Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

There are times where we watch a movie with simple expectations and ended up feeling very happy for the film that you just watched totally blew your mind away and simply exceeded your simple expectations by a mile. This is what I felt after watching Avatar, directed by James Cameron who is known for directing the beloved Titanic film.

Avatar is simply gives that feeling about what watching movies should be. The continuous rush of happiness, coolness, and creativity just lets one enjoy the movie and escape from reality with much comfort and satisfaction. Avatar is not your typical Science Fiction film. The movie actually lets you feel the world embedded in it. Cameron successfully lets one enjoy the picturesque world of Pandora. Pandora’s world is filled with enough life and emotion. It is not exactly a soulless setting. The best part of seeing Pandora is that it makes you feel that you do not want to leave it no matter what. The world of Pandora is simply gorgeous and rich in quality.

As I have said, the world of Pandora is not exactly a soulless setting.Avatar manages to portray to the viewers’ senses that there is a lot of culture involved in the world of Pandora. Events such as celebrations of religion, community life, and even death are showed with aplomb.Avatar also introduces to the audience a new group of beings called the Na’vi. In my honest opinion,one of Avatar‘s strong suits is the Na’vi. They make the film very enjoyable to watch. The Na’vi are portrayed in the film not as species but rather as a unified force of civilization who will do everything they can just to protect their homeland from any evil force that will try to disrupt the peace within it. What’s great about the Na’vi is that their actions are actually humane and lets the audience connect to them with ease. It can even reach the point where the audience is actually rooting for the Na’vi in their battle against man’s evil ways.

Visually, Avatar is the best that I have ever seen. Watching the film in 3D was definitely worth it. Coming from someone who has watched all the Star Wars films, I can honestly say that Avatar beats the George Lucas’ film franchise in terms of visual effects. The world of Pandora can be described as the pinnacle of stunning planets. It really is a picturesque world that has to be seen by one’s naked eye. The perfect combination of CGI and live-action is definitely a treat to the senses as well.

As for Avatar‘s story, it’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s more about immersing in a very lovely world that you end up not wanting to leave it at all. Avatar is definitely a visual film. With that being said, I can say that even though Avatarwould be presented without the dialogue, it would still be awesome. Watching life through the species shown progress in the film is arguably fun to watch. Acting-wise, the humans shown in the film did just fine. Nothing earth-shattering came from their performances but they were good. Stephen Lang’s acting though remains in my mind. He nailed it well in my opinion.

All in all, Avatar simply reminds us that movies are actually an expression of art – they must be shown with enough care and must offer something new to the audience’s eyes. As I have said earlier, Avatar is definitely a treat to the senses. Also, the way you think about the world can be affected thanks to the film’s subtle messages about human behavior and action. Avatar simply nailed it. The way the story got presented was delivered with perfection. The characters are absolutely great. One can relate with them in many ways possible. Avatar is more than a film. Think about it as a life-changing medium. Better watch the film. It’s the greatest film that I have ever seen in my entire life. Definitely, the film is a candidate for Film of the Year this 2010. You are missing tons of fun if you haven’t seen it yet.

Director: James Cameron
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

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Year Released: 2009
Director: Kenny Ortega
Studio: AEG Live
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

What was I doing when the world was suddenly rocked by the news of the sudden passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009? I was sleeping peacefully then once I woke up, the news of Jackson’s death was the first thing I heard from the television set. Initial feeling from me was “Oh my goodness! This cannot be true.” After a few minutes, the news just sunk in: Michael Jackson is really dead. No matter how controversial Michael Jackson was in his time, he is still Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Fast forward and four months later and people across the globe can finally see the rehearsals done by the King of Pop for his This Is It concerts in London. Is This Is It a great movie? Well, let us now get the ball rolling, shall we? Do not worry. No major spoilers will be in this entry. If there would be spoilers, they would be kept to the minimum.

Let us get right away to my overall reaction to the documentary. This Is It is absolutely a great one. Seeing Michael Jackson do his behind-the-scenes work is simply an amazing experience. This Is It is simply one of the superb music documentaries ever released. Michael Jackson’s artistry simply shines through all the work he does. One can see how serious and creative Jackson was with his craft in the movie.

This Is It lets one see Jackson in his very open state. Michael Jackson is simply human. The film did show this aspect.This Is It is simply “it” – a film that captures Jackson’s final acts of endless energy and creativity with so much aplomb.

