Thursday Movie Picks: Amateur Sleuth

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… AMATEUR SLEUTH.

This is a fun topic and there are tons to pick from! I always like to mix classic and contemporary movies, so that’s what I’ll do again here.

SPELLBOUND (1945)

Spellbound Poster

A psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory.

Any chance I can talk about Gregory Peck I’ll jump at it, ha! This is the film I fell for the ridiculously handsome classic actor with a swoon-worthy deep voice, who was only 29 at the time in his fourth feature film. It set off an obsession for the next year, now I owned pretty much ALL of his movies!

Gregory Peck Ingrid Bergman Spellbound

Can’t believe it’s a decade ago since I saw this, I have to rewatch this soon. It’s actually the first time I saw Ingrid Bergman as well, and both of them light up the screen as they fall in love. I like the double mystery of solving Peck’s character’s amnesia issue through psychoanalysis, and figuring out the killer of the real doctor. Classic Hitchcock in terms of direction, camera work, visual style, mood, etc. featuring a brief but memorable the dream sequence by Salvador Dali. I also love Miklós Rózsa‘s astounding score, perhaps my fave of all Hitchcock movies. The final sequence is indelible as well, which has been copied many times over by other filmmakers.


REAR WINDOW (1954)

Rear Window Poster

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

I hadn’t planned on picking two Alfred Hitchcock films here, but well, he was the master of mystery noir. This one also features one of my fave classic actors, James Stewart, and another classic beauty Grace Kelly. 

This is definitely one of the best films confined in a single location, and the set design is absolutely astounding. Apparently the set was constructed specially for this movie, on the whole they built about 30 apartments and about half was fully furnished! I also love the costume design by the legendary Edith Head (notably all of Grace Kelly’s gorgeous dresses), I’m shocked she was NOT nominated for an Oscar for her work here.

Rear Window Costume Design

This movie was my January 2015 Blindspot pick, and I loved it! Despite the lighter, playful tone, the film packs a lot of interesting themes about psychology, human nature that are intrinsic in most of Hitchcock’s films.


BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

Batman Begins poster

After training with his mentor, Batman begins his fight to free crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption.

I gotta include one of my favorite comic-book films here. Bruce Wayne aka Batman is an amateur super sleuth and crime fighter. The first of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy shows Bruce’s foray as a detective, teaming with up with Gotham City’s police commissioner Gordon. I LOVE the dynamic between Christian Bale and Gary Oldman, two of the best actors working today.

Batman Begins -Batman Commissioner Gordon

Batman didn’t just bring down crime lord Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) but also exposed the real villain Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the radical leader of League of Shadows who wants to destroy Gotham. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think of this film as a noir thriller that happens to have a superhero character in it, and I’m excited that the upcoming THE BATMAN will show the caped crusader in his detective mode than what we’ve seen in other films!

ZODIAC (2007)

zodiac-fincher-movie

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

I caught this one almost a decade after its release, which apparently didn’t do too well at the box office. It’s surprising given the star-studded cast, but then again this was a year before Robert Downey Jr. became Iron Man and long before Mark Ruffalo became his fellow Avenger as the Hulk. Interesting how the three leads have now become Marvel stars!

Jake Gyllenhaal Robert Downey Jr

At almost 2.5 hours long, this David Fincher murder mystery is more of a slo-burn film but an effective and suspenseful one. There are some lighter moments too between Jake Gyllenhaal and RDJ, as the film focuses on the life of the detectives on top of being a whodunnit type film. The sinister part is that the story is based on real events in the San Francisco Bay area, adapted from Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name (Gyllenhall played Graysmith in the film).


So which are YOUR favorite movies about amateur sleuth?

The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Blog Relay

superhero-movie-relay

Yet another Blog Relay is circulating on the blogosphere! When I first saw this awesome relay idea on Bubbawheat’s Flights, Tights and Movie Nights Blog, I thought boy that’s something I’d love to participate. Well, waddayaknow, the fantabulous Andrew from A Fistful of Films passed the baton to me, hurray! 😀

The rule here is slightly different than a typical blog relay you might’ve seen in the past, so I’ll let Bubbawheat explain it in his own words:

Now the first thing you might be asking is “why are there 12 movies in this top 10 list?” Well there are a couple changes that I’m making to the typical blog relay. Here are the rules for my relay.

