Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)

Genre

Adventure | Animation | Comedy

Director

Steve Martino | Michael Thurmeier

Country

USA

Voice Cast

Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Peter Dinklage, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Josh Gad, Keke Palmer, Nick Frost, Aziz Ansari, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Alan Tudyk, Ester Dean, Kunal Nayyar, Rebel Wilson, Eddie Sotelo, Joy Behar, Alain Chabat, Heather Morris, Chris Wedge, Patrick Stewart

Storyline

When Scrat (Chris Wedge) accidentally provokes a continental cataclysm, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid's granny (Wanda Sykes) get separated from their home. As they sail across the sea with an iceberg for a ship, they encounter sea creatures that are determined to stop them from reaching their home.

Opinion

If you have been reading my reviews for the past month, you then know that I like the Ice Age series. That being said, they should really have stopped, because this fourth installment isn't good. "Ice Age: Continental Drift" indeed is a quite boring, not really enjoyable animated film, the drift of a good series.

Until now I've been saying how simple yet interesting the story was. Unfortuntately this time I cannot say the same. It is so not interesting mainly because the group that was supposed to fight extinction -which happened in the previous three films - somehow ended up fighting pirates.

The story to "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" was definitely unrealistic because there were no dinosaurs during the ice age, but at least it was interesting, and mostly important was made interesting by the characters. And guess what this film lacks of? That's right, interesting characters. Sure, there's Sid's granny who brings some fun to the film that it's not enough to balance the awful villain(s) or Peaches' new friends.

Also there are too many subplots that have no purpose whatsoever. Which is exactly what happened in the last film, meaning the filmmakers do not know how to learn from their mistakes.

But the animation is good and of course better than the three previous films - that's where the half point comes from.

Scoop (2006)

Genre

Comedy | Crime | Mystery | Romance

Director


Country

UK | USA

Cast

Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, Charles Dance, Romola Garai, Kevin R. McNally, Julian Glover, Victoria Hamilton, Fenella Woolgar, Geoff Bell, Alexander Armstrong, Anthony Head, Peter Mastin

Storyline

Dead British journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) appears to the American student of journalism Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) during a magic show and tells her that aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is a serial killer. Dragging along Sid Waterman (Woody Allen), the magician, Sondra starts investigating and...

Opinion

After showing he still is a great director with the brilliant "Match Point", Woody Allen returned an year later with "Scoop", a delightful "detective" film that you will have you laughing like Allen's earlier silly movies.

Once again Allen shows what a writer he is with a story that is sure simple, yet very interesting and engaging. This time the compelling storyline is a blend of comedy, noir, thriller and fantasy - as if making a comedy-noir-thriller film wasn't hard enough already.

So yeah, the story is interesting and the way it unfolds it's great, but the best part of the script has yet to come. That would be the witty dialogue and the highly likable characters - from Woody Allen's usual neurotic character, to Scarlett Johansson's naive girl, to Hugh Jackman's suspected serial killer.

Like I mentioned before, this film is also very funny. It is arguably the most funny of Woody's comedies in years. There are a lot of jokes, some of which don't work well, but the majority is pretty solid and so are the gags.

However the thing that impressed me the most is the acting. I wouldn't have expected Scarlett Johansson to play such a character - a not-sexy, kinda clumsy girl - in a bazillion years, but most important, I would have never expected her to rock such a role. She really is breathtaking, and she also has a great chemistry with Allen - who by the way is hilarious as always. Hugh Jackman also does a good job as the supposed serial killer as well as Ian McShane as the dead journalist.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Genre

Action | Horror | Romance

Director

Burr Steers

Country

UK | USA

Cast

Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Suki Waterhouse, Emma Greenwell, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Sally Phillips, Aisling Loftus, Dolly Wells, Tom Lorcan, Jess Radomska, Hermione Corfield

Storyline

The five Bennett sisters must try to protect themselves from the growing zombie threat, find suitable husbands for themselves, battle marriage proposals and unlikely suitors, and save the country before it's too late.

