Archive for the Fantasy Category

MAN OF STEEL, STEALS MY CHILDHOOD

Posted in Action, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/18/2013 by joycereview

3--clawsmanofsteelMAN OF STEEL.  REVIEW 043

It’s been over 3 years since I’ve reviewed a film.  After seeing Zack Snyder‘s remodeling of the Man of Steel, and the dismantling of a personal childhood hero, I felt compelled to get back into the game; at least one more time.

I think most of us thought the trailer was phenomenal. Am I right?  And sensationally reviewed or not, I was going to sit in that theater and watch Superman fly into space, back into our lives and consciousness again.

Now, I don’t consider myself very resistant to change – but as I sat in that theater, I could feel my body cringe and the lightness in my heart sadden (similar to the feeling I had with George Lucas’ changes in Star Wars).

I needed to face some facts.  The viewing audiences are not the same as they were, nor are the studio executives and movie critics of Hollywood.  Critics don’t want to stand against a film, obviously because there is more exposure and more money in promotion.  Directors are becoming fixated on smoke & mirrors (CGI), diluting the story and disrupting the pace in order to keep viewers stimulated.  What they miss (when they follow this formula) is that people go to the theater to be “moved” (as James Lipton once put it).  Man of Steel, although superbly cast, is over-stimulating, devoid of humor, and re-invents Kal-El as a confused and somewhat immature orphan.

MY QUICK OVERVIEW

“I think it’s safe to say that Christopher Reeve still holds the mantle, that simplicity is best, and that 2-hours of special effects and blowing stuff up doesn’t amount to one General Zod being flung into a big Coca-Cola sign.”

THE BEGINNING (No ‘real’ Spoilers)

The malaise began immediately – no John Williams music*, no traditional Superman opening – instead, we go straight to Kal-El’s birth (and labor is just as just as painful on Krypton as it is on Earth).  Was that a spoiler?  I apologize if it was.

After Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his son to planet Earth, we meet a seemingly steriod-laden ‘Clark Kent’ (Henry Cavill) [who actually didn’t go by that name in order to hide his identity] as he helps man a fishing vessel.  I was confused to see that there were no ‘crystals’ to speak of on Krypton or in Superman’s possession, and a mode of Kryptonian transportation is a flying komodo dragon (very ‘Avatar’ of Synder/Goyer/Nolan).

THE CHARACTERS

general zod man of steel-1One of the saving graces of this film is due to the fact that it is star-studded, with each actor delivering a great performance.  It is a bit concerning, however, that the 13 year old Clark exhibits more emotion and depth than the main star.  But with that aside, Laurence Fishburne makes an excellent Perry White, Amy Adams Lois Lane, Diane Lane Martha Kent, Kevin Costner Jonathan Kent, and the list goes on.

Being a fan of the strong women in films, I greatly enjoyed Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) who plays the Kryptonian ‘right hand’ of General Zod (Michael Shannon).  But if you’re going to have General Zod and play on the banishment into the Phantom Zone, then why not have Ursa and Non (from Superman & Superman II)?  If you’re going to have Perry White and Lois Lane, why no Jimmy Olsen?  Did Snyder/Goyer/Nolan want the movie devoid of any comic relief (apart from the unneeded ‘measuring dicks’ remark from Lois Lane)?

THE SENSE OF URGENCY

superman helicopter sceneA strong element that I feel should be attached to any action film is a sense of urgency, suspense, or of possible death.  In Superman you had the intense helicopter scene where Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is tangling from a seat belt.  In Superman II, you had 3 super villains hell-bent on provoking Superman through the destruction and killing of Metropolis citizens.  Superman had to change the battlefield, he had to use brain over brawn in order to save lives.  In Superman Returns, the ‘Man of Steel’ saves Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) yet again, this time in a Boeing-Space Shuttle Launch catastrophe – not to mention, 2 near drownings, a Kryptonite shiv stuck in his side by Lex Luthor (Keven Spacey), and Superman’s death/’resurrection’.

CHEMISTRY

Iron Man has Pepper Potts, Spiderman has Mary Jane Watson, and Superman has Lois Lane.  Love, whether guys like it in their films or not, is a potent ingredient when it comes to film.  On-Screen chemistry is a hard thing to pull off in a lot of cases.  Some have it and some don’t.  However, in Man of Steel, there wasn’t enough time and attention to the Superman-Lois Lane story to feel that love was even possible.  But maybe ‘Love’ wasn’t what the director and writers were going for?

