people were tired of penguins when it was released, but it is still a great film that should not be missed.

ROUND 8:

The Illusionist VS. The Prestige

LOSER
WINNER
I will begin by saying that both films were fairly good films. The Prestige gets the "Winner" mark because The Illusionist just can't compare with the quality and overall impact that Prestige carried with it. If you are going to see both films, watch Illusionist before Prestige so that you won't be disappointed. The twists and turns and climax of The Prestige crush anything the Illusionist conjures up. Both films contain incredible actors and great storytelling. The Prestige is a much darker film than Illusionist, but you certainly can't argue the results.


I know that there are probably a lot more twin-films out there and I would love to hear what they are. So leave a comment with more films and I'll add them to this post.

P.S. - The images in this post are copyrighted by DreamWorks Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, Yari Film Group Releasing, Freestyle Releasing, Buena Vista Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Village Roadshow Entertainment, and Columbia Pictures.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Toy Story 3

I think that this movie went a long way in proving the ability of Pixar to make outstanding films and never cease to amaze their audience. This film had a lot of people worried and had a pretty big wall of expectation to overcome. I know that I personally was groaning at the idea of ANOTHER Toy Story film. I liked the first film, and the second film did a good job of topping the first one. But I felt like I had been to the world of toys enough after the second one and was not impressed with the idea of a third part in the franchise. The first few previews for the film did not help convince me either. It was not until it came out and started getting excellent reviews that I began to think differently. I have always liked Pixar, but as Pixar is teamed with Disney now, Disney has a horrible track record with sequels. I think the success of this film really rested upon the direction they took with it story-wise.
In this third installment, Andy is packing up for college and most of the toys assume that Andy doesn't want them anymore and donate themselves to Sunnyside Day Care. Upon arriving at Sunnyside, they realize that everything is not as sunny and bright as they first thought.
I think this film answered a lot of questions brought up by the first two films and really takes a deeper look into the emotions of the toys when they feel that the one they loved so much no longer loved them. This idea leads to some very strong character development for not only the toys, but Andy as well. While the film remains humorous and fun throughout, it definitely has a more serious and emotional side to it than did the previous films.
Pixar has always risen above the odds and I hope to see this tradition continue, especially since the next film they're releasing is Cars 2. That will have a lot of hurdles to overcome. I felt that this was a very well-done film and really took us to new heights and new lows with the toys we have grown to love since 1995. The film was handled very carefully by Pixar and they made sure to make it a new and exciting experience for us without making it a different world all together. I also think that Pixar ended this film and this franchise perfectly with all the pieces placed exactly where they should be.
A big shout-out for Pixar in this film and their ability to surprise and delight us over and over and over again.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

How to Train Your Dragon

I think most people were skeptical about this film when it came out because it hadn't been advertised very well and the title doesn't exactly strike a person as appealing. I wasn't at all interested in this film when it came out until some trusted associates began telling me how much they enjoyed the film. My curiosity was piqued and I rented the film and watched it with somewhat low expectations.
The story is about a group of rising vikings that are being trained on how to kill a dragon. When scraggly, odd Hiccup manages to injure a dragon outside of school, he finds that he is unable to kill it as taught. He instead becomes determined to help the dragon recover and fly once more.
This was a very good movie, and I'm not saying that because I had low expectations. DreamWorks seems to be a real hit-or-miss company with their animated films and this was the best one I've seen since Kung Fu Panda. The story was a lot more interesting than expected and the blend of humor and action was very well played. The characters were likable and had believable personalities and development, and that goes for the dragons as well. The animation style was a bit different and I heard some people say that it was too much of a video-game look to be enjoyed, but there were still some stunning visuals in the film and some very creative moments. The voice acting was very well done and the musical score for the film was amazing! You can't go wrong with John Powell; that guy is an amazing composer.
Overall, the movie was a perfect mix of fun and comedy and should not be missed, whether you like the visual style or not.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Pictures.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

While Don Knotts is not the prettiest guy you've ever seen, his ability in humor is astounding. You can't help but laugh at how expressive and kooky his faces can be as well as how likable he can make his characters.
Probably one of Knotts' more popular films, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken follows an aspiring reporter into a haunted house where he witnesses horrific supernatural evidences of past murderings in the home. His admired ability to spend the night in the house draw the attention of the town as well as the home's chiseled owner. Things get chaotic when the owner threatens to sue Knotts for libel.
This film has both its comedic and frightening moments and there are times where you wonder if you are supposed to laugh or jump. I think that this film takes full advantage of Don Knotts' comedic genius and he cooks up some hilarious moments for the film. This is a movie that should not be passed up because it's out-dated. I think it's a fun film for Halloween or anytime you want to laugh at a goofball in action.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Universal Pictures.

