Viewed – 01 March 2012  DVD

Sometimes, It’s worth going on instinct and not listening to reviews when it comes to a movie.  That may be a strange thing to say as a reviewer myself, but we don’t always get it right.  Or we expect too much.  This can be said for this stylish thriller written by French filmmaker / producer Luc Besson and starring the very beautiful Zoe Saldana (Avatar).

Zoe plays a Colombian girl named Cataleya (yes, not Colombiana) who witnesses her parents get killed by gangsters, and vows revenge.  Travelling to Chicago and being brought up by her uncle, she soon becomes a professional assassin and plies her trade in hope that one day, she’ll find her father’s killer.  This is nothing new, and for Luc Besson, he trod very similar ground in the cult favourite La Femme Nikita.  Yet Zoe Saldana makes for a great ice-cool killer and the various hits are executed with panache (including a very cool Police Station sequence).  Supporting cast are mostly bland, no-name bit part actors who fit the Colombia-heavy stereotype and don’t do much more than look bad-ass and fire lots of guns.  Besson’s chosen director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3), name sounding like a Transformer aside, delivers a slick-looking experience and is obviously in love with his leading lady (who can blame him?).  The plot does rely on a few too many conveniences though, and some stuff  is very sloppily written, like the frankly bonkers way Cataleya’s identity gets discovered … yet overall this was fast and fun – just switch off that brain, and you’ll have a good time.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Return to Pandora

So here we have the Avatar Blu-ray, the home retail edition of probably the finest ‘event’ picture of last year.  James Cameron’s acclaimed epic may have been side-lined during the Oscars for more political pieces (ahem, Hurt Locker, ahem) but there can be no doubt – this was the most entertaining movie in the running.  Revisiting this fantasy sci-fi yarn returned just as much awe and majesty as when I saw it at the cinema, and even though the lure of 3D escapes me (I really don’t see the appeal) this visual orgasm of a movie still packs a heft punch.

On Blu-ray it is a showcase for the format, possibly the best I have seen High Definition deliver thus far, with amazing detail and the colours are so vibrant and immersive.  The imagination visible in the world of Pandora, not to mention the stellar image quality to also be found in the human, laboratory scenes, can not be faulted.  Sound-wise, in DTS HD Master Audio, this is a loud, all-encompassing experience.  Easily worthy of the highest recommendation.

The big gripe remains the complete lack of extra features – there isn’t even a trailer.  This is such an obvious double-dip waiting to happen (I hear a 4 disk ultimate edition is on the cards for November), and that really annoys me.  But if you don’t care quite so much about all that, and just want a Blu-ray that really delivers – then pick this up at your earliest convenience.  I got the exclusive steel-book with a book, art cards and a t-shirt, so I guess that makes me happy … enough.

My full review of Avatar, can be found HERE.

Top Ten Movies 2009

Well after much consideration, here is my end fo year list.

Please note that this is a top ten of the movies I watched this year, and some may be older that 2009.

1.   Gran Torino

2.   Avatar

3.   Let The Right One In

4.   Taken

5.   Juno

6.   Slumdog Millionaire

7.   Star Trek

8.   Drag Me To Hell

9.   The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

10. Watchmen


Viewed – 22 December 2009  Cinema

It has to be said, the wait for director James Cameron’s next film has been waaaaaay too long.  Having swept the boards at the Oscars with Titanic, and more importantly being responsible for arguably the best sci-fi action movie ever made – Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I went into this with high expectations.  Sort of a throw back to the likes of Aliens and the aforementioned Terminator franchise, but given a personality and story very much its own, this epic fantasy / sci-fi movie places us on the forest world of Pandora, where tall, lithe blue beings known as the Na’Vi inhabit a world full of strange creatures, danger and spirituality.  Then comes along mankind in its usual bull in a china shop way, hell bent of mining the planet for its resources, and to hell with whoever lives there.  Yet thankfully, in amongst the army of gung-ho marines are a bunch of scientists who have developed a technology to artificially grow their own Na’vi, where they can transport the consciousness of a human volunteer, enabling he or she to walk amongst the tribe as one of them.

Sam Worthington plays paraplegic marine Jake Sully, who is drafted into the Avatar programme after his own twin brother is killed in action.  Soon he becomes a Na’vi and his goal is to befriend the tribe and persuade them to move village before the military arrive, whilst at the same time learn about their behaviour for scientific research.  Worthington is joined by Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, as well as Steven Lang as a trigger happy Colonel.  Worthington carries the film well, but lacks a little presence (especially considering that mostly he’s a big, tall blue dude with a dawky grin), and Weaver is her usual, dependable self.  Yet it’s the performance of Zoe Zaldana as female Na’vi Neytiri who steals the show, and her personality brings the story to life. 

The world of Pandora is so beautifully realised, that it no longer feels like an effects film; the emotion on display from mostly computer generated people is astonishing, and their similarly CGI’d surroundings an incredible achievement, with every minute detail stunningly crafted and breathing with life.  Thankfully Cameron backs up the lush visuals with a decent story full of emotion and substance, but also doesn’t falter on the action, delivering some amazing sequences that made me want to shout out with delite.  It was also interesting to see a movie where we, the humans are the alien invaders, the change in perspective refreshing, and certainly got me thinking about the ruthlessness of mankind.  

So yes, it’s long, your arse will be numb as hell, but I assure you, you won’t be bored for a minute.  The concept alone is worthy of your ticket price, and it’s probably the best looking movie to come out this year – with a professional touch as expected from a director of such acclaim.  So welcome back James Cameron.  You have been missed.

Verdict:  5 /5