Archive for the ‘Spotlight On….’ Category

Spotlight On…Recent Viewings 3

Posted by David On May 12, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

The Grey

Released: 2011

Directed by: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo

Plot: After their plane crashes in Alaska, seven oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.

For: Wonderful cinematography / Neeson is great / Wolves are well done

Against: Order of deaths pretty obvious / You can only use the sudden pull away trick so many times before it gets boring

Favourite Scene: First appearance of the alpha wolf

Rating: 3.5 Lukes


Spotlight On…The Road to The Avengers

Posted by David On April 22, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

With the upcoming release of the Avengers (only 3 more sleeps!) I thought it appropriate to re-watch the films leading up to this awesome event and judge them as a whole. Enjoy!

Iron Man

Released: 2008

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Plot: Billionaire genius playboy Tony Stark has a life altering experience when he is taken hostage in Afghanistan. He constructs a suit of armour to escape and decides to refine the suit to become a super hero, while fending off an attack on his business by supposed friend Obidiah Stane.

For: Downey was born to play Stark / Armour looks awesome / Great mix of comedy and action

Against: End battle is pretty lame / Howard bad choice for Rhodey

Favourite Scene: Tony is sprayed with the fire retardant foam / Iron Man vs the jets / Tony and Pepper at the party

Link to the Avengers: Nick Fury informs Tony that he isn’t the only super hero in the world, and invites him to join the Avengers Initiative.

Rating: 4 Lukes


Spotlight On…Recent Viewings 2

Posted by David On April 9, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Released: 2011

Directed by: Sean Durkin

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy

Plot: A young woman suffers from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from a cult.

For: Magnificent performance by Olsen / Quite unsettling at times

Against: I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending is incredibly annoying. I have no problem with an open ending, the future unclear. But Martha stops in the middle of a scene, and that grates. I understand the reasoning – Martha is so paranoid that she sees an enemy at every turn – but frankly that’s not good enough.

Favourite Scene: Martha reacts to Ted touching her / Martha reacts to the bartender

Rating: 3 Lukes

We Need to talk about Kevin

Released: 2011

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

Plot: Adolescent Kevin is in prison after committing a massacre at his high school, as well as the murders of his father and sister. His mother, Eva, a once-successful travel writer, lives alone in a run-down house and works in a mall travel agency in a town near the prison where she visits Kevin. She looks back at her memories of him growing up as she tries to cope with the anger and hostility of her neighbours, who know her to be Kevin’s mother and lost loved ones in his massacre. Her memories are shown in flashbacks.

For: Tilda Swinton always gives a great performance, and this is one of her best / The sense of hopelessness and alienation is very well done / What happens when a mother doesn’t feel anything maternal for her own son?

Against: I’m not fond of the resolution. Eva has feared and disliked Kevin most of his life. He scares and mystifies her. Yet when he commits his unspeakable acts she suddenly becomes maternal. Is it out of guilt? Self inflicted punishment and a quest for atonement for not having him analyzed and treated earlier and therefore allowing these crimes to be committed?

Favourite Scene: Eva wakes up to find her house covered in blood red paint / The co-worker that has been flirting with her reveals his true feelings / the dinner conversation with Kevin

Rating: 3 Lukes


Spotlight On…Recent Viewings

Posted by David On April 7, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Due to time constraints, I may not always have the time for a full review of movies or TV shows that I’ve seen recently. So I decided to post them in my Spotlight On… format. Spotlight On…Recent Viewings wont have the same theme style as my other Spotlight On… posts do, they will simply be the last 6 movies or TV shows I saw and wanted to review, and wont be covered on the Podcast. So they could be the latest cinema releases, or a blast from the past!

