Welcome to FilmProphet.com
> Online Since August 2003!

Film Prophet's Movie Reviews Page 17

 

Easy A (2010)
Starring Emma Stone, Dan Byrd, Amanda Bynes, Aly Michalka, Penn Badgley, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci

Film Prophet's Review...
The film contains two breaths of fresh air… Emma Stone’s breakout performance in her first lead role and the tribute back to some eighties teen comedies. The movie follows a high school student whose reputation and life is affected by a false rumor she said was true. She uses the rumor mill to her advantage, pitting people against each other but mostly her in the end. The film zips at a rapid, fast-paced ninety minutes of false truths after lies. This story teaches that high school students are concern with one thing and that is improving their high school reputation… but it’s all on lies to boost up one’s image… mainly their sex life. Several times throughout the film, it shows how fast a rumor can spread with the camera speeding up across all areas and goes right back to the main source in no more than a minute. This movie seems simple but it is fairly complex. However, with all the lies told, it is still apparent to tell which is a lie showed off as the truth and so on. Over half of the dialogue borders around this. Not only students, but two adult workers are involved in the storyline of sleeping with people. This type of life is magnified and shown loud and clear. It also acts like a movie that should have been done years old... and by years, two decades ago. It pays great homage to John Hughes' eighties teenage movies. It's like the script came from that era and it even compares itself to it during the movie and at the end. It can remind people what Adventureland did the year before with its throwback quality. It doesn’t rely on the past to tell the story, but uses them to compare similarities to the eighties movies and real life in the present movie. Emma Stone’s voice dominates the storytelling from her narration to her online video blog. All one has to do is watch the weekend-filled of Natasha Bedingfield's ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ and she’ll win anyone over. There are several supporting characters of people that are just full of themselves and they all have some self-doubt. Most of the character relationships are rushed and return at some point. Still, with all the stars in the movie, this is Emma Stone’s film and she never once loses the audience’s attention.

Final Grade: B

The Town (2010)
Starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively

Film Prophet's Review...
This bank robbery movie is set in Charlestown, Massachusetts about a group of bank robbers with a history together escaping terrifically after a steal from banks and trucks. The story involves a second angle to the plot with a female bank manager and a thief who stole money from her bank. This is at large here and scales up most of the movie’s scenes. A FBI agent is in the mix trying to bust the thief and his gang before they can pull another big job. The film kicked off as anyone can predict with a bank robbery. It wasn't explosive as one can imagine, but it was standard. It held most of the movie’s content from there till the next one which was about an hour later. During this downtime of action, the conversations are near being dull at times. Most of it brings a former hostage in a relationship with the lead thief and she is somehow interested and intrigued in him without knowing who he really is. One can be surprised that the woman never once second guessed his questioning about the FBI stuff. However, once the second bank robbery action scene sets in, it raises this movie above most typical bank robbery films to a new level. There are about three big ones in the movie and the first one was the least exciting. The action took off in the second robbery. It made this movie better than what it started out with. The camera stunts, the music, and showcasing the tight Boston style streets are just some of the qualities that capture the look and feel of the high-octane pursuit. The gun violence, the cop chase, and road blocks are exhilarating to watch. There are two interesting side characters… the hard-nosed special FBI agent willing to find them and take them down and Renner’s character, who served nine years in prison for murder. He is capable of breaking out in violence at any time. Blake Lively was unrecognizable in her role as a drug addict mom. It could probably take a fan to not even notice her right away. It’s an intense long ride finale during the last sequence. The movie also explores the opposite side tactics… the audience is with the bad guys and the cops doing their jobs are the ones to frown upon. The emotional investment in the robbers near the end pay off and the audience will want them to survive and not get caught as they are near their doom many times. It's not as involving as Ben Affleck’s previous drama, Gone Baby Gone, but it follows up nicely to another fine piece of work.

Final Grade: B/B+

The Social Network (2010)
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Josh Pence, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara

Film Prophet's Review...
Facebook is a natural part of every day life now. As Justin Timberlake's founder of Napster character says it best, "We lived on farms, we lived in cities, and now we're going to live on the Internet." The movie focuses on the birth of Facebook created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 on the Harvard campus and how the success changed the lives of his fellow classmates who aided in the creation. People wonder if it is too early to have a Facebook movie out yet. It hasn't been more than a decade and it isn't exactly a historical period piece. However, it is history in the eyes of the Internet. Internet is so much a part of one's life. Facebook is in its prime right now and it is captured enough attention that most of its millions of users are interested to go see how Facebook pioneered networking. What more can a movie about Facebook offer that isn't already known…. well this movie plunges its way through a story that enlightens. It took the existence of Facebook and somehow turned it into actual material worth being on screen. The filmmakers took this website and made it fascinating to watch. Most of the praise should go to director David Fincher. His touch is all over this film from the thrilling music score, to the central character obsession, to the bleak scenery. Without him, this movie would be much different and who knows if it would be as solid as this piece. The foreboding music score plays a big role in this film. It is reminiscent of how Fincher's previous films had unique music to distinguish the rhythm. The sound is a lot like Fight Club, really. The lead talks too fast and is smart for his cause. Here, the college dorm rooms set the scenery up where Facebook began. A beginning chunk of movie deals with programming and blogging, but viewers don't need to understand the computer process behind it. Viewers don't even have to be a Facebook member to enjoy this movie. The dialogue is rapid and crisp. One of the interesting ways of how the story was told was through two different time periods. The current period which is two lawsuits happening while each looks back at the events during the time Facebook was becoming what it is today. These never at once feel like old flashback scenes... they work seamlessly and never lose sight of the timeline involved, especially since they are only a few years apart. It’s based on a true story and it never once acts like a documentary. On the opposition of the lawsuits and story, there are the Winklevoss brothers who Zuckerberg took the idea from. They play as a so-called enemy in the movie which is a bonus and gives this movie some danger to the protagonist. There are plenty of stand out performances. Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s best friend, displayed much multiplicity. He is definitely already among the best performances of the year. The new Spider-Man reboot movie is in luck. Eisenberg surpasses all the work he as previously done to play Mark Zuckerberg that he brought life to. Timberlake, as a late enter to the film, as Sean Parker actually impresses adding suited energy. This cast made it happened. The direction pulled it off in all corners. The movie is brilliantly done for a website subject that hasn't spanned more than a decade yet. It somehow created a massive story arc debating who had the originality behind Facebook and the characters develop throughout and don't just disappear. It gets into the minds of the characters as there are barely any action scenes. There was so much evolution in this. There’s clear, intense drama over ownership of an idea chronicling key events in growth of the most popular social network online.

Final Grade: B+/A-

Inception (2010)
Starring Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard

Film Prophet's Review...
Director and writer Christopher Nolan proves to be one of the most essential film thinkers with this intellectual piece. The best way to see this movie is to not know much about it before going into it. It’s the type of movie where viewers have no idea where it is going or how it will end... it is an original piece of writing that's so alive. It also took Nolan ten years to write. Generally, a group wants to break into the minds of others to gather and plant thoughts and actions that mean something. DiCaprio is the expert in process and Gordon-Levitt is his loyal partner in extraction as they are hired by a corporation as spies. They need architects and chemists to finish up their team. The pair of DiCaprio and Gordon-Levitt is a dream come true on screen. There are a lot of amazing performances too. Marion Cotillard, whose character is as versed as her versatility, plays a role that can twist the story. Tom Hardy is a new actor that will probably be seen again in bigger roles. Michael Caine’s role is so small that it needs no mention. His character is in couple scenes and he is never in any of the action. The action unfolds as each dream gets inhospitable … wondering what can top a freight train as they go further. “Building a dream from your memory is the easiest way to lose your grasp of what’s real and what is a dream.” DiCaprio’s character has his inner struggles dealing with his wife and children in the past and learns the truth about his relationships with them. The movie illustrates how dreams can distort the commonplace with desires and fears. The inception tool was briefly mentioned as technology developed by military for training that may be hard to believe. Ellen Page’s experience first hand, rather than just observing, is when the audience gets to understand about extraction, subconscious, and projections with the tool. She serves as the voice of the viewers as an outsider brought into this. All the characters at all times sound way too intelligent and complex and this was also engaging. It doesn’t lower the intellect to a teenage crowd. There are a lot of conversations about the pseudo science to constructing and sharing dreams. Patience may be required in beginning as it may be confusing. There are broken sequences in the timeline determining if something is current or just a dream. It asks for concentration to just figure out what's going on, but not too much. Running at two and a half hours, it's kind of movie people will talk about with each other and analyze and still won't fully understand everything. People will be comparing this film to others in the past, but it is nothing like anything done. It can be said as a sequel to Shutter Island. There is a protagonist that can’t be trusted. Not only does it star DiCaprio and have wife subplots, but because both poke at and tease with the narrative and the perspective of illusion with reality. It is a ‘believe what you want to believe is real’ type of story where it asks if our world isn’t real. It plays out like a fresh, dreamlike Matrix movie. The poster even resembles The Dark Knight poster with Joker's back showing between the skyscrapers. The music score by Hans Zimmer sounds like something from The Dark Knight and the horns remind how the tripods sounded like in the War of the Worlds remake. The cinematography needs no description… from Paris to Morocco to snowy mountains…. all top-notch in appearance on screen. A great movie doesn’t go without having some problems. One has to wonder how Saito can simply make one phone call and instantly drop all the charges again Cobb. Viewers just buy into this because he says it can be done. When they are in the cold nature during the last dream level, they rock climb up and go up and down hills and constantly battle, but it can’t be seen who the people under the gear are. There isn’t a clear start to end point. There’s just action and them just aimlessly ending up somewhere. The wife subplot also goes unresolved and it never explains how the stages of the dreams were built and the background of the Inception tools. It might take some time to shake off this movie and considering how one man wrote all this is genius. It is mind-bending dreams within dreams, plots within plots, depth within depth. After seeing this, viewers might be scared or anticipate in going to sleep next time… just spin a totem to help out.

Final Grade: A-/B+

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Xavier Samuel, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ash Greene

Film Prophet's Review...
All the original cast members return for the third Twilight film except one which can throw people off. Audiences are used to seeing Rachelle Lefevre's face as Victoria. Other than the bright red hair characterization, Bryce Dallas Howard is the bigger name to draw, but just doesn’t cut it. Viewers in the audience could even hear whispers about the actress change during the movie. The swap shouldn’t have happened. Victoria was the central villain in this movie but some may have liked to see what Lefevre could have done with the revenge-seeking vampire. Edward is still against Bella of becoming a vampire... it's more of the same old in the previous movies as it keeps the focus on the Bella, Edward, and Jacob interaction, which is where the fans are comfortable with it. This third movie still continues well from the second. Bella wants sex and Edward is territorial. His eyes are bright like the rest of the vampires and he sparkles in the sun, which a lot of people don’t like in the films. There isn’t a vampire presence felt in the first fifteen or so minutes. There also isn’t any blood really, again. Edward acts as his human side, but this hurts the film. It almost feels too normal as it is a slow start. This is how it is in each film… the pacing is quite sluggish for a big mainstream film. Some scenes go nowhere as it started out like a two and a half hour film but it is a two hour film. The dialogue was long-winded and parts were being repetitive as seen before. Bella goes on a motorcycle again with Jacob. People look for a deeper meaning than their actually is. Whether it features the love triangle, being dead or human, cold or warm, or swaying audience’s decisions of who they would go for between Edward and Jacob… they just come up with their own theory. There are many discussions in the film about protection and choices. Jacob plays babysitter and Edward always shows up to her safety. It’s more about the rivalry between the two young men than before. However, the best characters here were the vampires of the Cullen family. They were utilized more in strategy, defense, and fights... similar in the first Twilight, but this was more focused on them than before. It was a nice getaway from the triangle and they were the best part. There were also a few back-stories of vampires and wolves in the past which had more violence in them than the first two-thirds of the movie in present time. There are young, newborn vampires that are wildly built up to eventually attack the Cullens. That is the main plot here aside from the romance of 'You're better off with me than him.' This movie made the newborn vampire plot look like it was originally written just for the movie instead of coming from a book though. Audiences would have to wait almost ninety minutes for some decent action. The eventual fight between the vampires, wolves, and newborns was the biggest brawl out of all three films. The movie redeems itself highly with this fight sequence. It kicks into a whole new gear that the franchise on screen hasn't displayed before. It was best sequence of the three films so far. It was weird though seeing a snowy mountain top but on the bottom of it where the fight was it didn’t snow. The film could have ended after it, but there was more with the triangle. The Volturi and Dakota Fanning's parts were strong while it was there as like a cameo, but underused… hopefully they have more to do later instead of promptly entering and exiting. It's mostly a movie that if people want, they have to see it so they can fit in and talk about it with many people after knowing what it was like… even if it almost ends where they started from in this movie.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Toy Story 3 (2010)
Voices by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles

Film Prophet's Review...
As a second sequel over a decade later, this animated picture will make fans and viewers proud. It's the kind of love toward a film that movie audiences need and wish for. Pixar has been on top of its game for years now and this year’s movie is no different. The general main worries were that people might be over it after all these years and how would they incorporate all the characters from the first two while introducing the new toy characters from this one. Audiences knew two things about the story that Andy is moving to college and the toys are being shipped to a daycare center. After seeing this movie, it was not too much to handle in an hour and a half. The same voices are back that audiences enjoy hearing. By now, viewers can recognize the world of Toy Story and nothing changed to try to revitalize it. Even if the audience doesn't watch the first two in a long time, there's still an immediate connection to the toy characters. The familiarity with them and the toys interaction hits right away. Toy Story was the most groundbreaking animation at the time and it keeps up the fun allowing for an impeccable continuity. The toys have concerns they are going to be thrown out in the garbage. The first half hour is great showing a time lapse from the young Andy who played with the toys to the current one now heading to college. There's mix of emotions here. There's also a ton of comedy here. It's not the kind audiences would see in contemporary animations where cute animals act or say silly stuff. There aren't really jokes here. There are just some plain funny parts in this film and none of it is forced. Even seeing Woody jog can draw laughs. Viewers could even giggle at, "Let's get played with." Rex has a lot of those moments and so does Mr. Potato Head’s wrong head part. This sequel still felt new seeing exciting adventures they take. It's still an original. Even for about a ninety minute film, all the characters had memorable roles. None of them were wasted and they all fit in their place. There was an actual villain of Lotso, who wouldn’t let the toys escape and return to Andy from the daycare horror. This here was a big difference between the previous two films by having a memorable toy villain. There’s also a back story of the bear tyrant Lotso where audiences can understand his points of view. Most of the great action sequences involved trash and garbage that would result in eventual deaths. There are long ones in the beginning and the end and these are the two that will stick in memory. There are moments during the final twenty minutes where viewers might have to hold back tears. There's strong portrayal of accepting to grow up from youth and move on from things loved as a child. These are provoking issues that Pixar hasn’t shied away from. It might speak loudly to more adults than children like they did with Up. All things pass by childhood and there’s a moment when Andy experiences this in a flash. The value of memories will never leave no matter the changes that’ll happen in life. Due to this old toys, owner growing up, and toys heading to the garbage storyline, it may take some time before anyone realizes it was just like the animated picture, The Brave Little Toaster that was out many years ago. It's very similar and there are comparisons. There's that intense ride in the end that draws in attention heading in trash land. Here, this was one of the most genuine and heartfelt endings in recent years. Films like these nowadays are rare. The quality wasn't too better than the previous two, but it equally matches them. The 3D feature on this was just standard. There's a feeling that most of the animations coming out now with 3D will be just plain with that as a gimmick. This sequel completes as a trilogy with three great movies and makes this the best animated trilogy of all-time. If they do decide that this was the last one, they left off with an absolute perfect finish.

