Friday, November 29, 2013

Gravity (2013)

Rating: 95%
Yeah I know this movie has been out for almost two months and it's kind of old news, but I never got a chance to see it when it came out. But it's thanksgiving, my family and I wanted to do something, so since only my parents have seen it, we went to watch it, and here's how that went.

Plot: This is another one of those times where I keep my plot paragraph completely short because with this kind of film I really have to. But basically, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (yeah I know their characters have names but let's face it, most of us are only going to know them as just Bullock and Clooney) are these astronauts in space on their shuttle, the Explorer. But when a chain reaction from a missile strike causes a cloud of debris to hit their shuttle, Bullock and Clooney are left trying to find a way to find a station and find a way down to Earth before they are killed.

I'm going to start of pointing out that in terms of story and characters, this is an extremely simple film. In fact, before I saw this movie, my Editing Aesthetics teacher talked about how he really hated that there was hardly any really deep development in Bullock or Clooney's characters in the sense that they're giving us reason to relate to them or try to make them really stand out or likable as characters. And he does make a very strong point, because the main reason I'm calling these people by the names of the actors and not the characters is because they hardly give us any reason to think of them as characters. For the most part - with Clooney especially - they kind of appear like they're just the actors and not really anybody else. But as much of a negative thing as that can be for some people like my teacher, the fact remains that they're not necessarily suppose to be. Because as Doug Walker put it in his own review, it's more of an experience then anything else. But boy does it do a great job at bringing that experience to life. They do a terrific job at making it feel like it really is in space with how they're floating and there's no sound out there and how everything that is especially happening to Sandra Bullock makes space totally scary. The first 20 minutes or so really set the mood for this film especially on how so much of it was done all in one shot. In fact, this film was kind of made so that cuts would only occur more and more the closer you get to the climax. The effects were great, the way they used a lot of the music and their occasional sound effects were really well played, it had great cinematography, and it was interesting it the symbolism they were using throughout the whole movie. Bullock gave us a terrific performance on what her "character" was experiencing. And while Clooney wasn't bad per say, he was really just...well...George Clooney and nothing else. Now if I can think of any real close to problems with this movie, I would say that during the second half it did kind of act more like a movie then an experience in the sense that Bullock has this monologue during the very end and things like that. And...I feel they overdid it a little with the building suspense music. I mean I know they need to use it - heck, my brother Tommy said "How else where they going to make it suspenseful" and I agree. But I'm just saying they could've tried to have given a little more variety of the same music. But regardless, both issues are very small nitpicks and neither of them are done in a way that really makes a dent in this movie. Plus, when the music isn't building up suspense, it's great.

And that's my review for Gravity. If you don't like films where there's little character development and not a whole lot of story, you'll probably not like this film. But it's otherwise a great film with excellent effects, terrific acting, and great cinematography that altogether makes Gravity a great film to experience the horrors of space. I don't see it winning Best Picture despite its HUGE publicity, but it's definitely going to win a few Oscars when it comes to the technical stuff. If you haven't seen it in theaters yet, it's worth trying to see it now.  


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frozen (2013)

Rating: 90%
At last we have the 53rd theatrical animated film from Disney: Frozen. It's about time.

Plot: The film is set in the kingdom of Arendelle where we have two princesses who are sisters named Anna and Elsa. Elsa has the ability to create snow and ice, but after a childhood incident is forced to be shunned from Anna as they're growing up. But then they meet again when Elsa is crowned queen and they get into an argument that causes Elsa's powers to get out of hand and so she runs into hiding while also triggering a magical, eternal winter that freezes the entire kingdom. So Anna leaves trying to find her to bring her back and save their kingdom.

