Avatar (****)

I’m not a James Cameron fan boy. What man can be cool with the man that married one of the most bad ass chicks in movie history, remember Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. She should have continued making movies and kicking ass after that. He almost redeemed himself with the series Dark Angel that really catapulted Jessica Alba to stardom, but again she had not done much action since. So while Cameron does have a history of making the women he portrays in films kick ass, they seem to not do much of it in other movies after. I cannot be too mad at him since he also gave us First Blood and Aliens, and it is in the process of bringing the manga Battle Angel Alita to live.

This piece of work is truly movie magic. Sure, the story might be over simplistic, the theme and many movie elements borrowed but as far as direction Avatar will become a masterpiece.

The colors and textures in the movie don’t feel like CGI even if the colors are extremely unnatural. He managed to create a tropical paradise that looks even more spectacular at night.

I had never seen a 3D movie before and since we had the option we decided to pay a little more. It was absolutely worth it. The action sequences are as excellent as the ones in Terminator.

It is not a short movie, but the time went by extremely fast. The movie might have been a little slow at times but you cannot notice since you are drooling at the amazing imagery in front of you.

There is not much I can say about the movie or the story without pretty much giving it away. So I will just tell you to go watch it, enjoy it, and be truly entertained.

2012 (**)

I have seen enough apocalyptic movies to last me until the end of days. My favorite alien invasion movie is Independence Day because it is fun to watch; the destruction of civilization as we know is the backdrop but it does not try to do commentary about our society… well at least not very hard. That movie entertains. The Day the Earth Stood Still is also about the impending end of the world by an alien race because we, as a species, are killing a planet where many others live. Strong commentary but I wanted to know exactly what happened, and either way if we were to die at the hands of the aliens or survive I would have been equally pleased. District 9 is probably one of the best alien movies ever, and even though I was not entertained in the same level the other two blockbusters did, I loved the movie for its commentary and its message.

2012 fails at everything listed above. The only saving grace this movie has is that there are quirky laughs and the CGI effects were amazing. Even after that I did not want humanity to win the battle, I just wanted the movie to be over already because in the first action scene I had already gone “come on, that’s just BS.” When this movie makes it to Netflix I might rent it just to sit there and count how many BS moments there were; heck it might even make a good drinking game.

The acting was dismal at best and most characters were either annoying or too caricatured. There was no way of relating to any of them because they were all poorly developed. Trying to make all the different mini plots into one central plot felt forced. It made me wonder how many times they had to rework the script to make it into a movie because it just did not feel cohesive.

The movie has everything that is wrong with Hollywood wrapped into a one CGI package. I guess a blockbuster needs to be an action packed, tear-jerker commentary on humanity’s selfishness all into one.

If you are a sucker for good CGI, this might be worth the money for you to see it on a big screen. If you want to see a movie about the end of the world, go rent The Day the Earth Stood Still. If you do decide to stomach this at your local multiplex, make sure you go into expecting to believe on Santa having flying reindeer. I only call it believable to a 5 year old, and even then he might call BS a couple of times.

All Saints Day

District 9 (****)

From Wikipedia

Apartheid—meaning separateness in Afrikaans (which is cognate to the English apart and -hood)—was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times, but apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into racial groups (black, white, coloured, and Indian), and residential areas were segregated by means of forced removals. From 1958, Blacks were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands or bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of whites.

Good movies about Aliens expose some of the worse traits and weaknesses in humans. They also highlight how we have redeeming qualities. Movies that move people to tears are a lot more common than movies that make you feel uncomfortable. I dislike violence towards children of any form, even when it is just simply alluded to. District 9 is a very violent movie and not for people with weak stomachs, certainly not for children.

I have huge issues with shaky camera work. I understand the realism that it tries to convey, but that was one of my biggest concerns going into this movie. I have really bad motion sickness when it comes to movie and video games with crappy graphics. I discovered how bad it can be from a movie after watching The Blair Witch project. It protected me watching Cloverfield, but this movie had a trailer that made me curious enough to want to watch it. So when some friends put a movie and dinner night together and when they offered this as one of the movie choices we jumped at the opportunity.