Final Grade: A-

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina

Film Prophet's Review...
In this fantasy adventure based off the popular video game series, Dastan, a young prince in sixth century Persia joins with Tamina, a feisty princess, to prevent a villainous nobleman’s plot from possessing the Sands of Time. This gift is a dagger that can reverse time and allow its possessor to change the world. It’s amazing how a little old PC game made its way to the big screen almost two decades later through Disney. Personally, all three video games on the Playstation 2 system are favorites. The settings just look like them. The Persian Empire and how different buildings are shorter or taller and next to each other are there to jump around and run along the walls just like the game. Some areas of it are beautiful and others are dark. The movie begins with a background youth story of Dastan how he was an orphan and raised by a King. When he grows up which starts the present story, he invades Persia with guys with him in the beginning. In the game, it is just Dastan as the only character to control, but the movie adds the theme of a brothers’ bond. There is also a princess hiding from the outside looking inward during the video game giving pointers and tips. This part with the princess was definitely put forward in the film and done extremely well close enough to her character in the game. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton seemed unforced. There’s a trust and doom relationship between the two. They go in and out of several fun scenarios escaping battles as the dagger switches hands often. The dagger’s importance is a key part to the video game. At first, it wasn’t stressed enough here but as soon as the prince and princess interacted and found out what it could truly do, it became more important than anyone in the story. The foreshadowing paths, like in the video game, mapping how to get through stuff was not always there, but in the beginning when the camera would zoom and pan along the paths before Dastan reaches along it was. There really isn’t any credible dialogue or story here. It is mostly pure action and fast-paced. There’s a lot of running around and loud sounds and it does play out like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie in a sense. There are hardly any dull moments. There’s a franchise to start up here especially since there are several video games. Fans alike should be proud of this faithful adaptation and envy the Prince of Persia character in this movie. It’s a man versus the world type of play trying to send the correct message of what should be right and prevent wrongdoings that’ll happen. This may actually be one of the top video games adapted to a movie of late, but that isn’t saying much since the competition is so poor.

Final Grade: B/B-

Robin Hood (2010)
Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Oscar Isaac, Mark Strong, Max von Sydow, Danny Huston

Film Prophet's Review...
About a decade later, director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe team up again for another sword and sandals heroic folklore. This time it is a big-budget take on a recreation of a tale that is more of a prequel with much less cartoon appeal than before. Robin Hood has never looked wearier than he is now. There’s no longer the look of bright green tights and a hat with a feather. Robin Hood motion pictures are known for some comedy, but here’s the humor levels are way below the standard of Robin Hood and there’s no prancing around and no swashbuckler sword fights. There’s also this dead father of Robin Hood subject where he tries to remember what happened to him. There’s some human touch to the film, such as when the small Nottingham gets attacked. Robin Hood movies never really had emotion in the past and there isn’t much with this one, but there’s still some despite objections. The real bad guy in this movie is Sir Godfrey played by Mark Strong who is a French double-agent as the new King’s primary tax collector who murders anyone. The rival between him and Robin are played throughout without the two sharing much screen time at all, but it was expected that the two will have a sword battle in the end somehow. Most of the movie though is unpredictable as Robin and his men don’t even know themselves. Likely the main setback with the film is with its gradual start and a huge center of it moves at a snail’s pace. Slow does not mean boring though. However, at times, it is plodding and boring. There are no battles in the middle and the characters are scattered. When a new setting is shown, there is text on the bottom of the screen to inform the viewers where they are. There’s plenty of the countryside of England and there are several locations all over Europe with nice looking castles and farmland. Men march around and have some forest encounters that led to some wits, but there are not enough of them. The dialogue sound very made up just to fit in the movie and make its way through the script. There are a couple inspirational speeches, horses on a boat, and nice costumes, but due to being two and a half hours long with very little momentum, there’s not much dynamism to the story. It’s mostly lots of set up and then some more. If a viewer is impatient, then leave this one out.

Final Grade: C+/B-

Iron Man 2 (2010)
Starring Robert Downey, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson

Film Prophet's Review...
After Tony Stark reveals himself to be Iron Man from the first movie, he has been a one-person influence for world peace. Naturally, this movie opens up his character with another one of his expos to establish his playboy personality early on going straight to a court questioning if the government can own the Iron Man suit that no one else can duplicate right. There are many stars, villains, and explosions this time around as it debuted at more theaters than any other in history of film. For being labeled as a big box office action film, the first two-thirds of the film had maybe one action sequence… that one being the Grand Prix part in the trailers. In fact, the total number of action sequences is really two which includes the best part of the film near the end when they’re having a field day of explosions. This is a whole lot similar to the first movie where it ends up being somewhat indolent when the action sequences far from another. The main problem with the first one was that it wasted too much time dedicated to building the suit. Again, the focus is on building and improving suits and weapons. His opponents try to do it also. Mickey Rourke is one of them as he ends up mumbling his entire way. The other one is Sam Rockwell who gives a great, but impractical performance as Stark’s corporate competitor. Rockwell actually has the bigger role when it seemed to be flipped around. More time is dedicated to him, but there are one too many Russian dialogue and bird jokes to Rourke’s character. Scarlett Johansson adds a dose of eye candy, but nothing really more. She has one action part near the end then disappears. Perhaps her role will have more to do in the future. Speaking of which, the whole Avengers thing with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury felt useless and was just a name to the film. There are a lot of scenes of Tony being just a nuisance in the middle of the movie. In particular, the drunken party birthday scene which is about ten minutes long. His girlfriend Pepper Potts is just paranoid the whole time with his company and their relationship. There’s more tension and arguments than they had before. “What is, and what will always be, my greatest creation, is you” is the best quote in the movie, although it came from some father issue which was out of context in Stark’s story. In ways, the movie felt like a poor Spider-Man sequel. The action was limited but explosive. There were a few disposable characters. Tony deals with repercussions with toxic blood. Creating elements, entering a car race at the last second, and someone new going into an Iron Man type of suit right away and being able to work it properly were all nonsensical. It is not at all necessary to see the first one to see the second one and the trailers gave away some of those cool moments.

Final Grade: B-

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover

Film Prophet's Review...
Viewed in 3D, the classic story by Lewis Carroll story is told through a combination of live action and performance-capture technology. However, the eccentricity in this version was ridiculous, silly, and uninteresting. Before the fantasy stunts begin, Alice is shown with her life planned out for her and who she has to be married to. Alice is not a little girl in this version, but an older teenager. This beginning of a British period piece will have people yawning as it is a boring start to a fantasy film. The story is thin and the pacing is unusual for a huge mainstream film. Most of what Alice says is about how she still thinks this is all a dream she’s in and every other character comments about if she is the real Alice. This becomes very redundant. Along with the poorly written dialogue and lazy effects, the art direction and costumes are mostly unappealing. Some little mouse picks out eyes of enemies and the animal cruelty in this film at a comedy expense by the Red Queen may be offensive. Bad enough, this movie has familiar territory to the adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia. With the Red and White Queens and an armor-wearing Alice against the Jabberwocky, it’s just a complete repellent spectacle. All the memorable and literary characters here, such as the Cheshire Cat and the Blue Caterpillar, serve little purpose. They go in and out of the story and make minor appearances. The characters are all over the place in the scattered world. They don't really do much other than showing off some of their own individuality. Depp in the role of The Mad Hatter acts bizarre while going over the top which is what he does well at. However, it's like he is on autopilot because he is always a top choice to cast in roles like these. Comparing to the Disney original film, people would agree to stick with the cartoon. After the drinking and eating part that’s illustrious where Alice shrinks and grows taller, the rest is a quite blur. The rabbit-hole fall placed at the bottom of a tree was much more effective in the original. The overall world is also more believable. The red queens' guardsmen look better animated than CGI. There is an awful amount of red color. The playing cards looked natural and menacing in the cartoon. Here, they just stand around in a group and point their weapons. Also, almost every character has these red colored eyes. The 3D effect wears off quickly, but clearly it’s mainly for the money and viewing entertainment.

