Thursday, June 28, 2012


Release Date: Jun 22, 2012 RealD 3D 
Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min.
Director: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews
Cast: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd.

From a magical toy chest to the majestic blue skies, Pixar has continually brought us inventive stories that both captivate and awe. Their ability to paint masterful landscapes is a uniqueness of its own, oftentimes imitated but never duplicated. So it goes without saying their 13th feature is yet another visual masterpiece; one that takes us to the highlands of Scotland where a fiery heroine will stop at nothing to change her fate. Only this time the story is less than what it appears, and conventions take over for a common folklore that's admissible at best. Taking cue from its parent company, Pixar introduces us to its first female lead a princess to boot at that. Set to be betrothed in order to unite the kingdom, she has more than life can offer. But obvious stereotypes aside, this is no ordinary princess, as Merida is as untamed as her red-tinged tresses. Her attitude and rebellious nature is what makes for an engaging character, but her hair is the film's true star. Contrasted against the lush green panorama, the flame-red curls are a vision to behold, and lift up a somewhat lacking script. But this is in no part entirely Pixar's fault, as the higher the standards go, the greater the chance of failure. Admittedly, "Brave" is not the strongest of the bunch, it still possesses the rich qualities that encompass the talented animation house. With a track record such as theirs, the number 13 may not be so unlucky after all. Because there can't be perfection without a few flaws.

Rating: 3½ stars

Monday, June 11, 2012


Release Date: Jun 08, 2012 RealD 3D 
Runtime: 2 hr. 3 min. 
Director: Ridley Scott 
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green.

The origin of life is a mystery within the secrets of our universe. Boundless and perplexing, it's a query with many explanations, and controversial conclusions. Yet, according to Ridley Scott, we may have just found the answer. Titled after the Titan credited with creating mankind, "Prometheus" explores the connection between creator and creation. Acting as a not-so-direct prequel to the 1979 sci-fi/horror film "Alien," it's a return to a genre that Scott knows best. Armed with a new cast and artillery of advanced technology, he brings us back to the infinite space where it all began. The set design by Arthur Max is nothing short of extraordinary. Larger than life and anciently immortalized, the breadth of work is immersive, even without the additional 3D environment that, personally, seemed too subtle to notice. In place of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is Noomi Rapace as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw. Just as the two actresses differ in their methods of acting, their characters are dissimilar as well, which allows Rapace to forgo comparisons with her own interpretation. Initially soft-spoken and intent on finding answers, she eventually becomes the empowered protagonist that defines the franchise. Furthermore, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender both take impressive turns in playing the cold-hearted crew members. Fassbender, especially, is a marvel as the impassive android David. His automated persona and cryptic motives are just a part of the enigma that lies ahead. But in spite of the great cast and striking visuals, the plot is perhaps too over ambitious for its own sake. Even with the rather revealing trailers and clips, the story still leaves much to guesswork, making for a complex viewing that needs further analyzation. While "Prometheus" doesn't quite share the grandeur that "Alien," or more importantly "Aliens," emanated, it does pose an interesting premise that could be further explored. Where there is space, there will always be more questions left to be answered.

Rating: 3½ stars

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Release Date: Jun 01, 2012 
Runtime: 2 hr. 7 min.
Director: Rupert Sanders 
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane.

We all know that fairy tales are make-believe awakening our imagination as far as the mind can take us. But when a tale is this bland and farfetched that believing is close to impossible, it's easy to imagine something greater. In a dark retelling of the Brothers Grimm classic, Rupert Sanders presents a visual showpiece. Emblazoned with ravens, and oozing with liquid gold, the film is as infernally enchanting as that of Guillermo del Toro. But the similarities end there, as the story and cast do little to quash the weaknesses. Kristen Stewart as the titled heroine is as belittling as you'd expect her. Stoic and emotionless, her "Twilight" days are indistinguishable from the 'fierce' warrior she seemingly portrays in the film. The same can be said for the Huntsman, played by reigning demigod, Chris Hemsworth. Unlike "Thor," his personality here is as rigid as the ax he wields in battle, and it's hard to believe that his affection for Snow White is anything but that of self-pity. In contrast, Charlize Theron gives a worthy performance as the wicked queen, Ravenna. Whilst her bloodcurdling screams are recurrently over-the-top, her sinister demeanor sets the tone of the film, and it's this exaggerated performance that can be construed as its saving grace or postponement of its imminent failure. Granted, this isn't an ideal adaptation, "Snow White and the Huntsman" still fairs better than "Mirror Mirror," as if that comes of any surprise.

Rating: 2 stars

Monday, June 4, 2012

Men in Black 3

Release Date: May 25, 2012 RealD 3D 
Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min. 
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld 
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve.

They've been called agents. Galaxy defenders. And of course, the ubiquitous 'men in black.' But to the rest of us, they're a reminder of simpler times, when alien lifeforms were the least of our worries, and Will Smith was still 'gettin' jiggy wit it.' Following the recent trend of resurrected franchises comes the third installment of "MIB," reuniting the oddball pair of Tommy Lee Jones and Smith. Ten years since the last outing, the two still got it: taking down extraterrestrials and neuralyzing civilians. But as fate would have it, things change when Boris the Animal escapes from prison with a vendetta against K. As a result, J must go back in time to stop him, thus changing this presumable sequel into a prequel, so to speak. If there's a memorable quality from the "MIB" series, it's the quirkiness that comes hand-in-hand with its humor. In addition to the alien renditions that are bizarre in nature, the stories are always outlandish and told primarily for the audience's enjoyment. While many agree that the second entry was forgettable, the third is a vast improvement due to one reason: Josh Brolin. Whether it's braving the west, or playing the President, Brolin is always at the top of his game when getting into character. His intonation and physical mimicry of Tommy Lee Jones is so dead-on that you forget the two are not of the same individual. And not to be wholly forgotten, Smith is still consistent as well. After being absent from the screen for over three years, his 'comeback' seems appropriate that it should be on familiar grounds. (Better this than the atrocity, "Wild Wild West.") Even though "MIB 3" may not be a necessary sequel/prequel, and the best at that, it still shows heart at the end of it all. How? That's for you to find out.

Rating: 3 stars