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Denebola » Artie Augustyn http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 Movie Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/movie-review-x-men-origins-wolverine/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/movie-review-x-men-origins-wolverine/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 16:59:00 +0000 Artie Augustyn http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2332 Comic book movies aren’t always the easiest things to predict in terms of quality. For the most part they’re pretty terrible, with atrocities like Daredevil and Catwoman scarring our retinas indefinitely.

On the other hand, though, there are some quality flicks such as Spiderman and The Dark Knight.

If there’s any franchise that understands the spontaneity of a film’s variable quality rate, it’s X-Men.

With the first two films being decent and the third being one of the worst creations Hollywood has manifested in recent years, it was hard to predict if a spin-off of that series would be any good.

Enter X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a somewhat unnecessary film that focuses entirely on the main character, Wolverine.

The choice to focus on his character is somewhat bizarre since the first three films were focused on Wolverine; if any character didn’t need any more development, it was this guy.

Regardless of its necessity to exist, Wolverine is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to straight up action flicks.In case you haven’t heard, Wolverine stars Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

If you don’t recall the lore of the X-Men franchise, allow me to deliver the knowledge. Wolverine, despite looking like a twenty-something-year-old man, is in fact somewhere around three hundred years old.

His unique ability to heal his body’s wounds allows him to age at an infinite rate.

So prior to the first three X-Men films, there’s around 298 years that we don’t know about; that’s where X-Men Origins comes in.

You follow Wolverine’s trajectory from childhood to a few months before the first X-Men film.

It’s interesting to see where the character developed from and how he built up multiple conflicts and relationships with many people along the way¦ but it’s all for naught.

In the first X-Men movie, Wolverine suffers from amnesia, so he doesn’t remember any of his past.

While amnesia is a legitimate affliction, in movie-language, this makes the entire film virtually pointless in the greater scale of things.

Wolverine’s loss of memory is explained fairly logically in X-Men Origins, but it’s equivalent to the final scene of a movie saying, “It was all a dream! In short, none of the past two hours mattered.

The continuity really starts to go haywire when future major characters of the X-Men movies appear in this film.
The biggest violator is Sabertooth, the main antagonist of X-Men Origins.

Sabertooth is Wolverine’s older brother who shares similar traits with him.

They can both regenerate their bodies, allowing both to age forever, and they both have bone claws that they can use to deal some damage to their adversaries
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The problem with this is that Sabertooth is presented in this film with a strong emotional connection to Wolverine; they’re blood brothers and have an obvious rivalry.

However, Sabertooth was already in the first X-Men movie, but doesn’t have any of these connections to Wolverine in that movie.

Even though Wolverine loses his memory, Sabertooth does not, so this detachment between the two characters doesn’t make any sense.

In addition to Sabertooth there are other smaller role character, such as fan-favorite Gambit, who appear in this film but are mysteriously absent from the rest.

So if you’re looking for a continuous story arc, Wolverine will more than likely mess with your head rather than please your curiosity.

However, as a standalone piece, X-Men Origins is a solid film that is pleasing to the eyes. If you ignore the obvious continuity issues and remain focused on the canon of this particular movie, it’s quite good.

Wolverine’s story is an interesting one, and his rivalry with his brother, Sabretooth, has a few betrayals and tricks to keep the conflict interesting. The action rolls along at a fair pace, meaning that there’s never a dull moment.
There’s nothing too bad about X-Men Origins, but it does have a lot of potential that it never fully utilizes.
Since the story is focused on Wolverine, it doesn’t allow other characters to develop quite as much as audiences and fans may want.

The most obvious examples are Deadpool, a sarcastic “merc with a mouth who appears for the first five minutes of the film and is never seen again, and Gambit, a Cajun thief of sorts who showcases an interesting background, but never reveals the full extent of his story.

I suppose the use of “X-Men Origins: ______ implies that it’s a new brand name that will delve into other characters in the series eventually (for example, X-Men Origins: Magneto is in the works) but you still get an urge for more.

If you’re looking for an action flick with a lot of mutant-based stabbing and shooting, without any dynamic central plot, Wolverine is definitely the way to go.

It doesn’t quite reach the level of quality that X2 did, but it’s far superior to the horrendous X3. The story’s got some heart to it, and isn’t all explosions and flat expressions; there’s some genuine storytelling going on that you might not see in other comic book movies.

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Fast & Furious takes off http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/fast-furious-takes-off/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/fast-furious-takes-off/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2009 07:29:21 +0000 Artie Augustyn http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2203 Writing a review for a car-junkie action flick like Fast & Furious almost seems pointless: if the next 750 words were to describe a film that would burn out your eyes, deafen your ears, and condemn all of your family and relatives to eternal damnation in hell you’d probably still check it out. However, fear not! Your family is safe, and your body parts will be fine.

Fast & Furious is a typical, but enjoyable thrill ride. Although it never exalts over the title of “summer action flick, you feel like it should have to.

Fast & Furious is the fourth film in the series, but chronologically it takes place in between 2Fast 2Furious and Tokyo Drift.

This film is noteworthy in comparison to the others since it reunites Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. The story follows both characters as they pursue separate but intertwined personal vendettas against the same force. Luckily, all the conflicts are set up within this film, so you do not need to have seen the previous three films to understand what’s going on.

The plotline provides some interesting twists and turns throughout and ends on an unexpected, but satisfying close.

The narrative keeps the pace going, so you’ll never get bored from long scenes of blatant exposition or too tense from continuous action.

Speaking of action, there is a good deal of it in Fast & Furious. The film opens up with an explosive introduction sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film; expect a lot of explosions, car wrecks, and guys’ faces being smashed into concrete walls.

There is nothing super amazing or memorable about any particular sequence. It’s worth mentioning though that Fast & Furious decides to focus the cameras on the action, as opposed to the popular technique of quick cuts that make the audience feel like they are watching the adventure of a camera falling down a flight of stairs. You won’t need to worry about having difficulty following what’s going on in each scene or getting a headache from all the shaking.

However, in my experience, I found the film’s sound design to be a tad uneven. Dialogue is clearly spoken and interaction scenes are normal, but it sounds as if all the cars in the movie are running off of harrier jet engines.

The sound is so intense and vicious, it’s like you were in the front row of a Metallica concert. Never in my life have I experienced shellshock while watching a film.

In terms of characters and symmetry Fast & Furious does a pretty good job at creating humorous moments between its cast. The most reoccurring face-offs spawn from Paul Walker and Vin Diesel’s “bromantic relationship. The two have an obvious mutual respect for each other, but are willing to sacrifice that respect for a funny joke whenever possible.

Their childish bickering comes out in an endearing way, creating two very likable main characters.
On whole Fast & Furious is an entertaining action flick that’s aware of its audience and what people are expecting from it. You will not find any complex metaphors or narrations on society, only funny laughs and amusing explosions.

This installment is an improvement over the past two films so if you found any aspect of those movies salvageable, you will find something to enjoy here.
That being said, if you do not like car movies this one won’t change your mind. There are worse ways to spend your money: you could’ve seen Knowing.

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Films of 2008: A restrospective look at this year’s best http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/films-of-2008-a-restrospective-look-at-this-year%e2%80%99s-best/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/films-of-2008-a-restrospective-look-at-this-year%e2%80%99s-best/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2008 07:00:38 +0000 Artie Augustyn http://denebolaonline.net/denebola/?p=567 2008 was a great year for film. Each of the 12 months was filled with interesting movies to be seen. However, not all of us had the chance to see every one. So in an attempt to narrow down your options, I’ve made a list of five movies I think everyone will enjoy.

The first movie I’d recommend is the hilarious comedy Tropic Thunder. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, the film follows five snobby actors who become too difficult to work with on a set. The director decides the only way he’ll be able to finish the movie on deadline is to throw the cast into the jungle, and place secret cameras everywhere to get the shots he needs.

Each actor gives heart-attack-worthy performances, especially the surprise performance of Tom Cruise. Cruise is literally so funny in this movie he almost makes me forgive him for jumping on Oprah’s couch. Almost. The jokes made in this film are shocking. Tropic Thunder is rated R for many reasons, and has a good chance of offending you with its unadulterated comedy. If you want to laugh, check out Tropic Thunder, but try to keep an open mind.

Next up is In Bruges. Directed by Martin MacDonagh, In Bruges follows the tale of two hired assassins (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) who have to hide out in the Belgian city Bruges after completing a job in London. As the story progresses it’s revealed that some things didn’t go according to plan in London, leaving the two assassins in a complex predicament.

It’s hard to label In Bruges as any particular genre, all I can say is it’s about friendship, family, and killing people. What I enjoyed about In Bruges the most was its undeniable charm. Each character is written and acted perfectly, so you’ll care about each person’s fate. Be warned though, In Bruges is violent and European. I’ve shown this film to some of my friends who hate both violence, and European movies, and they loved it anyway. Just be sure to set your expectations accordingly, and understand that this movie might not be up your alley.

