Category: Movie Reviews


Critically acclaimed in several film festivals before its official opening, and five Oscar nominations, Black Swan marks one of the best films released in 2010. The concept for the film had been in the works since the year 2000, and was finally taken to production in the past two years, and the outcome is nothing but an ‘It was worth the wait’ statement. Letting the original concept sink in and find its form organically through all the years it was shelved, was possibly the best choice, other than releasing a poorly developed idea.

It recounts Nina Sayers as a ballet company ballerina, who has not been featured much throughout the seasons, despite her near to perfect controlled techniques. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s classical composition of ‘The Swan Lake’ is to be put on stage, which revolves around the tale of a girl under a spell who has been turned into a white swan;  her only choice to undo it, is by finding true love. She falls in love, but her love interest falls for a darker power of seduction denoted as an opposite (the black swan), while the white realizes is unable to return to her human form, opts for the only escape from her curse, and instead is forced to  face death, as it is its only path towards freedom.

‘The Swan Lake’ is to be developed but with a minor twist, the black and white swan from the piece must be played by one sole dancer, to demonstrate duality in the story and give a fresher vision to the traditional performance. Nina instantly becomes interested and is cast for the role, but shares a rivalry with a freer, much edgier dancer, Lily, who has a more remarked attitude and security than that of Nina’s. Nina’s stress over the role starts to be reflected through somatization, and a series of psychotic episodes reflecting inner ideals, which put to question her emotional and mental stability.

The camera angles to shoot the girls and the performances are glinting, and so is the camera work to deliver Portman’s perspective while doing spins. The picture is quite beautiful; it is a major quality craft under the direction of Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky’s literal depictions of Nina’s transformation might seem obviously surreal and unconventional, but are used to convey the degree of change the character is experiencing. One literally witnesses Portman turn into the alleged bird before she fulfills her purposed reality.

Portman and Kunis seem to really have put their all in training for classical ballet, as the general product seems to come out naturally and genuine despite its high structure. Their on-screen interaction is intense and explosive. The script is its only flaw, since it deliberately tries too hard to put across the message of the film. Yes, the conception of Black Swan is ornately abstract, but a much creative write up would have been recommended.

It might not be everyone’s favorite, for its gallant psychological notion of seeking identity and exploring sexuality along the way, as well as the pressure it entails when externalizing expressions of art, but the plot and its unravel are still quite mesmerizing. The black swan metaphor of becoming and finding personal freedom, is brilliant and outstanding, especially the stab at inner conflict the main character puts up with. Natalie Portman is thrillingly compelling in achieving to render an innocent dedicated girl, who then submits herself to a transformation which will exude an adverse side of her which allows her to cross the pressure boundary and really express her inner motives, feelings and passion for her art.

A standing ovation worthy element in the film, is Kunis’ character’s  blatant sensual feats shedding a lot of light on what Portman’s role (Nina) really wants to become, and is key to expose Nina, serving as a projected idealization of what Nina really would like to be. The film is lustrous in keeping the unexpected coming.

Intriguingly, upon watching the film, one can relate the premise as a homage to the original composer of ‘The Swan Lake’, Tchaikovsky, for the predominant motif of sexual identity in the film, which may communicate the possible conflict he might have undergone before accepting his sexual nature, something Portman’s character constantly battles internally throughout; Tchaikovsky was reportedly comfortable with proclivities of the same sex, after much speculation and controversy, he was revealed to have been indeed a homosexual.

Black Swan further marks Natalie Portman’s versatility and allows Mila Kunis to open more doors when it comes to her acting and obvious potential to high profile, if not complex roles for films to come. The fact Portman and Kunis trained for months to embody their characters gives the film a huge load of value and makes it more credible, as they became directly attached to the purpose of the film. The Oscar nods and wins are more than well deserved.

★★★★1/5

C.Perez

Watch the official trailer for Black Swan below!

