Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick Ass

Movie name: Kick Ass
Year of release: 2010
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Lindsy Fonseca, Clark Duke, Garrett M. Brown, Yancy Butler, Jason Flemyng, Michael Rispoli
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:Following his fantasy themed film "Stardust", Matthew Vaughn comes back to the screens with a comic book adaptation. "Kick Ass" follows the story of Dave Lizewski, a shy high schooler who decides to become a super hero and help others. Since Dave has no real powers, his first foray into the activity lands him in the hospital with serious injuries. His second attempt works far better and upon taking the name "Kick Ass", it brings Dave a lot of attention. While trying to impress a girl, Dave finds himself in a risky situation, from which he is saved by two other masked avengers, namely "Hit Girl" and "Big Daddy". We come to find out Big Daddy's story and how he came to be at odds with the city's biggest villain, Frank D'Amico. All their stories come together when Frank D'Amico decides to wipe out all the avengers/heroes from the city.
Matthew Vaughn is a smart director who decided to finance this film by himself, since he wanted the adaptation of the comic book to be free from the hands of studios who would interfere and tone down the violent and hilarious look and feel of the film. His choice paid off since "Kick Ass" ends up being a great balance of humor and violence, highlighting the surreal side of a young man trying to be a super hero, with the more violent and deadly consequences of his chosen activities. The duo "Hit Girl" and "Big Daddy" is particularly well captured, since they both live in a universe of their own, one where violence and guns are a part of everyday life. The film is by turns, harsh and light in tone, which in the end balances it out - it's a comic book adaptation after all. The actors are uniformly good, with Nicolas Cage toning down his sometimes over the top performances. Chloe Moretz does a good job playing Hit Girl as does Mark Strong, apparently everyone's favorite villain as of late. A good film worth checking out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fish Tank

Movie name: Fish Tank
Year of release: 2009
Director: Andrea Arnold
Stars: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis:Director Andrea Arnold's second feature film following "Red Road" is another look at the reality of suburbia in England, focusing this time in a young woman's life. "Fish Tank" follows Mia, a 15 year old girl who pours her whole energy into dancing hip-hop. She is at odds with everyone, including her mom and younger sister. Her mother is also more occupied trying to get boyfriends and parties going and Mia is desperately trying to find some meaning to her life. When her mom brings home a new boyfriend Mia is intrigued by his behavior and how much attention he pays her. He supports her in her efforts to go on a dance audition and that attention evolves into something else that ends up having troublesome results. Andrea Arnold captures in this film the reality of growing up without many perspectives and of feeling lost and unloved. Her young heroine is trying to find a place in the world, some reference and guidance, something her mother can't provide, since she's lost in her own world and references. Much like the central character of "Red Road", Mia is looking for meaningful connections, for patches of something, in all the wrong places and with all the wrong partners. Katie Jarvis is perfect in the role: she conveys the aggressiveness and simultaneously tenderness and fragility that the young Mia has. Michael Fassbender does a good job as the troubled Connor, but Katie Jarvis holds the film in her grip. A film worth watching.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Movie name: Hot Tub Time Machine
Year of release: 2010
Director: Steve Pink
Stars: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Sebastian Stan, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan, Collette Wolfe
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

Synopsis:Director Steve Pink is a long time collaborator of John Cusack, having worked with the actor in his more personal films such as "Grosse Pointe Blank" and "High Fidelity". His previous directing effort was the comedy "Accepted" that starred Justin Long and Jonah Hill (and that's the most remarkable thing of that film). "Hot Tub..." follows the story of 3 friends who have known each other since teenagers (in the 80s), but who have lost touch with each other in the meantime. When one of them has an accident, they decide to get together and relive some of their joys in the mountain where they used to ski as teenagers. With them goes one of their nephews, who does not know who his father is. Upon reaching their bungalow and trying the hot tub, they accidentally get sent back through time 20 years. For them is a chance to remedy their pasts and make up for their future. Steve Pink's film tries to follow the path that "The Hangover" opened: the R-rated comedy that goes for the gross effect, still retaining the light touch. However where "The Hangover" had a smart screenplay and a premise that slowly unwrapped itself, "Hot Tub" plays more on the gross effect of the situations and the cliches of the 80s. It's a bit hit or miss and where some situations are definitely funny, others for the most part just don't work. John Cusack does his usual routine, but the highlight goes to Rob Corddry, just for the sheer energy that his character has. A weak effort.

Friday, April 9, 2010