July 20, 2008

The Fountain



Words cannot express how much I adore The Fountain. Even so, my wish is to try and share my thoughts on this film because it truly is one of the most underrated films in cinema. It left theaters in the red and that is an atrocity. The cast pour their hearts and souls into this film, yet it's met with mundane reviews from simple minded viewers and poor box office numbers.

First off, I want to stress the importance of Jackman's performance in this film; it is nothing short of brilliant. It tops anything, and everything, he has done before it. I'm so impressed by it that if I ever meet the man, that is the only thing I will praise him on. This role deserves more recognition than anything else he's done, or will ever do. I cannot even begin to put this man's talent into words; it just needs to be seen.

The story follows three perspectives that weave together to form one tale -- acceptance. A 16th century conquistador, present day scientist, and future astronaut are all connected. However, the scientist is the part that drives the majority of the story. Tommy, the scientist, is fighting to find a cure for the love of his life -- Izzie. She's dieing from brain cancer and Tommy's field of research is the reversal of brain tumors.

Rachel Weisz is an excellent choice for the vulnerable Izzie. This is one of her best performances, if not her best, but it is definitely overshadowed by Jackman. He manages to steal ever scene from her, but it doesn't take away from the film one bit. If you pay close attention to her acting you will easily see the brilliance I'm talking about. To be honest, I can't think of a single role of hers that doesn't top this one. It's raw, emotional, and powerful.

The visual effects are, hands down, out of this world; they are simply awe inspiring. However, the most stunning fact is the space scenes are not CGI; they're bacteria slides. This allows the film to hold up well in the years to come. They are some of the most beautiful and gripping space scenes -- ever. They will easily stand the test of time, and this film should be applauded for that fact.

Aronofsky has out done himself with this film. I don't know if it will ever be possible for him to top this piece of art, but I will definitely keep an eye out for his newer works. The Fountain will always be recognized as a stunning achievement by myself, and I will never pass up an opportunity to share it with others.

Ratatouille



What can one expect from a Pixar film? I can answer that question with one word; excellence. Ratatouille is no exception to this rule and is definitely a return to their best work, such as the smashing hit Finding Nemo and Toy Story.

Ratatouille is about, you guessed it, the life of a rat named Remy. However, this rat is special because he has the extraordinary ability of superb cooking. We see him struggle to be accepted by his fellow rats, team up with a human to hold a cooking position, and eventually befriend this unlikely partner in food named Linguini.

First off, the voice acting is always top notch in Pixar films, and this comes partnered with a graphical superiority we undoubtedly expect. Both are staples of this company's talent, and this film doesn't let down on either. Secondly, the story is one their finest works and easily takes, at least, its place in the top 3 Pixar films; the film is easily accessible for anyone and everyone. Lastly, the film and its characters stick with you leaving an emotional connection for, at the shortest period, a week. A rare feat for many film makers, yet a breeze for Pixar.

In short, you must see Ratatouille. If you've seen any other Pixar film, and enjoyed it, then watching this flick is the next logical step for cinema pleasure. Fun for the whole family, or just yourself; this movie will not disappoint.

Jackie Chan's First Strike



Jackie Chan's First Strike, also know as Police Story 4: First Strike, is a typical action film of Jackie's. With the exception of a few of his earlier films, his work mostly consists of predictable action and high octane fun. Take the film for what it is, a showcase of top notch stunt work, and you'll enjoy the hell out of it. If you're expecting something more you will be sadly disappointed.

In First Strike, Jackie is a Hong Kong police officer that catches the attention of foreign law enforcement agencies; the CIA and new KGB. After doing so he's sent on a relatively simple assignment, or so it seems. As usual, he finds himself in a situation that requires a hero.

I am a huge fan of Jackie's work and highly recommend that people make an attempt to see at least one of his films. While they clearly lack character development and plots, the original art form of Jackie's stunts are the real gold in his movies. His character generally doesn't use guns. Instead, he uses household items and other articles to incapacitate, not kill, his enemies. Full of action and danger, but lacking in plot, his movies are an acquired taste.

If you're looking for a fun film, Jackie Chan's First Strike is sure to meet the bill. Don't take it too seriously or you'll miss Jackie's daring stunts. Just sit back, relax, and have a good laugh at how crazy the man can get.

Smart People



There is only one thing more interesting than stupid people, and that's Smart People.

Smart People is a delightful film that's funny, heart warming and lovely. It will most likely not receive a grand swarm of audiences around the country this weekend, and however sad that might be, at least the small percentage of viewers that do decide to see it will be in for a real treat. The film does have some weak points, but overall the entire experience is quite enjoyable.

In short, Smart People follows the life of a widowed, pretentious college professor that has little desire to mingle with his students, or attempt to understand his children. It takes an ER doctor and his adoptive brother, who's free from the intelligent gene of the family, to bring some change to the entire family. The rest of the film follows along this line and it generally suffers from predictability. However, in spite of the weak script, the actors manage to turn the film around and combat the clich├ęs with excellent character growth.

Dennis Quaid does a magnificent job assuming the role of Lawrence Wetherhold, the college professor. In fact, I believe this work to be one of his greatest roles. It throws him outside of his typical acting area and he does a magnificent job, but he's not the only one to stand out.

Ellen Page, the intelligent daughter, and Thomas Hayden Church, the whimsical and adoptive brother, give equally strong roles that provide even more depth to the shallow script. Church's character shines through as the funniest part of the film, and it's probably because he's given a majority of the best lines. Fans of Church will be delighted with his part in this story, and they should not miss it.

Besides the weak script and a rather abrupt ending, this is an overall decent film. If you can just look past the script and focus on the characters you'll be sure to find Smart People very enjoyable.