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I am the Watcher in the Night
Oblivion
Dir. Joseph Kosinski
Release Date: 2013




Another year, another Tom Cruise vehicle, that's just the way Hollywood works. It constantly goes back to the fountain, to a tried and tested formula and more often that not succeeds. Oblivion, to begin with, feels like a by-the-numbers sci/fi action movie with tonnes of modern day CGI. That assumption is slowly lost as the story unfolds and we learn that there is something darker to jack (Cruise) and Vika's (Andrea Riseborough) existence on Earth.

I'll try and stay away from the story elements as much as possible but I will say that all is not as it seems on Earth and alliances will be broken, home truths sought and more than a few nods made to sci/fi classics such as Independence Day, 2001 and The Matrix. It is these nods that feel a bit out of place, were they intentional homages or just ideas stolen from superior science fiction? I don't know the answer to those questions but it does take away from the overall movie experience.

None of that should dissuade you from watching a come back of sorts from Cruise, after the dismal Jack Reacher. This isn't your standard sci/fi fare and often aspires for the lofty ideals of the best in it's genre. It doesn't always come up tops but it succeeds more often than it fails and that in itself is a great achievement. The big release so far is Iran Man 3 and it seems Oblivion may be lost in the dust but if you look for it, you will not be disappointed.

7.5/10



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I am the Watcher in the Night
To bring back The Watch Reviews I had to find a special movie and that's exactly what happened when I watched the original, Let The Right One In...It is special to say the least.

Let The Right One In (2008)
Dir. Tomas Alfredson



You know you're watching something special when the end credits role and almost two hours have passed...and you haven't moved an inch from your couch. Tomas Alfredson's vampire horror about love and loss isn't Twilight, it's not loud, brash and sexy, instead it's sweet and melancholic. It probably has more in common with coming of age tales from Studio Ghibli than it does with anything Hollywood has given us with regards to vampires and romance.

The story centers around a 12 year old boy called Oskar, who lives iwth his mother and occasionally visits his father. It can easily be mistaken for a typically troubled childhood often played with by screen writers but the movie heads of in a wonderfully horrific direction barely 20 minutes into the script. A middle aged man and what seems to be his young daughter move in next door, the daughter is a vampire and the man is someone who helps her obtain blood. Alfredson employs the usual vampire mythology and traits but soon diverges, this isn't a real horror, it's actually an analogy for first love, that odd, often terrifying experience of liking a girl/boy for the first time. From then on the movie is so beautiful and the characters so lovable that you just don't want it to end.

I actually think the portrayal of the two very young leads is the movies strongest point. I don't think I've ever gone into a movie and rooted for a bloodsucking vampire and may never do so again. Lina Leanderson, who plays Eli, the mysterious and dangerous vampire next door is a little starlet, giving off equal amounts of vulnerability and confidence, embedded with an underlying sense of foreboding. This is easily one of the best child performances of modern cinema, right up there with Ivana Baquero in Pan's Labyrinth. Kare Hedebrant, who plays the tormented Oskar does a very good job too, he isn't quite as versatile as the young Lina but none the less pulls off a convincing enough performance.

The movie falters ever so slightly in it's final act, where it seems Alfredson was unsure of how to end it. Without spoiling anything for those who haven't seen this, there are at least 3 scenes in the final 10 minutes which could have served as an ending. Apart from that minor niggle, this is one of the best love stories told in the last 2 decades and the fact that it features blood, gore, themes on gender and sexuality and a great fantasy/horror premise is just a plus. Hayao Miyazaki would be proud of this cerebral coming of age masterpiece...yes, this is a masterpiece, deserving to be ranked along side Pan's Labyrinth and Trainspotting as the best of modern European cinema.

No words that I type here can do this justice, if you haven't seen it, go watch it where ever you can and if you have seen it, watch it again.

9/10



You're the only person other than myself I've seen compare this movie to Pan's Labyrinth. I wholeheartedly agree that they're both equally great.



I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
I loved Let the Right One In, but I thought the ending was absolutely essential to the film.



I am the Watcher in the Night
You're the only person other than myself I've seen compare this movie to Pan's Labyrinth. I wholeheartedly agree that they're both equally great.
The two are very different in content but the basic themes are just so similar, the whole aspect of children coming of age in a dark, horrible world which seems to get worse as they progress. I also think the two movies are tales of redemption and I just couldn't help but fall in love with the central performances, a rare thing when child stars are mentioned.



