Sunday, January 31, 2010

Edge of Darkness

7 years, 1 Jew-rant, and a new hot girlfriend later, Mel Gibson is finally back on the big screen. And to be quite honest, I can't think of any reason why he shouldn't have chosen this film to make his return to acting. Yeah, it's not a gigantic action movie with a budget of 200 million dollars. But it IS a film that calls for all of Gibson's acting chops. Now despite your opinion on Gibson, you cannot deny the fact that he is a fucking incredible actor. And Edge of Darkness showcases another side of Gibson's acting. The role he plays doesn't call for a humorous insane-o, or a full-fledged badass without flaws. He plays Thomas Craven as a completely broken man. He, as he says in the movie, is the guy with nothing to lose. Now, you look at Martin Riggs, and all the crazy, outlandish things he does, they're all out of the charming insanity that he has. With Thomas Craven, he doesn't care what he has to do to get from point "A" to point "B". He just needs to get there. And you can see that in his face and eyes.

For those of you who don't know the synopsis of Edge of Darkness, here it is. Gibson plays a Boston detective whose daughter gets shot right next to him. He was suspected as the intended target, but he doesn't believe that he was. As he tries to investigate who murdered his daughter, he discovers that his daughter was apart of a conspiracy.

Now as far as story goes, it isn't terribly original. I mean, cops' kid dies, cop investigates, cop gets revenge. But the turns and plot points in the story are what stand out in the film. When the project was first announced with Gibson attached, I was amped. But then I found out William Monahan (who had written The Departed) was doing the screenplay. And since this was an 80's BBC mini-series, I knew he would make the film adaptation a good one. I haven't seen Infernal Affairs, but I hear Monahan did a phenomenal job in adapting it with The Departed. And since there was a conspiracy intwined into the story of Edge of Darkness, I was certain he would concoct some rad ideas. And that he did. Now Im not going to really go into the conspiracy aspect of the story, just because they're not really selling the film as a conspiracy movie as much as they are a revenge film. So I'll just let the whole conspiracy be a big surprise for you.

Now as much as they're selling it as a revenge film, they're also trying to sell it as an action movie. And I'll tell you one thing, it's not an action film. It does have a couple action sequences sprinkled throughout the movie. But it's a solid drama. And you know what? Im glad it is. Because the best thing about the film is Mel Gibson's performance. And had this been an action movie, I think his performance would have been lost. I mean some of the most intense scenes in the movie are when they're just focusing on Thomas Craven's face. For instance, there is a scene directly after the scene where his daughter gets murdered. And in that scene, a detective who tries to act like one of his best buddies, tries to act like he gives a fuck. And Craven knows he's full of shit. And in that scene, you're just waiting for him to snap.

Another thing this movie delivered on, was the violence. Keep in mind, it was nothing over-the-top or spectacular, but there was a hefty sum. From his daughter being completely opened up with a shotgun, to some broad being mowed down by a car, to the whole end stand-off, it was pretty fucking bloody. Head shots, chest shots, jugular gashes, and even... Milk. Milk? Yes. Milk. Watch the fucking movie, and you'll understand.

Though, I still believe Gibson carried this film without a doubt. I need to give credit to Ray Winstone. This is a guy whose career didn't pick up until he was about 40 years old. How the fuck did that happen? This dude killed in The Departed as Mr. French. He was pissed, loyal, and cold. And though, I thought he was good in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I didn't like how they wrote his character after his first 15 minutes. He seemed like he could have been a killer sidekick to Indy. But no, they wrote him as the typical greedy rat. All in all, Winstone showcased another radical performance in Edge of Darkness. He played Jedburgh with enough mysteriousness without making the character bland. And he did so by having the perfect balance of dry/dark humor.

All in all, the film succeeds on almost every level. Im not hailing the film as a masterpiece, but it's definately a fucking solid drama. Good story, great performances, and enough blood to keep you satisfied. A nice way to start the year of 2010.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 5 Films of 2009

At the beginning of the year I posted a blog on the films of 2009 (to read, click here: THE FILMS OF 2009). All of which were movies I was either curious about, anticipating, or highly anticipating. Now 3 of those films actually make it onto my top 5 of the year. Now, you can go on almost any website, and they'll have their top 10 lists of the year. And usually I would have mine. But this year is different. There are only 5 that I felt that I really really liked. And Ill start off with my absolute favorite of the year...

1. Avatar

As I mentioned before, I was really looking forward to this film (for more than 2 years). In fact, it was that and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Well turns out that Avatar was fucking incredible. My last blog is an 11-paragraph review on the film, so Im not going to waste my time, or yours, on treading over the same water as to why I love the film so much. But what I will do, is Ill state that Avatar is my second favorite film in that past decade. The first, of course, being Rambo (kinda' a given). But Avatar, to me, kicks everything elses ass. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Yep. King Kong (2005)? Yep. Everything aside from Rambo. I mean, it totally fucking delivered on every level. And to see it performing ridiculously well in the box office makes me happy. I mean, I always get questioned as to why I care about how a movie performs in the box office. And the answer is simple. I like to see movies I like, succeed and do well, and movies I dont, fail and do terribly. And Avatar is doing incredibly well. A 77 million dollar opening weekend, a 75 million dollar second weekend (a record-breaking second weekend), and pretty much an average of 17 million dollars every weekday. It's at 760 million worldwide in just under 14 days. And you know what? The film deserves every dollar it makes. To read my Avatar review, click here: AVATAR REVIEW

2. Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell is the second film I knew was going to be fucking incredible. And that it was. Once again, I already did a write-up for this film, so I dont want to continuously repeat myself. But when it comes to modern horror films... Well, they still suck a gorilla tit. But Sam Raimi managed to look at every horror movie made past 1995 and do the COMPLETE opposite. It's strange, horror movies nowadays are all moving in the same direction. Each and every one. Yet... They dont even borrow ONE good quality from the good ones. Hell, they even managed to completely fuck up blood and guts. I mean, 85% of it is completely in the computer. Anyway, Drag Me To Hell is a perfect breath of fresh air. It's creepy, dark, evil, and most importantly... It's hilarious. And any Raimi fan knows that all 4 of those words need to be included in a Raimi horror film. Otherwise, it's not a Raimi horror film. To read my Drag Me To Hell review, click here: DRAG ME TO HELL REVIEW

3. District 9

This film was so low-brow when I did my write-up at the beginning of the year, I didnt even include it on the list. I mean, I had heard about it, but I really had nothing to go on, aside from one viral poster mentioning some anti-non-human hotline. Well fast-forward to August, the movie came out, I saw it. And fuck, did that movie kick all kinds of fucking ass. District 9 had a great story (actually quite similar to Avatar's), had incredible special FX (also similar to Avatar's, in terms of photo-realism), and was all-around just fucking well-done. I really hope Neill Blomkamp's career goes off from here. The dude has an eye for science fiction. Almost in that Star Wars worn-down kind of way. And I liked it's use of the Blair Witch/Cloverfield hand-held camera (which I usually hate, but only when it comes to movies that arent going for the mockumentary style). But what was really fucking cool about the movie was, the first half was semi-mockumentary (with location titles etc.), and then once the half-way point is approached, it pretty much turns into a regular theatrical film. I didnt notice it until the second time upon viewing it. I thought that was a nice touch. All in all, Blomkamp deserves all the money and recognition that comes his way. Also, Sharlto Copely (who played the lead Wikus character), he did an incredible job. Had his lines been written for him, and he delivered the same performance, I would have said he did a good job. But 95% of his lines were improvised. Hats off to him. Though... He is playing Murdock in the new A-Team movie, and he better not fuck that up. What will I do if he does? Get mad at him while he's making millions of dollars.

4. Bruno

Hahahaha. Just read the review: BRUNO REVIEW

5. Zombieland

Zombieland kinda' came out of nowhere. That's another one I didn't have on my list. Like, I had seen all these articles and updates on it on all the film news websites I visit daily, but I figured it was just another stupid zombie-comedy trying to cash in on the popularity of Shaun of the Dead. Well, I was kinda' right. It tries to go for the same zombie-humor. But it works. Shaun of the Dead, to me, has more substance. But with Zombieland, it's just a fucking blast to watch. There's just a lot to like about the film. For one, it's title sequence. They used Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" so perfectly. Im a Megadeth warrior, but the way they used it in that sequence was fist-pounding. It all worked so well with the ultra-slow motion (might have been 120 frames per second or maybe even 144). And I liked its whole use of it's rules. It was basically one long instructional video as to how to survive a zombie apocalypse. It was all-around just a lot of fun. Was it the achievement that Drag Me To Hell was? Or District 9? No. But it was a surprisingly fun comedy with zombies. This is not like Dead Alive or Evil Dead II where it's a horror movie with a lot of comedy. It really is a comedy that just so happens to have zombies in it.

And that's pretty much it for the films that I really really liked. Though, there were a few that I enjoyed, but really, I didnt want to make a top 10 list because I dont feel as strong for the other 5 films as I did for the ones listed above. Those films are Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (review here: TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN REVIEW), Star Trek, Angels & Demons, A Christmas Carol (review here: A CHRISTMAS CAROL REVIEW), and The Hangover. All of which were enjoyable. Some surprisingly better than I expected (Star Trek and A Christmas Carol), and some pretty underwhelming (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). All in all, Id say that 2009 was a pretty decent year in movies. There was less quantity of quality and more quality over quantity, but I guess 5 fucking rad films is better than 15 alright films.
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