Friday, 12 September 2008

Tropic Thunder (2008) - review

No matter what is said of Ben Stiller, but this time he really blows a bank with a fun and witty comedic satire of movie making, called Tropic Thunder. Directed and co-written by Stiller, Tropic Thunder is definitely one of the most entertaining comedies of 2008.

Stiller himself is an action star Tugg Speedman, the star of six sequels of a Scorcher-franchise. Jack Black is Jeff Portnoy, comedian who in his Fatties -movies play an entire family of farting fatties. Robert Downey Jr. is an Australian 5-time-Academy-Award winning actor Kirk Lazarus, whose latest film Satan's Alley is about two monks affair.

These three are recruited to act in the most expensive war movie ever - Lazarus playing a black guy. When budget is blown away, the director (Steve Coogan) is forced to figure out some other way of completing the film. Vietnam vet Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte) whose book the film is based on, suggests an extreme method - place cameras all over the jungle and drop the boys to do their job on their own. This leads to unexpected situations where team spirit is really needed.

The story is full of brilliant satire towards the movie industry - actors, directors, producers, Academy - they all get their share. And in a wonderfully hilarious way. So often comedies don't make you laugh because they don't have anything original in them. Tropic Thunder is its own kind, and really made me laugh. It has the courage to go far enough in the satire and the courage to use language not often heard in Hollywood movies.

And you can hardly recognise Tom Cruise (who does a great job) in his disguise...

Directed by Ben Stiller
Written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Coen
Cast Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride

Thursday, 11 September 2008

In Bruges (2008) - review

In Bruges is probably the best comedy this year: filled with pitch black humour, dazzling dialogue, interesting characters, hilarious plot, damn good acting and beautiful photography.

Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are killers from London, who are sent to a beautiful medieval town called Bruges in Belgium, to relax and calm down after their last gig, and hopefully wait for their next assignment. Ken decides to take everything from the mini-vacation - he's excited about the beauty of the town and its marvellous sights in the lovely late autumn sunshine. Ray on the other hand is not that satisfied and complains about being sent to the stupid Belgium.

After few days the truth of their Ray's and Ken's last assignment is revealed. Their boss (Ralph Fiennes) takes action and comes to Bruges himself to sort things out. This leads to some shooting and serious action, but filled with black humour.

Farrell and Gleeson are a perfect pair - the other is older and wiser, calmer, and the other is young, restless, and still looking for himself. Fiennes is brilliant as the revenge seeking boss. Dialogue is just great and the story is full of surprises, not the least by a dwarf who is shooting a n art film in Bruges. In Bruges is the debut film by Martin McDonagh, and an extremely positive start for his film career!

Directed and written by Martin McDonagh
Cast Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy

Friday, 5 September 2008

Babylon A.D. (2008) - review

Previously the French Mathieu Kassovitz has been seen more in front than behind the camera. After his mediocre directions Gothika and Grimson Rivers he took Maurice G. Dantec's dystopia novel Babylon A.D. under work. The result is a movie filled with violent action, but story wise it aims too high and then falls hard and heavy.

Vin Diesel is Toorop, a bounty hunter, that a Russian Gorsky (Gérard Depardieu) hires to deliver a young Aurora-girl (Mélanie Thierry) from a cloister in deep down in Asia to New York. There is something special and secret about the girl which makes the delivery very valuable, but Toorop takes the job without questions. With the girl comes her foster mother, sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh).

Toorop starts the journey in the hopes of getting a reward, without feelings or interest towards the girl's secret. Immediately he notices the journey is not going to be a pleasure trip, because after the girl are also dangerous men who are not afraid to use any means available. But Toorop is just like them. He ends up protecting the girl with his life and does not hesitate when it comes to slaughtering few people who get into their way.

Babylon A.D. reminded me closely of Luc Besson's Fifth element (1997), but is much more rough and serious compared to its colourful "cousin". After an interesting start the story loses its power and twists its complex story into a good looking mess. The over dose of cliches and the anti-climax in the end take the last of the edge out of the movie.

The environments are built with style and imagination which make the movie look visually good. Even though a lot has been borrowed from elsewhere, the movie has some ideas of its own, such as the submarine transporting refugees. Rock-like Diesel fits in this kind of roles as a glove in a hand and Thierry's fresh and innocent appearance is his total opposite.

Director Kassovitz has himself mentioned in the interviews that he is disappointed on the movies because the studio had cut it from original, resulting in "violent and stupid" version. It is to be seen if the director's cut on dvd is any better.

Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Written by
Eric Besnard, Mathieu Kassovitz and Joseph Simas, based on a novel by Maurice G. Dantec

Vin Diesel, Mélanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh, Gérard Depardieu, Charlotte Rampling


Definitely, maybe (2008) - dvd review

Definitely, maybe is a sympathetic drama comedy in which 11 years old Maya (amazing Abligail Breslin) requests her divorced father to tell about the times before she was born - after getting so interested in love during the school's sexual education class. Dad (Ryan Reynolds) dresses the story in a mystery, and tells a story of one man and three different women, and how one of them became Maya's mom.

Daddy's past gets more flesh around it's bones along the way and his political past is fun to follow. The mother-mystery remains unique until the end and only in the last half of the movie gets a little bit cliched. Breslin and Reynolds work together amazingly well and they form the story a firm backbone.

Directed and Written by Adam Brooks
Cast Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weitz


Reservation Road (2007) - dvd review

Losing your own child is the biggest of all losses. Reservation road is story of both the family which loses a child in an hit and run and the guilt of the driver. Neither side has it easy.

Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix) and Grace (Jennifer Connelly) are mother and father to a small daughter and son. Dwight (Mark Ruffalo) is a divorced lawyer who tries any ways possible to hold on to his son who is now living with his mother. When Dwight is driving from a baseball game with his son, he accidentally hits a little boy on the road, and decides to risk everything and hurries away without stopping.

When the boy dies and the police can not find the driver, boy's father decides to take the case into his own hands. What is left is just a revenge.

Even though the subject is heartbreaking and the roles are brilliant, Reservation road still does not really convince. There are too many coincidences to make the story feel real. What's missing in the story is replaced by the extremely realistic fathers whose pain you can almost touch.

Directed by
Terry George
Written by
John Burnham Schwartz and Terry George, based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz
Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino


The Bucket List (2007) - review

Life is short and very few of us does what they dream about, what they would really want to do with their lives. When the end draws near, it is the things undone that you regret. This dead serious subject is what the comedy called The Bucket List tells about.

After working his whole life as a car mechanic Carter (Morgan Freeman) hears he is suffering from incureable cancer and his life is ending sooner than later. In the hospital bed he has time to think about things and starts writing a "Bucket List", list of things he would like to experience before kicking the bucket. He gets a room mate with the same medical destiny, a self centered millionaire Edward (Jack Nicholson) and after a while these two very different men find many things in common. And finally they escaoe from the hospital to fulfill their dreams.

The director Rob Reiner (When Harry met Sally..., Princess Bride) draws a sympathetic story of a dead serious subject. What makes the story unrealistic is that as a millionaire it is financially so easy to make your dreams come true. There are some touching scenes, like the "kiss of the most beautiful girl in the world", but as a whole it is just warm hearted entertainment.

Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Justin Zackham
Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - dvd review

The Spiderwick Chronicles is yet another movie version of a children's book. However, this time it works and the result is an entertaining movie for both children and adults, with all fantastic and original fairy tale creatures and a well made story.

A reluctant Jared (Freddie Highmore) moves to his great-great-uncle's old mansion with his twin brother (Highmore's double role), sister (Sarah Bolger) and mother (Mary-Louise Parker) after his mother's and father's divorce. The reluctant mind changes when he finds a curious field guide from the attic. It is not a common field guide, but a guide to a magical world with amazing creatures. With the help of the book Jared gets to know all the creatures living in and around the house, both good and evil.

Mark Waters who has previously made mainly comedies (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls) holds the reins very well and the result is an adventure in a fairy tale world inside our own. Arthur Spiderwick's field guide is wonderful and the characters both funny and scary. Even though entertaining, because of the scary monsters I would not recommend this to the smallest of the family.

Directed by Mark Waters
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum and John Sayles, based on the novel by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Cast Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn

Superhero movie (2007) - dvd review

Riding on the success of last years' superhero movies Superhero movie is an embarrassing act of comedy. Making parody mainly of Spider-man and X-men, Superhero movie failed to tickle my humour nerves and just made me yawn.

While dreaming of the cute blonde (Sara Baxton) in his neighbour, Rick (Drake Bell) gets bitten by a gene-manipulated dragonfly on a school trip. This gives him superpowers and he turns to be a superhero called Dragonfly. When a supervillain Hourglass (Christopher McDonald) threatens to slaughter the whole city, Dragonfly comes to help.

Craig Mazin (the writer of a couple of Scary Movies) uses the same proven-to-be-successful concept again, but jokes seen more than once don't convince anymore. The story is directly from Spider-man, with some additional fart jokes and bumping into things. Comedy veteran Leslie Nielsen is cast as Rick's uncle and Pamela Anderson as an Invisible Girl, mainly invisible.

Director Craig Mazin
Written by
Craig Mazin
Cast Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielsen, Marion Ross

Friday, 29 August 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) - review

I managed to get tickets to the final screening at Espoo Cine film festival and was expecting a lot from this new Woody Allen film. It had all the aspects of being a masterpiece: Woody Allen's witty writing and directing skills, brilliant cast, interesting storyline and beautiful sceneries of Spain.

The story evolves around two art-loving American women (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson) who travel to Spain for a month. Hall's character Vicky is engaged, about to get married, very down to earth person, and her opposite, Jo
hansson's Cristina is single and adventurous, and does not really know yet what to do with her life. They bump into a sexy Spanish artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who asks the girls to come with him, enjoy some good food, drinks - and sex.

This leads the girls to an adventure which involves among others the mentally unstable ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) and flips both worlds upside down. In the end they are forced to search their own feelings thoroughly.

Although I liked the overall story and the characters were fresh and real and the acting was good, in the end something was missing. With seeing the complexity of human relationships during the film, I was a bit let down with the anti-climax of the story in the end. But it is always wonderful to watch beautiful, talented people together - Penelope Cruz is always so charming, Scarlett Johansson knows how to be sexy and cute and it was fun to see Javier Bardem in a "normal" role after seeing him as a cold-blooded killer in No country for old men.

Director: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Cast: Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall
Official site:

Here we go...

I love movies. I love talking about movies. I love gathering information about movies. I love writing about movies and sharing my thoughts about movies. Some of my friends asked me, why am I not keeping an own blog because I write so many reviews in different web sites, and I could not find an answer to that. Why am I not sharing my babbles in my own name? It took couple of days to think this over and here I go :)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

2009 movie reviews

Movie namePaiviSari
12 Rounds**
17 Again***-
Angels and Demons******
Bride Wars**-
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky***-
Confessions of a shopaholic-*
Fast & Furious***-
The Hangover****
Hannah Montana the movie**-
He's just not that into you******
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Ice Age: The dawn of the dinosaurs***
Monsters vs. Aliens****
Observe and Report**-
The Soloist-*****
Star Trek********
State of Play-****
Terminator Salvation**-
UP 3D-***
X-Men Origins: Wolverine******