Posts Tagged ‘Movie reviews’

THE GREEN HORNET [REVIEW 2]

2011/02/11

http://www.greenhornetmovie.net/

USA 2010  Directed by: Michel Gondry  Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg  Based on The Green Hornet by: George W. Trendle, Fran Striker  Produced by: Neal H. Moritz  Cinematography by: John Schwartzman  Editing by: Michael Tronick  Music by: James Newton Howard  Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong, Analeigh Tipton, David Harbour, James Franco

So Seth Rogen is a movie star. And he’s made to where he is through a string of formulated comedy roles. Let me rephrase this: he’s made it to stardom by walking through a series of films playing himself. Which is fine, he did what he did. As Woody Allen famously said, “If you cast right, then actors won’t need to act.” And, because of Rogen’s own belief of his star power, he’s decided that he’s got enough audacity to write and produce a feature film. And looking at the resources pool, what better story to tackle than to jump on the bandwagon and reprise a bygone TV series onto the big screen. And, I mean big; so big that the studio had dropped $120 million into making “The Green Hornet.” Otherwise, in Hong Kong, back in the ‘70s, also known as “The Kato Show,” due credit by then an unknown Asian actor named Bruce Lee.

Now we’re getting somewhere. As camp as it was and lasting only just a season, “The Green Hornet” garnered cult status. Not because the show was fantastically scripted or well-played. It simply rode on the shoulders of the lightning-fast, and charismatically enigmatic little Bruce. No one had seen anything like it back then. The kids loved it… Seth Rogen may have been one of those kids. Although probably by a decade later, seeing it on reruns.

The platform was great: a cult show, money to burn, a movie star at the helm (Rogen); add on a few more stars from other parts of the world, and voila, a movie golden egg is laid.

Not quite.

To start, Rogen is not a character actor, he’s a personality. The title character is supposed to be a millionaire mastermind that orchestrated all the fights and heists, and required someone with a bit more depth and believability. Think Christian Bale’s Batman. As a matter of fact, the Green Hornet “is” a carbon copy of Batman. Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego), a billionaire playboy that is a masked vigilante by night. And plug in Kato in place of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, and there’s your springboard TV show. To be precise, both “Batman” and “The Green Hornet” were airing at the same time back in the day as TV series. Both equally kitsch.

Fast forward to today, as producer, looking at what the neighbor’s doing – Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” I’d probably want to jet the other way too. Except, where Rogen knew which road not to head down, he didn’t figure out which way is right. So “The Green Hornet” seemed like a hodge podge of action and reaction, with the missing ingredient of intention.

Seth Rogen wasn’t completely blurred by his fame. Somebody probably told him to curb his enthusiasm and holster his desire to gobble up every second of the hero scene. And so, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou was called in to play a masterful Kato, an ass-wupping McGuyver – a multitalented gadgets engineer – and a helluva coffeemaker. I suppose it’s a good way to get away from Bruce Lee’s version, who was just a butler with really, really cool moves. But, again, the formula didn’t work here. No Asian sensation worked well playing in the Hollywood sandbox, aside from Jackie Chan doing silly comedy routines. But Jay Chou’s Kato wasn’t supposed to be silly. Sometimes, he reminded me of an Asian Leonardo Dicaprio, with a lot less acting chops and a whole lot more verbal flops.

Adding to this confusion cuisinema is Cameron Diaz as Rogen’s wishful love interest, who actually fell for Chou (just to be safely non-prejudice). She looked like she’d stepped out of the original TV show – a dozen wrinkles older than both Rogen and Chou put together; her involvement in the whole story was…thinking back, didn’t really need to be there. That’s how much money the studio had coughed up – enough to spill it on an A-list starlet just for laughs. Finally, they thought a serious Oscar-winning foreign heavyweight was needed to round off this bowl of badass: Christoph Waltz. But even his menacing Nazi Doberman fangs from “Inglourious Basterds” didn’t pinch a reaction here. Not one moment was he convincing as an organized crime kingpin on a ruthless path to monopolize the city.

“The Green Hornet” was a continuing series of moments waiting for a punch line that would never surface. Its editing looked far better in the trailers than the actual scenes. The dynamics between its cast were often awkward without development. A few clips of innovative fight sequences got me sitting up, then only put me back down with nonsensical car crashes. And there were lots of them. So, in the end, was this tribute to Bruce Lee, or to the fan-boy fantasy, or just to Rogen’s own ego? Maybe the sequel will tell. Let’s just hope the studio will run out of money for a trilogy.

