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Sanctum Reviewed

Posted by film On February - 7 - 2011

Sanctum
Directed by Alister Grierson
Universal Pictures, 2011

By Sean Kelly

It can be forgiven if anyone had the mistaken impression that this film was James Cameron’s directorial follow-up to Avatar. Nearly every ad I’ve seen for the film has started with, “from James Cameron, creator of Titanic and Avatar.” I suppose this isn’t the first time a film has been sold on the executive producer’s name – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas being the prime examples. Here, the greatest contribution Cameron made to the film was the use of his 3D camera technology, which probably still creates the most state-of-the-art 3D effects available. Read the rest of this entry »

The Green Hornet Reviewed

Posted by film On January - 24 - 2011

The Green Hornet
Directed by Michel Gondry
Columbia Pictures, 2011

By Sean Kelly

My only real experience involving the Green Hornet, prior to this film, was the character’s crossover appearance on the old 1960s Batman TV series. Indeed it was the Green Hornet TV series, from the same producers as Batman, where most people were introduced to the character. The TV series was also notable for introducing us to Bruce Lee, who co-starred as Kato a few years before becoming a movie star. I only recently found out that the character has its origins as a 1930s radio serial, as opposed to comic books, which did not appear until the 1940s.

The film version went through many stages of development, with one of the most notable being when Kevin Smith was hired in 2004 to write and direct the film. His script was adapted into a comic after he dropped out. The film was later taken up by Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) was originally set to direct and co-star as Kato, but he eventually dropped out and the reigns were given to Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Read the rest of this entry »

The King’s Speech Reviewed

Posted by film On December - 14 - 2010

The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper
The Weinstein Company, 2010

By Sean Kelly

The King’s Speech was this year’s winner of the People’s Choice Award at TIFF and seems a very likely frontrunner for Best Picture in the Oscar race. The film tells the story of King George VI (Colin Firth), who is plagued with a stuttering problem, which is certainly less than ideal for someone expected to make regular speeches. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) locates an unorthodox Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to cure his affliction.

Historically, the film takes place primarily in the years prior to King George, then known as Prince Albert, taking the throne. It was expected that Albert’s older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) would take the crown after the death of King George V (Michael Gambon). However, when circumstances force Edward to relinquish the crown to Albert, his sessions with Logue become all the more important. Read the rest of this entry »

Black Swan Reviewed

Posted by film On December - 9 - 2010

Black Swan
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Fox Searchlight, 2010

By Sean Kelly

I wouldn’t usually be interested in seeing a film about ballet, but with Darren Aronofsky directing (best known for Requiem for a Dream), I knew that this wasn’t going to be your average ballet film, something which was confirmed when I saw the trailer for the film. This film initially piqued my interest when it played at the Toronto Film Festival a few months ago and now, with its general release, I finally got a chance to see the film.

The film centres on Nina (Natalie Portman), a dancer for a ballet company in New York. She is given the duo lead role in a production of Swan Lake. While her director (Vincent Cassel) is confident in Nina’s ability to play the innocent role of the White Swan, he is not so sure if she could handle the dark and seductive Black Swan. This leads to Nina having a rivalry with fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), in which the events seem to be mirroring the ballet itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Paranormal Activity 2 Reviewed

Posted by film On November - 1 - 2010

Paranormal Activity 2
Directed by Todd Williams
Paramount Pictures, 2010

By Sean Kelly

I don’t think there has been a single movie sequel that I’ve been more wary of than Paranormal Activity 2.  Let’s face it; the first film came out of nowhere.  The “Demand It!” campaign was an ingenious form of movie marketing and by the time the original finally went to wide release, it not only topped the box office, but it dethroned the Saw series’ long run at the top of the Halloween box office.  Naturally, Paramount wanted lightning to strike twice and this film was born.

Calling this film a sequel is not entirely accurate.  It is established early on that the bulk of this film takes place within the two months before the events of the first film and even features appearances by Micah and Katie of the original.  In this film, the victims of the night time disturbances are the family of Katie’s sister, who recently gave birth to a son named Hunter. Most of the disturbances seem concentrated around his room. Read the rest of this entry »

Toronto After Dark: The Last Exorcism Reviewed

Posted by film On August - 21 - 2010

Eli Roth, Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian

The Last Exorcism
Directed by Daniel Stamm
Lionsgate, 2010

By Sean Kelly

For the second year in a row I went to check at the Toronto After Dark film festival at the Bloor Cinema. This year I chose to see the Eli Roth-produced Last Exorcism. The screening was a joy since Roth and stars Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell, were in attendance for a Q&A.

The film is done in a faux-documentary style and it follows a minister named Cotton Marcus (Fabian). Marcus has been performing exorcisms all of his life, however he admits that he does not really believe in demons and he has even began to doubt his faith in God. Marcus allows a documentary crew to accompany him as he performs one final exorcism on a girl named Nell (Bell) in an effort to prove that demonic possession is really psychological. Read the rest of this entry »

Robin Hood Reviewed

Posted by film On May - 25 - 2010

Robin Hood
Directed by Ridley Scott
Universal Pictures, 2010

By Sean Kelly

If there is anything I can say about Ridley Scott’s take on the classic legend of Robin Hood is that it was very brave of Scott to throw away the familiar plot and create an all-new story. Scott’s reimagined epic encompasses the origins of Robin Hood in a true historical context.

