Friday, November 29, 2013

DARK SHADOWS

Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green,
Helena Bonham Carter, Bella Heathcote,
Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller

HBO

"Every family has its demons"


When I'm asked who my favorite actor is, I always say it's Johnny Depp. Yet lately for the past decade or so, I've hardly seen any of his movies. He is still my fave though mainly because of his versatility in portraying uniquely quirky characters.  

In "Dark Shadows", he is Barnabas Collins a landed merchant who was turned into a vampire when he rebuffed the romantic notions of a 'witch'.  He is unearthed by mistake after two centuries of being buried alive. It is the year 1972 when bell bottoms and hippie mania was the main trend. He finds himself the head of a dysfunctional family, his descendants still living in Collinwood Manor (the family estate) which has fallen into ruin located in the town named after them, Collinsport. 

This latest collaboration between Depp and Tim Burton is as wacky as can be.  Not really a surprise since it is Tim Burton, after all. It was interesting and funny to see Barnabas Collins readjusting to modern day life as well as to his strange family.  Each of them with their own inner demons to deal with.

Towards the ending though, it got really so messy with a crazy witch exacting her revenge by wreaking havoc.  A chaotic few minutes that results in the total destruction of Collinwood Manor as well as the film itself.   Things just kept on getting weirder by the minute that the only recourse was to switch off the telly and head to bed.

Now I know why and when I stopped watching his films. It was during the period in his career when his collaboration with Tim Burton yielded freaky characters who only appeal to people with a dark sense of humor.  Unfortunately not my cup of tea.  Perhaps it is time I find another fave!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NOW YOU SEE ME

Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson
Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent
Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

"4 Amazing Magicians. 3 Impossible Heists.
1 Billion Dollars. This is no Illusion."


The impressive cast can somewhat fool you into thinking this would be a good if not great film. But as illusion is the main theme, we tend to be gullible and therefore most likely be deceived by the spectacular magic tricks.

"The Four Horsemen" as the team is collectively known are a group of highly skilled illusionists. Their show is not merely limited to the simple pulling the rabbit out of the hat sort of tricks. Their daring performances consists of pulling off heists to rob from corrupt merchants and giving the money back to the victims of the scams.  Yes there is a Robin Hood angle right there, come to think about it.

The film relies heavily on computer generated images to dramatize the illusions and magic tricks.  The plot held a lot of promise in the beginning with a sense of suspended disbelief as to who the real mastermind is behind the 4 Horsemen.   Yet midway everything turns pretty blurry and ends with a conclusion that leaves you hankering for more than what unfolded.  I felt cheated by the flat ending considering that the whole movie was about giving back to the duped society their hard earned money.
 
The ensemble cast do their best to sustain the momentum of the film. Yet there is only so much one can do to grab the attention of the audience if the plot itself implodes and self destructs.  It tends to drag on far too long than it is humanly possible to endure.  Yet you keep your eyes glued to the screen the way little kids do when they watch cartoons or animation movies as they are now called because you are drawn into the special effects and the magic tricks.  You really want to know who and what is their motive behind the illusions.

"Now You See Me" is fun to watch especially the high octane performances of the Four Horsemen but as most illusions go don't expect too much or else you would be disappointed once you learn the truth behind these magic tricks.
 

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