Thursday, November 29, 2007

Movie #8 - The Godfather Part II

This is definitely one of the greatest, if not the greatest sequel of all time. The only other movies that you can stick in with this category of films is Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan, and Lord of the Rings: Twin Towers. If anyone out there can think of a better set of sequels, then I would challenge them to find one to displace Godfather II as the best one.

Al Pacino and company are at their best here... but what makes this movie even better is the fact that Robert DeNiro has been added to the cast as the young Vito Corleone. I read an article a few years back stating that DeNiro and Pacino regret not having the opportunity to be in the same scenes together during their youth and only got that opportunity in the movie Heat.

Retrospectively, I believe if they had their chance to be in the same scenes in Godfather II as opposed to just promotional photos like this one, this movie would outweigh the importance of Godfather where Marlon Brando established his iconic status.

Godfather II seems to be on television every weekend of the year... always catch it during different times of the movie... yet however, there are two scenes that I could watch over and over again. Both are quite dramatic and both involve the character of Fredo (John Cazale). The underlying theme of Godfather II is to show the contrast between the young Vito vs. the Michael character, both as don's of their respective families at a young age. In Vito's case, although he is still a murderer in many instances, he runs his family with a sense of honour, trust, and love. Yet in Michael's case... although his intentions are just, he runs the family with a obsessive sense of control, mistrust, and greed. There are many times that show that Michael has become drunk with power and is slowly destroying his family and the relationships around him.

As a result, his entire family turns on him throughout the film... including his wife Kay and their children, his older brother Fredo, his older sister Connie, and of course the continuing conflicts with the other families such as that of the Hyman Roth clan.

Back to my favourite scenes. When Michael discovers that Fredo inadvertently betrayed Michael so that he would gain more power and respect in the syndicate operations during this pivotal scene during New Year's Eve in Havana, Michael gives his brother Fredo what is now known as the "kiss of death." The intensity of the kiss is what makes this scene great... Michael claims that Fredo broke his heart and does not let him go during this powerful embrace. Fredo tries to get away... but Michael doesn't let him go until he tells him how he truly feels... very powerful!!!

In a related scene, Michael orders his bodyguard Al Nili to execute his brother once their mother died. During her subsequent funeral, a similar embrace is made in the presence of Nili... who has the grave look of death on his face as the audience knows that he is the only one who is aware that Fredo will be dying very soon.

Overall, there are many powerful scenes in this movie that make this a great movie. It is definitely one of my favourites and quite possibly is a better movie than the first one. I know from my wife's reference from reading the novel, this movie is more in tune with how the novel plays out, as it tells about Vito's early life. However, I like how Francis Ford Coppola decided to spin this story within the trilogy, which ranks the Godfather trilogy as one of the most powerful storylines in film history... in my opinion, only second to the older Star Wars trilogy and above the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Movie #7 - The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow is a Hollywood blockbuster that addresses a current topic of interest globally in a trivial way. Current issues that have plagued the globe in terms of climate change, pollution, resource use, etc. have been accelerated in this movie to show what life would be like after another ice age. Technology aside, it takes the work of one man - Dennis Quaid, to save the world.

This is very typical since there are thousands of scientists globally who have been saying this for years already... yet in one major swoop, one man knows that the doom of the world is eminent.

There are side plots to this movie with a cast that includes Jake Gyllenhal, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, and Ian Holm. Too bad none of them made any real difference in this movie. The majority of the side cast outside of these actors consisted of recognizable Tier 2 Canadian actors. This movie was obviously filmed in Hollywood North, made to look like New York city. Although CGI allows for this, casting Canadian actors in prominent roles like the VP of the U.S. made this movie more enjoyable as a Canadian movie fan.