Final Grade: C+

Shutter Island (2010)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Martin Scorsese, the story follows a U.S. Marshall who is sent to a remote New England island in the summer of 1954 to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the island's prison mental facility. This movie messes with the mind heavily. It puzzles around and manipulates pieces together. It is a character study nonetheless and the complexities that revolve around their surroundings. There are plenty of twists that some might say that were too many that could ruin the movie for them. The conversations are great to listen to. Nearly each one is thought-provoking. The dialogue and acting are nothing short but bright here and the plot is thick. Who to believe and what to believe from the shady supporting characters is always a wonder. The film comes with a steady pace. The entrance of Leo and Ruffalo getting off the ferry boat onto the and being driven up to the hospital with strict and strong protocols handed by Deputy Warden McPherson acted by John Carroll Lynch are instantaneously gripping. The bad storm arrives in and this sets the mood of threat and menace. One of the best features of the film is Leo himself in this strong performance. It is exciting to follow Leo’s character as the story engages while rousing the intellect. It’s like something from The Twilight Zone. Without being a horror film, it sure gives off genuine horror scares, especially when Leo ventures into a powerless building of the worst criminals. It never allows the viewer to feel at ease. One can easily tell Scorsese was behind the camera especially the flashback scene of lining up the guards by a prison camp fence. The cinematography is atmospheric especially the decorative broken dream sequences that are haunting. The fantasy and reality in this is mixed up. Then again, all it would take is about four small words to spoil and completely ruin the movie for any potential viewers like in The Sixth Sense. It certainly plays games with the audience's perceptions and once the punch is delivered, it is harder to take than it should be.

Final Grade: B+/B

The Lovely Bones (2009)
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg, Rose McIver, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Peter Jackson, a young girl who was murdered is stuck in the afterlife watching the effects of her death on her family as she narrates on. Her father becomes obsessed in finding the killer and her sister grows into the woman she could have been. The bottom line is that after seeing the trailer many times one would realize after watching this that it did show way too much. This movie is a prime example of when a trailer reveals more than it should. When a scene begins, there are moments where it can be traced back to the trailer and pointed out that a certain part is coming up. When something hasn’t happened yet, the viewer can expect a moment from the trailer should arrive. For instance, breaking glass, seeing things get blow apart, someone chasing someone, and so on. Not only that, but there are not many surprises in the story since the plot is the premise. Saoirse Ronan is fine in the opening of her character when she is alive as a schoolgirl almost falling in love. Knowing what will happen to her soon is devastating. The killer is no secret who it is also. Stanley Tucci once again transforms himself and steps up in this role huge. Of course, the visual effects are wonderful and the production design is nice to see. It is set in the seventies and it is done well without having to make pop culture references to that time period. It flips back and forth between the afterlife setting and current setting, but that isn’t a problem. The girl’s navigation of choosing when to stop is similar to the father’s decision of how serious he takes matters into his own hands of finding the killer. The Grandma Lynn character was an unnecessary addition to the story. There was a sequence of her filling in for the family that lasted a few minutes. The audience doesn’t need to see her mess up in the laundry room for humor. When the girl gets closer to Heaven, the audience wants the family to seal the deal on the killer where there’s no evidence. The film during these times is not uplifting and more so sad. Watching people overcome obsession and angst is not that fun. The sexual assault, which is never mentioned, and murders are never shown though blood and dead bodies are. Most of the violence occurs off-screen and the aftermath is shown later. To hide the uncomfortable situations might have been a wrong choice to make this a PG-13. There could have been a deeper emotional significance than just grieving a tragic loss with an afterlife to look forward to.

Final Grade: B/B-

The Hurt Locker (2009)
Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, a troop in Iraq tries to defuse bombs while possible sniper fire is surrounding them. It’s as threatening as a job can come and this movie does excellent at it by observing people living there who observe them at work. Paranoia is the word as the Iraq people can either be attempting to shoot at them or just curious to what’s happening. Many times there is nothing to it and when it is least expected, people drop. The film is not afraid of dispatching characters without warning. It is an intense, straightforward war-action film with no extra political message or psychological analysis involved, which makes this film special. Bigelow’s camerawork she uses is very shaky to show that it could have been shot like a documentary and so that the footage seems more real than it is. It’s about three soldiers and their different attitudes about their duty. Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie are very outstanding in their roles. Each character reacts in various ways which gives this film an unbiased implication. The one to follow most is Jeremy Renner who is fearless of danger. His character is believable as a working-class guy while Mackie’s takes pride in hard work. Every scene they go back at it again. It is predominantly an all male cast outside of a minor and underdeveloped wife character by Evangeline Lilly. The distant and shadowy figures behind the bombs are never really revealed. Not once is the real enemy shown who assembles the bombs. The soldiers want to fight the enemy but there is no central one to be found to stop planting bombs. It's pure and simple. They have a job to do and there’s no focus on leadership or mission orders. All that matters are that the guys are there fighting a war against a common enemy they have no true sight on.

Final Grade: B+

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Hans Matheson

Film Prophet's Review...
Detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threaten all of England. Aside from the absence of some source material and then modernizing it, Holmes has more a physical presence than ever. He is seen here fighting with fists and dodging harm to crucial detail. His best is when he is a detective to detail knowing everything from material form. Sherlock Holmes is in essence of observing detail and figuring out everything by the look of something. His main concern is stopping a villain who uses black magic. Of course this looks better on a movie scale, but Holmes and Watson don’t solve a normal crime together that isn’t to the big picture. What develops most from the film is the crime solving plot that is prepared by the villain. Near the end of the finale, it is revealed there was a backend to most of the minor details that were overlooked early on. It’s a heavy plot to every step a mystery took place. It goes so in depth once things are discovered to trace back what happened. Before that all occurs, there are two sides to the approach of this movie… the physical brute and the wisdom. The physical parts deal mostly with hand combats and escapes. The wisdom part is the detail examination of actually being a detective. This is fun to watch and hear as it is a careful study of surrounding. There is a boxing scene which puts both of them together. This is big because it setups Holmes’ credibility physically wise for later portions to give him plenty of attitude. Director Guy Ritchie returns to his London setting. He uses slowed down effects and jump cuts, but this is actually a bearable Ritchie film. Most of the action effects are very creative holding some near death experiences that are memorable to see. There’s a set untrustworthy secondary characters no need to get into talk. The film also begins like sequel which may be a turn off. If people can look past most of Holmes’ trademarks such as a pocket watch, saying the word elementary, a deerstalker hat, and so on, which shouldn’t even be a problem, there’s a ton of variety. There’s some comedy and romance and action, but by at large, it should be a crime detective film that shouldn’t act contemporary at all.

Final Grade: B

Nine (2009)
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Fergie

Film Prophet's Review...
The musical follows fame Italian film director Guido Contini aging past his prime trying to balance his women in life and his personal crisis toward the end of his career to come up with his next project that’s already in production. There’s no question the single attraction to this film is not the music, it is the performers. The list of names is astounding and they all perform to expectations if not more. However, their time on screen to do something notable was not. With all the women in the film, none of them ever share any real scenes or dialogue together. Other than just appearing on the same platform during fantasy sequences, they don’t communicate to one another at any time or anything really. They all have smaller parts than expected. Director Rob Marshall is no stranger to this costume musical territory. He won an Oscar picture for Chicago. While everything looks magnificent and grand, the songs just seemed to be there. They don’t advance the plot that much and most of them are not within the story itself proceeding along. They are done in flashbacks or fantasies or contained in someone’s head just thinking back. This goes against traditional musicals where songs just move from one to the next in some narrative sense. The best musicals have song and dialogue blend in. These songs also won't make people break out into song and dance when the film ends. They sound fine and physically performed well, but they aren’t that catchy. Whether they should be there or not, every actress has a solo song and performance. Marion Cotillard gives the most passion and intensity in hers. Nicole doesn’t appear or say much until later in the film. Day-Lewis is effective in between the whole burlesque appeal and mistresses. He lies to the media and everyone around him as he tries get away because he has no idea what is next film is about. This is over half of what Day-Lewis does in this role… act exhausted and tired with a major writer’s block. Fake things and play out things by imagination than writing. Not much is cheerful. The sets look great and the women are sultry. Sixties Rome is always nice to see on film. Though, it keeps up the whole stress thing, not being ready, and being sidetracked to disappoint by not see anything come to fruition. People eventually could figure out what will happen, but won’t expect it to come until the final couples minutes left.

