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:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Film Review: "The Dictator" (2012)

"Why are you guys so anti-dictators? Imagine if America was a dictatorship. You could let 1% of the people have all the nation's wealth. You could help your rich friends get richer by cutting their taxes. And bailing them out when they gamble and lose. You could ignore the needs of the poor for health care and education. Your media would appear free, but would secretly be controlled by one person and his family. You could wiretap phones. You could torture foreign prisoners. You could have rigged elections. You could lie about why you go to war. You could fill your prisons with one particular racial group, and no one would complain. You could use the media to scare the people into supporting policies that are against their interests." Brace yourself, because he's at it again with The Dictator. This comedy film co-written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen, directed by Larry Charles, who previously directed Baron Cohen's mockumentaries Borat (2006) and Brüno (2009). It is the “heroic” story of a North African dictator, Admiral General Aladeen, a dictator from the fictional country of the Republic of Wadiya, who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

The film stars Cohen, Ben Kingsley and Anna Faris. The performances in this film were shrewd and down right ridiculous, especially Sacha Baron Cohen's performance of the childish, lecherous, anti-western and antisemitic dictator Admiral General Aladeen. Who is an amalgam of actual dictators Kim Jong-il, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, and Saparmurat Niyazov. In this film, never in my life have I hated a character of Sacha Baron Cohen's creation so fast from the first moment of him on screen. As for Anna Farris's character of the alternative lifestyle activist Zoey, her performance was tedious and ridiculous. As for Sir Ben Kingsley's character of the traitorous uncle Tamir, I was filled with nothing but disappointment. Finally for John C. Reilly as Clayton, I also hated him as the character was nothing but a racist punk. As he remarked that Admiral General Aladeen was an Arab, when he clearly was not an Arab. Then remaking that people who were not "white" or who were outside of America were "terrorists" or "Arabs."

The Dictator gets low-fives almost all-around for being offensive in the worst possible way. Part satire, part toilet humor fest, the film stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the gleefully sexist and despicable title character on an American trek to learn more about the American nation; along the way he dredges up the seamy underbelly of American prejudice and ignorance. Now the cat is out of the bag, what will Cohen do for an encore? It is simultaneously hilarious and cringe-inducing, full of disgusting bits that you'll want to describe to your friends but will feel disgusted and immature when you do. To conclude, it may be either the funniest film or in a decade, or one of the worst film of the year.

Simon says The Dictator receives:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Film Review: "Margin Call" (2011).

"Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat." This Margin Call. This drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor in his feature directorial debut. A financial company's management division head working on a major analysis is fired. His protege attempts to complete the analysis and finds out the true reason behind their financial downfall.

Chandor said that he wrote the script for the story he had been carrying around in his head for about a "year-and-a-half" in just four days, filling time between job interviews in Boulder, Colorado. The screenplay was featured in the 2010 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. By late June 2010, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Penn Badgley, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Aasif Mandvi, Mary McDonnell, Ashley Williams, Susan Blackwell, and Al Sapienza were cast. Ben Kingsley and Carla Gugino were originally cast, but was ultimately replaced with Irons and Moore. At the same time, principal photography commenced, and wrapped in early July. Filming took place in New York City.

The film stars an ensemble cast that includes Spacey, Quinto, Irons, Bettany, Baker, Badgley, Moore, Tucci, Mandvi, McDonnell, Williams, Blackwell, and Sapienza. Quinto does a fine job opposite a typically stern Jeremy Irons, a typically sociopathic Kevin Spacey, and a surprisingly likeable Simon Baker. Quinto is magnificent as a wide-eyed innocent who transitions into a slick veteran pitchman. Spacey and Irons steal nearly every scene they are in as Rogers and Tuld, the top dogs of the firm. The engaging cast provide an engaging showcase wrapped around a warm and fuzzy morality play. Entertaining and fast-paced but ultimately not wound quite tightly enough to be the thriller it would like to be.

Margin Call is a confident film that tackles a worthwhile topic with insight and conviction. First-time filmmaker J. C. Chandor does a nice job of initially establishing the central character and the raucous office in which, at times, the story transpires. Turns of dialogue ring compellingly true, and the well chosen cast carry the inflections of the drama with some style. Chandor, wrote and directed this film has crafted an intense thriller about this often risky business. Although the film occasionally feels more like a 60 Minutes expose than a movie, it adds up to a highly watchable, entertaining (though extremely profane) cautionary tale. Backed by tense and dramatic music, a pretty good script faulters a bit when it rushes the progress and consequences of the characters. The film's greatest strength is its energy level. Every scene clips along at the pace and energy level of the world in which it's set. The tension and pacing of the film are fast and exciting, like in a good thriller, and the setting is exotic and original. Its ending is disappointingly tidy, but the film boasts just enough sharp writing and brisk pacing to make getting there worthwhile. The film may be derivative and flawed, but it does throw off a few sparks.

Simon says Margin Call receives: