Category Archives: Action

Drive

Drive was hands down one of my favourite movies of 2011. The film has excellent pacing and is beautifully shot. Aesthetically, the film felt like a strange mix of an 80’s crime drama (helped along by the pulsating electro-pop soundtrack) and minimalist European cinema. It is a strange collision that works quite well.
The plot is simple. A quiet seemingly nameless young man, the Driver, (played by Ryan Gosling) works as a mechanic and stunt driver by day, and lends his services to criminals as a get-away driver by night. He meets and forms a bond with his neighbours, a young woman named Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benecio (Kaden Leos). He comes to love them and resolves to be their protector. When Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Issac), is released from jail, it starts a series of events which culminate into a brutally violent end.
Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are fantastic. Neither character says very much, communication radiates out from their eyes and body language. Muted as they both may be, their physicality, mixed with the few lines they do speak, go a long way. The camera work and lighting also assist the audiences reading of scenes by amplifying the feelings the actors are working towards by introducing a range of temperature to the film. Scenes literally have a way of feeling hot or cold in ways that are clearly meant to assist in our collective reading of what takes place. When Gosling is alone or working on a heist, many of these scenes feel cold, metallic and shot in cold grey tones with hardly any colour. When there is colour present, such as at a night club scene, it seems harsh. His is a world of cool calculation and machinary. When the Driver is with Irene, the feeling of the film changes, becoming warm and comforting. We take a ride on the Driver’s emotions. Warms tones are present as he drives with Irene at night, sits in the dim light of her apartment and visits a hidden creek with her and her son. We feel the love and companionship between these characters. And still there are other scenes, such as the beautiful and brutal elevator scene, where we shift from warm to cold, love to malice.
This film is not for everyone. The entire first two thirds of the movie unfold in a slow and meticulous manner, serving as a long build up to an explosively violent end, which left me both shocked and exhilarated. While not for the faint of heart, or those lacking in patience, Drive is one of the best mainstream films released this year, and well worth the ride.

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Filed under Action, Uncategorized

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


And I’m back! That took a while…I figured I am long overdue for a post. Now that I have free time again *shakes fist at September* I can finally work up the nerve to post new reviews. Yay!

Here is one I wrote in the summer, enjoy!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the now familiar story of man playing god, ignoring all warning signs and messing about in the gene pool. Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease with which his father suffers. Will’s father (played by John Lithgow), a once beloved music teacher has now been reduced to rubble by this cruel disease. Will’s experimentation culminates in the birth of Caeser, a super smart adorable chimp. When Will brings Caeser home to foster him, he is astounded by Caeser’s mental capacity. Things become complicated when Caeser’s sense of independence and rights become more developed and he begins to act out.
The story centered around Caeser (whose movements and facial expressions are brilliantly performed by the fabulous Andy Serkis) is the film’s strongest feature. Caeser is a tragic character caught between two worlds and frustrated at his status as an outsider. His tale is emotionally compelling and exhilarating when he gains the courage to lead. The crowning gem of the movie is Caeser and his fellow apes flight for freedom.

The other half of the film, however, which focuses on Franco’s conflicted emotions as a son and scientist feels half baked in comparison. Rather than fully shape this story, the actors and issues presented are squandered in melodramatic plot turns that are far too sappy to become anything bearing emotional importance to the audience. John Lithgow turns in a particularly overdone performance and Freida Pinto is wasted in an underdeveloped role which evolves into nothing more than her being the film’s token female character. Overall, I thought the script and the onscreen confrontations were childish. Things just don’t add up. Several questions come to mind: I get that these apes are super smart but how does that also make them tactical battle aficionado’s? What gives them all the ability to throw javelins and slings with deadly accuracy? Are these not learned skills? Maybe logical consistency is asking too much. Although the action was fun and Caeser’s story is engrossing, I don’t feel like there was much else there. If you are a big fan of the Planet of the Apes series it would be worth checking this out. Other than that, I’d give it a pass until it hits the small screen.

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Filed under Action, genetics, Prequel, Science Fiction

Inception

Ever since viewing the teaser for Inception nearly a year ago I have been eagerly awaiting its theatrical debut. I caught an early matinee screening one week after it opened in order to avoid a critical mass of human contact, and excitedly submerged myself in Christopher Nolan’s cinematic dreamscape. The story is simple enough: a group of information thieves, each with a specific job, plan to enter the dream state of a young businessman in order to plant an idea in his head (the act of ‘inception’). The film takes us into several layers of the dream realm and ends up creating an interesting lattice of storytelling rarely seen in summer blockbusters. The film mashes together genres such as action, film noir, fantasy, and mystery to create an entertaining and smart film.

Inception was worth the wait, and although it has been over-hyped (I believe that The Dark Knight is Nolan’s superior film) it still delivers with memorable visual effects and a creative storyline which was reportedly ten years in the making. The film is well cast, made up of performers that are so irritatingly good looking the film borders on reaching ocular nirvana. The character banter is quick and interesting enough to maintain the attention of the audience over the course of the film’s 148 min run time. Leonardo Di Caprio does well as Don Cobb, the film’s tragic hero, whose ability to do his job is compromised by the projections of his dead wife which plague his subconscious and create an element of danger for the other dreamers. Hands down the most interesting elements of the film are its action sequences, particularly one spectacular fight scene involving a rotating hallway. Joseph Gordon-Levitt reportedly spent 6 weeks filming the brawl which is perhaps one of the most visually mind boggling and creative fight scenes to grace the big screen in recent years.

The film does have its pitfalls of course. While the dialogue between characters is often sharp and entertaining it easily becomes bloated when used to describe the processes of the dream and other concepts Nolan is trying to explain. Although Nolan feeds each of his characters with enough explanatory data to hold the audience’s collective hand through what they are witnessing, some of the scenes are laughable, particularly when attempting to describe the many levels a dreamscape can contain. Even with these blunt attempts of translation some audience members will still lose their bearings of whose dream is whose or lose interest completely (on a second viewing of this film I saw two people walk out and several surrounding me whisper to friends in confusion). Perhaps Nolan’s most remarkable feat with this project is that Inception broke the world record for the most amount of times the word ‘dream’ can be uttered in one film. Finally, Nolan introduces philosophical issues regarding the nature of dreams, reality and human perception to the plot. Although he attempts to touch on the subject several times, Nolan never makes a clear statement and instead leaves the ideas floating without many thoughtful connections. Overall, Inception offers audiences a beautiful and action oriented trip into a dream land, though it lacks a deeper reading into the bigger philosophical questions brought up throughout the story.

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Filed under Action, Christopher Nolan, Film, Science Fiction, the unconscious