Friday, April 27, 2012

The Divide (2011)

when people stop being polite... and start getting real...
When an apocalyptic event descends on the Big Apple, a small group of survivors take refuge in the basement of their apartment building.  Trapped with no hope of escape, knowing that the world outside is a post nuclear wasteland anyways, the group hunkers down.  The situation is grim, but the survivors actually manage to make it worse.  This film takes place almost entirely in a basement. The director's use of the confined space is impressive (think Buried or The Exam).  The tone  is reminiscent of Tres Dias and Bellflower and has an ambiance similar to Alien and Sunshine - gritty, scary, out of control, and little depressing.  This film is powerful.  Watching it is like being run down by a truck that you know is going to hit you no matter what you do to escape.  The only thing that keeps The Divide from getting the maximum 5 Poblanos is pacing - the middle of the film drags a tad; 10 or 15 minutes less of this film could have made an improvement.  Nonetheless, I think it is brilliant and I absolutely loved it.

The Divide gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Xavier Gens
Writer: Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean
Starring: Lauren German, Michael Biehn (Grindhouse, Tombstone, The Abyss, Aliens), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Courtney B. Vance, Rosanna Arquette
Rotten Tomatoes: 26%
Metacritic: 28 out of 100

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dante 01 (2008)

What just happened?
A group of scientists cohabit a space station with convicted criminals who live as prisoners.  The scientists do research on the prisoners.  One of the newly arrived prisoners has some kind of mystical powers.  Beyond that, I'm not sure what the point of this film is.  Some of the visuals are impressive and there is one particularly strong visual sequence towards the end, but it takes more than effects to make a good film.  The story of Marc Caro's solo directorial debut is weak, and the characters are little more than caricatures.

Dante 01 is a little lost in space with only 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Marc Caro (co-director of Delicatessen and La Cite des Enfants Perdu)
Writer: Marc Caro, Pierre Bordage
Starring: Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men), Linh Dan Pham and Dominique Pinon (La Cite des Enfants Perdue, Micmacs)
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Metacritic: not reviewed

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha runs away from a bad situation.  She is reunited with her sister after two years. As the narrative unfolds, we see that she was a part of some kind of cult.  I was so bummed that I missed this when it was in the cinema.   So I've been jonesing for months to see it.  It is a great film - great acting, great storytelling using a dual timeline and flashbacks, and a great overall tone.  Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the Olsen twins, is pretty phenomenal and already puts anything her sisters has done to shame.  The story telling, production and camera work are all great, but Olsen's performance is the highlight of this film.  And John Hawkes gives another great creepy performance. 

Martha Marcy May Marlene gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Sean Durkin
Writer: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes (Lost, Me You and Everyone We Know)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Metacritic: 76 out of 100

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Sally is sent to live with her very inattentive father and his girlfriend who live in a big old house.  The house has a history which Sally discovers, but no one believes her.  Much to everyone's dismay, she's not making any of it up.  This film skips from cliche to cliche and whilst doing so manages to be not be scary or even interesting.  I watched the second half mostly in fast forward.  It is doubly disappointing since I am a big fan of both Guillermo del Toro and Guy Pearce.  Verdict: seriously not scary and quite disappointing. 

Don't be Afraid of the Dark barely scares up out 2 of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Troy Nixey
Writer: Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Metacritic: 56 out of 100

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chronicle (2012)

I can fly!
When three high school students discover something in a underground tunnel, they start to change.  They discover they all have telekinesis and begin to explore the boundaries of their newfound powers.  And not all three agree on how to best use these powers.  Filmed as a 'found footage' film, this one manages to more than exceed the genre.  With no recognizable stars and a relatively unknown creative team, Chronicle manages to outdo most Hollywood sci-fi films by a long shot.  I highly recommend seeing Chronicle if you like sci-fi and/ or super hero stuff.

Chronicle soars with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Josh Trank
Writer:  Max Landis and Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Metacritic: 69 out of 100

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

First, please read my book review to get the gist of the plot.  Having read the books, I was pleased with, but not overexcited about this film.  It was a good exploration of the book's ideas, but the book is so much better.  Nothing against the film, because I enjoyed it a lot but it is hard see a film based on a book that I love and not pick it apart ('they left this scene out' or 'hey, that didn't match the book').  Also, the jerky camera work was a bit distracting.  In general I don't enjoy that technique.  I can understand when people are running through the woods, but not when they're standing still.  But all in all, I enjoyed this film.

The Hunger Games film can't compete with the book, but still gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Gary Ross (writer of Big,  Seabiscuit)
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: First Class, Winter's Bone), Josh Hutcherson (Zathura: A Space Adventure, Bridge to Terabithia), Liam Hemsworth,
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: 67 out of 100