xGary Xx (garyX)Birmingham, UK
xGary's Recent Reviews
John Constantine is trying to save his soul by hunting down and "deporting" demons who intrude on human affairs when he stumbles across a psychic whom the son of The Devil intends to use to escape from Hell. Keanu Reeves revisits Neo as the chain smoking anti-hero of Constantine, a film that can be thought of as "The Matrixorcist". It's a comic book adaptation that blends religious mythology with superhero conceits and the format of Noir thrillers. Since The X-Files, this idea has been done a hundred times, but rarely so well; the plot is a lot more involving than most of this type of thing, Constantine is a far more interesting central character than that of the usual super hero schtick and the mythology is used very creatively. The visual effects are also great having a really nice interpretation of Hell which looks like those old videos of nuclear blast zones and the quality cast (including Pruitt Taylor as Constanine's alcoholic priest side kick, Tilda Swinton as Angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare's wonderfully creepy Satan) draw you into this dark underworld of demons and angels. Stylish, inventive and with a lot of atmosphere, Constantine still stands up as one of the best films of its type. If you're a fan of Guillermo Del Toro then you should definitely check it out.
The Romulan Empire acquires a new ruler in a military coup d'etat and this mysterious figure offers an olive branch to the federation which promptly dispatches the Enterprise to investigate. I hated Nemesis when I first saw it; once again Brent Spiner is saddled with some mawkish sentimentality and weak slapstick (his interpretation of a prototype data resembles an autistic Stan Laurel), some blatantly irrelevant action sequences and the script seemed superficial and little more than an excuse for CGI infested space battles. Now I've seen it in the context of the JJ Abrams reboot, it makes rather more sense and in fact feels like it has more in common with the new direction than the old franchise. The special effects in particular are rather better than the previous films, the battles are more epic and spectacular and the scenes between Picard and his doppelganger are quite powerful and intriguing. Unfortunately the themes of nature vs nurture are only superficially realised and it soon settles back into the inevitable CGI orientated battle of wills which strangely echoes The Wrath Of Khan to the point where it almost feels like a remake at certain points. Not the tragedy I considered it at the time but it also never quite fulfils its potential either. An entertaining sci-fi blockbuster nonetheless that once again relies a little too much on Trek lore for casual viewers.
xGary's Favorite Movies
Career criminal Henry Hill reminisces upon his life of crime in this true life story based on an actual FBI case. Goodfellas is the perfect film. It has the perfect blend of drama, gritty violence and humour as we see the dark side of the American dream played out over 25 years of a wise guy's life. The people depicted here do not play by society's rules and have their own set of laws and conventions revolving around the pure pursuit of profit in this, the logical conclusion of capitalism. The livelihoods and lives of others are commodities to be used up and tossed away and life is cheap to these mobsters whose stated obsession with loyalty and family is also soon forgotten for the "big score", leading to total anarchy. The combination of DeNiro, Liotta and Pesci makes for a brilliant triple act and there are so many classic scenes it's easy to lose count. The idea to tell the story in a "Wonder Years" format using one of the best soundtracks ever compiled was a stroke of genius and the post modern conclusion the perfect way to end the story. For me, Goodfellas is the best film ever made. Full stop.
Daesu Oh is a drunk and a philanderer but otherwise a fairly typical husband and father, until one day he is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell for 15 years with only a TV set for company and no word of explanation. One day he wakes up on the outside with only a wallet and a phone, and he sets out on a single-minded quest to find out why he was imprisoned and extract bloody vengeance on those responsible. The second part of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy is a bizarre and brilliant film. It constantly wrong foots you and messes with your perceptions, and contains the kind of revelation that makes the kind of so-called plot "twists" of most films look gimmicky and inane. This is the kind of film that blows you away and makes you realise you've been watching the WHOLE THING from the wrong standpoint. As for Min-sik Choi's performance, astonishing is the only word for it...the way such intense emotions and motivations are constantly shifting without ever feeling contrived or forced is just spellbinding. It combines art and extreme violence in a way that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but better! It's also stylistically on the same level as Fight Club and is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. A virtually flawless modern masterpiece.