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.
3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it is locked into place.
4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be chosen by someone else.
5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.
6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.
7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

I will keep the current status of the relay here and you can also follow the steps of the relay as it goes along.

Check out the original relay post to see which initial 12 films made the list.
Andrew removed Hellboy 2, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and X-Men.
He then added Chronicle, Mystery Men and The Rocketeer.

So here’s the list as it currently stands:

The Avengers
SuperheroesRelay_Avengers

The Dark Knight
SuperheroesRelay_TDK

Superman
SuperheroesRelay_Superman1

Spider-Man 2
SuperheroesRelay_Spidey2

The Incredibles
SuperheroesRelay_Incredibles

Iron Man
SuperheroesRelay_IronMan

Blade 2
SuperheroesRelay_Blade2

Batman Returns
SuperheroesRelay_BatmanReturns

Unbreakable
SuperheroesRelay_Unbreakable

Chronicle
SuperheroesRelay_Chronicle

Mystery Men
SuperheroesRelay_MysteryMen

The Rocketeer
SuperheroesRelay_Rocketeer

The three I’m removing:Chronicle_Blade2_MysteryMen Chronicle | Blade 2 | Mystery Men

Sorry Drew for removing two of the ones you added, no hard feelings? 😉 As I often say in other blog relays, I’m not so much removing them as I’m just moving them down the list if this were a top 2.

Now, I like Chronicle a lot (I gave it a 4/5 in my review) and if I only need to take out two instead of three movies, I might’ve let that in. I do think that even though it’s inventive, there are plot holes abound and the finale might’ve been a bit too bombastic that it felt like an abrupt shift in tone. As for Blade 2, I LOVE Wesley Snipes in the role but I just don’t know if any of the Blade movies deserve to make the top 10. I hardly remember much about them, so they didn’t leave a lasting impression to me other than Snipes look cool as a bad ass ninja vampire. Lastly, I took out Mystery Men because I haven’t seen it yet. Sorry again Drew, but I really tried to see if there’s another movie on the list I could take out but  in the end I had to let this one go. But since you included it, I might give it a rent 😀

The three I’m adding:

BatmanBeginsWinterSoldierX2Batman BeginsCaptain America: The Winter SoldierX-Men 2

I’m a huge fan of Nolan’s first entry to the Batman trilogy. In fact, I dare say that Batman Begins is as good as The Dark Knight and sets the bar high for a superhero film. I like that it focuses on the hero instead of the villain, and Christian Bale makes for a caped crusader who’s truly worth rooting for. I love it so much I’d even be willing to forgive the Katie Holmes casting! Now The Winter Soldier is still quite fresh in my mind and I do believe it deserves to be in the final top 10 because it has everything you’d want in an entertaining superhero flick and then some. It’s a successful genre-mashup, mixing the traditional superhero genre with a Cold-War espionage story, that expands the characters’ arc and takes the story forward in a thrilling way. As for X-2, well I think at least ONE X-Men film deserved to be on the list and I agree with Drew’s rationale that X-Men 2: X-Men United is a better film than the first film. The opening scene at the White House is fantastic and Brian Cox is one of my fave superhero movie villains as covert government operative Stryker. The multi-layered story combined with great performances gave the film a dramatic weight that transcend beyond fun entertainment. Not to mention the most indelible and emotional finale involving one of my favorite X-Men characters Jean Grey, as mutant vs. human struggle continues… ever closer to the brink of war. Powerful stuff!


Well I hope that at least one of my three pics would stay to the end 😉

I’m passing the baton to my pal & fellow superhero movie fan Terrence of The Focus Filmographer! I’m pretty sure he’s seen all or most of these movies so I’m VERY curious to see how he’d shake up the list.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks. Agree/disagree? Well, let’s hear it!