The Hunger Games

Released: 2012

Directed by: Gary Ross

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth

Plot: In a post-apocalyptic future, the nation of Panem is a wealthy capital surrounded by 12 impoverished districts. As punishment for a past rebellion against the government, the Capitol initiated the Hunger Games—a televised annual event in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts are selected via lottery as “tributes” and required to fight to the death in an arena until there is one remaining victor. When Katniss Everdeen hears her younger sister’s name called as the female tribute for their district, she volunteers to take her place in order to save her from having to participate. Joined by her district’s male tribute Peeta, Katnisss travels to the Capitol to train for the Hunger Games, expressing resentment for both the Capitol and its populace for forcing her and her fellow tributes to fight to the death for their own amusement

For: Great performances, especially from Lawrence as Katniss, but also from Harrelson, Kravitz and Tucci. Despite being an obvious rip off of Battle Royale, the story was interesting enough to keep me interested, especially Katniss’ arc. Some great sequences, including the chariots, Katniss’ hallucinations & the fire storm, and the use of handy cam didn’t overstay its welcome.

Against: Doesn’t take advantage of its premise. A dystopian country that has embraced the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur & decadence of Ancient Rome and implemented their own tribute system/Colosseum battle should be a lot more thought provoking than it is. The action scenes were cool but I would have liked a little more introspection.

Favourite Scene: Katniss shoots the apple and earns her 11, and the death of Rue

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

John Carter

Released: 2012

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Dominic West

Plot: Former Confederate cavalryman John Carter is transported to Mars, where, after myriad adventures, he marries a princess and saves the planet from the evil machinations of the Therns.

For: Great effects, especially the Tharks. Quite fun. Lynn Collins is feisty. It’s clear that the majority of people that gave this a bad review have never read the source material – yes the concept and science are ridiculous, but what do you expect from something written in 1912! A decapitation in a Disney movie :). At the time of writing this Wrath of the Titans has made 33m, while this is at 2m. This proves there is no God.

Against: Not enough action. Kitsch is terrible but tries hard. Terrible advertising campaign. Shouldn’t have been made by Disney.

Favourite Scene: Carter tries to avoid being conscripted back into the army / Carter saves Dejah from falling to her death

Rating: 3.5 Lukes


Spotlight On…Remakes part 5

Posted by David On January 29, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

This is the last installment of my current Spotlight On…Remakes series. I might return to this topic in the future but for now enjoy part 5!

The Time Machine

Released: 1960

Directed by: George Pal

Starring: Rod Taylor, Alan Young

Plot: H.G Wells creates a time machine that he uses to travel in time. After a couple of adventures he eventually ends up in October 12, 802,701 and meets the apathetic Eloi, and monstrous Morlocks.

For: Old school adventure / Rod Taylor is Australian! / The 2nd coolest time machine / the time lapse effect showing the world changing is awesome

Against: Some poor acting / Kinda racist – the Morlocks aren’t inherently evil, they just do what they do to survive. So why should they be wiped out? H.G laments the fate of the Eloi but doesn’t bat an eye to wiping out scores of Morlocks.

Favourite Scene: the Time travelling

Rating: 4 Lukes

The Time Machine

Released: 2002

Directed by: Simon Wells (and Gore Verbinski)

Starring: Guy Pierce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons

Plot: After his wife is killed, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen invents a time machine to go back and save her. When he is unsuccessful he travels to the future to find another means. There he meets the Eloi and monstrous Morlocks.

For: Guy Pierce is Australian! / Time travel sequences

Against: Simon Wells can’t direct (We’re Back!, Balto, Mars Needs Moms – case closed) / Samantha Mumba can’t act / Boring

Favourite Scene: None

Rating: 2 Lukes

Winner: The original classic by a long way

The Wicker Man

Released: 1973

Directed by: Robin Hardy

Starring: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Eckland

Plot: Devout Christian, Sergeant Neil Howie of the West Highland Police, is investigating the disappearance of a young girl on the island of Summerisle. Confounded at every turn, and appalled by the pagan ceremonies the islanders perform, he eventually discovers that there is no missing girl, and he is who they wanted all along.

For: Incredibly creepy / Lee is awesome / Nicely shot

Against: The plot becomes incredibly obvious by halfway and Neil’s inability to figure it out becomes quite frustrating.

Favourite Scene: The end.