 

 

 

 

MOSS [IGGI | 이끼]

2010/12/05

http://www.moss0715.co.kr/

http://moss-movie.com/

KOREA 2010  Directed by: Kang Woo-Suk  Written by: Jo Woo Chung   Internet Comic by: Yoon Tae-Ho  Produced by: Jung Sun-Young  Cinematography by: Kim Sung-Bok, Kim Yong Hong  Editing by: Go Im-Pyo  Music by: Jo Young-Wook  Cast: Park Hae-Il, Jeong Jae-Yeong, Yu Jun-Sang, Yoo-Sun, Yu Hae-Jin, Kim Sang-Ho, Kim Jun-Bae, Heo Jun-Ho, Kang Shin-Il, Lim Seung-Dae, Jeong Gyu-Su, Lee Cheol-Min, Keum Dong-Hyun, Jeong Gi-Seop

When Ryu Hae-Kuk travels upcountry to bury is late father in the village he reclusively lived in for decades, a chain of mysterious events begins. The villagers, especially their head Cheon Yong-Deok, are less than fond of the visitor from Seoul and can’t wait for his departure, but Ryu Hae-Kuk has reasons to stay on and look into the circumstances of his father’s death. Soon he discovers that a conspiracy beyond imagination is going on, and it seems that his father was a vital part of it.

Summarizing all the various plot threads and points of MOSS is a useless enterprise – mostly because nothing, but really nothing in the movie makes really sense. MOSS is best described as being overly ambitious, and falling short of creating the grand piece of art it set out to make. On the contrary, nothing makes for a pair of shoes here.

Starting with the opening that is supposedly providing the background – and later denouement – of the story. This is all highly constructed and intentionally misleading, so that when things come full circle at the end we are confronted with a very dissatisfying conclusion. In between there is too much going on that is going nowhere: every time a new discovery is made, every time a new mystery presents itself it feels like a dead-end, or puzzling at least.

For a mystery thriller, MOSS is neither mysterious nor thrilling enough. All along the way we are waiting for something really exciting to happen, or something really bizarre, or both, but Mr. Kang just can’t do it. MOSS is a film filled with empty promises. Don’t think that MOSS comes even remotely close to a Yukihiko Tsutsumi film, or that it is even remotely close to the sharp analytical storytelling of an Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes novel, or that it has the deeper meaning of STRAW DOGS, a movie that probably was a source of inspiration among many others. The villagers who are in cahoots over something and attempt to threaten the hero’s life are a well-known thriller ingredient, only that in MOSS the secrets they keep are anti-climatic and unsurprising at best.

When the last battle is fought and the last word’s been spoken, MOSS feels like watching LOST up to season 3 or so – we may get some clumsy explanations for what’s going on, but it doesn’t feel right, or believable, and essentially is nothing but a huge let-down. For the first half of the film we are collecting countless evidence, and then we realize that the evidence doesn’t really point to anything. The secret tunnel, the role of Ryu Hae-Kuk’s father, the former detective’s motifs, the sidekicks’ justification of existence, the largely undisclosed, unexplained criminal activities, the past relationship between Ryu Hae-Kuk and prosecutor Park, about everything we encounter remains evidence for nothing in particular.

On the surface MOSS is a solid, even entertaining thriller, after a proper reality check however it must be said that MOSS is also the film of 2010 that is least making sense. Just imagine your average football player talking quantum physics for two hours, and you get the idea.

With MOSS Mr. Kang delivers another half-cooked work that compared to the overrated PUBLIC ENEMY movies is even less stringent and coercive (maybe that’s also thanks to the source material). After more than twenty years of filmmaking TWO COPS (1993) remains Mr. Kang’s best film to date, a creative, smart and witty genre entry that was never surpassed by any of his following movies. So grab that old VHS tape from your collection and watch it once again instead of MOSS, as it will save you some grave disappointment.

J.

 

 


PAD THAI: ETERNITY [CHUA FAH DIN SA LAI | ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย]

2010/09/18

http://www.sahamongkolfilm.com/

Based on a novel by Malai Choopinij, ETERNITY tells the story of a forbidden relationship between the wife of a timber tycoon and his nephew. When their affair is discovered, they are chained together (they asked for it, didn’t they?).

ETERNITY is directed by Pantewanop Tewakul and stars Ananda Everingham, Chermarn Boonyasak, Daraneenuch Pothipithi, Penpetch Penkul and  Theerapong Leowrakwong.

J.