The Karate Kid (2010)

To cut straight to the point, I really liked this film. I felt it paid nice homage to the original Karate Kid without attempting to replace it. Jaden Smith is becoming a very strong actor; and who can't love good, ol' Jackie Chan?
Karate Kid is the story of Dre (Jaden Smith), a Detroit-bred 12 year-old, who moves to China and attempts to overcome his fear of being different by challenging some local karate bullies in a renowned karate tournament.
The story went a long way farther in character development and motive than did the original 1984 classic. Instead of a white kid moving into the wrong part of another white-dominated town, a young black family moves to China. If there is anything that could be called a culture clash, that is it. Not only does Dre look different, but he acts different, he talks different, and to make things more complicated, he doesn't try to fit in. The film has a perfect setup for the progression of the rest of the film.
While no one can replace Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, Jackie Chan does a excellent job in filling his shoes as Mr. Han. If anyone is known as a karate master in our culture, it's Jackie Chan. And I think the aging Chan did very well at playing his part as an old, embittered man that's conflicted in helping young Dre while attempting to be distant.
The karate moves in this film are levels above those seen in the original and it's a lot more exciting to watch. While I hoped to see the legendary movie moments reappear in this film (catching a fly with chopsticks, "wax on" and "wax off", final crane kick) I was glad when they never showed. That allows the two films to be just as different and memorable in their own ways and both remain enjoyable to watch. The film tends to be a little longer than expected, but it still keeps you involved and interested throughout.
This was a fantastic film and it was very well done and very entertaining.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Columbia Pictures.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

If you're in the mood for non-stop action and adventure and little in the way of character development and plot, then this is your movie.
Now, giving credit where it's due, they did try to make a sensible and well-developed film. The characters had interesting stories and the actors did well, but it just didn't come together in the end.
The film follows an adopted prince of Persia as he and his brothers conquer a holy city and take possession of a magical, time-altering dagger. After being blamed for the murder of his stepfather, the prince must discover the true murderer before his angered brothers have him killed.
Being that this movie was based off of a video game and that the script for the film was conceived by the video game-series writer, it played out very much like a video game would. There are some cheesy lines, some obvious statements and redundancies, and it all went on a little longer than it should. The point of the film (as was with the games) was to be drawn into the action and see some pretty cool things while doing it. The action scenes were well played and enjoyable to watch, and the special effects were stunning. You can tell that this film had a lot of the crew from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise; it just had such a similar feeling to it.
Now, let us jump deeper into the technicalities of the film. Number one, Jake Gyllenhaal. The guy is a good actor, no fight there. But he is not an action star, nor is he a convincing Persian prince. He just does not look the part. While he did a decent job, I just think it was a poor casting decision. I had a hard time watching him play a part that just was not him. Number two, the princess was a bit of an annoyance. Yes, I understand that if you pull someone out of their environment and place them in an opposite one, they will react in an odd and uncharacteristic way. But, being that this princess supposedly was wise beyond her years and lived through some very enlightening and mind-boggling moments in her young life, you think that she would have kept her head on a little straighter when she left her kingdom. She traversed between a winy little girl and a teenager attempting to be smart a little too often and it was unconvincing and annoying. You expected more from her; or at least hoped for more. And maybe it was just me, but did any one else see Sheik Amar as a Jack Sparrow rip-off? Just me?
The ending was interesting, somewhat bold, but interesting. That's all I'll say there. But overall, the movie was fun too watch - a little too long - but entertaining to say the least.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Men In Black II

While not the worst sequel out there, this one did not stand up to the par of the first Men in Black film. We'll have to see if they step it up for the third MIB movie. This film was enjoyable to a point, but it didn't have all the fun and wit of the first one. This film lacked the humor and innovation of part one, and the character development style was just plain goofy. Smith's character acted like a high-schooler attempting to be too cool and came off more as annoying. In the first film, his attitude was funny, in this one it was childish. Bringing back Jones' character was a smart move and made the film more agreeable, but he didn't have the powerful presence he had before (but seeing him in a postman outfit was pretty funny). Serleena, the Victoria's-Secret-model enemy, was non-threatening, no matter how invincible they attempted to make her (she died at least 3 times). Scrad/Charlie, the idiotic evil henchman, was the Jar-Jar Binks of this film: unhelpful and annoying; the movie would have been much better without him.
The film did have it's moments (Michael Jackson's cameo was spot-on), and the new theme song wasn't too bad, but they just weren't enough to make this the good flick that it could have been.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Columbia Pictures.

Previous Contest Updates...

