Posts Tagged ‘the matrix’

I, Frankenstein – We, Bored

Posted 20 Oct 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

I, Frankenstein, Australia / USA, 2014

Directed by Stuart Beattie

I, Frankenstein is a film that focuses to the point of obsession on every MacGuffin it can find, and it expects the audience to give a shit. The longer you watch I, Frankenstein, the harder it is to believe that it is an actual theatrical feature and not just a bad TV movie made for the Syfy channel. Despite big-name, reliably good actors like Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto, and special effects that, at their best, at least look like a really good video game, the entire project is bogged down by the bizarre combination of extreme silliness and relentless self-seriousness. Somehow, in making a movie in which Frankenstein’s monster (Eckhart) is reimagined as a modern-day superhero fighting against a legion of demons that want the secret to his immortality, no one managed to have any fun. The audience (such as it has been) is certainly no exception.  Read More

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original

Posted 27 Nov 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Bride of Frankenstein is not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies.We’re used to movie franchises being victim to diminishing returns, with the sequels to classic films generally lackluster at best (Ghostbusters II, Halloween II), and at worst, utter travesties that threaten to tarnish the legacy of the original (the Matrix sequels, The Godfather: Part III). On rare occasions, though, the second film in a trilogy or franchise (which I consider to be any series with more than three movies) actually surpasses the original in some way. Here are ten sequels that are, in some circles at least, considered better than the films that spawned them, and my thoughts on each.

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original1. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – this is the one that got me thinking about the topic in the first place, and it’s also the oldest of the films discussed herein. James Whale’s follow-up to his 1931 hit, Frankenstein, ties up the loose end of Victor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) promising his monster (Boris Karloff) a bride to quell his loneliness. It also features most of the iconic images and dialogue associated with Universal Studios’ most famous monster, including Frank learning to smoke in the hut of the blind man he befriends (which was cemented in the public consciousness by Mel Brooks’ spoof of it in 1974’s Young Frankenstein). Bride’s expert blend of humor and pathos, as well as truly chilling moments such as Frank’s hollow, soulless intonation of the classic line, “I love dead,” make it not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies. Read More

Hollywood Repeats Itself – Dark City & The Matrix

Posted 27 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Dark City, Australia / USA, 1998

Directed by Alex Proyas

The Matrix, USA / Australia, 1999

Written and Directed by The Wachowski Brothers

Dark City is a stunning visual feast, and a fascinating exploration of the nature of reality.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. A cliché, admittedly, but the truth of the aphorism cannot be denied. In the two films we are about to examine, humanity teeters on the brink of disaster in two seemingly disparate space-time continua. The similarities between these two films, however, vastly outweigh the differences. In Alex Proyas’s Dark City (1998), we are presented with a haunting vision of a seemingly familiar world that has actually been fabricated by a group of inhuman creatures that prey on human memories. Sound familiar? It should. One of the most popular films of 1999, Larry and Andy Wachowski’s The Matrix, has a very similar premise, and the similarities extend to specific characters and plot points.

There are differences, of course; mostly financial ones. The Matrix is less opaque, more readily accessible to masses of moviegoers. Its slick, computer-generated special effects are more pleasant to view – if somewhat less visceral – than Dark City‘s gritty, film noir atmosphere of doom and entrapment. Likewise, Matrix‘s villains are ostensibly less sinister (at least, in their guise as government agents) than City‘s bald, pale, trenchcoat-clad “Strangers.” Beneath the disguises, though (the Strangers use human corpses as vessels), the true villains in both films are pretty much the same: slimy, tentacled alien monsters that die when their vessels are destroyed.  Read More

The Legacy of Silent Film

Posted 04 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Trip To The Moon is one of the best of the very early silent films.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that so many of us, myself included, fail to “get” certain films, or certain aspects of film as a whole, is that we have not spent sufficient time studying the beginnings of the art form. We have not looked to the past. This, then, is a look at the first few decades of the cinematic arts, and the influence of these early films on what we see onscreen today.

