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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Wolfman (2010) Horror

The Wolfman (2010) - Spoiler Alert! Yeah there are spoilers in here! It seems the classic never fade into the past but instead get re imagined into a new (better?) version of themselves. Case in point is the new feature The Wolfman, which in its re imagining stays very true to the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr film about a man attacked by the creature and cursed to transform into a wolf man on the full moon. In the new version Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), is bitten and has the curse. He has returned to his fathers estate after the death of his brother also killed by the beast. There he learns to love his brother's widow Gwen (Emily Blunt) while seeking the answers to his curse and finding the origin of the beast that harmed him. His Father Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) is distant and also the original werewolf which leads to a father son wolfman showdown. This was an improved story point and made the dynamics of this film interesting. They did not dwell on the fact the full moon last three days as they did in the original but still it did not really take away from the film either. The senior Talbot after years of locking himself away was now letting his wolf out and the only one able to stop him was the son he had cursed. Overall this movie was very good. You can see how some people would not like it because it was paced like and older movie, but that aside the story and the effects and the music makes this a real winner.
Rating (7.7)

Shutter Island (2010) Thriller

Shutter Island (2010) - Spoiler Alert! Yeah all over this blog entry! Shutter Island is the new thriller from director Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. It is set in 1954 and DiCaprio's character Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels arrives at an asylum for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a patient. They enter with really too loud and disorienting music that had the audience covering thier ears and questioning the decision making of Scorsese early on in this film. Teddy his new partner they begin an investigation that does not end where the viewer would first think. As they work there way through their interviews of staff and patients it is clear that the agents are not in on the full story. It becomes more and more clear to the audience that Teddy is not the most solidly put together agent in the world. The hints are not subtle in this film and questioning the writing as too on the nose in some scenes seems reasonable, but it is a complicated enough plot and the acting is decent. Choices in the writing and directing just did not work real well. The reoccurring hallucination of Dolores Chanal (Michelle Williams) as Teddy's wife was probably the best of the choices. Her reveals were subtle and then she become more important in the end. We become aware as the story unfolds that Teddy may be a patient, which seemed a bit obvious in the previews without ever seeing the movie. His final realization comes when he confronts Kingsley's Dr. Cawley and learns that Cawley is trying this one final ruse to let Teddy play out his agent fantasy and come to terms with his real life tragedy. Again in a really not needed scene after learning in real life that Teddy's wife had killed his children and then Teddy had killed her, we are subject to watching the melodramatic scene. It did not really seem necessary other than a big time actor like DiCaprio was not going to pass up the chance to flex his acting muscles. So everyone in the asylum were putting on this elaborate play to break this one, supposedly the most violent person out of his Marshall Teddy fantasy and hopefully avoid having to lobotomize him. It seems to work to, but the big point is still to come. After the confrontation will Teddy slide back into that character the day after the confrontation? Can he live with his guilt and pain and change his life?
This was a decent movie, it was unfortunate that advertising has to give so much away in order to attract an audience. The director makes some questionable decisions that pull you out of the movie instead of enhancing it and the writer (Laeta Kalogridis) was not shifty enough to "not give away" the plot before its time. Still the acting was good and it was an interesting and engaging film. After listening to the writer talk to creative screen writer it is obvious the things I picked out were intentional decisions, but I still dont think they worked out.
Rating (6.3)

Creative screenwriting interview with Laeta Kalogridis

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

35th Boston Science Fiction Marathon

The Boston Science Fiction Marathon is the country's oldest continually running science fiction. Febuary 14th and 15th from noon to noon, 14 features plus shorts and other goodies were shown for a rabid audience of enthusiasts.

12:00 Moon (2009) - A wonderful acclaimed science fiction film starring Sam Rockwell as the sole employee on a lunar base. This film was creative and engaging, an older style sci-fi movie in pace and detail. Rating (8.3)

13:40 Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) - Although the scenerio may be dated this film still addresses the idea of how much responsibility for our safety a "thinking" Super computer should be given. Well acted over a stilted scrfipt the film was enjoyable. Rating (6.6)

15:30 9 (2009) - A muddled fantasy computer animated movie about the creatures left behind when man meets his self caused demise. The characters named 1-9 struggle to survive against the machines that want to get them. They finally find a way to accomplish the purpose they were designed for. Rating (5.1)

17:10 The Giant Gila Monster- Not Viewed

18:45 Labyrinth (1986) - Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie in this Jin Henson directed fantasy about a teenage girl trying to save her baby brother. This semi musical foray into silliness is not a great movie but for many has nostalgic value. Rating (4.0)

20:45 Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman (2009) - Very loving documentary about the man who coined the term Sci-Fi, the genre's number one fan. Check out a longer review Rating (7.7)

22:00 District 9 (2009) - A great action sci-fi film with subtext that connects on many levels, see the longer review. Rating (9.0)

00:20 The Thing (1982) - One of the greatest sciencefiction movies of all time. The Thing directed by John Carpenter is a masterpiece of atmosphere and special effects. Rating (8.6)

02:15 Lathe of Heaven (1980) - Not viewed

04:00 Night of the Creeps (1986) - Not Viewed

05:30 Rabid (1977) - Daviv Cronenberg's slow and not great film about a woman experimented on in surgery after an accident who has unwanted consequences. Rating (4.1)

07:05 The Day the Sky Exploded (1958) - Meteors are heading for the earth and arch enemies the US and USSR must work together to stop them. Rating (5.0)

08:55 Night of the Comet (1984) - Silly 80's sci-fi fluff about the end of civilization where the valley girls who survive spend more time shopping than trying to survive. Rating (5.3)

10:30 Sleep Dealer (2008) - Even better with a second viewing this politically spice science fiction future also has a compelling personal story. See the longer review Rating (9.4)