FlixChatter Review: Self/less (2015)

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You know when you watch a trailer and you sigh because not only does the trailer practically gives away the entire movie, you also wish that the supporting actor played the lead role. Well, Self/less is such a movie and the actor I wish had played the lead is Matthew Goode. More on that later.

A couple of people pointed out to me on Twitter that the premise of this movie is practically identical to the John Frankenheimer-directed Seconds. I haven’t seen it once I checked it on IMDb, it’s indeed the same story! I don’t know if the screenwriting brothers David and Alex Pastor acknowledged that, but I have a feeling the 1966 film is far more compelling than this one.

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So the gist of the story is that Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy magnate who’s dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. He’s just ‘an empty vessel,’ Doctor Albright (Goode) assured Damian as he gave him a tour around his highly-secret lab. The reason why Damian would want to go through such an extreme procedure isn’t explored well here but then again if you’re expecting a deep and thought-provoking film, well you won’t find it here.

The machine for such a radical procedure looks nothing more than modified medical CT scanners. It’s rather preposterous premise but it’s a fantasy sci-fi so you’re just expected to just suspend your disbelief and go along with it. It reminds me a bit of the procedure of John Woo’s Face/Off, alas the movie itself isn’t half as entertaining. When Damian wakes up, poof there goes Sir Kingsley from the movie, never to be seen again. In his place we’ve got the tall and buff Ryan Reynolds. It’s interesting that though the older Damian is British, his new self now speaks with an American accent. Now, you’d think that language is stored in the brain/consciousness, so wouldn’t you think that’d be transferred to his new body??

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In any case, no time to be concerned with that because the movie moves along at breakneck pace to get to the part where Damian 2.0 is enjoying life to the fullest. Placed in this huge house in New Orleans set up by the secret organization, Damian fills his new days partying and shagging every hot girl he fancies, powered by the red pills that block the hallucinations that plague him. These scenes are set in a series of montages set to some fast-paced music that are neither entertaining nor particularly memorable.

Of course Damian can’t live the good live forever, and a procedure this radical surely has extreme consequences. Damian soon finds out just how bad things get and *immortality* comes with a high cost… for him and the new body he now occupies. The more he discovers about the truth, the more he’s ravaged by guilt and our hero goes on a quest to set things right, as it were. There’s really no suspense as you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. When Damian missed just one dose of that red pill, the hallucination became so vivid he simply couldn’t just dismiss it. By the time he ends up in St. Louis, the movie quickly descends into an action thriller.

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I kept waiting for some really fascinating stuff happening but that moment never came. Now, I said that I had wanted Matthew Goode in Reynolds’ role and I bet he could easily pull it off. But come to think of it, I can’t imagine the opposite. I just don’t see Reynolds possessing the elegant countenance nor the sheer intellect of Goode’s character. But what Reynolds is capable of is kicking ass, I mean he’s played several superheroes in his career after all. The filmmaker constantly zooms in on his massive biceps and athletic physique, as if we need to be more sold on that front. Yet what I’d like to see in this protagonist [well any protagonist for that matter] is charisma and wits, none of which is on display here. Therein lies the main issue I have with this movie.

Now, the script is hardly original nor imaginative, but the movie could still be more watchable if we have a charismatic lead. Alas, on top of having to witness two talented British actors being completely wasted, I was stuck watching an insipid *hero* for two hours. I’d also mention Natalie Martinez and Victor Garber but they’re not really given much to do here, either. To add insult to injury, this movie is devoid of style director that usually comes from director Tarsem Singh. I LOVE The Fall, which had style AND heart, and even the rather vapid Immortals has the self-described ‘Caravaggio meets Fight Club’ style to make up for it. But this movie is just bland in substance AND style.

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I’d say unless you’re a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, I’d say skip this one. Instead of focusing on the cerebral aspect of the concept, Self/less is nothing more than just a standard shoot-em-up – predictable, laden with clichés and anchored by a totally dull lead. I read a review somewhere that said the slash in the film’s title is perhaps the most inventive part of the movie and that about sums it up.

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Have you seen this movie? Well, what did YOU think?

