Monday, 25 February 2013

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Review (Updated)

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Release Date: 26th July 2001 – Australia

Production Companies
Chris Lee Productions
Square Pictures

Sony Pictures Australia

Genre: Animation

Rating: M

Runtime: 106 minutes

Budget: $137,000,000

Box Office Gross: $85,131,830

Plot Summary
The year is 2065 AD. The 
Earth is infested with alien 
spirits, and mankind faces 
total extinction. Led by a 
strange dream and guided 
by his mentor, Dr. Sid, 
scientist Aki Ross struggles 
to collect the eight spirits 
in the hope of creating a 
force powerful enough to 
destroy the alien presence 
and pure enough to protect 
the planet. With the aid of 
the Deep Eyes Squadron, 
Aki must save the Earth 
form its darkest hate and 
unleash the spirits within.

Voice Cast
Ming-Na – Aki Ross
Donald Sutherland – Dr. Sid
Alec Baldwin – Gray Edwards
James Woods – General Hein
Ving Rhames – Ryan Whittaker
Steve Buscemi – Neil Fleming
Peri Gilpin – Jane Proudfoot

Based on Video Game Series
"Final Fantasy/Story/Executive
Producer/Director - Hironobu
Co-Director - Motonori Sakakibara
Writers - Al Reinert & Jeff Vintar
Additional Dialogue - Jack Fletcher
Producers - Jun Aida, Chris
Lee & Akio Sakai
Production Designer - Mauro
Conceptual Director - Tani
Creature Supervisor - Takao Noguchi
Cinematography - Motonori
Motion Capture Director - Remington Scott
Composting Supervisor - James Rogers
Sound Designer/Re-Recording Mixer - Randy Thom
Film Editor - Christopher S. Capp
Music - Elliot Goldenthal

The CGI animation of FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN including its characters looks beautifully realistic and may compare to those in James Cameron's film AVATAR (click here) but the movie doesn't feel like the FINAL FANTASY video game series and only has the title of Final Fantasy, its not meeting expectations of loyal video game fans. The other good thing that I list besides the CGI are the decent voice acting, especially James Woods who gives a dark and serious performance as the evil general who wasn't even funny than his other acting role as Hades in Disney's HERCULES (click here). 

It was really a smart idea to make a modern computerized animated feature that is mature, not aimed for children and doesn't include anything childish like cute characters or sidekicks, but come on THE SPIRITS WITHIN may be artistic, it lacks the basic principles that we need for a eligible video game adaptation and it's just ended up as plain forgotten and average.

Star rating: (3/5) Average

Monday, 18 February 2013

What's Eating Gilbert Grape Review

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Release Date: 23rd June 1994 - Australia

Production Companies
Paramount Pictures

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG

Runtime: 113 minutes

Budget: $11,000,000

Box Office Gross: $10,032,765

Plot Summary
As this happily eccentric
slice of small-town life
unfolds, Gilbert's destiny
appears to be to keep an
ever-watchful eye on his
mentally impaired brother,
Arnie. However, when an
enchanting young stranger
catches Gilbert's eye, his
haplessly routine life
receives a much-needed

Johnny Depp - Gilbert Grape
Juliette Lewis - Becky
Leonardo DiCaprio - Arnie Grape
Mary Steenburgen - Betty Carver
John C. Reilly - Tucker Van Dyke
Kevin Tighe - Ken Carver
Crispin Glover - Bobby McBurney
Darlene Cates - Bonnie Grape
Laura Harrington - Amy Grape
Mary Kate Schellhardt - Ellen Grape

Executive Producer/Director -
Lasse Hallstrom
Based on Novel/Screenplay -
Peter Hedges
Producers - Meir Teper, Bertil
Ohlsson & David Matalon
Production Designer - Bernt Capra
Director of Photography - Sven Nykvist
Film Editor - Andrew Mondshein
Music - Alan Parker &
Bjorn Isfalt


1994 Academy Awards
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Leonard DiCaprio (Nominated)

Surprisingly, I only discovered this movie in last year of 2012, I only seen the AMERICAN DAD parody with squirrels. WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE is a rather unique and fascinating drama picture that I didn't actually know about. In reflecting on the cast and characters, I begin with Arnie Grape where at the start, I don't really like this character because he is very troublesome and proves to be quite a handful for primary carer Gilbert. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio who provides great acting performance for Arnie who has an intellectual disability which I presumed him to be severely autistic and that was his breakthrough role that made him a star and last, there’s Johnny Depp who does a superb performance of the main character Gilbert Grape. Gilbert is a poor bloke who is so overwhelmed and under pressure from looking after his mother who suffers from obesity and his brother Arnie, I really feel bad for him.

WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE is my personal third best film of 1994, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I strongly recommend everyone to see this classic that everybody has heard of.

