Trollhunter (2011)

Originality at it’s best. Bears are being found dead from gunshot wounds and everybody in Norway knows why, it’s because there is a bear hunter in the area. Right? Yeah, maybe… But, when you look at the “murders” it seems a bit suspect. Tracks of the bears are awkward, the bear isn’t native to the area, and no one seems to know why this is happening all of a sudden. A group of filmmakers are on the case of the suspected bear hunter and what they find is, well, a little fishy…

This is one of the better low budget films I’ve seen in awhile. I’m also a big fan because it’s genuinely an original story. Well, the story of trolls is not original, but them living amongst us has definitely not been done before, especially like this. It’s Blair Witch style camerawork with hand-held cameras and lots of running through forests except a bit more cleanly done. The main character does a pretty good job acting the way someone that has is profession would (not going to say what he does, would be a small spoiler). He’s basically the standard woodsman you’d imagine. Grizzled look, nothing shocks him, sort of like the most-interesting-man-in-the-world type. The filmmakers (in the movie) react a bit differently than  would have reacted to certain situations, but you have to suspend reality for a few hours here. IMDB labels this as a comedy but I wouldn’t go so far and say it has LAUGHS. It’s a documentary about trolls… they could’ve gone the scary route or the “what the hell is going on?!?!” with an ironic tone route and I think they let you make up your mind on. The latest news I’ve heard is someone plans on remaking Trollhunter so they can release it in America. I guarantee they screw it up and botch what the original stood for because that’s what remakes are!

If you hate CGI (and bad CGI at that) don’t see this movie, you’ll rip your hair out! But, if you can get past the graphics and just enjoy the story and really immerse yourself, then I think you’ll find an enjoyable film. Also, it has subtitles and I know a lot of Americans can’t stand subtitles.

I would recommend this to anyone.

dunk-o-meter: 7.5/10


Super (2011)

Brutally good. Super is the tale of a simple man who wants to fight crime with honor and heart. Frank (Rainn Wilson) has always been the reject. Never amounting to anything and consistently being looked over. After his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) goes back to her old ways as a drug addict, Frank finds himself in a familiar situation, being forgotten. Sarah leaves Frank and joins Jacques (Kevin Bacon) the local drug dealer. Frank has to decide to fight for Sarah or be the loser he always has been. Frank chooses to become the Crimson Bolt and fight crime, whether he’s right or wrong.

I love how real the story feels. In past superhero films, I’ve never understood why the hero is ridiculed and cast aside as a vigilante. Spiderman is fighting real crime and actual bad guys, not just rapists, he’s fighting enemies with powers. In Super, the Crimson Bolt isn’t fighting real super enemies. He’s fighting what he deems as bad people for things they shouldn’t do. In this light it’s easy to see why he is considered a vigilante because if someone was fighting crime in such a way where I lived, I’d probably be a little pissed. Anyway, the film portrays a civilian like you or me trying to become a superhero extremely well and what I deem as accurate. He waits around for crime to happen, he drives around in his shitty car, and has a wrench as his weapon. He doesn’t get bitten by a spider or have tons of money, he creates a costume and just looks around! What would you do when becoming a superhero? My first guess is that you’d get a costume and then hideout around criminals waiting for them to do the wrong thing because that’s exactly what he does. Last thing, this movie is BRUTAL. I watched this alone in my room and screamed out loud “hhooooly shit!” when I saw how realistic and gory a few of the “fight” sequences were. Oh, and Ellen Page is AWESOME. She’s sexy in an off-beat way, funny when she needs to be, and as crazy as a A.D.D. kid without their meds. Btw, this is not a comedic movie. It has it’s laughs, but what movie doesn’t? I’m also a big fan of inventive title screen openings and this film has a great one!

There’s not much wrong with the film… It’s maybe a little slow at times and for the first half hour I could only see Rainn as Dwight (his character from The Office). I would recommend this film to many peers, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

dunk-o-meter: 8.5/10

Opening Credits I mentioned below 

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)

Bad ass! Alzheimer’s is a disease no one wants for themselves or their loved ones. Pharmaceutical companies create and distribute drugs so they can make money. Will Rodman (James Franco) is looking to formulate the next big drug, which not only cures Alzheimer’s, but increases overall brain power. He begins testing on apes and they seem to take quite well to the new drug. Their overall brain functioning and cognitive problem solving is off the charts and Rodman sees potential for huge market gains. After an “accident” in the lab, all of the apes must be killed, but one of them was pregnant and had a baby. This baby is Caesar. Caesar is special because the drug that had been tested on his mother has somehow past through the DNA to him leaving Caesar with the brain power comparable to a human. Caesar is taken in by Rodman and the viewer follows Caesars’ journey through the world.

The direction of this type of story is extraordinarily well done. The film has three great acts. The first act is the creation of the drug and Caesar growing up full of intrigue and discovering the world around him. This act has an extremely rewarding scene where Caesar is brought to his homeland (the trees) and gets to run wild. There’s something about the scene that reminds me when I felt that same wonder and awe. I don’t consider telling you the premise of the next two acts a spoiler because if you don’t know what happens in this movie you’re either under the age of 10 or extremely ignorant. SO, the second act is Caesar as a young male ape. He comes to the conclusion that he more or less is a pet and does not like the idea. He wants to become an ape and hang with the rest of his kind. There is a scene that encompasses how he feels when he runs into a dog and notices that like the dog, he has a leash as well. Caesar ends up rejecting Rodman and joins his “friends” in an ape Zoo. The third and final act is of the apes breaking out and rebelling. All of the money shots you see in the previews are taken from the third act. I wish this film was rated R though. We all know that apes are waaaay stronger than us flabby humans and I wanted to see them use their strength to break a few arms… Maybe a bit too brutally than anyone would like to see too. I got the chills every time Caesar stared down someone in defiance. His eyes are frightening and incredibly human. Since he cannot speak he communicates with every look and turn of the head. The CGI at times is odd looking but for the most part, all of the apes that are seen close up look flawless.