If anyone ever wondered how would Angelina Jolie would look as a male, then Salt is a must watch as Jolie ‘mans up’ figuratively and literally for the film. Salt is core action slash thriller. Jolie has always had this bad-ass attitude on screen and Salt is no different. Jolie embodies the character and delivers probably not her greatest role, but manages to keep it interesting and in line.

Salt follows Evelyn Salt, an undercover CIA agent who has been rescued after being held captive in North Korea. Years later, a happily married Salt faces an incursion at her ‘workplace’, and it is revealed by a Russian intruder, Orlov, a Russian spy named after Evelyn Salt is to kill the President of Russia at the U.S. Vice-President’s memorial service; Orlov also hints at ‘Day X’, what supposedly will mark the end of the United States. Salt is immediately held in the facilities after the allegation she had been just inflicted upon, and raises speculation among her co-workers. Salt flees the building in pursue of her husband as no one seems to believe she is not a spy, she then embarks in a series of missions to prove she is not who Orlov claims her to be; at least not in it’s entirely.

Salt is a slight swindle of The Manchurian Candidate, a film which ironically Jolie’s co-star Liev Schreiber, also stars in. The Manchurian Candidate is essentially about soldiers being trained to trigger after being exposed to particular stimulus to obey commands and carry out missions automatically after intensive psychological and physiological manipulation. Salt draws in this particular element off the aforementioned film, as Evelyn Salt was allegedly correspondingly trained as such in the film as well, after a short background history is given about the character as the film progresses. This does not mean it is a bad film, on the contrary, the idea is not recycled but given a different twist as Salt is not a controlled zombie in comparison to what The Manchurian Candidate soldiers served as, but instead is aware of all she was involved in as a child in a conscious level, what her motives were, and what she was supposed to fulfill at an older age. Salt is able to take control of her condition as a trained spy/assassin, allowing her the chance to choose, which only polishes or furthers the idea presented in The Manchurian Candidate.

The fighting sequences are very well shot. Jolie seems to lack that energy she used to have in these types of sequences before becoming a mother, but still convinces the viewer; at least she reportedly did all the stunts herself, or most. The script is nothing to write home about, but who can pay attention to this film script when its value lays on how Jolie kicks ass and how she gets it kicked as well. The film is a mirroring of all the already successfully famous action thrillers in the likes of Mission Impossible, James Bond, The Bourne Identity and its ensuing sequels, and even Jolie’s Tomb Raider.

Director Philip Noyce did a wonderful job with how the whole film was screened. Despite Noyce not quite having a pretty extensive film catalog since starting in the early 1970’s, Noyce equals quality nevertheless. Noyce also worked with Jolie for 1999’s The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington.

The plot is unbelievable, in the literal sense of the word. The film is unlikely and utmost fantasy. It is surely entertaining, and may take the viewer off reality focus for over an hour and a half but it is no more than an action film, there is no substance and there is overuse, overexposure, and over-imaginative technological advance. Substance is not needed in films like this, when its main purpose is to take one off their daily routines.

The film already looks like it could have a follow-up, and its natural considering how much the film alone has earned with just Jolie’s face stamped all over it, as well as how it ends. Salt marks yet another successful character by Jolie, though if she could only pull off another Girl Interrupted-esque role, she would totally step outside of the box.

★★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Jennifer Lopez had been off screen and literally off scene for a while after marrying Marc Anthony, giving birth to twins, and fully giving herself into motherhood for her children’s first years of life. The Back-Up Plan marks Lopez’s return to the big screen after 2007’s El Cantante.

Lopez plays Zoe, a frustrated woman, who feels her train is leaving so she decides to get an artificial insemination to conceive the child she has always wanted. She feels this is the only way for her to fulfill her life, as no one has stepped on her way. The day she gets inseminated, she acquaints Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) when taking a cab. Both fall in love, until Zoe reveals to Stan she has been inseminated and is with child. Stan accepts the challenge of being thrown into parenthood as their relationship is forced to solidify (being faced with this circumstance).