The classic Robin Hood villains – the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) and King John (Oscar Isaac) are given a backseat in this story. The Sheriff only appears in 3 or 4 scenes and John, the newly crowned king, is more akin to a spoiled brat than a true villain. Instead, the main villain of this story is John’s traitorous aid Godfrey (Mark Strong – who seems to have a lifetime membership to “Villains ‘R Us”). Godfrey has joined forces with the French to create civil unrest in England aiming to pave the way for a French invasion.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Nightmare on Elm Street Reviewed

Posted by film On May - 4 - 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Directed by Samuel Bayer
New Line Cinema, 2010

By Sean Kelly

Note: This review contains minor spoilers.

I ended my review last year of Platinum Dunes’ reboot of Friday the 13th wondering if this reboot would be just as successful in bringing Freddy Krueger to a new audience as it was with Jason Voorhees. I have to say that for the most part the answer is no, since this is a straighforward remake, while last year’s film was an original story that incorporated elements from the first three films.

I was about two years old when Wes Craven’s original Nightmare was released in 1984. By the time I was in elementary school, Freddy (and Jason) were pop culture icons — it really says something when even young children are quite familiar with the main villains of horror films. I still have yet to see the original; however, I am sure there are many people who consider it sacrilegious that Platinum Dunes (co-owned by Michael Bay) was even considering remaking the film.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy Heart Reviewed

Posted by film On February - 14 - 2010

Crazy Heart
Directed by Scott Cooper
Fox Searchlight, 2009

By Jaclyn L. Katz

Gritty country music and phenomenal acting together build the foundation of Crazy Heart. The film has a cleverly written narrative and is beautifully filmed. What really grabs you though, what emotionally tangles the spectator in the story, is the performance given by Crazy Heart’s star, Jeff Bridges, who plays washed-up country crooner Bad Blake. With a perpetually lit cigarette and a whisky in hand, “Bad” is a grating character; Byronic in his self-destructive ways, he leaves the audience rooting for him to succeed. He is a brilliant songwriter and a romantic, kind soul but has a pathetic addiction to alcohol and self-pity.

Maggie Gyllenhal, nominated for best supporting actress at the upcoming Oscar ceremony, gives a relaxed and absolutely graceful performance as Jean Craddock, the saviour of Bad’s spirit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Up in the Air Reviewed

Posted by film On December - 15 - 2009

up-in-the-air-smUp in the Air
Directed by Jason Reitman
Paramount Pictures, 2009

By Sean Kelly

When your father is Ivan Reitman, the director of Ghostbusters, you’ve been handed quite a challenge to step out from his shadow. However, Jason Reitman seems to have found a niche in making some intriguing character studies. In Thank You for Smoking we were given a sympathetic portrayal of a tobacco lobbyist. In Juno we learned about the unexpected challenges of teen pregnancy. Now, with Up in the Air, we follow a guy who flies around the country and fires people on behalf of companies that are too scared to do it themselves.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is completely at home with life on the road. With his schedule of firing people and making motivational speeches, he barely spends time at his own home, and is well on his way to becoming only the seventh person to reach ten million frequent flyer miles. Ryan even manages to meet a fellow frequent traveller named Alex (Vera Farmiga) with the same view on life and they quickly begin an affair.

Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Reviewed

Posted by film On November - 27 - 2009

20122012
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Columbia Pictures, 2009

By Sean Kelly

Have you heard? Apparently the calendar for the long-extinct Mayan civilization is supposed to end on December 21, 2012. Of course, this just has to mean that this is when the world is supposed to end. There are, like, millions of books on the subject that give reasons ranging from polar-reversing solar flares to Planet X crashing into the Earth. If there are books on it, then it must be true, right?

It seems that every decade or two, conspiracy theorists come up with a new cause of the apocalypse (it was only a decade ago when we feared Y2K). While it can hoped that this is all just crazed speculation, it does give disaster film master Roland Emmerich perfect material for his magnum opus.

Emmerich has found a niche in blowing up the world in different ways, whether it is by alien invaders (Independence Day), mutated lizards (Godzilla), or the environment (The Day After Tomorrow). Of those three, I would say that 2012 is probably stylistically the most similar to The Day After Tomorrow, except on a much larger scale — as can be guessed by the film’s 158-minute running time. Read the rest of this entry »

A Christmas Carol Reviewed

Posted by film On November - 22 - 2009

christmas_carolA Christmas Carol
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Walt Disney Pictures, 2009

By Rachel West

With the early November release of A Christmas Carol, the Christmas season is upon us sooner than ever. This faithful yet novel adaptation is a sure-fire way to bring in the holiday spirit, even if your neighbours still have their rotting jack o’lanterns displayed on their porch.

A tried-and-true story, adapted onto screens big and small over the years, a simple title search on IMDB reveals that there are over 35 filmed versions of the Charles Dickens’ classic, from the made-for-TV movie A Diva’s Christmas Carol (sadly, I’ve seen it), to childhood favourite Mickey’s Christmas Carol, to gems like Scrooged. You may think you’ve seen it all before, know the dialogue by heart, and another adaptation is superfluous at best, but this time, the film is in show-stopping 3D.

Read the rest of this entry »

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