New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday Oct. 9.
A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Director Ridley Scott returns to the genre which he helped define more than 30 years ago when he made the groundbreaking movie Alien, and what he has created is a stunning film filled with dazzling visuals and terrifying suspense.
I had been looking forward to this film ever since I had heard that it was a prequel to Alien, which happens to be my favourite film of 1979. It isn't really necessary however to have seen the Alien movies before as Prometheus works on its own, but it definitely enhances the experience when you have that frame of reference.
Featured in the cast are Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.
Prometheus is more than a creature feature, as it deals with the themes of faith vs. science, creation vs. Darwinism and other philosophical ideas about the nature of our existence. I found it to be an epic piece of science fiction storytelling with spectacular visuals that had me enthralled throughout. I highly recommend this film to any fans of sci-fi/horror and especially to anyone who's a fan of the Alien series.
I loved Prometheus!
Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages tells the story of small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew, who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rock 'n' roll romance is told through the heart-pounding hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake and more.
This movie definitely qualifies as a guilty pleasure. It is by no means a great film, in fact it's quite mediocre, however what it is at times is a raucous, toe-tapping, head-banging fun time, providing that you're a huge fan of eighties hair metal music of course.
Based on the hit Broadway stage production, Rock of Ages stars Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman and Bryan Cranston.
There are some amusing moments scattered throughout the film but overall it's pretty uneven, and at just over 2 hours long it overstays its welcome. I would liken Rock of Ages to a piece of cotton candy - it's light and fluffy and sweet to the taste but evaporates very quickly - much like this light trifle of a film will fade from your memory rapidly.
If you are a huge fan of eighties music and want to sing along then you might have some fun with Rock of Ages, otherwise it's nothing too special.
Set in Baltimore circa 1849, The Raven begins with a horrific murder committed by a madman who is seemingly inspired by the dark and macabre tales of legendary poet Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack). When a young detective (Luke Evans) is called on the scene, he must join forces with the alcoholic and melancholic Poe to get inside the killer's mind and try to stop him from re-enacting the most brutal stories of the famous writer. Things become even more complicated and personal when Poe's love interest Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped and a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues.
This had the potential to be a really creepy, gothic period thriller but unfortunately it was very uninspired and dull throughout. The first half of the movie really drags and just seems to lay there without any real energy or life to it. The latter half picks up the pace slightly but by then I just wasn't overly invested in the outcome that much anymore, and for a mystery, the reveal is the most important aspect.
Director James McTeigue - who made the impressive V for Vendetta - doesn't bother to give us any real insight into the man that Edgar Allen Poe was, but instead seems more interested in shoehorning him into a revisionist piece of history. I would be fine with that if more enthusiasm for the material was evident but the fact that it's shot in such a dark and dreary fashion seems to reflect the overall mood of everyone involved.
This is a totally underwhelming misfire.
I quoth The Raven: EverBored!
A Cat in Paris
This animated gem of a picture is set in Paris, where a cat who lives a secret life as a cat burglar's aide must come to the rescue of Zoe, the little girl he lives with, after she falls into a notorious gangster's clutches.
This gorgeously hand-drawn French film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and it is a wonderful movie suitable for all ages.
I especially appreciated the homage to film noir and Hitchcockian themes that it presents in a classic retro style.
If you are an animation aficionado then I urge you to seek out A Cat in Paris.
Also out this week is the twisted dark comedy/horror film Excision starring AnnaLynne McCord and Traci Lords, the quirky comedy Losing Control and finally for the first time ever on Blu-ray, one of the greatest family movies of all-time, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Blast From the Past
Continuing on from last week, here are my top ten films of 1999.
10. Office Space - This is an absolutely hilarious movie that satirizes what it's like to work in an office environment or any large company for that matter. Having worked myself for a big corporation for many years I could totally relate to the plight of these individuals. It features numerous memorable characters and funny moments and it has become somewhat of a cult classic. Office Space cracks me up every time I see it.
9. The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan's creepy and effective thriller starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment had one heck of a twist ending. You have to admit that when you saw this in theaters, not knowing anything about it, that the wallop of an ending took you by surprise and made your jaw drop. It's too bad that Shyamalan couldn't follow up with anything nearly as creative as his films progressively got worse and worse (Unbreakable excluded) over the years.
