FlixChatter Review: EXODUS: Gods and Kings (2014)

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Sir Ridley Scott maybe the most inconsistent successful film director ever, he first burst into fame by directing Alien in 1979 but made two big budget misfires a few years later, Blade Runner and Legend. He came back into prominence again in 1991 with Thelma & Louise, but the rest of his work in the 90s were mostly forgotten. Not until 2000 when he finally became an A-list director by making Gladiator and many of his films in that decade were very successful. He’s now back with another big budget period epic adventure, but unfortunately I think it might be one of his worst films.

Before I go into the review, I would like to note that I’m not a religious person so I don’t know the story of Moses, heck I’ve never seen The Ten Commandments so I went into this movie with zero knowledge of the subject.

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In the Egyptian city of Memphis, the film introduced us to Moses (Christian Bale) and Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), they’re preparing to go into a battle and getting a blessing from King Seti (John Turturro) who also happens to be Rhamses’ father. Right away we get the feeling that there’s some kind of animosity between Moses and Rhamses and the King seems to have more love for Moses than his own son. During the battle, Moses saved Rhamses’ life and this somehow made him resent Moses even more. In the said scene, Rhamses was so offended he even considered killing Moses. After defeating their enemies, both Moses and Rhamses were heralded as heroes back in their hometown. Again King Seti seem to be more impressed with Moses than his own son, later on he told Rhamses to go and check up on a close by city because some of the slaves aren’t behaving. Not expecting to receive this kind of menial task from the king, Rhamses was not happy. So Moses volunteered to go instead. Upon arriving at the city, Moses met with the elders of the slaves including its leader Nun (Ben Kingsley). It’s here that Nun confronted Moses and told him that he’s a Hebrew and needs to lead his people to freedom. Of course Moses didn’t believe a word of what Nun said. I think anyone who’s familiar with the story probably already know what’s going to happen so I won’t go deeper into the plot of the movie.

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Scott is known for being a perfectionist when it comes to how his films should look and here again his film looks spectacular. Shot natively in 3D, the effects were very immersive, but unfortunately he only included some few WOW 3D effects. So save yourself some money and see it on 2D instead. I haven’t mentioned about the plagues and the Red Sea parting scene because even though the effects were great, I wasn’t so into the movie so I didn’t even care about them. Aside from the visual aesthetics, the movie itself was kind of mediocre. For the first hour or so I thought this was made by a amateur director. The story narrative was all over the place and the editing was even worse. I’m quite sure we’ll get the inevitable longer “Director’s Cut” version when it comes out on video. I’m not quite sure of what he’s trying to say about the main leads, especially Moses. He started out as some kind of a non-believer but then out of nowhere became this savior who only answers to God. Maybe because I’m not familiar with the story and also a non-believer, I just didn’t buy into his transformation. For those expecting to see a Gladiator or even Kingdom of Heaven action style, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The movie contained one big action sequence but the marketing folks did a good job of promoting the movie as this non-stop action/adventure.

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There’s been a lot of controversies when it comes to the cast, the filmmakers decided to cast mostly Caucasian actors in the lead roles. Truth be told, many of them look kind of ridiculous with heavy tanning and make up, especially Joel Edgerton. Personally I don’t have any issues with the casting, I mean this is a $140mil Hollywood produced movie and they need to cast some well-known actors to get their money back. Controversies aside, most of the actors were pretty good in their respective roles. This is a Christian Bale‘s movie since he appeared on the screen 90% of the time. Even though I thought the role was poorly written, Bale did what he could with the material. Edgerton was also good playing the “villain.” I don’t think I’ve seen him in any other movie except the atrocious Star Wars Episode 2. Here he played a pretty menacing character and he even outshone Bale in a couple of scenes they appeared together.

I’m pretty sure Sigourney Weaver must’ve been quite upset when she sees the final movie since she appeared on the screen for only about 5 minutes and spoke about 5 lines of dialogs. I’m guessing most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Ben Kingsley did a fine job as this Yoda kind of role. The oddest person in the cast here is Aaron “Jesse” Paul, he played this sidekick to Moses and I just thought he’s way out of his elements here. Another bad casting is John Turturro, he looks ridiculous in the weird make up and spoke with a weird accent that I wanted to laugh when he appears on screen.

For all the bad casting, writing and directing, the worse crime this movie committed was that it’s so boring! I actually dosed off a couple of times during the screening. This was yet another misfire from a director whose career may need to come to an end. I can forgive the bad editing and writing if the movie was entertaining, unfortunately it’s just a bad movie that can’t be saved even though it looks so good.

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Have you seen Exodus? Well, what did you think?

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Question of the week: Which seasoned director do you think has lost his mojo?

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Sir Ridley couldn’t even keep Christian Bale awake on set

Though this falls under my Random Movie Question categories, you’d surmise that it’s really NOT so random. I was inspired by my friend Ted who texted me after the EXODUS screening that he was surprised the film was made by an experienced director of Ridley Scott’s caliber, he said it looked like it had been done by some newbie filmmaker.