If this film doesn't succeed where Wreck-it Ralph didn't when it comes to winning best animated feature against Pixar, there's something very, very wrong with the people in the academy...well even more wrong then there already is with not letting Wreck-it Ralph win. When it comes to the fantasy and/or the princess films from Disney, this film goes even smarter and bigger then The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. The animation is gorgeous. The landscapes, scenery, even the dresses that Anna and Elsa wear have such a wonderful design to them that is really wonderful to look at. And much like Tangled, it sets us with a very clever story - though sadly the origin of the powers are never explained - and it does the princess thing much more differently then the Disney princess films in the past. I mean to start off, we have two princess and they're siblings. We've never had a Disney film where there's more then one princess or any of them having siblings (I'm not really counting Merida and her little brothers in Brave). Anyway, the characters themselves where very good. Neither princesses (yeah I know Elsa's a queen but she's a princess turned to a queen.) were bland or unlikeable. Anna especially was very funny, independent but also has her human side. The supporting characters were also very fun...even hard as that kind of is to say. When I say that, I didn't have high hopes for this character, and the general concept of who he was and how he sounded just kind of spelled annoying comedy relief to me...but at the same time he was funny. I mean I want to say that he's super annoying and forgettable because that's what I expected as a whole from him from the first couple of minutes that he appeared...but he actually was funny. Some of the comedy was more for the children and their parents in the theater I was in to laugh at, but the rest of the time, he actually had some smart and clever jokes that I just did not expect from him. It's screwed up to me because I expected him to be the most negative thing about this film, that unless you were a little kid, this guy was going to fall flat, and fall flat hard. But while he would fall flat on occasion on a whole he really was actually funny. So props to the the makers of the film to prove me wrong like that. And it wouldn't be much of a review about a Disney princess movie if I didn't talk about the songs. So how were they? Well while I cant' say all of them we're extremely original by Disney Renaissance standards, they were still very enjoyable. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" was very nice, "For The First Time in Forever" was very fun, but easily the one that will probably go down in Disney history and maybe even become nominated for an Oscar is "Let it Go." It doesn't completely matter that it sounds so familiar to "Defying Gravity" from Wicked (especially with Idina Menzel singing it) It was grand, it was powerful, it was emotional, it's just a song that's worth remembering.

And that's my review for Frozen. I would probably have to watch it again or something to see if I'm as on board as a lot of people seen to be, to call this film that declares it as the return of Disney as it should be, but it still does a terrific job in going even deeper then Tangled or Wreck-it Ralph with it's animation, songs, characters, and all around story that makes Frozen a great film to be added into the Disney collection and is worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Rating: 85%
Okay everyone has is all super excited for this movie and I have succeeded where I did not from the last film in reading the book first long before the movie came out. So here's how The Hunger Games Catching Fire.

Plot: A year has past after the last Hunger Games and Katniss has become an icon for the remaining districts after her defiance against the Capitol with Peeta. As a result, President Snow is making this year's Hunger Games a Quarter Quell where the contestants are past winners from previous games. So Katniss and Peeta are sent back to the Capitol where they have to fight the other victors while Snow plans to use it to kill Katniss as a way to end any rebellion against the Capitol.

Now this is what I call improvement. In fact, it's a big enough improvement that it actually got me truly invested in what was happening. Because for those of you who have not read my review for the first film or may not have remembered it if you did, I basically said it was just a nice film and hardly anything more then that. And as much as people are probably not going to like what I'm going to say next, the books didn't do a whole lot for me either. They're not horrible or anything, but at the end of the day, all they did for me was just tell me the entire story and then for me to go "Well okay then. Good to know." So the books didn't do a whole lot more for me then the first film did. But Catching Fire surprised me by actually getting me invested in what was happening. Everything made more sense, we saw much more of what happens in both the all around world and The Hunger Games then we did before, heck even the characters and the relationships between them were done so much better. Bringing back my review to the first film up, I did talk about in my spoiler section (*chuckles* does anyone remember when I use to do that for practically all of my reviews?), I said that the relationship between Katniss and Peeta were sudden and didn't make a lot of sense. And how it seemed like she was more into Gale during the beginning of the movie and things like that. But here, these relationships are more developed to the point where - while it isn't perfect, it shows more of what Katniss feels about both Peeta and Gale and ultimately which side to root for. But that doesn't quite stop there. We also got a little more into the main characters' relationship with some of the supporting characters like Prim, Effie, Haymitch and so on. The visuals are also a ton better. I mean they were good in the last film too, but I feel they did a much better job here. And best of all as those of you who have seen the movie have probably been waiting for me to mention this, wide shots and no shaky cams. I thought at first that the director and editor of the previous film just learned from their mistakes, but it turns out they got totally a totally different director and editor who seem to have a better way at showing what is happening on screen. And they did. And the results are great. Seeing the environment, characters and especially the action with these wider shots makes Catching Fire one of those recent films like The Avengers and a fair bit of The Dark Knight Rises that really show how great action in these kinds of films are when you clearly see what's going on frame by frame. Now as great as it is, it does have some minor problems. But the biggest one that comes to mind is one that this one video review Movie Bob point out, which is how they introduced some of the other contestants with their abilities and stuff like that, but they get killed off without their deaths ever shown. Now I understand why considering that's basically what happens in the book (at least as far as I remember it) but when you think about it, that can bring something of a let down for people like Movie Bob who wanted to see more of those particular contestants.