Final Grade: B-/C+

An Education (2009)
Starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike

Film Prophet's Review...
The story of a soon to be seventeen year old London schoolgirl provides a romantic adventure outside of parental guidance and the school system to the rich lifestyle of older adults. This change of environment embraces a mature and smart girl played by Mulligan who accompanies an older Brit played by Sarsgaard. He courts her with the sixties London culture of jazz clubs, auctions, traveling, and classical music back in the day when people can smoke mostly anywhere really. It’s a very simple beginning of a movie ending in quite a predictable fashion. It acts as an exploration of traditional education in school versus a shortcut to adult life with old English accents and decent humor only they find humorous chatting about London university, culture, clothes, and the French, which can be a bit of a disconnect to American audiences. Mulligan is the one to watch in this film as twenty-four year old playing a guileless London schoolgirl. The reason why this film deserves attention is because of her and not the unsophisticated story and lesson from it. She appears in pretty much every scene and her facial expressions without having any words in a scene or moment light up the screen. She displays timid gasps, awes, and grins and her every move is sincere. The plot is less important than the acting and characters. Aside from Mulligan, the other important character is the man doing all the courting. Finding out who and what he does is just as inquisitive as her discovery of where she is. The man tries to charm her and her parents as the father can be judgmental often. ‘It's not always what you know, it's who you know.’ He opens her eyes in the real world before entering adulthood on her own or even in college as she wants to attend Oxford. All it is for the most part is a wealthy man courting a young lady. At about an hour and a half is all the time it needs about a girl going out with an older man. It is nothing more and goes without a punch for a long time. In the meantime, the viewers can draw comparisons on her being pampered with luxurious and fun ways versus the hard, expensive, time-consuming, and boring education through a school that would follow in the future… which one is enough education leaves the viewers to decide. Growing up too quickly and giving up a future for a glamourous man is an education.

Final Grade: B

Up in the Air (2009)
Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Danny McBride, Zach Galifianakis

Film Prophet's Review...
There isn’t a movie more relevant and significant about current change and the status on where the country is than this one. It is a seamless moral representation of where life in America is through a mixture of the economy and personal and family relationships at the end of the decade. There’s a strong message about developments of technology and how it affects companies and lives at home. What makes this great is that it is never preachy about it like a documentary and never seems like it at all. It all falls in place naturally. Jason Reitman directs a story about a human resources company who travels and fires employees for other corporations. George Clooney is excellent at this and a role that suits him… he enjoys traveling and tallying up his miles in the air with his Hertz Club Gold Card and is also a frequent corporate lecturer. Anna Kendrick is dynamite as new age graduate with big ideas that will change this company from the road to something technological. She is affecting, endearing, and complex as her character grows by learning the ropes of the company. The firing practice scene at the office in person between Kendrick and Clooney when they first meet is spot on fantastic. The movie’s script is razor sharp beginning with puns through excellent dialogue where generic audiences can get lost in the words. “That’s kinda like firing someone over the Internet” is the film’s best quote when it’s delivered. Clooney holds the movie together with his casual charisma, bright voiceover narration, and professional attire swiping his many cards in and out of priority member access all around. He gives some helpful tips about airport security and how to be quick and efficient too. There are so many little, subtle things going on in the movie that all add up to its magnitude… communication over text and video, corporations cutting work forces all around the country, traveling, the flight industry, the importance of a having a job, the value of family and reconnecting, and facing and handling industry changes. It is all done well with a doze of comedy and drama each to them. This film didn’t have any special effects and actions… and didn’t need any. There are many powerful moments in the final twenty minutes that cover death, marriage, employment change, loneliness, infidelity, and evolution on modern technology on its culture. This is no where near a romantic picture despite scenes and conversations about marriage and becoming a couple. There is a however an amazing scene where Kendrick and Farmiga discuss in detail about their different expectations of the ideal man. There's a whole bigger picture about life not always being fair. In its own way, it defines relationships and life choices on a personal and family level. How one would react to being fired and how to fire many people puts the viewer in the seats of the individuals in the movie. It is one of those films where the audience will look back and think about how several vital things resolved up and then relate and connect to it as a warning about some harsh sides of relationship and economy reality. It is bittersweet to leave these characters when the movie ends... audiences get the notion that they were real and should want them to be real and have a Q and A session afterwards. There is such an intimacy and resonant ingenuousness about them.

Final Grade: A/A-

Avatar (2009)
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi

Film Prophet's Review...
Viewed in Digital 3D, the visual wonder of this movie is ambitiously extraordinary with a heap of liveliness. First thing is first, it is from James Cameron who directs and writes this and second is that it is a really expensive movie. Did it pay off... the answer to that is it really did big time. Cameron delivers what might be the most astonishing presentation ever of an alien world. This experience is new, fresh, cool, and freaky. It is among the decade’s best in terms of an eye candy perspective, but also all the conventional film basics with the characters, conflicts, story, emotions, editing, and themes. The general themes in this movie come from tremendous conflicts and they excel to the top of all of them which makes this more special. Machinery on war and Man versus Nature are two of the most important ones. Don't mess with nature. If one of the goals was to marvel the audience by watching something that hasn’t been screened before, it did that not only by the technology of live-action computer generated graphics, but the characters and settings are fleshed out too. The super colorful and vivid world has a whole unique vision on people connecting to the forest and nature. The creation of another language, plenty of animals, and faith stored in part of the nature is full of majesty. The creatures and plants are not only unique but relevant to the whole storyline and life of the inhabitants. Reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings films, creatures in these worlds are both secondary characters other than for just a showcase… they come to aid later on and have an influence on what’s going on. They are all observed carefully. With the plan of strip-mining the distant alien moon Pandora set in the year 2154, the Na'vi people of the moon must leave or else their home will be bulldozed down. To help the process, synthetic Na'vi characters known as Avatars are remotely controlled by humans to gain insight in their world and deliver the message. Sam Worthington plays the one man central Avatar to root for similar to what District 9 did in the same manner a few months before almost from moving from one kind and culture to another. Here, he is deemed as 'the one' as that old concept is present but taken up a notch. Nothing is flashy about him though he is a paraplegic ex-marine with little of this Avatar creation knowledge on the world he is about to embark on. He does provide some narration and has daily video logs on his adventure in the fantasy world as a Na'vi. The ‘this is our land’ speech near the final battle is stirring. There’s plenty of action in the finale with the military, flying ships, shooting arrows, ammo, and so on. Without the big battle, it would have missed the impact it had. Same goes for the strong human villain lead led by Stephen Lang. In discovering the Na'vi and their world, there’s a lot of time spent on running around the land, flying, and jumping around trees, but this whole outlook is quite interactive. It puts the audience to imagine what’s it like placed stranded on a hostile, unknown environment and to that top, in a new physical form. The ex-marine embodies this new presence and customs to the Na'vi and this is all interesting in the first two-thirds of the movie before the action takes place. It is worth all the two and a half hours long. There hasn't been an impact this much by a new fantasy movie in a long time.

