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Let Me In (2010)

 Do you think there’s such a thing as evil?

— Owen

I wanted to see Let Me In for a long time, because I gave high praise for the Swedish version, Let the Right One In. I h ave no idea what prevented me from seeing it, but my other sister-in-law rented the movie — she loves vampire movies — and I told her that I wanted to see the movie. After she was done with that, she lent it to me. This happened after midnight and a full moon rising before my SIL festival was supposed to start. That might be why I was disappointed with the movie.

 The setting transforms from the desolate of Sweden to the stark black, gold and white landscapes of Los Alamos, New Mexico 1983. We meet a lonely boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is constantly bullied by Kenny (Dylan Minnette) and his cronies, Mark (Jimmy “Jax” Pinchak) and Donald (Nicolai Dorian). Owen dreams of the day to get back on the assholes that torment him everyday.

One night while looks out of his bedroom window, Owen sees a little girl, Abby (Chloë Moretz) and her Father (Richard Jenkins) moving into the apartment next door. He notices that it is March and she doesn’t have any shoes on.

The audience sees that the new neighbors are not what they seem to be. The Father stalks in the night to kill virile young men and drain them of their blood. A Policeman (Elias Koteas) tries to figure out who is killing this men solely for their blood.

Owen and Abby meet each other on the jungle gym in the courtyard of their apartment building. They begin to build a friendship while Abby helps out Owen with his bully problem and Owen keeps Abby’s secret from others.

To those people who have seen the Swedish version — which I have subtitled and dubbed — I thought it was infinitely better this version. I did stay faithful to the original, but it lost the hidden mysteries that were in the original. The origin of Abby, the relationship between Abby and her Father, etc.

Some things were changed for better, but mostly for the worst. I know that the screenwriters wanted to get rid of the peripheral characters, but those characters made the world more dangerous. You did not delve into Owen’s broken home and his parents relationship. It was barely touched on. It could have been great with the Virginia (Sasha Barrese) character and her transformation.

I felt cheated with this movie. I have no qualms in saying that the movie was at times boring to watch. The leads were very morose and monotone that I prayed for the movie to be over.

Judgment: There were so many chances for the film to be as good as Let the Right One In, but it didn’t.

Rating: 6/10

Review and Rant of Kick-Ass (2010)

With no power, comes no responsibility. Except, *that* wasn’t true.

— Dave Lizewski

I saw some Comic-Con footage of the #146 movie of all time, Kick-Ass when it was leaked online before it was taken down. I saw footage of Hit Girl in action, the opening sequence of the film and I believe it was Kick-Ass’s first fight with the thugs. I was pumped to see this movie. I have been eagerly anticipating this movie when it was picked up by Lionsgate. I wanted to see it before it left theaters. I’m glad I did because I had a ball with this movie.

Based on Mark Millar & John S. Romita Jr.’s graphic novel, Kick-Ass is the ultimate examination in fanboy delusion. High schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) could be the typical comic book teenager. He is a total outcast that likes hanging out at Atomic Comics with his friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters). He is vagina repellent to all girls, especially to his crush, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca).

He ponders the question to his friends, why can’t someone become a superhero when the guys are constantly mugged a couple of thugs. Marty bluntly says that they would fucking die within a day. Dave ignores the warning of his friends and decides to become a superhero even though he has no powers whatsoever. He orders green and yellow wet suit online and decides to be a costume vigilante. He tries to train his body to be “super strong.”

The problem is not that much crime happens until he walks into a mugging outside of restaurant. He is taped by a stranger on their cellphone the remarkably clear footage is posted on YouTube. The local news pick up the story about this costumed hero. They want to know who is Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass decides to create a MySpace account so random strangers could post messages praising him and asking him for help. Dave is enjoying the instant fame Kick-Ass is generating for him and he has to keep his secret identity. The coverage of this amateur attracts the attention of two other costume vigilantes that are in hiding, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moertz). Their paths cross when a local drug dealer, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) thinks that Kick-Ass is killing his business. He wants to kill Kick-Ass.

This movie went farther than Watchmen in my opinion. It tried to poke fun at the superhero origin story but still doesn’t go off the deep end. It was bloody, vulgar and fucking awesome. The action sequences especially with Hit-Girl were awesome.

The ultimate message of the movie is that we are desensitized to extreme violence. We don’t know that the world is not a safe place. It also showed us that bringing your fantasies like becoming a superhero into the real world is dangerous and could potentially get your killed if you try to do it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Power Ranger. I thought it was refreshing that a movie would give this generation a much needed wake up call it deserves. Just because you want that instant fame either from being a runaway hit on YouTube or being profile in your local news, you have to know that there is a dark side to instant fame. It’s not just the notoriety you will get. There will be people that want the same thing as you and would harm you to replace your name in the papers.