You’ll see his full review later this week, but that confirms my dread that Sir Ridley seems to have really lost his mojo. I mean this is the same visionary director who did sci-fi classics like Alien, Blade Runner in his early 40s, then Gladiator (one of my faves of all time), Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Dawn, etc. in his 50s. A lot of people might’ve said he’s lost it long ago and perhaps the 77-year-old should’ve retired and just stick to be an executive producer. Yet I somehow still defended him when he made Robin Hood (which I still enjoyed though I wish he had stuck with the Sheriff of Nottingham concept), and I even think A Good Year has its charm. But after Prometheus, which was fun but definitely no masterpiece by a long shot, The Counselor was panned by critics and audience alike. His latest *Biblical epic* seems um, poised to fall in that same category, and not only because of his questionable casting choices.

Now, he’s certainly not the only director out there who can’t seem to follow up their past success. People have been saying that about Brian de Palma, Oliver Stone, even Francis Ford Coppola are in the same camp.


So I’m curious, which seasoned/famous director(s) you think have lost their touch in recent years?

Fairy Tale Blogathon: Ridley Scott’s LEGEND (1985)

FairyTaleBlogathonPicWhen I saw that there’s a blogathon on Fairy Tale movies, hosted by Movies Silently, I jumped at the chance to participate. Alas I discovered it too late that most of the movies I wanted to review had been picked by others.

But then I remembered about Legend, which is a fairy tale/ fantasy film by Ridley Scott that I’ve been curious about. The film’s received some kind of a cult status, and the fact that it also stars Tom Cruise piqued my interest even more. Apparently there are the theatrical and director’s cut [as is often the case w/ Ridley Scott’s works] and the one I saw on iTunes is the theatrical version.

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I knew the movie would be rather campy, a la Flash Gordon, I mean it’s the 80s after all! As the film opens, we’re treated to a really wordy exposition talking about darkness and light and setting up who’s who in the movie: a girl (Lily), a boy (Jack), unicorns and the devil himself, Lord of Darkness. The visuals and set pieces are actually pretty darn good for a film of its time, there’s an atmospheric quality to it that works for this genre. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given Scott’s meticulous hand in creating an imaginative world for his films.

Tom Cruise and Mia Sara play the two lovebirds who supposedly represent what’s good in the world… Jack and Lily are innocent and pure, though we barely know just who these people are and how they meet, etc. Then the story seems to have taken the ‘Adam & Eve’ route in that Eve Lily does the forbidden thing when she touches an angelic-looking unicorn despite Jack’s vehement warning. Apparently it’s a huge no-no in their universe though the unicorns themselves don’t seem to mind it. So of course that incident propels a series of bad things, including one of the unicorn getting its horn cut off and Lily herself being kidnapped by Darkness’ minions.

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Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness is no doubt the best thing about this film with his deep baritone voice and vivacious yet maniacal style, but he’s given so little screen time here. It’s a real shame as his devilish makeup is quite entertaining in and of itself, it’s like a combination of The Joker + Hellboy with big horns and flappy ears. It’s no wonder the makeup team got an Oscar nomination for their crafty work. The English actor relished in being an evil lord and gleefully flash his trademark Cheshire cat grin and deep hearty laugh.

Legend_TimCurryCruise seems rather out of place here and he pretty much just runs around in his hideous scale mail dress, though it’s amusing to see him looking so boyish and fresh-faced here pre his Scientology indoctrination. Let’s just say he gets better with age not just in looks but also in screen presence as he doesn’t seem at all confident or compelling here in comparison to his other heroic roles he’s played in his career. Mia Sara is just ok as the heroine, nothing special. Lily is far more interesting when she dons a very revealing outfit that’s no doubt handpicked by Lord Darkness himself, but otherwise she’s a rather bland character.

The story is inherently cheesy and predictable, but I wouldn’t have mind it so much if it weren’t so boring or worse, mind-numbingly irritating. The movie spends so much time with the silly goblins and those annoying elves/dwarves whom Jack encounter on his journey to fight Darkness and rescue his girlfriend from his possession. Their scenes are just pointless and again, hugely irritating that I actually had to fast forward past them. There’s a big fight scene towards the end between Jack and Darkness, but I wish there’s more screen time between the two of them.

Cruise_LegendFor the most part, Legend is just so cliché-ridden and absurd that it’s unintentionally hilarious. It certainly doesn’t live up to its name as I don’t think the film merits any kind of exalted status. Neither the hero nor heroine [or unicorns for that matter] really inspire anything and so devoid of personalities to make any kind of impact. The soundtrack of the theatrical cut is scored by Tangerine Dream and the synthesized sound actually fits the ethereal look and dreamy mood of the film, though after a while it also gets to be too much that it feels overindulgent. Oh and apparently Sir Ridley has sort of a fairy dust obsession here the way J.J. Abrams is with lens flare, poor Tom and Mia must’ve been engulfed in them in this one schmaltzy scene.