Casting News Roundup: Chris Pratt, Rosamund Pike, Keanu Reeves & Mel Gibson + Andrew Garfield

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Boy I’ve been meaning to do a post on casting news but for some reason just never got around to it! Well, I might make this more of a weekend bi-monthly series as there’s never a shortage of casting news 😀

Chris Pratt to star in graphic novel adaptation Cowboy Ninja Viking

Pratt_CowboyNinjaVikingLook at the smirk on this guy! When I read the description of the graphic novel created by writer A.J. Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, I think Chris Pratt fits the role nicely. Per Collider, The story revolves around an assassin with Multiple Personality Disorder who possess the skills of a cowboy, a ninja, and a Viking, and works for a secret government program. Pratt is to play the protagonist Duncan, and I think it’ll be fun to see him manifest into those three different personas. No director is attached yet, though some names including Marc Forster was circling the project at some point, seems that this project has been in development for some time.

Rosamund Pike joining Charlie Hunnam in ‘The Mountain Between Us’

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One of the year’s breakout female star probably has a slew of offers coming at her. I kinda wish she’d be cast in the lead instead of co-lead with a male actor. In any case, sounds like she’s joining Charlie Hunnam in an adaptation of Charles Martin’s book of the same name. The story revolves around two people who survive a plane crash in the mountains where they are forced to trust each other and find safety while badly injured. Rosamund Pike plays a successful writer who’s flying East to get to her much anticipated wedding, whilst Hunnam plays a surgeon on his way back East after a medical conference for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. So based on the book description in Amazon, it’s kind of like a romantic version of Alive and perhaps The Grey, I guess I could see the casting work for the story though I’m not sure about this one until I see at least a trailer.

Keanu Reeves in Talks to Star in Tarsem Singh’s ‘The Panopticon’

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Though Keanu never really left Hollywood, seems that he’s sort of got a career resurgence following the success of John Wick. I’ve always liked the guy so more Keanu casting is awesome in my book 😉 So he’s been cast in the sci-fi thriller Replicas which sounds right up his alley: After a car accident kills his loving family, a daring neuroscientist (Reeves) will stop at nothing to bring them back, even if it means pitting himself against a government-controlled laboratory, a police task force, and the physical laws of science themselves. (per The Wrap).

Well, seems that he’s also in talks to team up with Tarsem Singh in an action thriller The Panopticon, but the premise seems wholly generic to me: “The Panopticon” follows a seemingly ordinary man who receives a mysterious package containing a pre-recorded message from himself, warning that the world is about to end and only he can save it. He must race against the clock to piece together the puzzle before time runs out for mankind. Meh, I’m kind of tired of this ‘one man left on earth to save the world’ premise. It’s so stale, derivative and hackneyed that it’s REALLY hard to actually make a good film out of it. But then again, John Wick‘s premise isn’t exactly groundbreaking either but the film still turned out fresh and fun. Judging from Tarsem’s past work though, it’d probably be more of a visual feast than an absorbing story.

Boy, Keanu is one busy dude. Per The Wrap, he’s recently wrapped Eli Roth‘s “Knock Knock” and the courtroom drama “The Whole Truth,” and he’s currently filming the indie “Daughter of God.” Oh and supposedly he’s also working on Bill & Ted‘s 2?

Mel Gibson to direct Andrew Garfield in a WWII drama?

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Now this last one is intriguing to me as Mel Gibson hasn’t directed any film since Apocalypto nearly a decade ago. Regardless of how you feel about the actor/director, I think he’s a talented filmmaker.

DesmondDoss_HacksawRidgeI’m curious about his next project which is a WWII drama based on the true story of Corporal Demond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the US congressional Medal of Honor by President Truman. Per Comingsoon.net, Doss was drafted into World War II at age 23. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, he refused to kill or carry a weapon and, as such, became stationed as a medic. The center of the story is likely to focus on 1945′s three-month military assault Operation Iceburg, also known as the Battle of Okinawa. “Hacksaw Ridge” was the name given the location of a particularly brutal two-week confrontation wherein United States troops faced off against Japanese soldiers on the rocky cliffs of Okinawa.

If the deal went through, Gibson would reteam w/ Braveheart‘s screenwriter Randall Wallace who co-wrote it with Robert Schenkkan. Look-wise, Andrew Garfield seems to have the right physique and age to play the role and I think it’d be good to see him in something that’d really display his versatility as an actor.


Ok so what do you think of any of these casting news and/or the projects mentioned above?