Third on the list is Cloverfield. Directed by Matt Reeves, with J.J. Abrams of Lost fame supporting as lead producer, Cloverfield is about a monster attacking New York City, a simple but excellent idea. The entire movie is shot from a narrative perspective. Prior to the monster attacking, the lead character Rob plans to leave America permanently to live in Japan, so his friends throw him a going-away party and one friend documents his last night.

Cloverfield’s sense of companionship is top notch. Very few movies give you the sense that you’re part of the ride. Cloverfield aces this aspect, providing one of the most exciting experiences you’ll have with a DVD. Since it’s not playing in theatres anymore, it’s best to watch this movie at night with a couple of friends who also have not seen the movie, to effectively recreate the “theatre feel. Turn the lights off and the sound up, and you’ll be in for a ride you won’t forget.

If non-stop heart pounding action is not your cup of tea, give Wall-E a shot, the latest film from the prestigious studio Pixar. Wall-E is about a robot that’s designed to clean trash from the world after consumerism took over and made the planet inhabitable. Despite being a robot, Wall-E has evolved and developed emotions such as love. He meets, and falls in love with, a fellow robot named Eve, but she has not evolved like Wall-E, and has no emotions. The entire film is told through body language and quick audio bytes, as opposed to standard dialogue. Like every Pixar movie, Wall-E is heartwarming and a joy to watch. If you’re not into Pixar movies, this won’t change your mind, but if you can enjoy the simplicity of this film, you’ll be in for a treat.

The defining movie of 2008 is The Dark Knight. There’s not much to say about this movie, other than you have to see it. In The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has masterminded a near perfect superhero movie. An epic film in every sense, its dark and serious tone makes insane and wacky characters like The Joker believable. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is one that cannot be missed.

Given the fact that it’s a superhero movie it probably won’t be winning any Oscars (even for the spectacular Heath Ledger) but that doesn’t make it any less remarkable. If there’s one movie you have to see from the year of 2008, it’s The Dark Knight.

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Quantum hits the bulls eye http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/quantum-hits-the-bulls-eye/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/quantum-hits-the-bulls-eye/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2008 07:00:26 +0000 Artie Augustyn http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=434 The Bond series has had a new addition every two years for the past half-century. The latest release, Quantum of Solace, starring Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and Olga Kurylenko and directed by Marc Forster, attempts to garner the same amount of praise as 2006′s Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace successfully lives up to the hype, and could replace Casino Royale as “Best Bond Film ever.

Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale: the action starts chronologically minutes after the previous film ends. The plot continues to progress key events that occurred in Casino Royale. This is the first time a Bond film has ever referenced another installment, but audience members can still watch Quantum without being familiar with the previous film.

Quantum of Solace attempts to add serious subplots into its story, a first for the series. Luckily the film never takes itself too seriously, and there’s still plenty of classic James Bond humor incorporated in the action.

The pacing of Quantum of Solace is phenomenal. Most Bond films struggle to maintain a balance among story, action, and comedy. This latest addition, however, makes it look easy. Unlike Casino Royale, there aren’t any hour-long poker tournaments to sit through, and the overall dialogue is a lot funnier. Each individual aspect has been built on and improved since the last installment.

Quantum departs from the typical “Bond classics. The catch-phrases “shaken, not stirred and “Bond. James Bond are never spoken. Simple nods, such as the Bond theme song played over a shootout or a specialized Aston Martin designed to be blown up, never make an appearance.

This may upset some fans, but there’s still a feeling of “James Bond in the air, most apparent in Daniel Craig’s performance and the writing of each individual scene. With the removal of those tiresome one-liners constantly paying homage to a particular movie that was made over 40 years ago, the franchise feels new again. Great writing in place of a nostalgic quirk is a rewarding tradeoff.

The one legitimate problem with Quantum of Solace is the editing. Many of the action sequences, specifically near the beginning, are spliced together through numerous short cuts similar to the Bourne franchise. Here, though, the splicing gives the impression that the editing crew was in a rush, rather than trying to accomplish a certain technique. The majority of these quick-cut sequences leave the audience bemused. The sound design provides essential cues to the audience because looking at the screen is about as useful as staring into flashing neon lights.

In addition to this, most of these scenes never seem to connect each shot together. There is often a shot of Bond doing something spectacular, like participating in a boat-on-boat head-on collision, but then he’ll suddenly speed away while avoiding machine gunfire. To be fair, though, all of these problems are fixed half way through the movie, where the action gets a lot more cohesive.

Despite its shortcomings, Quantum of Solace is an amazing action-packed Bond experience that’s fully recommendable to anyone. The plotline, humor and edge-of-your-seat excitement combine to make Quantum one of the better installments in the franchise. There’s no way of knowing where the series will go from here, but the future seems promising, and I personally cannot wait for what they do next.

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