And that's my review for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It has better camera work and editing, better development of the characters and the relationships, improving visuals and storytelling and a film that for me personally, greatly succeeded where neither the previous film or any of the books did in getting me truly invested. It's definitely the best so far in the film franchise and I hope they can somehow get better and better despite the fact that they are spitting the third book into two films. (seriously guys, just stop.) So if you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. If you weren't all that much into the first film, you should at least find this one to be a much bigger improvement.        

Friday, November 15, 2013

This Is the End (2013)

Rating: 60%
Okay so I recently went to my friend Blaine's house to see the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which I definitely want for Christmas now), and after words he showed me a couple more films. So here's my review of the first movie he showed me, This Is the End.

Plot: The apocalypse has happened and so James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill are all stuck in James Franco's house trying to survive. That's pretty much it.

Some people are probably not going to like what I'm going to say...but this was just meh for me. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad. Because it does have a brilliant concept of actors playing fictional versions of themselves and pulling a few jokes about themselves as they encounter the apocalypse. And when they are making all these jokes about themselves and what they're experiencing in this post apocalyptic world, it is funny. On top of that, it's just great to see a lot of celebrities we know. I mean you do have the ones that are the main characters like James Franco and Jonah Hill, but then there's a couple more that I kind of wished we saw a little more of like Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling and ESPECIALLY Emma Watson who was awesome during the short time that she was in the movie. Heck, even The Backstreet Boys made an appearance, and that was pretty fun with how they played that out. But when it came down to the comedy as a whole, I found the ones that had to do with making fun of the actors very lacking. In fact, I felt that very few of them were used, let alone made some particularly funny references like James Franco being The Green Goblin or Jonah Hill starring in Moneyball. While we did get these jokes sometimes, the rest of the comedy seemed to contain more sexual jokes, namely penis jokes. From practically every actor talking about their own penis or each other's penises, to even a giant demon showing his junk in plain view without a care, this movie was throwing penis joke after penis joke throughout an awful lot of its dialogue. I do not care for those kinds of jokes to begin with, but I've heard other people review it and confirm that they did way to much of it. And while the story itself was good, it did have moment of predictability at times, especially when it came to part of the friendship between Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel.

And that's my review for This Is the End. It didn't really go the distance with its concept in my opinion and had more jokes on penises then ones that actually had to do with the actors. But at the end of the day, it still had some decent jokes and played out the premise well enough that I'm glad that I eventually saw it...but don't really plan on watching it again.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Rating: 90%
Alright so I said I was going to review this one right after Digimon The Movie, so let's not waste anytime and talk about Thor: The Dark World!

Plot: It's about one year after the events of The Avengers and Thor has managed to bring peace back to the nine realms. But when Jane becomes possessed by a weapon called the Aether, Thor takes her to Asgard to try to heal her, only for Asgard to be attacked by an army of Dark Elves lead by Malekith who intends to use the Aether to cover the universe in darkness.

