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A long time ago when I was little kid, there used to be a guy I had no respect for whatsoever. His name was Jean Claude Van Damme. My brother and I used to laugh endlessly whilst watching a few of his movies, most notably Double Impact and Street Fighter.

We would constantly mimic his peculiar French accent with lines such as “We will rendezvous at O Si-eex Hun-dret” (O six hundred).  Needless to say, he was always somewhat of a joke.

He's in this movie TWICE!
He’s in this movie TWICE!

So with the recent action movie mega explosion that is The Expendables which I’m pretty sure will be a campy flick it was interesting that Van Damme decided to sit out. It was at this point that I remembered the film JCVD and decided to see it.

Surprised is definitely the word I would use. While it isn’t out of this world material it’s definitely something not manufactured through the cookie cutter process. The film (for those of you who don’t already know) involves Jean Claude playing himself in what is sort of a semi-reality, and revolves around a bank robbery.

One interesting point was where Mr. Van Damme tries to give his two cents, but the person doesn’t even look at him in the face, casually dismissing him with the line “yeah yeah… I’ll ask you if I need some stretching tips.”

More surprising is the fact that the man can actually act. Apparently his problem was always English. In the movie he speaks his native French. It is easily his best film, not hard to achieve… all things considered. As I was prepared to write off the movie as being just ‘alright’ the most important scene crops up close to the end.

This scene elevates the movie significantly whilst featuring a staggering total of 0 explosions and 0 special effects. Suffice to say you’ll never look at Van Damme the same way again. Make no mistake the movie drags at times and is far from perfect but overall it’s pretty good.

I’d put the most pivotal scene here, but on its own its effect is somewhat lost. You have to see the entire thing for yourself I guess…

A serious Van Damme movie? An Oyxmoron?
A serious Van Damme movie? An Oyxmoron?

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Wolverine

You know what the best thing about the relatively new Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon? It doesn’t piss all over the X-Men? What’s that you say? Piss all over the X-Men? Get out of here!

Well you see with the advent of Bryan Singers’ X-Men flick Wolverine came to the forefront as being the Man in the X-Men. In the cartoon and the comics Wolverine was just one of the team bringing in his own strengths and weaknesses. But in the movie due to directorial decisions, the focus was placed purely on Wolverine. There’s nothing wrong with this on its own, but when the others are pretty much place holders it sucks.

Cyclops has always been my favourite X-Man. Besides being the leader, in the cartoon and comics he does quite a bit especially in the fights. In the first movie he’s sidelined behind Wolverine as is everyone else. In the second he disappears in to the ‘writer’s closet’ at the start of the film only to re-emerge at the end.  In the third he dies in the first five minutes. That’s what you call being pissed on. Fine you hate Cyclops. What about Rogue? She’s next to useless as is Storm. Jean Gray? Xavier? They’re all just hopeless before Wolverine shows up.

So back to the new cartoon, how do they shake things up? First they remove Jean Gray and Xavier (they are still there in the plot). This creates an angry, trigger happy, out of control Cyclops. They bring in Emma Frost to fill in the gap. Wolverine is forced to lead. Nightcrawler does a lot. As does Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Archangel, Beast, Shadow Cat and Ice Man (he didn’t do jack in the movie!). That’s good because each of these characters has  a loyal following that says he or she is the best X-Man.

In that regard Wolverine Origins was good. It focused on Wolverine and has some other characters showing up, all of whom at least did something for their limited screen time. There was talk of a Magneto movie, but that’s since been shelved and instead they’re re-telling the X-Men again. Let’s hope this time it’s about everyone and not just Wolverine.

Film Camera

It’s amazing what you can create with a simple little instrument like the camera. Sure they’ve evolved from their earliest days in to something significantly more complicated, but principally they remain the same.

Snap with a camera and you can see a snapshot of reality that you many not normally see. The better the camera the better the end result provided the person taking the shots has at least some slight skill with the camera.

The same principle applies to motion pictures and it was with some sadness that I watched the movie Wolfman. Why? Well quite simply because I realized that these guys were privy to some fantastic cameras combined with great lighting and pretty solid budget.

