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.

November 24, 2012

Saw V (2008)

When it's over, death by pendulum sets the tone for this fifth instalment of the jigsaw murders.  Two stories overlap as five new victims fall prey to gruesome traps; and Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) is determined to prove Lt. Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is Jigsaw's new apprentice.  I'm not a fan of excessive gore, but given the title and history of the series, it is to be expected.  There is no justice in the end, only the passing of the baton for future story lines.  Picture quality and consistency is a big distraction as I find myself wondering if I am watching a syndicated television show or a film.  I can't pinpoint the cause, but guess lighting may be the culprit. There are several jumps in the storyline going from past to present and vice versa, which leads to some confusion.  However, the momentum is good and the suspense is definitely building, so if you just want an adrenaline rush, this film delivers. On an endnote, I'm curious to know what exactly is in the box left to Jigsaw's widow?

My rating: 2.5 out of 5


Soul Surfer (2011)

When it’s over, you will need a box of tissue.  This is a small film with big emotional value.  Soul Surfer is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSofia Robb), the teenage surfer who loses an arm in a shark attack and goes on to inspire millions.  Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood, Craig T. Nelson, and Kevin Sorbo, lend some star power to a cast of relatively young newcomers.  The acting is sometimes offbeat and forced, but the story’s messages come through clearly.  I particularly like Hawaii as the main setting, since the ocean is an important character in the film.  The allure of the water is inviting as it is dangerous, and ultimately, it is the water that heals Bethany’s emotional wounds.  The power of faith weaves through the core themes of bravery, family, and friendship, but this is not solely a religious film.  This film is foremost a film about attitude, about how we struggle to get up when we fall down.  Some great surfing sequences and a positive message make Soul Surfer an ideal family film.

My rating: 4 out of 5

November 9, 2012

The Accidental Husband (2008)

When it's over, good comedic timing and chemistry between the actors make this predictable rom-com a surprising treat. Emma (Uma Thurman) is engaged to Richard (Colin Firth), but wakes up one morning to discover she is already married to Patrick (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  While Emma waits for an annulment from Patrick, she starts to realize Richard may not be her soul mate and her affections begin to gravitate towards Patrick.  It sounds dizzying, and at times, the pace is just that, but the fun really lies in Thurman's comedic talent, as she goes from a woman with all the answers to a woman who can't make up her mind.  Richard's charm and Patrick's boyishness add to the pot of confusing emotions making the pair a delight to watch as they vie for Emma's affections.  Too bad this film never made it to wide release.  I think it would have done will. It was released in the United Kingdom in 2008 and was scheduled to be released in North America in early 2009, but due to the bankruptcy of the production company's distributor, the film was shelved until its release direct-to-DVD in late 2009.  

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

When it's over, I only recommend you see this film if you have already seen the previous four, otherwise, don't bother with this fifth instalment.  Paul W.S. Anderson writes and directs the continuing story of Alice (Milla Jovoich) and the Umbrella Corporation, the agency responsible for unleashing the T-Virus into civilization causing the rise of the undead. In this film, Alice finds herself in an underwater research facility in Russia, where simulations using clones are used to study the virus. The premise of clones opens doors to all kinds of possibilities and none of which are good. Anderson takes advantage of this storyline to bring back some key characters who died in films 1-3, including Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Salmon, and Oded Fehr. I was disappointed in this film for two reasons. One, the characters being brought back were good characters whose death had meaning in the previous films and by bringing them back to life, even as clones, tarnishes the memory of their importance in the fight against the Umbrella Corporation. Two, I thought the ending of the fourth film, Afterlife (2010)  was a good ending to a very successful franchise, but with the addition of Retribution, I, now, feel the story is continuing for the sake of profits.  Truly, some stories are meant to end and should.  

My rating: 2.5 out of 5


November 1, 2012

Dark Shadows (2012)

When it’s over, Tim Burton’s adaptation of the 1960’s television series looks eerie and beautiful.  The colorful costumes, set designs, and make-up gives the film a surreal appearance, a dominant trait found in almost all of Burton’s films, where the fantastical collides with the real world.  In this case, it is in the form of Barnabas Collins and his descendants living at Colllinwood Manor.  Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is an imprisoned vampire cursed by the seductress witch, Angelique (Eva Green).  After two centuries, Barnaby awakes to the year 1972 and finds his ancestral home in ruins and vows to restore his family’s name and status.  I have to give praise to Seth Grahame-Smith, the screenwriter responsible for giving Barnabas some of the funniest lines in the film.  Depp doesn’t disappoint as the misplaced vampire searching for a way to break the family curse.  He is charming, witty, and politely evil as he quenches his thirst with human blood.  Green isn’t bad at playing the villain nor is she good.  She seems to be trapped into playing these sultry roles, which are becoming stale and boring.  Even her character's eventual demise is a lame way to go, making the film's ending less satisfying.  Michelle Pfeiffer brings mystery and allure to her role as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Mistress of Collinwood Manor in 1972.  Dr. Chloe Grace Moretz is a wonderful young actress, whose talents are misused in the role of Carolyn Stoddard, the rebellious daughter with a secret.  The secret is also poorly represented in the story.  Talented Helena Bonham Carter plays quirky and strange once again as Dr. Julia Hoffman, the family's doctor who seeks to remain forever young.  Overall, the film was okay.  The great tunes of the 70's add to the setting and helps to pad the dull moments, which would have easily put me to sleep.

My rating: 3 out of 5

Speed (1994)

When it's over, Speed delivers on every level.  The action is unrelenting, and the suspense is constantly building. The one other film that comes to mind which has the same amount of momentum would be James Cameron's Aliens (1986). The entertainment value behind Speed hasn't diminished over the years, and this film remains a great example of how a simple story can succeed when backed up by interesting characters, tight editing, and meticulous directing. Jan de Bont makes his debut at the wheels of Speed.  His countless years as a cinematographer works in his favour as his keen eye for camera angles keep me at the edge of my seat. This film is a must for fans of the action genre, and if you are viewing it for the first time, take note, bathroom breaks are not allowed, as the possibility of missing a beat just isn't an option.  Keanu Reeves looks in top form and does a solid job playing a cop who must prevent a bus from exploding if it drops below 55 miles per hour.  Sandra Bullock, in her star making performance, is perfect as the cute, but tough "Wildcat" gal, who gets behind the wheel of the bus and tries to keep it above 50 mph.  Dennis Hopper is creepy as hell as the "crazy, but not stupid" psycho who wants payback in cash for time served as a former police officer.  The chemistry between Reeves and Bullock is fantastic, which gives the film a flirtatious appeal which female audiences can appreciate. There's nothing negative I can point out in this film, except for it's sequel, but that's another film entirely.

My rating: 5 out of 5