Movie review: Immortals

I've always enjoyed watching sword and sorcery epic movies. Clash of the Titans (the old one, not the remake), 300, Conan the Barbarian (Arnold's version), the Sword and the Sorcerer etc etc...

So now they have the Immortals showing on the big screens. What's this one about? Check out the reviews below:

Immortals: Big, dumb yet perversely watchable
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Kellan Lutz

Here's a pre-flight (of fancy) checklist to fill in prior to watching Immortals.
Is it big and sprawling, with lots of 300-inspired fight scenes? Check.
Is it full of plot holes, inconsistent behaviour and silly deeds by otherwise intelligent-seeming characters that cause their enemies to gain the upper hand? Check.
Is it packed to the brim with posturing, furrowed brows, stirring speeches and the morose faces of people and gods on the brink of being exterminated? Check.
Does the story ignore everything – and I mean everything apart from the "fact" that Zeus is ruler of the gods – about the mythology that fuels its storyline? Oh hell yeah.
Was way more attention was paid to getting everything to look pretty, than to turning in a script that made sense and had lively dialogue? Oh boy, yes.
And does Mickey Rourke spend half his scenes chewing on assorted fruits and nuts from the production caterer's buffet spread? Uh-huh, and in blatant defiance of the "no eating on the set" rule too.
BUT ... the movie is also brutal, visually arresting, and packs enough gore even in its censored form to satisfy anyone out for a spleen-venting dose of carnage.
And while we're at it, as epic fantasies go, this tale of mortals out to destroy or save the gods of ancient Greece is also more enjoyable than the recent Conanor Clash of the Titans remakes.
Granted, given the level of those two films, that is not exactly high praise.
What Immortals does have going for it, despite its many problems and a final scene that makes absolutely no sense, is its stylishly-shot action sequences which frequently explode into startling violence.
Yes, that's it really. Forget about white-robed Greek gods who sit around ruminating on the foibles of mortals and how mighty Zeus can't keep his, er, divinity in his chiton.
Freida is the hottie in this movie
When the gods in Immortals show up you can bet an economy-size can of whoop-ass is about to get opened.
Basically, it's the story of Theseus (Cavill), a Greek peasant who finds himself thrust into the role of unwitting saviour of both gods and men.
The vengeance-crazed King Hyperion (Rourke) wants to free the gods' arch-enemies, the long-imprisoned Titans, to destroy the immortal beings while his own forces exterminate their human worshippers.
The most notable thing to take away from this movie is that where heroic figures are concerned, star Henry Cavill does have the makings of a pretty decent Superman. So, hope remains for 2013's Man of Steel.
The "man of steel" in action
As for Immortals, well, it's the kind of film that is so riddled with flaws in the scripting and storytelling departments that it should not be able to hold together for more than half an hour. Yet somehow it does, grabbing our focus with the kind of brain-squelching violence that makes watching it feel almost like indulging a perversion.

Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

By Davin Arul
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Cary Elwes

First things first: this review comes to you through the eyes of a non-fan.
Nothing against Herge's work – it was purely a budgetary consideration back in my teens. Asterix or Tintin? Finally, roast boar, bruised legionaries and magic potion won my hard-earned dollars.
Which brings me to Messrs Spielberg and (Peter) Jackson's adaptation of the beloved-by-millions Tintin comics.
Having no emotional investment in the characters and stories, I can say that this big-screen outing of Tintin kept me thoroughly entertained, almost from start to finish.
There were a couple of oh-get-on-with-it-already moments, but for the most part, every scene in the film propels the story along nicely.
It hasn't exactly turned me into a fan, so I'm not about to rush out and grab all the comics to catch up on what I've been missing since that fateful financial decision.
But even to these indifferent eyes, The Adventures of Tintin has all the trappings of a rollicking good adventure: shadowy comings and goings, sinister baddies, abductions, escapes, punch-ups, shootings, chases, more chases, still more chases, and even – what's this – duelling cranes? (As in the heavy machinery, not the bird.)
While one Tintin follower tells me that the originals seldom had this level of spectacle (read: excess approaching the level of 1941), I didn't really find anything too out of place.
Of course, it has the brave but somewhat one-dimensional intrepid boy reporter Tintin (Bell) at its centre, along with the characters you would expect: Captain Haddock (brilliantly motion-capture-performed by Serkis), the plucky pooch Snowy (NOT Serkis, no matter what others might tell you) and the bumbling cops Thomson and Thompson (Frost and Pegg).
The loyal dog Snowy. Nope, not Anthony Serkis!
TAoT has a strong Indiana Jones vibe in its chase sequences, with the already mentioned over-the-top moment or two.
But it succeeds 90% of the time in maintaining a heady and infectious sense of adventure, liberally dosed with humour – the kind that will make you chuckle along, but not split your sides laughing – and it's all boosted by a pleasing John Williams score.
There's a wealth of detail for keen-eyed viewers to spot, and I hear fans of the comic found numerous familiar visual elements that might as well have been winking at them from the screen.
It wouldn't be complete without Captain Haddock, literally the life of this party; without his … er, alcohol-fueled hijinks, colourful metaphors and alliterative epithets, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed myself half as much.
The good ol' Captain
By Toutatis (oops), I'm glad that for once I didn't have any fan baggage to weigh me down.

REAL STEEL - The world of Ultimate Robot Fighting!

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie

Put up your dukes
In the near future, audience demands for spectator-sport carnage have grown so high that human fighters have been replaced with robots. On the understanding that, you know, robots can rip each other's limbs and heads off and there's no loss of life.

That is the simple notion behind the film's setting – the world of robot boxing – and I say "simple" because I don't buy the idea that people will be appeased by robot gladiators pounding each other into scrap outside of a Transformers movie.

There's a reason the word is "bloodthirsty" and not "oilthirsty".
Well, that quibble aside, Real Steel turned out to be pretty close to the Real Deal as far as fight flicks go.

While not in the same league as Warrior, this sci-fi-themed film works on several levels.

Its fight scenes have that whole Rocky underdog vibe going, the drama touches the heart without getting cloying, and there's a general sense of good humour maintained throughout the film that keeps even the tense moments from getting too intense.

Hopefully Jackman will be back as Wolverine soon

 Jackman puts in a winning performance as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up boxer who now ekes out a living managing robot boxers while searching for that one big payday that will have him set up for life.

The pursuit of this "dream" has left him in debt to numerous nasty types, and he's also losing all credibility with childhood friend and sometimes-landlady Bailey Tallet (Lilly), the daughter of his late boxing trainer and mentor.

With so much going wrong … er, on in his life, can you blame Charlie for forgetting that he has a son? Of course you can, but who could pin an abandonment rap on Hugh Jackman for long? (Yeah, it's mostly Jackman's show, though he is matched every step of the way by his young co-star. And sometimes even outpunched.)

Anyway, Charlie ends up "caring" for 11-year-old Max (Goto) after the lad's mother dies, but the kid is just another meal ticket to him … initially.

Father and son, strangers at the outset, have a rough time at first but eventually bond over a sparring robot named Atom that Max rescues from the junk pile.

It dawns on them that Atom is no ordinary sparring robot – and soon, the little feller ("little" in comparison to the other metal behemoths he fights) is making waves on the robot boxing circuit.
The Kentons and Atom eventually catch the attention of the powerful Lemkova family, which manages the world champion 'bot, Zeus. Care to guess where Atom's fairytale run will lead them? Don't worry … you'll be absolutely right.

Real Steel is smart enough to declare that it's only "partly" based on the Richard Matheson short story Steel, which was previously made into a Twilight Zone episode back in the 1960s.
Smart, because the "partly" lets it play with the concept of robot boxing in ways that sticking faithfully to the source material would not allow.

While I still find it hard to believe that bloodthirsty people would get all stirred into a frenzy over robots (and not living beings) tearing each other apart, I will say that Real Steel does what it's here to do.

It gets us all fired up, puts on a good show for the yokels … er, moviegoers … and fades out with a "Yo, Adrian, I did it!" moment that undeniably shows that the Rocky movies, more than Matheson's story, inspired its filmmakers.