One outstanding scene in the movie is seeing Jackson being happy to be on top of a cherry picker. Jackson really seemed to had a lot of fun when he was on top of the cherry picker. Hearing Jackson scream “Weeeee!” while on the cherry picker was really a great scene to see in the movie. It lets one see how much “childhood spirit” is still left in Michael Jackson’s tank.

I would also like to give props to Orianthi Panagaris, the lead guitarist for the supposed-to-be held concerts of the late King of Pop. The way she riffed that guitar is really awesome. The solo she made on Beat It is one hell of a solo – really special and rich in terms of musical brilliance.

The movie also showcased how particular Jackson is when it comes to details – the biggest up to the minute ones – when it comes to his music. The way Jackson was portrayed in the movie was the highest point of the film. Jackson never thought that the rehearsal footage would be released. In fact, it has been revealed that the footage would simply go to Jackson’s private library and not be shown to the public. Jackson, in the film, was portrayed as an artist who simply loves performing, cares for his employees well, takes control of the artistic aspects of his performances, and simply someone who wants things to be top-notch.

Jackson absolutely performed great in the movie. It must be noted that the King of Pop was not even using his 100% during the rehearsals. The movie presented the sad reality that the world really missed something big – Michael Jackson was already great at 60% to 75% as seen in the movie. What would have had happened if he already performed at his optimum during the concerts? Michael Jackson’s health is still great as seen in the movie. He still got it in my humble opinion.

As for the material shown in the documentary, I was really amazed at all the 3D imagery that the concert producers already made. The background for They Don’t Care About Us is absolutely a stunning one. More stunning were the scenes shot for Thriller. The material shot for the Earth Song is also amazing. Jackson voicing out his environmental concerns was a great touch. I honestly don’t think it was over the top since man’s actions on nature have been over the top as well.

The film does not really totally focus on Michael Jackson alone. Some time is also given to Michael Jackson’s cast of performers, who sadly did not get the time to showcase their talents to the world long enough. The dancers, the singers, and the band really are one of a kind. Seeing how they managed to survive a grueling round of auditions really amazed me. The way they do those dance routines, singing back-up vocals, riffing those notes, and drumming those beats is simply breathtaking.

The editing done for the movie is also outstanding. Managing to combine seamlessly all those footages simply made me awe-struck in the end. Kenny Ortega was a great director (I still dislike High School Musical, sorry.). Michael Jackson was portrayed in a very positive note in the film, I must add. The way the film does it is simply great. The film did a great job in capturing the attention of the watchers without a doubt.

My only criticism for the documentary would be that it still feels the film was made for profiting reasons. However, the documentary is really something that MJ fans and non-MJ fans alike should watch. This Is It is simply a must-watch documentary seeing how Michael Jackson operates when he is not performing for his legion of fans. This Is It is also an elegantly-packaged film filled with content enough to make one appreciate Michael Jackson’s massive amount of talent, if they have not appreciated them before, that is. Sad to say, the world never got to see how Michael Jackson would have performed in his final curtain call.

Movie Review: UP

Posted: September 29, 2009 in Movie Reviews, Movies, The Mixed Inklings
Tags: ,

Year Released: 2009
Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Bob Peterson
Starring: Edward Asner as Cark Fredericksen, Jordan Nagai as Russell, Bob Peterson as Dug, Christopher Plummer as Charles F. Muntz, amongst others
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

“Sometimes, it’s the boring stuff that I remember the most.“
– Russell

Another Pixar masterpice. Period. This is how I would describe this offering by Pixar. After a stunning production before which was WALL-E, Pixar comes out with a new effort based on a story that has more “human elements” than its predecessor.

I will not spoil the story for you so I guess it would be better to describe the film itself. The way the story is being told is simple. The film introduces the two main characters, Russel, a very enthusiastic member of the Wilderness Explorer group, and Carl, a grumpy old man, through a very simple opening act without the usage of lots of dialogue.

As I have mentioned, the film has lots of “human elements” and these elements make the story excel and connect the viewer to Russel and most especially, Carl. The ending of the film is really a touch of sheer brilliance as Carl character truly shines out in the closing scenes.

The story tells that life is basically an adventure and we have to make the most out of every adventure that we have in our lives because once our age becomes a huge factor and we still have not do anything significant, we will end up regretting not doing anything at all. Relying on Carl’s sidestory in order to build the main story arc, the viewer could not help but to feel in sync with the movie since Carl’s side story is just so humane and also, the degree of realism involved in the story is just truly exceptional. Put Russel in the scheme of things and the film simply lets the viewer take on a stunning ride that can truly be remembered for ages.