The film is simply hilarious. Lopez’s acting seems contrived but she was never an actual actress so to say; her personality makes up for the lacking delivery in the film. Besides, the film does not require an Oscar winning performance when anyone could have done the part; Lopez gives it her personal shine, turning the character slightly relatable (emotionally speaking) and utmost preposterously fun to watch.

One is introduced into the character’s mind and is able to explore its insecurities and fears, as well as its ignorance of pregnancy. O’Loughlin and Lopez click on screen and do seem to genuinely share the fear and anxiety of becoming parents; it is more blatant in O’Loughlin’s character.

The film almost feels as if Lopez is parodying her own experience with pregnancy and motherhood. The only flaw in the film aside Lopez’s attempt to revive her career is the plot structure; it is very predictable. It is a very calculated move to shove Lopez back into stardom, as she was in 2001 with the release of both Maid In Manhattan and her then sophomore record J.Lo.

Aside Lopez’s promotional purpose to boost her dusted career, the film is very entertaining when it is not related to her music career, even though Lopez alludes to her then purported first single ‘Louboutins’, by wearing Louboutin shoes throughout the whole film.

Under the direction of Alan Poul, an insipid script and briskly hilarious sequences concerning eventualities of the pregnant stages, the film at least manages to keep the watcher drawn into the screen, waiting for the next goof to happen to snigger at.

★★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer for The Back-Up Plan below!

Featuring Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve as its main cast, She’s Out Of My League is self deprecating depiction of insecurities emphasized in physical appearances, transmitting a bland message of self acceptance, through  a girl (out of a guy’s league) letting a plain guy in her heart.

It follows Kirk Kettner, in his regular dull routine, seeming unable to find a girl due to self esteem issues. Kirk‘s friends rate themselves for girls from 1 to 10, hence considering themselves either not good enough or too much for particular female mates. Kirk meets Molly; he is instantly startled after their brief encounter at his workplace at an airport. Kirk falls for Molly after dating, which roots from Kirk retrieving Molly’s forgotten cell phone. To Kirk’s surprise, his feelings are returned.

The film is non-effective. It is supposed to incentivize people who feel bad about their physical appearance or overall image, but in the end, it still depicts a critical case of self doubt and extreme low self worth, as the female character practically begs Baruchel’s role to believe she is genuinely in love with him. Kirk thus still seems to consider himself ‘not good enough’ for Molly by not taking a chance, blatantly rating himself a 5, and opting to runaway instead.

Even at the climax of the film, when Kirk is supposed to be at peace with himself when it comes to his self esteem, he still needs reassurance to take a step with Molly. A low budget YouTube-esque independently released film The Truth About Average Guys communicates what She’s Out Of My League tries to, in more simplistic unelaborated means.

She’s Out Of My League is an every-now-and-then laughter, as Kirk involves himself in the most awkward situations when dating Molly, from trying hard to impress with his dress up, to looking exactly like the waiters in a restaurant, or to ejaculating after a heated kiss and clothed-stimulated sex with Molly, before meeting her parents.  Aside from the mild laughter inducing scenes, it is a plain, lackluster dramedy just like the protagonist’s persona, with a predictable plot and stereotypical characters.

★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Yet another adaptation of the extended novel catalog by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song, describes the distinctive boy meets girl story turned into a significant summer love engaging romance, tackling on self belief and at long last, fatherly love. It stars Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear and features Kelly Preston as a supporting role.

It narrates how Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Miller temporarily moves to a small town in Georgia to visit her dad during the summer, after being accustomed to the life in New York City. Ronnie must adapt to the place throughout the summer, deal with her parent’s divorce, fall in love, reconnect with her musical passion and tie her divided relationship to her father.