And still, this movie about a busted-up piece of junk helping to mend broken and nonexistent relationships has more heart than the last couple of movies with the Italian Stallion. I'd call that, um, Iron-y. 

Avengers! Earth's Mightiest Heroes! 2012! Can't Wait!!!

Ok, so we have just been given a rare sneak peek at the most anticipated Marvel fanboy's movie The Avengers, which is due to hit the big screens next year in 2012. Yeah, I know, the trailer is only less than 2 minutes, but you can see most of the main characters in there, including the Hulk (and Bruce Banner, of course)! 

The Incredible Hulk
 Also, there's some tense interplay between Captain America and Iron Man (just like in the comics, eg during George Perez's run in the late 70s, early 80s), Black Widow looks ever  so stunning, Hawkeye is cool, Thor exudes godly power... Maaan, can't May 2012 come any faster???

The beauteous Black Widow

The master bowman Hawkeye

Avengers trailer below:

Review: Cowboys vs Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens, based on a graphic novel, has the sort of title that tells you right away what you're letting yourself in for.

Stop, or I'll shoot you with this fancy glowing do-hickey thing-a-ma-jig
Cowboys, yeah – six-guns, horses, punch-ups, whiskey, saloons and schoolmarms.

Aliens, uh-huh – creepy, bug-eyed, slimy, grey, hostile, with superior tech and death rays. 

The aliens have landed

 Put the two together and you have a mash-up of genres that shouldn't miss where sheer popcorn-shoveling entertainment is concerned, right? Well, almost right.

After all, "concept" is one thing, "execution" is another – and here, a bit more pep combined with a steadier hand in bringing this from script to screen would have taken the movie far. 

The lead characters are so freakin' sour most of the time, they leach all the joy and sense of wonder out of the story, and diminish the sheer exuberance of riding across wide open spaces into battle against strange and sinister forces. 

They also switch from selfish or hateful to heroic and selfless on a whim, making it apparent that not everything went well in the writing department.

Dudes, this kind of genre-bender shouldn't take itself seriously – because no one who's watching it ever will. So why not just let cast and crew cut loose and have fun?

I counted at least six names in the "screenplay" and "story" credits, which is a pretty big number for a movie that's so light in the dialogue and making-sense departments.

So one can only presume that the abundance of fingers on keyboards contributed to the irrational shifts of character, the storytelling shortcuts, the abundance of clich├ęs and those all-too-convenient plot devices where things occur or are placed just when and where the characters need them to be.

That's the not-so-good stuff. On the positive side, this is a summer flick after all – and if all you're after is action and special effects, it won't disappoint.

There's some mystery thrown in as well. Our hero is wanted outlaw Jake Lonergan (Craig), though he doesn't know he's Jake Lonergan when we first meet him. He wakes up with no memory of who he is or how he wound up in the middle of the desert, sporting a fancy metal bracelet on his arm.

Forgetful he may be, but Jake soon makes short work of a gang of scalphunters and then winds up in a small town that happens to be in the grip of a powerful, dour cattle baron named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford). He's probably like that because he has a wastrel and drunkard for a son, who looks just like that fake preacher boy from There Will Be Blood.

The town is also the next target for some nasty aliens who swing by and abduct half the populace, no doubt the same aliens behind Jake's brain fuzz and fancy jewellery. And so, Jake and Dolarhyde and a motley crew of townsfolk (including a mysterious gal played by TRON: Legacy hottie Olivia Wilde) hit the trail on a desperate rescue mission.

Gorgeous Olivia plays a  mysterious cowgirl
Yes, right after their town is trashed by deathray-spewing flying machines, these people – who have never seen a flying machine, let alone beams that cause great carnage and, um, instant death – immediately set out in pursuit of the unknown.

Aliens should kick cowboy butt...really.
You have to hand it to these Wild West types, they're so stalwart that the aliens' vessels, weapons and totally bug-ugly appearance don't faze them in the least. 

