fredag 29 mars 2013

Oz: The Great And Powerful

The Wizard From Oz, relesed in 1939, is one of the biggest movie classics from all time. Maybe not my personal opinion, but it is up there on movie charts, of all time classics. I have seen it, and considering when it was made, and considering how they made the movie, it is charming. But i can´t say i see it as one of the best movies of all time. Maybe because i have never been a musical lover ( except for the musical number in Another Gay Sequel, but that´s another story ). A sequel was released in 1985, The Return To Oz, but was no box office hit. Ever since 1985, there were many rumours about making a new Oz movie, but along the way other ideas got in the way. Until now, when director Sam Raimi ( you know who is is right? ), decided to do a prequel, and tell the story what happened before Dorthy came to the land of Oz. Since i love the way Sam Raimi tell stories, and his technical way of making unforgettable scenes, i was curious how he would make this story in his own uique way. Is it possible Oz: The Great And Powerful is a future classic, or does it just look better than what it seems to be?

In Kansas, 1905, a small time-magician Oscar Diggs ( James Franco ), works on a travelling circus. The audience finds out he his a hoax, as they boo him off stage. The circus strongman finds out Oscar has flirted with his wife. Oscar is now chased, but manage to escape in a hot air balloon. Up in the sky, a tornado is getting closer. With no chance to escape, Oscar is sucked into the tornado, but manage to survive. The hot air balloon lands in a very strange place, that looks very different from Kansas. As he lands in water, he meets witch Theodora ( Mila Kunis ), who belive he is the wizard who will save Oz from the Wicked Witch. Oscar finds this situation to be very confusing, but go with her down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. In the castle, Oscar meets Theodora´s sister Evanore ( Rachel Weisz ), also a witch. Evanore is skeptical if Oscar is the real wizard they hope to save them, but show him what he will own as their king, a chamber full of gold. Oscar is delighted, and say he will help them. But since he have no special powers, how will he stop the Wicked Witch?

I don´t think we can compare this to the original movie. Emerald city is here and the yellow brick road, but none of the characters from the original movie is here. And maybe there is a reason for that, since this is supposed to be 20 years earlier before Dorthy landed. I would have liked to see more original characters, somehow a monkey with angel wings feels kind of uninspired. But then we have China Girl, a living china doll, who actually helps the movie lift a bit. To make a movie about Oz feel good, you need strong characters. James Franco may not do his best performance, but is somehow charming. The best part, except from China Doll, are the dark forest scenes, where you can tell Sam Raimi feels at home, in eternal darkness. Oz: The Great And Powerful is a good adventure movie for a family audience, not for very small children. The colors and the costumes are very well made, almost like Raimi made his own Alice In Wonderland, but without Alice. And keep your eyes open for Bruce Campbell, he is once again in another Sam Raimi movie, and you gotta love him for that, i only wish he could get a bigger role next time, such a wonderful guy. If you loved the original movie, you might be a bit disappointed that there are not many musical numbers, but if you love adventure movies this might please you for a moment.

Rating: DDD

torsdag 28 mars 2013

The Man With The Iron Fists

Kung Fu movies from the 70´s had something special. The fighting sequences were well made, considering the budget was almost nothing, the actors had to do their best to make it look real. David Carradine´s tv show Kung Fu was a good example, where the acting was mostly awful, but the fighting scenes delivered entertainment. A lot has happened since these days, kung fu movies are not very popular to make anymore. Maybe it is because this genre was more popular in the 70´s, while today most cinema movies are all about making big bucks. When hip hop artist RZA decided to make a kung fu movie, i did not really know what to think. Is he serious, or just having some fun? Is The Man With The Iron Fists a worthy tribute to old kung fu classics, or just a silly project with nothing to offer ?

China, Jungle Village. The village Blacksmith ( RZA ) creates deadly weapons for the clans, with his earned money he intend to purchase the freedom of his lover Lady Silk ( Jamie Chung ). The Lion Clan's leader Gold Lion is betrayed by his lieutenants Silver Lion ( Byron Mann ) and Bronze Lion ( Cung Le ), as they kill him to steal his gold. The Emperor's undercover emissary Jack Knife ( Russel Crowe ) arrives in the village, where he make sure to get alot of pussy at the Pink Blossom. The whore house is run by Madam Blossom ( Lucy Liu ), makes sure Jack Knife is satisfied, offering new girls and alcohol. Gold's son Zen-Yi ( Rik Yune ) wants revenge on his fathers death. But killing Silver Lion and Bronze Lion is not that easy, especially when Brass Brody ( David Bautista ), a deadly soldier who can turn into metal, is killing anyone standing in his way. Blacksmith may be the only one who can finish this evil empire, but will Lady Silk survive ?

