Thursday, July 26, 2007

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, Brendan Gleeson

Cinema 5, Greenbelt 3

Every time I see a Harry Potter movie, I feel the need to explain that I haven't read any of the books by J.K Rowling and nor do I intend to in the near or distant future. It is simply not my genre of reading material. Be that as it may, I still watch the movies for a variety of reasons.

First - the stunning imagery. The wizardry of the graphics department's ability to transport a set into a place of magic. Floating candles, talking paintings and the whole gamut of fascinating characters, human or otherwise that abound in Hogwarts and its environs are always fascinating to watch.

Second - the fluidity of the story line. I recognize the fact that a story of such magnitude is very difficult to present on screen. Yet at the same time, I believe the director has the prerogative to pick out the parts which he feels would make the most impact on the audience. The film although long (which is understandable) seemed rather concise and the story was presented in a coherent manner. Although it does help to see the film with someone who has read the book (in my case, my sister), I still felt like the story was well told. But then I guess it won't be fair for me to say for sure that it was a good adaptation of the book. So I won't go there.

Third - the ensemble cast. It is peppered with some of the British film industry's stellar actors and actresses. Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, Helena Bonham Carter to name a few. They are all very talented artistes in their own right. They were all a delight to watch as they essay their roles with much flair and panache.

Lastly, sometimes it just feels good to watch a film where good always triumphs over the dark forces of evil. Even if the journey is peddled with hindrances and obstacles, the fact remains that we don't give up easily and keep trying till we succeed. Besides a little bit of magic never hurt anyone.

In conclusion, I think it is fair to say that one feels like a joyful parent beaming with pride as the three main characters - Harry, Hermione and Ron - are practically growing into young adults right before your eyes. Oh boy now I feel old! Heh!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis

Cinema 11, SM Megamall

John McClane is back in the fourth installment of the Die Hard series. The first time "Die Hard" was shown over 20 years ago, it was considered a gritty, action film with a loser type yet wise cracking cop fighting against "thinking" terrorists, but back then they were simply known as bad guys. A one man army against a band of technologically sophisticated bad guys out to wreak havoc.

Fast forward to current times in an age where TV shows like "24" and "Prison Break" reign supreme, "Live Free or Die Hard" pales in comparison to the edgy and gripping plots we are exposed to from those shows, every week. So granted that we had to sit for 130 minutes to see McClane blow away the bad guys, it was a far stretch. I guess in short what I am trying to say is that the novelty has worn off.

Ok but hang on all is not lost, director Len Wiseman did make it relevant to the times by making technology the main cause of the conflict in the film. A disgruntled ex employee from the Department of Homeland Security with an archangel sounding name, Thomas Gabriel is the protagonist. He gets all bratty when the software/server he developed to ensure the safety of a million citizens against terrorists attacks isn't recognized or developed by the US government. To prove his point, he attacks the main grid of every single system which runs the whole country to the point of complete paralysis. Isn't that the worst case scenario that the United States can experience in these volatile times? It definitely feeds to the paranoia that seems to be gripping the US at this moment in time.

But naturally John McClane is there to the rescue, ably supported by a young hacker/side kick type. A role essayed by Justin Long. A refreshing young actor who projects well on screen. Bruce Willis still has it in him to carry a movie but there is only so much he can do if the script limits his role. McClane this time is more subdued perhaps since he is much older but his wise cracking isms are sorely missed. His stunts are still well choreographed to get the adrenaline pumping and your ears busting from all that noise. The whole movie is filmed in this grainy, somber tone which Len Wiseman has used before in this "Underworld" series. So while it might be understandable to develop that style in a werewolf/vampire genre, I don't see the relevance in using the same technique in a supposedly action oriented film. But that's just me.

Anyways I suppose that Die Hard 4.0. is still entertaining enough so you won't fall asleep but it is nothing to lose sleep over, either.


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