Daybreakers Review

Originally Posted on January 11, 2010

Critical Value:6.5/10 Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

After the success of Twilight, a series that seemingly ruined the concept of vampire films by creating vampires that sparkle in sunlight it was a relief to hear of a film that would revert to the classical version of vampires. Vampires that die when exposed to sunlight, have no reflections and have violent urges for blood. Michael and Peter Spierig, bring us a story of a world where most of the world’s population have turned into vampires.

It is 2019 and humans are now hunted like cattle and used to farm blood for the predominantly vampire population. When a vampire is deprived of human blood for too long, they transform into deformed creatures known as subsiders. Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a researcher who is attempting to create a blood substitute that would replace the need for human blood. He is then confronted by a band of humans, who are attempting to create a cure for vampirism.

The plot has been compared to that of I am Legend, but Daybreakers is original in its execution and offers a fresh new take on the vampire concept. Unlike I am Legend, the vampires maintain an organized and civilized society and it was interesting to see the developments that were made to accommodate for a vampire population. These include city wide underground tunnels known as subwalks, so that vampires can walk during daytime, and a daytime driving mode that utilizes tinted mirrors and cameras in order to protect the driver.

The opening scene sets the tone for the film, showing that it will delve into psychological aspects of being a vampire. The opening also brings up one of the film’s flaws. Due to its relatively low budget of twenty million, the special effects are not very impressive. Other effects such as make up for the subsiders are done well, but the quality of the special effects does serve to drag the film down. Poor effects dull the effectiveness of several scenes by taking the audience out of the more realistic tone the directors were attempting to achieve.

Another disappointing factors were the acting and dialogue. Some scenes end up being unintentionally funny due to poor performances and clichéd dialogue. Daybreakers is supposedly meant to be an over the top, B-horror movie. Meaning that numerous scenes I may have thought unintentionally funny were meant to evoke humour, the only problem is that not all the humour comes from over the top scenes. One example is a scene where Edward meets the group of humans: One of them walks by and says “More damn vampires’ and another replies “He’s trying to help”. The terrible delivery makes me wish the exchange had just been removed from the script altogether. Ironically, the human distrust of Edward was shown better with non-vocal exchanges. Willem Dafoe plays Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac, who has some of the best lines in the film and is one of the better performances.

Another gripe were attempts to scare the audience with a recurring jump scare, it was ineffective and yet another source of laughter. Daybreakers also fails to explain certain plot points clearly. Daybreakers implies that other sources, such as animal blood, are not sufficient to maintain healthy functioning. Aside from the inference, only one line serves to provide a probable indication tha this may be the case. Although this review seems predominantly negative, I still enjoyed Daybreakers There were moments of magic that probably could have made Daybreakers one of my favourite films, if the dialogue and acting had been better. The exploration of the psychological issues a vampire would face also made Daybreakers more interesting. I did leave the theatre slightly disappointed but was still hopeful that Daybreakers would be able to usher in a new era of vampire films.

Sherlock Holmes Review

Posted on January 1, 2010

Entertainment Value: 8.5/10 Critical Value: 8/10

British director Guy Ritchie, who is best known for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch(2000) brings audiences an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that combines the intelligent detective most audience know with the seasoned fighter that is less well known.

Sherlock Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jr, and Watson (Jude Law) are caught in a battle against Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Blackwood apparently rises from the dead after his execution and is now bent on fulfilling a nefarious plot that is revealed as the movie progresses.

Robert Downey Jr. brings the same great performance that was present in Iron Man. Casting an American was a questionable choice and lead sceptics to believe this was another case of Hollywood studios favouring American actors. For the most part, Downey is able to successfully imitate an English accent. However, he talks too fast at times to be understood and this comment is coming from someone who has lived in England for two years. Law also does an excellent job as Watson, with himself and Downey doing a great job of portraying the brotherly bond the characters share. The writing leads to humour between the two, but more solemn moments that portray the conflict created over their conflicts in the film, especially Watson deciding to marry and moving away from Holmes. Strong also portrays an intelligent and cunning villain whose screen presence possess great power. Rachel McAdams, plays Irene Alder, the only criminal ever to elude Holmes. Her performance is the weakest in the film but is still fairly impressive. Her role as a femme fatale could have been done better with a more talented actress.

