Saturday, June 07, 2008
Written by Pollo Misterioso
Like teleportation, we are thrown into Jumper with a “whoosh” of information and left a little bit shaken. Unfortunately, the rest of the film never really regains a firm footing.
Based on a novel by science-fiction writer Steven Gould, Jumper, directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) introduces us to the life of David Rice (Hayden Christensen), a teleporter, or jumper, who must try to survive in a world where he is being hunted by paladins, i.e. people that kill jumpers.
Before credits are rolled, an older David tells us of his past and his first encounter with teleportation. During a near fatal accident, he teleports himself to his town library and realizes that this secret cannot be told to anyone, so he leaves. Years later, David is living in a beautiful apartment in New York City, where he can be anywhere in the world. When he journeys home and meets up with his childhood sweetheart Millie (Anna Sophia Robb) whom he takes on a trip to Rome, he gets himself in trouble with another jumper and the paladins, headed by Roland played by Samuel L. Jackson.
David is a stubborn and pompous young man. It is very hard to like a character that lives a life so privileged without consequences and who doesn’t seem to care about anyone else but himself. In fact, when Millie is re-introduced into his life, she asks no questions of where he has been, but falls in love with him anyway.
The fight becomes part of a war between good and evil, right and wrong. But Roland wants to kill David just for being different; David has only committed small crimes, not worthy of a death sentence. There is never an explanation of why he is being hunted. Roland has an intense hatred of jumpers and puts himself in a position to restore morality and normalcy to humanity. Apparently, jumpers take advantage of a normal society, but they have supernatural powers, why not use them?
The fantasy of this film is incredible. David moves from London to Rome to Egypt in a way that is pleasing and fun to watch. But these escapist moments are overdone and become meaningless once they are repeated so many times.
Even with beautiful CGI techniques and awesome action scenes, the story is so loosely put together that it becomes more unbelievable than its premise. There are holes in the back-stories and no development within the characters, so the jumping becomes the most interesting thing to watch. Whoosh.
With the idea of unlimited travel and hints of paranoia and discrimination Jumper should make for an awesome sci-fi action film, but it travels as fast as David, and not all of us can catch up.
The DVD extras on “Jumper” include commentary by the director and producers along with deleted scenes. But there are many extras that one should take a look at if they wanted more from the film. These include “Making an Actor Jump” which explains how they figured out to teleport someone. This is very helpful and interesting for anyone that wants to know more about the techniques used in action films.
Written by Pollo Misterioso
Apparently everyone has marriage on the mind, but this is not new. Hollywood loves the idea of a happy endings and that means tying the knot to secure it. Not saying that this is an outdated idea, but when it is forced down young women’s throats that women can only be happy when married, it leaves you with a more uncomfortable feeling than a bad bridesmaid dress.
27 Dresses stars Katherine Heigl and is directed by Anne Fletcher, a famous choreographer, and features Edward Burns and James Marsden as the leading men. That is a nice little cast, but pretty faces only go so far.
We begin with the back-story of Jane’s (Heigl) obsession with weddings. She sees them as a calling; the same way great artists or composers are drawn to their craft. Flash forward and she is a New York assistant to a self-made businessman George (Burns) whom she is in love with. Her true calling is weddings, not only being the maid of honor, but also submersing herself into every aspect of the occasion. And yet, for someone that claims weddings are her calling, she is still unhappy. When she introduces her sister to George, they fall madly in love and Jane is then asked to plan the wedding for her sister to the man she is in love with. In the middle of all this, she meets Kevin Doyle, her favorite wedding announcement writer, who falls for her, but uses her to further his career.
It is not that this film did not have good intentions, it’s just that all the ingredients weren’t mixed right—and that is frustrating in a predictable genre. Heigl’s character seems to be the perfect leading lady, but she comes off as pathetic and self-loathing. Desperation is never fun to watch on screen, especially when it deals with marriage. The biggest problem is her lack of action in any situation that she is in. The whole world knows she is in love with her boss, but she does nothing. She claims to have a strong bond with her sister, but she says nothing. She is left pouting and doing things she doesn’t want to do.
