The Proposal Movie Review

When I first saw the previews for The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, I figured it would be another boring chick flick and it was until I got a chance to see part of the movie while getting my teeth cleaned at my friend’s dentistry did I realize that maybe this movie isn’t as bad as I thought.

I added it to our Netflix queue and when we got it, we watched it. In the end, I thought the movie was quite entertaining with a number of comical parts. The chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds comes off as believable and they look as if they would make a great couple.

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFL8b1p1ELY[/youtube]

© Cinematicpassions.Wordpress.com

The story is about a cold and emotionless executive editor-in-chief, Margaret Tate (Bullock), at book publishing Colden Books who is successful at what she does but fails ineptly at human interaction. Her assistant, Andrew (Reynolds), is doing his best to keep up with her and cater to her demanding whims in hopes getting his manuscript published. Things take a turn in his favor when Tate is called into her bosses’ office informing her she will be deported back to Canada immediately because of an expired Visa. Andrew interrupts the meeting to tell Tate she has a client holding on the phone for her, Tate takes advantage of the situation and shocks everyone by telling everyone that Andrew have been having a secret relationship and are now engagement to be married.

Some of the best scenes are when Reynolds explains to his family how he proposed to Bullock and what ensues is a hilarious ad-lib dialogue from the both of them. There is also the in-famous shower scene, which is quite hilarious. Throughout the movie, there are many laugh-out-loud moments. Also by the end of the movie, be sure to watch the little added bonus that runs with the credits.

I am a big fan of Ryan Reynolds. He has a certain sarcasm and humor that he brings successfully to each of his roles such as National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Blade: Trinity, and so on that really made his character a stand out. I’ve also liked Sandra Bullock, although haven’t seen her in anything for awhile. But I definitely think the best part of the movie is the chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds.

Verdict: DEFINITE rent.

Avatar Movie: As Good As They Say It Is?

Andrea and I finally got the chance to watch James Cameron’s latest action flick, Avatar in 3D at Century at Tanforan here in San Bruno. This has been one of, if not, the most highly anticipated movie of this last year 2009/2010 with an estimated budget of $237 million ((http://www.thewrap.com/article/true-cost-and-consequences-avatar-11206?page=1)).

In case you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard about Avatar, here’s the official movie trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEt3qLG-cAM[/youtube]

Avatar-movie-trailer-screenshot-03

Avatar follows the story of a paraplegic former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who agrees to sign on with RDA Corporation taking his deceased scientist brother’s place as an avatar pilot because Sully shares the same genome necessary to use the highly expensive Avatars. He arrives on Pandora after a long trip from Earth to join other former Marines commanded by Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) all hired to provide private security for the mining operation on Pandora led by Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi). RDA Corp. is looking to mine a “valuable mineral called unobatium, worth $20 million per kilogram back on Earth” ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_%282009_film%29)). Also working for RDA Corp. is Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) who heads the Avatar program and involved in understanding and learning about the Na’vi, indigenous cat-like people of Pandora who are untrusting of humans after several mishaps. Neytiri (Zoë Saldana), a Na’vi warrior rescues Sully from a near-death experience and is later tasked with teaching him the ways of the Na’vi. From there, the two-and-half hour-long movie is a non-stop action/adventure/love story movie that touches on many topics from corporate greed to love and acceptance.

Avatar-movie-trailer-screenshot-01

While I certainly agree this movie was amazing, I’m not sure if I would consider it among the best movies I’ve seen. Here are a few reasons why:

Original Storyline

The story goes that James Cameron began developing the concept and wrote an 80-page script of Avatar back in 1994 ((http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20007998,00.html)) but didn’t start making the movie until 2006 because the existing technology wasn’t available to satisfy Cameron’s vision ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_%282009_film%29)).

In Avatar, the indigenous people of the planet, the Na’vi are spiritually connected with the land. They seek not to disturb the balance of nature, taking and using only what they need and leaving the rest undisturbed. Humans (through the RDA Corporation), however, have come from a far distance to seek out a valuable mineral, a majority of which happens to be situated under a huge tree, called the Hometree which is home to the Omaticaya clan. The humans have two choices to obtain the valuable mineral unobatium: through force or negotiation. Through force they would wipe out the Omaticaya clan or through negotiation they would relocate the clan. Either choice would mean that RDA Corp would bull-doze the entire forest to get access to the unobatium that is beneath. Now if this storyline doesn’t sound familiar, I would recommend you read the history of North America, it’s founding, and the Native Americans. The Na’vi’s language and culture seem very similar to Native Americans from their dress, weapons, beliefs, and etc ((http://www.scifisquad.com/2009/12/18/avatar-and-the-culture-of-the-navi/)).

That’s not to say a good or great movie can’t be inspired from an existing story, but watching Avatar felt like watching the history of North America told through sci-fi allegory.

