Category: Action

Inglourious Basterds

September 7th, 2010 — 1:33am

Inglourious Basterds* * * * *
Inglourious Basterds
– sp – The fact that this movie is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino probably best defines it. There are hints of great movies of the past in it and there is even a key plot theme of a movie being shown within this movie. It is two and a half hours but time flies and the unusual story is sure to hold your attention. The setting is World War II and the character played by Brad Pitt is leading a special group of US soldiers to kill Nazi soldiers. The film is filled with unpredictable twists and turns and you will not figure out who is going to live or die. Each character is well developed and the acting is outstanding by an ensemble of well chosen actors and actresses with a truly great performance by Christophe Waltz as an SS officer.There is a touch of gory violence but even the fiery special effects are quite beautiful. The fact that prior to the preview screening that we attended, we were searched for cameras by men in black suits suggests that Tarantino and company hopes that this film will make a surprise explosion on the summer movie scene. It deserves your attention. To be released mid August. (2009)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama, Thriller, War


September 6th, 2010 — 8:06am

Avatar* * * *
– rm- We didn’t see this film until after it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture as well as many other awards. We stand by our prediction that Hurt Locker will earn the award for best picture. Avatar and director/writer/producer James Cameron deserve awards and acclaim for the technical accomplishments in the use of 3D, computer generated animation and special effects. The “out of this world” flying, at times gigantic, horse/dragon like creatures were very impressive although their continued presence for much of the movie was not our cup of tea. The appearance of the avatars as well as that of the people who were being visited or we should say the natives of the land that was being invaded was also quite creative. All their facial features were completely non-human as was the presence of their tail and many of their mannerisms, but yet their behavior was all too human. It was most of the humans who were engaging in the inhumane actions. While the plot was somewhat simple, familiar and predictable, it was the symbolism and important themes that raised the value of the film. One could not help but be reminded of the experience of the native Americans or the native inhabitants of so many other places that have been invaded by intruders seeking to plunder their land. There was a green theme with a spiritual love of nature. Also clear was the presence of strong, good women who possessed both strength of character and strength of purpose. Some of the scenes with helicopter like gun ships setting this very special countryside aflame with bright orange fire explosions with the background radio chatter of the invading forces were reminiscent of scenes from the Viet Nam War and perhaps some later day events. It is probably fair to say that this is an anti-war film. Some might say it is anti-American and others might feel it is not a fair depiction of the real good guys. It certainly is cutting edge and may be the beginning of a new genre. (2009)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Action, Drama

North Face

September 6th, 2010 — 8:03am

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North Face
– sp – If you are at all interested in mountain climbing – dangerous mountain climbing, or if you think you might want to learn more about risk taking mountain climbing this movie is for you. This is an award winning German film with English subtitles, set in Germany in 1936. The government has encouraged German mountain climbers to show the world how brave and strong they are by climbing this most difficult mountain. The chilling (and we do mean ice cold and freezing) attempt to do this feat is the main plot of this film. It is based on a true story. Most of it, including all the life and death parts of the movie, are based on known facts of an actual occurrence. One of the guests at our film course was a young alpine mountain climber who not only had heard of the actual events shown but verified that all the situations on the mountain , pitfalls and climbing techniques with pitons and ropes etc were quite authentic. This was a period piece nicely depicting the lavish hotel setting at the base of the mountain. However, most of the two hours and one minute of this film take place in the outside bitter cold. We also learned that this movie is in the tradition of some great German mountain climbing movies which we haven’t seen. While we were caught up with the suspense and adventure, we did feel there was too much time up there in the mountain with snow continually falling or alternating between flakes to avalanches. The movie was very skillfully done. The story line was interesting and painful, but wasn’t complex and stimulating enough for all we had to bear in watching it. (2010)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Action, Foreign, Sport

Terminator Salvation

September 6th, 2010 — 2:34am

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Terminator Salvation
– nf – This is a prequel of the other Terminator movies and stars Christian Bales and Sam Worthington. It is a big budget film with lots of special effects. Early in the film there is some scrolling explanation of the setting which is easy to miss. Basically the world has been taken over by very smart machines which appear to be winning the war against the bands of surviving humans who haven’t given up yet. There is some time travel and a plot for one of the characters to save his father as a young man. There are lots of pyrotechnics, explosions with robots and machines that won’t die. Even Arnold, our Governor makes a fleeting digitalized appearance. If you are drawn to this movie perhaps if you look at this four minute trailer, it will be enough for you.

We think there are some great films out there to see but this is not one of them. 2009

Comment » | 2 Stars, Action, Drama

Red Cliff

January 17th, 2010 — 2:12am

Red Cliff* * * *
Red Cliff
– sp- If Steven Spiegelberg were to decide to make a blockbuster movie about the US North-South Civil war and the Battle of Gettysburg most Americans would probably be quite familiar with the various leaders and generals. Even more so apparently are the Chinese and the people of other Asian countries knowledgeable about the cast of characters who took part in the great battles as the armies of the north tried to conquer those of the southern China, leading to the battle at Red Cliff, which took place about eighteen hundred years ago. Director John Woo felt that this was so much the case that he needed to make two versions of this movie, one for non Asian world with more background material and a two part film with even more details of the actual events for the Chinese and others who are familiar with the historical events.