Opinion

I'm yet to read Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" - yeah, shame on me - but I sure know its reputation, and I have to say I was quite interested to see what kind of results blending such a classic with zombies, which I love, would have produced. I don't even know why I thought, even for a second, it could have been good.

Instead of being grotesque as I thought it would be, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is a bland "zombie/horror" flick where boredom reigns supreme. Seriously, it's so boring, it's hard to follow.

Even though I would never dare calling it is a zombie film, there is a zombie factor involved. The writers' brains, for instance, were probably eaten by a herd of undeads because the screenplay is rubbish. Someone should have told them that just putting zombies in a classic novel is not enough to turn it into a movie - and according to Wikipedia into another book.

The plot is more predictable than the Team Rocket always losing at the end of each episode, and there are so many plot holes it looks like a slotted spoon. And the zombies are intelligent and they have feelings too, and they walk among us without us knowing, and they have their own community. Isn't that crazy?

Unfortunately the writing isn't the only problem. The film cannot be defined as action film either. It is awful, and tedious just like the rest of the film.

The members of the cast also do their best to suck. But it's not their fault, not completely at least. The director is the one that deserves the blame, along with the poor script, because the guy clearly has no clue how to direct.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Genre

Adventure | Sci-Fi

Director

Richard Fleischer

Country

USA

Cast

Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre, Robert J. Wilke, Ted de Corsia, Carleton Young, J. M. Kerrigan, Percy Helton, Ted Cooper, Fred Graham

Storyline

As a monster is terrorizing the seas, three unlikely companions board a warship in search of the beat, only to find out the hard way it is a submarine boat, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo (James Mason).

Opinion

I've recently read Jules Verne's novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and I surprisingly enjoyed it. So I decided to watch the film based on it, but I should have stayed away from it.

In fact, Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is a quite tedious adventure film that is nothing compared to Jules Verne's visionary novel.

I don't really understand why they had to change all the fascinating things about the story. One of the things that make the novel interesting and intriguing is the aura of mystery around the character of Captain Nemo. Neither Aronnax nor his associates nor the readers know a thing about Nemo's enigmatic figure, but the screenwriters decided to take some steps further: not only they created his past, but they've also made it part of the plot.

But that's not all. Instead of being focused on Aronnax, the story this film tells is focused on Aronnax's associates. I would have been okay with that if it wasn't for the way the two men were portait. First of all Conseil isn't anything like the guy in the book. Second, Conseil and Ned Land, who was my favourite in the novel, are scripted like a comic duo. And what's up with the singing seal? I don't remember anything like that in the book.

But at least the special effects and set design are impressive. I still cannot believe this film was made in 1954 because visually it is still very beautiful to look at, and it doesn't feel too much dated.

The acting is also quite good. Despite the way the character was written, Kirk Douglas makes a quite good and charming Ned Land. And James Mason is amazing as Captain Nemo.


Thursday Movie Picks: World War I


Hello there, and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

This week's theme is World War I. I do realize it sounds creepy but WWII has always been my favourite. Lucky me though there are some pretty good movies about WWI that are worth watching, and today I'm sharing with you three of my favourites - and I kind of went theme within theme since they all are about friendship. Here you go

Gallipoli (1981)

Two Australian sprinters face the brutality of war when they join the Australian army and are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. This film doesn't have much of a story but it still manages to be engaging, but most important it manages to be a powerful and moving film about friendship and the unfairness of war. And the two leads, Mel Gibson and Archy Hamilton, are amazing and have such a chemistry!

La grande guerra (1959)

After both trying in every way to avoid serving the army, two Italian slackers are called to serve in World War I. This is a brilliant commedia all'italiana (or Italian-style comedy) and just like the previous film, it is about friendship and war. It is also an ironic and poignant portrait of life in the trenches, it does make you reflect on the horrors of the Great War, and makes you laugh because of the spectacular leading duo, Vittorio Gassman and Alberto Sordi.