Visual Orgasm

The computer-generated imagery is nothing short of amazing. Watching it in 3D, there were moments where you feel like you can reach out and grab hold of something. While it was hard to tell at some parts what was real and what was CGI, there was so much you could suffer from sensory overload and other scenes where it felt too CGI such as riding on the Ikran. Brings me to my next point.

Better Video Game Than Movie

avatar-mech
© gamesblog.ugo.com - Screen shot from Avatar The Game

This might sound like harsh criticism, but this movie feels like a big advertising for a video game. If I hadn’t known better, I would have figured the video game inspired the movie rather than the other way around.

Good vs Evil

Throughout the movie the characters seem too one-dimensionally defined as “good” or “evil” which leads to predictable plots ((http://www.yesnomeh.com/2009/12/avatar-good-vs-evil-aliens-vs-humans.html))  ((http://www.twotalkingmonkeys.com/news/avatar-review-good-bad-and-indifferent-how-about-you-spoiler-alert/)). In my opinion, it would have been more interesting if certain characters, such as Colonel Quaritch, had a less definable evil personality to them. It’s no surprise when we are first introduced to the Colonel that he would be one of the movie’s antagonist. I don’t want to give away too much of the movie, but this much is apparent: Na’vi = good, can do no wrong and RDA = bad, can do no right. Boring.

Avatar-movie-trailer-screenshot-02

Conclusion

There’s no question that Andrea and I enjoyed Avatar. It was a very, very good movie and shows the possibilities with film technology and we certainly look forward to the sequels.

Anyone have any thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Paranormal Activity Movie Review

Andrea and I were given an advanced copy of Paranormal Activity to watch. I had heard a lot of claims by friends about how scary this movie is from those who saw it in theaters and we had been meaning to check it out, but never got a chance to before it was out of circulation in theaters.

You can watch the offical movie trailer here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_UxLEqd074[/youtube]

Paranormal_Activity_posterThe story is about a couple: Micah (Micah Sloat), a day trader, and his girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston), a student, who live together in Micah’s house in San Diego, CA. They have a fairly normal life with the exception of Katie being haunted by a ghost. Micah, skeptical, buys a video camera to see if he can record any paranormal activity. The entire movie is presented from the perspective of the video camera that Micah purchases, much like the The Blair Witch Project but without the nauseating shakiness. At some point, Katie contacts Dr. Fredrichs, a self-professed physic, to help them when is unable to deal with the haunting any further and just wants to end it once and for all. He meets with the couple and offers advice along the lines that they should make no attempt to communicate or anger the entity and running away would not help Katie either as the entity would just follow her. Micah dismisses Dr. Fredrichs and his advice as quackery and begins to antagonize the entity who is haunting Katie which leads to some very shocking and disturbing consequences.

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While generally not easily scared, by the end of the movie, let’s just say I made sure all the doors to our house was locked extra secure. The movie starts out slow which is designed to let us, the viewers, get to know Micah and Katie and their normal life with the small exception of their unwelcomed guest. It took us a bit of patience to watch through the character development, but once things start taking off, it’s hard to stop watching and waiting in eager anticipation of what comes next. As you watch Paranormal Activity, there is no doubt of it’s low budget compared to what you are normally accustomed to seeing, but that effect lends itself very much to the believability of this movie. After a while, you start getting a sense that you are actually watching a real life couple as they experience their worst nightmares. I found the movie very impressing in the story written by director Oren Peli, the chemistry between Micah and Katie as an everyday couple, and the simplicity of the story being told through a home video camera. The movie has grossed $150 million to the paltry $15,000 it cost to make the film proving that good old fashioned story telling trumps fancy, expensive Hollywood special effects any day.

Paranormal Activity screen shot
© About.com/Paramount

The movie was first released on October 14, 2007 at the Screamfest Film Festival and eventually to wide audiences on October 16, 2009 with a total run time of 86 minutes.

Verdict: DEFINITE rent.

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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Movie Review

We watched Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and it was an entertaining movie. This movie review has very limited, non-consequential spoilers. Continue reading Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Movie Review

Taken, An Adrenaline Packed Rescue Movie

We recently watched Taken (written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen) staring Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, The Chronicles of Narnia), Famke Jannsen (GoldenEye, Nip/Tuck, X-Men), and Maggie Grace (The Fog, Lost). I actually didn’t know what to expect, I was figuring this was another one of those lame hostage/rescue movies, but it actually turned out very entertaining for the run-time of 91 minutes.

