Quick Takes: Hardware, Snowpiercer, Brotherhood of Blades

968fullHardware (1990)
threehalfstar

Starring Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch, Mark Northover, William Hootkins, Carl McCoy
Directed by Richard Stanley

I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about Hardware over the years. It’s an ultra-fun killer robot movie that is legitimately frightening in parts, and it’s one of those rare genre films made with such visual flair and artistry that it could easily crossover into the more highbrow conversation on film. Absolutely fantastic cinematography is around every corner, as are tons of wicked gory delights. The robot does seem rather stupid at times, but if I reformed myself from a pile of scrap metal and broken parts I wouldn’t be all there either. This is the kind of movie to whip out when someone says disparaging things about low-budget movies.

snowpiercerSnowpiercer (2013)
twohalfstar

Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Go Ah-sung, Alison Pill
Directed by Bong Joon-ho

After reviewing the Snowpiercer graphic novels, I was really stoked to see what Boon Jong-Ho would make of them on-screen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thrilled with the results as I thought I’d be. Snowpiercer is a very entertaining film that moves quite briskly, but for a story all about class struggle I found it to be rather shallow. Tilda Swinton is brilliant in her supporting role, though. Definitely well-made and worth watching, but I guess I expected something more cerebral than this was. Even still, a great English debut for Bong.

brotherhood-of-blades-posterBrotherhood of Blades [繡春刀] (2014)
twohalfstar

Starring Chang Chen, Ye Qing, Chin Shih-Chieh, Wang Qian-Yuan, Ethan Li Dong-Xue, Nie Yuan, Zhao Li-Xin
Directed by Lu Yang

I think I might like Brotherhood of Blades better on a second watch. I would have my 50% knowledge of what was going on to build on, and I wouldn’t have any expectations that it was a wuxia film. It’s actually a period-set action drama with no supernatural elements, so I was rather disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. As a period drama it excels, though. Fantastic costumes go a long way, and the cast Brotherhood of Blades wear some damn fine duds. The fights aren’t all that special, though, with unhealthy amounts of uninspired choreography, quick-cut editing, and the shutter speed thing from Saving Private Ryan. It makes for action that is VERY modern, and I’m just too old school to embrace it. Yes, even in 2015 when these techniques are at least 15 years old. If you like Chinese costume dramas and modern action, you should definitely try this one.

To Rome With Love (2012)

kinopoisk.ruTo Rome With Love (2012)
AKA Bop Decameron, Nero Fiddled

Starring Alison Pill, Flavio Parenti, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Fabio Armiliato, Roberto Benigni, Monica Nappo, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi, Penélope Cruz

Directed by Woody Allen

Expectations: Moderate, but I’m always thrilled to see a new Woody Allen film.

threestar


I liked To Rome With Love more than Midnight in Paris. I thought Midnight in Paris was good and gorgeous and truly inspired, but it didn’t feel like a true Woody Allen film to me (not to mention that it wasn’t all that funny). That’s fine, as it wasn’t that type of movie, but in certain ways To Rome With Love is the Allen film I’ve been waiting for: a light-hearted, straight-up comedy with a distinct Allen feel. If I had believed the press about To Rome With Love, I would’ve missed out on an enjoyable film — good thing I never really cared about the press for Woody Allen films. To Rome With Love is filled with fun scenarios that lead to absurd bursts of hilarity, and while it is a little too unfocused between all its storylines, I didn’t much care as I was having so much fun.

Like many of Allen’s 2000s films, To Rome With Love is set in an iconic European city and it doubles as an incredible looking travel film. This time, instead of a single story, Allen decided to tell four unrelated tales. They never come together, and they never feel like they should. In fact, it’s clear that each one exists on its own timeline, as a couple of days go by in the Roberto Benigni timeline while only an hour or so passes for another of the stories. Odd as it may sound, this is never jarring at all. I do feel like the film is a bit overstuffed — perhaps three stories would have been smoother — but I’m at a loss to decide which one to cut. They all work together well in an abstract sort of way, and provide a lot of classic Woody Allen entertainment.

Continue reading To Rome With Love (2012) →

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Carla Bruni, Yves Heck, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Sonia Rolland, Daniel Lundh, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody

Directed by Woody Allen

Expectations: Woody Allen films are always fun for me, even the bad ones, so I expect to enjoy this.


(If you’re really anticipating this film, come back after watching because I’m about to spoil it all as I seek to analyze.)

Woody Allen is one of the last classic directors still pumping out films like clockwork. While his output of the last fifteen years has had its ups and downs, he never lost that Allen feeling and voice. Not many filmmakers can say that about themselves. So when a new Woody Allen film drops, I always approach with a distinct love and appreciation of his work, but not a lot of high expectations. I seem to enjoy his recent films a lot more than the average Allen fan, but I still approach with trepidation. Leave it to me to moderately enjoy the newest in the string of “Allen’s best film in decades!” Sure, it’s a solid film, but at the end of the day, it isn’t much more than amusing. It’s one of those Allen films I enjoy with a small smile on my face throughout the film, as it’s not laugh-out-loud funny but it is quite charming.

Continue reading Midnight in Paris (2011) →

Mini-Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson

Directed by Edgar Wright

Expectations: Super low. Virtually non-existent. I am curious though.


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has a lot going for it if you’re a nerd that enjoys references to stuff you like. Some of the more noticeable of these are video game 1ups, DDR and the Smashing Pumpkins, but your mileage may vary depending on what nerdalicious things you enjoy yourself. Anyway, the film is a barrage of cool FX that were designed to give the movie a distinctly comic book feel (or a distinctly graphic novel feel for the snobs). The FX succeed marvelously in this department and deliver what is easily the most accurate representation in motion of what the panels in a comic portray. However, this isn’t necessarily ideal for a film.

The medium is key. I’ve never read the Scott Pilgrim comics, but I’m sure this is a fair representation of them. The fact remains that what works in one medium doesn’t necessarily carry over to another, so despite all the flash (and man, there’s a SHITLOAD) the film is rather tedious, devoid of real character & substance and just plain boring. On a positive note, technically the movie is pretty sound and it is shot much more interestingly than your standard Hollywood fare, but this point is moot when everything else is a bore. I’m not within the target demographic either, so if you’re between the ages of 13-19, you’ll likely have a much different opinion. In the end, I just wanted it to be over.

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,058 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages