Friday, February 8, 2013

Hardware (1990) Review:

For year 1990, comic books were just starting to make themselves applicable to the big screen. Superman (1978) initiated and proved that comic book films could be made, but they really didn't start to come off the conveyor belt until the beginning of the late 80s. To narrow the focus, I was more amazed at the fact that this film was actually the first movie to adapt a story from the 2000 A.D. comic book along with Judge Dredd (1995) and recently Dredd 3D (2012) films.

Discovering that, had peaked my interest because Judge Dredd is an awesome character, but it's always cool to see other stories from the same comic be adapted into a movie. Funny as it is, not only are Dredd and this story published by the same comic, but they also exist in the same universe!

The head of the M.A.R.K. 13
Sadly, after watching the movie, I was not happy with the final product for various reasons. There were some good points but overall, the whole visual aspect of the picture was rather lazy. Hardware is the comic strip adaptation of the short story "Shok!", where a soldier buys a robotic head, which belonged to a "Shok" trooper robot for his girlfriend. What they both don't realize, is that this robot hasn't been deactivated, it's just dormant. Soon, the robot rebuilds itself and starts to kill anything that stands in its way.

Storywise, it's not a bad idea, if it can be pulled off right, which is one of the good things about this adaptation. Richard Stanley's direction was proper in letting it come as close it would come to portraying the world of Judge Dredd. It truly felt like the wasteland that belonged outside Mega City One. Also the gore, although very brief, was enjoyable and the way the puppeteers animated the "Shok Trooper", now called the M.A.R.K. 13 in this film, was well executed. The head of the M.A.R.K. 13 is the most iconic thing about the film.

The futuristic devices that were used throughout the film were cool to listen and look at as well. The music composed by Simon Boswell was alright. It had some science-fiction tones and incorporated some western like themes involving a guitar. However, when it came to the important scenes, it seemed as though Boswell, couldn't figure out how to give the music a sense of tension.

Unfortunately, that's about as much as I found entertaining about this sci-fi horror film. Everything else just didn't work; beginning with the main focus: the characters. By the end of the film, I could not believe how uninteresting the main characters had become. I thought, even for lesser-known actors, they still can give a memorable performance. But I didn't see that here. The soldier who brings the robot head home, Moses Baxter, played by Dylan McDermott isn't much of an emotional person. Even more uninteresting is his wacked out friend named Shades, played by John Lynch. The role of Shades was actually fairly okay until the last half of the film where he went into a totally freaked out mode.

I didn't even find Stacey Travis' role as Baxter's girlfriend appealing. Usually as the lead female, actresses have the opportunity to make their role very entertaining, but here Travis just has bland dialog mixed in with multiple U-turns around the same apartment room trying to flee from the M.A.R.K. 13; dull. Along with being director, Richard Stanley as a screenwriter could have had her fight the robot more than just one or two times. Maybe a few clever traps (not distractions) here and there to throw the robot off course? Yes, the rest of the cast did contain various lead singers from rock bands but they're really just cameos. Nothing truly special.

The red-orange coloring I've been talking about.....X_X
Another thing I found quite tiresome and obnoxious was the lighting of the whole movie. Originally, it had started out with a beaming red-orange sun that gave an accurate feel for what the hot weather was like in this desolate wasteland setting. But as the movie relocates itself to the Baxter apartment, the lighting does not change. The entire picture is still red-orange; not just the background. EVERYTHING is red-orange. There are only a few scenes where normal lighting comes into play and the audience will actually be able to see some color contrast. Besides, that, it was a very frustrating experience to see everything as one color. Black and white would've been more enjoyable than red-orange.

Finally, there were also some scenes that just didn't seem to make any sense. Some scenes involved bright flashing blue lights, while others contained neon spiral-like designs that made me feel like the a part of the film crew had no idea of what this movie was about and put it in for filler. Even some of the character's actions looked out of place. For example, at one point McDermott made his role look like he didn't know how to hold or shoot a shotgun. Seriously folks? I had high expectations for a low budget film that was supposed to be fairly entertaining but I was disappointed instead.

As the first 2000 A.D. comic adaptation to hit theatres, Hardware has good violence and special effects. But that's it. Its characters are dull, some scenes don't connect to the story and the lighting is frustrating.

Points Earned --> 5:10

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Paperman (2012) Review:

Emotion can be hard to convey to audiences in a short film. Due to the limited time and animation (or filming) that must be put into the story, it can consume the whole life of the story. But somehow, the crew that put this short movie together, obviously knew how they would construct it in such a manner that it would not only contain emotion, but every kind of emotion that is the basis for many other complex feelings.

The story of "paperman" is about a young gentleman who finds the girl of his dreams whom he just happens to run into by fate at a local train station. During the brief time he spends awkwardly hanging around the confident female, he ends up making a connection with her because of a gust of wind that happened to blow one his papers into her face. From there, he realizes the girl had planted a smooch mark on his paper. Awww, how adorable!

Just like any other day........
But because, like everyone else, time moves on she catches her train leaving the gentleman behind, hoping he would see her again. Little does he realize that he will see her very soon. Because everyone knows it's a small world after all right? And I'll leave it there, otherwise I'll be describing the whole movie to you. But in this minute and a half worth that I described, builds up a lot of emotion that is absolutely heartwarming. Just the introduction will display, timidness, humor and regret in that short amount of time. As the story continues, you will see hopefulness, frustration, disappointment and joy. And boy does it have a satisfying ending.

And the ordered display of emotions is just the beginning. The people who animated this film did an amazing job. The background and characters look like drawings but they also look 3D as well which creates a surreal but nostalgic feel of the story. Plus, to make the film feel even more retro, the crew decided to keep the film black and white except for the female's ruby red lipstick that's planted on the man's office paper. This allows the audience to focus more on what connects these two characters together.

Also, the way the characters are constructed, physically, may be slightly disproportionate to the normal human being but my oh my are they one of the cutest couple of lovebirds I've seen on the screen in a long time. Sure, the gentleman is lanky but that creates the sense that he's like any other average Joe. The one thing I found that stood out the most on the girl were her eyes. I can see why the guy had to take a second glance at the girl. Her eyes were an eye grabber for him. The girl just has a really sweet looking face.

until "she" enters the frame ....=3
Finally, what truly finished off this short film on a strong note was the music produced by composer Christophe Beck. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how Beck was going to present the music for this story. After producing various action and comedy scores like RED (2010) and The Hangover (2009), I wasn't sure if I could trust Beck's ability to give out such whole hearted product. But he did here, no doubt. The music is partially what facilitates the emotions that are being evoked throughout the film and it really works. On a side note though, it almost resembles Adam Young's style of electro-pop (Owl City) like music. I'm curious  if that inspired Beck.

Now, here's why I can't give this short 10 stars like I wanted to. The first is because it creates a false sense of life. Unfortunately, not every person's life is like this, where they meet the person of their dreams so suddenly. The film made me wish that life was like that for everyone. That's what is so disappointing about the story. These kinds of occurrences hardly every happen. If they did happen, the world would be so much happier!

The other reason why I can't give it full credit is because it is a short film and a real story cannot expand to only 7 minutes long. Plus, I have fallen in love with these two characters and I really hope that the producers decide to create a movie about these two lovers. That's something I'd definitely be up to see because this couple is unbeatable when it comes to love!

As probably one of the few short films that I think needed this much credit and justification for its credit, it definitely deserves it. Paperman is so sweet that the audience will beg to see a movie made from this story.

Points Earned --> 9:10