Liam Neeson from Taken
© Image from TimeOutSydney.com.au

The general premise of the movie is retired-CIA clandestine agent, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has recently retired and moved closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and ex-wife (Lenore, played by Famke Jannsen) who lives with her new wealthy husband (Stuart, played by Xander Berkley) to try an reconcile and make up for the lost time with his daughter when he was busy serving his county. His daughter and ex-wife meet with him for lunch one-day where his daughter Kim is seeking his permission, because she is a minor, for a trip to Paris with her friend and her friend’s cousins. He eventually grudgingly agrees, but in a twist, learns that she is in-fact not just going to Paris but all over Europe. Mills being extremely paranoid from his years as a clandestine agent is about to call it off, but his ex-wife manages to convince him to let her go never-the-less. She goes, but ends up getting kidnapped and starts off a whirlwind rescue mission by Mills in which he only has 96-hours to rescue her.

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I think what makes this movie so good and entertaining are two elements: Liam Neesom and the lack of heavy special effects.

takenmovieLiam Neeson is a great actor who takes Mills and makes him feel like an everyday person despite being a secret agent. Mills is far from rich, he has his flaws, and has no depth to where he would go to save his child from danger. He’s the super-dad without being the Hollywood super-dad where he jumps building-to-building, get shot at but never wounded, or captured. Mills kicks major ass in this movie, fueled by the unstoppable raison d’être to rescue his daughter before she’s lost forever. He doesn’t have an army, special forces, fancy James Bond technology, or even “inside” help for that matter. It’s just one man against many, risking his life to save his daughter.

I love special effects as much as any other guy but only if the special effects compliments the scene or the movie and not used to overshadow a crappy storyline. Take the case of the last few Bond movies prior to Casino Royale. Invisible cars, cars that drive themselves, a wrist-band grappling hook, the list goes on. On the other hand, in Taken, Mills has to rely on “..a very particular set of skills..” to rescue his daughter. There were some scenes where I thought, oh no, here comes those Hollywood special effects, but rather Pierre Morel (the director) resist the urge and goes the other way, effectively.

Parts of the movie require the willing suspension of disbelief such as the numerous coincidences that just seem to work out a bit too perfectly. I don’t want to list them as that would ruin the interest of the movie, but never-the-less, we found it quite a good watch. Here’s a site with some interesting reads about Taken, be-careful as it may contain spoilers.

Verdict: Definite Rent.

Recommended Vendors

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Yes Man Movie Review

I had originally stayed away from this movie when I first saw previews for it because Jim Carey in a comedy is like pizza with ranch sauce, so last year and you can only stand to have so much before you get sick of it.

But my sister got it and Andrea and I didn’t have any other movie choices to choose from, so what the hell, it can’t be that bad right? Continue reading Yes Man Movie Review

New Star Trek Movie Kicks Ass

Andrea and I watched the new Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams and it was great. I have to say that the last three Trek movies (Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Nemesis) were quite a disappointment despite Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) was the longest running Trek series and me actually liking the series and cast. So how does the new movie compare? Continue reading New Star Trek Movie Kicks Ass

The Dark Knight Was Good, Batman Begins Was Better

Last night while channel surfing, Andrea and I came across Batman Begins on TV. After having not seen it for a long time, I had forgotten how good Batman Begins really was. In fact, it’s better than the sequel, The Dark Knight. The reasons? Continue reading The Dark Knight Was Good, Batman Begins Was Better

Heath Ledger Is Definitely The Joker

Three things about the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight: 1) it was amazing; 2) it was a bit too long; and 3) Heath Ledger deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker. Coincidence or not, but the title of the movie The Dark Knight is reminiscent of the comic book written and drawn by comic icon, Frank Miller by the similar name of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It was the return of Batman to his true dark nature. This movie definitely has Batman/Bruce Wayne going down that same dark, disturbing path. Continue reading Heath Ledger Is Definitely The Joker

Rocky Balboa

Originally when we first heard that Sylvester Stallone was making another Rocky movie, our first thoughts were no way, he’s way too old to be doing Rocky. At the time of filming Stallone is 60 years old (born 1946). Rocky Balboa released and garnered positive reviews.

So Andrea and I rented Rocky Balboa, the latest and perhaps last installment of the Rocky franchise, and we watched it. At about 102 minutes, the movie can’t possibly be boring.

The basic premise of the movie is that Rocky Balboa has long retired from boxing. His wife, Adrian, passed away from cancer a few years back and Rocky and his son (Robert Jr., played by Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia) have a rocky (no pun intended) relationship. Rocky has a little fine Italian restaurant (Adrian’s) that isn’t doing all that great, but is making it by. Life seems relatively comfortable for Rocky; he visits Adrian’s grave regularly and still wears his wedding ring. The latest craze in the boxing world is Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver); although winning, he is not a crowd favorite at all because of his quick knockouts. A computer simulation by ESPN to hypothetically determine whether Rocky could defeat Dixon showed Rocky knocking out Dixon.

I won’t go much further in detail, but the movie is definitely worth watching. The buildup is gradual at first, but once things are start getting going, it’s difficult to wait for the upcoming boxing match between Rocky and Dixon. I definitely like how they do the boxing match.

Go rent it and watch it.