As someone who dabbles in script-writing himself, I don’t think we should simply ‘forgive’ Goyer/Nolan for this problem and I don’t think the audience should overlook the importance of this connection.  You must remember, Nolan played the same trick on us with the last Batman movie.  How did Catwoman go from unobtainable, pesky thief to finally locking lips with Batman in the end?  Shouldn’t Bruce Wayne find that odd or suspect?  Again, I suppose a kiss at the end of the movie is all studios think we want out of two attractive actors.

DIRECTION

Both Richard Donner and Bryan Singer are directors who care deeply for story.  They go to great lengths to make sure that their actors understand the characters of the film and the tone, mood and intensity at which they want their actors to play their respective parts.  To be fair, there is so much that goes on behind-the-scenes between directors, producers and studios that criticisms are merely opinions on the final product; nothing more.  Why was there nearly 45 minutes of non-stop action in the third act of Man of Steel?  Was it because they wanted to show us something new (which they did not) as far as visual effects, or did they do it to cover weaknesses to the story?

STORY-TELLING

The integral component to any movie is story.  Ideas, themes, scenes can be amazingly brilliant – but if there is little-to-no originality, if it’s un-relatable, and/or has no consistency, the film may be doomed to fail.  The way for audiences to relate to Superman is through Clark Kent.  Yes, Snyder/Goyer/Nolan gave us flashbacks of young Kent being bullied, and learning that he was an alien – and maybe the placement was decent (given the pace of the film) – but it wasn’t enough for the audience (in my opinion) to understand how these feelings changed his constitution, challenged and helped to form his sense of right and wrong.

When it comes to original, forward-thinking ideas, I thought the movie was shallow.  Krypton had a Matrix-like incubation chamber, villians that climbed after Superman using The Hulk method, and I already mentioned the flying dragons of Avatar.  In Superman II, Mario Puzo‘s story had Superman outsmarting the General Zod and his entourage by reversing the direction of his radiation chamber, deceiving both the villians and the audience at the same time.  I won’t spoil it for those that see Man of Steel, but let me just say that General Zod meets his end not-so-spectacularly. It left both my wife and I looking at each other going, “huh!? well,… alrighty then.”  On thing it certainly reminded me of was Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises and the seemingly obvious way at which he ‘permanently dispatched’ Bane.  Any warrior knows to go to his enemies’ weakness, and Bane clearly had a breathing problem (sorry if that was a spoiler, but the Dark Knight’s been out for a year!).

MUSIC*

I can’t believe I forgot about the music [I’m a fitting this in several days later].  While John Williams’ epic tracks continue to be what people hum when they think of Superman, Hans Zimmer didn’t do a bad job at all.  Hans has a great understanding of rhythm, pace, and mood and thereby, creates a superb soundtrack to a less-than-mediocre movie.  The sound is bold and original and would definitely be something I’d listen to at home.  My only criticism is that I wish it had a small resonation, an echo, of Williams’ theme(s).  I don’t believe, especially when it comes to Superman, that to incorporate the old with the new (in this situation) would be “taking the easy road” or plagiarism, but of a musical collaboration.

A QUICK ASIDE

Singer ComicbookMovieComI have even more respect for Bryan Singer’s vision, Superman Returns (2006).  Some of the reasons why people didn’t like Singer’s version is are: too close to Donner/Lester’s version, Brandon Routh’s portray was too like Christopher Reeve, it was too heavy with the the love triangle and with the Christ mythology/symbology.  As Singer explained to Ed Gross (2011. ComicBookmovie.Com),

…I am very much in love with the Donner picture, and for me the journey was exciting because I got the chance to reprise those images and explore it. When you’re fascinated by something and you love it, part of making the movie is trying to please everyone and make a successful movie, but part of it is an experimental kind of thing.”

In Singer’s version, there is a sense of peril, urgency, and you truly felt for the characters involved – partly because they are extensions of the characters we know and love.  The Boeing/Space shuttle scene that reintroduces Superman to the world was genius, nail-biting, unique and nostalgic.  A good example (Superman) of this

“I hope this hasn’t put any of you off flying.  Statistically speaking…”

Great nod to the original.  It was almost as if Mr. Reeve was mouthing the words.  It sure felt good to hear those words again.