Hell, haven't we seen how folks in alien-invasion flicks set in contemporary times degenerate into blubbering, pants-wetting wrecks at the sight of far less frightening ETs? (For example, the water-averse morons from Signs.)

We can only conclude from the calm demeanour of Cowboys & Aliens' human protagonists of yesteryear that they just don't make 'em like they used to.

And that sad statement on the times could well apply to B-movies of this variety too, when the situations were no less crazy but everyone knew how to have fun.

Harry Potter : The End

By Punitha Yogaratnam
Rating(out of 5): * * * * *
(Warner Bros.)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Bonnie Wright, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane, Bill Nighy, Tom Felton, David Thewlis

 After 10 years, eight movies and seven books, the franchise that is Harry Potter comes to an explosive and definite end with Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2. This finale has been the most anticipated movie this year and the two hour plus extravaganza doesn't disappoint at all.

The franchise might have been sagging a bit in terms of box office receipts with a couple of titles, but the magic of the first movie has returned and with a flick and swish of the wand, Deathly Hallows Part 2 might just surpass Philosopher's Stone's bounty of US$90 million in its opening weekend.

If the first part to this seventh book was slow, this second part makes up for it. The movie picks up from where it left off. Harry, Ron and Hermione are still chasing down the remaining Horcruxes, and the Dark Lord has his hands on the Elder Wand, but he gets steadily weaker as each Horcrux is destroyed.

As the forces of good gather at Hogwarts for the final showdown against Voldemort and his followers, Harry learns that another Horcrux lies hidden somewhere in the school. And as he nears the cursed object he realizes that the final and most important Horcrux is close at hand.

As Hogwarts goes into lockdown, Harry finally learns the truth of what Dumbledore has been keeping from him and he realizes what and where his true destiny lies.

The Deathly Hallows Pt 2 has some of the best set designs of all the Potter movies. Of course Hogwarts is impressive but one of the newer and more complicated set scenes has to be the catacombs of Gringotts Bank and the subsequent roller-coaster ride. Might we expect a similar ride in some theme park in the future? I honestly wouldn't put it pass the powers that be to come up with a death-defying Harry Potter ride.

Other worth-mentioning scenes to look out for would be the near destruction of Hogwarts. It's almost symbolic -- as the movie nears the end we see some of Harry's favorite places destroyed, a possible prelude to our wizard's fate?

The explosions, the destruction, the death scenes or the quiet touching moments when Ron and Hermione kiss or when Ginny kisses Harry for maybe the last time, is nothing compared to the most powerful scene in the movie when amidst the rubble of Hogwarts a young man comes face to face with the evil that has plagued him all his life, an evil that has robbed a child of his parents. After 10 years it comes down to this one confrontation of good over evil.

The Mighty Trio

The movie is only as good as the actors behind it and this is one of, if not, the best Harry Potter movie. Much of it is in part because of the main cast -- Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. We have literally seen these three grow up on screen. And it just goes to show how fast time flies - one moment they are a wide-eyed, cute bunch of kids one of whom has the cheekiest smile that has captivated the world and in a blink of an eye, they are one of the most popular young actors in the most popular franchise in the world.

Of course the three aren't the only actors worth mentioning. Alan Rickman does a super job with Severus Snape. For seven movies he has kept that straight, sullen look. He was the one we loathe. But now we get a glimpse of his true self.

'ow's about a kiss, 'arry?

And how can I not mention Ralph Fiennes, who in my books IS Lord Voldemort. I was totally creeped out when he played Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon. And when I saw him as Voldemort I just knew this was the part for him. It was perfect and he played it perfect. I honestly can't think of anyone else who could bring that character to life. In fact, I'm almost sad that he's gone.

The final chapter in this installment also brings back a few favourites for their curtain call. Neville Longbottom, played by Matthew Lewis, might not have had a big role in the previous films, but in this one he stands as one of the unforgettable characters. We also see the return of Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Lily and James Potter and Sybil Trelawney.

But the glue that holds the entire ensemble together is director David Yates who has done his best to bring the book to life, interweaving the storylines and finally tying it up and ending it where it all began, with a little boy about to begin the journey of his lifetime on Platform 9 3/4.