Visually, UP looks the best movie ever. Stunning graphics. Add 3D glasses and you get yourself a very gorgeous looking movie. The 3D touched did add some eye candy to the already stunning film though one may think that in some scenes, the need for 3D glasses is absolutely non-existent. Pixar certainly did not disappoint in the visuals department. If Pixar failed in this department, I would have ended up as as very disappointed customer who might be thinking that his allowance ended up on a movie which was awful – for a lack of a better word.

Comparing the film to the visually amazing “WALL-E”, I can say that “UP” is better in terms of the story. UP’s story is simpler and this in turn leads to a better connection between the viewer and the characters in the film.

Though the film has lots of “human elements”, it still has some elements of fantasy involved. One might wonder: “Is it really possible to lift a house through tons of balloons?” Of course, science will tell you that the answer is a no. This may be the only quibble that only purists may find but actually, I do find this okay at all.

As Russel said, “Sometimes it’s the boring stuff that I remember the most,” but this film certainly did not have any dull moment. A film encompassing fun, love, adventure, and simply the good things that we should see in life is certainly one that should not be missed.

Watching the movie gave me this joy that no film has ever given before and that included the critically-acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire. UP is truly another treasure that Pixar has skillfully crafted. A movie with so much realism involved makes it a gem. No other movie can duplicate such feat done by this marvelous masterpiece. Pixar has again done it. In my list of favorite movies, this movie would certainly be located “UP.”

Year Released: 2005
Director: George Lucas
Music: John Williams
Starring: Hayden Christiansen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, Frank Oz voices Yoda, Samuel Jackson as Mace Windu, Matthew Wood voices General Grievous, Jimmy Spits as Senator Organa, Anthony Daniels as C-3P0, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, amongst many others.
Accolades: 2005 Saturn Awards – Best Sci-Fi Film, 2005 Sony Ericsson Empire Awards – Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film, 2005 Teen Choice Awards – Best Action/Adventure Film

“Your anger and lust for power have already done that”

– Obi-Wan Kenobi

A very satisfying closure to the movie franchise that spanned almost three decades. Episode III of the renowned Star Wars movie franchise successfully manages to clearly depict how Anakin Skywalker, thought to be the Chosen One, turned himself into the Dark Side and how he transformed into one of the best villains of all time, Darth Vader.

The film actually is the bridge between Attack of the Clones and A New Hope and it does tie some loose ends. We all know that Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christiansen, will be Darth Vader due to Chancellor Palpatine’s clever manipulation of Anakin’s thinking.

Kicking the film off is a stellar flying sequence with Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor. Chancellor Palpatine(Played by Ian McDiarmid), who turns out to be the devious Sith Lord, Dath Sidious, is kidnapped by General Grievous.The two then engage themselves in a two-on-one lightsaber duel with Count Dooku.

With Palpatine’s ugring, Anakin kills Dooku and this only makes his friendship with the Chancellor even stronger. Disturbed by dreams about Padmé dying due to child birth, Anakin remembers the nightmares about his mother before she died in his arms. Vowing to avert this situation, he joins the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader after getting convinced by Sidious’ stories.

Stunning film animation. Aesthetically, the film does look gorgeous. Luscious environments. Grandiose scenes. Really pleasant to the eyes. Animation is one of those superb types that only the likes of Lucas can provide.

The musical score is top notch. Done by John Williams, the score does a very great job in adding feeling and emphasis in the scenes of the film. Truly, a great job done yet again by John Williams.

The movie’s scenes are tighly packed with action and the storytelling done by Lucas is absolutely stunning. You cannot help but to feel some intense dislike to the villains of this film, especially Palpatine for twisting Anakin’s principles by inculcating lies into Anakin’s mind.

Star Wars will be known for lightsaber action and this one had a good dose of it. The epic battle between protege and mentor, Anakin vs Obi-Wan in the fiery planet of Mustafar was by far the best scene of this film. One of the best mano-a-manos I have ever seen in my life.

The story was by far the best out of the final three released films. It definitely beats the first two films(The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones) for it had the best story ever and it does show how keen George Lucas has become in terms of directing and telling a story.

In the end, it is indeed a great film that surely closes a very great film franchise well. Now, Lucas can say to himself this, “A job well done.”