Weekend Viewing Roundup, Quick Thoughts on Comic-Con, & RED 2 review

Hello everyone! Hope you had an awesome weekend. If you happen to be at Comic-con the past few days, then I’m sure you had a blast (and you know I’m so green with envy!!) It made me feel a bit nostalgic seeing all those SDCC pics, maybe one day I’ll make it there again. Now, I haven’t read all the highlights from the big event but if I were at Hall H on Saturday, these two would’ve surely been the most scream-worthy panels!!

XMenDaysOfFuturePastCast
Click for a larger version

Just LOOK at this X-Men: Days of Future Past cast… I mean seriously!!! It’s incredible how good Hugh Jackman still looks after his breakthrough role as Wolverine thirteen years ago. Can’t wait for this movie already!

LokiComicCon2013
Thor who? Loki ruled Hall H!

I LOVE Tom Hiddleston‘s theatrical style and boy, this would’ve been the closest thing a lot of the Comic-con goers to seeing him ‘on stage.’ He certainly brought the house down with his performance! You can watch a video of it here.

Well, my weekend was ok (well considering I wasn’t at Comic-con), but hey, I got to see TREMORS, thanks to Cinekatz‘ Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap in which I was “gifted” the monster flick from 1990 (review coming soon). I also rewatched Pacific Rim at IMAX Saturday night, which looks absolutely glorious in the giant screen. So that’s TWO monster movies in one weekend, which is a record for me 😀

Tremors
TREMORS
PacRim
PACIFIC RIM

I also got to re-watch one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. Well, even with a slew of comic-book movies since, I still rate this very high on my list. Batman Begins is one of the movies I’d bring if I were stranded in a desert island and I’d definitely pick it again in a heartbeat!

BatmanBegins
BATMAN BEGINS

Now, here’s my new release review from the screening a few days ago:

RED2poster

Though I enjoyed the first movie, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the sequel. The only main draw for me is the cast and really, that’s the main highlight of this movie and the filmmakers knew that. You don’t go into these kinds of movies looking for an engaging story or character study, but you know what, they didn’t pretend to be a bombastic, over-the-top action flick so I still end up enjoying this quite a bit.

There’s really no point talking about the plot here, as the story is set up in such a way where it actually suits the actors playing these cartoonish characters. It’s as if the filmmakers had a checklist of what they want these actors to do in the movie and so the plot is written around that, if that makes sense. Seems like the actors are hired to do what they do best, some of them even did a parody to their famous characters they’ve done in the past (you’ll know it when you see it). The Retired-Extremely-Dangerous gang is once again on the run, being chased left and right as they attempt to solve the puzzle of finding a portable nuclear device.

Red2Stills

It’s too bad Karl Urban isn’t back to reprise his role as he was one of the highlights for me in the first movie. Also, instead of Morgan Freeman, we’ve got another seasoned actor (both happen to be 76 years old!) Anthony Hopkins. Nice to see him doing a comedic role though he’s not as fun to watch as Freeman.

Bruce Willis is back as Frank, which is basically a variation of John McClane (seems like Bruce is done with playing any other characters these days). Mary Louis Parker gets more screen time this time as his love interest Sarah, which is fine by me and she, along with John Malkovich‘s Marvin are the real comic relief in this movie. Their scenes together, especially the car chase all over Paris in a white Citroën, are preposterous fun. I guess you could describe the movie in that way as well. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed this movie as much if it weren’t for the actors. I love watching Dame Helen Mirren reprising her bad ass role of Victoria and her car case with Byung-hun Lee is hysterical! It’s right up there with all the outrageous action in those Fast & Furious movies.

Red2_DameMirren

I think the weakest link for me is Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Russian femme-fatale who used to be Frank’s lover. Her character is so darn boring and her romance with Willis’ character just falls flat. “Katja’s Frank’s ‘kryptonite,” Marvin explained to Sarah, which then drives her to do all kinds of jealous-driven shenanigans to one-up Katja. I do like charismatic Korean actor Byung-hun Lee here (not a bad replacement for Mr. Urban) who has a personal vendetta with Frank. He’s clearly hired for his awesome fighting skills and he totally delivered on that front.

