Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Moon***

Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning.

Rated PG-13

Directed by Chris Weitz

Screenplay written by Melissa Rosenberg (based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer)

* * *

Bravo to the film crew of New Moon for once again sticking very close to the storyline of Stephenie Meyer's novel New Moon, the second installment in the Twilight series.

Despite having fewer lines than in the first film, Robert Pattinson still pulls ahead of the pack as the premiere acting talent. There is a sort of beautiful, old-school aura that surrounds him. He has palpable talent and fits seamlessly into his role as Edward Cullen.

Kristen Stewart earns some kudos for a slight development in her acting skills since the first film, although she still comes aross as stiff and unfeeling while running most of her lines. Even though Bella Swan is meant to be emotionless and empty, there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of depth to Stewart as an actor at any point in the film. Somehow though it works, since arguably, there isn't a whole lot of depth to the character Bella anyway. It would be a challenge for any actor to wail away laboriously, portraying the misery Bella experiences in the film. Stewart's moans and screams are akin to fingernails scratching across a blackboard: unnecessary, strained, and uncomfortable. Billy Burke,who plays Charlie Swan, Bella's dad, provides the only real comic relief in the film.

Taylor Lautner is the brightest star of New Moon (or maybe it's just his rock-hard abs!) His sweet, unassuming character and honest, straight-forward acting are incredibly endearing. Lautner had to fight to keep his role as Jacob Black in New Moon, packing on 30 pounds of pure muscle. He flawlessly steps up to the plate and slams the ball out of the park. Twilight fans won't be disappointed in his portrayal of Jacob Black. He is equal competition for vampire Edward Cullen, brown and warm to Edward's pale and cold.

The CGI wolves in the film are impressibly life-like and the Volturi are delightfully terrifying with the help of Michael Sheen as the cunning Aro and Dakota Fanning as tiny but deadly Jane. The cast and crew came together with great respect for Meyer's storyline and work to make the best adaption of the book they can. It's a movie that is pleasing to the eye, the mind and the heart all together. The wrath and all-consuming power of the Twilight series is only just beginning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton and Thomas McCarthy.

Rated PG-13.

Directed by Roland Emmerich.

Written by Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser

* * *

2012 is a blank canvas which German director Roland Emmerich has splattered with a thick, brilliant assortment of colors, exploding like fireworks in great disarray. He has thrown everything onto the canvas but the kitchen sink. For his viewers, he holds nothing back. Disasters of every kind burst onto the screen, from crushing tidal waves that swallow cities whole, to volcanic eruptions the size of mushroom clouds and earthquakes that split highways in two and bring sky scrapers crashing to the ground. There’s no real order or finesse to the art of the film, but it’s great fun to watch the plot of 2012 unfold.

The lives of a smattering of characters, including author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), the president of the United States, Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover), top geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt), and the president’s daughter, Laura Wilson (Thandie Newton), are irrevocably changed when they learn the end of the world is within arm’s reach. All characters battle the elements, but only a few reach China, where their sole chance for survival exists in the form of massive arks, constructed to sustain the wrath of Mother Nature. But seats on the arks have been pre-sold to the highest bidders, leaving thousands upon thousands of people to perish around the earth.

The characters and acting skills aren’t very intriguing throughout the film, but fantastic special effects and dramatic events pop up around every corner. The actors aren’t the stars of the film; it’s the great tidal waves and earthquakes that bring that brilliant color to the canvas. The power of Mother Nature is terrifying because it can’t be stopped. As far-fetched as the basis of 2012 may seem, the truth of the matter is, the story is not impossible. That’s where Emmerich grabs the audience, taunts their fears and delights their senses with the sounds and images of unstoppable disaster.

The film is rather lengthy, and some of the characters can be a bit grating, but it’s a dazzling escape from reality for 158 minutes. 2012 is a (really long) roller coaster ride that leaves you dizzy, but ultimately riding high on the pulsating thrill of “What if?”