FINAL WORD

It will do me some good to get some time and distance from this film.  It might seem silly to some, but writing has always been a cathartic and certainly stress-relieving experience for me.  It’s a difficult thing for any director to tackle – especially trying to live up the the expectations of the 8 year-old inside me.  But on the other hand, I don’t feel like I was asking too much.  What I got from Man of Steel was mind-numbing action with only glimpses of greatness thrown in here and there (i.e. the touching scene w/ Mr. Kent and young clark, the school bus scene); all of which were in the opening trailer.  I will have to come to terms with this I know… because I share Bryan Singer’s thought (as he said to the Voices of Krypton), that my idea of a great Superman film “would simply be a reboot” of Donner’s (/Puzo’s) visions with “balls-to-the-wall” action sequences*

Of course, done the right way!

by: MICHAEL JOYCE

Also of: CombativeCorner.Com, OutFoxxed.Com & YourTherapy.Info

MOVIE DETAILS

WARNER BROS.  2006

PG-13.  TIME: 2 HOURS 28 MIN.

ACTION/ADVENTURE/FANTASY

PLEASE OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE FILM BELOW

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WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE :: FANTASY :: 042

Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03/12/2010 by joycereview

Spike Jonzes’ cinematic version of the popular book, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, walks a fine line but holds a tightrope walker’s focus throughout.

Where The Wild Things Are (besides Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax) was my favorite book growing up.

Max, like myself as a youngster (and millions of kids the world over) uses his imagination to lift himself far away from his struggles.

Young Max is played by Max Records (The Brothers Bloom) and assumes the role with great depth and vulnerability.  Each expression on his face perfectly depicts the confusion, disappointment, jubilation, or whathaveyou, of a kid trying to find his place in the world, beit reality or amongst the creatures of his imagination.

The Wild Things are: Carrol (James Gandolfini), Alexander (Paul Dano), Judith (Catherine O’Hara), Douglas (Chris Cooper) and Ira (Forest Whitaker).

For those that know and love the book (as I, a child of the late 70s did), Where The Wild Things Are (the cinematic version) produces its own, leisurely paced addaptation of the 300-some-word children’s classic.  Jonze and Eggers give, in cinematic terms, exactly what Sendak was able to do in words and illustrations… and although the film may feel too “drawn out” for a full-length feature film (and you may be right), the situations, all from the point-of-view of 9-year old Max allows you to relive, (for me, drawing from my own childhood) and relate to the child within.

What did you think about the picture?

Give your thoughts below and…

Let the wild rumpus begin!

AVATAR :: SCI-FI :: 033

Posted in Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2010 by joycereview

Alien worlds fascinates me.  They always have.  Pandora is the closest we’ve been able to get to that world cinematically.  Jim Cameron’s vision delighted me on all levels and was perhaps, the most fun that I’ve had in the theaters wearing dorky 3d glasses.

It’s obvious through his films that the mind of Cameron is a colossal wonderland, full of floating islands, 6-legged horses, brightly-colored pterodactyls, and the blue-skinned, golden-eyed Na’vi.  At least this was the latest of Cameron’s dreams to be shared with us…  a dream tucked away for more than a decade.  In 2005, he revisited the script and agreed that it was time.  What emerged? You’ll have to see it to believe it!

THE BEAR BONES

Following the death of his twin brother, a paraplegic marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington; Terminator Salvation), steps into a unique position to continue his brother’s project and travel to the amazing world of Pandora.  The mission is for Scully to inhabit a lab-grown-replica body (known as an “Avatar”) of both his twin and of the Pandorian race known as the Na’vi and to infiltrate the tribe and negotiate an exodus, away from an area rich in an Earth-rescuing mineral known as “unobtanium.”  Trigger-happy Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) strikes a deal with Sully to gather intel on the Na’vi in return for post-mission spinal surgery.  Cheif Administrator Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) wants diplomacy (only because it looks better), and scientist Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver, Aliens) wants to truly understand the biology and hidden mysteries of Pandora.  As the Avatar, Jake Sully forms a bond with the Na’vi and must make his choice;  stand with his new family, or help the human race blunder Pandoria’s most precious resource.

As a movie-loving public, we’ve seen literally hundreds of movies.  In my case, (and as so many others film-nuts) we’ve seen thousands.  Themes and scenes, especially the good ones, always stand out.  It was apparent to in this film that connections can be made with the following: Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, The Last Samurai, and even Braveheart.  The world of Pandora was a cross between the amazon rainforest and a coral reef.  The Na’vi were a cross between native american indians (I don’t mean to lump you all together) and african tribes.  The “horses” a cross between a seahorse, and a regular horse – add a pair of legs.  The flying creatures of Pandora were pterodactyls with the head of a savannah monitor.  But the question we must ask ourselves is “does our knowledge of these traits/similarities take away from the film?”  The answer is “no friggin’ way.”

