Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Prometheus

Posted: 2012.06.30 in Movies

To put it succinctly, my response was: “What…the HELL…was that?!”

I’ll back up and explain.

According to the information listed on Wikipedia, this movie was set in the same universe as Alien, but takes place before the first movie. It is not, however, a direct prequel. Ridley Scott, the director, stated that they may make a sequel to Prometheus but in order to tie straight into the original Alien, a third movie would be needed. The ending of Prometheus very clearly does set itself up for a Part Two, but unfortunately I doubt I’ll want to go watch it in the theater.

First though, I’ll talk about the good. The soundtrack, although not riveting or memorable, gets the job done. The special effects are beautiful. It’s a pretty movie. The actors do the job and I believe were well cast. Ridley Scott’s directing is also just fine. The pacing of the movie is similar to the way Alien is paced: slow at first, with a spiral of more and more action near the end.

However, my big issue with the movie is the writing. While there are many nods to Alien interspersed throughout the film both in lines of dialogue and situations, the writers throw so many different things at the viewer without ever explaining anything. Meanwhile, the bits of story that viewers should be able to pick up on and assume on their own are very clearly explained in the dialogue, sometimes more than once or for longer than is really necessary. While there is of course the intention of making a sequel, the sheer number of “WTF was that all about” moments and ridiculous happenings just made me shake my head in puzzlement.

It’s not suspenseful. It’s not scary. It’s not action-packed even at the end when a lot of things are happening. If you just like the Alien universe, don’t think about much when you watch movies or just have lower standards than me for your entertainment, then you’ll enjoy this film. It’s pretty. But that’s about all I can say for it. Although I like Ridley Scott movies, I didn’t care for this one. I feel like I need to go watch Alien to cleanse myself of the retardation that sapped my Friday evening.

Now for those who want specifics and don’t mind spoilers, I’ll explain further…

(more…)

The Butterfly Circus

Posted: 2012.03.23 in Movies

I was first introduced to The Butterfly Circus by my sister in 2009. She and I have for years periodically exchanged YouTube links with each other, but they have always been totally random, silly, funny videos. This short film is none of those. At first, I recall that I felt a bit put-upon by her providing the link. The video wasn’t some 1 to 3-minute goofy clip, but rather a 20-minute short film. I remember that it took me perhaps a week to even get to the link and watch it. I somewhat dreaded it, in fact, because I do not like dramas or the typical Hollywood inspirational films. But eventually, I did in fact watch it. And in watching it, I believe my life changed some.

The summary you will find on IMDB goes like so:

At the height of the Great Depression, the showman of a renowned circus leads his troupe through the devastated American landscape, lifting the spirits of audiences along the way. During their travels they discover a man without limbs at a carnival sideshow. However, after an intriguing encounter with the showman he becomes driven to hope against everything he has ever believed.

Since my initial contact with this movie, I have watched it again every few months or so whenever I need a spiritual recharge. The entire premise of the movie appeals to my Buddhist side – compassion and kindness, patience and positivity because of — NOT “in spite of” — the personal trials and pains that each character faced prior to joining the Butterfly Circus.

But Jala, I thought you said that you dislike dramas and inspirational films? — I did, but I specified “Hollywood inspirational films.” You know, the ones where the cat and two dogs have to traverse through the wild to get home or the one where the kid has to improve and hit a home run to win the game and that sort of nonsense. This film is entirely different because it is very visceral. It appeals to the little seed of negativity that each person harbors within, the feeling of abandoning hope…and then rediscovering it due to something as simple as a little belief from another. The challenges that each character overcame (or is overcoming during the film) are hard, real world instances of true pain. And yet…

If you could only see the beauty that can come from ashes…

The era of my life when I first watched this film was rife with personal challenges, and has been again throughout 2011. This made my watching The Butterfly Circus very poignant. It struck hard, and fast, and directly at my heart. I cried the whole time I watched it. Even now, every single time I watch it, I cry. This movie is a catharsis for me. It releases my pain and allows me to make that transformation when I feel myself losing strength. More than just that alone, it strengthens my resolve to act in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path; to express kindness and patience to others; to learn from my pain and use that to grow wiser and stronger; and to help others. It has served as a good reminder of what my goals should be, and how I should conduct myself.

The cast is perfect for the film. The director is amazing. The score only serves to strengthen all of the emotions you will feel while watching it. It has been seen by over 10,000,000 viewers worldwide, and is being made into a feature-length film.

Are you ready? Watch it:

 

If you loved it as much as I did, please help support the wonderful talent who created this work and purchase a copy for only $12.99 on Amazon. If you love the score, it is available on iTunes. I know that sounds like a sales pitch, but I urge you sincerely as someone whose life became a little bit better thanks to this short film.

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Posted: 2011.10.04 in Movies

This movie is NOT a remake of the 80’s films, and nor is it trying to be.

This retailoring of Conan is based more firmly in the original stories by Robert E. Howard, but includes strong nods towards ALL versions of Conan past. What I mean by that is simply this:

  • The story presented in the Nispel film is, as far as I can tell, original and “inspired by” the types of tales found in the original stories written by Howard.
  • The flow of the movie as well as several of the scenes are easily paralleled with similar situations in both of the films of the 1980’s.
  • The actor who played Conan, Jason Momoa, stated that he and the director and screenwriting crew all studied the original stories, comics, film and TV episodes, and so on in order to draw from the entire pool of Conan mythos.

My first impressions of the movie when I went in and the heads started to roll was that this movie was very much Conan. My knowledge of the various incarnations of Conan up to the time I watched this movie were limited entirely to the two Schwarzenegger movies of the 80’s. I’d never read the Howard stories or the comics, never watched any other versions of the story; nor had I played the free MMORPG, Age of Conan. Regardless, I got the feel almost immediately that this was Conan the way that it should be told: gory, lusty, manly, and straightforward. After watching it, I was inspired to read up on Conan canon, and in fact have been reading the original Howard stories since. And my first impression was correct.

This is not “Movie of the Year” as there is nothing groundbreaking about it. It received mediocre reviews across the board. Yet even so, it was so enjoyable to me that I watched it in the theater twice within a week of its release. Given that I rarely watch movies in the theater and the last movie I can remember seeing multiple times in the theater was Jurassic Park, this was a Pretty Big Deal. Additionally, despite the reviews every person I know who watched it, liked it.

The story is, as previously stated, simple and easy to follow. It’s got gross parts, and lots of fighting, and lots of flesh everywhere. It’s a story written by a guy, for guys. It starts with a lot of explanation and ends in an abrupt manner — yet this is exactly the way that Howard stories were paced. The ending always seems sudden, as if there is something else that should be said, but isn’t addressed. As a direct quote from Howard, this new Conan presents viewers with the character’s lifelong motto:

“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.”

Yup, that’s about it.

One of my first comments going into the new movie was, “If there isn’t any camel-punching action like in the other two, this movie fails.” I didn’t take it seriously and didn’t expect to be dreadfully entertained; I was skeptical. But I got my sarcastic and not at all serious animal-punching wish as two horses were punched by Conan (one of those with a chain). And I was also amused with the story.

Now, the acting.

I will begin by saying that I HATE ROSE MCGOWAN. This movie pits really good actors such as Morgan Freeman (narrator), Ron Perlman (Corin) and Steven Lang (Khalar Zym) with mediocre under- and over-actors. Sad, but true. Now, the whole thing really was carried for me by the good actors, and I could handle most of the mediocre actors other than Rose McGowan, who just entirely grated on my nerves. For someone playing an evil witch villainess, she sure had a squeaky, annoying voice…and most of the time she was entirely over-acting.

But what about Conan? Jason Momoa presented a very different sort of Conan than that of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both are, in my opinion, very valid versions as they both capture some of the essential nature of the character created by Robert E. Howard. Schwarzenegger’s version is the more lighthearted adventurer, whereas Momoa’s is the sullen, dangerous lion. Howard’s character was a mixture of both extremes and infectiously likable, so I can’t find fault with either version. Momoa for his part specifically trained to have a leaner look than Schwarzenegger, and studied the way that lions move in order to better become the character. One of my friends, Kane, said it best: “Momoa IS Conan.” Yes, he is. And so is Schwarzenegger.

I will be reviewing the original stories once I finish reading them in their entirety. Also once I replace my computer I will be trying the Age of Conan MMO. But for now, I will say that while not stellar, if you enjoyed the first Conan movies, you will likely enjoy this one as well.