The only smart character in the film, Kevin (Marsden) ends up getting punished for his actions and made to look ridiculous. He is always the voice of reason, even coaching Jane to say “no” because she is simply too nice. He gets what he wants, makes mistakes and falls in love, all without pouting or being untrue to himself.
Beneath the veil of marriage comes the very important theme of one’s own happiness and the idea of knowing when to say “no.” But even this very important backbone to the film, is never developed and at the climax of the movie, when Jane finally says something to her sister, she is punished and must pick up the pieces. The film is about being true to oneself, but Jane only gets that when she is the one walking down the isle.
Every single girl gets a strange slap of reality after attending a wedding, questions of when and to whom one will get married run through our heads. In 27 Dresses Jane keeps saying how much she loves marriage and weddings, but really she is passively hinting at her own need for a perfect wedding. But marriage isn’t the ultimate happiness; one must be true to themselves. 27 Dresses tries to remain cute and pleasing to watch, but it doesn’t really know what it is trying to say, and like a slap of reality from weddings, it’s uncomfortable.
The DVD extras for this film are definitely for lovers of weddings and dresses. These include deleted scenes from the film, a making of, along with a couple of featurettes that are fun to watch. A favorite being “You’ll Never Wear that Again” which gets into all of the dresses that were chosen for this film.
Written by Pollo Misterioso
Blood, aliens, predators, and carnage. Not much more is needed in a cult science fiction film. Directors of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Colin and Greg Strause kept it that way and it is exactly what it needed to be.
This would be the fourth film that Predator has made an appearance and the sixth for the creatures referred to as Aliens. Being that the first AvP was so successful, it was time to make a sequel where the war between the two species continues.
AvPR begins with the creation of Predalien- an alien that came from a Predator host. Once this species takes over the Predator ship, it crashes into Earth and begins its usual breeding rituals. From the Predator homeland, a Predator is sent out to destroy this creature and other aliens that are there. The humans, not knowing what is happening in their town, call in the National Guard, and only our nuclear weapons can save us.
The war between Aliens and Predators in this film plays out more like a game of cat and mouse. The Aliens get to have all the fun, terrorizing this innocent town. Predator is on clean-up duty—erasing all evidence of what has happened, all while trying to track down the Predalien to seek revenge.
The film plays like a silent movie. Many of the scenes are without dialogue, being that our main characters do not speak. In fact, with the very few lines of dialogue that there are, there is no real information given. Unlike the first AvP humans are not friends and the humans are not what drive the story. The people are not what matters here, they just play as carnage.
This film is eye-candy for Alien and Predator lovers. There is a creation of a new creature and the death toll is impressive and graphic. Let’s say that they don’t bother with any horror genre codes: the children, the women and even the pregnant women are killed off. Before, humans had stumbled into their territory, now the creatures have fallen into ours and the humans are not ready for it.
Of course, there are many expectations to be held in a movie like this. AvPR tries to pay homage to its proceeding films, but these moments are forced and shallow. One of our characters screams, “Get to the chopper!”—but if it’s not Arnold, don’t remind us that it’s not Arnold.
In previous films, there was always a seriousness and undertone of technology and man. AvPR does not carry this tone, but makes an interesting point by the end of the movie. It is the humans that end up killing off both of the creatures and our government that okayed for the killing of the entire town to do so. In the last moments of the film, there is a chilling reality that we are our worst enemy.
This film plays perfectly within the genre that it is a part of, never taking itself too seriously all while being entertaining. If you are in the mood to see some of the most famous sci-fi creatures battle on screen, with lots of human wreckage, see this film.
The DVD extras are definitely for true fans of these films. Some of my favorite featureetes include “Creating the Predalien” and “Building the Predator Homeworld.” There are three other featurettes, deleted scenes, still photo galleries and commentary by the directors and producers. This is worth watching if you are interested in the production and background of these characters.
Written by Pollo Misterioso
Rob Reiner is good at making feel-good movies. Somehow they always make us cry and laugh during the same viewing. The Bucket List is more proof of Reiner’s working model, but it also brings up interesting views of age, life, and family.
Starring Jack Nicholson as a billionaire named Edward and Morgan Freeman as a worn-down mechanic named Carter, these two pair up as the most unlikely of friends, and it works.
