Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Of Magic, Extremely Long and Magical Hair, A Narnian Adventure, Fake Promiscuity, and Social Networking

It's been so long since I've posted a movie review! I initially wanted to write one after watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, but I got lazy. XD Consequently, fate led from one thing to another and before I knew it, I'd already watched 5 movies in the space of a month, and I was suddenly reminded that I used to love giving my worthless opinions on movies in general.

So here I am, back in the habit, and I shall be (probably) double-posting on Blogger and Facebook so... don't be mad. Nobody ever reads this blog anyways, so it won't hurt now... would it? XD

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

I have been an ardent Harry Potter fangirl since I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a wee lass of 12. Though my extensive knowledge of the Potter universe has dwindled greatly since then, I still have great attachment and passion for the series (though they are mostly slumbering), and watching HP7 has reawakened them.

Make no mistake, the trio that we've come to love have grown into young adults who are just only grappling with the harsh, unsheltered life outside Hogwarts, and everything is noticeably darker, from Harry's mood swings to the overall colour palette of the film. But that's just only part of why I love the film. Director David Yates executes scenes where urgency and tension are palpable beautifully, with some stunning cinematography and innovative (not creative, mind you) camerawork. The cast turns in good performances on their part as well (there's nary a wooden or bad delivery at all), and I can foresee great careers ahead for Mr. Grint and Ms. Watson especially. The best scene in the whole movie had to be the animated story of The Three Brothers, which was an ingenious move. I would like to hug and kiss whoever who came up with the concept.

However, I do have some gripes about the movie, and most cannot be helped. The movie feels incomplete which is probably acceptable since it is a Part 1 of something, but I remember reading somewhere on Film School Rejects where someone pointed out that if each movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy could feel complete, why not HP7, and it is a very good point indeed, as the Lord of the Rings was originally intended to be one giant book, but had been divided into three main books (six books altogether), and each book had an exposition and an ending and could still belong to a main story arc. So why did Deathly Hallows: Part 1 go down that route? Interesting thought indeed. (edit: read this from the articulate and highly informed Landon Palmer of FSR's article about Serial Cinemas here).

2. Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale

Disney movies (not counting the Disney-Pixar ones, mind you) of late have been quite lacklustre (their previous effort, The Princess and the Frog, was lovely but lacked the adhesive power of such Disney classics as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Pocahontas, Cinderella and such). With the release of Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale, Disney seems to have embraced the animation style that brought Pixar movies to the fore of the animation scene in the hopes that this movie will, too, be memorable.

Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale is charming in its own right, and every inch of it is wholly Disney (from the token princess-as-damsel-in-distress right down to the obligatory animal companion and animal comic relief). Heck, it even bursts out into a song or two along the way! The songs are good, but again, lack the adhesive power of songs in the revered Disney classics. The story isn't too original either (though they added healing properties to Rapunzel's hair to punch up the storyline) but the voice acting is actually pretty good, and the visuals are amazing. I especially loved the boat scene where the million lanterns are released into the sky and Rapunzel and her guy break out into a song that I can't remember anymore. The visuals in that scene were B-E-A-utiful. Thank you Disney for totally making forking out RM18 for the 3D worth it with that scene.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Call me corny, cheesy, devout Christian (of which I am not, by the way), or just plain childish and shallow, but I am a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, both the books and the movies (more to the books anyhoo). Yes, I am aware that no film of the franchise can be said as very good, but I enjoyed them, weirdly enough, bad CGI, wooden acting and all, though it must be said that The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was just terrible.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader fares much better. The CGI is way better, the acting, well, fairly solid at least (Will Poulter as Eustace Scrubb is a good call), and there are some of the wondrous, magical moments carried over from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that reminded me of why I love Narnia in the first place. The story has been modified from the book for reasons that I cannot bring myself to justify (seven swords? Seriously?). The redeeming scene for me in this movie will have to be the sea of lilies and the wall of water that extends to the sky. They were done exactly the way I'd imagine them to be when I'd first read them in the book, and just because of that, this just-okay film has earned a place in my heart. :P

4. Easy A

I have liked watching Emma Stone (and Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson too, for that matter), ever since watching Zombieland, my next favourite zombie movie after Shaun of the Dead (I'm still waiting to watch La Horde, a French zombie movie; I accidentally downloaded the English-dubbed one and I just hate dubs, yes, even well-done dubs). The trailer was fairly funny, but really the main reason for me to watch this is Ms. Stone and Penn Badgley (still can't get over how cool he made Dan Humphrey seem when Gossip Girl first started out. Now he's just annoying). 

Easy A is a fairly run-of-the-mill teen comedy with an extra kick - Emma Stone. She's as cute as a button, possesses enough spunk and sass to convincingly play a (fake) adulterer and still remain highly likeable and root-able. If the idea of wearing a red 'A' to school, inspired by having to read 'The Scarlet Letter' in class, sounds more than a little far-fetched to you, then avoid this movie, because what this movie aims to do is clearly to deliver some easy and light laughs, make you ponder a while about how your reputation can be ruined in a matter of seconds no thanks to social networking sites and your trusty mobile, and - well, that's about it really. 

5. The Social Network

As someone who is on Facebook daily, news that a movie about Facebook was going to be made by a distinguished director (David Fincher) gave me quite a shock and at the same time, piqued my curiosity. What was so special about Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and the story of how this infamous social networking site (the bane of any student's existence in this time and age) came to be that warranted a movie, of all things, to be written about it? Really, a movie about the birth of Apple, or Microsoft, or Starbucks, or even Walmart would have made more sense.

But trust David Fincher to make any movie one a hell of a movie. I surprisingly enjoyed The Social Network very much, from the rapid-fire speech delivery (Jesse Eisenberg should be an honorary Gilmore), to the Harvard fraternity politics, to programming-speak that I will probably never come to understand, and to the crazy college partying. That said though, what made the movie were the great performances by almost everyone in the cast, notably Mr. Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield (Justin Timberlake didn't do a shoddy job himself either). Jesse Eisenberg did a great job at being a right-out jerk/genius without being overly unlikeable, and at the same time project a sense of overwhelming loneliness that someone so successful but socially awkward could feel. One is a lonely number after all. Andrew Garfield is commendable as well, as the best friend who is cheated and betrayed after going to great lengths to make the Facebook a success, only to be disgracefully kicked out just for not being there and not seeing eye-to-eye with the boss. 

The Social Network isn't a movie that will keep you at the edge of your seat, watching with bated breath as what will happen to the hero next, but it is a highly, thoroughly engrossing drama about the lure of fame, money, and social status and how it can mess human beings and friendships up.

Plus points for ending the movie with The Beatles' 'Baby, You're A Rich Man', and also for the awesome editing of the Henley Reggata scene. Just awesome.

Whew! So that's it for now! I shall almost be certain to catch Tron: Legacy next week when it hits theatres (sooo can't wait for that! XD), and I have more than a few movies waiting for me to explore, (looking forward to watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) XD.

Here's an epic interpretation of Grieg's 'In the Hall of the Mountain King', brilliantly utilised in the Henley Reggata scene from The Social Network:

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