Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Man On Fire

Grade: A-

I really enjoyed this movie. I know that it was released several years ago, but I hadn't seen it until a couple of nights ago on TV. It was exceptional. The film had a unique look to it, it felt gritty and real, yet it maintained an almost mythical quality too.

The story revolves around Creasy (Denzel Washington), a former CIA agent, who is hired by a wealthy Mexican (Marc Anthony) as a bodyguard for his daughter (Dakota Fanning). Creasy is to protect her from potential kidnappers, as kidnapping is wealthy children is a booming business in Latin America. In an ambush, the girls is indeed kidnapped and Creasy is shot and almost dies. Word gets to the family that the girl was killed and Creasy goes on a personal mission to track down every kidnapper and bring them to justice. I know it sounds like a cliche, but the filmmakers pull it off with great beauty, tenderness, and realism.

I highly recommend this film. It is rated R for violence. I watched an edited version on TV, but I could tell what had been edited out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Battlestar Galactica

Grade: B+ (so far)

Okay, so this is a TV show. But each episode has the production quality of a feature film.

For those who are not familiar with it, it is a remake of the old TV show. In the distant future, mankind is traveling the Galaxy. Humans had invented artificially intelligent machines, which inevitably evolve to become our enemy, (pretty cliched back story, I know). These machines, the "Cylons," have actually destroyed all of mankind except for around 40,000 people that populate a fleet of star ships.

So here are the major conflicts in the series: (1) the Cylons are roaming the galaxy looking to wipe out the rest of the humans, (2) the humans are roaming the Galaxy searching for the mythical planet "Earth" to restart their civilization. Of course, there is plenty of political intrigue, twists, and action along the way. For example, there are 12 Cylon models that are indistinguishable from humans (they look like people, not robots), but here's the catch, we the viewers do not know who they all are. So, there is always the real possibility that any character is actually one of the unidentified Cylons.

I must admit that I hadn't watched Galactica until this season, which is the fourth and final season. It really blew me away. I was drawn in by the plot, the cinematography, and the overall production quality. One major "pro" to the series is that it began with the end in mind. It will not be like those shows that outlive their prime and spiral, out of control, into outlandish stories just to stay alive. It is able to maintain its epic feel through the life of the series.

One major drawback: there is some blatant sexuality. Although not in every episode, when it is there, it is pretty in your face. I find myself simply changing the channel and returning to it after a couple of minutes. It really bothers me, especially when there are always other ways to communicate what has happened to the audience. Viewer beware.

I am hooked and can't wait to see how the whole sweeping plot unfolds and resolves.