Film Review – Prisoners (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
RT Score – 80%

Guys, I think it has finally happened. I think we finally have started to hit that point where quality films are going to start coming out and that one of the most boring and uneventful summer of movies is about to end. There have been some good films this year but as a whole I’m glad it’s starting to end. Cannes, Sundance, and the Venice/Toronto film festivals have ended and the New York Film Festival just opened last night. We’re here guys. We’re here.

Prisoners debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and placed 3rd in the People’s Choice category. I say it was well deserved. Denis Villeneuve, who directed on of my favorite films ever in Incendies, heads this film about a child abduction and how two men try to find the missing children. The film has a stellar cast comprised of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrance Howard, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, and Viola Davis. I mention this lot because I think the acting was the highlight of the film as we get a powerhouse performance by Hugh Jackman and great subtle performances by Viola Davis and Paul Dano. The rest were great as well but the aforementioned stole scenes for me. Jackman is going to be in consideration for awards and until Oscar season comes to an end is my favorite male role this year.

The title of this film holds true to the story as Denis Villeneuve shows us many instances of how people can be taken prisoner. It’s really hard to go into this film without revealing spoilers but I’ll try my best. The cinematography in this film is outstanding. The camera paints a very bleak landscape very very well. Lots of rain and overcast skies that pair up with wonderful camera work during many of the films nighttime scenes. This is a very deep film that really makes the viewer try to determine who the victims are in the grand scheme of thing. What do we do when somebody takes somebody you love? What happens when you think the police aren’t doing the best they can do? I left the theater thinking that the end of the film, while fitting, didn’t quite determine the fates of those involved. This in no way deterred me from liking, even loving the film, as it gave me a lot to think about. This is a film that shows you just enough to be incredibly powerful and disturbing without threatening to beat the living snot out of you with it.

Prisoners has some fantastic twists and turns and fantastic performances from the cast. It’s Seven, meets Zodiac, meets Gone Baby Gone but just so unique in its own right.


Film Review : The Amazing Spiderman (2012)

IMDB Score – 7.1
RT Score – 73%

Superhero movies. Honestly, I can’t grasp my head around them. Part of my brain says they’re horrible and will continue to be horrible if directors continue to please the executives instead of the fans. Part of me says that in the right hands these films can produce great results. One Batman film and one Marvel film comprises the top tier. The Dark Knight and The Avengers were really fantastic films that just happened to have superheroes as their subjects. The second tier comprises the first and two Nolan Batman films, the two Tim Burton Batman films, and that’s all. The rest vary from absolute crap to enjoyable but ultimately forgettable movies. It sucks that I can’t get into these films like others do and while I don’t particularly HATE superhero films I just can’t fathom how so much money and time is spent each year on producing sequels and beginning films for countless upon countless superhero films when the end results are usually poor. They’ll keep trying though. Maybe it’s not a bad thing. Maybe I’m one of the very few people that actually want them to give the superhero film a rest for a while but I’m not going to blindly hate a film just because it features a mask hero or somebody with mutant powers.

I didn’t hate this film.

I grew up watching the 90s animated Spiderman on television. To me, this is the definitive Spiderman on a screen. I’ve never been a big comic book fan but Batman movies and the Spiderman TV show are nostalgic pleasures on mine. I found the Sam Raimi films to be pretty enjoyable except the third one which was a pile of shit when Venom wasn’t on teh screen which was criminally too infrequent. I’m not a big Toby McGuire fan though so maybe I was a bit biased. Andrew Garfield takes the reigns here and did an okay job. I actually thought he acted decently, well, maybe for this one scene where…well, I have no idea what he was doing in this. Like, seriously, what is this?

That got a great laugh out of me. Just look at his face. It’s just so funny.