Final Thoughts: The A-list cast seems to have a great time making this and it shows. Whilst it still brings the laughs and I was entertained for the most part, I do think the writing is so lazy and derivative. I hope they’re done with this movie, I mean how many franchises does Bruce Willis need?! I’m being generous here with my rating, because Mirren, Parker and Malkovich made me laugh so hard in this movie! Oh, there’s also Brian Cox in a small but memorable role, so yeah, there are TWO British thespians who’ve played Hannibal Lecter on screen!

3 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend recap. What did YOU watch this weekend?

Memorable Movie Birthday Scenes to celebrate my big day

Hello friends! Today happens to be my birthday so I’m taking today off from work as part of my birthday present to myself 😀

A few years back I chose a birthday-related movie to mark the occasion, which was David Fincher’s excellent-but-underrated thriller The Game. I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen it already.

Well, for today, I thought I chose five memorable movie birthday scenes which happens to be from five of my favorite films.

Happy Birthday Ashley Wilkes!

The first one I thought of right away is this one from Gone with the Wind. It’s the celebration of Ashley’ birthday where Scarlett O’Hara suddenly showed up as everyone was singing ‘Jolly good fellow’… wearing the sexiest red outfit hand-picked by Rhett Butler himself. If you’ve seen the film you know why it’s such an uncomfortable scene but definitely a memorable one.

 

Happy Birthday Bruce Wayne!

Great soiree and Bruce looks dapper in this tux… too bad Bryan Mills, er Ra’s Al Ghul has to be such a party pooper!!

Happy Birthday Bilbo Baggins!

Life in the Shire sounds so awesome! The hobbits sure knows how to party, and having Gandalf the Great supplying the fireworks entertainment can’t be beat!

An Unexpected Guest at Honey’s Birthday

I LOVE, LOVE this scene from Notting Hill. It’s one of my favorite rom-coms ever (leave it to the Brits to make a rom-com nary of schmaltzy scenarios). Emma Chambers as Hugh Grant’s kid sister is pure comedic gold!

Another continuation of that scene that’s equally hilarious is this one with the always so reliable Hugh Bonneville.

A Birthday Toast from a Count

Well lookie here… two of mankind’s saviors in one party 😀 Jim Caviezel (two years before he was cast in The Passion of the Christ) as the mysterious Count giving a then 18-year-old Henry Cavill on his birthday. I wonder if that’s how he later became Man of Steel? 😉 I actually whispered to my husband during this scene that Cavill should’ve become Superman when he grows up. Yes I know, I should be a casting agent, ahah.

Well, hope you enjoyed these clips, folks! Kindly leave a comment, and better yet, share away 😀


Feel free to supply your own favorite Birthday scene in the comments.

Musings on the case of Great trailers, bad films & Bad trailers, great films

TedSaydalavongBanner

Movie trailer is the greatest selling tool in marketing for Hollywood. Heck even tech start-up companies today are using short trailers to sell their product. Case in point, a start-up company I’m involved with just got done with a short intro/trailer about the product, I saw it and I thought it was awesome, well maybe I’m biased since I’m part of the company and I designed the site. Anyhoo, back to movie trailers, they’re meant to get audiences excited and film bloggers, critics and cinephiles everywhere will talk about it for months before the actual film hits theater.

PrometheusHDtrailerThink back to last spring when Fox unleashed the trailer for Prometheus, many people got excited and said it’s going to be the greatest sci-fi film ever and so on. Well when it finally hit theaters, those same people were disappointed and blame Fox for duping them into thinking the film was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well that’s their goal, to dupe you into theaters and pay to see the film, they don’t care if you like or not, they already got your money. Heck I got duped into seeing two bad films because their trailer looked great, the remake of Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy.

Ruth’s note: Now, just as I was prepping this article, another trailer for Pacific Rim came out. I like Idris Elba but I thought the trailer is terrible, and Ted aptly called it ‘Transformers meets Godzilla’ ahah. We’ll see if this would end up in the ‘Bad trailers, Good Movies’ category.

