Wednesday, March 18, 2009

review[s]: 1234

This year, I promised I would make a review for every movie I see. I've been neglecting that promise lately. I've never been a fan of Makro but I understand that sometimes, wholesale can be good for you. Without further adue, four compressed reviews.

Empire Records
Released: September 22, 1995 (US)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

Empire Records (when it first came out) was one of those movies that told the story of a certain generation. We've only had a few. (For my generation, it was Mean Girls). The plot is simple enough. A couple of record store employees clash here and there. The movie is ridiculed with stereotypes: the smart girl, the artist, the slut, the dork, the artist and the weirdo. After discovering that their nice little joint was about to be converted into the McDonald's of the music industry, one of them, in an idiotic act disguised as heroism, gambles the day's earnings in an effort to raise enough money to save the store. If things were that easy, life would be so uncomplicated. He loses everything.

It's funny because when this movie came out, I was 9 years old but watching it now, I kinda felt old. I felt like everything was this inside joke I wasn't privy to that I so wanted to know about. The writers and producers were able to cram in an entire culture in 2 hours of film. For people like me who didn't grow up in that era, it's a little difficult to relate.

The soundtrack was absolutely great. People have said that it's one of the 90's best soundtracks ever. All in all, the movie is a beautiful ode to youth, all its shapes and forms, our identities and all the things we try to prove before we get older. Definitely worth seeing again.

Yes Man
Released: December 19, 2008 (US), January 21, 2009 (RP)
Rating: ♥♥♥

Yes Man is a feel good movie. I saw it when I was feeling a little down and it really brings out the dreamer in you. It tells the story of Carl Allen (Jim Carrey), a depressingly divorced pencil-pusher who, after a startling epiphany, tries a new philosophy on for size. He challenges himself to say "yes" to everything and anything.

You get to see Carrey in his element. Yes, at times it can a little slapstick but then again we all knew that when we saw the movie. In one scene, we see him peeking out a window, guitar in hand singing Third Eye Blind's Jumper. That scene alone (and the LSS that goes on for days ♪ i would understaaaaaaaaaaand!!! ♪) is worth the price of admission.

I especially enjoyed seeing Zooey Deschanel. I loved seeing her sing in Elf and so when I found out that she was going to sing again, I knew I had to see this film. You get to see her more quirky side ala Elf and Failure To Launch. Although I love serious-Zooey as well (Almost Famous, All The Real Girls), it's nice to see this side every once in a while.

All in all, it really is a feel good movie. The ending was a little predictable but the first part of the movie more than makes up for this. I think everyone who's seen this movie would probably think of saying "yes" a little more often. It appeals to the dreamer in everyone and if only for that, this movie is worth seeing.

Released: January 20, 2009 (US), March 11, 2009 (RP)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

I am convinced that Liam Neeson is made of steel. After years of being second-billed, it's nice to finally see him on top. In Love, Actually and Kinsey, you get the feeling that his macho days are finally over. He proves this wrong in Taken.

Taken is the story of an ex-military man who says goodbye to his life to be closer to his daughter. On a trip to Europe, his daughter gets kidnapped and is thrown into a world of drugs, human trafficking and prostitution.

I'm not a fan of action movies but I really liked Transporter. I've stood by the franchise through all the sequels and I must say I've become a fan. Taken is from the writer and producer of the franchise. In both films, the hand-to-hand combats feel more like a choreographed dance and less like violence. In one scene, an elevator opens to reveal a man brutally gunned down. A woman starts screaming and for the first time in the film, the audience finds a character they can all relate to.

Taken is the thrilling- albeit terrifying- precautionary tale that will surely be a staple in parental sermons worldwide. The scenes are thrilling, the fight scenes intense and the plot (for once) believable. If you've ever wanted to go backpacking across Europe in a fit of spontaneity, watch this movie first and think twice.

Released: January 20, 2009 (US), March 11, 2009 (RP)
Rating: ♥♥♥

I've never been a comic book fan. I used to think Neil Gaiman was a folk singer. When I was a kid, my dad used to get me comics from Book Sale but I never really took a liking to them. I am, however, a fan of movies and so as a movie fan, I knew I had to see Watchmen.

While most superhero stories start with death-defying acts of bravery, this movie starts with the death of a famous hero, The Comedian. The remaining heroes pick up the pieces, years after they were forced into retirement.

It's funny because the film is full of little treasures. I've been a fan of Billy Crudup ever since I saw him in Almost Famous and Big Fish. I hardly recognized him in this movie. He's the blue guy with the CG appendage. Patrick Wilson who I absolutely loved in Little Children was really interesting, too. In Little Children, he played the unwilling antagonist. In Watchmen, he played the unwilling protagonist. I think he's pretty much got the whole market covered.

The movie was a little too long. The plot was a little too ambitious. I think they could've had enough material for two films. The story explored so many different themes: humanity, morality, love, hate, family issues and it left me feeling tired three-fourths into the movie. Comic book fans will appreciate the panel by panel translation to the silver screen but for us regular folks, it was a little too verbose. To sum it up in an equation, think NBC's Heroes + Before Sunrise + Before Sunset = Watchmen. If you're planning on seeing this movie, do yourself a favor by getting enough sleep and arming yourself with a latte and some popcorn.