Year Released: 2008
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel as Jamal Malik, Freida Pinto as Latika, Madhur Mittal as Salim, Anil Kapoor as Prem Kumar amongst many others.
Awards: 2009 Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing; 2009 Golden Globe Awards – Best Motion Picture(Drama), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score; amongst many others

“I thought we’d be together only in death”
– Latika

A movie that has garnered tons of praises and accolades left me wondering. How come a film about Indian boys would get so much accolades? I soon was shocked on this movie. This movie really made me adhere to the principlewhich says “Do not judge a book by its cover.”

The movie starts with Jamal Malik, played by Dev Patel, being shown as a participant of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, hosted by Prem Kumar, played by Anil Kapoor.

After Jamal succesfully answered the 10 Million Rupee question, the show ends with Jamal having a chance to continue for the 20 Million Rupee question the next day.

Jamal is then tortured by the cops for this amazing thing he did on the show. He was asked if he cheated. Jamal tells he did not through his experiences starting from childhood. He knew the answers to the questions merely because his instances in life provided him the necessary information for him to answer the questions.

We then get glimpses of Jamal’s past before he got to be a contestant in the game show. We suddenly see how Jamal and his brother Malik become streetsmarts. Well, this was how they were raised. We then see how the events in their childhood unfold. The brothers met an orphaned girl named Latika. The brothers also got separated at some point.

The setting is very Philippine-esque from the sqautter theme up to the poverty scene.

The movie is good. You can feel that the story is continuous. Editing was nice. The sounds used in the film are very stellar. Dev Patel’s performance was good.

The story had its twist and turns. The climax was particularly outstanding. KI won’t elaborate on it but it made me feel happy for Jamal. It was well-written and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

Keeping me on the edge of my seat is where the film excelled. The sound effects and musical backgrounds used helped a lot in creating that mood which would create suspense.

Dev Patel’s performance as Jamal Malik was outstanding. Freide Pinto’s acting debut with Latika was good. This girl will havea brighter acting future, I might add. Anil Kapoor’s performance as the sadistic host of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is also tops.

The movie created tons of hype and I was not surprised. After all, winning lots of awards is something to be worth all those hype. However, I advise the future watcher to watch this film without any expectations at all. That way, one can really enjoy the film to the highlest level possible.

Year Released: 2007
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff, Michael Cera as Paulie Bleeker, Olivia Thirlby as Leah, J.K Simmons as Mac, Allison Janney as Bren, Jason Bateman as Mark Loring, Jennifer Garner as Vanessa Loring amongst others

“Doctors are sadists who like to play God and watch lesser people scream.”

– Bren, Juno’s stepmom

After hearing all the praises that this movie had, I decided to try this film. I did not expect a lot from this film. I just wanted to watch a movie that won a lot of awards. Simple as that.

The movie carried me into the state of feeling good. The story was spot-on. I liked its Pro-Life message. I liked the way Juno handled all those tough situations in her teenage life.

Having seen some films that run on a somehow low amount of budget, I was not surprised that this film delivered.

The movie is presented in seasons. This is actually a clever way of showing the three trimesters of Juno’s pregnancy. Juno, played by Ellen Page, is a 16 year old high schooler studying in Dancing Elk High. She discovers that she is pregnant with a child whose father is her friend and longtime admirer named Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera.

This is where Juno’s decisiveness comes in. Instead of going for abortion, she decides that the baby would be better up for adoption. This is where the movie shines. It has the Pro-Life message that many people nowadays want. The movie sends a good and strong message through Juno’s decisions about the baby.

As a 16 year old handling her pregnancy, Juno shows enough mental fortitude in making the crucial decisions. I honestly think that this part of Juno’s character is what makes her best. She can be a good example to people if people view her teenage pregnancy as something positive.

Back to the story. Anyway, Juno and Leah, her bestfriend played by OliviaThirlby, search for the perfect parents that will soon be adopting the unborn child. They decided to go after Mark and Vanessa Loring, married who tried to have a child but went unsuccessful.

After being uneasy with the couple at first, Juno develops a bond with Mark, who still has dreams of becoming a rock star. These dreams lead to some troubles for the married couple. Just watch the film for you to find out.

The story is really heartwarming. The parents of Juno, Mac and Bren, instead of ending their support for their Junebug, they actually supported her more. They did not lose any sense of reality at all. The way they handled the situation shows a lot of maturity which I really loved.

Also, as the time in the story progresses, we also see the “love story” of Juno and Paulie evolve. It is actually one of the film’s strong points. Very clever. Very subtle yet catchy.

The story is seamless and is free-flowing. No extras whatsoever. Just what the viewer needs. By the way, the soundtrack is awesome. It is like relaxing yet it adds happiness and it shines on you.