War Horse (2011)

Young Albert Narracott enlists to serve in World War I after his alcoholic father sold his beloved horse to the cavalry. Oh, this film is just fantastic, and watching a man and an animal bonding in such a beautiful way is beyond moving (yes, I love animals). I do realize it may not appeal to everyone because it's rather slow, but let me tell you something, it is necessary to establish the relationships and to make you care about the characters. 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)

Genre

Comedy | Romance

Director

Kirk Jones

Country

USA

Cast

Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Elena Kampouris, Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine, Andrea Martin, Ian Gomez, Gerry Mendicino, Alex Wolff, John Stamos, Rita Wilson, Joey Fatone, Gia Carides, Louis Mandylor, Bess Meisler, Ashleigh Rains, Rob Riggle, Mark Margolis

Storyline

Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian's (John Corbett) daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is getting ready to graduate high school which means she'll be soon leaving for college. As if that wasn't cause of enough distress, Toula's parents find out they were never officially married, so another wedding big, fat, Greek wedding is in the works.

Opinion

It really surprises me that it took Hollywood so long, but after 14 years here it is the long "awaited" sequel to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Not that I didn't like the first, but was it really necessary?

Anyway, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is a decent comedy that is nothing like its predecessor but still delivers some good laughs.

The film's main problem is that being a sequel it doesn't have the freshness and originality of the first film, but the simple - maybe too thin - plot still is supported and made interesting by the family conflicts. There are too many subplots involved though. 

The characters are pretty much the same of the original, and are also played by the same actors which is a real joy for someone who has some real love for the first film, and even though the character development isn't great, the filmmakers took some time to update us one the lives of all the characters, not the main ones only. 

And yes, the Greek family is still huge and loud, and fun to watch, but most of the jokes and gags are either recycled from the first film or in the trailer. But I gotta say they still are funny.

But after all "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" isn't trying to be anything big, it is just a feel good movie, and great for when you want to switch off for a while.

Australia (2008)

Genre

Adventure | Drama | Romance

Director

Baz Luhrmann

Country

Australia | USA | UK

Cast

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, David Gulpilil, Brandon Walters, David Ngoombujarra, Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis, Barry Otto, Kerry Walker, Sandy Gore, Ursula Yovich, Lillian Crombie, Yuen Wah, Angus Pilakui, Jacek Koman, Tony Barry, Ray Barrett, Max Cullen

Storyline

In northern Australia at the beginning of World War II,  an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man (Hugh Jackman) in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. 

Opinion

I haven't seen a lot of stuff from Luhrmann so I did not have any particular expectation for this film. I was kinda expecting it to be good though, since it stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Was it good? No, it wasn't.

Beautiful to look at, "Australia" is a terrible, too long and unfocused film that tries to be too many things at the same time: an adventure, a slapstick comedy, a romantic drama and a commentary on racism and war.

The script is just all over the place. The storyline is utterly predictable and keeps on shifting from one thing to another and you are not even sure if you are watching the same film.

The film's storytelling has already been used over and over again in other adventure films of the past and honestly those movies were way more exciting and engaging than this one. And for some weird, inexplicable reason the whole story is told through the eyes of a 10-year-old speaking a bad English. You eventually get used to it, but it still makes no sense.

The most incredible thing is that in two and a half hours they didn't manage to develop the damn characters. They all are awful and stereotypical, not to mention the fact that the main characters, Kidman's Lady Sarah Ashley and Jackman's Drover, are basically Olive Oil and Popeye. To end in style the actors as well do their best to give awful performances.

Then there's Australia, that land that is so mysterious and fascinating, especially for someone like me who lives so far away from it, which has been beautifully captured. But one cannot watch a film for the photography only (yes, that half point is for the cinematography).