I am the Watcher in the Night
I loved Let the Right One In, but I thought the ending was absolutely essential to the film.
Don't get me wrong, the ending was fine but I just found it to drag on a bit, with the tying of a couple loose ends, derailing an otherwise very well paced movie. I have yet to read the book and watch the American "remake" although I'm putting off watching it.



I have yet to read the book and watch the American "remake" although I'm putting off watching it.
The remake is actually pretty good, but I won't urge you to see it if you've already watched the original.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
one of the things i've really come to love about this forum, along with the people who populate it, is taking time to read a list of reviews by any given individual. I've only done a couple so far and thoroughly enjoyed them. And like them I've enjoyed and wish to continue, having read yours. (it appears I'm reviewing reviews )
I like the choice of movies and what you have said regarding them. The ones I have yet to see and those I have; you have a love for movies and a sincere respect for the process and balance critique and appreciation quite well.
Great job! rep points all around



I am the Watcher in the Night
The remake is actually pretty good, but I won't urge you to see it if you've already watched the original.
Might just give it a go anyway. I've heard it balks at some of the themes in the original and the novel.



I am the Watcher in the Night
one of the things i've really come to love about this forum, along with the people who populate it, is taking time to read a list of reviews by any given individual. I've only done a couple so far and thoroughly enjoyed them. And like them I've enjoyed and wish to continue, having read yours. (it appears I'm reviewing reviews )
I like the choice of movies and what you have said regarding them. The ones I have yet to see and those I have; you have a love for movies and a sincere respect for the process and balance critique and appreciation quite well.
Great job! rep points all around
Why thank you Mr Blonde!
I hope you enjoy my upcoming review more than I actually enjoyed the movie itself



I am the Watcher in the Night
Man of Steel (Release 2013)
Dir. Zack Snyder


I've always been game for a mindless blockbuster, heck I'm probably one of the few people on this planet happy that they're making a sequel to Independence Day but Man of Steel, the supposed saviour of the Superman franchise seems to fail in almost all aspects. It's loud, it's brash, it's explosive and it is quite often mindless...so the complete opposite of what Superman is.The heroic "last son of Krypton" isn't a slapdash hero, he is meant to be an ideal, an extraterrestrial Jesus of sorts. It's clear that's the theme that Nolan and co. were going for here and yet the master story teller fails and has left me wondering two things: was Superman Returns better? and how could a team comprising of Nolan, Goyer and Snyder fall so short of their own high standards?

I'll answer the first question right off the bat, yes, in my humble opinion, Bryan Singer's Superman resurrection is a better overall movie. This current version has more action and will please Zod fans the world over but it just isn't Superman. This has more in common with your run-of-the-mill alien invasion flick than one of DC comics stand out characters. All of the characters in this summer blockbuster are interchangeable, change Henry Cavill's Superman for any other generic, alien destroyer and it wouldn't impact the movie one bit. Superman is meant to be majestic, patriotic and thoughtful...the patriotism is there, as is often the case in post 9/11 Hollywood but the majesty has been buried below a tonne of CGI and poor characterisation.

Now, I know you're all thinking I must have hated this and there are certainly some aspects which I did hate but it has it's moments. The action can get mind numbing at times but it is still explosive enough to elicit a few thrills. There's a bit of wit here too and a burgeoning chemistry between Cavill's Superman and Amy Adam's Lois Lane. However, my highlight was the almost genius stroke of hiring Russel Crowe to play Jor-El, the father of our Man of Steel and the Australian veteran who has had a tough ride these last few years truly delivers. Every line is spoken with gravitas, complimented beautifully by an equally strong and magnetic Kevin Costner.

This is a Superman film which seems to have been via board meetings and surveys, Hollywood knew we wanted more action so they gave it to us. They knew we wanted a more contemporary look at this flying behemoth of creation and they gave it to us. Nolan/Snyder/Goyer, the somewhat unholy trinity have given us the Superman was asked for and this answers my second question, these 3 incredibly talented men failed because they were trying too heard to please everyone. Somewhere along the way they lost the message and the themes they wanted to portray and took the easier route of "why don't we just make stuff blow up? It works for Roland Emmerich".

Man of Steel is a glossy new take on a century old superhero, the values are gone and the heart is barely visible but if this makes enough money, some of the concepts touched upon in the first hour may yet resurface in a sequel. A comic book movie which seems to fail because it tried too hard to please us but may just go onto be one of the year's biggest successes.