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Weekend Viewing Reviews: Mirror Mirror and Angel (2007)

The last day of July is coming to an end, in fact it’s already August for some of you, but hey I thought I’d fit in a couple of reviews first before I post my Monthly Roundup tomorrow. Been watching the Olympics much? The only thing I managed to watch is the opening ceremony which was splendid I thought. Great job Danny Boyle! To me the main highlights were the Mr. Bean on the Chariot of Fire orchestra and of course, James Bond escorting the Queen! If you haven’t seen that Happy & Glorious clip you can watch it here.

Anyway, here are the two movies I saw over the weekend:

Mirror, Mirror

By the time I posted this Snow White battle post I was still on the fence about which Snow White movie I was anticipating most, but then after seeing the silly trailer, I decided I wasn’t going to waste my time on Mirror, Mirror. Well this Friday night my hubby and I were looking for something light and fluffy, and it’s either this or This Means War, and since we like a few of Tarsem’s work, we thought ok, what the heck.

Well guess what, it’s actually quite entertaining. Right from the early concept poster, this movie had always been marketed as a comedy and I think on that front it delivered. I was laughing throughout and despite some really cliche moments, I enjoyed it. Lilly Collins is definitely believable as Snow White, and despite marginal acting skills (this isn’t exactly an acting movie after all), at least she is far more expressive than Kristen Stewart!

I’m still bothered by Julia Roberts as the evil queen however, and her atrocious British accent (if you can even call it that) is just laughable. Why did Tarsem even insist on her speaking with a British accent anyway?? I mean this is a fairy tale, she could’ve been speaking with an Icelandic accent and it won’t matter, might as well let her keep her Southern drawl. Thankfully, it doesn’t derail the whole movie, and Armie Hammer as the dashing Prince more than makes up for her shortcomings. The 6’5″ hunky Californian looks like he practically jumps out of the Disney fairy tale princess storybook, but Hammer’s got some decent comic timing to prevent him from being more than boring eye candy. The part where he was under the puppy love spell is quite a hoot! The Prince and Snow White has a sweet chemistry, and there’s an amusing twist about the whole true love’s kiss notion.

Nathan Lane is a natural at comedy and he gets the most laughs here. A major plus here is that unlike Snow White and the Huntsman where the dwarfs were criminally underused, they have a pretty big part here. The relationship between them and Snow White are also much more developed in a whimsical but heartwarming way. That’s not to say this is a deep movie, but at least it’s consistent with the trailer and doesn’t over-promise us with something profound.

Tarsem’s visual is not as spectacular as in The Fall, in fact it seems too CGI-ish coming from the visual visionary. I’m also not too fond of Snow White’s makeup, I mean Collins is absolutely gorgeous but someone needs to wax her Leonid Brezhnev eyebrows! I normally don’t complain about stuff like that but those bushy brows do become quite distracting as I’m watching this.

Overall I thought it was pretty enjoyable and did I mention Sean Bean also had a cameo here? Oh, and Tarsem did an homage to Bollywood in the final scene which I thought was fun, but at the same time I’m glad he didn’t put this scene in the middle of the movie!
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3 out of 5 reels


Angel (2007)

Now this movie seems to have everything going for it for me to LOVE it. It’s a period drama, one of my favorite genres, it’s about a writer, and it’s got a nice cast. I actually like Romola Garai in Amazing Grace and Atonement, I think she’s quite underrated. There’s also Sam Neill, Charlotte Rampling AND Michael Fassbender as Garai’s love interest. Ok, what’s not to love, right? Alas, it’s quite disappointing.

The story is set in early 20th century England where Angel Deverell (Garai) grew up with her single mother atop her grocery shop. She is a gifted writer who’s always dreamed of being a novelist. She defies all odds when somehow a publisher (Sam Neill) is willing to take a chance on her and publish her romance novels. The thing is, Angel is as far from angelic as you can get. She is a pompous brat with no manners and treats her own mother and aunt, pretty much the only family she has, like dirt. It’s tricky to create a story based on an unsympathetic heroine. She reminds me a bit of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, only much, much less endearing. Heck, at least Scarlet treats her parents far better than Angel does.

The transformation from rags to riches feels rather abrupt as well, and I can’t seem to figure just what is the point of Angel’s story. We’re only given a glimpse into her best-selling novels but not enough to see just what made her the way she is. Those novels made her famous and rich enough that she could buy Paradise House, a sprawling estate she’s always dreamed of living in as a kid. But Angel remains an enigma up until the end, and it’s such a lost opportunity since the movie pretty much focuses mostly on her for the entire two hours running time.

