Saturday, 26 May 2012

Film Review: "Men in Black 3" (2012)

From the first trailer, we get this: "I know what you're thinking: MIB, 3-D, we're going to be blowing stuff up and all that. But that's not really what we're doing right now. We're here for one purpose, and for one purpose only: Just to let you know that I'm about to make 3-D look good." Well… he certainly does with Men in Black 3. This science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. This film is the sequel to the 2002 film Men in Black II released on May 25, 2012, almost ten years after its predecessor and fifteen years after the release of the original Men in Black (1997). The film is the third installment in the Men in Black film series which is based on the Malibu / Marvel comic book series The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham. An alien criminal, Boris The Animal, kills the young Agent K in 1969, altering the timeline, changing the Agency and placing the Earth in danger. Veteran Agent J must travel back in time to 1969 to before the murder and work with the young Agent K to save him, the Agency, the Earth and humanity itself.

The film stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emma Thompson and Alice Eve. The cast gave hilarious and fantastic performances. I was glad to see the returning veterans Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the agency's hilarious odd couple Agents J and K. As always Will Smith is energetic, enthusiastic and humorous, and Tommy Lee Jones was always very serious demeanor, rarely joking or smiling and giving very matter-of-fact responses as usual in funny and good way. Cudos to the new comers to the film such as Emma Thompson as Agent O, Alice Eve as Young Agent O, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin. But I was especially impressed with Josh Brolin as the Young Agent K, giving the most dead-on imitation of Tommy Lee Jones. Brolin's performance was uncanny, he had portrayed a young Tommy Lee Jones so perfectly that sometimes I could not tell the difference. Lastly, Jemaine Clement as the film's 'bad-ass' villain Boris The Animal. I was proud to see Flight of the Concords' Jemaine Clement, he was so brilliant in the role of the villain.

Men in Black 3 restores heart interest of the first film and has a satisfying complete storyline. Smith keeps the plot on the move and Brolin’s imitation of Jones is funny. It continues to move the spirit of the series forward in new and exciting directions, and it reaches a satisfying conclusion to the overarching story. Director Paul Thomas Anderson praised the film by saying, "It was [expletive] great. ... The time-travel stuff [made me] cry my eyes out. I'm a sucker for that stuff." Well... so am I! The film is a great conclusion (I hope) to the series and its ending is the neatest of all.

Simon says Men in Black 3 receives:

Friday, 18 May 2012

Film Review: "Dark Shadows" (2012)

"My name is Barnabas Collins. Two centuries ago, I made Collinwood my home... until a jealous witch cursed me, condemning me to the shadows, for all time." This is the premise of the screen version of Dark Shadows. This horror comedy film based on the 1966–1971 gothic horror soap opera of the same name, directed by Tim Burton. An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

Dark Shadows was based on the American gothic soap opera that originally aired on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began. The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, unusually adventurous music score, and broad and epic cosmos of characters and heroic adventures. Now regarded as something of a camp classic, it continues to enjoy an intense cult following. Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series produced for English-language television, including Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek television franchise. Directors Tim Burton had publicly stated that he is a fan of the series. As a child, Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him.

The film stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire. Michelle Pfeiffer as his cousin Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a reclusive matriarch of the Collins family. Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, the family's live-in psychiatrist. Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, a vengeful witch who plots a vendetta against Barnabas and his family. Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters, David's governess and Barnabas' love interest. As well as Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloƫ Grace Moretz and Gulliver McGrath. The performances in this film were mixed. On one hand, they were exuberantly performed and humorous. On the other hand, they were rather too melodramatic and over performed at times. This especially concerns Depp, whose collaboration with Burton has now grown thin.

It looks good enough but in truth, Dark Shadows is not as much fun as it should be. Few of its numerous actors make a lasting impression and Burton's heart and soul is not in the humor. Even Ed Wood himself could have told us what's wrong with the film: the makers felt superior to the material. To be funny, even schlock has to believe in itself. Look at the original television series and you will find a show that lack stars and big budgets and fancy special effects but are funny and fun in a way that Burton's mega-production never really understands.

Simon says Dark Shadows receives: