Archive for February 24, 2010

9

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Prior to the events of the film, an unnamed man, referred to as, “The Scientist,” created the B.R.A.I.N. (or the Fabrication Machine) for peaceful purposes and to help evolve mankind’s technology. However, the leader of mankind took control of the machine and used it to wage war on other humans. With the lack of a human soul, the machine was corrupted and turned on mankind, wiping them out using other machines and poisonous gases. The Scientist constructed nine robotic like homunculi referred to as “Stitchpunks”, each one alive via a portion of the Scientist’s soul, and created an amulet which could be used to destroy the Fabrication Machine. The Scientist died shortly after creating the last of the Stitchpunks, 9.

9 awakens at the start of the film, taking the amulet with him. Outside, in the lifeless and devastated world, 9 meets fellow Stitchpunk 2, who gives him a vocal processor to speak. However, they are attacked by a machine called the “Cat-Beast” and 2 is captured. 9 is saved by one-eyed 5 who takes him to Sanctuary, an abandoned cathedral and home to the Stitchpunks, led by 1, and his bodyguard 8. 9 decides to rescue 2 from an old factory, aided by 5. The two locate 2 and the “Cat-Beast” is destroyed by 7, the only female Stitchpunk and a skilled warrior. 9 spots the shutdown Fabrication Machine where the amulet connects to, awakening it. It attacks 2 and sucks out his lifeforce, the soul being the machine’s power source. The Stitchpunks retreat to 3 and 4’s hideout where they reveal the machine’s origins. 9 realises they need to remove the amulet from the machine and returns to Sanctuary where 6 points out they need to return to a disclosed source. Sanctuary is attacked by a bird-like robot, called the “Winged Beast”, which is destroyed, but as is Sanctuary.

A snake-like robot, the “Seamstress”, kidnaps 7 and 8. 9 pursues it and witnesses 8 being killed by the Fabrication Machine, but rescues 7 before destroying the factory where the machine is, seemingly destroying it as well. The surviving Stitchpunks celebrate, but the machine rises and kills 5, and 6 soon after, the latter warning 9 that the souls of the deceased Stitchpunks are within the machine and it should not be destroyed, as well as the source is in the Scientist’s workshop where 9 awoke. 9 goes to the workshop and finds a video recording which explains how the amulet can be used to destroy the machine and free the trapped souls. 9 returns to the others who plan to destroy the machine. During the following battle, 9 prepares to sacrifice himself to defeat the machine, but 1 sacrifices himself to allow 9 to remove the amulet and destroy the machine.

The film ends with 9, 7, 3 and 4 releasing the souls of 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8, who fly up into the sky and cause it to rain, the raindrops containing small organisms, hinting that life in the world is not gone after all.

REVIEW:

I’ve seen some strange and confusing films in my day, but I have got to say that 9 takes the cake. THat is not to say that this is a bad film, by any stretch of the imagination, just a bit on the eccentric side.

The good…the animation is beautiful. Look at the detail in each of the puppets. It is quite impressive. Voice casting isn’t half bad, though I belive I would have switched Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau’s characters. THe fabrication machine is also quite the impressive manifestation, as are the things that “serve” it. The story is ok, but I think it could have been a bit lighter in tone, but I think that has more to do with my anti-dark film stance than an actual critique of the film.

The bad…I’m so tired of these post-apocalyptic films. Can’t anyone out there come up with something original? This could have easily happened on another planet. To make things worse, the time frame they seem to be in is as if the war happened around the 40s or so. I have no issue with that, really, but I do wish they had set down an actual time frame. Also, how is it that 7 is the only female, or how is she female, rather? I mean, these are all part of the scientist’s soul. I’m guessing that is the part of him that’s in touch with his feminine side? No, that can’t be it, because she was far from being all girly girl. I didn’t really have a problem with the character, but rather the fact that it was odd to have this one female and that its part of his soul. Just seemed a bit odd to me.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed this picture, but the fact is that I didn’t. At the same time, I didn’t hate it. There just wasn’t anything to make me sit up and say I love this or that about this film, at least nothing that would make me choose it over a Pixar flick, or even remember it. However, I do think if you can get past the utter confusion of the film and how not for kids this is, you’ll find a decent film.