The Last Song was developed as a novel under Disney’s request to Sparks with Miley in mind, to establish her as a credible and talented actress, who could pull off a serious character role in a resourceful film. It does not fail, but on the contrary, successfully allows Cyrus to show what she is capable of on screen, other than playing a teen living a double life as both a teenager and a pop star. It is ironic how the role gives Cyrus an identity.

Miley Cyrus’ acting in the film is actually reasonably legitimate and worth a praise. Her emotion is transferred to the film as she struggles with her feelings towards Hemsworth’s character and tries to mend her relationship with her father (Kinnear).Cyrus surprisingly shines in the film, it is hard not to associate it with her role in Hannah Montana, as the musical concept of the film does not stray too far from the outset of her breakout series role. In fact, The Last Song feels as if it were a great spin-off to the Disney series.   

Cyrus’ enragement towards her parent’s divorce in the film is credible without being too dramatic; one can say she really submersed herself in the character. Her interaction with Hemmsworth as her partner is cute and enthralling as she transcended from ‘playing hard to get’ to giving him a chance.

Hemmsworth character, although it being fundamental to the plot, is just wadding in the film. He owns his role but only serves as an enhancer to let Cyrus’ character come to life and widen itself.

Being it the common love story, The Last Song somehow manages to show how influential and mind changing, if not a little maturing, the experience of love is.

★★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are complete opposites, but they click in I Love You, Man; a comedy meets drama on friendship values.

Peter finds himself proposing to his girlfriend Zooey, and has it all mapped out for their wedding and future home; the only thing he let slip under the radar: a best man. Having the fact of ‘no-friends’ constantly rubbed against his face by Zooey’s posie, who think less of him for not having a solid social circle, Peter starts a serial man dating in order to find a friend he can invite to his wedding until he meets Sydney, after disastrous dates gone by all means wide off the mark.

The embarrassment of both Segel and Rudd at first sight and the instant glimmer both light the minute they interact is awfully hilarious; particularly their first phone interactions when Peter tries hard to be ‘the cool dude’ attempting name calling and Peter’s inclusion in Zooey’s friends male corresponding partners.   

I Love You, Man is a laugh after another, is quite a joy ride with its humorous sequences. Aside from mild dark humor by Segel’s character, the film does not go overboard with sexual references and wronged concepts concerning manhood. It is uproarious from start to finish, from Rudd’s character as Peter trying to impress Sydney (Segel) to eventually both developing a man crush on each other; these two are the perfect match on screen. It is incongruous how Rashida Jones, as Rudd’s girlfriend Zooey, lacks the connection Rudd shares with Segel in the film.

In this day and age, it is hard to find a comedy which in fact does what a real comedy is supposed to, make the watcher have a good laugh out of it and I Love You, Man does it wonderfully and with ease. It is the byword of a ‘bromance’.

★★★★1/2

C.Perez

Watch the trailer for I Love You, Man below!

Starring Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, along Jackie Chan, bring to the big screen the remake of 1984’s The Karate Kid, a cross cultural adaptation depiction and a vivid stand-up towards school bullying.

Dre is a 12 year old who just moved to China due to his mother’s job duties. He finds himself adapting to a new social system and coping with the hardships and missteps he takes in an unfamiliar culture; he is constantly bullied. In order to garner respect, he is forced to enroll in a tournament, so Mr. Han, a maintenance man who knows Kung Fu, must train him to fight back and stand for himself.

It features the usual choreographed Jackie Chan sequences present in all his movies, but seeing Smith junior pulling them off was something different. The combat sequences in fact seemed well rehearsed and utterly well shot, it almost looked real.

Whether the Chinese are good actors or not is not subject to question in this film, as they stay in character when protecting their own cultural craft of the martial arts. Yun Rongguang and Zhenwei Wang, play their parts marvelously as a merciless train-master and as a submissive yet dedicated trainee who also serves as Dre’s bully.