Star rating: (5/5) Best Movie Ever

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Deep Impact Review

Deep Impact

Release Date: 18th June 1998 - Australia

Production Companies
Paramount Pictures
DreamWorks SKG
Zanuck/Brown Productions
Manhattan Project

Paramount Pictures Australia

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: M

Runtime: 121 minutes

Budget: $75,000,000

Box Office Gross: $349,464,664

Plot Summary
Journalist Jenny Lerner 
is assigned to look into 
the background of 
Secretary Alan Rittenhouse 
who abruptly resigned from 
government citing his wife's 
ill health. She learns from 
his secretary that Rittenhouse 
was having an affair with 
someone named Ellie but 
when she confronts him, 
his strange reaction leads 
her to reconsider her story. 
In fact, a meteor, discovered 
the previous year by high 
school student Leo 
Biederman and astronomer 
Dr. Marcus Wolf, is on a 
collision course with the 
Earth, an Extinction Level 
Event. A joint US-Russian 
team is sent to destroy the 
meteor but should it fail, 
special measures are to 
be put in place to secure 
the future of mankind. As 
the space mission 
progresses, many 
individuals deal with 
their fears and ponder 
their future.

Robert Duvall - Capt. Spurgeon
"Fish" Tanner
Tea Leoni - Jenny Lerner
Elijah Wood - Leo Biederman
Morgan Freeman - Tom Beck
Vanessa Redgrave - Robin Lerner
Maximilian Schell - Jason Lerner
Leelee Sobieski - Sarah Hotchner
James Cromwell - Al Rittenhouse
Ron Eldard - Dr. Oren Monash
Jon Favreau - Dr. Gus Partenza
Mary McCormack - Andrea
"Andy" Baker
Blair Underwood - Mark Simon

Director - Mimi Leder
Writers - Bruce Joel Robin &
Michael Tolkin
Producers - David Brown &
Richard D. Zanuck
Production Designer - Leslie Dilley
Cinematography - Dietrich Lohmann
Visual Effects Supervisor - Scott Farrar
Comet Advisers - Carolyn & Eugene
Film Editors - Paul Cichocki &
David Rosenbloom
Music - James Horner

Hi, there! This is your fave critic Film Guru Lad, today's Valentine's Day, a time where people of opposite genders fell in love with each other and couples spend time together in this special holiday. Now I won't have time to review a romantic movie including old classics like CASABLANCA, instead I'll just publish a finished review of a feature that has some romance called DEEP IMPACT. Very similar to the another asteroid film ARMAGEDDON (click here) by Michael Bay, because it is scientifically accurate, never has any humour and includes the emotion and high intensity that makes the feature look more dramatic and in comparison to the latter. The story-line of the movie plays out realistically along with the character-driven scenes and I know that the most of the performances are good, the best actor in so far is Morgan Freeman and he is so wonderful.

For those who want to see the flick DEEP IMPACT, it's not fairly a dumb and cheesy summer-blockbuster like ARMAGEDDON, but it's meant to be a great disaster flick with a lot of experience that I reckon will bring teary eyes to the film-lovers.

Star rating: (4/5) Good Movie

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

ParaNorman Review


Release Date: 10th January 2013 - Australia

Production Companies
Focus Features
Laika Pictures

Universal Pictures International

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 93 minutes

Budget: $60,000,000

Box Office Gross: $107,139,399

Plot Summary
Norman has never quite
been understood anyone.
To most, including his
parents and cheerleader
sister, the 11-year old
boy is a peculiar outcast.
However, Norman's
harboring a secret - he
can communicate with the
dead. When a centuries-
old witch's curse unleashes
an array of undead beasts
onto his small New England
town, Norman is their
only hope for survival,
battling ghosts, witches
and zombies while dealing
with the ignorant humans
who don't understand him.

Voice Cast
Kodi Smit-McPhee - Norman Babcock
Jodelle Micah Ferland - Agatha
"Aggie" Prenderghast
Tucker Albrizzi - Neil Downe
Anna Kendrick - Courtney Babcock
Casey Affleck - Mitch Downe
Christopher Mintz-Please - Alvin
Leslie Mann - Sandra Babcock
Jeff Garlin - Perry Babcock
Elaine Stritch - Grandma Babcock
Bernard Hill - Judge Hopkins
John Goodman - Mr. Prenderghast
Tempestt Bledshoe - Sheriff Hopper
Hannah Noyes - Salma
Alex Borstein - Mrs. Henscher

Writer/Director - Chris Butler
Director - Sam Fell
Producers - Travis Knight & Arianne Sutner
Production Designer - Nelson Lowry
Character Designer/Visual Development
Artist - Heidi Smith
Graphic/Prop Designer/Visual Development
Artist - Alan Cook
Costume Designer - Deborah Cook
Director of Photography - Tristan Oliver
Film Editor - Christopher Murrie
Music - Jon Brion

PARANORMAN had a lot of strength and affection and trust me, this isn't about a heroic tale about a boy who can save ghosts. This movie is driven by masterful storytelling and a meaningful theme about a young boy not fitting with his peers and being an social outcast because he speaks to the dead and for this, he is bullied by other kids and his family doesn't seem to understand his gift. I find that few of the laughs are subtlety somewhat appealing to the adults and it may seem very scary to the young audiences.