Once in a while though studios tend to release some not so great trailers but the actual films were quite good. Anyway, here are some good examples of what I’m talking about:

Great trailers, bad films

Mission: Impossible 2

First off I would like to confess that I enjoyed this film but I also have to admit that it’s a lousy film. The trailer made it look like it’s going to be a non-stop thrill ride but most of the action scenes didn’t happen until the last 40 minutes of the movie. I like the concept of IMF team taking on the evil pharmaceutical company and a rouge agent but the love triangle between the hero, villain and heroine just didn’t work and it’s way too cheesy. But I love the motorcycle, cars and helicopter chase near the end and Anthony Hopkins delivered the best line in the film: “It’s not mission difficult Mr. Hunt, it’s mission impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”

Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace

Nothing much to say here since most of us have seen the film and we’re pretty much in agreement that the film sucks. But the trailer was pretty great, hearing that famous theme music by John Williams, seeing light sabers and space ships just got everyone excited. Unfortunately the actual film was filled with bad dialogues and wooden acting. But the light sabers battle between Darth Maul, Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn was pretty great.

Fun fact, the trailer played in front of Meet Joe Black and a lot of Star Wars fanatics paid just to see this trailer. I took my then girlfriend to see Meet Joe Black and I remember a few people left the theater after EP1 trailer finished. Just FYI young readers, this was few years before internet trailers became the norm, people would actually paid tickets just to see trailers, I know it’s stupid and I’ve never done it myself but that was the only way to see trailers of big films back then.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

After the awful X-Men: Last Stand, Fox was hoping this film will reboot the franchise in the way that Batman Begins did for Batman. With Hugh Jackman back as Wolverine and a respectable director behind the camera, all of X-Men fans expected greatness. Of course our excitement jumped to new heights when a trailer debuted a few months before its release. The trailer made it look like the film is going to be a gritty take on the popular character, I must’ve watched it like 10 times when it debuted.

Unfortunately when the film finally opens, it was an incoherent mess; there were rumors that Fox didn’t like the dark tone of the film and demanded director (Gavin Hood) to make changes. Whatever happened behind the scenes really destroyed what could have been a great film about Wolverine’s origin.

The World Is Not Enough

The last Bond film of the 20th century looked great and since I’m a Bond fanatic I was stoked to see this film. With the promised of a new great villain and a respected director, many thought this could be an excellent Bond film. Even with the silly casting of Denise Richards as a scientist, I was still convinced this could be a great film and after seeing the trailer, I got super excited.

Well as we all know the actual film was pretty bad, I actually thought the franchise might be over because of this film. Of course I was wrong since it’s a box office hit and it took another awful Bond flick to convince the producers that they need to reboot the franchise.

,,,

Bad trailers, great films

Batman Begins

With the huge success of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, most people often forget that the first film in the series was a modest success. In fact, this film’s opening weekend was a measly $47 mil. When Warner Bros. announced they were going to reboot the franchise, I was super excited because Batman is my favorite comic book superhero and I needed to get the bad memory of Batman & Robin out of my mind. With a young and upcoming director Chris Nolan behind the camera and a new Bruce Wayne/Batman, all Batman fans everywhere were super excited.

Unfortunately when the trailer came out, I was very disappointed. I thought it looked clunky and wasn’t well put together. The pacing was a bit off, too much of the plot were revealed and it just didn’t flow well. Compare that to The Dark Knight’s and The Dark Knight Rises’ trailer, Begins’ trailer was quite weak in my opinion.

The Bourne Supremacy

In my opinion this film is the best of the franchise but when I saw the trailer, I thought it looked awful. Just like Batman Begins’ trailer, it wasn’t well-edited, very clunky and sort of gave away too much of the plot. Again fortunately the actual film was great.

Blade Runner

Most trailers of older films tends to give away too much of the story and this one is no different. Seriously this trailer is over 3 minutes long! If I was old enough around the time this film came out, I might’ve skip seeing it in theater. I thought the final cut trailer that came out back in 2007 was much better, see them for yourself.