For me, this hit a lot of the beats for me as to what makes a very good sequel. Thor: The Dark World goes much further into the story and the all around world of Thor and Asgard then the first Thor film did with new twists and turns, and raising the stakes higher then they were before. If you were among the people who complained about Thor not being Thor in the first film, chances are, you're going to enjoy this movie. Because not only do we have Thor throughout the film, but we have him seeing Jane and her friends again, we have more of Loki being...well Loki, we go even further into the world of Asgard and its mythology with both the Asgardians and the Dark Elves and the action just gets bigger and better. The story was particularly impressive in terms of making things darker as well as giving us some decent twists during the second half of the film. I also really liked how we went deeper into a lot of the characters. Now granted, that doesn't mean there aren't some like Sif and at least a little bit Frigga could've been given a little more time. But it was great how we got so much from a lot of the other characters like Thor, Loki and Jane. My personal favorite example would be Odin considering how we got a little into how despite his wisdom and leadership, he does have the problems of also being over-confidant, stubborn and altogether foolish at times. The comedy is also very well done. Just like Iron Man 3 the humor became a very fun factor of the film, except this movie might've done least in the extent that it had the kind of jokes that started to make me say "If I didn't know any better, I'd say the makers of these phase 2 films have learned a thing or two from Joss Whedon." Now the film does have some problems such as the main villain being one-dimensional, some scenes might've been a little to slow, and there was at least one subplot that went nowhere. Plus I do have one nitpick with how Asguardians generally use medieval weapons and yet have a couple of weapons that are more sci-fi in a way that makes me think of Return of the Jedi or Star Wars: The Old Republic. But when you look at this movie as a whole, you can easily look past all of that and see a sequel that does a great job at going bigger and better then the first while also giving us one or two reasons to look forward to one of Marvel's next films, Guardians of the Galaxy.

And that's my review for Thor: The Dark World. It raises the stakes higher, goes further into the characters and the mythology, has bigger action, and altogether just does all the great things that make a particularly good sequel while also getting us excited for the next Marvel film. It's a very fun and enjoyable Marvel film that I will probably get when it comes out on DVD and Blue-ray, if you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Digimon The Movie (2000)

Rating: 20%
Alright so I'm just going to say that I never really watched Digimon growing up. I had at least seen parts of a couple of episodes from various times, but for the most part - as my family and plenty of people from my elementary school could tell you without a care, I was one of those children who was more or less dangerously obsessed with Pokemon to seemingly no end. But then one of my best friends, Meg would sometimes bring up Digimon and how 'I must see it' and how 'it's soooooooo different from Pokemon'. Eventually she showed me a couple of random episodes from season 1 which convinced me to go through all of that season. Then shortly after watching Thor 2 with her (which I'm reviewing right after this one), she decided to show me a bunch of certain episodes of season 2 to show me how the story of the characters from both seasons end. But about halfway through that, she showed me Digimon the Movie. So here's how that turned out.

Plot: This is something of a package film in that it contains three different stories all in one movie. The first one has to do with two of the original main characters, Tai and Kairi discovering a Digi-egg that hatches into a Koromon which somehow leads to a battle in which the Koromon digivloves (the Digimon term for evolving or transforming if you will) into Greymon and is fighting this...supposedly evil parrot-like Digimon called...Parrotmon. Then we move to a story that is set four years later where both characters along with the original cast have already become the DigiDestined (think Pokemon Trainers if you can), and they are trying to destroy this Digimon who is also a virus that is trying to destroy the internet/all technology (take your pick). Then we get the final story that has to do with a boy named Willis who was mentioned in various times in the first two stories, who is trying to defeat one of his two Digimon who has been corrupted with the help of the main cast from season 2.