Alright, it's been a while, but I'm back in the game. In the last post, I mentioned two specific contests that had videos from either me or my film group. The first contest was the International Movie Trailer Festival contest in which we had entered The Hall with Eyes trailer. Unfortunately, our trailer did not make it into the semi-finalist round. Too bad, eh?
The second contest I mentioned was the CBI National Student Production Awards contest where Macbeth: Realization of a Vision was a finalist in the "Best Documentary" category. The winners of each category were announced yesterday and, sadly, Macbeth was not it. So, that's the update on previous contests. As for now, were are still moving forward strongly with entries to other competitions. We are working on entries for the "Crash the Superbowl" contest and I have submitted Macbeth to the College Television Awards competition. We'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Men & A Baby

This movie came out in the late 80s and I had never seen it. I'd seen the sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, but never this one. So, being that there was nothing new I wanted to see and intrigued by the idea of Leanord Nimoy as a director, I watched the film.
Honestly, I found the film to be quite entertaining and enjoyable to watch. You can't help but laugh at watching some of Hollywood's manly men (at least back then) deal with the daily routines and hardships of raising a baby, especially without a woman around to help. It's fun to watch blue-blooded Tom Selleck, high-spirited Steve Guttenberg, and cheerful Ted Danson attempt to apply their business-know-how to raising a child and then watch as they deal with the consequences.
I did think it odd how they tried to interweave two very separate storylines into one plot and it was almost too much for one movie. You have the "three men and a baby" plot set alongside a "three men caught in a drug smuggling plot"...plot. It was just weird mix. They did a good job overall in making it work, but it was still somewhat of a rough ride.

**Spoiler-Alert**
I just have to admit that the ending almost ruined the film for me. So a past fling drops her baby off at the apartment door with a note claiming that she just can't do it anymore. Then she returns near the end of the film and expects that she can just take the baby back as if nothing happened. And the the three men let her do it! After working so hard to take care of the baby, I would have called the mother out on her irresponsibility and shameful "knock-and-run" and then expected her to do a lot more to prove her love for the child and ability to properly care for it. But that's just me.
**Spoiler-Alert End**

Overall, this was an enjoyable film with a lot of humor and content. I recommend it. I also highly recommend the sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady. Hilarious!

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Buena Vista Pictures.

Vintage Reviews

As it turns out, there really aren't that many new films coming out that I'm interested in seeing. I will watch the films that have been requested, but other than that, if I don't want to see it, I probably won't watch it. But, that makes for a boring blog and a review blog will have entries that are few and far between. Thus comes the "Vintage Review." Vintage reviews are meant to bring back classic and not-so-classic movies back into the spotlight; this way, if you haven't ever seen one, this may persuade you to avoid or look-into it in the future. So, let the reviews flow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Iron Man 2

Overall, I think I liked this film as much as the first film. I went into the film with lower expectations since most of the people I talked to said it was either as-good or not-as-good as part one, and was able to walk out of it feeling satisfied with the overall film. The humor was good, the action was fun, the graphics were impressive, and the acting was up to par.
The movie follows Tony Stark/Iron Man as he deals with politics, media, and personal dangers incurred by the public disclosure of his secret identity and also faces a new enemy: the deadly son of a deceased Russian engineer that helped create some of the Stark enterprise.
But concerning the actors, I was always disagreeable to the change of actors with Colonel Rhodes' character from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle. It's not that I don't like Cheadle or think that he did a bad job, it's just that Howard fit into the character (and the suit) a lot better than did Cheadle. Cheadle's character seemed lost the entire film and too easily persuaded by both sides of conflict. He bounced back and forth to Stark's side and then back to the military side and then back to Stark and never really seemed to find his place. Even in the end he seemed conflicted on what ground he stood on.
I also felt that Scarlett Johansson's character was overly-hyped by the previews and media and that her character was pretty unnecessary to the film. They really did not need her. Her job was to keep an eye on Tony Stark, but she was hardly around anyways and didn't seem to be as important as they tried to make her in the film.
They also spent a lot of time in the movie building up a back-story for the new Avengers film. With all this prep and fine tuning for the Avengers via several other movies (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, upcoming Thor and Captain America movies), the film better blow the audience away or it's going to be a very, very, VERY big let down for the viewers.
Other than that, I really enjoyed the film and felt that it deserved more applause than it was given. This is a very note-worthy sequel in my opinion.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Pictures.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Hall With Eyes...

Life has been pretty busy recently. Myself and a few chosen others are in the beginning processes of creating a film production company and that is taking most of our time. More information to come on that subject. As one of our start-up projects, we entered into a contest called the International Movie Trailer Festival. The rules require that you make a trailer for a movie - produced or un-produced -  that would be intriguing and very high-quality. We decided to produce a trailer for an idea that Shelton had called, The Hall With Eyes. Here is the completed trailer:


The competition closed on September 30th and all entries are currently being reviewed. The grand prize for the competition is $5,000 plus a meeting with an industry insider, along with other various subsequent prizes to be won. We're hopeful. This could be the necessary kick-off for our company. Winners will be announced anytime between now and December 1st of this year.

Also amongst contests is the Macbeth: Realization of a Vision documentary that I created in February:



It is currently a finalist in the CBI National Student Production Awards contest. Winners will be announced at the end of this month. Macbeth will also be turned into the College Television Awards (hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, A.K.A. - Emmys) contest soon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ian's Experience with DSLR's...

Ian posted this in a comment, but I wanted to share it with everyone:

Hey everyone. Let me tell you my experience. I recently purchased a Canon 7D DSLR to use for both still images and video for business and personal use. I've only had it in my hands for about a month now, so I'm still learning it's ins and outs. So far, here are the pros and cons in my opinion.
Pros: The video quality is fantastic. It shoots in full 1080p, in both 30 and 24 fps. You can also shoot in 60p in 720p mode which allows for some great smooth slow motion action. Like I said the quality of the video is really top notch. What makes it even better is the ability to use different lenses. With this option you can achieve a greater range of look and depth that you really can't get with the standard video camera. I've shot some video with a 50mm lens at 1.4 f/stop opening in low light that just blows me away every time. It also has a bigger frame size than any other video camera out there (besides the Red) which allows for amazing detail and depth. Also, transferring from camera to computer is quite simple since there is no tape involved.
Cons: Shooting without a tripod or Steadicam is too difficult. I love the bulkiness of a big video camera. The DSLR is just too small to hand hold shoot all the time. When you are the least bit shaky, it really shows up, and when you are shooting for long increments you just can't hold it still for more than a couple of minutes. I can't, anyway.
The LCD screen is stuck on the back of the DLSR and it can't move. Therefore, you are limited in your range of movement, because you are limited in what you can see yourself doing, unlike many video cameras that have a pop out and moveable LCD screen, not to mention and a handle on the top of the camera itself.
Last I would say is the audio. You may as well record audio separately if you are doing any sort of professional work. But hey. That's what a lot of people do anyway.
Overall, I think a good DSLR with video can be well worth your money. It can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right person.

So basically I'm confirming everything Derek said. Amen brother.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SLR Killed the Video Star...

One of the major topics of discussion among filmmakers right now is the rising battle between using an SLR to shoot video or keeping with a video camera. SLR's have never really been known for their amazing video quality in times past, but the release of the T2i proved the existence of an SLR's capability for shooting video. Now all filmmakers are racing to the stores to replace their video cameras with T2i's, 5D's, and 7D's.
I, myself, have yet to jump on this bandwagon. The main argument in favor of SLR video shooting is because of the depth of field and option of interchangeable lenses; which I do believe to be a great advantage for video. I am just not a fan of trying to shoot a film with a photo camera. Sure, you can keep the camera on a tripod and that is just as effective as a video camera on a tripod, but what about hand-held shots. That would be a pain in the butt to try and shoot on a photo camera. Yes, I know you can buy shoulder mounts and all sorts of equipment to turn your SLR into a videoesque-type of camera, but then you end up spending twice as much money to do so. Also, the lack of an audio input option will make it a pain to try and link up the audio and video in post.
Video camera companies are already scrambling to replicate the option of interchangeable lenses and greater depth of field in their cameras; so it won't be long before we can once again buy video cameras that are just as good, if not better, as the current SLR's. Then all filmmakers are going to scramble to buy the video cameras and toss off their old SLR's. I'm just biding my time until that happens. True, the current cameras with SLR-video capability are very expensive, but that's just because they're in experimental phase. Soon enough the prices will equal out.
This brings up an issue that I think most people are ignoring: Talent over equipment. I have heard so many people talking about how if they only had the right equipment, they could make an awesome film. The ability to make an awesome film never rested on the equipment, but instead on the user. No matter what type of equipment you have, if you are creative and passionate about making a good film, you will do so without needing high-end equipment. I know of a few people who spent thousands of dollars on high-end equipment and still turned out movies that were painfully horrible. All that equipment was a waste because they lacked the ability to make a good film in the first place. Roger Merrill, a theatre director and school teacher, once said, "Talent is something you're born with. Ability is something you learn." You can have all the talent in the world, but it is useless unless you know how to utilize it.
This leads into another topic of argument: The idea that education is not helpful in the filmmaking world. This is also very wrong. It is true that some people have in-born talent to make a good film, but the more you know about the craft and the equipment that can be used, the more creative and innovative you can be with your films. In my opinion, I think that most filmmakers who skip out on getting some sort of education in the video production field will turn out great products, but not amazing products. We're seeing a lot of mediocrity in film today because people are just jumping in to video production because they own a T2i and watch a lot of movies. It's like trying to build a work of art without a basic foundation: you'll be able to build to a point, but you'll hit a point where if you try to build any further, everything will come crashing down. Therefore, your progression ends.
I attended a school where the only video production classes were a few broadcast classes here and there. I did this because, in all honesty, it was cheaper. But I still learned a great deal about video production through those classes, a student-produced news program, and a number of theatre classes. I learned all sorts of techniques because I applied what I learned to film despite them not being taught in that form. If you look for something, you will always find it. I realize that I knew nothing about video production despite owning a camera and watching a lot of movies. I am still learning a great deal and I plan on learning as much as I can.  Even the Dalai Lama recommends that you "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively."
But once again, I've stepped onto my soapbox and will now proceed to jump off of it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