I am not a Peter Jackson fanboy. I did love LoTR but disliked the horrible mess that King Kong was. District 9 more than makes up for it and really becomes a feather on his cap on making things that are not real seem very believable.

The movie begins looking more like a documentary. The main character is someone that you cannot quite like or dislike. It almost feels like he is being set up to die any time. It is hard to tell when or if there is a transition from movie style to documentary and back. It feels voyeuristic at moments but then in a second you are immersed into the story.

The movie is social and political commentary at its best, but the most important commentary in my opinion is about humanity. If you like history you will see highlighted many of the atrocities that humanity has committed on itself, the kicker for me was how easily justifiable this becomes once humanity is removed from the equation. It is sad that still in this day and age so many topics from the genocides in Africa to immigration people so easily remove humanity from the debate.

Our ill fated “hero” begins partaking on the removal of aliens from District 9 to their new more concentration camp like location, District 10. The aliens just showed up one day, and after neither doom nor salvation came from their mother ship we broke in to find out malnourished people that became earths refugees.

Everything that is wrong with people “relocation” in various forms in our world was highlighted during this part of the movie. From the dubious legality of “property” to the arrogance of talking down to people that do not understand “our” system. It was specially graphic to see that killing other beings was a matter of stepping over the bodies and picking up the pieces of your fallen comrades.

Then a single event highlighted by stupidity by the main character sends everything in motion. From that point forward the supense and action don’t slow down until the end.

The acting which at first seemed very weak ends up being the right tone for everything. We do sound that stupid when discussing things we either don’t care about or don’t quite understand. As humans we are lazy enough to be spoon fed information and take it as reality until the moment it affects us directly. While there will be no Oscar performances here, it fit the movie perfectly and did not detract from the story.

The CGI work was some of the most amazing I have ever seen. I never once thought of CGI the whole time I was watching the movie because everything was a working part. One small spoiler is that after watching this movie a Mech Commander movie HAS TO BE MADE! We now have the technology, somebody make it happen.

This movie is so good and has so many different elements from psychology, international affairs to history that I could probably put a curriculum together and teach a whole semester just based on everything it talks about. Not everyone is going to love this movie because it is very grotesque at times, but I highly recommend it. You might want to learn a thing or two about human history after, if anything it will make you think about how “human” we are.

Star Trek (****)

buy at Amazon.com

When I saw Star Wars when I was a kid my mind was expanded, my imagination ran wild and all I wanted was for that little training lazer ball thingie to be real and me to be able to be trained during my Jedi training by it with Yoda supervising. When the prequels were about to come out on theater I had great expectations, one of the biggest mistakes you can do when going to a movie, and the movie was a total letdown. I learned later in life that transformers was just meant as an infomercial with a story to sell toys, but to have Star Wars become the same thing was pretty sad.

When it comes to movies, I sometimes set myself up for letdowns. I have been pretty excited to see what they did with Star Trek since I wrote about the cast being announced back in 07. I knew some of the actors, and was very excited to see what Zachari Quinto and Simon Pegg were going to do with their roles.

Since watching the Star Wars remakes I had started to get used to the idea that I was not able to tap into my inner child to enjoy movies anymore. Even the latest Indiana Jones did not excite my imagination as much as the older ones did. I thought that the Matrix and Blade were going to be the last movies that I would get truly excited about and chucked Transformers coolness to pure sentimentalism for one of my favorite morning cartoons. I figured I would never get goose bumps during a movie again, and that my inner child only came out to play video games.

Then I watched Star Trek this weekend.

Saying that this movie blows StarWars latest trilogy out of the galaxy would be an understatement for the ages. This is entertainment in its best form. Great writing, Great acting, Great special effects… the Summer blockbuster is BACK. I will not talk about the movie or its plot, because you deserve to see it untainted! go see it this week, go to the IMAX, go and experience what I think would be one of the best movies of the year! What are you waiting for?

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