Fast & Furious (2009)

Genre

Action | Crime

Director

Justin Lin

Country

USA

Cast

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Jack Conley, Shea Whigham, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Sung Kang, Liza Lapira, Mirtha Michelle, Greg Cipes, Ron Yuan 

Storyline

Working again for the FBI, Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) teams up with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to bring down a heroin importer (John Ortiz) by infiltrating his operation. 

Opinion

I'm laughing so much right now because the Italian title says "Original parts only", and this film is basically a copy and paste of the other entries in the franchise. In a few words "Fast & Furious" is a sometimes fast but never furious film that is also tedious beyond words.

I'm getting tired of criticising the lack of a plot but since there isn't one, I have to point that out, and I'm also going to waste some time talking about how ridiculous this already-seen-a-million-times storyline is, how many clichés there are throughout the whole film, and basically how dumb it is in general. I guess this is what happens when you make a useless sequel. Or a useless franchise.

While I forgave those flaws to the previous entries because of the characters and/or action sequences and pace, "Fast & Furious" cannot be saved. There's nothing good about it. The characters, first of all, are goddamn awful. All of them. Character development is an unknown concept to the writers, and the characters are basically what they were in "The Fast and the Furious" 8 years earlier. And the bad guys - wait, I thought they all were bad guys - are two dimensional and dumb.

Earlier when I said "sometimes and fast but never furious" I was of course talking about the action. The bloody awful action. Which is a huge shame for an action flick. There is one, maybe two sequences that are fast and decent, but they are so not thrilling. And the massive use of CGI completely ruin them.

I could spend more of my time, and yours, to talk about the cast, but I think saying the acting is beyond bad will do.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

Genre

Adventure | Animation | Comedy

Directors

Carlos Saldanha | Mike Thurmeier

Country

USA

Voice Cast

Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Sean William Scott, Josh Peck, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Chris Wedge, Karen Disher, Bill Hader, Joey King, Jane Lynch, Kristen Wiig, Carlos Saldanha, Eunice Cho, Maile Flanagan, Clea Lewis, Devika Parikh

Storyline

After stealing three dinosaur eggs, Sid (John Leguizamo) is abducted by their real mother to an underground lost world, and his friends attempts to rescue him.

Opinion

I don't say it often because it rarely happens, but at the third installment of the franchise Blue Sky doesn't misfire and delivers another good animated film. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" indeed is a nice and entertaining film that appeals both kids and adults (if possible I think I like it even more now that I'm an adult).

Once again, the story is quite simple and easy to follow and it's executed quite well. The whole dinosaurs idea is quite interesting, and I don't care how unrealistic that is, this is a cartoon after all.

Maybe this time the screenwriters worked too much to create all those subplots. The romantic subplot involving Scrat and the female Scratte is nice and has a lot of funny moments, but some others don't have a place in the film. The pregnancy subplot, for example, doesn't have any purpose.

But those little flaws can be forgiven thanks to the characters. Even though Diego has been basically watered down into cameo quality, a new entry steals the show, Simon Pegg's Buck, a looney weasel who joins the herd halfway through. When he makes his entrance, the film completely changes. The earlier few dead moments are replaced with funny ones, and I believe it's impossible not to fall in love with the characters.

There are a lot of jokes and visual gags. The animation is great - I remember watching it in 3D when it came out and it was great. And it's good in 2D as well. And the voice cast does a good job. And yes, I loved Simon Pegg.

Melinda and Melinda (2004)

Genre

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Director


Country

USA

Cast

Radha Mitchell, Chloë Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller, Will Ferrell, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Wallace Shawn, Josh Brolin, Vinessa Shaw, Steve Carell, Arija Bareikis, Matt Servitto, Zak Orth, Brooke Smith, Daniel Sunjata, Larry Pine, Andy Borowitz

Storyline

A girl, Melinda (Radha Mitchell) arrives unannounced at a dinner party, and two alternative stories unfold, one comic and tragic.

