December 31, 2013.

This blog is now closed. After three years and 311 posts, I have decided to end this blog. I have enjoyed watching the films, reviewing them, and interacting with global readers.

If you are interested in contacting me, you can do so by commenting on any of the posts. The blog will remain live on the web.
Thank you to all the readers for your comments, ideas, and thoughts. They were helpful, stimulating, and enriching. This is Alene, signing off.

February 28, 2011

The Back-Up Plan (2010)

When it's over, Jennifer Lopez doesn't disappoint as a young woman named Zoe, who decides to have a baby through artificial insemination after giving up on finding Mr. Right.  Ironically, the day of her insemination, she meets Stan, played by Alex O'Laughlin.  Things start to get complicated when she gets serious with Stan and must tell him that she's pregnant with another man's child.  There were some really true-to-life humor that makes this film worth watching.  As romantic comedies go, this film isn't a Sweet Home Alabama, but still enjoyable and worth a sit through.

My rating: 3 out of 5

The A-Team (2010)

When it's over, The A-Team was filled with non-stop over-the-top action.  After the explosions settled and the air cleared, there wasn't much left.  You can have all the special effects money can buy, but without a compelling story, it's just unfulling as a viewer.  I thought the actors who played the foursome, Liam Neeson - accurate as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper - charming as Face, Quinton Jackson - solid as Baracus, & Sharlto Copley - slightly psycho as Murdock, did a worthy job and offered some funny moments, but still, it wasn't enough to warrant a recommendation. 

My rating: 2 out of 5

February 24, 2011

127 Hours (2010)

When it's over, I was quite impressed with James Franco's portrayal of mountain climber, Aron Ralston.  He's come a long way since Harry in the Spiderman series.  He's a "one man show" and has turned a simple story into a compelling one to watch.  This docu-drama tells the story of how Ralston becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering in Utah and his incredible escape.  Director Danny Boyle successfully uses the "split-screen" method to illustrate the varying degrees of the character's regrets, hopes, dreams, and desires.  This effect was quite psychedelic and truly captures the rush of emotions and thoughts going through Ralston's mind as he grapples with his own mortality.

My rating: 4 out of 5

February 23, 2011

Skyline (2010)

When it's over, I wanted more and was disappointed that there wasn't any left. Skyline's premise of aliens taking over earth was straightforward enough, and it managed to keep me interested until the moment the credits rolled right at the "cliffhanger" scene when the idea that humanity may yet prevail.  It was clear the filmmakers were counting on a sequel, but honestly, for a small film such as this one with relatively unknown actors, it's a gamble to assume a sequel would follow.  Some scenes were knockoffs of other alien abduction films, but I still enjoyed the slim, blood, and the struggle between humans vs aliens.  My only wish would be that the film should have had some closure and maybe a possible hint of a sequel rather than end abruptly after what I felt was the second act.

My rating: 3 out of 5

February 17, 2011

The King's Speech (2010)

When it's over, The King's Speech reaffirms again that Colin Firth is a versatile actor who will most likely get the Oscar for brilliantly portraying King George VI and capturing the inner turmoil of a man who constantly felt "held back" by his stammering.  Geoffrey Rush plays the king's speech therapist and friend and does it with such ease and charm that it makes his role so much more poignant.  Helena Bonham Carter isn't playing any bizarre character in this film.  Instead, she lends humor and delight as Queen Elizabeth, the wife and constant supporter of the king.  The cinematography was absolutely stunning in this film and not just panoramically, but also symbolically.  The framing of the characters, especially of Firth, suggested a lot of isolation, of feeling diminished, and of being closed in.  The director, Tom Hopper, used just the right color pallet of greys, browns, and blacks to depict a time of great dread, fear, and sorrow as the nation was going to war.  Even the rich burgandys of royalty was toned down to suggest grandness, but not opulence.  This is a film you could see again and again to appreciate the subtle details of every scene. 