It was explained to me a long time ago, that there is very little in the world that we would fail to assign complete uniqueness to.  To this theory, I agree.  Many years ago, when phones were the size of a Tom Clancy hardback we watched in awe as Kirk and Spock had what looked to be my first Motorola flip-top cellphone.  That debuted in 1966!  From then on we become desensitized to technology and even of artistic creations (to some point).  Had Cameron and his visual artists created creatures, machines and contraptions without a likeness to images of our time, our minds would be quite likely to reject it.  For Avatar, a thin line had to be threaded in order to lock our collective minds into a state of belief and wonderment.  Cameron performed like a surgical Annie Oakley due to his experience, years in film and the fact that his body is made of 60%water and 40% of awesome!

Do you want to know why there are no more Jim Cameron’s in the world?  I’ll tell you why!  Answer:  Because he’s a nerdy woman in the body of a good-looking man.  He’s a tree-hugging, technology-embracing, liberal – not just for alien rights but for universal equality.  It’s a widely-known fact that most powerful men place other powerful men as heroic characters in their stories.  Cameron simply changes the gender and leaves the balls.  Sigourney became the first of Hollywood’s top heroines by way of her role in Alien, and as if she were acquiring more balls along the way, Aliens (the sequel).  Aliens even had Jenette Goldstein playing the toughest female marine in cinema history as Lt. Vasquez.  (Note the enormous similarity of Goldstein to Avatar’s Michelle Rodriquez)  … Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in both Terminator 1 & 2.  (She was so bad-ass in T2, that Jim married her!) Even Kate Winslet’s role in Titanic can be seen as unsteriotypically masculine… just in the bold, strong, take charge way… not in the “I bust a cap in alien asses”-type way (obviously!).  Now… we have Zoe Saldana (Star Trek), playing Neytiri, the warrior princess of the Omaticaya Clan.  Blue, fierce and dead sexy!  I remember as a kid I had a crush on Betty Rubble of the Flintstones (yes, the cartoon version), but if the 10 year old in me where to react hormonally (after seeing Neytiri) he’d run out into the woods, risking an arrow of neurotoxic death.

Before viewing Avatar, I had (and still have) some reservations on the use of CGI.  Call me old-school (again), but motion capturing, CGI and the lot can never truly portray what an actor or actress can do.  Recreation is not creation.  CGI gives control and is cost effective but can only be a reflection and a refraction of what a performer creates.  E.T. was more-or-less a sock puppet, but was as real to me today as it was when I was a kid.  The creations of Avatar will always stay with me.  Not just because Earth is “played out” and I want to move to Pandora, but because the CGI realism of Avatar finally hit the mark of believability.  What is key is that we put this technology in the hands of skilled samurai (i.e. James Cameron, Peter Jackson) and not in baby, knife-wielding hacks (i.e. Michael Bay).

I agree 95.8% with my fellow critic, Colin (read his Avatar review at: Cineaste John) when he says,

“I felt like I was on the same emotional journey as Jake Sully.  I felt for the Na’vi.  I felt for Hometree and the Omaticaya.  I felt that the true struggle for Jake Sully, a born-and-bread Marine, suddenly feeling like everything he once knew and was trained to be was savage and inhumane.  Avatar was everything I’d hoped it to be and more.”

It wasn’t a far leap for me (being skinny, tall and good-looking in blue)… but Avatar will always be a film that I feel connected to – for its messages of environmental responsibility, diplomacy, and the fact that it’s far less cool to be human.  At least we can dream.  For the less and unimaginative folk, Cameron holds us up to the viewfinder… and what an awe-inspiring view it is.

Leave your paw-print below!

  • What was your thought on the film?
  • What would you rate it personally?

THE LINES ARE OPEN…

TWILIGHT: NEW MOON :: FANTASY :: 022

Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/26/2009 by joycereview

The second film installment of Stephenie Meyer’s grotesquely popular vampire series has certainly raised the bar from it’s previous and highly-mediocre (many say “dreadful”) first film.  Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story) is out of the director’s chair for this one, and is replaced by the slightly-more-polished, Chris Weitz (About A Boy, The Golden Compass)… why?… supposedly because of “time constraints”, but my inner opinion poll says otherwise.  Critics and vampire fanatics are, again, having a field day with the emergence of New Moon.