Give credit to Diablo Cody for writing a story that grows you and it is written based on real-life experiences. The movie can be watched by everyone and until now, I am still amazed by it.

Ellen Page’s performance as Juno MacGuff is outstanding. Period. No questions asked. She essentially convinced us that in time of handling problems, we can be rational enough and stick with what we believe is right.

Overall, a film that you should watch. That is, if you have not watched it yet.

A film so wonderful, what else can one complain about? This is a film directed by Sofia Coppola whose film wizardry shines in this film. It stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson.

This reviewer won’t spoil any details about the story but in his opinion, this is a film whose title really does wonders. Coppola’s awesome creativity is very very much present in the film.

The story is something that might be hard to be understood by the average movie watcher but it really is a polished one – it is really very engaging to say the least. It gives justice to the title of the film itself in this writer’s opinion.

Bill Murray’s performance is really commendable. He gave his all for this one. Without his credible acting, the movie would have been a dead duck. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Scarlett Johannson, had a strong performance too. She complemented Murray’s credible performance with hers.

Coppola’s director skills really shined. She really made the film work well even though it had a very low budget.

So if you want to see a movie so wonderful even though it had a low budget, watch this film. This writer recommends it big time.

Overall, I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

DIRECTOR: David Yates
STARRING: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter; Emma Watson as Hermione Granger; Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley; Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall; Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley; Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort; Katie Leung as Cho Chang amongst others.
RATING: PG-13
MY WARNING: This review contains spoilers. Sorry for those who dislike such things.

As we all know, the Harry Potter novel series has set the benchmark in the Fantasy Genre in books. J.K Rowling’s writing adeptness was the forte of the aforementioned novel series. Plot twists and turns define the greatness of this novel series. Meanwhile, the Harry Potter movie adaptations have been so far impressive and breathtaking. It provides the movie viewer an exhilarating experience.

Now comes the fifth movie of the renowned Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the thickest book and it also offers a very complex plot.

I can say that some important events found in the book are not present in the movie. Some events are also misleading like that of Cho Chang betraying Dumbledore’s Army.

The tagline of the movie is “The Rebellion Begins” and the movie executes that said tagline with some flair and grace. Director David Yates brought the best out of every actor and actress in the movie. As the Goblet of Fire ended, we all knew that Lord Voldemort was back and Cedric Diggory was victimized. In the Order of the Phoenix, Lord Voldemort’s presence causes some uproar in the wizarding community. Truth is, Voldemort is getting stronger.

The Ministry of Magic, headed by Cornelius Fudge, simply refuses the fact that Voldemort is back. They simply think that Albus Dumbledore as a mischievous plotter and Harry Potter as a horrific liar. It slowly takes over Hogwarts by assigning Dolores Umbridge as an Inquisitor.

I can say that Imelda Staunton really played the role of Dolores Umbridge really well. She really got on my nerves. She was downright irritating. Kudos to her for a job well done.

The battle against Voldemort is slowly coming into action as both Harry and Dumbledore prepare for battle against the Dark Lord. Dumbledore forms the Order of the Phoenix, an organization that comprises of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Nymphadora Tonks and others, to stop Voldemort’s existence. Meanwhile, Harry forms Dumbledore’s Army, an organization formed because the Ministry simply doesn’t like Defense Against The Dark Arts to be taught. Harry, with the persuasion of Hermione and Ron, then forms Dumbledore’s Army to teach them some Defense Against The Dark Arts.

The movie also shows some teenage life elements like that of Harry kissing Cho Chang, which I say is quite impressive. Teenage affection, teenage angst, and other teenage emotions are simply shown in the movie due to the fact that Harry is already 15 years old in this movie.

The movie has its disappointments though. In this writer’s opinion, some events like that of Ron and Hermione being Prefects, Ron becoming a Quidditch Keeper, the fake Galleons and Snape’s memories should’ve been present and elaborated but maybe because of time constraints, the said events were not shown.

Being the fifth movie, David Yates was by far presented with the most complicated Harry Potter book and I can say that he executed it with style but still the movie was kinda disappointing.

What made the movie shine was that of the final showdown between Voldemort and Harry, with Dumbledore playing a vital role here. Also, Dolores Umbridge simply made things interesting. I advise you to read all the Harry Potter books for good measure. I tell you, they are good reads and they won’t bore you at all.

For now, let’s just wait on how the final installments will turn out. I hope that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be impressive.