And yet the film had some piss poor cinematography throughout with scenes appearing as if they were quite randomly filmed. Absolutely no thought to where the camera was or how the actors were positioned. I was thinking about what kinds of things they could have done with the equipment.

In fact only at the end of the movie is there a scene in an antique store that is actually really interesting.

I’m completely against digital film. Why? Well traditional film is locked at 24fps that gives everything a truly cinematic look. Walk with a trench coat and at 24fps it looks graceful. Film at 30fps and it looks like your home video made with your camera. Toss in some moody lighting, and smoke and what you have is just truly beautiful. So when people waste such equipment its really sad.

Here are some scenes I thought were just wonderful uses of the film camera.

The Matrix

Dodge This

"Dodge This"

The Matrix is just filled with well thought out camera angles throughout the film. This shot is cool because its from the POV of the agent, looking out of the corner of his eye.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Luke vs Vader

This movie is just got sci-fi written all over it. Miles above the other 5 Star Wars flicks it stands out on its own as an independent sci-fi flick. The scenes on Bespin are the best looking in the entire film with so much colour; blue, red, orange, black.

Blade Runner

Replicant on the Run

Replicant on the Run

Another sci-fi flick, Blade Runner has lots of thought put in to most of the scenes. Creating an overall image of sleaze is easier said then done, and a lot of new movies just clearly lack the effort.

There’s so many others but sadly I couldn’t find the pics. Oh well…

Three Idiots

Surprise! That’s all I can say about this movie. Since I always walk in to the cinema to watch Hindi movies with the anticipation of major disappointment and walk away with an inevitable conclusion, it was a bit of a shock to find that this movie was actually good. Yes that’s right… a Hindi movie was very good, excellent I even dare say.

The movie somehow managed to overcome my constant skepticism and halfway through I was sold. Great characters, a good plot that actually explores some real issues while everything ties together nicely at the end. This is probably because its based off the Indian book, ‘Five Point Someone’ by Chetan Bhagat. Of course being an Indian movie there’s still plenty of cheese here and there, but it doesn’t really ruin the movie.

If you hate Hindi movies, try watching this, you just might be in for a shock.

Avatar Poster

The hype machine is in full swing for James Cameron’s latest offering, but is it really that good? I offer you three perspectives instead of one!

Movie Snob:

The movie sucks. It was clearly designed as a vehicle to promote Cameron’s new effects company, hence it being effect laden throughout. The story is completely predictable and is a common rehash of a hundred other movies you’ve already seen.  The first half of the film is boring, you might find yourself yawning. The second half is full of action sequences that are pretty impressive if you’re in to heavy CGI based action, otherwise you’re out of luck. If Cameron was really serious about making Avatar as a movie alone, he would probably have told it as a cartoon instead. As it stands its a great graphics promo with a pretty average story. Take lots of popcorn.

The best character was undoubtedly the female lead Neytiri followed by Jake the male lead. Something done right, though one initial ‘romance’ dialogue should make just about anyone gag. Giovanni Ribisi goes to waste as a typical corporate head man. Sigourney Weaver does pretty well however, unlike Michelle Rodriguez who plays a typical, typical role. The General character was also incredibly generic and shallow.

The main music theme incidentally sounds uncannily like that from Enemy of the Gates while the rest gets the job done. No surprise, as they are both done by James Horner.

The movie should join the league of technically impressive but lackluster films that include Star Trek 1 and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though honestly its far better than those two movies which are just plain boring.

Dude Guy:

Oh my God… the movie ROCKS!! So much cool graphics everywhere. I’ve never saw anything like that in my life! The first part was kinda slow, but the second part was wicked cool! So many flying things and robots and stuff blowing up, and graphics… did I mention graphics? Awesum! The story was cool. I luved all the characters, especially the general… he was SO EVIL! Best movie of the year!! 10/10

Commercially:

The movie is a resounding success with massive box office returns. Reviews are positive enough and reception is amazing. The massive budget is an incredible risk, but the movie delivers everything the audience wants leaving them pretty satisfied. The variety of characters and animals provides plenty of ammunition for merchandising, especially toys for kids. 8/10 Because of the snow in the US and the high budget.