Original trailer


Final cut trailer

– Post by Ted S.


So those are some examples and I know there are tons of other great trailers, bad films and bad trailers, good films out there. Feel free to share your own list of trailers in the comments section.

Tube Watch: Musings on CW’s ARROW’s Pilot

It’s been almost a year since I actually have a TV show to watch on a weekly basis, those I was initially anticipating either got canceled or I simply didn’t have time to watch 😦 Now, I’ve blogged about ARROW a few times before and I posted the trailer here. I’m even more excited to see the positive reviews, and now that it’s here, I’m happy to report that it was pretty good.

For those of you who aren’t into comic book stuff, Arrow is basically the DC comics’ The Green Arrow. The show revolves around young billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who was stranded on a deserted island for five years and returns to his hometown Starling City a changed man. There’s not a lot of exposition on his life on the island, in fact, it only showed Oliver, looking very much like Robinson Crusoe being rescued by local fishermen sailing in the South China Sea.

Oliver quickly assumes a vigilante identity, a la Bruce Wayne as Batman, becoming the city’s ‘savior’ as a way to atone for his selfish behaviors of his former life. In fact, someone on Twitter suggested Bruce Wayne making an appearance on the show, as you can see in my tweet, that’d be a geeky girl’s dream!!

According to comicbookmovie site, Torchwood‘s alum John Barrowman’s been hired to guest star, but his role is top secret. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’ll be a DC-crossover thing happening. Fingers crossed!

Now, as a superhero fan, you know why this type of stories appeal to me. But yet there hasn’t been any TV show that keeps my interest because of bad writing/awful acting, etc. [cough Smallville cough] but this one certainly has a lot going for it in the pilot that hopefully would keep me tuning in!

The Good

I definitely like the darker tone of the show. I must say there are a LOT of resemblance to the first hour of Batman Begins as far as Oliver’s journey is concerned, but to be fair, their identities are very similar to begin with,except that Oliver’s mother is still alive [more on that later].  Some reviewers have said this isn’t like in the comic books, but since I didn’t read the comics, I don’t mind the fact that the show’s creator took a lot of liberties, even shortening the name to make it less comic-book-ish. I’m also glad this character has NOTHING to do with the Green Arrow character in Smallville, though they use the same mansion of the Luther estate for the Queen manor.

Canadian Stephen Amell is a perfectly-cast as Oliver: he’s got the tall, dark and handsome thing going on, all good recipes for a superhero, but he’s also got that mysterious quality about him that works for the role. He hasn’t exactly displayed much range, I think he’s charismatic enough as the protagonist. His transformation from up-to-no-good playboy to a brooding, fierce bow-wielding hero who’s not afraid to kill when necessary. The action stuff is done pretty well and Amell’s um, athleticism is in full display. CW certainly makes the most of his washboard abs during Oliver’s training in his dad’s former factory, but who am I to complain? 😉 The archery stuff seems pretty authentic to me, Amell had said in interviews that his trainer was adamant in getting the form right. He said the coach started the training by showing him a 45-minute video of all the ways archery has been done badly in film and TV.

Overall I think the quality is an improvement over Smallville, I say that because at least I did not cringe every two seconds like I did on that show, and this coming from a huge Superman fan! The gritty look and well-shot action set pieces are quite fun to watch.

Oh, it’s interesting to see Colin Salmon here though, as a Bond fan I noticed him as one of MI-6 agent in two of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, in fact if he were younger, I’d love to see him play a black James Bond! I hope the producers will give him something worthy to do here, I certainly would love to see more of him on this show!

The not-so-good

Ok this is only the second show on CW I watch, but it has the same weaknesses in that some of the lines are cheesy and the acting is questionable. I’m talking about the supporting cast, especially the guy playing his best friend Colin Donnell, his character is just annoying and it doesn’t help that Donnell is not an experienced actor. I hope they keep his screen time at a minimum. Katie Cassidy fares a bit better as the love interest, but I’m not exactly impressed by her yet.