6.5-10



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
since i give your review an 8.5, I guess i DID enjoy it more than you did the film; it was rather intriguing to see someone who didn't hate, but didn't love, which seemed to be the way of this movie and its been expressed rather passionately on both ends, but such is the way of extemes. Excellent balance of pro's and con's, watch, bravo



Excellent review dude! You touched on a few points that are very interesting, especially the overt Jesus metaphors and symbolism in the movie. So much so we have Superman in front of a stained glass window. I thought that was a bit too much.



I am the Watcher in the Night
Thanks guys! I'm back with yet another comic book review, this summer has been packed with them. So here we go:

The Wolverine
Dir. James Mangold
Run Time: 2hr 16min


The Wolverine, one of Marvel's most beloved characters, a fan favourite and a man/superhero perfectly portrayed by the highly talented Hugh Jackman, is a movie conundrum. On the one hand, it is obvious that Mangold understands his source material and he seems to have a certain degree of respect for it but at the same time, this is a movie suffering from an identity crisis, much like Man of Steel. There is a deeper theme here, that of redemption and sacrifice, a tried and tested troupe of most modern comic book adaptations but it seems to get lost amongst all the big budget special effects and at times the completely ludicrous set-pieces, one in particular in the last half hour will have you laughing your head off...and it's not meant to be comedic in anyway.

Let's get a few positives in here, the cast are all on good form, with Jackman slipping into Logan's skin with ease and series new comers Rila Fukushima and Svetlana Khodchenkova (try saying that 5 times over) particular stand outs. It's a shame that Hiroyuki Sanada is so underused here and Tao Okamoto seems to be sleep walking her way to a pay check but other than those missteps, the casting and performances were spot on. The special effects are another highlight, putting the work done on Xmen Origins: Wolverine to shame.

It's that previous solo effort to which this movie will forever be linked, for better or for worse. Not in terms of story (this has closer ties to Xmen: The Last Stand) but simply due to the fact that both are movies where the Wolverine is on a solo mission, separated from the Xmen by time and place. Most fans will be glad that this is better than that atrocity, which was a relief to me too but as I stated earlier, this is a movie which seems to have no direction. The themes and characters have been put on our silver screens a million times before, the subjugated daughter, the ambitious father, the maniacal rich man, the conniving female, the doe eyed side kick...the list of cliches can go on and on. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that Mangold had taken elements from one of Logan's greatest stories and never fully followed through. Why that is? We will never know.

A decade earlier, The Wolverine may well have been a seminal comic book adaptation, worthy of hyperbole but times have changed, this is a post Dark Knight/Watchmen world, comic book adaptations are meant to be more and if they can't achieve that higher plane of excellence, then they need to be loud, brash, billion dollar blockbusters in the vain of The Avengers and Iron Man 3...sadly Hugh Jackman's latest turn as the character he was born to play fails at both categorisations.

6/10
__________________
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"

"I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle"



I am the Watcher in the Night
Mean Streets
Dir. Martin Scorsese





This is Martin Scorsese's first major hit, I know a few of his earlier movies got some publicity but Mean Streets is the one everyone remembers and for good reason. It's a movie bolstered by a great De Niro performance, something that would become a trademark of Scorsese's for much of the 70s and 80s. The film itself is set in New York's Little Italy, this almost mythical land, portrayed with similar flair, style and menace in The godfather Part II...actually it's clear that the young Scorsese is influenced by Coppola's work, his Mean Streets having similar themes, settings and character motivations as those in Coppola's masterpiece. That is in no way a criticism, in fact, Scorsese infuses his own unique style into the film, enough of it that it carries it's own identity from start to finish.

It's clear that this isn't Scorsese's best work and the young director is still developing and learning the trade but many of his trademark shots are here, the moving camera following characters at an almost claustrophobic length, the fast swoops across rooms and locales...this is all Scorsese but one who is rough around the edges. The script itself, penned partly by the great man himself is a bit weak, focusing on many of the genre cliches and sadly, the central performance by Harvey Kietel is weak in comparison to De Niro's take on the wickedly psychotic Johnny Boy. The script isn't just hindered by a lack of originality but some of the other key players also deliver weak performances. Some are surprisingly wooden, almost Ewan McGreggor-esue in Star Wars. I make that comparison because I know that the likes of Amy Robinson and Richard Romanus can do better.