Opinion

Right when I started to think Woody Allen's 21st century stuff was good, he had to make something to prove me wrong with "Melinda and Melinda", a slow, dull and a bit confusing comedy-drama that doesn't really work neither as a comedy nor as a drama. 

Shouldn't one wait until he/she have a story before bother making a film? Well, it looks like Allen forgot about it when he decided to make this film. He just put together two alternatives to a given situation, and it looks more like improvisation than a proper plot. 

Maybe it's because I was a little tired when I watched it, or maybe it's the way the film is made, but the two storylines get a bit confusing, and at times it takes time to realize which story you are in. Not to mention that is almost impossible to say which one is supposed to be tragic and which one is supposed to be funny, because they are both bland.

Allen's narrative choice is interesting - a group of people are telling the two stories - but it's nothing new, he did that already ages ago in "Broadway Danny Rose". And I really shouldn't mention that film, because it is on a whole different level.

The only thing that made me laugh about "Melinda and Melinda" is the script. It is so bad, it's laughable. The dialogue is horrible, and the characters are so not interesting.

Part of the cast was a bit of a surprise considering everything else. In spite of the script, Radha Mitchell somehow managed to carry the film, and Amanda Peet managed to give a good performance - even though she didn't have enough screen time in my opinion. Unfortunately Will Ferrell wasn't able to make the film funny with his attempt at impersonating Woody Allen. And Chloë Sevigny was just annoying.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Genre

Comedy | Romance

Director

Joel Zwick

Country

Canada | USA

Cast

Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine, Andrea Martin, Christina Paraskevopoulos, Gerry Mendicino, Louis Mandylor, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Stavroula Logothettis, Ian Gomez, Bruce Gray, Fiona Reid, Bess Meisler, Jayne Eastwood, Arielle Sugarman

Storyline

30-year-old Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is still single and living with her parents. After convincing her father (Michael Constantine) to go to university, she meets and fall in love with Ian Miller (John Corbett). There's only one problem: he is not Greek, and she is supposed to marry a Greek man.

Opinion

I've watched this film a lot when I was younger. Way too many times. I've also picked it weeks ago for a Thursday Movie Picks post, and I said it was a decent comedy. But I was wrong, because "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a nice, entertaining and hilarious comedy. So much better than I remembered.

The best thing about this film is probably its simplicity. It does not have a complex or twisted plot, it is just a simple love story that develops in a quite predictable way, but it is made engaging and interesting by the (big Greek) family conflict.

Than there's the main character, Toula. The great thing about her is that you don't need to be Greek to empathize with her. She is just a woman in her thirties, she has not that kind of beauty almost all the rom-coms characters have - she is kinda like Bridget Jones but without all the vulgarities -, and it's really easy to relate to having a relationship with someone your parents don't approve.

Sure, the Greek characters are stereotypical and exaggerated, but that's what makes the film so hilarious. And it's plenty of memorable scenes, like when the family ladies convince Gus, Toula's father, that working in her aunt's travel agency was his idea, or when all the ladies are getting ready for the wedding. And the best part is that this fil suits all ages.

Nia Vardalos gives a good performances as Toula, the ugly duckling - in my opinion, she is not ugly at all though. Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine also give good performances as Toula's parents.

Hannibal Rising (2007)

Genre

Crime | Thriller

Director

Peter Webber

Country

France | UK | USA

Cast

Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Dominic West, Rhys Ifans, Helena-Lia Tachovska, Kevin McKidd, Richard Brake, Stephen Walters, Ivan Marevich, Charles Maquignon, Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė, Beata Ben Ammar, Pavel Bezdek, Goran Kostić, Robbie Kay, Dennis Ménochet

Storyline

After the death of his parents during World War II, young Hannibal Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) moves in with his aunt (Gong Li) and begins plotting revenge on the barbarians responsible for his sister's death.

Opinion

After a useless remake - "Red Dragon" - here it is a useless prequel of "Manhunter". Unfortunately, "Hannibal Rising" isn't only a useless prequel, but it also is a horrific film as well as a shame for the Hannibal Lecter series.

Even though this was just another way for Hollywood to make more money, an origins film on Hannibal Lecter would have definitely been interesting if done in the right manner, and this is not the case, of course.

The writing is a mess, especially the plot. Like the tagline says, it all started with revenge, Hannibal's sister is killed and he wants revenge. But after two hours, a lot of plot holes, and so much nonsense you need a stack of paper to write it all, the film doesn't manage to show a proper transition of Hannibal, from young man looking for revenge to cannibal.

The disgusting script, which was written by writer Thomas Harris, doesn't feature any of the psychological insight of most of the previous entries in the series. To be honest, it kind of portray Hannibal like some sort of sick kid.

Peter Webber's direction is terrible. I am not even sure he knew what he was doing, a little bit like Woody Allen's character in "Hollywood Ending". Only that character was blind. The film completely lacks suspense and tension, but there's plenty of blood. It actually is a bloodbath.

But let's move onto the next point, the cast. First of all, Gaspard Ulliel has none of the charm of Hopkins, and I realize that's much to ask to a young actor, but he doesn't give any justice to the character of Hannibal either. He just grins for the whole thing. Then there is Gong Li plays Hannibal's Japanese aunt. This is some of the nonsense I was talking above. But my point here is Gong Li is Chinese. And even though many think they look the same, they don't. And what did she do to deserve this film? Dominic West gives a decent performance, but the reason why he even signed up for this, a mystery.

Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Camp


Hello there, and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

This week we are dealing with summer camp movies. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Maybe it's because I've never been to a summer camp. Or probably because I'm not even interested in those movies. I almost resigned myself to the idea of going theme within theme with three Friday the 13th flicks, but then, thank god, two of the movies I watched over and over again when I was a kid came to my mind, so there you go. 

It Takes Two (1995)

Two identical little girls, rich girl Alyssa and orphan Amanda, accidentally meet one day, and try to make Alyssa's father marry Amanda's case worker instead of the horrible woman he is going to marry. Don't expect anything brilliant here, it's just a family comedy starring the Olsen twins.


The Parent Trap (1998)

Two identical twins, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, accidentally meet and plan to bring the parents back together. Yeah, the plot is pretty much the same of the previous - this one's a remake of 1961 movie though -, and the film isn't a masterpiece or anything, but if I recall it's a good family film.


Friday the 13th (1980)

After a young boy named Jason drowned in 1957, bad things started to happen at Camp Crystal Lake, like camp counselors murdered, and other stuff. They reopen the camp in 1979, and guess what, someone starts playing kill the counselor. This one isn't great. It's filled with horrors clichés and pretty much anything is bad. But after watching all the franchise I can tell you it is neither as bad as I thought at first.

Fifty Shades of Black (2016)

Genre

Comedy

Director

Michael Tiddes

Country

USA

Cast

Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Jane Seymour, Fred Willard, Irene Choi, David Arvesen, King Bach, Mircea Monroe, Affion Crockett, Kate Miner, Florence Henderson, Dave Sheridan, Jenny Zigrino

Storyline

Inexperienced college student Hannah Steale's (Kali Hawk) life changes forever when she meet wealthy businessman Christian Black (Marlon Wayans). 

Opinion

One week later, here I am reviewing "Fifty Shades of Grey"'s parody, but unlike I hoped, I won't be able to say that the parody is better than the original, even though this time I didn't need to take breaks or speed up the film to get to the end.

To be honest, the idea was great. I mean, taking one of the most successful films - and novels - of the past few years and making a parody of it complete with a social satire, something decent could have been made out of it.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers' only concern was to make fun of the original film scene by scene, and while that worked for a few scenes, the rest is just filled with sex jokes, not that funny humour and a lot of stupid things. Basically all "Fifty Shades of Black" does is trying to show the audience how dumb the original movie is.

Okay, that's not true, because it also makes fun of other films such as "Magic Mike" - and I'm totally cool with that - and "Whiplash" - nope, I'm not okay with this one. And there are tons of references of other popular movies, TV shows and books, not to mention the pop culture satire that is nothing like the satire in Wayans previous comedies. Also, there is so much vulgarity that it's even too much for Marlon Wayans.

"A Haunted House 2" was better than this, still I had a few laughs, and ultimately "Fifty Shades of Black" is the parody "Fifty Shades of Grey" deserves.

Alexander (2004)

Genre

Adventure| Biography | Drama | History

Director

Oliver Stone

Country

Germany | USA | Netherlands | France | UK | Italy

Cast

Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Gary Stretch, Joseph Morgan, Raz Degan, Neil Jackson, Francisco Bosch, Denis Conway, John Kavanaugh, Nick Dunning, Rory McCann, Ian Beattie, Annelise Hesme, Garrett Earley

Storyline

The story of Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell), the King of Macedonia and one of the greatest military leaders in the history of warfare that conquers much of the known world.

Opinion

None of the history teachers I had made Alexander the Great interesting so I really never cared about him. I thought an Oliver Stone movie starring Colin Farrell could have made a difference. Boy, if I was wrong.

"Alexander" is a rather slow and at times tedious and soporific film that is far away from being great.

Even though Alexander the Great has never been one of my favourite historical figures, studying him over and over again produced some results. For instance, I know what a complex figure he was. The tactical genius and indomitable character I was expecting to see isn't in the film. Instead we get an Irish boy with bleached hair.

Other than failing to properly portray both the greatness of such a character and the greatness of his exploits, Oliver Stone decided to focus on the homosexual relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but Stone should have approached to it differently. The values in Alexander's day were different from the values of our day, and the homosexual relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion would have not been the same today. He decided to portray both men like two girls - apparently that's how a man that does have sex with another man acts like -, but this is no sitcom, Mr. Stone.

The film doesn't even have a proper narrative structure. It keeps on flashing back to the past throughout the whole thing, and the plot is so incoherent it needs Anthony Hopkins's constant narration to make sense. Also, there's the embarrassing dialogue.

The cast doesn't make it better. Colin Farrell is awful in here, and plays Alexander as a weak and emotionally distraught man whose facial expressions are painful to watch. Angelina Jolie plays Alexander's mother and for some weird reason she has a Russian kind of accent. The out of place accents are all over the place and very distracting - I mean, Greeks having Irish accents? Can't you do better than that? -, and the acting is over the top.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Genre

Action | Crime

Director

Justin Lin

Country

USA

Cast

Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Leonardo Nam, Brian Goodman, Zachery Ty Bryan, Nikki Griffin, Jason Tobin, Keiko Kitagawa, Lynda Boyd, Sonny Chiba, Vin Diesel

Storyline

To avoid time in jail because of illegal street racing, American teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) moves to his father's, in Tokyo, Japan. As soon as he arrives he discovers a new, dangerous way of street racing in the underworld of the streets of Tokyo.

Opinion

This is the only film of the franchise I own on DVD. And it's also the only film of the franchise I've watched too many times, I just can't get enough of it. That being said, I'll do my best to be impartial.

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is a refreshing and enjoyable action flick that surpasses its predecessor.

The writing is still not the series strongest suit. The plot indeed is paper thin and quite predictable too - even though there's kind of a plot twist in the end I did not see coming the first time. To be noted I was 12-13 year old at the time -, but at least it is engaging.

And that's because of the series' change of direction. Instead of going good guys vs bad guys, it goes more like bad guys vs bad guys, and the story is focused on the rivalry between the main character, an American teenager, and the nephew of a Yakuza member. It does get cheesy because they are fighting for a girl, but what were you expecting?

The film features none of the original characters - Vin Diesel's Toretto makes an appearance at the end, but I could have done without him because he has no use other than tricking people into watching the film -, but the new ones are quite good, even though they lack proper development.