This was an interesting spin on the Robin Hood tale, and, as I'm told, is supposed to be a more historically accurate version as well. I don't know much about the true history of the legendary Robin Hood, but do not go in expecting a prequel to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. While this film is a prequel to the more popular story of Robin Hood, it does take a very different turn than did other Robin Hood films. That's what made this film so interesting to watch; to see all the characters you know so well placed in a completely different role than seen before. That was a very enjoyable part of the movie. Aside from that, the film was a bit lacking. I admit that this was not up to the usual par of Ridley Scott, and I was expecting better from him.
The actors, especially Russel Crowe and Cate Blanchett, perform very well in this film and definitely carry the movie through some of it's blandness and clichés. While the two main characters and Blanchett's father go through a great deal of character development, the other characters just wander around the movie doing as they are told. You really hope to see character development with Little John, Will Scarlet, Allan A'Dayle and Friar Tuck, but are dissappointed by the lack thereof.
The enemies of the film are threatening enough and convincing in their evil roles, but I admit that I certainly enjoy the embittered Alan Rickman and comical Peter Ustinov versions of Little John better than the winy, spoiled Prince John that we are presented with in this film (It's probably obvious, but I really, really like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and it's hard for other Robin Hood attempts to top it).

**Spoiler Alert**
I also have to admit that the final arrow shot that killed Godfrey in the end was way too ridiculous to be believable. The fact that Robin was able to shoot Godfrey through the neck from a very far distance while the villain was riding away on a horse amongst great coastal winds and with a soaked bow and arrow is just too much. I would have even been okay with it if he just got him through the heart via the back; but that triumphant shot was just far too over-the-top for me to accept. There were just too many factors that would make that an impossible shot.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, the film is worth seeing at least once, but not purchase-worthy in my book.

As far as questionable content:
There is a quick flash of a soldier and servant girl having sex amidst the battlegrounds towards the beginning. There is also a very awkward sex scene with Prince John and his French fling towards the beginning in which you see a flash of female nipple as well as an eyeful of Prince John's buttocks. Aside from that, some scenes of violence.

P.S. - The image used in the post is copyrighted by Universal Pictures.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Inception

To begin, I have been waiting for this film since Christopher Nolan announced it. All films I have seen from him are amazing and I usually have high expectations for him. After The Dark Knight, I expected a great deal from this film. The previews only helped to flame the fire. It is also a common thing for me that when people talk about how wonderful a film is, I walk into the theaters overly-hyped and usually walk out disappointed. Case-in-point: Avatar. I was beginning to get over-hyped with this film since people couldn't stop talking about it and everyone loved it.
Now, isn't it wonderful when you can get over-hyped and walk into a movie with sky-rocketing expectations and still come out completely satisfied?
Yes, it's wonderful! And yes, that happened with this movie!
The movie follows a team of mind-navigators that specialize in stealing secrets. They find that they may be well in over their heads when they accept the job of performing an inception, a task where they must plant an idea so deep in someone's mind that the person must believe that it is their own idea.
This movie was amazing! The story was original and thought-provoking, the graphics were incredible, the acting was very good, the music was awesome, and the ending was perfect! I know a lot of people were upset with the ending, but I loved it! The end! This movie was awesome! My favorite movie of all time, and that is a hard bar to reach! Thank the heavens we have Christopher Nolan around to create astounding movies and never leave us disappointed! And just a hint for Hollywood, he didn't have to do it with all the sex and the cussing and the gore that you think is oh-so-necessary!

Okay, this is the end for reals.


But the movie was awesome. Okay I'm done.



It rocks. Last thing I'm gonna say.