When you see Eli Roth is one of the producers, you realise this might be something. Thankfully it turns out that The Man With The Iron Fists, is a nice tribute, made in an old school way, for kung fu fans. Some of the fighting scenes are really cool, where throats get ripped off, or someone is kicked in a very special way. The biggest problem with this movie, is the acting. Even if we have some good actors in here, like Lucy Liu and Russel Crowe among others, i feel that these characters does not work very well from an acting point of view. They only work when the fights begins, then we get a feast of violence. And check out the hair style of Silver and Bronce Lion, they look like they tried to make a haircut from Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. If you grew up watching Bruce Lee, or even early Jackie Chan movies, you might actually enjoy this one.

Rating: DDD

lördag 16 mars 2013

The ABCs Of Death

Original ideas are always interesting. In the horror genre, i have seen it all, torture, sadisctic, flesh eaters, mutated beasts...and the list goes on forever. There are so many ways of making horror, but only a few times succeeds on paper. Masters Of Horrror was an example of horror film making in short stories, directed by different classic directors, telling different dark tales. Some of those stories really proved that you can make good horror, on a small budget, as long as you have a solid idea. The ABC´s Of Death is quite unique, 26 directors made their own story, out of every letter in the alphabet. Does this concept work on a big scale, or is this too big to make it work ?

26 directors, each one have chosen a alphabetic letter to tell a story. For each story you will experience disturbed people, in so many ways you never thought was possible.

Remember the short stories in Tales From The Crypt ? This is almost the same thing, except much more shorter stories, but with more gore, blood, and really sick at some points. But somehow this is a pretty interesting take on short movies, done in so many different ways. Of all these 26 stories, i can´t say everyone is great. There are moments where you feel that everything does not fit in here. But overall, i like this idea, to tell the most brutal horror stories in such a short time, and still manage to make quality out of the production. I choose not to tell my favourites, since i feel you need to make your own mind for what you like. But i will say, The ABCs Of Death is a horror movie of my taste, trying something new, but also the idea of so many directors showing up their skills. Check it out on VOD, or buy the dvd. Support movie makers that try to do something different.

Rating: DDD

Texas Chainsaw 3D

For some people, they love going to picnics, zipping on a glass champagne, and dancing in a field of flowers. I on the other hand, enjoy watching body parts fly off, the bigger weapons or the bigger blades, the more happy i am. Does this mean i should be locked up ? Yes, most people would think so. But i look at it in a different perspective, this means i am not boring. When it comes to classic horror movies, i hope you have seen the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 by now, if you have not, then you are the ones who need therapy, not me. This is a movie you need to see before you die if you love movies. Why ? Because you don´t need a reason, just see it. Then we had some remakes, or...sequels as they are called. The 2003 version was actually pretty good, the other ones....well, i think we might have different opinions about them. Texas Chainsaw 3D is supposed to continue after the original movie, is this actually a good sequel, or not even worth your time at all ?

Mayor Burt Hartman ( Paul Rae ), and the people of Newt burn down the house of the Sawyer family. The people of Newt hope that the butcher and murderer Jedidiah "Jed" Sawyer (Dan Yeager ), known as Leatherface, is now dead. But an infant, Edith Sawyer, is found by one of the townsmen. Gavin Miller (David Born ) adopts Edith with his wife Arlene (Sue Rock ). A decade later a girl named Heather Miller ( Alexandra Daddario ) , finds out she was adopted, and her real name is Edith Sawyer. Heather is contacted that her grandmother, Verna Carlson ( Marilyn Burns ), and left Heather everything, including her mansion. Heather decide to travel down to Newt, to find out more about her family, and see the house she is now the owner of. But beneath the walls lies a truth, that no one was supposed to find out.

The title may say Texas Chainsaw, but honestly, this is not a real Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yes, Leatherface is here, and thankfully, he is the only reason i can put up with this. The scenes where he cuts up teens in different ways, is the only positive thing about this sequel. The story is not really worth to be a sequel, it is too simple and does not follow the legend very good at all. So, i suggest you check out the original, or the 2003 remake. Texas Chainsaw 3D is one of the worst sequels so far of this genre, not a disaster all the way, but still, not worth your money, unless you really love Leatherface.