A money machine – New Moon placed third on the all-time domestic chart, bested only by Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million in 2007) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million in 2008).  It’s amazing that, with the amount of money that Twilight is pulling in [$69.6 million in the opening weekend (Twilight) compared to $142.8 for New Moon], the studios couldn’t find a more seasoned director, however, the studio’s choice in Chris Weitz turns out to be a wise one.

After being briefed the story by my girlfriend (who has read the Twilight Series) I had the gut feeling that I’d hold this particular film in higher esteem.  I consider myself wildly romantic and have no problem sitting down and watching a well-done love story (i.e. The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle).  I had, however, become quite tiresome of the Edward and Bella’s “You’re my life… You are my soul” talk.  Then they attempt at a kiss… sometimes convulsing with pleasure and, per example (in the New Moon), performing what I call “The makes-me-giggle kiss of whimpering-ecstasy.” (giggles continue just thinking about it)

New Moon limits the amount of quasi-kanoodling and vomitous lubby-love-talk by Edward (Robert Pattinson) proclaiming to Bella (Kristen Stewart) that they “Can never see each other again.”  Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?  Bella then drops into a mad, heroin-junkie-like depression, that is, until she finds out that she can can connect with Edward by walking towards the dark edge of death (i.e. motorcycles, ocean-side cliffs, etc.).  And then comes the fangirl moment, when native american-werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips off his shirt in stripper-fashion to blot Bella’s motorcycle injury (let’s not go even go there!).  It’s all doggy-style from then on, until a misunderstanding leads Edward to think that Bella is dead.  And the rest… you’ll have to see for yourself.

The acting is much improved and has the added stardom of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) as Aro of the Volturi and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, Push) as Jane, the sadistic and tele-destructive dark vampress.  With Chris Weitz at the helm, the film is expertly paced with the script, and this enables his actors to take control by acting (not by drowning the performances with unneeded, swirling camera shots).  The CGI of the werewolves still leaves the techno-realist in me wanting more wolf, less animation, but perhaps, we are just not there yet.  How can they make a 40-ton King Kong that would make Diane Fossey pee in her pants, but we can’t do the same for wolves?  Maybe they just hooked up with the people that did the Coca-Cola polar bear/penquin commercials and said “They will be fine.”  Still enjoyable, but if you are wanting me to believe in werewolves, you’ve got to do better than that.

There are two shots that I particularly liked – the first being an encircling shot of heartbroken Bella as she sits in her chair, each rotation giving rise to a change of season.  And two (where the CGI shines), on observing a painting of the Volturi (the vampire equivalent of high priest councel-ruling class) the facet and crosshatch lines of the paint smooth as the camera lens zooms, becoming as a real-time window into the Volturi life.

The truth of the matter is that New Moon didn’t need to do much to outdo its predecessor.  I think we all realized that.  Critics will undoubtedly scream that the story is diving away from its source; that being the relationship between Edward and Bella.  But even the critics must not take these events, characters and dialogue too seriously….  For it seems that, some of the its flaws, are designed to help keep it as authentically real as possible.  Because only a character like Bella can say:

(Bella to Jacob) : You’re so warm! You’re like your own sun.

We forgive her every oddity and we should, because despite some pretty wack lines, Stewart carries the movie on her shoulders.  And with a red-headed and revenge-driven vampire still on her tracks, and my girlfriend’s assurance of “more Dakota Fanning to come”… I’m sure to be another warm body in the theater seat for film number trois.

Please give your thoughts on New Moon below!  I’m eagerly awaiting my feeding… of fresh comments.  Cheers.

For those wanting to see the review for Twilight, click here.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog post has been, undeniably, my most popular one.  This is, obviously, no thanks to my writing talents but to the huge popularity of the movie itself.  Because this review is generating soooo much traffic, I’d like to use this time (while I still have you) to direct you to our Facebook Fan Page.  Get instant updates and be a part of our discussion forums. [CLICK HERE]   We’d love to have you!