Awesome.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Invisible

I'm just going to jump right into this one feet first. I didn't like the film. David S. Goyer has his shining movie moments (helped pen movies like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) but leaves something to be desired with his directing. My main problem with this film is how illogical it all was and how I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. It seems that the main character is surrounded by jerks and cowards as well. His friend is a jerk, his mother is a jerk, the girl he likes is a jerk, so on and so forth. But let's start at the beginning:
The basic idea of the story is about a spoiled, rich kid who gets blamed for something he didn't do (nice friend he's got) and is nearly beat to death. While his body remains alive, he moves around the rest of the movie as a spirit and tries to get someone to find his body so that he can be saved before dying for sure. The story is intriguing, just not well played out. One of the first things that threw me off was after he has been beaten and left for dead, his spirit walks out of the forest in the morning and his first instinct is to... go to school? Even if you don't remember being beaten up, why would you walk out of a forest in the morning and say to yourself, "Why am I here? Oh, it's morning, I better get to class." Um... okay.
Anyways, aside from that, I didn't like how the movie attempted to make you have pity on Annie, an evil girl who is responsible for nearly killing Nick, the main character. This girl steals, she cuts people's fingernails off, she kills people, she's a freakin' jerk to everyone she meets, she runs from the police several times in several ways... and we're supposed to like her somehow? They attempt to make you feel sorrow for her situation because her mom left when she was young and they show all these scenes where you are supposed to be sad about her predicament (even Nick pities her and begins to like her), but I felt no sympathy or remorse for her. Even when she is supposed to do something redeeming in the end, I still didn't like her or think any higher of her. And the fact that they kept trying to make me feel pity for her just made me dislike her more. But I'll stop ranting on her for now. Let's move on to the cops.
The cops in this film seemed intelligent at times - they knew where to look for evidence and who to keep their eye on - but did nothing to solve the case. The main cop knew who was guilty and never did a thing about it. He would walk up to each guilty person and say, "I know what you did." The person would deny it and he'd say, "Okay, call me if you want to confess," and just walk away. He had all the evidence that he needed, he just never used any of it. Plus, the cops weren't very proactive in catching anyone. Several times, Annie would be in a position where she logically would have been caught and taken to jail, but she would just run away and all the cops would slothfully attempt to catch her but, "Oh, shoot. We missed her. She's just on the other side of this fence, but we'll never catch her. I guess we'll just try again tomorrow." Right. If our police were that useless in the real world, no one would ever get caught.
As far as loop holes go, there are way to many to discuss; this post is already becoming a novel. One of the main ones that irked me was how no one could hear or see Nick, not even Annie. But suddenly, without any catalyst that we know of (no near-death experience, no electrocution from a hair-dryer), Annie suddenly has the ability to hear Nick. Why? This leads into the worst love story out there. Suddenly, because she can hear his voice, she begins to fall for Nick, even to the point where she randomly sneaks into his house (without checking to see if someone was home) and begins going through his stuff. And then, suddenly, she is the only one who can bring Nick back to life for reasons that we don't know...

**Spoiler Alert**
She doesn't even do anything to save him but confess to his body that she is a bad person; how does that bring someone back to life? Also, are we supposed to assume that Marcus just died after getting shot?
**Spoiler Alert End**

...Yeah, doesn't make any sense. So, overall, this movie was not worth it. And so it was, that the writer ended his post with bemoanings of a lost and wasted two hours.

The End.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Buena Vista Pictures.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

First of all, I just have to say that I am glad that Disney is returning to its roots. The guy who said, "Hand animation is old-fashioned, let's toss out everything that we're good at and go to CG," was an idiot. I didn't see a single CG Disney film that wasn't made by Pixar that I liked. Now, whoever said, "Gee, we're no good at this CG thing, let's go back to what we were good at," was smart. Because this was one of the first animated Disney-minus-Pixar films that I have liked since Brother Bear. Now, even though I liked it, I still don't think it was up to the quality of previous Disney animated films. When I say that, don't think I'm referring to the quality of the animation, because the animation was excellent in this film; but I just didn't enjoy it as much and I didn't have that good ol' "love it" feeling afterward. But, I still liked the film a lot.
The villain in this one was certainly darker than any other Disney villain I've seen; not the coolest or most evil of the Disney villains, but certainly the darkest. They did a good job at adding to his creepiness with the way his shadow acted and certainly gave you that dark feeling when he did his voodoo stuff.
There were some really funny moments in the film and I think the voice acting and music were elemental in the success of this film. The lasting message of the film was inspiring and the movie was good fun for everyone. Thank you, Disney, for bringing the magic back from where it originally came from.

As far as questionable content:
Some of the scenes dealing in voodoo might be a bit scary for children. Just a head's up.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Second Chance for the Undervalued...

This post may be the first of many concerning the topic of movies that I believe got shafted by the audience and never given a second chance. Because these movies are not well-critiqued, many people may disagree with me on these movies, but I hope that many of you will give these movies a second shot, knowing what to expect this time, and watch them with an open mind:

  Cars - This Disney/Pixar film has been coined by some as the worst of the Pixar films. I think many attribute this to the fact that it lost the Academy Award® for "Animated Feature Film" to Happy Feet (a wreck of a movie if you ask me). This happens to be one of my favorite Pixar films. I think the voice acting is perfect and very well played. Owen Wilson is not one of my favorite actors, but he does an excellent job in this film. Paul Newman is a nice treat for the film as well; and while I am certainly not a fan of Larry the Cable Guy, he does a great job giving Mator his Podunk, redneck attitude. And I can't leave this post without mentioning the animation. The animation is absolutely gorgeous in this film. Pixar did an amazing job with taking an inanimate object and giving it life and personality. Not even the Chevron© Cars have a believable personality compared to the cars in this film! Pixar was able to take a car and make it point at something, shrug, jump from fright, slouch, crawl, etc. It is amazing! It really is! Now, I'll admit that I like every single Pixar film, but if I had to choose a least-favorite (which is still better than most movies I've seen), it would be A Bug's Life.

