Friday, August 10, 2012

What's up with all the lens flares?

Total Recall (2012, Len Wiseman) - 118 min.

I found the time to see Total Recall this week and enjoyed it well enough.  It is far from a cinematic masterpiece that provides epic revelations about what it means to be human, but it was good sci-fi fun.

Based off of the story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick, one might expect the film to be a readaptation of the story, rather than a remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film from 1990.  Unfortunately, it falls under the remake category.  I say "unfortunately" because I think that it would have been really fun to see a new take on the short story.  All in all, I'd say that the two Total Recall films are about even in my mind in terms of enjoyment.  All in all though, I think I prefer watching the 2012 version.  The fact that Colin Farrell is shirtless frequently during the film may or may not be a (the) main reason I prefer the remake.

Acting?  Nothing to complain about.  Effects?  My only complaint is the excessive use of post-production lens flares.  Adding a lens flare when there's no light source for it is kind of weird.  Story?  Pretty darn good.  But that's expected from a film based off of a Philip K. Dick story.  Unless of course the filmmakers royally screw up the screenplay.

Verdict:  Check it out if you're in the mood for some not-too-heavy sci-fi fun.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Faces in the Crowd (2011, Julien Magnat) - 102 min.

First, I should probably provide a disclaimer: I am a complete sucker for Milla Jovovich movies.  I will watch anything that she is in and I will probably enjoy it to some degree.  I don't know why I like her so much, but it probably has something to do with her tendency to play really strong female characters.

Okay, enough of me worshipping Milla Jovovich and on to the review!  Faces in the Crowd is far from perfect, but it's a fun psychological thriller.  Anna Merchant (Jovovich) is attacked by a serial killer after witnessing him kill another woman and she suffers a head injury, damaging her ability to recognize faces.  Her condition makes it so that she sees a different face pretty much any time she looks at a person.  This makes things difficult for her, given that she can't even recognize her boyfriend and the serial killer is still after her.

This "face-blindness" made for some really interesting filmmaking opportunities.  Basically, they constantly replaced people in the film with different actors wearing the same clothes to represent what Anna sees and feels.  Unfortunately, this made it really difficult to follow characters at times.  Although it's possible that this was the filmmaker's intent, I think it would have been better to make it a little easier to identify some of the characters.

Aside from the character recognition problems, my only other complaint is the fact that Milla Jovovich wasn't playing her usual gung-ho female character.  That's not really a valid complaint about the film though.  Faces in the Crowd is a fun, albeit flawed, psychological thriller.  It's worth checking out if you're a Milla Jovovich fan, but not essential viewing for the average moviegoer.  6/10

6 Months Into the DC Reboot!

Now that the New 52 have had a chance to complete some story arcs and start a few new ones, I figure it's about time to pass judgement on some of the more notable titles.

Favorites from the reboot:
  • Justice League - The art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams is great.  Each issue so far has had a brilliant full-page splash.  And of course, you can't go wrong with writing from Geoff Johns.  I don't know how he does it.  My favorite parts of this title so far are the way that everybody keeps making fun of Batman for not having powers and when Wonder Woman discovered ice cream.
  • Aquaman - After years of explaining to my friends that Aquaman could actually be pretty cool, I am finally vindicated!  Again, the fact that Geoff Johns is writing is a big factor here.  The art by Ivan Reis is also very compelling.  It's very self-aware and is full of jokes about how lame Aquaman used to be.
  • Catwoman - After a rough start (not showing Selina's face for two pages even though we get to see plenty of the rest of her, a full page splash of her and Batman being intimate, etc.) the comic wound up being pretty fun.
  • Batwoman - Simply superb.  I think that the writing by J.H. Williams & Haden Blackman is the most compelling of the New 52.
  • Teen Titans - Although not particularly groundbreaking or moving, this title is good fun.

Miserable Failures:
  • Mister Terrific - Ahem, more like Mister Terrible.  Very uninteresting.
  • Hawk and Dove - It's like they didn't even try to make this one good, let alone comprehensible.

The rest are all pretty good, but I didn't find them particularly great or memorable.  In general, all of the Batman titles are pretty popular and I have a lot friends who love Wonder Woman.  Resurrection Man and Grifter don't seem to sell very well, but I found those two titles to be fairly enjoyable.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Puncture (2011, Adam & Mark Kassan) - 99 min.

This is a nice little gem that really didn't get the theatrical run that it deserved.  Following the story of attorneys Mark Weiss and Paul Danziger, the film chronicles their attempts to get hospitals to start using "safety point" needles in order to save lives and prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS.

All in all, the story was pretty strong and the acting was solid.  It managed to keep my interest the whole way, although I could have been more invested in the outcome.  There were a few instances of strange cinematography (shot of the courtroom from what looks like the POV of someone standing on a desk? haha).  It gets bonus points for lots of Chris Evans without a shirt on though.

All in all, a solid 7/10.