Okay so before I start reviewing this film - similar to what I did when I reviewed Hey Arnold: The Movie, I'd like to point out my thoughts on the show itself before talking about what the movie did wrong. Now I honestly think that even if my parents (but mainly my mom) did let me watch this show, I probably still would've preferred Pokemon because of how it has a more fun world that influenced you to want to be a part of catching and evolving these certain creatures while reaching for the ultimate goal to become a Pokemon Master. But even with that said, I did enjoy most of the show for what it was worth considering how it truly was very different from Pokemon. It had its own unique universe, it had some really cool creativity with a lot of the different kinds of Digimon, an extremely catchy theme song, and it did have some likeable characters...for the most part. But when it comes to a first's not hard to see where this movie is pretty inferior to the first Pokemon movie. You no doubt noticed that I had trouble explaining the stories in what is happening in this film. Now granted, part of that is because most of you probably don't know a whole lot about Digimon as the gist of it would probably take more time to explain then most of you would care to read. But even then, it's hard to explain what is happening because it's so confusing with these three stories that were poorly paced, sometimes didn't make any sense even with my knowledge about Digimon, and above all, neither of them made any connection at all. It tried to do that when it came to bringing up Willis, but aside from one brief clip, we don't see him until the final story. From the point of view of someone who has watched the first two seasons of the show, most of these stories would've made a lot more sense if these were actual episodes instead of being crammed into each other to try to be a movie. (Oh and I'm not saying anything about the Angela thing in the beginning of the film, because Meg was kind enough to skip to just Digimon) Actually, I take that back, that's true for just the last two stories. The first one was really just giving us something of a 'full tale' of this flashback Tai and Kairi had later on in the show, which still wasn't needed. Even if they were showing us more then what the flashback gave us, there was still little to no story or character development to carry it on enough to be really worth something for both fans and non fans alike. Which brings me to my other problem; they didn't make the film so that even non fans can get into it. Part of why the pacing was bad was because they don't explain what Digimon is about. Even all of the exposition that was trying to explain/connect the three stories was hard to understand unless you have subtitles because of the speed that it's being explained. So all your seeing is mindless action and exposition you can't understand and jokes that don't work if you're watching this as a non fan...or maybe if you are a fan. Who knows? And the soundtrack also has a bunch of pop culture songs that are just played throughout the film such as "All Star" from Smash Mouth and "One Week" from Barenaked Ladies, that while are fun songs they served no purpose to what was happening in the film. The best part of the film was the animation and the action, but after that, this film falls flat hard.

And that's my review for Digimon The Movie. If you grew up with Digimon, you may be a little more forgiving with what happens, but in the reality of things, it's a terrible film that had horrible pacing, character development, and had little to no connection to the stories it was trying to tell. I'm glad I watched the first two seasons when it comes to finally discovering what Digimon was, but this film seems to make a terrible mark on the franchise making Digimon The Movie a movie I would avoid seeing.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lost in Translation (2003)

Rating: 85%
As some of you probably know, Sophia Coppola seems to be more commonly known for her very well hated performance as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III. Now why that's the case I'll save for if I finally get around to reviewing it myself to finish that marathon of reviewing all the best picture nominees from 1990. Now this is something that is very well known to me, which is where I was intrigued to learn that while she's terrible as an actress see seems to also the known to be very good as a writer and director. So with that said, here's what I thought of her most well known film that she both wrote and directed that got so far as becoming nominated for best picture: Lost in Translation.

Plot: Bob Harris is an again American actor who is visiting Japan to shoot a commercial. He's experiencing a midlife crisis where he feels tired and is not really going anywhere with his marriage with his wife. But then he meets a young college graduate named Charlotte who also feels stuck as she is also visiting Japan because her neglectful husband who is a celebrity photographer is a assigned in Tokyo. The two people start to form a friendship as they start to hang out and explore Tokyo while trying to forget about their lives.