  Speed Racer - Being that this film was made by the Wachowski brothers and based on a semi-popular Japanese anime cartoon with a catchy theme song, I don't think anyone knew what to expect with this film and many walked away a bit overwhelmed. The visuals in this film pay perfect homage to the cartoon, but it's not a style that you are used to seeing in a live-action film. It even took me a half-hour or so to get past the brightly colored, cartoony environments before I could just watch the film; but once I did, I really, really enjoyed this film. It's a fun, family-friendly film that rivals other top racing movies, if not placing as the best racing movie. I think most people walked away because of how in-your-face the colors and style was in the movie; but knowing now what you are going to see, I say take another gander at this film and I guarantee you'll enjoy it more than you thought you would have. (I mean, even my wife likes this movie, and that says a lot!) Also, this is one of those movies that has to be seen on Blu-ray© in order to appreciate the visuals.

  Super Mario Bros. - Now, I know a lot of people are going to have something to say about this film. I think people's main disagreement with this film was the style-difference between this movie and the games, not the quality of the movie itself. As one of the first game-to-movie adaptations, this is a very touchy film for people because of the lack of previous game-to-movie comparisons and how well loved the games are. I believe that most people were expecting something quite a bit closer to the bubbly, goofy fun displayed in the games and cartoons where two overall-bearing Italians fight off turtles (not the ninja type) and other shelled villains to eventually make battle with a giant, spike-shelled turtle/dragon named Koopa in order to save a princess. I'd say that people were most upset about the costume change of overalls being replaced with coveralls in the movie... or not. I think the movie turned out to be a bit darker and less kid-friendly than audiences expected. Plus the story was given a greater touch of reality with the adventure taking place in a Brooklyn-like city where dinosaurs are the villains in human form (minus the goombas). People seemed to be shocked at how different an approach this was to the Mario game franchise and how very different the tone of the film was. True, it is a very different world. But I like it. I like how they translated everything for the film into something more realistic and a tad more believable. Plus, you can't argue with the casting choice for this film: Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hopper as a spiky-haired Koopa. Unarguable. Yes, it has its cheesy moments, but I think it's still a fun movie for all ages. So I say, try it again. And if it's too much of an assault on your childhood memories, watch it as a movie unrelated to the games and I still think you'll enjoy it.

  Surf's Up - I think the main ordeal with this movie was the timing of its release. This movie came out at the tail-end of a series of penguin movies and I think we were done with penguin stuff by then. Being overshadowed by March of the Penguins and Happy Feet, I think this movie deserves a lot more applause then the aforementioned predecessors. This movie was very well cast and I think one of the shining movies for Shia LeBeouf. It is smart, funny, and the water effects are the best I've seen in a CG movie! Incredible water effects! Plus, the tiny little things that are always happening in the background of this film are hilarious. I don't think critics disliked the film, I just think it got passed over by a lot of people and needs a first chance more than a second chance. The movie also sports voice-power from Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, and Jon Heder. It's a fun movie, so give it a shot.

Well, that's my opinion for now. I look forward to everyone's comments about this post.

P.S. - The images used in this post are copyrighted by Buena Vista Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Columbia Pictures.

"Stranger Tides" Stranger Still...

This is the teaser for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film that debuted at Comic-Con:


Also, Disney has decided to do a reboot of their Eddie Murphy comedy failure, The Haunted Mansion, based on the theme park ride. This remake will be helmed by Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth master, Guillermo Del Toro. I'm pretty excited about it.


P.S. - Image copyrighted by Buena Vista.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Avatar

I know it's been a while since I've posted a review, but here it is. I had to see this movie twice because the first time I saw it, I didn't like it. I know I'll probably be flogged for saying that because everyone loves Avatar and I'm a heathen because I didn't fall in love with it the first time I saw, bla bla bla, yada, yada, yada. Anyways, to be completely honest, I like it, but don't find it absolutely amazing. The graphics are incredible, I agree on that. But the story was just not that captivating to me. While watching the movie, my mind kept floating back to FernGully and how Avatar was basically a live-action version of it, with a little Pocahontas tossed in there. The story just wasn't original enough to match the graphics and make this a truly great film. The acting was good, but still only second to graphics. This film was basically devoted to CGI and everything else took a backseat to it. Still an enjoyable film, but not a great film.