I talked about that there’s a lot going on in the pilot, now you could say it’s a bit overstuffed. Yes, the mysterious plot definitely opens up to a lot of interesting possibilities, but seems like it could be one twist too many. Even in just one episodes, there are a bazillion thing our protagonist has to deal with… the mysterious death of father, shady mom who marries an even shadier business partner of his late dad, not to mention the love triangle between two sisters, one of which died on the boat that capsized. As if that weren’t enough, the city’s top detective Quentin Lance happens to be the father of the two sisters, so you could imagine he’s not exactly fond of Oliver.

With all the characters not being who they seemed, it feels like a big action-packed soap opera, so I think the producers have to be careful not to overdo it. There seems to be a lot of conspiracies within the Queen family itself, what with the revelation at the end involving his mother. I can’t help but roll my eyes, I mean, another twist?? [face palm]

Is it worth watching?

It remains to be seen but for sure it’s got potential. Of course there are a ton of unanswered questions that I’m hoping will get at least partly answered in future episodes. I mean, how in the heck that nobody ever sailed near that island in the entire 5 years, is it possible that Oliver just didn’t want to be rescued just yet? If so, why?? Then, how did he even train himself archery to the degree of being a professional assassin? What’s up with his dad’s drastic decision on the lifeboat?? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but so far I’m pretty hooked to find out more!

I think the USA Today review says it best:

“By almost all measures, Arrow is one of the season’s more promising pilots. And yet, fairly or not, it must hurdle a substantial problem most other pilots don’t face, and it can be summed up in two letters: CW. Whether from budgetary restraints or management problems, there’s no company out there, broadcast or cable, with a worse record for turning promising pilots into terrible series.”

Let’s hope CW breaks that pattern. One thing for sure, the show is a hit. Apparently it scores the network’s highest ratings in 3 years so it might be around for a while. I do like what I’ve seen so far, but it really has to be worthwhile over time for me to keep tuning in, Amell’s abs-tastic notwithstanding.


Anybody else seen this show? Well, what did you think?

Special Birthday Post: Ranking Christopher Nolan’s 7 Feature Films

As part of my Inception-countdown series, I ranked five of Christopher Nolan’s movies. Well, now he’s got two more under his belt, making his total of feature-length film to seven [excluding Following which wasn’t widely distributed].

Just a quick bio per Wikipedia:

Born in 1970 in London, Nolan was one of three sons of a British father, who owned an advertising business, and an American mother, a flight attendant for United Airlines. Nolan and his brother Jonathan spent their childhood in both London and Chicago. He began film-making at the age of seven using his father’s Super 8 camera and his toy action figures.

For his undergraduate, Nolan studied English Literature at University College London Union (UCLU). He chose it specifically for its film-making facilities, which consisted of a “Steenbeck editing suite (real film, real spools) plus a couple of 16mm cameras.” Nolan was president of the college film society from 1992 to 1994; a contemporary described him as talented and focused on learning as much as possible about the mechanics and technology of film-making.

His big break in Hollywood came with Memento, starring Guy Pearce, which was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for best screenplay.

So in honor of his 42nd birthday, I thought I’d rank those seven Christopher Nolan feature films in order of favorites. By favorites I mean those that have the best re-playability value to me, as I do think all of these seven are great-to-excellent. So far, there is none of his films that I didn’t like, and Nolan is the only director whose ALL of his work I have seen.

Without further ado, here…we… go:

1. Batman Begins (2005)

The ultimate origins story and I think it’s still the one to beat in terms of the um, inception of a superhero goes. Christian Bale is perfectly cast as the dark, tormented caped crusader and he’s surrounded by a slew of top notch actors such as Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy, etc. The movie also benefits from a fantastic script and a formidable villain in Ra’s al Ghul (Demon’s head in Arabic). I’ve always loved a villain that starts out as friends of the hero, and Neeson’s makes that transformation from fatherly mentor to sinister nemesis convincingly. I’d even overlook the miscasting of Katie Holmes on this one, it’s THAT good!

