REVIEW: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (screenplay), Hergé (comic)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Nick Frost

Steven Spielberg is back in rollicking good form after his three-year break following the unfortunate fourth Indiana Jones escapade with the jaw-dropping animated epic The Adventures of Tintin.  It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Spielberg aims a directorial rebound with motion-capture animation, and yet while you look at the gorgeously rendered surfaces and the extraordinarily lifelike human characters, it appears he has achieved his goal.

Like Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, Spielberg utilizes the latest 3D technology to adapt a family-friendly story of a young boy solving mysteries while at the same time paying homage to the art he loves so much.  Tintin is less a tribute to filmmakers past than it is to this directors’ past adventures, though, which is egotistical but nontheless pays off.

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REVIEW: Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, & Hawk Ostby (screenplay), Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (comic)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell

You can almost see the studio meeting that birthed this movie.  I’m sure it went something likes this:

“What’s the title?”

Cowboys & Aliens.”

“We’ll sell the title, then.  It’ll be like Snakes on a Plane!  Who’s directing?”

“We’d like to get the guy from Iron Man on board.  Also, we want Harrison Ford to star.”

“Great, looks like you’ve thought of everything!  Here’s $100 million.”

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REVIEW: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Frances McDormand, and John Malkovich

There isn’t a negative comment that Michael Bay hasn’t heard.  One of the most critically despised and commercially successful filmmakers in history, he has become a lightning rod for the sorry state of modern Hollywood.

Many critics are bitter because his movies render them utterly useless.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was one of the worst reviewed films in years and also one of the highest grossing.  He injects levels of mind-numbing shock and awe into almost every scene that isn’t establishing the almost non-existent plot in almost all of the movies and Transformers: Dark of the Moon is no exception.

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REVIEW: Super 8

Super 8
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler and Riley Griffiths

Science fiction might be a genre that appears to always be looking ahead, embracing the latest 3D technology, CGI backgrounds or scientific discoveries; but at its core it has always looked at its influences and initial pioneers to give direction to stories that span light years, universes or complex human-political analogies away.

With the names J.J. Abrams and Steven Steven Spielberg attached to a summer monster movie, it appeared we’d be expecting the same expectations-breaking story: big blockbuster, big effects, big noises and big disappointment. Collaborations like Spielberg and Bay’s Transformers series didn’t give us much hope, but Abram’s recent works like Star Trek certainly did. A young gun with a visual track record and a producer with the know-how is a great comparison to Peter Jackson apprenticing Neil Bloomkamp with his District 9, which isn’t the only comparison Super 8 draws with the movie.

To put it briefly: instead of attempting to rewrite the genre as Abrams has done with TV, they flip the pages back, finding the core and simplicity in great story telling with a soft $50 million budget. Continue reading

Color blind: Modern directors and black and white

For most of the movies’ existence, we’ve had the ability to show color.  Nothing personifies the transition from black and white to color more than that immortal transition in The Wizard of the Oz, when the movies took the audience from the bleak colorlessness of everyday life into the beautiful colors of Victor Fleming’s adaptation.

It’s weird, then, that many modern directors’ greatest film making achievements are in black and white.  One benefit of it, besides the beauty you can capture without color, is that it may be hard to tell which decade a movie came from.  It can make a movie timeless, which is good when you’re talking about subjects like WWII and the Holocaust.  To celebrate 100 posts, here is a look back at movie history at directors’ ventures into a world without any vivid color, and how it paid off for them.

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