3 out of 5 stars

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Boyz N the Hood

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens in 1984, focusing on three young black male youths, Tre, Doughboy and Ricky, as they grow up in South Central Los Angeles. Tre Styles is an intelligent young student but encounters disciplinary problems at a young age. His mother, Reva Devereaux (Angela Bassett), decides it would be best for her son if Tre were to live with his father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne). Furious is a no-nonsense disciplinarian who teaches his son how to be a man. Tre begins his new life in South Central and reunites with old friends Doughboy, Ricky and Little Chris. Shortly after being reunited, Doughboy and Chris are arrested for shoplifting from a local convenience store.

Seven years later in 1991, the three boys lead very different lives. Tre (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a senior attending Crenshaw High School and also has a girlfriend, Brandi (Nia Long). Tension exists between the two because he wants to have a sexual relationship with Brandi, who resists the idea because of her Catholic faith. Ricky (Morris Chestnut) also attends Crenshaw High School where he is a star running back. Ricky has a son with his girlfriend Shanice (Alysia Rogers) and is being recruited by the University of Southern California, but needs to earn a minimum SAT score of 700 to receive an athletic scholarship. Doughboy (Ice Cube) has just been released from prison and spends most of his time hanging out with friends Chris (who now uses a wheelchair), Monster and Dooky.

In the climax of the film Ricky is murdered by members of the local Bloods with whom he had an earlier minor conflict. Doughboy, Monster and Dooky intend to retaliate to avenge Ricky’s death.

Tre, who was Ricky’s best friend, takes his father’s gun, but is stopped by Furious before leaving the house. Furious convinces Tre not to seek revenge and ruin his future. Tre seems to relent, but soon joins Doughboy and his friends on the revenge mission. Half way through the trip, Tre realizes his father was correct and returns home. Doughboy and his two friends proceed and avenge Ricky’s murder, gunning down his killers in cold blood.

The film ends the following morning with a conversation between Tre and Doughboy. Doughboy understands why Tre left the revenge mission and both lament the circumstances that exist in South Central and question whether or not they are locked in an unending cycle of violence. The end reveals that Ricky scored 710 in his SATs, and the titles reveal that Doughboy was murdered two weeks later and Tre went on to college with Brandi in Atlanta.

REVIEW:

Every now and then, a film comes out that makes people sit up and take notice. In the early 90s, Boyz N the Hood was that picture. It did such a good job of doing so that it is in the Library of Cngress’  national film registry for being culturally significant. For a film like this, that’s a bigger feat that an Academy Award. Hmm…are any of Spike Lee’s overtly racist films in there? I think not!

The good…if this film was released today, it’d be all gritty and dark, but John Singleton chose to make it a more realistic look at urban life, that is there are good times and bad. The cast, at the time, were mostly up and coming actors. I would wager that this film vaulted them into bigger and better things, most notably Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ice Cube. The dialogue between Cube and his flunkies, if you will, make for some really entertaining scenes. Ricky’s murder makes the most sense of all the characters, and I commend the filmmakers for choosing him rather than Doughboy or Tre, neither of which would have been as effective.

The bad…its obvious that Ricky’s mother favored him, but it never is really said why, save for a slight mention that they have different dads. I know this is supposed to be about the boys and all, but they could have given us a bit more on the women in the hood, at least more on the Ricky’s baby mama and mother. I don’t know all the women, except Nia Long and Regina King, seemed sort of wasted and/or underused here. Maybe it’s just me, though.

I’m sure there are films we’ve all seen when we were younger and didn’t quite understand ro appreciate, then a few years later we watch them again and gain a newfound respect for said pictures. That’s how Boyz N the Hood is for me. I watched this when I was still in junior high, and the only thing I remembered about it was the brief sex scene. Now, I appreciate how well made this film is, not to mention the fact that it entertains as well as provides some food for thought. A definite must-see, if you ask me.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars