Monday, June 23, 2008

The Love Guru

Movie name: The Love Guru
Year of release: 2008
Director: Marco Schnabel
Stars: Mike Meyers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Verne Troyer, Manu Narayan, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Ben Kinsgley
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2

Synopsis:Following a hiatus of some years, Mike Meyers returns with his latest comic creation, the guru Pitka, a love guru (a healer of relationships and life organizer - and rival to Deepak Chopra). The film follows the guru's life and his particularly risky last challenge - getting a very well known couple back together. The story is, as is the case with Mike Meyers' films, extremely thin - and it's stretched to the max. However in this case, the screenplay (?) feels like an amassed series of situations stitched together, some of which are funny, but ultimately the film just feels underdeveloped. This character certainly deserved more work and a more substantial film to let it grow - as it is, it just finds some moderately funny moments, even in the presence of terrible actors as Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake. This is a definite back to the drawing board...

The Incredible Hulk

Movie name: The Incredible Hulk
Year of release: 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Synopsis:Marvel Studios has followed the gigantic success of "Iron Man" with another adaptation of one of their beloved characters - The Incredible Hulk. The character has a previous track concerning adaptations, with the TV show and the film of the same name that Ang Lee directed in 2003. And I shall start by addressing the previous version - Ang Lee did an interesting job with a character that is complex and quite difficult to move to the big screen. His interpretation was complex and polished, maybe a bit too much for what is expected of this character. Marvel was unpleased with the results (should be read, box office results) and decided to hire Louis Leterrier, a more action driven director (and a Luc Besson pupil, sort of speak) to create a more immediate and comic book faithful version. Leterrier had the incredible luck of attracting Edward Norton to the role, and good actors followed as William Hurt, Tim Roth and Tim Blake Nelson. The film starts by introducing the story of the Hulk within the opening credits - when the film starts, we know that Bruce Banner is in seclusion in one of Brazil's "favelas". What starts is a game of cat and mouse, with the resilient General Ross in persecution of the Hulk, creating in the process another monster in order to capture it's prey. The film definitely works on some levels, particularly the dynamics that Edward Norton brings to the role - he is perfectly well cast, however where the film particularly falters is in the energy and the direction that it has. There is no spark, no inventiveness, it's a film that breathes the industrial concept on which it was based on. Whereas "Iron Man" had a slickness to it that made it an interesting film on it's own, The Hulk tries to be about action and about the inner struggles, yet it feels strangely subdued and restrained. It deserves a director that will bring intensity to it!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Fall

Movie name: The Fall
Year of release: 2006
Director: Tarsem Singh
Stars: Catinca Untaru, Lee Pace, Justine Waddell, Kim Uylenbroek, Aiden Lithgow
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Synopsis:Tarsem Singh made his name as a commercials and music clip director (he directed REM's "Losing my Religion") before tackling the feature film domain, where he made his debut with "The Cell". "The Cell" was a poor film, with a screenplay that borrowed from better films about serial killers, but displayed a visual flair and a production design that set it apart. Following the critical disappointment of that film, Tarsem embarked on a personal project - "The Fall" is the result of that effort. Shot in different locations, the film follows the story of a little girl who's recovering in the hospital from a broken arm, and the relationship she forges with a stuntman from the silent movies era. He tells her a story of a group of rebels out to battle the evil Governor Odious. This fantasy world becomes so vivid for the little girl, that she becomes entangled in it. This short description almost reads like a Terry Gilliam film, and somewhere during "The Fall" you almost wished he had tackled it. The main reason the film feels empty is the fact that none of the characters really exist or have any depth. The screenplay feels underdeveloped and the fantasy that one expects to believe and make the leap with the central character, never really happens. The film ends up having it's strong points visually - the photography, the production design, the fantastic costumes from the Oscar winning japanese designer Eiko Ishioka, but sadly that's not enough to hold the interest of a film. A missed opportunity!