Autopsy, USA (2008)
Nice and not pretentious little horror movie. Mostly slow with many dead (ha!) and boring scenes, but it has its moments with some gore and repulsive visuals. Some of the characters, especially two ex-convicts, are quite interesting. The movie can bring occasional chuckles and could've been better overall with some nudity and sexual violence, but nothing like that ever happens.
Nothing special in here, but it can be nice waste of time as midnight showing. As funny exercise, try to guess the order of the victims and who will stay alive. This movie is so simple that you will guess everyone correctly.
The Day The Earth Stood Still, USA (2008)
I haven't watched the original so I don't compare between the versions, I evaluate this one as stand alone. And I must say - it's quite bad.
The gap, between the level of visual effects and size of production to poverty of the content and the banality of the story, is truly amazing.
Why is everything is so god damn serious? The didactic preaching is not a way to make a movie, at least where is self irony? Even over the top patriotic and saccharine Independence Day used humor and some sort of simple complexity to reduce the nausea it may inflict.
But The Day The Earth Stood Still is so dull and unimaginative in its approach, you can wonder who was the target audience and what were the creators thinking? Eventually I end up wanting the destruction of the Earth, just so I won't see this kind of movies again.
Keanu Reeves is again emotionless alien, looking around with his wooden eyes and extremely white face, and by being the main attraction this movie can suggest, he is very anemic and plain. Jennifer Connelly is doing her normal routine of having no idea what movie she is in. I think she is half sleeping in most of her scenes, and after the filming was over she completely forgot that she was in it. Even with that half effort and sad faces, Connelly still more effective than anyone else.
The whole point of the movie is not accurate as well. It's hard for me to imagine that peaceful and advanced alien race will decide to destroy all humanity and all its possessions just for the mentioned reasons. I found it completely unconvincing.
And regarding that matter, it was extremely offensive for me, on intellectual level, to watch how old professor was trying to present the case on behalf of human race. His argument was rather infantile and dumb, this is not how you defend your species. And Connelly's character should know better, that the best way to make Klaatu to call off the attack is to fuck his brains out. After some booty action and a cigarette he would've change his mind just like that (snapping fingers). And he had the lube in his pocket already ...
Anyway, nice visual values of the production cannot cover the lack of decent substance that this movie pretends to have. The movie is ok to watch, but it rarely has any worthy moment. Truly, if aliens were to decide Earth's future by watching this movie - pack your bags, because Earth is going bye bye.
Ong Bak 2, Thailand (2008)
Not as energetic and fresh as his other movies, Tony Jaa still manages to provide the necessary thrills. This time he takes upon himself the role of director as well, and trying to add weight to a layer that usually got very little attention before - story.
That's right, he is trying to add some dramatic side to his persona as well, unfolding in the film story of betrayal and revenge, trying to display some emotions and psychological complexity.
And these attempts are somewhat bearable and somewhat laughable, but mostly it's affecting the flow of the action, the main reason to watch this film. As result the movie feels more heavy than it should be, but it's really worth watching just for the fight scenes.
Ong Bak 2 is not going to change the cinema, hell, it's not even going to change martial arts genre as the first Ong Bak did. You will not remember the story the next day, but the fighting scenes and the physical energy are really worthy.
I read in other sources that the production of this movie was absolute hell, with Tony Jaa disappearing for days from the set, stalling the filming and causing producers to lose lots of money. Not mentioning disagreements and constant arguments between them. But even after all that, plans for Ong Bak 3 were announced already.
Slumdog Millionaire, UK (2008)
[Some spoilers ahead.]
I really should've known better. When the movie is winning so many prizes, including 8 Oscars, something ain't right. On the other hand, how after all that hype and noise it is possible to approach this film with normal expectations?
Slumdog Millionaire is done very well and feels like a dream, blurring time and space. Danny Boyle is true professional, one of the rare filmmakers that knows how to create a proper mise-en-scene, how to tell a story and how to emotionally manipulate the viewer according to his intentions. And while the production is really superb, the weakest part of the film is the direction of the story.
Big part of the film is truly pleasant experience, going very smooth and intriguing. It's funny, it's touching, it's involving and the plot structure of the movie, told as a memory flashbacks, creates sense of purpose, sense of direction.
But once it gets closer to the end, the movie becomes more and more incoherent and even ridiculous. The romantic theme, which is the main theme that holds the entire story together and establishing the motives behind the character's actions, expires as soon as they become adults, starting from the first meeting between Jamal and Latika in her house, when she is married to the crime boss. The movie insists to continue in its previous way, when it's very obvious it cannot go there. "Run away with me" and "We will live from love" is mostly embarrassing and silly than romantic.
After this the movie reaches a crossroad, and for the first time since the beginning chooses wrong direction. The film suddenly not convincing anymore, everything that happens right after feels like a fake. And why exactly Latika is so passive? This submissiveness of hers truly bothered me, I don't know if this is some cultural differences, but her character was insulting to me. And she didn't even know the answer, which makes her also completely useless.
Danny Boyle is known for positive endings to his movies. Even if things are really screwed up in the end, Boyle always manages to leave huge sense of optimism in the viewer. Whether it's Trainspotting, 28 Days Later or Sunshine, in the end it's always positive feeling. I guess this time he just went too far.
The over the top and extreme happy ending maybe something that can be seen in Bollywood movies a lot, and I think this is what Boyle was trying to recreate. But when something so extreme can work for some people, it cannot work on a cynic person, like myself.
Suddenly the ending reflects differently on entire film, the journey is judged by the final destination, and after seeing the place this movie went to, I can only be very disappointed.
In the end Slumdog is just another over-hyped movie, that people prefer to overlook its flaws. Constructed from two parts, only one really holds - the story of their childhood. Well made, but not great movie, and contains many problems.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, USA (2009) - Workprint version
Best special effects in the world are not going to save this movie from being completely and utterly idiotic. Such direct and massive assault on human intelligence I haven't seen, probably, since dreadful Armageddon.
Yes, this is just a workprint, with uncompleted special effects and soundtrack, but how improving that is going to affect incredibly degrading story?
The plot structure, the dialogs and events that already there are not going to change, I am very curious what additional scenes or changes they can actually add to make this film somehow acceptable.
They can't and they know it. This is why Fox's excuses, how the film is only half complete, are not convincing anyone.
X-Men Origins can be described as fun action film, that not boring to watch, maybe its only achievement for now. The time is passing by quickly, something always happens and it's really not that bad as watching experience. But why every minute of it do I need to feel like my brain cells are slowly dying from the stupidity of what I see? Why every five minutes it's time to roll the eyes again and wonder whether the writers of this baby talk movie know anything about logic and rational thinking. Why for the sake of pure entertainment they need to go so low? After all, it was already proved by so many movies that viewers don't afraid to see smart content, that entertaining is not necessarily synonym of brainless.
The movie feels like bunch of separate scenes that each one tells something, but the connection between them, the central spine of causality is mostly absurd. It happens because it happens, the rationale behind it was given and not free to interpret. Any question of why this is the result of specific cause will get the following answer - just because. Connecting the dots in this film by your own logic is frustrating and completely pointless, there is no place for your imagination, and accepting the driving logic of the writers will cause your intelligence drop to the lows like you never experienced.
Everybody is talking how the audience love more darker and realistic movies, how Iron Man and The Dark Knight made small revolution in the superhero movie concept. But I guess the lesson wasn't learned for this particular movie, because it is shiny and brainless like Fantastic 4, and there is nothing real about it.
For the sake of this movie, I hope there will be some major changes for the final version, but I doubt that.