It covers just about every base to make the film worth watching. It references popular culture, throws in humor, a sentimental twinkle and a lesson on finishing what one starts, directly upholding responsibility as well as proposing martial arts as an option for children to develop as a healthy pastime. The film also gives a glimpse to what China has become in the 21st century, leaving behind the archaic notions and stereotypes held by foreign regions towards Asia.

The Karate Kid is highly motivational and is a well delivered message and example to young audiences who might go through the same the main character does. It comes across encouraging commitment, discipline and endurance. It is a children’s movie, but grownups could also use the advice.

★★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestselling novel, the Lass Hallström directed Dear John gives a picture of the all-American duty of having to serve in the military and putting love on hold.

The film stays true to the novel and focuses on John and Savannah, who meet at the beach during the summer and from then on, become inseparable, until John is requested to go back the battlefield to fight for his country. Savannah promises to write letters to John everyday so they do not grow apart. John is allowed to visit his hometown every now and then, which only raises Savannah’s hopes for their future, but all expectation is turned down once John has to depart. They write to each other until they must face reality and decide if they want to hold a tangible relationship or base themselves on mere written words.

Amanda Seyfried’s chemistry with Channing Tatum is charming and seems to flow spontaneously. The stress both bear in the film is palpable in their interpretation of their respective characters. This once more proves Seyfried’s imminent dominance in Hollywood as a multitalented actress, where she plays a genuinely in love young woman. Seyfried showcases her beauty, the shocking vocal ability from the musical Mamma Mia! and on-screen splendor all at once.

Tatum’s character, despite it being hunky and self-guarded, portrays a lot of vulnerability and enthrallment. It is a fraught character, it is not complex, but it is not predictable either. Tatum’s rendering of emotion is real and influential; it draws the watcher in the storyline and makes one feel part of the fear of losing love and episodes of angst the character goes through. The illumination in the film and the scenography is marvelous

Dear John is moving, tender and relatable in the sense many have gone through the same fears and different outbursts of emotion the characters face, only in the human condition.  It shows the fidelity and devotion men have towards women; real men, men of standards who are true to themselves, who are in touch with their feelings and not afraid of expressing them when necessary. It is an amazing interpretation of how the male heart is just as capable to love as much as a female’s, and how significant and harmful emotional repression can be.

The lighting in the film and the photography is startling; most of the scenes are lit by the sunset or moonlight, giving the film both a bubbly and melancholic frame.

Hallström previously directed the screen delight of Chocolat starring Johnny Depp in 2000, so the capturing of emotion in Dear John is not to be debased.

★★★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Grown Ups is supposed to be a comedy, but it in fact is mind-numbing for the most part. It does have its moments when one is slightly forced to chuckle, but other than that, the film is just plain.

It tells the story of five talented junior basketball team players, who become their coach’s favorites. They grow up apart and live complete different lives. The passing of their coach brings them all together thirty years later, and they get to remember their good times at a lake house in company of their families, where they also must get to know themselves one more time.

Salma Hayek’s character does not suit her and instead of the actual movie being funny, she becomes the joke herself. Chris Rock, despite being quite the comedian, does nothing to amuse the watcher in the film. Kevin James seems to have a tendency of frowning in all his roles, because he has done it in other films just as much as in this one. Adam Sandler used to be hilarious and rather the laughter-starter in the screen way back in Happy Gilmore and The Water Boy, but Grown Ups is far from achieving what the preceding films mentioned brought to the general public.

The film shows Sandler being practically himself. Lately, his movies have turned a screened look into his personal life instead of being actual scenery for entertainment purposes. He generally plays the same character in all his movies and Grown Ups is no different. It seems as if his character were just another side to his previous on-screen portrayals.

Grown Ups instead of comedy turns out to be a melodramatic sequence, more of a ‘dramedy’, yet still the drama outweighs the humor immensely.

★★1/2

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

After the independent release and critical acclaim of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, director John Cameron Mitchell became interested on furthering his creative motion pictured portrayals of social constructs to the screen with the audacious Shortbus, an instinctive and noble delineation of sex and sexuality.