My rating: 5 out 5

February 14, 2011

Chloe (2009)

When it's over, Atom Egoyan's Chloe was a strange movie in a good way.  Julianne Moore suspects her husband, played by Liam Neeson, of infidelity and hires a prostitute to seduce him in order to confirm her suspicions.  As the dangerous game of spying continues, nothing is as it seems and several twist and turns keep the plot unpredictable.  For fans of erotica, this film offers a good mix of suspense, surprise, and satisfaction.  I'm not a big fan of erotica, but this film kept me interested by the solid performances from Neeson, Moore, and Amanda Segfried, playing the three characters who complete the love triangle.  This is one of those rare films that was completely shot in Toronto making it extra special if you're a Torontonian. 

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

Killers (2010)

When it's over, Killers killed itself.  This is another cheesy movie about an assasin, played by Ashton Kutcher, who gives up the occupation to establish roots and start a family.  Of course, everything's peachy for a few years until the past catches up with him leaving a path of destruction and havoc in his perfect surburban neighborhood.  Worse, he has to explain to his wife, played by Katherine Heigl, why they're dodging bullets and explosives.  This film did have promise, but half way through, the story fell apart from sheer silliness, and the plot simply didn't seem interesting anymore. 

My rating: 1.5 out of 5

February 4, 2011

The Mechanic (2011)

When it's over, I can never tire of Jason Statham.  He's one of those actors who tends to play a lot of emotionally undetached characters who ends up waving a lot guns and beating a lot of people up.  He's the hero of  anti-heros and he does such a great job at it.  Statham's back in action as an elite assassin who mentors the son of one of his victims played by the very talented, Ben Foster.  Of course nothing is as it seems in a "revenge" driven film.  Mix lots of gun play, add in some explosions, sprinkle it with stunts, and top it off with Statham and Foster make for an enjoyable no-brainer film.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

February 1, 2011

The Last Airbender (2010)

When it's over, I didn't complain.  In fact, I was glad.  The movie didn't appeal to me at all.  I think the idea of bringing this mystical cartoon to live action had great potential, but the execution failed to be entertaining or memorable.  The plot was weak; the love story never took flight; and the friendships never solidified.  The casting didn't help either with the actors giving so-so performances.  This film tells the story about a young successor to a long line of avatars, who must save the Water, Wind, and Air Nations from being enslaved by the Fire Nation.  This is not a simple story to tell, and when I heard M. Night Shyamalan was at the helm, I had great confidence that he would be able to transcend the complex storyline from the cartoon to live action and make it entertaining as well as fantastical.  However, I was wrong and disappointed with the lack of backstory and the lack of development in the main characters. 

My rating: 1 out of 5

The Town (2010)

When it's over, The Town was well adapted from book to screen by Actor/Director, Ben Affleck. Having read the book, I was expecting the Hollywood version to be contorted in all ways, straying from the book. However, Affleck managed not to stray too far from the source while keeping the soul of the story alive. He even changed the ending, which was bold and worked to the film's advantage.  The story's about a criminal, Doug MacRay (Affleck), who grows a conscience and wants out. This is a simple enough desire, but such a desire becomes unattainable when he has to go clean with the mob and even more complicated when he starts falling in love with the key witness of his last robbery.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Girl who Played with Fire - Sweden (2009)

When it's over, I still think Lisbeth Salander is one tough gal. She's a survivor. You never know what to expect from her and that makes the movie all the more interesting. This film continues two years after its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. All the cast members return for this sequel along with some new faces and storylines. This time around, it's not about a creepy serial killer or the search of a missing person, but the seedy side of the sex trade. Salander is accused of a mulitple homicide, and Mikael Blomkvist digs deep to try and clear her name. This film isn't as thrilling or as shocking as the first, but worth a look if you've already seen Tattoo and most definitely if you've read the book(s).

My rating: 3.5 out of 5