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THE HUNGER :: FANTASY :: 021

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/23/2009 by joycereview


The Hunger, a film by Tony Scott (Man On Fire, The Taking of Pelham 123) is a vampiric work of art that is, in many ways, a few pints [of blood. (enter maniacal laughter here)] away from a masterpiece.  Certainly for Mr. Scott, this film is one of his most creative and interesting pieces and often gets overlooked due to the Hollywood appeal of  his other films like: Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide and Deja Vu.  Tony Scott has an obvious penchant for creating stylized, and hard-hitting action, but in The Hunger, we see a softer, less commercial, and certainly more seductive quality.  This, of course, gives us artists something to “sink our teeth into.”

The film begins in hard-rocking goth fashion, with the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead”* by the English band Bauhaus, and feature’s a stunningly lascivious nightcap between our two vampires (John and Miriam) and their victims (classically 1980’s with leather and “flock of seagulls” hair).  Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) is a 2,000 year old vampire of Egyptian origins whose centuries-old relationship with companion John (David Bowie) is on decline.  Several hundred years after Miriam’s love-bite, John comes down with a condition of rapid aging and, as a race to a cure, seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), a specialist in premature aging.  After John withers to nothing, Miriam finds a new partner in Ms. Roberts, but is Miriam’s effort in vein/vain?

Arguably one of the most visual and stylistic pieces in vampiric film history, The Hunger is the byproduct of an ingenious formula.  The acting is superb, Catherine Deneuve, “the grande dame” of french cinema is ravishingly elegant and mysterious, and each scene is highly polished in the way only a young Tony Scott knows how.

That’s one of the beauties of youth – that a young director’s (39) first feature film hold with it a vibrant, adroitly creative energy (like Sam Mendes’ debut, American Beauty).  However, to many (including myself) the plot begins to slacken once Bowie’s character is set to rest.  In a short time, we are able to witness and appreciate John’s joie de vivre and passionate companionship with Miriam.  John’s departure from the film seems only to set the stage for the sherry-influenced lesbian seduction which, although quite smoldering (even in 2009 standards) becomes one of the film’s last memorable parts.

You’ll be back.  When the hunger knows no reason! And then you’ll need to feed, and you’ll need me to show you how!

The Hunger is a visually-stunning, but often highly-underrated film that is a must-see for fans of vampire movies and films that happen to encapsulate the visual stylings of its time.  However, for most audiences (especially the ‘philistine-types’ [you know who you are] with little appreciation for the talents of Deneuve, Bowie and Sarandon) the movie will be amorpheus (this is not a reference to The Matrix) and will drag at parts.  I found it to be intriguing, sometimes chilling, and moreover, quite “to die for.”

Have a happy Fangs-giving everybody!

Stay tuned Wednesday night, when I unleash the review for part deux of the Twilight Series, New Moon.

*The reference and use of the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead” is notable, as Bela Legosi, the Hungarian actor that became the original Dracula in the 1931 classic.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN :: FORIEGN :: 020

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Foreign with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/18/2009 by joycereview


Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), a suggested viewing by another film critic, completely got my blood flowing (much unlike the teeny-bopper Twilight series).

The film opens with the reflection of a young, towheaded, swedish boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), as he somberly looks out his window to the dark, snow-laden ground below.  We learn that he has much to be melancholy about – His parents are divorced, has no friends, and he is constantly tormented by a gang of bullies at school.  One day he meets a 12-year old (more or less) girl (although she says she “isn’t a girl”) named Eli (Lina Leandersson) that doesn’t think too much of the cold and has a funny smell about her.  As mysterious murders plague the town (a “girl” has got to eat!), Eli and Oskar become friends, learn Morse Code together and she helps him find the courage to stand up for himself.

What I enjoyed most about this film was the story.  To often we, this incubus-fantasizing-society, fixate on the vampire’s religious alienation and lecherous associations of sexuality and not necessarily on the messy reality of what happens during “meal time.”  In the movie, Interview with a Vampire, feeding was clean, as if their incisors were slurpy-straws.  How would this type of forced killing feel to a young person – even one that has been a young person for a long time?

We don’t think too much of loneliness and isolation with kids that are able to go to high school and later, conduct jobs (except on days of sunlight) like the characters in Twilight [who oddly enough aren’t expelled for skipping too many days].  But if we ask ourselves, “How would it affect me if I had no one?  How might I look at killing (if I’ve always been a vampire)?”  The film shows us that there is a humanistic compulsion that resides deep within the pale skin of Eli; that she doesn’t want to spend eternity alone.

