Watchmen: (Blu Ray) A gang of retired vigilantes squeeze back into their costumes to figure out who’s trying to kill them off. The story itself is a near perfect blend of action and dystopian Noir mystery, although it’s no Sin City rip off. Picture and surround sound are both absolutely stunning and could easily be used as test/demo material. All aspects of the visuals are totally slick, and bone-splitting graphic violence has never looked this good. The run time may put some off, at 2:45, but it’s all about the characters past and present. A few streaks of hardcore physics to melt your mind, and older viewers will remember the constant fear of a potential nuclear holocaust. On a downside the soundtrack’s very dominating, trendy and generic for such an original story, and it’s never good seeing a huge blue wang, ever. Haven’t read the graphic novel so can’t compare them, but as a stand alone film this is certainly a great achievement. Plain awesome viewing.
A Bittersweet Life: follows a loyal and solitary badass as one mistake throws his life into bedlam. My favourite aspect of this film is how almost every single shot reveals something new about the story or a character, adding depth with unmistakably brilliant direction. The entire cast are great, the main in particular is nothing short of fantastic. The long fight scene is one of the best, and most emotive of any I’ve seen, and all of the action set pieces are choreographed and pulled off effortlessly: although the violence may be rough for some. Comically dumb gangsters provide just enough humour to ensure that the film doesn’t become overbearing and no Asian movie would be complete without some generic ancient proverbs about pride, honour, tradition and morals. This film looks great and is stylish to the max – just like the characters. Unfortunately, this is often compared to Oldboy and although they share some themes, A Bittersweet Life can most definitely speak itself. Korean Masterpiece.
The Host: creature feature from South Korea. Starts off like a trendy comedy horror, with awful over-acting, but gets more serious as the story progresses. There were a few awesome moments of suspense, but in general it didn’t seem to know whether to be funny or serious – ended up an eclectic mix. The music also conveys this, being spot on in parts, but totally ridiculous in others. The start and end are great, action-packed and when the film really comes to life, although the mid-section isn’t as good, coming across as drawn out and filler. The most outstanding part of this film was the monster, and the special-effects. Other than the very end it’s amazingly convincing and looked great. Some good, but predictable jumps along the way, and why is it that people in films like this always fall over when they’re running for their lives?! Mini political agenda regarding media hysteria, chemical warfare, failure of ‘the system’ and western criticism but it’s never really in your face. Far more focus on the family than the monster. Great action and tedious backstory but don’t really understand how it became the biggest Korean film of all-time, reasonable attempt nonetheless.
Cloverfield: a digital tape retrieved in Manhattan after a monster attack, played back in it’s entirety; cue mish-mash of relevant footage and soppy backstory. Because it’s all in first-person it throws you right into the action. Only fault I had was that it’s pretty hard work on the eyes, given that the camera’s almost always shaking but the immense 5.1 audio track makes up for this, flexing all main speakers and giving the bass a good workout. The film’s also good at playing on all the big fears: darkness, silence, gore, unknown creatures, terrorism, viruses etc. The special effects – both NY in tatters and the monster itself – are also great, and believable enough in most parts. The performances are alright despite the unknown cast – shaky cam may have masked some of the guff! Overall, this exceeded my expectations, and it could easily compete for the title of ‘best monster movie’ ever. Solid creature feature!
Kung Fu Panda / Bee Movie: Only watched these films because Sky are having an animation season at the moment and the visuals are usually nothing short of stunning. Despite being from the same studio, and only a year apart Kung Fu Panda is a far superior film in every sense: story, characters, voice acting, gags, audio mix, and entertainment factor. KungFu Panda also looks a thousand times better, you just get the feeling that the team paid more attention to detail; definitely the best-looking animation I’ve seen with vibrant colours and rich textures. Don’t get me wrong, Bee Movie’s not the worst film in the world, but it’s definitely aimed more at the kids than the whole family.
Kung Fu Panda: 8/10
Bee Movie: 5/10
The Bourne Ultimatum: it’s almost like a bond film, with its bonanza of locations, technology, action and thrills. The shaky cam and generally gritty / urban look of the film means that watching it in HD is pretty pointless, although the amazing 5.1 track and slick editing more than made up for it! This film ticks all the boxes for a great action movie, yet it’s anything but dumb; it even leaves you thinking about things like intelligence tactics, torture and (to a lesser extent) the media.The entire trilogy is strong, and this final installment is the icing on the cake – setting a new benchmark for action film!
Persepolis: animation following an Iranian girl growing up in Teheran and Austria. Although the obvious attraction to this film is its amazing aesthetics – and from the start to finish it’s nothing but amazing – it’s easy to forget that the actual story is so remarkable. Above this the film is quite informative, giving a good background of the modern history of Iran, yet there are so many funny bits to balance out the tragedies and shocks. I’ve not seen anything like this, and was mesmerised for the full 90 minutes. I’d suggest watching this with the French audio and subtitles (unless you won’t be affected by Sean Penn and Iggy Pop doing the English audio… WTF?!?!?) Would recommend this to most people.