Monday, March 16, 2015

A very near future cities are submerge in high crime rate, from Chicago, Caracas, Rio de Janiero and Johannesburg. High cost of living, corruption and taxation are the biggest obstacles to make police effective in this cities. The corporation Tetraval offered a very easy solution, "Scouts" this police robot completely design to enforce and reduce crime rate is a big success for this corporation, but like any other company, there is struggle to succeed in the art of weapon and protection endeavor…

This is the setting of the film, Chappie directed Neil Blomkamp (District 9 and Elysium) is the story of Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) is the maker of the "Scouts" a very effective police robot, with the finest technology to solve Johannesburg crime rate, but also make Tetraval company millionaire. Like any other company, their employees compete to make their inventions come alive and be part of the corporation products. That's the case of Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) a ex military who design MOOSE a attack robot that is capable to self transportation and warfare attack. Moore is jealous of Deon and his success with the Scouts.
During a ambush a group of gang members who lost an important quantity of money on a sting, comes with the idea of kidnap Deon and force him to make a Scout a criminal. This comes as a coincidence while Deon steal a deactivated Scout and pretend to use it as a test with chip that creates to makes this robot more human, with a consciousness. Tetraval company don't believe in this project so Deon is just trying to achieve something beyond the corporation ideals of sells weapons. Chappie is the name of Deon's project, his mission, learn from life itself and become a less violent robot.

Chappie comes as a mash up of Paul Verhoeven 1987 Robocop, Disney's Pinocchio and Short Circuit. We have two robot projects so like in Robocop, one more human than the other and also one more lethal than the other. The similarities are so scary because the settings are basically the same. Detroit vs Johannesburg, which one is more violent? Scouts and MOOSE vs Robocop and ED-209 are similar weapons build with the promise of a better and more safer city, but also build with greed from one to another. Deon is the maker of Chappie, like Geppetto was the make of Pinocchio, a wooden toy who wants to be human, but it needs to learn the way of life like Chappie was forced to do the same in order to become a robot criminal. Like any other film robot Chappie learn from the American culture, from He-Man, to the bling-bling this robot learn the bad things of life and will discover that this world is not that beautiful.

Technology in Chappie is what it is vulnerable, limited by energy in a UN-replaceable battery, the human controlling and determine what is worth it, but also how the power of a maternal love and his maker will develop in a pseudo homage to Bjork's "All is Full of Love" music video.

Chappie bring back some of the interesting ideas from District 9, but also become a messy third act trying to justify the evilness of unprepared villains, like Vincent Moore.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Two guys on a British bar talking about someone they know. Then a bunch of street thugs walks in and that's when the fun start... Hollywood have done so many films about spies, but the blueprint of James bonds continues shaping some of this films. From the music, the gals, the costumes etc.

Actors like Leslie Nielsen, Bruce Willis, Mike Meyers, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon and others have played spies or secret agents. Their stories have drama, sacrifice and also rewards. In the breed of this actors Matthew Vaughn bring us Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The film presents Harry Hart (Colin Firth) a veteran Kingsman who lost his friend at the beginning of the year. Harry feel responsible for his death so he commit to take care of his friend son, when the time comes. Kingsman is a secret service agency using a high end tailoring shop as a cover. Chester King (Michael Caine) is the leader of the organization and Merlin (Mark Strong) is s Kingsman agent and trainer.

Seventeen years have pass and Eggsy Harry's friend son have is all grown up. Eggsy's life is really hard, his mom remarry to a abusive guy, connected to a band of thugs. Among that the kid is a mess, Eggsy is a robber and car stealer, but he have talents. After a recent car robbery Harry rescue him from jail with the commitment of become a Kingsman. Eggys accept.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a great action pack film about a kid who follow the footsteps of his father to become a highly powerful secret agent. Matthew Vaughn delivers a entertaining and fun film with great performance. The film also introduce you to a new breed of young actors who probably will be in new Hollywood films. The scenes are well choreographed and amazingly edited.

Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Mark Strong are great. Newcomer Aron Egerton and Sophie Cookson are really good too. Dancer Sofie Boutella is perfect for her role. Probably my biggest disappointment was Samuel L Jackson character. I don't know, after seen so many apis films, you are hoping that the villain will be sinister and evil, not a technology mogul with speech impediment.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Since Slumdog Millionare in 2008 it seems like Hollywood might be in love with India. Life of Pi, The Million Dollar Arm, One Hundred Foot Journey and the First movie of Marigold Hotel. What is Hollywood looking with the Indian culture? The biggest value of those stories is the struggle of one person to overcome a obstacle, from love, sports, money, food and even second chances movies with Indian themes are powerful but fades because of the big industry just tell some stories about Indian people, but not as compelling as the films imported from India, like a recent film with a very compelling and simple story "The Lunchbox"

In The Second Best Marigold Hotel, directed by John Madden brings A group of elderly British who meet again in the hot and colorful India. This time we meet the same characters from the first film, but also have new ones who try to evolve the dynamic of relationships and new personal goals. Now Sonny (Dev Patel) is about to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai) his fiance and the Marigold Hotel is up and running, but needs more work, the arrangements for the wedding are also creating conflicts between the bride and groom.

Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is now a successful textile specialist, Magde (Celia Imrie) is a specialist in have several relationships with wealth Indian millionaires, Muriel (Maggie Smith) manages the hotel with Sonny, but also is his best advisory in personal life and Douglas still in love with Evelyn, like the rest of the cast they are still in soul searching.

The Second Best Marigold Hotel is a film about mortality, this what John Madden said in a recent Q&A about the film. We see the characters come and go, not only because this hotel is a transitioning place, is also a place to let things go…

Most of the characters are in the search for something, that can be a second chance, but also a way to rediscover their new age period with the colors and the happiness of the Indian people. Richard Gere character fit perfectly in this analogy. He went to review a project and he discover and new project to live or Magde who goes left and right for love, but may be the center is the best direction to go...

The film is fun and cheerful, everyone is pretty charming, probably my main concern is the film is long to tell so many stories…