Even with the weaker performances there are two things that keep you hooked: one is De Niro's performance as I've already mentioned and the second reason is to see Scorsese at work. Little Italy and the rest of New York, caught in glimpses are as much characters in the movie as the likes of Kiete's Charlie. The city becomes a part of the story, seeped in sumptuous neon and the grit of the streets. It's a perfect marriage, captured by a still raw film maker. It's edgy and, without sounding cheesy, undeniably cool.

Looking back at Mean Streets from a historical perspective, it seems like typical 70s film making, put on our screen by men who were willing to push the boundaries but at the time it must have seemed completely new. The easy nudity, the swear words, the brutality of the ending and the uneasy feeling of dread throughout. The 70s would go on to become a decade of risky film making and it was thanks to movies such as Mean Streets that we got to see more thought provoking and less "Hollywoody" cinema.

Mean Streets isn't perfect, it's at times too slow, too mundane, the performances aren't always great and there is a seeming inconsistency with the tone but it is revolutionary film making. To watch Mean Streets is to watch a young artists still developing his craft, it's cinema giving birth to something new and for that I'm thankful. Not Scorsese's best work, not even close but definitely his most important.

Verdict
Sound 8/10
Performances 6/10
Visuals 7/10
Plot 6/10
Pay-Off 7/10


Overall: 7/10



I don't know about it being Cameron's one and only masterpiece, but can't argue with the fact that TERMINATOR II: JUDGMENT DAY is superb and one of the best sequels ever made...riveting from start to finish.



Must be doin sumthin right
Good reviews. While I agree Mean Streets isn't top tier Scorsese, it has this scene. The first minute or so of this clip is pretty much everything I love about movies




I am the Watcher in the Night
That is a very good scene, it's something Scorsese would go on to perfect in movies such as Goodfellas. Like I said, this is a movie that shows us just how good Scorsese COULD be.



Finished here. It's been fun.
I really like your reviews man. They're very well written, and to the point. props



I am the Watcher in the Night
The King of Comedy
Dir. Martin Scorsese
Release Date. 1982




"Why not me? Why not? A guy can get anything he wants as long as he pays the price. What's wrong with that? Stranger things have happened."


Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, has there been a better combination in Hollywood? Scorsese the masterful film maker and De Niro the obsessive character actor who in his prime, did what ever it took to make a role his own. Here, in the oft underrated 1982 film, the two may have pulled off their best work...well ok Taxi Driver is a more organic movie, in which New York city lives through the silver screen and Goodfellas may be the ultimate non-Godfather gangster flick but it's in The King of Comedy that we see both, director and actor, mature.

Rupert Pupkin is the oldest character De Niro had played till this point, not withstanding an aged Jake LaMotta; De Niro himself was approaching middle age, whereas Scorsese had crossed the 40 barrier. Both men it seemed wanted to make something a little more grounded than Raging Bull and Mean Streets. A movie not obsessed with gangsters, visceral violence, women, catchy soundtracks and smooth, cool iconoclastic super heroes. This is a movie about a loser and they way it's filmed belies that fact. There is little of the Scorsese flash here, none of the characters are cool, "Oh I want to be like that" gangster types, in fact, in the age of modern celebrity, none of them, least of all Rupert Pupkin are all that crazy.

Back in 1982, Pupkin may have come across has a mad man, a celebrity obsessed lunatic who wanted the big lights and fame. Now, in this age of reality TV and 15 minute stars, Rupert Pupkin fits in perfectly. This is not to say that his character doesn't have the same impact as he did three decades earlier, it's just that the circumstances have changed. We now look at Pupkin not as an outsider but a very observant reflection of our 21st century, celebrity obsessed culture. Pupkin could be a metaphor of any countless number of Big Brother contestants and glossy magazine aficionados.

It is with that sentiment in mind, that I look back at The King of Comedy and think that it may be, of all of Scorsese's fine work from 1970-90, his most relevant movie to a modern audience. Yes Goodfellas retains that slick charm and Joe Pesci on top form, yes Raging Bull is a fine representation of the psychological and physical breakdown of a man and yes Taxi Driver is De Niro's greatest performance but it in this underrated classic that we see Scorsese at his most penetrative and De Niro at his most subtle. Watch it if you haven't already and if you have seen it, watch it again.

Verdict
Sound 7/10
Performances 9.5/10
Visuals 8/10
Plot 9/10
Pay-Off 8.5/10


Final Score: 9/10