So overall I guess I wasn’t too impressed with this one. In fact it’s nuts to think this is from the same guy who directed the likes of Blade Runner and Gladiator! The concept of dark/light and the allegory of good & evil is intriguing, and it’s a theme that’s always timely. I just think the execution misses the mark and it’s not as entertaining nor meaningful as it could’ve been. I don’t regret seeing it though, as the visuals and atmospheric quality is wonderful and the contrast of the good vs evil is beautifully realized. As far as fantasy movies go, it doesn’t hold a candle to other period pieces in its genre like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Pan’s Labyrinth or The Princess Bride.

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Have you seen this film? I’d love to hear what you think!

Wordless Wednesday: 7 Favorite Scenes of the Roman Epic GLADIATOR (2000)

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This past weekend, I rewatched an old favorite. Well it’s not just an oldie-but-goodie, it’s perhaps one of my top 10 favorite of all time: GLADIATOR. It’s the one cinematic masterpiece Ridley Scott’s been trying to replicate ever since, to no avail. After seeing the trailer for Exodus: Gods and King, well it seems that Mr Scott’s glory days is behind him. Ah well, we’ll always have Gladiator. Amazing that even fourteen years later, this film still holds up extremely well, everything about it is perfect, absolutely perfect.

I’ve written an extensive appreciation post on it a few years back, as part of a ‘Movies that made going to the movies suck‘ blogathon. Yes I think that blogathon name is a hoot, but once you read people’s posts on it, it totally make sense. Anyhoo, it’s supposed to be a wordless post so I’ve said enough already. Here are some of my favorite scenes from the Roman epic:

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My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius


“The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end…”


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“Are you not entertained?!”

…..

Ending scene – w/ Now We Are Free score

Gracchus on the Gladiatorial Games

I couldn’t find the exact scene for this but I LOVE Derek Jacobi‘s scene here. His lines is one of my favorite movie quote ever, but most importantly, it’s how he delivered it.

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[SCENE: Gaius and Gracchus at a restaurant, discussing the games which Commodus revived to lure the mob. Outside can be seen a juggler, merchants calling out their wares (wine), and the crowd visiting and moving about.]

GAIUS: Games! 150 days of games!
GRACCHUS: He’s cleverer than I thought.
GAIUS: Clever. The whole of Rome would be laughing at him if they weren’t in fear of his Praetorian.
GRACCHUS: Fear and wonder. A powerful combination.
GAIUS: Will the people really be seduced by that?
GRACCHUS: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. He will conjure magic for them and they will be distracted. He will take away their freedom, and still they will roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble floor of the Senate, it is the sand of the Colosseum. He will give them death, and they will love him for it.


These are just a sampling of my favorite scenes from GLADIATOR. What do you think? Feel free to share yours.

Weekend Roundup: The Machine (2013) Review

Happy Monday everyone! I’m slacking off a bit here, I was hoping to get my Breathe-In review this weekend but just couldn’t find the time to do it. But I was supposed to catch the Brendan Gleeson/Taylor Kitsch comedy The Grand Seduction on Friday but I made a snafu that I didn’t order an extra ticket for my hubby so I have to go to the Sunday night screening instead. So I’ll post my review of Breathe-In together with that one as soon as I get around to it :D

Well, this weekend I got to see a pretty cool sci-fi indie The Machine: TheMachinePoster

This British dystopian sci-fi has obvious nods to Blade Runner. In fact, it says right on the synopsis and the marketing itself. As a fan of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, I was naturally intrigued. Instead of a story of a cop hunting down replicants aka robots, The Machine‘s protagonists are two artificial intelligence (AI) engineers who are working together in a futuristic era where a world is in an economic crisis and a cold war with China is brewing. Their boss is the Ministry of Defense Thomson (Denis Lawson) who’s hellbent on winning the arms race by creating a robotic soldier. The main scientist, Vincent (Toby Stephens) is morally conflicted about his job, but he does it because it’s the only way he could have technological access to help his ailing daughter.

The meat of the story takes place after Vincent’s new science partner Ava (Caity Lotz) is brutally murdered and he then created a cyborg in her likeness. Soon Thomson’s real motive is quickly revealed and Vincent’s life is endangered as he becomes a potential victim of his own creation.

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Despite the low-budget production (less than $2 mil), I think writer/director Caradog W. James‘ did a nice job in creating a thought-provoking film that’s also visually arresting. The homage to Blade Runner is evident in his stylish visual style with the bleak futuristic setting and use of neon lights, as well as its use of synthesizer music that evokes Vangelis’ theme. I like sci-fi films that’s more atmospheric and even a little bit moody, instead of an all-action extravaganza like Elysium, and that’s partly why I enjoyed The Machine. There’s a lot of heart in the relationship between Vincent and his daughter, as well as with Ava even in robotic form. The developing relationship between a human being and an AI is nothing groundbreaking and foreseeable, but when done well, it’s still fascinating to watch. The love story is also not overblown which adds to its realism.

Both Stephens and Lotz did a nice job in their respective roles. Stephens’ got that brooding, tortured soul thing down pat which works well for this role, and Lotz whom I’ve never seen before is especially impressive. Her transformation from a curious scientist to an AI with childlike vulnerability but deadly power is quite convincing, and I find her struggle with the loss of her humanity pretty moving. She obviously looks more robotic than any of the replicants in Blade Runner, and Lotz gets the mechanical mannerism perfectly. Action fans would certainly appreciate her dance-like but lethal kickboxing moves. The film is rated R for some brutal and bloody action sequences from start to finish.

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The story is not perfect though, it gets predictable as the film progresses and some things are not explained too well. The side effect of the sensor-restoring brain implants on the fatally-wounded war veterans *recycled* for the project is that they render them mute as they become cyborgs. For some reason they can still speak in intelligible robotic voice to each other, though later they regained their speech ability and it’s never fully explained why. Despite that, it’s pretty darn entertaining and I highly recommend it if you’re into this genre. The intimate feel of the story gives a nice lingering effect after I watched it, and the ending is perfectly eerie as we imagine what a plausible future shared with an AI could be. The Machine proofs that you can still make an engaging film even on a shoestring budget, I’m curious to see what James would do with more resources at his disposal.

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Has anyone seen this film? Curious to hear what you think.

Five for the Fifth: First of the Year (2014) Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the FIRST edition of 2014 Five for the Fifth!!

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As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. As I was thinking for all the questions for this post, I was humming some of the songs from FROZEN so naturally my mind turns to soundtracks. I listen to basically only a couple of genres: classical and soundtracks, with other genres I listen to only when I come across to on the radio. I haven’t decided whether I want to make a top 10 list of favorite soundtracks yet, but if I did, I think these five will surely make the list: The Great Gatsby, The Sapphires, Pacific Rim, Gravity, and of course, FROZEN. That last one is especially addictive, just like a lot of other Disney music, I just can’t get ‘em out of my head! The Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel’s version of The First Time of Forever is my absolute favorite.

So my first question is: What’s your favorite soundtrack/song of 2013?

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2. I’d like to single out an actor/filmmaker whose birthday falls on Five for the Fifth Day. Well today’s Bradley Cooper‘s birthday, and he and I are apparently only a month apart in age [I’ll let you Google it yourself how old that is, ahah].

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I haven’t always been fond of Cooper, though with his tall, lean figure, dark hair and beautiful blue eys, you’d think he’d be my type. The thing is, I kind of find him to be a little too pretty, which actually has the opposite effect. In any case, ever since Silver Linings Playbook, and most recently American Hustle, I’ve warmed up to him more. At least he has a pleasant countenance, though not the most charismatic actor in my opinion.

So what do you think of Bradley Cooper? Are you a fan?

3. The trend in Hollywood with film adaptations is they come in twos. And so is this year with two Biblical epics, one for Easter (NOAH – March 28) and the other just before Christmas (EXODUS – December 12). As much as I LOVE stories from the Good Book getting some attention, granted there are a bunch of them that are worth exploring, I’m more curious rather than excited about these two. My hope is that they’d stay true to the source material and that God doesn’t end up simply being an afterthought.

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Russell Crowe w/ Jennifer Connelly in NOAH & Bale as Moses

Last week we got a FIRST LOOK of Christian Bale in the role of Moses. So apparently it’s not enough that he’s played the Ultimate Savior of Humanity (as Jesus in the TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus) back in 1999. Not the greatest casting call ever IMO. Now, as much as I love Bale and he’s a terrific actor, I feel that he’s rather ill-suited for this role as well, it’d be nice to see Hollywood at least attempt to cast someone ethnic looking even if they couldn’t find an actual Jewish actor. I’d think Guatemalan-descent Oscar Isaac would’ve been a better choice and he’s a very good actor in his own right. Yes I know he doesn’t have the star power yet, and something with a huge budget like this is unlikely to get greenlit without a major star.

Anyway, that official photo shows Moses still leading a comfortable life as the adopted member of the Egyptian royal family. But here are some set photos with lookie here… Aussie Joel Edgerton as Ali Baba, er I mean Rhamses! In the photo of Bale with Ridley Scott, the costume look like it’s a recycled version from his Robin Hood film. Mr. Scott hasn’t captured the glory that was Gladiator since its release 14 years ago, we’ll see if he’d finally do so with this one.

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Well, what do you think folks? Thoughts on the EXODUS film?