Final Grade: A-/A

Invictus (2009)
Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, McNeil Hendricks

Film Prophet's Review...
Clint Eastwood directs this film about Nelson Mandela and South Africa hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup where chances their own country would get to close winning it was very slim. Freeman is a perfect choice for Mandela because he looks the part. He fills expectations, but most of the time he is just sitting around looking calm and not doing anything dramatically special. Damon’s character is not an important figure in the early portions of the movie and he’s only in a few minor scenes then. He is big though in the second part once winning rugby games becomes the top feature. The rest of the rugby players outside of the only black African as Chester don’t receive any spotlight. Before the rugby action, the attention was mainly on the bodyguards of Mandela and their concerns with his safety and security. There are plenty of scenes of them just following him outside or entering stadiums. He has tons of bodyguards but there are never any real exterior threats though it makes the audience believe there will be an attempt on his life. Manipulative maybe, but it worked. Once that occurs, the skin color conflict arises. This conflict isn't awfully bad. There are no verbal arguments, racial slurs, or big drama revolving around it. It is just an issue… a simplistic one though. Mandela goes about reading newspaper headlines and counteracts with them, but in this movie, politics is not a main subject... sports is. However, this is not a full politics movie or a full sports movie. One might wonder why the rugby topic was the center of the story out of all the Mandela things. Aside from the few quick mentions and scenes about him being in prison, inspiration, teamwork, determination, and uniting the country as one are what this movie is about. It’s all a sports metaphor to the big picture. Instead of focusing on major economic problems, it drives by it. American audiences unfamiliar with the game might actually learn something about how rugby is scored as the games are played on, but not a whole lot is explained. The final rugby game is about twenty minutes where a chunk of it near the end is in slow-motion. Manipulative maybe, but it worked, again. From somewhat a bland movie evolves into a pure inspiring underdog story that can be uplifting.

Final Grade: B/B+

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepherd

Film Prophet's Review...
It’s 1987 in Harlem where an overweight sixteen-year old girl is pregnant with her second child. The movie holds nothing back at telling this right away. It portrays two crucial responsibilities in her life… her school and home life… both in which people may overlook and take for granted. Food, health and most importantly, education soars how important they are here. In what is probably the best climax position in the movie is a character played by Mo'Nique, the overbearing mother who stays at home. Any time she is on screen means something will modify with her quick temper and controlling manner. Audiences used to finding Mo'Nique in comedies will be astonished by the acting chops in her first real drama as one of the most monstrous parents ever. The dad is never shown in present time and remains a bad figure in the past. There are a few striking scenes both with Mo'Nique featured in. The scenes of the mother screaming from the bottom of the stairs up to Precious and the confession with the social worker at her desk part are very memorable. Home life is not helping Precious’ cause. To escape reality, Precious dreams at the moment of her wishing where she was right now. These sequences play often as they contain her with fashion and attention that she can not contain herself and soon that hurtful reality thrusts back at her. Her ambitions can not be accomplished. Mentally and physically well below the norm at her age, harmful twists are thrown at her and she makes it and goes on. She is judged and stereotyped and her home life is abusive. Even more, she opens up in a voiceover narration in the film and also from notebooks she tries to write for her class. Other notes are that there’s a teacher who looked like Alicia Keys whereas Mariah Carey looks like a bleak version of herself without makeup where she accomplishes a fine supporting character. The precise movie with a strong, but beat down character has one of those stories that remind peoples elsewhere others have it rougher. Though it won't really make anyone saying it is one of their favorite films seen, tears will fall as it is both uplifting and heartrending.

Final Grade: B+/B

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning

Film Prophet's Review...
This is not a vampire movie. It’s all about the teen romance again as vampires are absent during the middle act. Bella Swan’s romantic choice between Edward Cullen and Jacob Black goes back and forth and it seems like it will stay this way for a while. It plays out as the main conflict here. The lead male of Robert Pattinson is around in the beginning and the end, but his real presence is missed as he is gone while Bella spends time with Jacob. During this time, she goes on motorcycle rides, fixes a bike, and jumps off a cliff to get a rush while the vampires are no where to be found. Though, there wasn’t much werewolf activity either during this time. It moves away from vampires to werewolves which is interesting to see develop on its own and makes it different than the first movie. There were plenty of hints for werewolves before manifesting, except the main one… a full moon. The movie’s title is New Moon which is based on the novel’s title. Ironically, there isn't a single moon shown in the sky during the movie. These werewolves don't change under a full moon... they change on spot when they want, which rules out most werewolf theories. The characteristics of being a vampire aren't important to this movie either. Most of the vampires here walk around wearing amber contacts and looking pale instead. The blood level is very low. There are rarely any victims in this film. Vampires aren't biting or even killing anyone. There was one part with a bad vampire leftover from the previous film who posed a threat, but had a short appearance. The other leftover named Victoria is just chased around and runs fast. Generally vampire movies are close to horror. The change here has been its alternative of young romance. The only thing that matters is Bella's relationships that are very sensitive not only with the two guys, but with her compassionate father who she lives with and her human high school friends who get plenty of time. There aren’t many surprises… it's just sweet on the Romeo & Juliet scale the film refers to several times. It was more of the same as before… Bella and someone stands before one another looking in pain and share their feelings in a slow-paced first half with a ton of drawn out one on one love dialogue scenes. Even the special effects are slowed down considerably during fights or chases to give time to show how fast vampires can move in action. There are plenty of laughable scenes also. For instance, when Edward walks to Bella in the school parking lot is another example of slowing something down in the film. There are a lot of scenes with guys with no shirts on and a lot of age jokes about how old each other is. Dakota Fanning is in one long scene who was nearly forgotten that she was in the movie to begin with. It did further develop the werewolf characters as the local Indian tribe who are enemies with vampires. It still has that chance of getting better with its next film too.

Final Grade: B-/C+

A Christmas Carol (2009)
Voices by Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Colin Firth

Film Prophet's Review...
Disney's new adaptation of Charles Dickens' beloved story directed by Robert Zemeckis viewed via 3D is darker than before. It’s true that this is a Disney film though it may not appear that way since it is slightly more overcast than magical spreading a unique illustration to a well-known story. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim along with everything else that is remembered about the novel and films are back. There was bunch of shots of Jim Carrey screaming in the trailers so one couldn’t really tell much about it, but the title recognition of the story should be enough for a wide audience to watch it. The three spirited ghosts’ appearances then when they appeared was more of a surprise. The same performance-capture effects used in The Polar Express is here. The visuals are stunning to look at especially in 3D. The snow is actually its best feature when it falls down which is actually the nearest to the audience. It's easy to see a lot of stuff is tossed around the city top. It goes from Scrooge flying and the movie zooming over London’s landscapes on a great ride to some still cold setting and scene of talking. There’s no surprise on who Scrooge is by now. However, the build of his character in the early part of this movie before the spirits visit was important to do. Changing from the greedy and lonely man is vital to show to the whole movie. There was a mix of just being angry at the world and not caring about Christmas than emboding what any evil is. To depict something happy or Christmas like early on while Scrooge’s misery is all happening, kids slide down an icy road on their feet at night just for fun, which is risky behavior not associated with the holiday, but the season. The charity guys asking Scrooge brings out some of the best moments along with a Scrooge’s nephew’s dinner. The horse and miniature Scrooge sequences were something new, but distracted. The movie has been remade so many times that the new things just look extraneous. The spirits aren’t anything noteworthy or fascinating this time around. The balance of cold and warm moments was off-putting. Scenes interchange when the three ghosts appear to which they are relevant or not, but Scrooge seems to have a grasp of understanding this transformation of what is happening to him. There is a less affect to the audience unlike previous versions that were more effective and charming all around.