The 2 ½ hour movie which we saw has a brief English narration at the beginning and then is in Mandarin with English subtitles which you soon forget are present. It shows the personal and political decision of the northern dynasty to send it’s huge army which probably numbered in the hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the south to squash the smaller southern coalition. A great deal of the movie consists of battle scenes on the ground and between naval forces. At first we had the impression we were watching a Chuck Norris or Jackie Chen movie that we would only have seen in coming attractions, with bodies whirling through air, swords and spears impaling soldiers, blood squirting out of the period armor, catching spears in mid-flight, horses rearing up, thousand of arrows flying through sky and all sorts of acrobatics. People are being killed everywhere except the main characters who seem to be able to leap between thrusts of opposing soldiers. Then after awhile we realized that in fact we were watching a classic operatic story and ballet in a beautiful setting. John Woo told our film course that he used 1500 hundred Chinese soldiers in the movie and made them look like many times that number of warriors by computer generated editing techniques that he also used to enhance the magnificent appearing background. The movie also vividly shows the brilliant military strategies that were used by the outnumbered army including clever troop formations, innovative weaponry and an exquisite understanding of the forces of nature. Woo also chose to create a story line that was not in the known history of these events that involves the role of some very brave, strong and attractive women.
In the end it is a beautiful, poetic epic movie with an antiwar theme but yet pays homage to the value of people working together for a just cause even against daunting odds. This film has a cast of thousands, used 24 cameras and took 4 1/2 years to make. It obviously cost multi millions of dollars to produce which came from many countries including the Chinese government. We can’t see how it will miss being a tremendous hit in the Asian world and is bound to have a great following in the US. Anyone seeing this movie should be sure to not miss the closing credits, which includes some very moving verse. (2009)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Action, Foreign, War

District 9

January 17th, 2010 — 1:51am

District 9* * *
District Nine
– rm – If you like alien movies where the alien looks like a 10 foot lumbering ant like object with human qualities, this movie may be for you. It has some familiar themes of a gigantic spacecraft arriving at earth and this time it ends up hovering over Johannesburg South Africa. Over a million refugees from it live in shacks in an area called District Nine and are about to be moved to a more rural area by a non-governmental para- military agency. The main character of the movie is in charge of carrying out this move but he gets accidentally sprayed by an alien chemical, which begins to slowly turn him into an alien. Since the alien’s weapons, most of which have been confiscated can only be fired by the aliens (a bioconnectviity link) and since this man now has an alien arm, he is a rare individual who can fire these weapons. The plot thickens and includes a cute child alien, the wish of the aliens to go home, some battle scenes with conventional and state of the alien weaponry. The special effects are as expected and the movie generates a reasonable amount of suspense. It touches on some issues of discrimination but not in any depth. This is not for everyone. (2009)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Action, Drama

The Lovely Bones

January 16th, 2010 — 2:44am

The Lovely Bones* * *
The Lovely Bones
– sp – Early in the film, narrator of the story tells you what everyone who has read the book already knows and that is that she has been murdered at age 14 and she will not get a chance to live out the life to which she was looking forward. The movie shows her in the space between living on earth and heaven while she waits for things to be resolved. It was very easy for us to identify with 1970s family and watch the unimaginable horror that they felt after the disappearance and evidence of the killing of their daughter and then to see it dissolve into what we shrinks call complicated grief. The young girl played by Saoirse Ronan an Irish actress with no accent at all who was 13 during the making of the film radiated all the freshness and anticipation that you would hope a youngster would have at that stage of life. That made the tragedy of her murder all the more difficult as we saw the glimmers of her first love never to be realized during her lifetime. However Director and Producer Peter Jackson was intent on making this more than just a good 10 pm Special Victims Unit or CSI TV show. The script that he, his wife Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens wrote based on the popular novel by Alice Sebold created a beautiful ethereal existence for our lost soul where she observes the struggles of her family and the mystery of her unsolved murder. Jackson then brings the special effects for which he is known as other characters in this special place are also introduced. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz are on the mark as the parents and Stanley Tucci is the villain that is any parent’s nightmare. Executive Producer Ken Kamins related that to his surprise the movie “tested off the charts” with young teenage girls who obviously identified with the 14 year old victim and her aspirations and maybe even more so with her younger sister who we see grow to age 18 and become a heroine in her own right. While the movie provided suspense and held our interest, we were too much in pain to even be happy when she eventually makes it to heaven. (2009)

Rachel Weisz

Comment » | 3 Stars, Action, Crime, Drama


November 7th, 2009 — 12:45am

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Defiance – sp – This is a “Schindler’s List” type of movie which takes place in the forest. It features Daniel Craig (known elsewhere as the current James Bond) and Liev Schreiber who play the Bielski brothers who lead an increasing number of Jewish refugees while they are hiding from the Nazis. This is a true story and at it’s conclusion we are told the actual follow-up on many of the people depicted in the film. Edward Zwick, who spoke at our screening, was the director, producer and also wrote the screenplay. He did a magnificent job in capturing the relationship between the characters, the pathos and courage of the people along with the violence of their experience. Those of you who have vowed “never to forget” will have to see this movie. 2008

Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama, Thriller

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