4. I heard about A Promise a couple of months ago and being a fan of period dramas, naturally it piqued my interest. But with a cast that include Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall AND former Game of ThronesRichard Madden (this ultra gorgeous hunk of a man happens to be Scottish, natch!), I definitely want to see this! Check out the trailer:

A romantic drama set in Germany just before WWI and centered on a married woman who falls in love with her husband’s protégé. Separated first by duties and then by the war, they pledge their devotion to one another.

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Ok so I’ve read some not-so-stellar reviews from Venice Film Festival that mentioned the lack of chemistry. Heh, I guess I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt, I mean, being torn between Rickman and Madden? A girl can only be so darn lucky! Ah well, I doubt this movie will make it to my city anyway, but I’ll be sure to rent it when it comes out.

What do  you think of this one, folks?


5. Now lastly, since the first week of the New Year isn’t over yet, some of you are probably still working on your New Year’s resolution. Some might’ve actually broken one too, am I right? ;) I actually don’t really have one, I just never bothered with it, but this year, as it relates to my blog and my love for movies, my resolution is to catch up on more classic movies. I’ve been saying that a lot in the past but this time, I’ve got a plan! I’ve signed up for the BlindSpot blogathon, as you can see on my list I posted last week, I’d at least hit 12 of them I’ve been meaning to see. Perhaps you have similar goals, i.e. tackle a certain genre/filmmaker or maybe you want to catch all of AFI’s Top 100 Movies, etc.

So, what’s YOUR movie-related goal in 2014?


Well, that’s it for the first-of-the-year edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Everybody’s Chattin’ … and an [FB] announcement

Happy Friday everyone!

Not only is the weekend almost here, Pixar’s BRAVE has arrived, yay! My hubby and I are going to see it tonight.

Move over Rapunzel, I think Princess Merida has the most glorious hair ever!


Now, before I get to the links, I just want to apologize for skipping the Everybody’s Chattin’ post last month. I know most of you probably don’t even notice it but for me, the best part about blogging is the community aspect and I really appreciate my friends who have done so regularly, like Ryan [my inspiration], Sam, Pete, Sati, and my pal Terrence’s Happy Haps. I love spreading link loves, I mean that’s what makes this blogging thing go around :D

Paula’s FCM Blogathon #2
FCM stands for Future Classic Movies and following the success of the first blog-a-thon, Paula is now at it again with its second round. Check out which film made her list and other bloggers’ selections.
Terrence’s BRAVE review
I’m so jealous that he’s seen the movie already. Check out what he thinks of the latest from Pixar, certainly one of my most anticipated from the year.
John’s historical figure roles suggestion for Leonardo DiCaprio
Inspired by his recent viewing of J Edgar, John thinks up even more 20th century historical figures for him to tackle! Leo should definitely give him a call :D
Lady Sati’s Appreciation for Jean Dujardin
One of the most beautifully-designed blogs out there, Sati’s recently made a wonderful tribute on my favorite French actor right now. Ladies, you better sit down first ;)
Fernando’s Ridley Scott Double Bill
The Alien movie must be getting a lot of play this weekend with the release of Prometheus. Check out why Fernando likes both for different reasons.
Kristin’s Double Reviews
I LOVE it when people do a post of two VERY different movies, that’s what Kristin did with her reviews of Prometheus and Rock of the Ages.


Now on to the announcement! Well, isn’t it obvious… I finally bite the bullet after resisting it for a couple of years… FlixChatter is now on Facebook!!

Thanks to those who have LIKED me, now for the rest of you, would be a dear and do so please? I’d sincerely appreciate it :D



So what are you going to see this weekend? Whatever you do, hope you have a good one!

Guest Review: Prometheus – from a die-hard ALIENS fan

In August last year, I posted this Random Question: What movie you’ve seen most often on the big screen as I was inspired by my colleague who saw Aliens twelve times on the big screen. Well, now he’s here to tell us whether Prometheus lives up to his lofty expectations.


Review by Phil Thompson

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of the first 2 Alien movies, Aliens is my all-time favorite movie, and I actually saw it twelve times in theaters. So yeah, I’m a fan.

“A king has his reign, and then he dies. It is inevitable.”

These words open the narration of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a return to the Alien universe he created back in 1979 with Alien. A character will speak these words again later in the movie, and their significance will be apparent at that time.

Prometheus is a gorgeous movie, with excellent cinematography, sets, and special effects, and is generally well-cast and well-acted. The soundtrack was a bit of a let-down for me; it never really conveyed a sense of fear or dread. The movie combines the genres of science-fiction, action, and horror, with a touch of religion added in. It has a lot in common with the original Alien, but also interestingly evokes memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And although this is clearly a prequel to the movie Alien, it is not a direct prequel in the sense that the events of this movie will lead to the beginning of Alien. Rather, the events in Prometheus will answer some questions about Alien, and will help you better understand the Alien movies.

The general storyline of Prometheus is that in the late 21st century, a handful of scientists/archaeologists convince the massive Weyland mega-Corporation to bankroll an expedition to the moon (“LV-223″) of a distant planet, where they hope to find some answers about the beginning of mankind on Earth.