8. Magnolia - I remember when I saw this operatic character study in the theater and 18 people got up and left, most likely due to the excessive offensive language (the majority of fleers were in the elderly age bracket), so there is no denying that this is one divisive film. You either love it or hate it. Obviously I fall into the former category. Paul Thomas Anderson's aptly titled film unfurls brilliantly much like a flower in bloom. It's long and dense and contains a sprawling cast of memorable characters and situations. Magnolia is quite the experience.
7. Go - After Pulp Fiction came out many films tried to copy the style and feel of a Tarantino picture. Most failed miserably, but Go managed to do a great job of blending clever dark humour and exhilarating action into a fun, hip and entertaining ride. Go is told out of chronological order and has three intertwining plots that involve a drug deal over the course of one evening. Each story is told from a different character's perspective and it's an exciting and twist filled film that's directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity). Go is well worth seeking out.
6. The Insider - This true story about a tobacco industry whistleblower featured superb performances by Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Crowe was so good in fact that I felt he should have been awarded the Oscar for Best Actor but he lost out to Kevin Spacey for American Beauty. The Insider is an absolutely riveting and compelling drama from start to finish and it's easily one of the best films that Michael Mann has ever directed. This is great stuff!
5. The Green Mile - Coming off the heels of one of the greatest prison movies ever made, The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont returns to the world of incarceration to once again adapt a Stephen King novel. Tom Hanks is wonderful as a death row corrections officer who strikes up a friendship with an inmate that has supernatural powers. I was so sad to hear of the passing last month of Michael Clarke Duncan who did such a fabulous job playing the special inmate on death row. This will forever be remembered as his career defining role and if you're not brought to tears by the end of this film then I don't know what to say. The Green Mile is a beautiful film.
4. Three Kings - George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube star in this rip roaring tale of three soldiers who hatch a scheme to steal gold bullion from one of Saddam Hussein's bunkers during the Gulf War. It is a clever and exciting film that combines comedy, intense action and suspenseful drama. The original and stylish visuals are presented brilliantly by director David O. Russell. Three Kings is just a visceral, pulse pounding hell of a good time at the movies.
3. Toy Story 2 - I've stated many times before about my unabashed love of all things Pixar and the Toy Story franchise ranks right on top of the list of the best things they've ever done. It's a rare feat when a sequel can match or better the original but Toy Story 2 manages to succeed hands down. It is such an endearing thing to watch the adventures of these wonderful toy characters and it really sparks a feeling of nostalgia in the viewer making us remember the joys of being a child and having a sense of wonderment. These are the types of films that will endure and be shared for generations to come. I adore everything about Toy Story.
2. Being John Malkovich - This is without a doubt one of the most creative and original films that I have ever seen. It is the truly bizarre tale of an unemployed puppeteer who finds a portal that leads into the mind of actor John Malkovich. John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and of course John Malkovich star in this wild comedy/fantasy film that was the directorial debut of Spike Jonze, who up to that point had only made music videos with the likes of Beastie Boys, Weezer and Björk. This wildly imaginative film also comes from the crazy mind of Charlie Kaufman, who wrote the brilliant screenplay. Being John Malkovich is unlike anything you've ever seen or are likely to see again. It's sheer genius!
1. The Straight Story - This heartwarming and tender film is based on the true story of an elderly man's journey across Iowa and Wisconsin using nothing more than a riding lawnmower. When Alvin Straight learns that his estranged brother has had a stroke he decides to visit him before he dies. Since his legs and eyes are too impaired for him to have a driver's license and he hates buses, he decides to trek across country on an old John Deere lawn tractor. RIchard Farnsworth is simply wonderful as Alvin and it earned him a well deserved Oscar nomination. He was terminally ill with bone cancer during the shooting of the film, which had caused the paralysis of his legs as shown in the film. Because of the pain of his disease, Farnsworth sadly committed suicide one year after the film was released. Known for mostly bizarre and dreamlike films, director David Lynch made his most "normal" film ever and it is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. The Straight Story is a lyrical and poetic film about the resolve of the human spirit and it should be required viewing for people of all ages. I just want to give this movie a big warm hug.
1999 was an incredible year for movies and there were some truly amazing ones that didn't quite crack the list but they're so close I'll give them an honourable mention. American Beauty, Election, Eyes Wide Shut, Felicia's Journey, Fight Club, The Iron Giant, The Limey, Man on the Moon, The Matrix, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sweet and Lowdown and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
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