Anyhow... this movie does have some cool scenes. The mass exodus of the seagulls and birds out of New York city was quite cool. Made a lot of sense knowing that the animals would've been the first to know that trouble is brewing in nature. I could've enjoyed this movie more without the CGI wolves attacking the cast in a marooned Russian ship. Scenes like this really didn't make a great deal of sense since they are escapees from the zoo and suddenly went rabid and crazy for not being fed for a couple of hours - doubtful.

There was some dramatic scenes and some areas in which people died unnecessarily. However, the major dramatic scene that I found quite comical was the cast trying to escape the looming cold front of death... something that just didn't seem right. Good product placement for Wendy's though... saved Quaid's life from this blast of cold air.

Anyhow... overall, this is just one of those Roland Emmerich movies that you can live without seeing... although all of his movies are in that category.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Movie #6 - Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

The final instalment of a B-rated trilogy, this one still is my favourite of the 3 movies. Overall, all three movies are pretty bad, but you have to appreciate these types of movies for some of the subtle nuances.

I love the guy with the porcelain doll headdress. He doesn't die in the entire movie... yet almost gets killed at least 5-6 times before the movie ends. The movie takes a lot of twists and turns... especially with the Captain Walker storyline with the children... but what makes this movie good in its B-rated category is the fact that there is a great gladiator duel in Thunderdome early in the movie and the song performed by Tina Turner, "We Don't Need Another Hero."

The battle between Max and Blaster in Thunderdome was well shot. You are captured by the intensity of this David and Goliath battle. But because it is Max... you already know he's going to win. Finding out that Blaster has Down Syndrome is a surprise... and seeing that even Max's character has compassion at the end of the battle is a good thing.

Turner's role in this movie was mediocre throughout. There are way too many shots of her giant eyes... and she is using a really odd accent in the movie... one that doesn't fit the location (Australia). The only thing achieved well for Turner's role was costume design... that full metal outfit was great.

The song for the original score was definitely a major hit in the 80's for Turner, but her acting career perspectives took a major dive post-Thunderdome due to her poor performance in this movie.

This movie is definitely not one you would enjoy if you don't like pointless action movies or anything done by Mel Gibson. However, if you are like me and you do... then you'll watch this every chance you can get.

Movie #5 - Face Off

Yes... it was bound to happen. Being so busy and so lazy at the same time, I have already started to lose touch with my two blogs. However, I am vowing to make a consistent entry each time I watch a film.

In this case... this is a retroactive entry from a couple of weeks ago. I watched about 75% of this movie and since I have seen it before - many times, I figured, it should be added to the review list.

What made this movie reference funny was that Face Off was being shown on the History Channel of all places on a Saturday night. I know that most televisions in Canada are usually watching Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, however, to place such an obscure movie for the channel's specialty (e.g. war movies, documentaries, history related movies, etc.), I watched this movie mainly to see what the related "history" was in this movie.

Now onto the movie... I will keep you in suspense of what the History channel decided to relate this movie to. Face Off was not a bad movie... way better than John Woo's first crossover attempt in Hard Target (with Jean Claude Van Damme). I like the contrasting roles between good and evil portrayed by Nicolas Cage and John Travolta... and in comparison, Travolta does a better job at evil than Cage does at good. There's a great quote in this flick, which is still one of my favourites. I like the use of slow and fast filming techniques used by Woo and his framing of different scenes and setups of confrontations was good.

There are bad parts to this movie... the operation itself to change faces and voices really wasn't believable, even at this era of plastic surgery. Also, there is way too much focus on Cage's eyes... plus, he is crying way too much in this movie, especially an action movie. However, this is really consistent with Cage's acting abilities in most of his movies... so its not surprising he does it here. Also, I don't like that although Woo creates awesome action sequences, because he uses so much slow and fast images... you can clearly see the stuntmen being used during the slow images. This is a major detractor with an action movie... you really don't want to believe that a stuntman is doing that scene.

Overall, this movie is fun. I cannot complain about brainless humour. By the way... the "history" of this movie related to how in 1997, this movie talks about face transplant operation, which was recently completed in France in 2006. Now that's a stretch... literally!