2. Inception (2010)

Perhaps Nolan’s nod to the Bond franchise, Inception is one of those films that gets better and more satisfying with each repeated viewing. The cast is top notch, with scene-stealing performance from Tom Hardy and fun, rousing action set pieces. What I love most is the intriguing ‘idea heist’ sci-fi concept, and whilst the romance between Cob and Mal wasn’t as compelling as I would’ve liked, I’ve warmed up to it a bit more than I did the first time I saw it.

3. The Dark Knight (2008)

It’s rare that a sequel lives up to the original, especially when one already sets the bar so high, but Nolan did just that! It’s nothing short of casting genius to have Heath Ledger play the Joker, though a lot of people were skeptical at first, the late Aussie actor’s iconic performance forever defined that character that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing that role (neither did Nolan as he said here he won’t bring back the Joker character for Batman 3). The complex story and the level of character development in this film makes me forget this is a superhero film! Gone are the circus-y and frivolous-ness of the previous Batman flicks, as both Nolan’s versions become the quintessential thinking person’s superhero movie. This is definitely a welcome trend for this genre!

4. The Prestige (2006)

As I said in this post, I wasn’t blown away by this film on initial viewing. But about a year later I rewatched it and wow, I was riveted. We’ve got a brilliant tale of two magicians who become friends as well as rival, which intensified when one of them came up with the ultimate magic trick, and Nolan cast two great actors in those roles: Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Nolan’s good luck charm Sir Michael Caine also has an important part, and plus who doesn’t get a kick seeing David Bowie’s cameo as the genius inventor Nikola Tesla!

I have a whole new appreciation for it after the second viewing and felt that I could connect to the characters more, especially with Borden (Bale). The whole twist and turns are utterly perplexing (in a good way) and that ending is just WOW! Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Nolan did a fine job in setting up a beautifully-shot period piece with gorgeous cinematography, costumes and wonderfully-rich atmosphere.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Now that I’ve seen all three, I think The Dark Knight Rises is my least favorite, though by a very small margin. If you’ve read my super long review, then you’ll know that there are quite a bit of issues I have with it that no amount of cool action pieces would solve. That said, I have only seen it once by now so there’s a chance I might change my mind 😀 I do think visually it just gets better and better, this latest film does boast a visual spectacle that’s meant to be seen on IMAX.

Seriously though, I think Nolan’s Batman trilogy is ace and no doubt I’d buy the Blu-ray box set when it comes out. I think that’s quite a feat considering Nolan didn’t envision a trilogy when he first signed on to do Batman Begins, at least that’s what I learned from various interviews.

6. Insomnia (2002)

Did you ever notice Nolan’s really skimpy when it comes to his movie titles? His one-word-titled movie starting with an ‘i’ is a small film with a budget of less than $50 million. Under less capable hands, the story of two Los Angeles homicide detectives set to investigate a methodical teenage murder in Alaska might’ve end up to be a run-of-the mill thriller. But the smart, twist-ridden script and excellent performances from the cast made this into something memorable and thrilling to watch. Al Pacino as the increasingly unhinged LA detective and Hilary Swank as the young cop who adore him work well together, but it’s Robin Williams’ as the creepy nutcase who’s the scene-stealer. I think comedians actually make for the eeriest villains. Despite the title, Nolan certainly kept the audience wide awake with this one.

7. Memento (2000)

One of the most original story and most innovative narrative structure, it’s one that rewards with multiple viewings. Nominated for two Oscars for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay, this is the first time mainstream audiences are introduced to Nolan’s genius work. A tale of a man who, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. Guy Pearce is astounding as Leonard, it’s a shame he was snubbed of any major acting nods! As #28 in IMDb’s Top 250 Movies (along with three other Nolan’s movies), this movie is etched in many people’s memories for years to come. That said, this is perhaps the one film from Nolan that I have yet to see again and I’m not as keen to revisit it as I do the others.


Well, I’m sure everyone will have their own ranking of Christopher Nolan movies, so let’s hear it!