Mitchell heavily involved the cast members to shape the concept and screenplay of the film, with improvised shootings to give the motion picture an authentic and rawer feel. Mitchell’s involvement and incorporation in the film brings more significance and credence in his inspired vision.

Shortbus explores the doings of a sexually repressed woman (Severin), a gay couple attempting an open relationship (James and Jamie) and a frustrated pre-orgasmic sexologist (Sofia). It finds its characters testing new waters at an underground salon, Shortbus, where the wildest of fantasies take place and become a reality. All the characters explore themselves and others in the gathering, to eventually establish their preferences, learn to be in touch with their bodily sensations and sentiments, and lastly find meaning to their frustrated sexual impulses and failed connections with their love counterparts.

Aside from the fact the film is explicitly and openly sexual with non-simulated sex sequences, it is a remarkable representation of the misapprehensions of homosexuality, female orgasms and the different means of attaining sexual pleasure such as fetishism, sadism and masochism. In spite of its full frontal nude scenes, and the largely graphic panorama, it does not fall in the category of pornography nor does seem crude or vulgar, but on the contrary, it is an artistic illustration of the physical pleasures and sexual experimentation. Sex is used throughout to reveal the characters and to reach a deeper sympathy with their intense emotions.

Having won awards in several independent film festivals (in Zurich, Gijon and Athens to name a few), Shortbus is an artistic visual enlightening of how misconceived sex and sexuality are perceived by society and its members. It addresses crucial themes concerning love, as well as the role sex and intimacy play in matters of the heart.

Independent film making has never hit this gallant greatness until now.

★★★★★

C.Perez

Check out the trailer below!

Chloe follows the story of Catherine and David, a married couple whose marital duties have watered down through the years due to parenting and occupational matters. David is a chronic flirt, and this makes Catherine uncomfortable to the point she suspects he might cheat on her with other women for his obvious enticing interactions with them. Catherine hires a mistress, Chloe, to tease her husband and see if he gives in, to at last assure if David does involve himself in a love affair. This undertaking forces Catherine to realize her inner motives and truly find what she lacks while discovering the severe power words have over actions.   

Amanda Seyfried really proves herself as a credible actress in Chloe. Her role as the title character pushes her regular roles forward by challenging her to become a complex impersonation of manipulation, confusion, frustrations and obsession. Seyfried’s acting ability seemed pedestrian and trivial since her appearance in Mean Girls as a supporting role, but recent involvement in higher caliber films have really refined her on-screen guise. Seyfried is certainly a star in ascension. Her role in Mamma Mia! was already a hint of what was to come in Seyfried’s career.

Julianne Moore fits the role of the possessive wife who suspects from a very charismatic husband (Liam Neeson) who happens to be a natural womanizer, something Moore’s character won’t accept. The connection there is between Moore and Seyfried on screen is beyond words, genuine and intense. Moore really conveys her anguish and confused state of mind most proficiently.

The idea for Chloe (which is based on a screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson and Anne Fontaine) is timeless and unusually creative. Characteristically in drama films, there has to be some sort of romantic struggle, but the struggle presented in Chloe is unconventional and shows a different side to sexuality and attraction. It brings something other movies have covered superficially, in order not to risk the content of the film and avoid alienated audiences. Chloe despite its evenhanded sexual nature and partial nudity, it keeps it classy it almost makes it up for incredible art, visually speaking.

The camera work is amazingly convincing and mesmerizing, basing oneself on the fact of the recurrence and use of mirrors to display particular scenes in the film, such as when one is introduced to Chloe, the character.

Chloe herself develops through the representation of mirrors, suggesting the duality of the character. It is interesting to note how Chloe is introduced, reflected, revealed through mirrors and redeemed in the transparency of crystal, when she is obliged to accept the unlikely fulfillment of her fixated desire.