Rating: 3 Lukes

The Wicker Man

Released: 2006

Directed by: Neil LaBute

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn

Plot: Policeman, Edward Malus, is asked by his ex-fiancee to find her missing daughter Rowan. He travels to an island where a commune of neo-pagans live and produce honey. He eventually finds Rowan and discovers that she isn’t in any danger. But he is.

For: Features some of the best over the top Nic Cage scenes ever – seriously, check out this clip (all Wickerman) and this one (classic Nic Cage moments) for an awesome laugh – ‘Not the bees!’

Against: Everything else. This film is a travesty of cinema and the perfect example of how not to do a remake.

Favourite Scene: Everything in the Youtube clip 😛

Rating: 0.5 Lukes

Winner: Although I don’t think that the original Wickerman is worthy of the high praise some people feel it deserves, it is a masterpiece when compared to its disgraceful remake.

The Wolfman

Released: 1941

Directed by: George Waggner

Starring: Lon Chaney Jnr, Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers

Plot: After learning of the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns to his ancestral home to reconcile with his estranged father John Talbot. While there he meets and falls in love with antique shop owner Gwen. After saving Gwen’s friend from a wolf attack, Larry is informed that the wolf was actually a werewolf and now he is too. Struggling to retain his humanity, Larry eventually transforms into a werewolf and terrorises the village, until he is killed by his father.

For: Great SFX, atmospheric cinematography, Chaney Jnr gives it his all

Against: Can’t think of anything

Favourite Scene: The climax

Rating: 4 Lukes

The Wolfman

Released: 2010

Directed by: Joe Johnston

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving

Plot: After learning of the death of his brother, Lawrence Talbot returns to his ancestral home to reconcile with his estranged father John Talbot. While there he falls in love with his brother’s fiancee  Gwen. After saving a gypsy from a wolf attack he transforms into a werewolf and goes on a rampage.

For: Great SFX, atmospheric, Anthony Hopkins is great

Against: This was a passion project for Del Toro, so you’d think he would put in a bit more effort, but alas no, he sleepwalks through this film / Direction is lazy / Tone flip flops all over the place

Favourite Scene: The Wolfman gets revenge in the asylum

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

Winner: The original is a classic for a good reason.

Now, while the next three are technically not remakes, I thought it would be interesting to compare them, especially considering our last podcast featuring the War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

Released: 1953

Directed by: George Pal

Starring: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson

Plot: In an updated version of H.G.Wells’ novel, the Martians land in 1950’s California, and Dr Clayton Forrester struggles to survive their attack.

For: Awesome Academy Award winning special effects / the ‘manta ray’ style Martian war machines look and sound very cool / fun adventure

Against:  The plot now includes a painfully obvious religious subtext, made most evident by the Martians beginning to die shortly after blasting a couple of Los Angeles churches.

Favourite Scene: Matian war machine first appearance

Rating: 5 Lukes

War of the Worlds

Released: 2005

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto

Plot: Dockworker and deadbeat dad Ray Ferrier struggles to keep his children alive during an invasion by Martians.

For: FX are great / some great action set pieces, including the ferry and harvesting scenes / tripods look cool

Against: How did Robbie survive? It makes no sense and throws the whole plot out the window / none of the characters are likeable so I had no desire for them to succeed or live.

Favourite Scene: The Martians arrive riding the lightning / the crashed jet

Rating: 3 Lukes

H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds

Released: 2005

Directed by: David Michael Latt

Starring: C Thomas Howell, Jake Busey

Plot: Astronomer George Herbert struggles to survive a world ravaged by invaders from Mars

For: Direct to DVD cash-in, that is surprisingly not total crap / more of a horror take / some ok action sequences

Against: Acting is terrible, especially Busey / tripods changed to 6 legged walkers / poster a blatant rip-off of ID4

Favourite Scene: Can’t think of one

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

Winner: The original wins it. One of my favourite films and a classic of sci fi cinema.

So, what do you think NCP fans? Agree / Disagree? Let me know 🙂