Both of these men find out that they have fatal cancer and will pass away within the year. They are in the same hospital room when they are both diagnosed and decide after their short time together that they will create a “bucket list” of all the things that they want to do before they die. With that, Carter says goodbye to his wife and Edward (who obviously has enough money to do all that they desire) are off. They travel to China, to France, and even to the Himalayas for Mt. Everest. But skydiving and tattooing are also a part of the list. Then there are the more personal goals, dealing with family and the ones that you love.
Both of these actors are phenomenal. Morgan Freeman’s voice is so reassuring, that with his opening narration to the film there is a sense that this movie is for everyone. Nicholson is hilarious to watch. Some of his expressions are priceless and with one eyebrow raise, he is your best friend and your worst enemy. By casting these two well-established actors, the film becomes inviting and people want to see it.
But these actors have clearly aged and that is what the film is about. The glamour is stripped away and you are left with a new pair of best friends that have been your best friends for years. Both Freeman and Nicholson are embracing their journey through Hollywood and now they get to sit back and play aging men. Piece of cake.
Besides coming to terms with one's own death, there are many other issues of the adult world that are explored in this movie. Carter is trying to come to terms with his wife, his high school sweetheart and the only woman that he has ever been with. It is a different kind of love that he must find and come to terms with. As for Edward, he has alienated everyone that he knows and does not want to die alone.
As the men cross off each item on the list, they test themselves and each other. But as Carter says to Edward “find the joy in your life,” the audience is left to reflect on what happiness, love and our joy we have.
This film is part of the perfect formula that Reiner has produced countless times. But the thing is, it works. “The Bucket List” makes you believe in the good in people and the struggles that we all go through to become better. And that is always nice to watch.
The DVD extras for The Bucket List include an interesting interview with the screenwriter Justin Zackham called “Writing a Bucket List” about his own bucket list that he made. There is also web access when the DVD is played in a computer and John Mayer music video for the song “Say.”
Written by Guest Reviewer Jennifer Dysart
As an hour-long special made for TV in 1997 (and reedited in 2005), Whose Land is This? uncovers the unique situation of contemporary land claims in British Columbia. Most of Canada’s land mass was divided up in treaties signed by the European newcomers and the Aboriginal peoples in the late 1800s and early 1900s that fundamentally acknowledged but diminished Aboriginal people’s rights to the land. However, this documentary effectively uncovers why land claims in B.C. are a current-day hot topic despite that bit of Canadian history: it is a little-known (but much studied) fact that unlike the other provinces, B.C. failed to deal with the legal issue of Aboriginal land title prior to joining confederation of Canada in 1871. Except for a few treaties that covered small parcels of land on Vancouver Island issued by Hudson’s Bay Company representative Sir James Douglas, B.C. did not make formal agreements that identified who has rights to what in B.C., which sets the stage for the high tensions that surround the issue more than a century later.
The filmmaker, Richard Hersley, interviews a wide range of people, including elders, academics who have studied the Aboriginal and provincial history and politics, and Aboriginal leaders who were integral to the long battle to have the issue revisited in Nation to Nation negotiations and/or litigation. What the experts agree is that indeed there is a strong case for land claims that will redesign the borders of the province.
As an educational special made for TV, this documentary takes a journalistic approach with its unidentified narrator, abundance of archival photos, and oral recounts of written and oral history. The research is impeccable, and the film excels at peeling away the layers of governmental jargon, media anxiety, and general misunderstanding that has plagued the land-claims issue for decades. Yet, with a re-edit completed in 2005, Hersley might have explored what developments (or lack of them) have surfaced in the eight years since the documentary was first shot.
Through the on-the-street-interviews with strangers of various ethnicities in Vancouver, B.C., filmmaker Richard Hersley gently teases out the discomfort and lack of awareness that non-indigenous Canadians have of the history of First Nations land claims and juxtaposes them with voices of the younger Aboriginal population. Their politically and culturally strong opinions about the meaning of land ownership in B.C. exemplifies that the question Whose Land is This? is worth asking, regardless of the decade in which it is asked.
The DVD can be ordered through the First Nations Films website.