The 2 scientists/archaeologists behind Prometheus’ mission are Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Michael Fassbender plays the eerie robot David who must look after Prometheus’ sleeping human passengers on the 2+-year journey from Earth to LV-223. Charlize Theron is the grumpy corporate Meredith Vickers, who is in charge of the expedition for the Weyland Corporation, and Idris Elba is Janek, the ship’s gruff, Christmas-loving pilot. Guy Pearce also appears in heavy makeup as Peter Weyland, the CEO of the massive Weyland Corporation.

Prometheus is Noomi Rapace’s movie, and she is a strong female character in the vein of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the first 2 Alien movies. The harrowing scene where Shaw undergoes a self-inflicted medical procedure is the movie’s best, in my opinion. The other standout star of this movie is Fassbender’s David. He evokes memories of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you will spend much of the movie trying to understand why he acts the way he does.

Spoiler Alert: [highlight the text below if you want to read the spoiler]

Shaw and David will be part of any “Prometheus” sequels.

Theron’s Meredith Vickers doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie, but she does deliver one of my favorite lines in the movie: “If you’re going down there, you’re going to die.” Interestingly enough, the person(s) she says this to are not the persons she appears to say it to in the movie’s many trailers.

The movie starts out relatively quickly, with a couple quick setup scenes, and in less than 15 minutes, the Prometheus, an opulent trillion-dollar spacecraft with a crew of just 17 people, is in orbit around LV-223.  At this point, Drs. Shaw and Holloway announce to the ship’s crew that they believe some beings they call “Engineers” left some breadcrumbs on Earth “inviting” us to follow them to this exact location, and that they hope to find some evidence of these “Engineers” on this moon, and maybe even meet one of them.

The Prometheus finds some clearly non-natural structures on LV-223, and sets down to investigate them. What they find is not what they expected to find, and some characters’ hidden agendas eventually appear, making things even more interesting. The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster ride, with very few wasted scenes. The ending clearly calls out for at least one sequel, and the final scene of the movie is not to be missed by fans of the “Alien” movies.

So did it live up to my own lofty expectations?

Short answer is: YES. I enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend that you go see it.  But the movie does have several flaws. Its alien creatures (all but one) are surprisingly uninspired (in my opinion), compared to H.R. Giger’s creations for the earlier movies. It has a few serious plot holes – in a trillion dollar expedition to a remote moon, would there really be nobody monitoring 2 scientists stuck off-ship during a storm? And the movie brings up an awful lot of questions that will leave you shaking your head days later. And some of those questions can only be answered by a sequel.  But these are relatively minor flaws, and will not prevent you from enjoying the movie.

As a big fan of both the Alien and Aliens movies, I was a little disappointed that this movie kind of sets off in a different direction. It explains how the aliens in the Aliens movies came to be, but then moves off in another direction with the Engineers and the questions associated with them, and any “Prometheus” sequels would appear to marginalize the “Alien” storylines. I think I might’ve enjoyed the Jon Spaights version of the script more, which supposedly was more of a true Alien prequel, with the same aliens/eggs/chest-bursters that we’ve come to know (and love?).

Thoughts on the Box Office take and the 3D quality:

From what I’m reading right now, Prometheus has opened to a $50 million box-office take in its opening weekend. I think that amount would’ve been a lot higher if the movie didn’t have an R rating. Madagascar 3D bumped Prometheus off the large UltraScreen in the Marcus Oakdale Theater near me, and also out of the main large 3D theater in my local theater. I was stunned that a movie of Prometheus caliber would have to play second fiddle to an animated film about a bunch of animals.

I would recommend getting to the theater on time, as the very first scene of the movie is somewhat important, especially if you want to understand some of the deeper concepts in the movie. Also, I saw the movie both in 3D and on a regular screen, and I didn’t feel that the 3D added much. But I did not see it on an IMAX screen, and I do wear glasses, so any 3D movie for me means 2 sets of glasses. Add in the fact that a lot of the movie’s scenes are in dark scary places, and it doesn’t make for the best 3D viewing.

If you’re like me, you’ll have at least one or two very large questions after the movie ends, and if you go online to get some answers, you’ll find all sorts of them. And you may be surprised to find that the movie may have been hinting at far bigger things than you may have first thought.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen Prometheus? Feel free to add your thoughts below on whether this film lives up to the hype.

The FCM Blog-a-thon — What movie(s) will become a Future Classic?

What a brilliant idea! My pal Paula, who’s a confirmed TCM addict, have often wondered what movies from the 21st century would stand the test of time, like CasablancaGone With The Wind or Out of the PastInstead of just mulling those over on her own, she decides to get all of us movie bloggers to join in on the fun. And so the FUTURE CLASSIC MOVIES (FCM) BLOGATHON was born.