Fassbender as the object of Angel’s affection is wonderful to watch, though even he still can’t save the movie. The moment Esme appeared he was quite breathtaking, and despite his not-so-kind words about Angel’s work, she was smitten [well naturally]. Yet there is something wanting about their romance, I don’t know why I just wasn’t enthralled by it, even their love scenes leave me cold, Fassbender’s shapely bum notwithstanding, ehm. There’s also a key relationship between Angel and Esme’s sister, Nora, who’s rather obsessed with Angel, but once again, there’s not much character development in that either, so the whole thing is just frustrating.

I generally like Sam Neill but I feel that he’s wasted here. Charlotte Rampling who plays his wife makes much more of an impression with her sardonic smile, she’s the only character who doesn’t think highly of Angel right from the start. As for the protagonist, I just can’t muster enough sympathy for Angel, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily Romola’s fault as I do think she’s a decent actress.

It turns out that this is French director François Ozon’s first English-speaking movie based on a novel by Elizabeth Taylor [no, not the Hollywood actress]. Well, I’m not exactly impressed by his work here. The set pieces and costumes are beautiful enough, but poor narrative really drags this movie down. Oh, to make matters worse, this film has got the worst special effects I’ve ever seen in a contemporary film. It looks like it was made for only $150K instead of  $15 millions!

So, unless you’re a die hard Fassbender fan, I really can’t recommend this one. It’s too bad as it seems to have the recipe of a charming period drama.

2 out of 5 reels


Well, what did you watch this past weekend? Thoughts about either one of these movies?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Tarsem’s ‘War of Gods’ is now renamed ‘Immortals’

So now that we’ve got the story of Perseus, we’ll see how the other Greek mythology tale is going to pan out. As I’ve outlined in the Battle of the Greek Mythologies and an updated news item on this project, this one centers on Theseus. He’s a demigod (half-god, half-man), the son of mortal parents King Aegeus and Aethra, who’s also said to have been conceived by Poseidon, God of the Sea, who slept with Aethra the same night – is it any wonder the kid’s got issues?

Anyway, the project was called War of Gods or Dawn of War for a while, but based on this Montreal Gazette article,it’s been renamed Immortals.

When we met earlier this week (the article was dated April 2nd), Welsh actor Joseph Morgan had just finished a full read-through of the script for Immortals (formerly titled Dawn of War) with most of the cast, including Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, Kellan Lutz and Luke Evans. The big-budget epic set in ancient Greece, which is set to start filming in Montreal on Monday, also co-stars Mickey Rourke, who is not yet here.

Tarsem Singh

The story line sounds very similar to Clash of the Titans, Immortals follows young warrior Theseus, who leads his men into battle with the immortal Greek gods to defeat evil elder gods of the Titans in order to save mankind. I have high hopes that director Tarsem Singh can put his unique spin on this and make something truly stunning visually, as well as have some weight on the story. Even though I’ve never heard of the screenwriters – two Greek-American brothers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides from New Jersey – I really think the script can’t possibly be any worse than Clash, I mean come on, that would be even more tragic than all Greek tragedies put together. I also hope that Henry Cavill will be more convincing as the hero, and that he’d have a strong chemistry with Frieda Pinto as Phaedra.

Just a few notes on Mr. Singh, he was a renowned music video and commercial directors before he went into movies (his first flick was the J Lo’s sci-fi fantasy/horror The Cell), winning numerous awards including MTV Music Awards, Grammys, and a couple of Cannes trophies for his commercial work. But his most famous one is probably this ‘Gladiator-inspired’ Pepsi commercial with all the pop stars like Britney, Pink and Beyonce. But in order to REALLY appreciate how talented this guy is, you have got to see The Fall (see trailer below). Apparently he’s been “…obsessed by the idea of telling a story about storytelling for 27 years…” according to this MPR article, which also fulfilled his craving for world travels (the movie was shot in 24 countries!). It’s also said that “… he wanted to use real places, not models or computer generated special effects”, so judging by that statement alone, I’m hopeful Immortals will NOT be a run-of-the-mill action flick.
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Now, if there is one flick I’m curious to see in 3D, that’d be this movie. But then again, it’d have to be originally shot in 3D, not converted after the fact, so come to think of it, better to just leave it the way it is.

Have you seen The Fall, folks? If so, please chime in and let me know what you think.