The second question that arise is one that I am glad this movie brought out.  At one point in my life I wanted to try and become a vegetarian.  Time and time again I would try and fail.  In a conversation with a vegetarian friend of mine, he said, “most people these days, if personally killing a cow all by yourself , would turn away from meat.”  Meat is murder*.

But alas, we are animalistic in nature and designed for the hunt.  Eli feels that way about what she must do to survive.  There is little (if any) remorse for the dead.  The world is her dinner plate and we are but tender, succulent morsels on it.  Of the people that walk, cattle-like, in the snowy landscape, it is not surprising that she desires one as a “pet.”

Staying to the Joyce Review code of “no spoilers,” is hard with this one because, as a vampire film that quickly became my favorite vampire film, I have a vampire’s compulsion to tell the story to everyone I see and talk with.  One thing I will say is that I enjoyed the ending a great deal and I plan on reading John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book of the same title.  I cannot say enough that, if you are a fan of vampire films, you are bound to enjoy this one.

Watch before they give it a Hollywood remake – which I hear is already in the making.

I leave you with the last words communicated in the film.  Figure it out if you can.

[In December, I’ll write in what it was (for those that are too lazy to figure it out on their own).

* dot * dash * dash * dot

* dot * dot * dash

* dot * dot * dot

* dot * dot * dot

Lines are open! ….

*In Swedish. [Enlish Subtitles]     114 minutes.

*Meat is Murder is a song by one of my favorite singers, Morrissey.  He’s a vegetarian and believes strongly in that eating meat is a vile thing. [don’t know if that had any significance or not].  The title of the book (and the movie) Let The Right One In was taken from Morrissey’s song “Let The Right One Slip In.”

*The Morse Code at the end of the movie spelled the letters P-U-S-S.  Stop right there you dirty-minded people… “puss” the Swedish word for “KISS.”  Awww… now isn’t that a sweet ending?

TWILIGHT :: FANTASY :: 019

Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/17/2009 by joycereview


Edward Cullen, the dreamboat vampire (from Stephenie Meyer’s novel adaptation of book one of the Twilight Saga), says that he can read thoughts; all except for Bella’s. Poppycock!

When I was in high school, I was fairly naive on the female cues of desire.  Edward Cullen has been in high school for 100 years and reads off the thoughts in the restaurant scene with great ease, “Money.  Sex.  Money.”  For some odd reason, he cannot pierce the blank stare of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).  Maybe it’s because of her blank expression or maybe because of her blank mind.  Clearly she wants Edward’s body.  It’s so obvious (I scoff).

I hope to one day have a daughter; one that will one day meet a boy that she grows to love.  However, the moment he says the lines, “I’ve killed people,” I’d hope that she’d have the good sense to leave him and contact the authorities.  But joking aside, Bella has some sort of romantic death-wish for Edward and want’s to “do the deed” with him, literally, if it kills her.  But “abstinence-boy” won’t let that happen.  It’s a push-pull relationship from the very beginning and it intrigues me to know just why Stephenie Meyer would write this of seemingly bright, introverted young girl.  Maybe if she was a sadistic, goth-girl I’d buy it, but not in this story.

If you want to watch a ridiculously-awesome film about young vampire love, watch Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in. 2008)[review coming NEXT].  [available as Watch Instantly on NetFlix]  Not only does it depict a more realistic development of love, it gives a commonsensical perspective of the life of a vampire.  Because, let us be real a minute – two separate tribes of vampires AND werewolves cohabitating within such a small town as Forks, Washington?

What little knowledge I have of women (pardon my modesty) notwithstanding, it can never satisfy my curiosity towards the question, “Why do women (particularly in these modern times) relish in the thought of being relished?”  Men seem to think, if I’m only persistent… she will be mine.  When in truth, women seem to fantasize for the mysteriously-aloof, complex or troubled James Dean-types; even though they make some of the worst husbands.

Meanwhile back on the ranch…  we have several other problems.  The special effect choices disappointed me.  I got an instant Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man) flashback when I saw how the film depicted the vampire’s superhuman speed.  And when in the (direct) sunlight [emphasis on the “direct”], it comes off as if Edward was the result of some terrible glitter factory explosion.  But on the other hand, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” so why wouldn’t Bella swoon?

Twilight, is likely to be a fan-favorite of teenage girls the world-over for years and years, but don’t look to me for an answer of “why.”  I’ll just chalk it up to biology, labido, our natural affinity for danger, and poor dating choices.

Here’s to a better sequel, in Twilight : New Moon.

Review coming this weekend!