So what do we have to do? Well, we get to pick a movie (or more) from 2000 or later, and writes about why they think it will endure to become a Future Classic. 


To me, the key to a film’s endurance has to do with the main subject matter itself, whether its theme will resonate with people no matter what age/era. The reason Casablanca achieved its iconic status and can still be enjoyed by a new generation 70 years later is that the theme of lost love, patriotism and sacrifice are all something we can relate and aspire to, no matter how many years have passed since WWII.

All of these films below are visually stunning, but just like people, looks can only be interesting for so long. It’s the substance and message that makes a movie timeless. 

So with that in mind, here are three that I think has the ingredients to become a Future Classic.

It should be obvious but spoilers may be present in this post,
consider yourself warned. 

Gladiator

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’d likely know I adore this film. It’s the first film that came to mind when Paula invited me, and in my mind, it already IS a classic and I believe generations to come would still appreciate this one even decades from now.

I selected the very same film two years ago for a blog-a-thon called Movies That Makes Going to the Movies Suck as this Ridley Scott masterpiece pretty much launched a trend of swords-and-sandals flicks that threatens to tarnish the original’s legacy. One sign of an enduring film is that some of its quotes are still used even today, but of course that alone won’t make a *classic* if it doesn’t have an engrossing story and fused with a thrilling spectacle of action and memorable performances.

Brain, brawn and heart… there’s not a lot of films that capture all three perfectly, and still manage to impress us visually with its amazing cinematography. Oh, and there’s the soundtrack. I still get chills listening to Now We Are Free, it speaks so beautifully about Maximus’ humanity. Oh I long to see this film on the big screen once again in all its glory.

HUGO

A love letter to the movies, what could be more timeless? At first glance, Scorsese’s first family film seems to be about this 12-year-old orphan boy Hugo Cabret who lives in a railway station. That’s pretty much as much as I know when I went it to see it, so what a joy it is when the film takes us into a journey that ties the boy with a real life French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Loneliness, abandonment, disillusionment are sentiment any of us can relate to as we’ve all felt it at some point of another. No matter how modern technology has evolved, even when we’re able to watch movies via a hologram or what have you, our humanity is what will connect us across generations. And that’s what films do in many ways. That’s why *classic* films shall always have a place in the modern world and years to come. Our great, great grand-kids will still likely be fascinated by how the past generations create the films that  become the medium they enjoy today.

The 1930s world with that marvelous vintage clock where Hugo lives in is absolutely enchanting. There’s something so magical about the way its filmed that captures your imagination. 3D will become old news one day but its charm and heartwarming story won’t likely be lost with the passing time.

[read my Hugo review]

Midnight in Paris

Here’s another one from 2011 that’s also nominated for Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t plan it that way, but I do think both films has that certain everlasting charm, and not only because they’re both set in the city of lights. The fixation with time period of past and present drives the story here and the idea of time travel certainly has a lasting effect in cinema. It’s similar to Woody Allen’s other time travel fantasy The Purple Rose of Cairo, but even more beguiling.

The protagonist Gil is obsessed with a bygone era of the 1920s, so when he’s somehow magically transported to that period at midnight, the *lost generation* looks ever so fresh and as fascinating as ever. We watch in awe just like Gil marveling at its beauty… the car, the clothes, the music… and of course the seemingly immortal personas like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso… the people in history books that we’ll always treasure for years to come.

What’s more, the predicament Gil faces is something we can all relate to. No, I’m not talking about his obsession with a certain era, but about pursuing his dreams and having the courage to break free from his stifling life to do so.

“Maybe the present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying” – Gil

The message about appreciating one’s life in the present will also resonate well no matter what era one lives in. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that Paris in the rain in the finale, it doesn’t get any more timeless than this.

[read my Midnight in Paris review]


Do check out what other films people think will become a Future Classic.


Well, what do you think of my picks? Feel free to share what movie(s) you think have a long-lasting appeal.

My Movie Year: The Year 2000

Thanks to Andy for inviting me to My Movie Year blog-a-thon. This is the second time I’ve participated in Fandango Groovers’ blog event since the massively popular Desert Island DVDs. Below is the simple rule for the post:

All you have to do is pick your favourite year for movies and back I up with five classics from that year, no more no less. You can do as much or as little as you want with your selections; a simple list, images and posters, reviews, trailers. Or anything else you can think of.

It’s quite a daunting task as most of the movies I love come from different decades. I actually didn’t see all that many movies back in college, but I pick the year 2000 as this is the year where I moved in to my first ever house after living in one apartment after another in college and shortly after graduation. I didn’t watch a lot of movies on the big screen then either, but it turns out a lot of movies released in 2000 have become one of my all time favorites. So here they are:

Gladiator

I can’t possibly NOT include this movie. I mean, I’ve always LOVED swords and sandals movie ever since Ben-Hur, and this one has such a fantastic story and wonderful performances all around. I even picked this as the subject for the blog-a-thon ‘Movies that makes going to the movies suck‘ because it’s been copied so many times and studios are launching similar type of movies to capitalize on its popularity.

