Monday, May 14, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation | Get The Gringo [ Movie Review ]

The Pitch

"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" sounded like it was either going to be a slasher horror, travel comedy or a coming of age movie. But taking a closer look at the movie info, it's Mel Gibson and the movie plot is nothing remotely close to the impression given by the movie title.

Yup Mel Gibson, one of the most recognized but unbankable Hollywood star right now. His DUI anti-semitism remarks and the ex girlfriend's domestic violence still lingers around his reputation. Jodie Foster tried to put his career back on tracks with The Beaver but poor box office collection in the USA seemed to put the final nail on his career coffin.

Well he's back and in a movie that seemed seemed to tailor fit Mel Gibson's brand of screen charisma. It also seemed that to minimize the risk of another box office bomb in the United States, Mel Gibson's independent production company, Icon Production will be releasing this movie through video on demand. The rest of the world who don't "hate" Mel Gibson that much will be getting a theatrical release.

The Plot 
The story of Driver, a career criminal who is picked up by the Mexican police as he desperately tries to cross the border in a car stuffed full of stolen cash. The police take the cash and dump him in the infamous El Pueblito prison - a hell on earth where the prison gangs run the show.

Driver has no ID or fingerprints but he still gets a visit from a corrupt American Embassy official who has heard about the money. If Driver doesn't find a way of paying him off while he's inside, then he's going to let the authorities know where Driver is. And it won't be long before the guys he stole the money from find him too. Driver knows it is sink or swim. He hooks up with a young boy who shows him how to survive in the prison, but the kid has a terrible secret. He shares a rare blood type with Javi - the criminal who ruthlessly controls the prison and everyone in it. The kid is Javi’s life insurance policy and he has doctors on standby to transplant his liver whenever the time comes. But Driver has other ideas and pretty soon he devises an audacious plan to escape with the kid, the kid’s mother and the money.

(Plot Outline taken from Cathay Cineplexes)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation or otherwise known as Get The Gringo in America

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers [ Movie Review ] ★★★★1/2

The Pitch

The Avengers is not like any summer blockbuster movies that came before. It's a comic book superheroes team like no other. The seed for this movie was planted in the first Iron Man, way back in 2008. From then on, it was a cumulative of movies that introduced the likes of The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America that collective forms the basis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With this group of super-powered individuals, it gave Marvel the opportunity to bring one of their most beloved and long enduring superheroes team onto the big screen. Personally The Avengers is one of the most anticipated movie of the past few years.

The biggest worry would be how would these characters be handled. Will the main characters from four different movies blend well together or will they be jostling for screen time? Would the filmmakers be able to make a villain / threat so menacing that requires a team up of such super powered individuals?   

The burden / task / glory lies in Joss Whedon's hands. Mainly known as the creative force behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly television series, Joss Whedon had only directed one movie and that's Serenity, a movie spinoff from Firefly. The Avengers would mark as his second directorial effort and it makes me wonder if he could handle the scope of such magnitude. He is a comic book fan and wrote well received comics for Marvel Comics before but it was the Astonishing X-men comics, not the Avengers.

But still Joss Whedon has impressed many with his writing skills and it's unlikely that Marvel would just throw one of their biggest movie event in recent years to someone who might not be up to the job. There's only one way to find out if The Avengers will live up to the hype.

The Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Marvel’s The Avengers”—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

(Plot taken from The Avengers Singapore Facebook Page

The Perspective

Joss Whedon's The Avengers definitely managed to live up to the hype, met the expectation of (most) comics fans and set the bar real high for the next few superheroes comic book movies to come. It's been a long time since I had so much fun with a superheroes comic movie and the last one that made me craved for more was Iron Man. Here are some of the highlights of The Avengers movie.

First and foremost, the movie did a great job in characterizing the various superheroes in the limited time frame. There are four main heroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk) and three supporting ones (Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow). It's not easy to handle all of them and yet this movie managed to put enough focus on them for the audience to care about their respective motivation and struggle. 

It's a delight to see how these various characters interact with each other. Their conflicts in personalities and opinion brought out quite a few interesting insights to their character and how much they differs from each other. The only thing that topped their fight with each other was the antagonist of this movie, Loki.

Let's just put it that these heroes need a cause so epic and a villain so devious that they would brand themselves together to fight the common enemy. Loki's evil plans and methods in this movie were definitely the crescendo rising to the climatic finale.

Last but not least, I couldn't remember caring so much about characters like the Hulk, Thor or Captain America. Iron Man was a delight when the movie came out but the other three were simply unmemorable. In Joss Whedon's direction, he brought out the essence of why these characters had remained so popular after all these years and he did it while juggling with all these other characters. Marvel needs to rethink how to handle those three characters in their respective upcoming sequels.

The Avengers is simply the best movie of the year. Nuff Said. Now go watch it in a good cinema near you.

Rating: ****1/2

As usual for the movies in Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are some goodies left after the movie. The scene occurs during the mid Credits. It's Thanos getting report from the minion that the invasion had failed. There's a line in that scene that the minion said gave me goosebumps ... the Infinity Gauntlet type of goosebumps ... and that line is ""To challenge them is to court death!""

Reportedly, ComingSoon mention that there's a additional second scene at the End of Credits that's NOT included in the international prints. Yup that's right! Only the US theaters get it. But then again, there are those people who seen it and complained that the scene was too short and was a waste of time to stay back for. I was anticipating that scene and was disappointed that it wasn't included in the Singapore print. In case you want to know what is it about, it was a quiet scene of the Avengers having shawarma together in a diner.

The Avengers Official Trailer 2


Marvel's The Avengers Super Bowl 2012

The Avengers Official Trailer


New Set of Avengers Banner poster

Marvel Studio just released a set of characters poster for the upcoming The Avengers at Comic Con 2011. Awesome piece of work isn't it? Nuff Said!