The film focused more on the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy which I believe holds to the comic way more than the Raimi films did as Gwen Stacy wasn’t really even in those films. Emma Stone was a miscast though. I think she’s a great actress but she is not a seventeen year old. She doesn’t look like she’s seventeen. The fact that was was seventeen in the movie is a farce because no seventeen year old talks, acts, dresses like that or works as an intern at a scientific research facility. It just doesn’t happen that way. The rest of the cast was filled with great actors in forgettable roles which best describes the film as a whole, forgettable but it was fun while it lasted. There were some pretty good set pieces, particularly any scene featuring Spidey and The Lizard. I’d say it’s pretty much on par with the first two Raimi films as it’s kind of the same movie for the first two thirds. Peter gets bullied, gets bit, beats up bullies, avenges Uncle Ben sort of, figures out “hey this is fun”, shit goes down, saves the day, sort of gets the girl sort of.

All for the price of millions and millions of dollars. I hope Marc Webb directs his sequel a little bit more differently for all the money that has been poured in it. That’s the only way I’ll say that I was generally impressed with a super hero film. You have to do something different.


Film Review : Prince Avalanche (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.5
RT Score – 84%

I’m calling it right now. Paul Rudd is going to break through with an amazing acting performance in the next year or two because he was pretty fantastic in this. David Gordon Green directs this after having two monumental bombs in The Sitter and Your Highness. I haven’t seen his previous films but I enjoyed Pineapple Express enough to give this a watch and was pleasantly surprised. The film revolves around Rudd and Emile Hersch as two road workers painting lines and pasting reflectors on a stretch on roads leading in and out of the Texas wilderness. The film doesn’t really give us more than that story wise but the magic is in the visuals, music, and conversations that the two of them have. Both give very low key but enigmatic performances. Rudd plays a loner out to make money for his family at home. I understand that sentence didn’t make sense but that’s his character. Hersch plays the brother of Rudd’s girlfriend and is basically an idiot with a heart. The two play off each other very well and both deserve credit for their performances.

The film is a bit of a mystery though. It’s very odd in the way the two of them interact with the only other characters in the movie. Green usues some interesting techniques to film some of the conversations and you never really know if the two are meeting some off people during their job or if they’ve gone crazy from isolation and inhaling fumes. Green directs with a great sense of nature and incorporates a GREAT score by Explosions in the Sky. Overall the film worked for me and is a great subtle film to enjoy and kind of lose yourself in the wilderness with two very good actors.


Film Review : Panic (200)

Netflix Instant Watch
IMDB Score – 6.7
RT Score – 92%

Do you have Netflix? Add this to your queue. I think I’ll be doing a feature article soon on some of the ACTUAL hidden gems on Netflix. Every single list I come across on google has the same movies. I’m sorry said lists, but The Untouchables is not a hidden gem even though it’s cool it’s on Netflix. This film however is one that I’m sure not a lot of people have seen and I’ve never seen it on any list generated in the Neflix lobby but it’s a film well worth your time. William H. Macy, who is amazing in everything, plays an assassin who no longer wants to live his life of murder and enters therapy to try to deal with his emotions about it. There he meets Neve Campbell and the two hit it off.

What has the makings of a typical dark romantic comedy actually turns out a very well crafted and subtle piece on what it means to be truly happy doing what you do for work and how what other people want for you may not always be the best thing. I was very surprised by the film balancing the dark subject matter with little splashes of humor and heart. It also features probably one of the most adorable five year old kids I’ve ever seen even though his dialogue would never be utter by a five year old no matter how smart or sarcastic they are. The late John Ritter and Donald Sutherland also star in this so check it out if you have the time. You have the time just do it.


Film Review : No Mercy (2010)

Netflix Watch Instant

IMDB Score – 7.1

This film from Korea follows it’s contemporaries pretty closely. South Korea is known for pushing the envelope with its crime thrillers and this is no exception. The story revolves around a forensic scientist who must tamper with evidence to get a suspected murder out of jail. The reason for this is because the murder has kidnapped his daughter and if he’s not released in three days, she dies. The story was pretty bland for most of the way through and had some pretty annoying characters but the ending made up for it all as we are treated to a truly screwed up climax to cap off the whole story. I’ve seen more disturbing endings in Korean cinema but not many exist in the states. This is why I love foreign cinema. You can get away with so much more and people will love you for it.