When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost 100 years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The Passion of Joan of Arc would one day be the major inspiration for Mel Gibson’s hugely successful The Passion of the Christ (2004). But no matter where these and other early filmmakers envisioned the medium in 100 years, or whether they even believed it would last that long, the films we see today are undeniably the legacy of these pioneers of a nascent art form. Read More

Resident Evil: Afterlife – The Joys Of 3-D

Posted 10 Oct 2010 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Corey Birkhofer

Resident Evil: Afterlife, Germany / France / UK, 2010

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

milla jovovichWith ticket prices in Japan being double that of the states, I have to choose the films I see very carefully. I am not at all ashamed to admit my love for zombie flicks, and the Resident Evil (or Biohazard, as it’s referred to in Japan) series is one that has proven to be especially successful. I would even venture to say that it is even more popular in Japan than it is back home. Despite my love of all things zombie, it’s never been so extreme that I couldn’t just wait until whichever film I wanted to see came out on DVD. So why, now that the Resident Evil series has reached its fourth chapter, did I decide to shell out $30 so my wife and I could see it in the theater? The answer is simple: because it’s in 3-D.

Though it’s easy for film snobs to laugh off 3-D as just another Hollywood gimmick to lure people away from their TiVos and Netflix accounts, I think 3-D deserves a bit more credit than just calling it a phase or “gimmick.” On the contrary, in this review of Resident Evil: Afterlife I will explore why I think 3-D is more than just a new weapon to lure people off their couches and back into the theater, but rather a possible new form of storytelling to bring cinema to a new stage in its development. Read More

A Scanner Darkly – Reaching Too Hard For Nothing

Posted 22 Aug 2010 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Corey Birkhofer

A Scanner Darkly, USA, 2006

Written and Directed by Richard Linklater

Based on the Novel A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

keanu reeves robert downy jr

Richard Linklater has always been a filmmaker who has impressed me. Since Slacker (1991) set the stage for his later work, he has gone from one unique film to the next, helping to put Austin, Texas, on the filmmaking map as well as carving out an eclectic career for himself.

About 10 years ago, when I was just starting out in university, a little film with incredibly impacting visuals suddenly came out of nowhere. This was none other than Waking Life (2001), a film that set highly intellectual and downright ridiculous conversations as the stage for a main character who went to sleep and couldn’t wake up. Simple, but brilliant. For my (at the time) 19-year-old, pretentious mind, this film was a smorgasbord of content for late-night coffee shop discussions about the existentialism of life, what dreams really are, and so much more.

Visually speaking, the film took an incredibly new approach to animation, layered over the top of live-action actors, called “rotoscoping.” So here Linklater was, making a relatively inexpensive feature animation using one-chip mini-DV cameras and then rotoscoping rich color palettes and layer upon layer of animation, one frame at a time. Revolutionary. And the result provided for an eerie, almost too-real form of storytelling because the animation was painted on top of real human subjects.

I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one so deeply influenced by Linklater’s venture into animation, nor would I say that all those who loved Waking Life weren’t just as excited as me to see Linklater’s second stab at the rotoscope style of animation in his new film, A Scanner Darkly.

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Inception – One Simple Idea, Quite Simply A Masterpiece

Posted 18 Jul 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

Inception, USA / UK, 2010

leonardo dicaprio

In a story, and especially in screenwriting, writers often have a concept they refer to as the “controlling idea.” This is an idea that boils down all the complexity of a movie to one idea, one sentence.

In Inception, director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) has crafted a story whose “controlling idea” is a controlling idea. That is, “an idea, planted deep enough into a person’s subconscious, will grow like a virus and become the very center of that person’s existence,” which is referred to as “inception.” This loop of meanings is just the surface of what is a multi-layered labyrinth of a plot, and can become very confusing for much of the audience this film will entertain. But if you can get past the vast complexity of the plot, where Nolan has spared no expense in giving plenty of action, suspense, and drama, you will have seen quite possibly the best sci-fi film in ten years. I know that’s a bold statement, and considering its very good but relatively tame 84% rating from RottenTomatoes.com’s composite of various critics’ reviews, it is still yet to be determined how it will resonate with viewers over the next few weeks. But having seen it for myself, I already know another viewing will be necessary to fully grasp all this film has to offer, and I may write another article just to explain. For now, I will try to justify my high praise for this film and attempt to apply the inception that it is not to be missed!

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