Alright. Now I pretty much see how people see a new light about Coppola after this film despite Godfather Part III. I mean it's not the most original film I've ever seen, but for what she gave us, it was still original enough that I can see why she won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It wasn't really predictable, the characters were believable, and I think Doug Walker said it best on his list of his personal top 20 favorite movies that it's not really telling a story so much as taking you on an experience. Billy Murry and Scarlett Johansson gave some very good performances. While I do honestly find it hard to believe that Murry was considered good enough to even be nominated for Best Actor, I will agree that it is nice to see him in a more serious role then what we usually get from him. Scarlett Johansson also gave us a very likable performance...but if there's one issue I had with her, it would be how practically every other scene is having her in her hotel room wearing just her underwear and her shirt. I guess the distraction primarily comes from how Johansson is getting a ton of publicity about her body after The Avengers, and it's gotten to the point where I probably would've believed it if this film was actually made right after that particular film. Especially with how the beginning of the film surprisingly starts with just this sort of medium close-up of just her rear while the intro credits play. Just why? What kind of purpose was that trying to carry out while you're about to tell us a story about these two people? I'm sure she had plenty of publicity long before Avengers, but I really so no other reason why to have that as a film. But considering I'm a guy who prefers not to stare at women's rears either in film or in real life, I guess I could be making a bigger deal about it then what most people would care to, so I digress with that being said. So anyway, the film is also very fun to see when we're looking at all the different things to look at in Tokyo from the people, music, food and especially the different kind of places they come across. I think the most memorable scene for me would be when they're just lying down on top of the bed and just reflecting what is going on with their life. A lot of what Murry says there sound like a very good way to look at a lot of things in life both the positive and the least as far as I can tell despite being just a 23-year old film student.

And that's my review for Lost in Translation. I may have my own goofy issue with what they do with Scarlett Johansson, but it still is a very good that had original writing, great acting, and just took you on an experience with Tokyo and looking at life from the two main characters. It's not so good that it really stood a chance against The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for best picture (*snickers* the very idea...), but it's still a very good film that I would recommend.

Poltergeist (1982)

Rating: 70%
When it came to figuring out what horror movie to watch for my Editing Asthetics class, both the teacher and my fellow classmates couldn't think of a good one to watch that does actually scare people. In fact, I eventually had to text my brother, Tommy who is very knowledgeable in horror films, to give us some films that were actually scary that we could watch. He gave us almost a dozen good films, but the one that the teacher decided was the best one to look at, was Poltergeist. So considering that I have never seen the movie until the day we saw it as a class, here's what I think of Poltergeist.

Plot: Steven and his family live in a nice, quite community where he's a real estate developer. But things start to become uneasy for him and his family when strange things start to happen in their house from his young daughter Carol Ann claiming that she's heading people inside the TV to these mysterious storms that start to really concern both of his younger kids. So he and his wife find a group of Parapsychologists to try to find out what is happening to their house.

I'm sure there's a fair amount of film geeks who are wondering why I gave this movie a 70% despite it being a classic horror movie. Well to put it bluntly, this movie was spoiled for me long before I even touched the DVD. The film is so commonly known that I kind of already have the main gist of what happens just from what I saw from TV shows that referenced/parodied the movie in some ways or another such as South Park and especially Family Guy. Even if I didn't know every single thing about the movie from top to bottom before we saw it, I still knew enough that a lot of what the main plot points were. And on top of teacher would tell us whether or not a certain scene was suppose to be scary or if something is going to actually happen. So even if I didn't already know those certain big plot points, I still didn't have much of a scare from this film thanks to him. But I still think it's a good film because even if I didn't get scared, somewhat similar to what I found when we watched Duel, I clearly saw why people would be scared and what other aspects of the film made it so memorable: that being the film as a whole was structured very well when it came to building up the suspense while also getting us to know our main characters, which helped us become invested in them as these mysterious things where happening to them. And most of the times where something really scary did happen, they did play it out very well in a way that makes it very scary. And they're doing all of this without a whole lot of blood and gore that we see in a lot of horror films today. They did have one particularly gory scene that was a little creepy, but other then that, it was more the emotion they created in the scary parts and the timing they used to play it out that makes it intimidating. Plus it does have that classic line "They're here" and has some memorable acting moments, particularly from Zelda Rubinstein as the spiritual medium Tangina Barrons.