There isn’t much wrong with it other than that it’s not an original story. If this was the first of its kind I’d probably give this film a 10/10 but I know where it’s going and what is going to happen. Make sure to stay during the ending credits (wink wink)

dunk-o-meter: 9/10

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Trailer for the upcoming MI4. Looks pretty badass, and I really like the song playing throughout –>

Grown Ups (2010)

I saw it. It sucked. The story was flat. The acting was flat. The jokes were flat. Adam Sandler just wanted to hang out with his buddies for a few months. While watching, you may ask yourself “Who gave this film the green light?” And the answer would be anyone that saw Adam Sandler wrote and starred in it. It’s a fact that Sandler always has huge box office hits and Grown Ups followed suit. It grossed 160,000,000+ in the USA. I’ve got nothing else to say.

I don’t recommend this film to anyone.

dunk-o-meter: 2/10

Zodiac (2007)

Too long. A masked murdered has been haunting San Francisco and taunting police with cryptic messages as to who he is. Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) work at the San Francisco Chronicle which becomes the epicenter of evidence and  intrigue as Robert becomes obsessed with the Zodiac’s puzzles and Avery tries to solve the case. Lead detective Inspecter David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) has trouble putting together the evidence to make a case against any one person because the Zodiac has a way of leaving trails that lead no where. Based off true events, as well as two books written by Robert Graysmith, with sprinkles of fiction to add to the drama, David Fincher tells the story of the Zodiac killer through the 3 people that became overcome with trying to solve his riddles and mind games.

I can appreciate a well directed movie when I see one and this is no exception to the rule. David Fincher does an exceptional job directing the story and keeping it simple. The editing is very tight with no wasted screen time, but maybe the decision to make the movie long to give the viewer the same sensation as the characters that the case was long was a bad choice. No one’s performance really jumps out and grabs you, but again, maybe that’s the result of the type of story it was, a long murder case over the span of 20 plus years. Everyone acted well, don’t get me wrong. The murder scenes didn’t have enough suspense or horror or much of anything for me. They were pretty straight forward, boom, dead, on the next scene. The score is non-motivational much like a film noir would be at the time of when the real Zodiac murders were happening. Every scene has the same feel and look, which lead me to become bored and uninterested. I guess I’m not one for murder mysteries because Zodiac had me checking my phone and pausing to find out how much time I had left… I paused when I was 27 minutes into the movie, meaning I had 2 hours and 10 minutes left aka another full movie.

This is not a film for everyone. If you enjoy a good who-done-it murder mystery, then you’ll most likely enjoy Zodiac. If you don’t put anything on your hot dog, you’ll probably enjoy this movie also. Always remember, man is the most dangerous game of all…

dunk-o-meter: 6.5/10

Black Swan (2010)

Beauty and terror, simply mesmerizing. A ballerina living in New York City finds herself not only fighting for the lead role in Swan Lake, but for her grip on reality. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is consumed with dance, she wants everything to be perfect much like her overbearing mother. Her flaw has never been her technique, but her ability to improvise and live within the moment. The lead instructor, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), has begun his search for the ballerina who can become the lead role in his upcoming version of Swan Lake. This role is calls for the ballerina to show two sides of not only her personality but through her dance, the White Swan and Black Swan. Nina nails the White Swan through representing innocence and grace, but her Black Swan is lacking without sexuality or guile. Nina’s main competition is Lily (Mila Kunis), the new girl in town, who tries to befriend Nina by loosening her up and trying to get her to “live a little.”

What a score. I loved this movie! Darron Aronofsky pulls together the perfect balance of sex, horror and mystic through the stylings of the classic ballet Swan Lake. If you’re not a fan of the classic arts, then you should be after this film. Aronofsky let’s the modern world know that the old symphonies are for everyone by paralleling a horror story along the ballet. Natalie Portman is awe-inspiring and commands your respect as a true actor from here on out, even the Oscars had congruent thoughts by giving her Best Actress. She’s been in stupid movies since Black Swan, but I believe she will begin picking her parts with a higher judgment and critique, or at least I hope so. I don’t understand why a lot of people are crowning Winona Rider with this brilliant performance, she’s barely in the film… I thought Nina’s mother was most frightening character of them all. Mila plays her part well although I think a no named actress should have been cast in the roll. That may or may not have been the correct choice though, because a large part of the draw initially to this film was the fact that you heard Natalie and Mila had a lesbian scene together. This film is above the lesbian scene and anyone with taste can tell you that. Aronofsky takes advantage of and perfects the more modern way to film a movie with handheld cameras. The freedom these handheld cameras gives director is insane and I absolutely love the look and feel of them. The symbolism hits you over the head and keeps knocking you down until you don’t know which way’s up. Some argue there is too much of it going on, but after my second viewing I realized it was needed and extremely well done.

Is there anything wrong? Some will call this film “weird” but c’mon people, weird is for Lynch. It’s dark and twisted and maybe some this aren’t answered but, who cares!!! Just enjoy it. This is great. Some might also complain Aronofsky doesn’t respect his audience from the amount of symbolism is shown. I tend to disagree because it was honestly the whole point and without it or it being subtle would’ve taken away from what it’s meant to be. I almost want to watch it again. Recommended to anyone and everyone.

dunk-o-meter: 9.5/10