Monday, February 25, 2013

Few thoughts on Oscar 2013

First of all, I've to declare that I've not seen any of those nominated movies (except Les Miserable). So, I wouldn't be able to judge the results from an artistic merit. So, my opinion is more based on what I know of the Academy based on their history and political sentiment.  For being a long time movie fan, though I couldn't go to movies as often as I like due to family engagement, I do still pay attention to see what's new and good in the market. So as to use that as chatting materials in social circles.

Anyway, I don't have a broad scope of opinions to cover all the winners or losers. I just want talk about few of them. First of all, Argo is a pro-American movie, so does Lincoln. However, the former is more a "feel good" movie that not as heavy and 'academic' as the latter. That helps the voter to make the choice. Furthermore, the snub of Ben Affleck in the best director nomination would give an extra boost to its winning. Spielberg is still the "king" of Hollywood, but he had won before with Jews and veteran support. Given Obama is still in the White House, Lincoln is appeal would somehow be diminished a bit. Also, with Daniel Day Lewis won his third best actor award, that should be enough.

Jennifer Lawrence won the best actress. It is just another chapter of the ongoing trend of best actress winner: relatively young (vs. the best actors), pretty, and some of them would be considered as 'up and coming' in the business. Checking Wiki, the winners in the past decade or so, except Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, most of them fit that category (as a matter of fact, I think Anne Hathaway's win in best supporting actress also fit this image). Jennifer Lawrence is young and good, so I wouldn't think that would cause any controversy. Actually, this award consolidate her status as the 'it' girl in Hollywood. Come to think of it, she (or her manager) definitely succeed big time in the showbiz and she is gonna (maybe already) comment the biggest paycheck in Hollywood among actresses. Why I say that is because, she has been equally successful in both artistic (with the award'S') and commercial movies like The Hunger Games and X Men prequels. So, we are surely see her unstop in the coming decade unless she goes Lindsay Lohen!

Ang Lee won the best director is considered to be a surprise in the West media. I heard that Life of Pi is an amazing achievement. But, it is not unheard of Academy discarding great cinematic works. So, the reason why I'm kinda surprise is because Ang did (if I remember correctly) murmur or bad mouthed the Academy for not rewarding Brokeback Mountain the best movie back then. Cuz, the Academy does usually remember this kind of things, and may never award to some people again no matter how good their works will be. Anyway, this award did solidify Ang's position as a master in handling difficult movie subject. If not for his failure in Hulk, if he would be given a chance to direct some potential blockbuster again, his success would even be elevate to the exclusive club of directors like Spielberg, Cameron, etc.

Anyway, just my two cents in this latest showbiz news.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

Before going to see the fifth chapter of the Die Hard Saga, A Good Day to Die Hard, I read quite a few critics saying that, if you can leave your brain at the door, you will enjoy the movie very much. I was glad that I did. Indeed, I enjoy the movie tremendously! It was a wild wide that didn't stop much before another gigantic action piece set unfolded. 

Actions - Well, that's why most fans want and we got it. There are basically few big action sequences. Even for viewer like me who saw so many car-chasing scenes in movies all these years, I still find the 'Truck chasing' scene in Moscow an amazing sequence! Guns were not used much there in the chase, instead, it was all trucks smashing other vehicles in busy traffic that make the boom! The other 2 big action sequences involves the Russian military helicopter. They are both decent especially the machine guns firing from the helicopter, that really showed the firepower!

Dialogue - As being described, the 'down' time of the movie for dialogue or story was kept at bare minimum, just enough to fill 'small' gaps between actions scenes. There are surprisingly few characters that spoke, even for John McClane himself. All he said that I remember in the movie was 'I'm on vacation!' The writer I think is just too lazy.

Script - It could be much much better. A story about stolen Russian nuke materials at Chernobyl involves Russian defense minister, an CIA and his dad John McClane in Russian actually provide a lot of room for imagination, but the movie's script doesn't deliver. It didn't challenge viewers even a bit. The flow of the story is so monotone, to sum it up, it is just about 2 Yankees in Russia chasing the bad Russians and kill them all. That's it!

Acting - Another thing that was being kept at minimum. Nobody really act much in the movie. John McClane didn't shine in this movie, he just had some minor scratch here and there, didn't even crack a joke. He showed his age but it was fine with us. But, he basically acted and talked with firearms. His son is not much better, supposed to be the heart of the movie, his acting is so 2D, same as most other characters in the movie. What's weird to me is that, even most 'small' characters that usually we could find in old Die Hard movies are absent in this one. The only one that I can recall is the taxi driver. Other than him, I think all other Russians who had spoken dialogue in the movie are all bad and dead. I would say that they kept the movie flow tight with barely 98 minutes. However, I would say that if they put a bit more time to develop the story and nourish the scripts and dialogue, like give an extra 15 minutes to the movie for that, this movie would be much better. 

At the end, I've to say that I did enjoy the movie for pure action purpose. So, if you can bare with the BADS and go to see it for the GOODS, you will enjoy it!

Other thoughts about this one and the older Die Hards -
Die Hard Saga has come to the fifth installment, compared with many other action series. Die Hard is certainly one that I like very much. Also, in terms of story development, it should be the easiest (vs. Lethal Weapons, Rambo, Terminator, etc). I like the first one, cuz it was new: one good guy against so many bad guys in a premise (a building for the first movie) and won at the end. The sequel was good as well as it became a little bit more like a James Bond movie with a bigger premise - an airport. Both movies put a humanized dimension with good supporting actors, and the relationship between John McClane and his wife facing the terrorists.

The third one is actually the one I like the most. The premise is the whole NYC. Bruce Willis + Sam Jackson is good couple and they played off each other very well in that one. I like the Wall Street burglary as well as the subway bombing scene. Also, Jeremy Iron as the bad guy did act and how he fooled John McClane to go all around NYC was fun to watch story wise. The fourth one wasn't very memorable to me, I only remember the few action set pieces: the cop car hit a helicopter outside a tunnel, a cargo truck vs a fighter jet, a SUV hit Maggie Q in an elevator shaft. That's all. So, after seeing the latest one, I would say the series is kinda going down the hill, especially when Bruce Willis said that Die Hard 6 will come. Unless, more attention will be put on the script, though I would still go for the actions alone, it could be another let down to a great movie series that could have been much better. Well, I can only stay tune to see what will be next.