Friday, September 28, 2007

Movie Review: 3:10 to Yuma

Movie Title: 3:10 To Yuma
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol.
Directed by: James Mangold
Genre: Western/Action/Adventure
My Rating: 9/10

Yee-haww! What happens when you take an Australian/New Zealand Oscar Winner and a Welsh born substance actor and put them both in a remade Western movie set in the post-cold-war southwest? Well, 3:10 is a great example that this mixture of imported heroes does work well for almost any genre now. Add the director of Walk the Line and you've got yourself a strong entertainer!

Bale plays with expertise and dignity a family man + financially struggling rancher + former Union soldier who volunteers to escort an outlaw to the nearest train station to be sentenced as a federal prisoner in a bigger city. This outlaw is brilliantly portrayed by none other than Crowe. Take his bad-ass and no-BS attitude from L.A. Confidential, gallantry from Gladiator and improve his gun slinging from Quick and the Dead, you have the character Ben Wade in 3:10. Both these actors displayed near perfection as men on opposite sides of the law, yet managing to earn respect for each other half way through the movie (and not keep it cliched for the end, thank God, we don't need another buddy-cop-cowboy flick).

Peter Fonda plays a bounty hunter leading the pack to escort Wade to the train station, and shows his veteran status well even though he was almost forgotten before he reappeared on the silver screen in Ghost Rider. Gretchen Mol plays Bale's gracious wife, mothering two sons. The elder son is some 14 year old loose canon who can't wait to get his hand on the trigger every time. At the same time he wasn't shown as a spoilt teenager of the 20th-21st century, interestingly.

Robert Foster wins the award for creepiest character of the movie, as Wade's super-attached yet heartless sidekick. I understand he's trying to grow out of the high school boy image, but whoa - this is quite an extreme. Not the first, I'm sure.

The scenery's and set up were all done excellently. The screen color and free language is one of the few things that remind us that it's not just another classic western we're watching. Even though this movie is a remake of a 1957 movie with the same title and starring Glen Ford, many reviewers have praised the 2007 version to be an improvement over the original. I personally haven't missed too many classic westerns, but the '57 version of Yuma just happens to be one of them I need to add to my netflix queue for comparison. Comparing The Departed to it's HK-Chinese original Infernal Affairs was a lot fun alright.

Back to Yuma '07, it's an enjoyable flick whether you like westerns or not. The acting, set-up, direction are all great additions to the simple story. 9/10 - probably the last movie of the summer/fall to get such a rating from me :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Movie Review: Superbad

Movie Title: Superbad
Starring: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Martha McIsaac, Emma Stone and Seth Rogen
Directed by: Greg Motolla
Genre: Comedy
My Rating: 9/10

Attaboy! This is how you make a hilarious movie with a bunch of talented yet relatively unknown young actors. I usually avoid listing unknown actors, but they all deserved the credit here. Seth Rogen has scored once again as a writer and supporting actor.

Arrested Development's Michael Sera and Accepted's John Hill play a pair of high school misfits who want to party it out 2 weeks before graduating. Sera plays the brain and Hill plays the obnoxious, and their weakness is that they're heterosexually inseparable. In trying to get the girls of their dreams, acquiring alcohol with the help of a greater nerd in the form of McLovin (Passe) who has a fake-id, running into fun and unrealistic loving cops (Knocked Up's Rogen and SNL's Hader) and crashing at a grown up party to steal booze before landing up at a high school party to which they got invited to for the first time ever - summarizes their unlimited adventure.

The girls, for a change, looked like high school girls, and not like 25-30 year olds who must have failed too many times to still be prom-dreaming. The cops were the funniest part of the movie, with their Star Wars references and power abuse. More detail could lead to spoilers. I'd suggest you watch this movie unless you're a lightweight and have absolutely no sense of humor. Superbad surpasses all high school comedies ever, ever made. Forget Fast Times, forget American Pie. It could compare to The New Guy only because the music in the soundtrack was very retro - funk and classic rock.

9/10. Enjoy! Not a family movie, but fun for all at the same time.