Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Am Legend

First things first, I am Legend is a legit film. I'm as surprised as you are. I know it's barely fresh (60%?) and some of the critics say it derails around the 3rd act but I disagree. This film is solid from start to finish. Will Smith is not really a Denzel-level actor but he gets the job done here. I was actually mildly disappointed the film didn't collapse like Saw, but I think my enjoyment of the film outweighs my disappointment.

The plot is almost the same as The Omega Man, the 2nd film based on the novel by Richard Matheson. Robert Neville is (as far as he knows) the last normal man on Earth. This is the end result of a lethal virus that killed over 90% of the World's Population. Those the virus did not kill turned into zombie-vampire like beings. Neville searches for a cure in NYC while fighting off the infected as well his increasing loneliness and isolation.

My main problem with this film is that the infected are all CG. It made it look like a video game but I guess to the average person this is "cool" and they don't think about video games. I felt the infected would have worked better if the film had stuck with actors in makeup but I suppose CG is the wave of the future and whatnot. At least I got to see what Resident Evil would be like if Will Smith starred in a game.

The only thing that could've made this film better was if Will Smith uttered his trademark phrase. I would also have accepted a music video / rap song about I Am Legend; it totally could've been the next Thriller!

Joking aside, I would definitely recommend seeing this film. The third time's the charm (sorry Vincent Price and Charlton Heston.)

Also, while there is a Dark Knight trailer before the regular version, if you go to an IMAX screening you will get the first 6 minutes of the film. You'll get to see the Joker's henchmen rob a bank. Needless to say, hilarity ensues! This film looks great and I'm already psyched for this summer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

C.A.R.: Juno

(Capsule Arthouse Reviews are my attempt to better myself and practice movie snobbery by watching less mainstream movies and more independent films. Not a true review, they're mainly my thoughts on various small run films. I still give an opinion about whether the film is worth watching or not, but keep in mind my cinema taste is janky at best. You can also expect mild spoilers so beware.)

Juno is a quirky, darkly humorous film in the vein of Thank You For Smoking and Napoelon Dynamite. It's a film about a teenager who has an unplanned pregnancy and decides to deliver the baby as well as put it up for adoption. The twist is that she goes out "shopping" for the kid's adoptive parents and ends up intertwined in their lives.

The acting in this film is surprisingly good. Yes, Michael Cera plays his usual role: an awkward teenager. (His role in this film is probably his most serious one yet though that isn't saying much.) Jason Bateman is also in his usual role of a supporting character. By far the best performance comes from Jennifer Garner of all people, who apparently can act when she's not busy starring in moremainstream fare. As the titular character, Ellen Page's performance is the glue that holds this film together. She's amazing in this and is able to lend realism to a smart alec teen who is dealing with a situation way above her maturity.

The humor is really hit or miss but to someone who is not quite in sync with popular tastes it works for me. I love quirky/random humor and random pop culture references so this film is perfect for me since it has tons of both. In addition the film also has a heaping of dark/gallows humor which I'm finding I love as I get older.

Unfortunately, not everything is great about this film though. The soundtrack really annoyed me and jarred me out of the movie at points. It's a lot of indie/folk music that I felt didn't really belong in the movie. Or perhaps I just can't appreciate it. Indie music is already a plot point in this film; I didn't need weird folk music over some of the scenes.

I enjoyed the ending to this film as well, which felt genuine and was not a cop out. I especially like how just like Thank You For Smoking, the film doesn't have a storybook ending

I would give Juno a 7.5-8 out of 10, which is good enough to recommend in my book. It's definitely one of the more unique films out there.