Rating: DD

Zero Dark Thirty

The first thing that come to mind, when i heard a movie was going to be made about the hunt for Osama bin Laden....another patriotic war movie why America is the greatest country in the world. But hold on, Kathryn Bigelow is the director, so maybe this is not what i expected ? If you never heard of Kathryn Bigelow, you might remember classic movies like Strange Days, or perhaps a more modern movie like The Hurt Locker. I really enjoyed The Hurt Locker for many reasons, but i was not sure about seeing Bigelow making another movie about a war theme, especially on this subject. But maybe Zero Dark Thirty is way better than i could ever imagine, or is this a typical war movie ?

Maya ( Jessica Chastain ) have since the year 2003, spent her entire brief career focused solely on gathering intelligence related to Osama bin Laden. Maya is resigned to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, to work with a fellow officer, Dan ( Jason Clarke ). Maya helps Dan to get information from Ammar ( Reda Kateb ), a detainee with suspected links to several Saudi Terrorists. After using torture methods, during interrogations, Amar finally reveals some useful information. A man named Abu Ahmed is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. But Maya finds out some other information, that another man named Abu Faraj. CIA bring Abu Faraj in for interrogation, as Maya tries to find out more about bin Ladens location. But things become complicated, when she finds out Abu Ahmed might be dead, information coming from a Jordanian. She refuse to belive this, and continue her investigation. Then suddenly, a fellow analyst researching Moroccan, tells her Abu Ahmed´s real name may be Ibrahim Sayeed. Maya pick up this information and contact Dan, she is sure they are on the right track. But are they, or is someone not telling the truth ?

First of all, this is not a typical war movie. This is more of a serious drama motion picture, even if there is a lot of violence at times. And this is where Zero Dark Thirty works so well, the mix of drama and war story, with a very serious tone, fits perfect together. If this is the true story, i do not know, and i have a feeling we will never know, unless you were actually there. But as a motion picture, this is a really good production, and the acting is superb from most of the actors. Especially Jessica Chastain, i am really looking forward to see her in the new horror movie Mama, she is without a doubt one of the best new actors of this generation. And to see swedish actor/ director Fares Fares as a CIA Special Activities Division Officer is great, he is actually getting better at acting. One thing that makes director Kathryn Bigelow such a great director is her feeling of telling stories. She knows how to capture the feeling of true cinema magic, you just don´t want to leave your seat. The intensive action scenes is another proof how good Bigelow is at capturing a feeling of brutal honesty. Every war never solve anything, no one really wins in the end. Zero Dark Thirty is coming out on dvd and blu ray soon, so i really suggest you should rent or buy this one, either way, just make sure you see this one. If you thought you knew everything about Osama bin Laden, i think you need to take a look here to get a bigger perspective.

Rating: DDDD

lördag 2 mars 2013

Red Dawn

I can´t say i have been a big fan of Patrick Swayze, but Road House is one of those 80´s movies that you can enjoy, while having a beer. Not because of the story, but for the bar fights. Speaking of Patrick Swayze, most people would probably say he was best in Dirty Dancing. There is actually one movie in his career, that many may not remember. Red Dawn was unique, taking a war movie to a different level. The story of a town being invaded by russian military. Maybe not a classic war movie, but a different take on war stories. I actually never thought that a remake was going to be made, but i guess i was wrong. Since the original movie was made in 1984, time has changed and to make an updated version demands respect for the original movie. Is this remake of Red Dawn worth your time, or a waste of time ?

United States are facing big financial problems, as well as political issues with no answers. North Korea is a big threat, with heavy military operations. Spokane, Washington. US Marine Jed Eckert ( Chris Hemsworth ) is spending time with his brother Matt Eckert ( Josh Peck ). While they are at their home, a mysterious power outage takes out the whole town. Up in the skies, airplanes let out lots of soldiers from North Korea, an invasion has just begun. The Eckertt family and friends begin to defend themselves, not knowing if there is a way out.

To compare this with the original movie is quite easy. The biggest difference between the old movie and this latest remake is the violence. If you thought Red Dawn was filled with action in 1984, then this latest version have plenty more. As an action movie, this may not be the most effective story you have seen. But you wont be bored. The biggest problem is the acting, there are not many strong characters in this movie, so it is quite easy to forget about them. Red Dawn tries to be a cool action smoker for the young generation. This might work for teens, but for me this is more of a typical american hero movie, we have seen so many times before. Chris Hemsworth still delivers, but not on the same level as he usually does. I suggest you watch the original movie, even if it did have flaws, it is still a classic in some ways. By the way, there is actually a classic line in here. Chris says:- Give me the gun, and one of the guys answers :- I am not giving you dick....You just got to love lines like that.

Rating: DD