Chloe is fantastic, for the unexpected turn the plot takes when ‘things are falling into place’ towards the film’s closure, its plausible references and foreshadow depictions of mirrors, and the story seen through crystal to represent Chloe’s influence-play on Catherine (Moore); the film is erotic and psychologically powerful as it boggles the psyche of Moore’s character.

Atom Egoyan, the director, displays a lot of initiative, artistic vision, passion and skill in Chloe; thumbs up.

★★★★★

C.Perez

Preview Chloe below!

Neil LaBute remakes 2007 British film, Death at a Funeral, turning into a hysterical black comedy.  

It centers in Aaron Barnes’ father memorial service. It follows the family coming together and dealing with the awkward moment of meeting distant relatives, and the only two brothers having to discuss the ensuing funeral expenditures. The secret life of the recently passed is brought to light and from then on, the service just turns into a mess-up after another, until the characters must bare themselves from false pretense, redirect focus to family values and actually mourn.

Death at a funeral comprises several renowned actors in its cast to recreate the unthinkable at a funeral in the midst of sorrow, desperation, family affairs, personal interest and absolute craziness.

Chris Rock is certified as a comedian beyond measure in this film, anyone who grieves and still keeps it all humorous deserves a round of applause; Rock pulls it off and maintains the tragic-comedy on point. The film finds Danny Glover in a role no one thought he would ever play, an old demanding obnoxious uncle on a wheel chair; Glover, even on a wheel chair, makes the role significant despite it being secondary. Martin Lawrence does not add anything to the film aside from his cocky, exaggerated and unexciting personality. The film could have done without him. James Marsden takes the crown and steals the show, playing a exuberantly hallucinogenic character after being given a drug as ‘valium’ by accident. The movie punch lines do it for a chuckle, but Marsden’s role turns them into the actual yarn. Marsden even furthers his acting versatility as he recreated Alan Tudyk’s iconic rooftop nude scene from the original version of the film.

This is a funeral gone on steroids; totally worth attending.

★★★★

C.Perez 

Check the trailer for Death at a Funeral below!

Brendan Fraser reprises his role as the intrepid Rick O’Connell off The Mummy. One would expect adventure and a different treatment to the story, but instead it is just plain nonsense, boldly following the exact same plot line as its previous film, The Mummy Returns, except this time is not Anubis’ army, it is a Chinese emperor’s.

The very same elements which made the first two installments entertaining and original are present here, a rising power figure threatening to wretch the world and those living in it, but the rule of ‘3 is a charm’ does not apply in this case.

American actress Maria Bello takes Rachel Weisz’s role as Eve, and one must admit, it is atrocious from every way possible. She ruins the character with a clearly faked British accent, which is pathetic, extremely unfitting and hackneyed; hence Bello’s little involvement in dialogue. Bello only speaks when required, and her lines are a ‘too hard’ struggle to re-do what Weisz did when she was given the role initially. In the end, Bello does not make the role her own.

The script is futile and too structured to be comical, but on the contrary turns corny and predictable. The interaction between Fraser and Bello is an embarrassment; there is no connection, no relation and no significance. Their acting in this is lacking, dull and middling.

Also, it is worth commenting the producers and director slipped off the fact Fraser and Bello do not look like parents to the much older Alex in the film, their son in the story, now sitting over his twenties. Bello and Fraser show no sign of age over ‘their son’ but rather look like peers to actor Luke Ford, who plays Alex.

The computer generated imagery and its visual effects on the whole are cheap and shabby. The whole film is a shamble, from its already done plotline to its ridiculous implications. Basing oneself on the fact the Emperor (the alleged mummy) is not even a mummy but a terracotta statue, gives it all away and shows the level of absurdity the film entails. The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor seems more of a joke than an actual action-adventure film. It already threats with a sequel; make sure to skip.

C.Perez

Watch the trailer below!

Jeff Kinney’s bestseller has made its way to the big screen, and its visual interpretation is just as exceptional as the books. It follows Greg Heffley’s tough misinterpreted adaptation to middle school, which is seen more of a social monopoly other than a learning source.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid deals with the awkward transition between childhood and becoming an alleged ‘teenager’. It is the typical big brother play of putting different misconceptions regarding ‘fitting in’ and ‘being cool’ in a little brother’s head.

It is a tangible representation of youngsters’ irrational idealism and gullibility, but then shifts focus into putting friendship to test and to in fact, grow up, and discerning if becoming popular is as worth it as it seems.

The cartooned graphics of the film pay tribute to the book’s illustrations. They really do the book justice and indeed bring to life both the characters and the situations they find themselves involved in. The graphics and transitions are extraordinary and work as more of an insertion into a child’s mind than mere leisure and allusion to the book.

The film is ultimate fun; it reflects how one used to feel in these children’s shoes, of trying too hard to be notable at this age and developmental juncture. The characters and the actual plot are humorous, but are a reality. It is one looking back at the golden days when the playground and the whole world were one block wide, and the hardest decisions to be made where choosing which crayon to color with as it were.  

Diary… is about growing up, not becoming a teenager exactly, or a well adjusted pre-teen in middle school, but growing in the sense of embracing and accepting childhood while making the most of it while one is at it, and most importantly, in due course knowing what friendship stands for. It is a valuable take on self worth and self esteem.  

Under Thor Freudenthal’s direction, the film could not have been any better. Interesting to note, Kinney (the book series author) served as the film’s executive producer.

★★★★★

C.Perez

Check  out the trailer below!

Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley team up for Splice. Each plays Clive and Elsa respectively, two emotionally involved scientists whose aspirations challenge ethical law. The film is common science fiction, where scientists want to play God and achieve a creation after splicing animal genes with human DNA.

The film opens with the birth of scientifically manipulated entities, to be key organisms for conducting the ‘medical breakthrough of the century’: medicinal proteins derived from DNA combinations of a variety of species to provide a cure for genetic diseases. Human DNA is supposedly crucial to achieve the invention but their request to administer the experiment is turned down. In an unwarranted act to proving themselves to no one but themselves, Elsa and Clive, accomplish the combination after numerous chromosome rejections, resulting in ‘Dren’, an abhorrent bald headed, spaced out eyes-double kneed individual. Its name derives from N.E.R.D. spelled backwards, in reference to the company Elsa and Clive work for.

Dren is brought up by Elsa, and partly by Clive. As they bond, Dren constantly struggles with confusion by being treated as a pet and a daughter simultaneously. Dren develops human psychological attributes due to her exposition to human stimuli, yet still keeps an intermittent wild temperament.

Dren’s creation foreshadows the transition the main characters’ relationship faces; it splits their interests and subjects these to question. Elsa’s repressed impulse of being a mother allows the creature to evolve, to the point it becomes a deadly threat due to her upbringing and genetic makeup. Despite the vainness of the plot, Splice is roughly a sick portrayal of the deprivation of motherhood.

It is neither a forewarning nor a commentary as to where Science sets it limits, but instead just makes up for a thriller pooled with apprehensive terror. This is not an introduction to an iconic or sympathetic character, only the vicious invention of an idealized degeneration of the scientific world. Judging by the direction the film takes, it could easily be denominated as scientific pornography, where scientist’s wildest ambitions and fantasies come to life.

Splice is very emotional in the literal sense, not because Dren’s character is sympathetic, on the contrary, is untrustworthy and repulsive, but because the movie itself reflects human inanity, human eccentricities and stubbornness, as well as the use of the search for reassurance as a pretext to feed one’s ego. Practically, it is a vivid representation of human nature, of insatiable cravings to excel driven by emotional intelligence, not owning up to being wrong and abiding by consequences. Other than that, it is a bad excuse for a film, it is morbid and repugnant.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, executively produced by Guillermo del Toro.

★★

C.Perez

Watch the trailer for Splice below!