**Spoiler Alert**
I also felt that bad guy Colonel Quaritch lasted way too long. Yes, all the things he did were meant to give you the feeling that this guy was invincible and a quality enemy, but he should have died long before he did. Getting to his death dragged on for a little too long for me. Plus, that guy basically never breathed in this movie. Every time you see him, he's holding his breath while trying to kill something... and he can hold his breath for a really, really long time - and never turned purple (or even red) once! HISHE killed him off right:

Also, that avatar almost-sex scene was bit awkward. And that's all I have to say about that.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lovely Bones

To sum it up, this was a beautiful and disturbing film. The filmmaking and acting employed in this film are top-notch and credible. The imagery and visualizations of the "inbetween" are stunning and the vivid dream-like interpretation is gorgeous. Like I said, a beautiful film. The acting is very real and there are some stunning performances by Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci. Even Marky Mark gives a good performance.
Now, with all that being said, the film is disturbing and extremely intense. It is not a film for the faint-hearted. If you know anything about the film, then you know that the story surrounds some very dark and horrid content. The film is about the murder of a 14-year old girl (Saoirse Ronan) and the search for her killer (Stanley Tucci). The scene where the murderer catches the girl in his trap is a long, uncomfortable, and nerve-racking moment in the film. But the most disturbing element of the film is not the crime itself, but the getting to know more about the murderer through the eyes of the little girl. The murder takes place 1/4 through the movie, the last 3/4 of the film focuses on the murderer and how creepy he really is. It's always uncomfortable to get inside the mind of a slaughterer. Tucci does an excellent job portraying this killer, and his believability really contributes to the power and eeriness of the film.

**Spoiler Alert**
While it is true that the men who commit similar crimes are rarely found, I hated that he got away in this film. The end of the film tries to give you some satisfaction by showing him fall over and bounce down a cliff-side to his death, but that wasn't enough for me. I felt that his death was too simple a fate for his crimes, I wanted him to suffer. That's how you know that a film does an excellent job creating the enemy; the audience's desire to annihilate him by the end of the movie.
You know, most inmates do not take kindly to child rapists or murderers. So, if I had my choice, I would have the guy get caught, and then have a final scene where a thug walks up to him in jail and says, "I hear you been murdering little girls... I don't like that." And then just show the killer slowly looking up at the thug, trying his best to compose his fear - and cut! I would have been satisfied with that.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, I really liked this film, but due to it's content, I can't say it's one that I would watch very often.

As far as questionable content:
There are quite a few disturbing images.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We're About to Get...What?

For those of you who are major 80's buffs, this might be considered interesting and scary at the same time.

Sherlock Holmes

Overall, I really liked this movie. As with most movies, there are some things that irked me a bit at first, but nothing that would make me dislike it as a whole. One thing that I especially liked was how this film was different from it's previews and reviews. The previews made it look like an action film and that idea was echoed by the various reviews it received. Many reviews said that this film was nothing like the books. Having read the books, I felt that this was a very good picture of the Sherlock Holmes books; it was not based on a particular book, but it was very similar to their style.
I also thought that Robert Downey Jr. did very well portraying Holmes and that Jude Law made for a good Watson. I was getting tired of seeing versions of the Sherlock Holmes books where Watson was portrayed as a fat and dense sidekick, which was nothing like the books.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable film that is both fun and intriguing. The action is not overdone, the story keeps you interested, and the characters are believable.

As far as questionable content:
The movie stars Rachel McAdams. It seems to be a requirement to have her at least half-naked in one scene in every film she's in. The scene is brief riskiness.
The film also contains some dark scenes involving black magic that might be a bit much for some.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Sequels That Didn't Make the First List...

Well, I finished my previous sequels post and was suddenly bombarded by more sequels and movie news. So here's a sequel (ha ha, that's a good joke considering that I'm writing about sequels and... I... it's about... I... oh, nevermind) to the last post.

Goonies 2 - At a recent 25th anniversary celebration for the first film, Director Richard Donner made a statement that there will be a sequel to The Goonies with as much of the original cast as possible.
Starfighter - How many of you remember (or have even heard of) The Last Starfighter? It's a film about a kid who beats a video game and aliens come to utilize his skills in a space battle. Well, there is a sequel on the way. The end.
Three Men and a Bride - From baby to little lady to bride, we just can't get enough of Steve Guttenberg, Tom Selleck, and Ted Dansen attempting to properly father a little girl.
Spider-man 4 - Rumors are bouncing back and forth about what the next Spider-man movie will be; a sequel or a franchise reboot?
Men in Black 3 - Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are suiting up to fight aliens once again.
Clash of the Titans 2 - Despite how bad the first movie was, it has made enough money to boast a sequel... but what will it be about?...and will we care?
Avatar 2 - James Cameron has said that the first film was an introduction to a small piece of Pandora; now he wants to take us further into Pandora and possibly further into space.
The Bourne Legacy - We are hoping that this film will include Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass (director of Supremacy and Ultimatum) since it is being penned by Tony Gilroy, writer of all three previous films.
Fantastic Four (Reboot) - Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer sucked, so let's pretend those two movies didn't happen and just start back over and see if we can get it right this time.
Oz, the Great and the Powerful - A prequel to The Wizard of Oz focusing mainly on the Wizard.
Happy Feet 2 -  Apparently we didn't respond to the "Save the Penguins" subliminal (or not) message in the first one, so they must release another movie.