And that's my review for Poltergeist. I am unable to truly think highly of it considering how it's been spoiled for me for all the reasons I mentioned, but that thankfully hasn't stopped me from seeing why it's considered to be a very good horror film to the point where it's ranked as a complete classic. I don't plan on ever really seeing it again considering how my experience was ruined on top of the fact that I'm hardly much of a horror guy like Tommy anyway. But if you haven't seen it and don't really know what happens, I'd say go see it and may you get a much grander experience then I did in getting scared from this particular movie.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Duel (1971)

Rating: 75%
Well I may not have been as active as I was last year with reviewing movies that have to do with Halloween, but while that holiday has passed, I'd still like to share my take on a thriller and a horror movie that I saw in my Editing Asthetics class. (I know I'm bringing up that class a lot, but hey, there was a fair amount of movies I just have never seen before there.) And I would like to start reviewing them with the rather unique thriller, Duel.

Plot: David Mann is a salesman who is driving to a business trip on a two-way highway in the California desert. But during the trip a mysterious large gas trailer truck seems to pester him but later on begins to chase him and apparently try to kill him. Hardly anyone he comes across believes him, and so he is left alone to try to find a way to either avoid the truck or fight back.

Just from explaining the plot, you could probably see why I find this movie to be rather unique for something that's a thriller. What's even more interesting is that this film is actually Steven Spielberg's second movie that he ever directed. And for what it is, it carries out what it's trying to do very well. Dennis Weaver does a great job in showing how scared David really is and is always trying to figure out what to do whenever he keeps finding the truck. And while we see tiny glimpses of the truck driver himself such as his boots or his hand on the crutch, at the same time, we see Spielberg play out the Truck to the point where it seems to have its own menacing and powerful character all on its own. Now the only real down I have with this movie doesn't really hold up for me as actually being scary. I mean come on, a truck trying to kill a guy just from saying that alone doesn't sound quite as intimidating as zombies, evil forces or psychopathic serial killers. But even with that being said, it does keep you interested at what is going to happen, the climax was very exciting to watch and... I'll admit that it did make me jump a little during one or two well timed moments.

And that's my review for Duel, it's a little odd to view it as a thriller considering the story, but it's done in a good enough way where you could be on the edge of your seat with what is happening between the main character and this big menacing truck. It's not particularly scary, but it plays out well for what it is to make it an entertaining movie to enjoy watching at least once just so that you have.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Rating: 95%
So I was taking my Editing Asthetics class, we eventually went on to take a look at the genre of westerns. And in the eyes of my teacher, there was little to no better western to show us then the one that is said to be the last great western before the genre was replaced by Star Wars; Once Upon a Time in the West.

Plot: A former prostitute named Jill comes to a town called Flagstone to meet her new husband and his family. But she learns that the whole family has been killed by hired gunman and thus is the owner of her husband's land. Eventually, she finds out that a railroad tycoon is behind hiring the men that killed her husband and his family and ends up allying with a bandit named Cheyenne and a mysterious gunman whom she calles 'Harmonica' to find out why he had them killed and stop them.

Okay what can I say about this movie that probably hasn't been said to death from people who've seen this movie years before I did? Even if it probably is longer then it should be by today's standards, they make all the moments where there's hardly any dialogue work with all the emotions from the actors and the music that's playing throughout the film. It has some of the known cliches in westerns such as the hero wearing white and the villain wearing black, but the actors do an excellent job in giving us reason to root for them. It's my understanding that this is the only time Henry Fonda is a villain where he's a hero in just about everything else he is in, and while I can't say I'm familiar with his career, it's clear to me that he does a great job in showing that his character is a cold-blooded killer. My teacher particularly praise Claudia Cardinale a lot for her performance as Jill, and I have to agree that she did give some very good acting moments...even when her goals and alliances seemed rather fuzzy at times. And while, this movie didn't exactly have a ton of action, it still gave us some exciting moments at the time where we did have gun fights. And finally, this movie had some great cinematography and was very well edited. Again, it may be considered too long today, but it's clear that they made it work with what scenes they had that made it so long.

And that's my review for Once Upon a Time in the West. I admit that I'm not so knowedgable about westerns to begin with that I can agree with what is commonly said about it, or about Henry Fonda, but with what my teacher explained and what I found for myself, it is a very good western that has great acting, wonderful cinematography, and good action that may justify the claim that it really is the last great western before Star Wars. If you haven't seen it, I'd say it's worth a shot to watch and get to know what many filmmakers/geeks before me love so much about it.