The action flick part of this is good. The cars are beautiful, and the action sequences are very well choreographed - drifting is so much cooler than regular street racing. And for the guys, it is plenty of gorgeous women - among which there's Nathalie Kelley, the most beautiful in the franchise in my humble opinion.

There's a tremendous problem with one casting though. I don't care how hard Lucas Black does or does not try, he just looks (and is) too damn old to play a 17-year-old kid. Oh, and no matter how many Vin Diesel they throw into the film, Sung Kang as Han would still steal the show.

Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Genre

Action | Adventure | Animation

Director

Carlos Saldanha

Country

USA

Voice Cast

Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Chris Wedge, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Will Arnett, Jay Leno, Tom Fahn, Alex Sullivan, Alan Tudyk, Clea Lewis

Storyline

When the valley where they live is threatened by the melt of the surrounding ice, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) join the other animals for a journey to high ground, and discover that Manny is not the last of the mammoths.

Opinion

After four years of hibernation, the most weird animal trio ever came back with "Ice Age: The Meltdown", a funny and enjoyable adventure film that is also a good sequel.

Once again, the plot is quite simple and it rather serves as a pretext to show another adventure starring the same trio of the first time, the talkative sloth Sid, the grumpy mammoth Manny and the loyal sabertooth tiger Diego. New characters also arrive: Ellie, a female mammoth who believe she is a possum, and Crash, and Eddie, her two possum brothers, and they make the storyline much more intriguing.

Scrat has a lot more screen time, and, even though I'm probably one of the few that find Scrat an utterly annoying little animal, and despite the fact that its sub-plot has little to do with the rest of the film, it does have two purpose, make people laugh - which works beautifully - and deliver a message without even talking. What's the message? A pretty common one in kid movies, we should not give up easily.

Between a gag and other, in addition to the central theme of friendship, the film also deals with overcoming fears in the face of danger.

Once again, the animation is beautiful, from every single character to the breathtaking landscapes. And the voice cast once again deliver great performances - I particularly enjoyed Queen Latifah's as Ellie. 

Anything Else (2003)

Genre

Comedy | Romance

Director


Country

USA

Cast

Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci,Woody Allen, Stockard Channing, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon, Erica Leerhsen, KaDee Strickland, Adrian Grenier, David Conrad

Storyline

Aspiring New Yorker writer Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) learns a lesson the hard way when he falls in love with a beautiful but flighty girl, Amanda (Christina Ricci).

Opinion

I admit I am a Woody Allen fan, so my opinion may not be completely impartial, but I don't understand why some people - critics mostly - have been so harsh with it. Sure, "Anything Else" is nothing if compared to "Annie Hall", but isn't it about time people stop comparing Allen movies to his best movies? I think that's the reason many cannot enjoy films like this one.

I agree that "Anything Else" doesn't bring anything new to the table. It is just another typical Allen comedy having a neurotic, Jewish New Yorker as a main character once again having a troubled romantic life both because he is clumsy and paranoic, and because he can't help but fall in love with the wrong woman.

And there are also many elements recycled from some of Allen best movies - and I gotta admit he seems to be throwing in references just to make sure the film is "Woody" enough - but, in spite of that, the film still manages to be enjoyable and funny.

This time Allen is not the main character, which is played by Jason Biggs, but he is more like a mentor to him, and that allows him to throw in some good, very Allen dialogue. And if the jokes heard over and over again doesn't amuse you anymore, there still are some scenes that will make you laugh, like when Christina Ricci's character is so scared to have sex she has a panic attack, and yet being totally fine with the (good-looking) doctor touching her all over. 

The cast was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting anything from Jason Biggs, but he actually does a quite good job as a young Allen, even though he looks a little lacking in confidence at times. Christina Ricci also does a good job as the romantic interest, and Woody Allen finally plays a role that is more appropriate to his age, an eccentric old man.

Once again, I'm not saying this is Allen at his best, but the film is great to have some laughs.