But this often-quoted Ridley Scott masterpiece remains on top in this genre and to this day I’m still enamored with it as the first time I saw it. It’s one of those movies that has the whole package, everything from the story, dialog, set pieces, performances, and even the soundtrack makes up for an epic entertainment.

Russell Crowe gave an iconic performance, even his name Maximus Decimus Meridius is a classic. Equally memorable are Joaquin Phoenix as the despicable incestuous Commodus, and the more I watch this movie the more I appreciate all the character actors that make this movie great, most especially Derek Jacobi with his theatrical line delivery. It’s not as popular as the others, but I pick this line as one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

Unbreakable

I LOVE this imaginative take of a superhero movie. People tend to mock M. Night Shyamalan’s these days but I’m still willing to give him a pass because he’s made some creative work in the past, especially this one.

An intriguing concept that’s brilliantly executed, Unbreakable is a quiet but suspenseful thriller that’s rich in character development. The astute cinematography adds so much to the eerie and mysterious tone of the film, in many occasion, it even help tells the story in such a breathtaking way. That scene where Elijah falls on the stairs of the train station is such a heart-wrenching scene… it’s as if I could feel his pain as he breaks nearly every bones in his body. It’s also one of those movies where it’s not a simple good vs. evil kind of story, and we can’t help but feel sympathy for the bad guy.

Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. – Elijah Price

It shows that Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson certainly can act if they choose to. Both seem to gravitate more for the action-packed stuff and sure they’re good at it, but I’d love to see them do something more understated like this again.

Oh, and I actually do like the ending, it’s unexpected and definitely made you go ‘whoa’ the first time around. But unlike Sixth Sense, it doesn’t lose its impact even after repeated viewings.

Chicken Run

When I first saw this, I had never seen Wallace & Gromit before but I absolutely adore this Peter Lord and Nick Park’s creation. It’s odd since I’m usually not into claymation, but I think this movie is just so fun and joyful to watch. Inspired by The Great Escape, the chickens led by Ginger rebels against against the evil Mrs. Tweedy’s farm with the help of Rocky the rooster.

Right from the start, I was so enthralled and empathized with the poor ‘imprisoned’ chickens, as they’re depicted as having humanly activities like knitting, dance, bicker with one another, and seemingly having more lively existence than the humans at the farm.  The dialog is sharp and funny, with hilarious yet poignant lines like “I don’t want to be a pie.” or “We’ll either die free chickens or we die trying.” The voice cast are a hoot, especially Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson as Ginger and Rocky.

It’s definitely one of my favorite animated features of all time. I even feel a bit guilty eating chickens for a while after watching this, especially chicken pot pie! :D

Return to Me

I think I’ve talked about this movie quite often. It’s always on my list of favorite rom-coms, and I even dedicated a whole post for it. This movie doesn’t follow the typical formula of a rom-com, in fact it starts out with a tragedy. But yet it’s a joyful movie despite its poignant subject matter, filled with a wonderful depiction of family live, sincere friendship and a love story between two people who’ve gone through a lot by the time they find each other.

Both David Duchovny and Minnie Driver are wonderful here, they’re not your go-to actors for this genre which is a shame as they’re so natural here. Same with director Bonnie Hunt as she is quite adept with creating wonderful characters and engagingly funny dialog. It’s too bad that this is her only feature film in her resume. Oh, and the soundtrack is wonderful, too!

Check out the trailer below:

X-Men

I readily admit that I have a penchant for superhero movies, and the mythology and the allegory with the reality of our world of the X-Men universe is particularly fascinating to me. I absolutely loved it when it first came out and both my hubby and I were hugely anticipating it. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint and it’s still good after repeated viewing. Bryan Singer made superhero movies not only cool but has something meaningful to say. It’s intelligent AND fun.

The casting is key here, from hiring two British thespians as the two leaders of polar opposites — Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart — to taking a chance with a then-unknown Aussie actor Hugh Jackman as the tormented Wolverine. He may be indestructible but he’s still vulnerable and Jackman’s gruff but soulful portrayal won him many fans and launched his career. He’s got an undeniable chemistry with Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey, which makes their unrequited romance quite irresistible.

It’d be nice if Singer stays on throughout the trilogy, then we’d have three solid movies in this franchise. But the consolation is that he came back, albeit as a producer, in the excellent X-Men: First Class, which has a lot of the great things I love about the original and then some!

Other great movies I like from 2000:

  • Billy Elliot
  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Memento


My runner-up year: 1995

I almost picked this year because I absolutely adore Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility, plus it’s also got two other dramas I love: Circle of Friends and A Walk in the Clouds. I also like Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Usual Suspects and Se7en a lot, but in the end I feel like I have more affinity for the five movies I picked for 2000.



Thoughts about the movies listed here? Now, what year would YOU pick?