I’m not saying that this movie was perfect. Far from it. Not having read the graphic novel, I heard that the ending of the movie changed. I like some of the changes, but not all of them. I thought that the movie was poking fun at Spider-Man, Superman and Batman at the beginning of the movie. Towards the ends, however, the movie becomes a conventional superhero storyline with the hero in trouble, the damsel in distress watching idly by, and the over the top climatic action sequence to close out the film. I think the relationship between Dave and Katie felt forced and uninspired or the last scene with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl went into melodrama. It was a bit of a cop out.

Before I close out this review, I have something to say is that I don’t understand why Hit Girl is the make or break factor of this movie. Have the naysayers ever heard of a pre-pubescent girl cursing like a sailor? Oh, please. Get over yourselves. I cursed a blue streak when I was that age. What about the boy from Role Models? He was so obsessed with tits and talking about sex. Where people saying that it was a horrible movie, because they got this kid to say such filthy phrases? Did anybody say boo when Stand by Me came out? They were cussing and smoothing when their balls haven’t dropped. That was in 1986. What has changed? Just because a little girl is saying these words you would write off a movie.

I would understand if you don’t like this movie, because it subverts the typical superhero tropes of the outcast granted special abilities to fight crime and defeat the bad guy at the end. I understand. You cannot dismiss an entire movie, because you don’t like one character in it. There are a lot of movies where I hated a particular character but I still enjoyed the movie such as the little sister in (500) Days of Summer. I think it is very myopic for any critic to write off a movie because of one character that don’t like. What about the other characters of the film, the story, the pacing, the direction it is going? Does that factor in at all when you are giving your final verdict?

Maybe it’s because you have been watching movies for so long that you have become jaded about the message of the movie. I’m not trying to sound like a fanboy here, but you have to have an objective eye. You are giving your opinion on a movie that other people are going to read and form their opinion about whether to see it or not. If you write a movie off because one character then people are not going trust your opinion anymore. That is my take on this so called controversy.

Judgment: It is a subversive take on the superhero story tat people could enjoy if they open their minds to it.

Rating: ****

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

five_hundred_days_of_summer

People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated.

— Tom

(500) Days of Summer is director Marc Webb’s first long length feature film dealing with not just “any another love story, but a story about love.” Missing out on the special screening for this movie two earlier, I eagerly anticipated watching this.

Critics have been praising this movie since Sundance this year. It has a Metacritic score of 76 and being currently #115 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDb list. Does it deserve to have such high praise? Yes, for the most part.

Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is a hapless greeting card writer that is taken with his new co-worker, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). He is the ultimate hopeless romantic that completely falls hard for Summer. Summer cannot reciprocate Tom’s feelings. She wants to keep him at a distance. Tom believe in love and Summer thinks that the word is bullshit.

Summer only wants to be “friends” with Tom, but Tom wants more than that. He wants Summer to be “his girlfriend”, “the one”, “his everything”, “his love.” Summer cannot give him that. She continually breaks his heart every chance that she gets.

The story is told as a broken narrative. You start with the end of the relationship and flash back to them meeting for the first time and everything in between. Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber shows the audience the ups and downs, the joyous moments and the painful ones as well. This movie does not shy away from the tough parts that make you want to turn away from the screen.

There is one perfect sequence that is so true, so real that I will break your heart. Watch out for it.

Anybody that has been in a relationship will relate greatly to this movie. Everybody knows what it is like to be attracted to a person, waiting to see if they feel the same way. When is the best time to say “I love you”? How long does it take to fully commit to that person? What happens with you fall out of love? Do you want to get back with them? What if the feelings changed over time? There are endless questions that have to be asked in a relationship.

Let’s say that this movie is not perfect. The narration by Richard McGonagle bothers me greatly. We don’t need a narrator telling us the life story of Tom and Summer. It’s unnecessary. The beginning sequences were a little rocky to start, borderline boring.

Whenever Tom has a problem with Summer, he goes to seek the advice of his tween sister, Rachel (Chloe Moretz), who has all the answers for him.  Say what? What does a thirteen year old girl know about an adult relationship. No kid could be that astute.

There are some vignettes that took me out of the film. Cannot discuss them without spoiling the movie.

Judgment: Do not watch this movie with your significant other.

Rating: ****1/2

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