Final Grade: B-

Jennifer's Body (2009)
Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody

Film Prophet's Review...
It follows a teenage girl in a dozy creek town whose life turns when she becomes possessed and begins killing young men in her town who lust after her. The main interest in this movie was finding out what exactly is Megan Fox's character, who plays Jennifer. The initial attraction here is Megan Fox to see if she can act as a lead though she plays a sexual tease and she’s stuck in one mode of sultry poise. Jennifer is some sort of demon with blood dripping from her mouth, speaks no words, and screams like a beast in one scene. ‘Hell is a teenage girl’ opens the narration, but it is Amanda Seyfried who does the voiceover throughout as Jennifer’s best friend in high school. Her admiration for Jennifer is clear and she manages to do it nicely without becoming obsessive. She is nicknamed the kicker and it starts in a mental hospital and lands back in a high school without explanation despite this narration that won't stop where there's more of that than dialogue which is actually better scripted since parts of the dialogue can be ignored. However, it returns to the place because the whole thing is easily predictable where it will end up, who is Jennifer’s next target victim, and what will happen. It does not show any of this man eating on screen for a while. One early scene sets foot in a cold and dark bar and moves to more teen angst. From there, no horror hints anywhere as this movie is a comedy-horror and provides little trying at comedy. It never finds the right balance of the two. The finale is in a bizarre swimming pool some place that has a mix of horror and comedy five seconds after another and the audience won't know what direction it wants to take. It's never really scary or funny. Aside from the horror and comedy attempts, hormone driven activity fills out the rest of it, or really just desire talk that stops and goes when it wants when people ask each other out in the halls. According to Diablo Cody's script, high school is about sadness and hooking up. None is appealing and has dire results here. There’s plenty of middling conversations regarding mourning and fear that appears lazy in method. All characters appear exhausted, despondent, and tired which makes for an unentertaining film that isn’t original. Someone even asks, ‘no offense, but you look really tired.’ Around the hour mark is where it gets slightly better discovering what happened to Jennifer that made her what she is. However, it is Amanda Seyfried who demonstrates she can act while Megan Fox has a one-dimensional role as a seducing flirt with a bite.

Final Grade: C/C+

Zombieland (2009)
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Film Prophet's Review...
In this horror comedy, an epidemic broke out prior to the film’s current time where the majority of the population turned into zombies. It swept across the globe as a boy and a man team up to survive. It begins with a ton of sickening shots of mouths spitting out blood and also gore and guts being bitten away. There was blood in every shot. This all loosens up though. It started out gross which might turn some viewers away too early. This first five to ten minute sequence is complete chaos watching people fly and crash out of cars landing in a bloody hard fashion because they are running away with fear of zombies. However, patience will only see a petite storyline where there is much less gore and more humor than pure flesh eating. Jesse Eisenberg runs his mouth during the whole movie as the narration by pointing out his list of rules to follow against zombies. When a rule happens, it is displayed by text on screen. Due to the fact that roughly five total characters actually speak English during the entire movie, most of the movie is limited to one person's narration and dialogue with others. This constant voiceover narrates everything going on and his phobias reminds the audience of his rules of survival when they occur. For the horror comes some shock value. Watching zombies barf dark red blood or seeing an image of a clown underneath a bathroom stall can do the trick. The comedy is mainly sick and sarcastic. The best bit is a top-notch cameo making the most of someone’s presence… hint, there’s Ghostbusters play. Woody Harrelson’s performance is all about business. His fearless attitude that he has at first lightens up when he seeks out a crazy urge of Twinkies. His macho manner never leaves though and it is fun watching him kill zombies with his set of weaponry at times when they enter new places. There are a couple of young con girls who join the guys as this film can also be considered a road trip traveling across the country. There are fewer zombies in the second act when they hit their destination of California until the big finale with literally a annihilating roller coaster ending. By the end, it serves as a fun zombie flick with some sight comedy and entertainment.

Final Grade: B-

Year One (2009)
Starring Jack Black, Michael Cera, Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, David Cross, Vinnie Jones, Hank Azaria

Film Prophet's Review...
There was some great anticipation for this movie seeing some big names such as Judd Apatow, Harold Ramis, Jack Black, and among others involved. After being pounded away with bland trailers, there was less and less interest in watching it. There was virtually no story or real jokes in the trailers. It actually took months to finally get around in seeing this… much later than expected… and it proved why it took so late. Two men from a distant prehistoric village turn into slaves with too much of a nonsensical appeal. Both leads do exactly what they have been doing, but no reason to care here. Much of movie involves Cera and Black communicating with each other about jabber connecting to the next random thing in a jungle where these seem like poorly connected sketches. Other than the agendas of 'laying' with certain women of their desire, there’s too much of them just standing there talking to each other without story for the most part. It slightly touches upon Bible stories here and there, but no, it doesn’t really. Michael Cera in a loincloth was unappealing. There are many shades of the color brown everywhere. It looks like they are goofing around in cavemen costumes with makeup but then talking about how they don't bathe or clean up. The Stone Age era is silly and pointless really adding little to the film. The two men go on finding a world of life outside of their little village and later, Jack Black floats with this idea of being the chosen one then he is a slave the next scene and goes back and forth with this. There’s a lot of repetitive talk about being chosen by gods that go no where. However, he wears out his welcome when he has too much screen time and forgettable lines sooner or later. Christopher Mintz-Plasse had a really minor role... he also came in past a third in the movie and did noting of importance. Both female agendas for the two guys disappear rather quickly, as they do suddenly appear soon, as the men go wander around finding new places and different types of people to gag with. None of it is entertaining although it tries to on a juvenile level. Not only is the setting and story quite bad, the comedy is the worst of it all. The stale sex and dick jokes overstay their time. There's one just about every five minutes and they're very cliché. There's a part where a woman plays with a banana, which is so uncreative. There's peeing on a face and there's even a disturbing conversation about circumcising that goes on for a few minutes and only provides uncomfortable moments. One has to wonder when the writing team thought of having Jack Black find poo in the forest and picking it up was a bright idea... or having men examining a pile of intestines on a table. The gross-out humor is completely ineffective here. Oiling a man with massive chest hair should never be shown on a movie. There is no sense of timing or dignity. There is even a scene where two guys are trying to sleep and the other tries to make a mockery out of farting during the night… utterly unbelievable thinking movies are way past putting in scenes like that in. This movie felt like an incomplete series of deleted scenes that is left with featuring some of the lowest of the lows in mainstream comedy film.

Final Grade: C-

The Final Destination (2009)
Starring Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Mykelti Williamson

Film Prophet's Review...
After a premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps save the lives of several attendees, death eventually catches up on them who escaped their destiny. Made for 3D this time, just almost one every three years now are made. It has the same format as the prior three that involves the order of sequence of deaths from the opening disaster and everything else regarding around the central character who has these premonitions. Besides all the obvious 3D effects, what separates this from the first three is that this is very basic of the original concept. It's kept to a minimal... the run time doesn't exceed an hour and a half and the characters are mostly stereotypical this time in short form. In fact, the lives of the young characters’ work or school are never portrayed or told. It goes straight into the danger and teases away at making memorable on screen deaths to when looking at an everyday real world item later scarily reminds a viewer about a particular calamity in the movie. It doesn't go beyond the concept, whether that's fine or not who knows but it is uncomplicated. It’s understandable by now the logic will be the same. Nevertheless, it is still terrifying to watch the scenes play out before death may or not happen. It is fun to watch deaths setup before it happens... pointing out who will die in the first sequence is so obvious. The idea of place and destiny and influence of others are shown well. There are a few false alarms that catch the audience off guard where scenes build up to a horrific accident but in the end, death does not happen at the moment... all prior three do this extremely well too. They are elaborate, drawn-out, and far-fetched scenes that are exciting to watch them play out. The most painful one to sit through was the haircut scene. The downfall of this film is the visibly bad CGI death effects... they don't even look that real and there's too much computer work into it. Blood splats and it is easy to tell what parts in the film are made just for 3D that is distracting. Also new are the skeletons effects and the premonition sequences that definitely for the 3D effect like most of this film... they are loud and show some excruciating and destructive items interchange with each other and that's the clue for the next death. The Deja vu part was somewhat clever after it became known. Final Destination still remains the best horror franchise of the decade and has tons of tricks up it sleeve to find out new ways how to build up and kill someone off from weird accidents.