One of the main criticisms that can be found elsewhere with Sherlock Holmes is that portraying Holmes as a fighter is inaccurate. However, according to some of Holmes’s literature, he was skilled in boxing and several martial arts. The fight scenes are thrilling and utilize slow motion sparingly, to illustrate Holmes’s calculated fighting style.

The dialogue lacks any lines that appear to be lazy writing or simply cheesy. However, there were some instances of jokes that did not fit with the generally polished nature of the writing. Special effects are also used sparingly but are impressive for the most part, with the exception of one scene where they appeared somewhat cartoonish.

Sherlock Holmes is a able to provide intellectual stimulation as well as thrilling action sequences which are all rolled into a film just over two hours. Those who were older fans of Sherlock Holmes as well as those whose interest was peeked by advertising will enjoy the film.

Funny People Review

Originally Posted on August 20, 2009

Critical value: 7.5/10 Entertainment Value; 8/10

Written and directed by Judd Apatow, who produced Pineapple Express and Superbad, Funny People tells the story of George Simmons (Adam Sandler). Simmons is a popular and wealthy comedian who is diagnosed with an inoperable health condition and his desire to have a real friend leads him to hire a fairly new comedian, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) as his opening act.

Being a comedy/drama the film is generally able to mix its serious moments with more dramatic ones seamlessly. As the movie progresses it is revealed how lonely Simmons is and his relationship with Ira serves as testament to his sadness and also leads to several humorous moments.

My main issue with Funny People is that the swearing as well as the sex jokes seemed gratuitous at times. This film is definitely deserving of an R rating for the parents who were wondering whether or not to take their children. The sex jokes were funny at first but as the movie wore on they continued to pop up and I grew tired with the humour after a while.

Sandler and Rogen both have great chemistry and the acting throughout the film is great for the most part, aside from a certain scene that I thought could have been improved.

The film also has added entertainment since it appears to parody comedians as well. One character comments that Simmons is funny but yet his movies aren’t funny, which is a common occurrence with many comedians. There are also clips of a fictional show, “Yo teach” that appear to mock television sitcoms for their poor jokes.

Although the film is 2.5 hours long, I never felt like it dragged due to the interesting story and the various conflicts that appear throughout the film.

For those who like or dislike Adam Sandler I believe that this film is still worth a view in theatres.

District 9 Review

Originally posted on August 15, 2009

Critical Value: 8.5/10 Entertainment Value: 8/10

South African director Neill Blompkamp brings his first feature film to the big screen and it does not fail to entertain or provoke thought. Based on a script written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Hatchell, District 9 is adapted from Blomkamp’s short film, Alive in Joburg.

The story takes place in South Africa where an alien ship landed twenty eight years before the story begins. Multi National United (MNU) is a fictional organization that places the aliens in a slum like area called District 9.

Field agent Wikus Van Der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) becomes exposed to their biotechnology and becomes the only human who successfully acquires alien DNA, making him a wanted man.

Firstly, the acting is incredible. Copley, who is a first time actor and served as a producer for Alive in Joburg, demonstrates a wide range of emotions as well as moral stances throughout the movie. His character is able to express happiness, naivety, sadness and cruelty seamlessly. The supporting performances are equally as strong, although Copley does outshine.

The dialogue is good for the most part, although the swearing is excessive at times. This was one of the main gripes; the f word is said at least thirty times throughout the film. Compared to the numerous complaints that could be used for a film, this is fairly minor.

The special effects were a little disappointing at times. Close up shots were very well done, with it being hard to believe no animatronics were used. Some distant shots are more clearly computer generated but for the most part, they are convincing. Especially when done on a budget of thirty million, while G.I Joe had a budget of 175 million and still looked like a cartoon at times.

The presence of no popular celebrities may account for the smaller budget and also helps to better immerse the audience in the plot. Especially since some of the film is filmed as a news report, which works well for the opening scenes but is used more sparingly as the movie continues.

The story is engaging, I found the movie to drag slightly during the first twenty minutes but it does pick up and the last twenty minutes leaves the heart racing. It can honestly be said that you will be on the edge of your seat.

As well as providing a twist on the typical alien invasion story, the film is able to deliver great acting, writing, action and special effects. The violence is very bloody at times so bringing children is not recommended. Nonetheless, this is highly recommended viewing.