Trust me, I don't know how clear of thinking about PARANORMAN and it seems like the great animated feature. It nearly pulls the ranks of the other great horror-themed family flicks like Tim Burton's A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and CORALINE.

Star rating: (4/5) Good Movie

Monday, 11 February 2013

Speed 2: Cruise Control Review

Speed 2: Cruise Control

Release Date: 25th September 1997 - Australia

Production Companies
Blue Tulip Productions
20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 121 minutes

Budget: $110,000,000

Box Office Gross: $164,508,066

Plot Summary
Annie and her policeman
boyfriend Alex decide to
take a romantic ocean
cruise together. Once at
sea, however, one of the
passengers, a disgruntled
computer genius named
Giger disables the ship.

Alex must now foil Giger's
plans and bring everyone
back safely to shore, but
how can he outwit a man
who can control the entire
ship from his keyboard.

Jason Patric - Alex Shaw
Sandra Bullock - Annie Porter
Willem Dafoe - John Giger
Temuera Morrison - Juliano
Brian McCardie - Merced
Christine Firkins - Drew
Glenn Maurice - Maurice
Bo Svenson - Captain Pollard
Mike Hagerty - Harvey
Colleen Camp - Debbie

Story/Producer/Director -
Jan de Bont
Based on Characters - Graham Yost
Story/Screenplay - Randall McCormick
Screenplay - Jeff Nathanson
Producers - Steve Perry &
Michael Peyser
Production Designers - Bill Kenney
& Joseph C. Nemec III
Director of Photography - Jack
N. Green
Marine Stunt Coordinator - Tom
Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM -
Stefen Fangmeier
Film Editor - Alan Cody
Music - Mark Mancina

I heard a few people that SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL didn't live up to the original SPEED film (click here) and being told of not watching it but I have one thing to say to the happy moviegoers, is this really the worst of the film sequels, well, let's find out. My strong views about SPEED 2 is that is lacking Keanu Reeves and his character. The plot being set on a slow cruise ship is less-thrilling than a bus on the first instalment and the acting of Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric. A few things in the film that didn't bother me is the humour and Willem Dafoe's fun performance as the quirky villainous hacker. I find it really intriguing that during the development of the sequel that the plot-line is meant to be used for DIE HARD 3. SPEED 2 is unequal to its predecessor and definitely not the kind of an ocean-liner action movie you want to see on Valentine's Day.

This film would have been different if it weren't called SPEED 2, it would instead be named CRUISE CONTROL, plus it will not include Bullock's character from the first movie and replace her with a different female character.

Star rating: (2/5) Bad Movie

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Rain Man Review (Updated)

Rain Man

Release Date: 23rd February 1989 - Australia

Production Companies
United Artists (presents)
The Guber/Peters Company
Star Partners II (in association with)

Genre: Drama

Rating: M

Runtime: 128 minutes

Budget: $25,000,000

Box Office Gross: $354.825,435

Plot Summary
Heartless Charlie Babbitt
expects a vast inheritance
after his estranged father
dies. But Raymond, his
institutionalized older brother,
someone he's been totally
unaware of, is willed the
entire fortune instead.
Raymond is an autistic
savant with severely limited
mental abilities in some
areas but with genius gifts
in others. When Charlie
kidnaps Raymond, the
crazy cross-country drive
back to Los Angeles teaches
them both a few lessons in
life. For as they overcome
their mutual distrust of each
other, a deep bond is forged
as they painfully share past
memories, present problems
and a possible shining future

Tom Cruise - Charlie Babbitt
Dustin Hoffman - Raymond Babbitt
Valeria Golino - Susanna
Jerry Molen - Dr. Gerald Bruner
Bonnie Hunt - Sally Dibbs
Michael D. Roberts - Vern

Director - Barry Levinson
Story/Screenplay - Barry Morrow
Screenplay - Ronald Bass
Producer - Mark Johnson
Co-Producer - Gerald R. Molen
Production Designer - Ida Random
Director of Photography - John Seale
Film Editor - Stu Linder
Music - Hans Zimmer


1989 Academy Awards
Best Picture - Mark Johnson (Won)
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Dustin Hoffman
Best Director - Barry Levinson (Won)
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for
the Screen - Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow
Best Cinematography - John Seale (Nominated)
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Ida Random
and Linda DeScenna (Nominated)
Best Film Editing - Stu Linder (Nominated)
Best Music, Original Score - Hans Zimmer (Nominated)

To be fair, I’m never quite the fan of movies that include people that are affected by a disability like autism, for RAIN MAN it was the only one of these films that I had just seen. Not only I find that the story is heartwarming and Dustin Hoffman’s acting for the character of Raymond Babbitt was great, the only things that I appreciate more is Tom Cruise’s performance as the car-hustler of a main character Charlie, the music score by Hans Zimmer and the best moment were Charlie plays card-counting with Raymond in black-jack. 

Okay, I had to admit, RAIN MAN isn't the best film that I liked; it’s very thoughtful and still a great classic and the people who might want to look at it would persistently give it a try. I might say that this movie could be a little offensive or little insulting towards people who have Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.

Star rating: (4/5) Good Movie