Final Grade: C+

The Informant! (2009)
Starring Matt Damon, Joel McHale, Tom Papa, Rick Overton, Melanie Lynskey, Thomas F. Wilson

Film Prophet's Review...
The film tells the true story about a corporate price-fixing scandal in the nineties involving how a company executive cooperated with the FBI in collecting evidence against his colleagues. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, he creates a believable web of lies from his main character, acted by Matt Damon who packed the pounds for this role. Damon is also the unreliable narrator to his whistle-blower character as the satire of corporate lawyers continues along. It goes without being overdramatic or too serious. Damon mainly keeps the material interesting and his voiceover narration carries out throughout the entire movie, not explaining the storyline, but rather dishing out some metaphoric facts that could relate to the situation of the scene… or not. It’s almost goofy in a manner jumping from one topic to the next disconnecting the scene as other people speaking it in are cut off. Numbers usually consist of these voiceover statements, and plenty of scenes do. This movie is a big law and economics film, but one has to wonder why this content was even made out for a movie and how to make it worth being somewhat entertaining. The blithe music score selection made it merry and light, which does help to glue the viewers in scene after scene. For some reason, the movie is rated R purely from language, despite being so whimsical. Most of the scenes are in the office when Matt Damon walks in to his own room and then people follow right after to discuss. These are authority figures who get told the mistruth or not and want to know if it is the truth. Most of these are the same however. The middle of the movie has Damon across the world in Europe and Japan making agreements and recording tapes for the FBI. His wedding ring is a noticeable item of him... he is definitely a family man from the beginning to the end... one of the only things he keeps straight with him. There are plenty of business meetings talking about kickbacks and price fixes, which all might not go over well with an average educated audience, but nothing is too detail or involved. There are lies on top of convincing lies that none of the audience can separate out early on. The audience doesn't see what lies until near the end are when it becomes evident.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Martin Wuttke

Film Prophet's Review...
Quentin Tarantino directs and writes a film about a renegade troop of Jewish-American soldiers who in due course cross paths with ominous German Col. Hans Landa into Nazi-occupied France. It’s a spin on World War II history comprising of Jewish revenge on the Nazis as the general consensus. There is a startling opening scene revolving around hiding Jews, as the malevolence that comes out of this scene sets the mood for the rest of the movie… the German Nazi soldiers are evil… and in order to retaliate, a group just as brutal as them called the Inglourious Basterds led by Brad Pitt are featured to scalp the Nazis. The story is divided in five chapters. From the first chapter, it starts out extremely raw and authentic, as this follows to the rest. Even though some of the content is exaggerated and fictional, it's so full of unpretentiousness for mixing fact with fiction. From a filmmaking standpoint, Tarantino created something outside of the box. Usually fans of Tarantino brag about his exceptional film work and tend to overvalue the guy sometimes, but here he is nothing short of what might be his best work of late. The camerawork here is phenomenal. It stays on one area in a scene and it extends it longer and longer… hence the possible reason of the film being almost three hours in length. The camera focuses all around the focal point in a scene, usually around a table, and there's no extra flashy business, unless counting the movements over certain stories of wall structure. The cuts and edits here are kept to a minimal and the acting shines through. In other words, it is intense to watch self-assured performances as the focus never knowing when violence may occur, even for being such a wordy film. There could be a homage to foreign and western films by Tarantino’s part with all the characters’ talk about foreign films and the long endless camera shots too. That statement is in no relation to the European language translation that is spoken often in the film... or the subtitles going on. One can estimate just about half of the dialogue was in subtitles, and it wasn't a problem. The foreign film talk happens mainly in discussions of international film stars and about a theater in France. For a Western, there are plenty of drawn-out and sometimes quiet conflicts characterized by body language. Again, the camera makes sure facial reactions are priceless. The audience can see fear or bravery in characters easily - French actress Mélanie Laurent stands out here - or at other times, sure confidence with evil smirks, which is happens a lot of times especially from Pitt. The settings are also a strong point of the film. Nearly every chapter of the film has itself a single memorable place that stays put for an extended duration. The violence level is not high here however. There are no chase scenes and incredible special effects involving action. There are no war battles going on either. It's mostly conniving dialogue that mostly ends in a short burst of unbelievable killings or shock moments. For example, the basement bar with the actress playing that card game. The majority of the scenes have characters around a dinner table with concentrated discussion of subtle and devious threats that aren’t really deliberate. Christoph Waltz, as the menacing antagonist, does so well at this. He plays one of the most despicable villains as Hans Landa. There's a ton of debriefing on his part and it's all great to watch. It's also interesting to see these two parties of the Nazis and Basterds interact with each other because they both use similar brutal madcap behavior. This is not a movie about Brad Pitt's character. It cuts back and forth between a few storylines and his screen time may be limited, but he might actually have the most. There are other characters to be concerned about too. There’s the comical portrayal of many individuals - and their nicknames - and events that are played out wonderfully. It's practically within what's going on that makes the audience laugh. None of it is intentional or forced like modern comedies can push out either. Look out for the Negro and King Kong joke though. One can say Eli Roth bares resemblance to Zachary Quinto too. Also, David Bowie’s Cat People song should see an increase in attention. The storylines culminate in some of the most alarmingly callous screen moments ever. To note for example, the entire German movie premiere scene might go down as among the greatest not just recently, but ever. The entire last half hour is a sensation. The climax at the end of it is that plausible... it's a standout to remember. For a movie title that has misspellings, it is certainly a glorious film and one to even study.

Final Grade: A-/A

Taking Woodstock (2009)
Starring Demetri Martin, Jonathan Groff, Imelda Staunton, Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, Emile Hirsch

Film Prophet's Review...
During the summer of 1969, a small uptight farming community witnesses a colossal music festival full of hippy visitors in their hometown. Directed by Ang Lee, he faces the challenge that people generally could be over the whole Woodstock event. Though it is in its fortieth anniversary, the release date of the film was ideal in August marking it exactly that long ago. Lee takes the event and puts the focus on the crowd’s freedom and sexual liberation than the music. There’s a message of peace observing hippies and their behavior. In fact, one of the few times the film takes notice of the stage of music is when there wasn’t any… there was an electric shortage. Elliot Tiber, played by comedian Demetri Martin, pretty much hosts this event in his hometown in Bethel and yet he is never really close enough to be consumed by the music going on. In one scene, he encounters a detour in a tent to go on an acid trip. This was about a ten minute bizarre sequence that could have been cut down, but look out for Paul Dano in it. The drug exposure isn't really up front though it sure is there everywhere... nothing is graphic other than the random displays of group nudity. Elliot's sexuality is touched upon for a bit, but never surfacing to coming out fully. Martin plays him very calm and relaxed, but isn’t a very strong protagonist. It is weird seeing Liev Schreiber, who just played Victor Creed as Wolverine's brother, as the transsexual guy… total opposite characters. Jonathan Groff has a cool and easy movie role of mainly saying ‘far out’ and ‘very cool’ almost every other short line he has. Emile Hirsch seemed like a cliché piece as a Vietnam War vet, but still fun to watch. Imelda Staunton was convincing as Elliot’s mother. There are a couple scenes to look out for… when two members of a mob visit them and Elliot’s press conference about freedom. However, the details behind the event’s commercialism didn't become known. The bags of cash to fund the concert was in question, as well as how did people find out about the concert so fast… the movie shows how so many people attended and what needed to accommodate them properly, but not how the word got out suddenly and quick to the right audience. There sure were plenty of weird people in the film, and they like their local chocolate milk. The first portion of the film dedicates a long time to exhibit the open spaces that Ang Lee can notably picture well along with farm land that was unused and had potential for this festival to be placed there. There is a huge state of nothing in the area and this becomes a flat movie with it as the very few locals there are concerned about this music festival. They shouldn’t be so concerned after all since the music in the movie was left out. The event is mostly remembered for the music. Evidently, more things took place than just the music, but it does too little to make a big splash with primarily hippy exploits, unlike what the actual cultural event did. The only real drama was between Elliot and his parents for a bit regarding money and savings. It isn't a big disappointment by Ang Lee, as a lightweight, comedic film was expected from this after a while.

Final Grade: C+