Posts Tagged ‘JJ Abrams’

That long awaited final image of LOST…Would it be a sunken island? The death of our beloved LOSTies? The demise of the Man in Black? The reveal of something completely mysterious?

Well, it was none of those…

Instead we got an eye. It was that same eye that first captivated us 120 episodes ago. It was an eye that eloquently symbolized farewell and acceptance, poetically giving magnitude and contrast to that visual motif we’ve been familiar with all series long. With emotion and tactfulness, the series finally proclaimed the ultimate point of its very existence. LOST is about a core of individuals engaging against an adversary that isn’t defined by black smoke, polar bears, or other hostile island inhabitants. Instead, this adversary is the all pervasive past that belongs to each and every one of our haunted protagonists.

In short, it’s about moving on and letting go. It’s not about the destination but about the journey. It’s about the realization that, “The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people.” And that’s essentially it. The island, the time travel, the Dharma Initiative, the smoke monster, and the numbers…None of it really matters.

A thesis such as that is, yes, poetic and poignant, but it sure is problematic. In some ways, it is a cop out. The mythology that has uniquely enriched the show these past six years is now inconsequential. The End‘s ostensible disregard for the island’s mystery was rather unfair since the island, itself, has always been a pivotal character. Giving all of our human characters the most sentimental and happy of endings was uneven without a proper salutation to the island, the sole entity that brought these characters together. Of course, tying every single loose end would have been impossible, but seeing several components of the show’s mythos go unnoticed in the finale made the overall narrative less complete.

Now I don’t mean to discredit the finale; high expectations could only be derived out of deep admiration and respect for such a great show. As a singular episode, The End was entertaining, well paced, and highly epic. Michael Giacchino’s masterful score percolated perfectly into each action sequence, each nostalgic flash, and each warm embrace. All emotions were superlatively expressed by the clear direction of Jack Bender, LOST’s most trustworthy director. By the end, The End subtly transformed into a sort of “Best Of” epilogue, but it never became tedious. Due to our love for these characters, seeing Lapidus and Richard survive, Sawyer and Juliet reunite, Vincent prop himself next to a dying Jack, Locke forgive Ben, Hurley become the new Jacob, Jack finally square off against Locke, and all of those reminiscing flashbacks only brought joy. Genuine joy. This was the happiest finale we could ever receive.

The finale clearly attempted to be a fair retelling of everyone’s stories, and thus, some concluding character arcs were narrowed. For instance, Desmond and Ben had great development during What They Died For that led me to assume they’d be key figures in the finale’s events. However, their roles became pedestrian halfway through the The End. Even Jack’s plan to kill Locke was tenuous when he, himself, ha no clue of what to do with Desmond, the supposed ultimate weapon.

As is every episode in LOST, I am etched with duality. I am happy for those who thought the finale was perfect, and I sympathize with those who still desire a lot more. For now, I’ve come to accept it for what it was. The End was unexpectedly straightforward and simple. Its final revelation that the flashsideways was not an alternate reality but a purgatory didn’t raise eyebrows because every event that ever held any meaning to our characters already happened. The only thing left for them to do was to move on and to live happily together in an afterlife. In The End, they did.

And we, too, must move on. Yes, the finale was a cop out that disregarded several elements from the later seasons (time travel, the origin of the Island, Jacob and the Man in Black), but it was still the most elegant and heartfelt cop out- one that resembled the earlier seasons’ emotional storytelling (not the cop out part). It was an unbalanced finale to a typically balanced show, and for that, one part of me says, “Son of a bitch,” while the other part of me says, “That’s alright, brotha.”


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For five and a half years, we’ve been watching LOST evolve into a saga of cryptic mystery. We’ve been captivated by its clues, its red herrings, its reversals, and-if we’re lucky-its devilish reveals. To piece the puzzle together for us, we’ve had a great cast of characters. They’ve asked us to follow them down several rabbit holes thus far, and the reason that we do so is because we deeply care for them.

So this is what LOST is about: its mystery, its answers, and its characters. The final season brings all of these elements together for one final run, and we’re all dying to see how they intersect. The final season’s premiere, “LA X” begins this last act, and everyone’s wondering, “How was it?”

Let’s start with the characters. After last season’s handful of haphazard character revelations, the show takes us back to the beginning of the series in an alternate and ironic timeline. Surprisingly, it’s refreshing to see all of our favorite characters together on Oceanic Flight 815, interacting in a separate universe. This is a unique device to show us how far they’ve come and how much they’ve changed since the Pilot despite our familiarity with them over the extensive course of five seasons. This satisfaction comes from the dramatic irony of the alternate universe; the audience is certain that Jack will be Jack, and that Kate will be Kate, no matter what dimension they reside. Events will most likely coincide too-Locke will walk again, Sawyer will meet Juliet, etc.

So this new reality that LOST has decided to explore is interesting. The showrunners haven’t completely erased all preceding events, but they must move the alternate timeline into a meaningful direction for the show to have any significance. I have great faith that the producers will righteously let these two universes converge, and we’ll be able to find a clear focus for the final hours of the series.

Back on the island in the original timeline, Juliet dies, and she has her touching moment of departure. However, the “Is she dead? Is she alive?” that surrounds her entire farewell is reminiscent of that awkwardness of season five’s indecisive and weak character development. We are also nonchalantly introduced to a whole gang of other Others, and with barely any time to digest all of this, we’re thrown more mythos than we can imagine.

Which leads me to the mysteries and the reveals.

“LA X” closes its cold opening with a classic moment of what-the-fuck-ness. The island is seen lurking underwater in alternate 2004, and while this reveal is disclosed in one of the best shots of LOST ever, I could only get myself to think, “Okay, okay, okay. This better be good.” We’ve been teased by the ominous Statue of Taweret since season two, and we’ve received just about nothing since then. Its allure was nearly gone until season five’s finale brought us back to it, with Jacob and his nemesis, the Man in Black, laying below. Now, it’s all I really want to know about.

The premiere does expose a little bit. The Man in Black, who just so happens to be the Smoker Monster, is now embodied by John Locke. Terry O’Quinn gives another amazing performance as the possessed, metaphorical Esau to LOST’s Jacob. The rivalry between the two will continue, as many fans believe that Jacob is now in the body of one of our LOSTies, Sayid.

Throughout the entirety of “LA X,” the LOSTies are trying to save a severely injured Sayid. We are taken to the Temple, which is inhabitated by other Others, and some interesting nonsense transpires. All the while, we know that Sayid will not die. So when the episode ends with him waking up, mumbling “What happened?” there’s barely any resonance. Yes, several fans have speculated that he is now the new Jacob, and while this would be a very interesting concept for the final season, Sayid’s expected resurrection lacked the mindfuckery of past plot twists.

There are several mysteries that must be attended before LOST can bury the hatchet and establish itself as one of the best shows of all time. Everyone’s main concern is whether or not the puzzle pieces will fit, and we have sixteen episodes left to find out. “LA X” is a great way to begin the the final stretch; it introduces a new way of storytelling with its parallel realities, but it unfortunately takes old tricks out of a bag I’ve come to grow a wee bit tired of.

The rest of the season is set, and time is running out. It’s impossible for Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof to end in a universally satisfying way, but we must love them for giving us their best. Sixteen hours from now, we’ll see who lives, who dies, and what it ultimately all means. Enjoy the ride.

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It is now 2010, and everything from reviews to teasers is suddenly culminating to this. A reflective and hopefully not so irrelevant list of my favorite movies from 2009. I know that publishing such a compilation seems so out of date when we’re already in the new decade, but I want to contemplate on the past year a tiny bit before plunging into the future.

Before we count down, I’d like to share with you the ineligibles and the honorable mentions. The ineligibles are movies that seemed likely in making the list, but are ones I never got around to seeing. The honorable mentions are films that just barely missed the cut.

Ineligible: In the Loop, Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Single Man, The White Ribbon

Honorable Mentions: Drag Me to Hell, Anvil: The Story of Anvil, Coraline, Moon

And so we begin. It’s time to throw all numerical scores out the window and to simply go with intuition.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of beloved children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is an assortment of innocence, wonderment, and loneliness. The treatment of these consolidated emotions is a bit rushed and unfocused, however, and what remains is a frenetic and rather sloppy movie; but where the film lacks in steadiness is where it succeeds in providing unabashed and sometimes painful emotion. Jonze’s artful construction of a purely fantastical world serves as a harbor of nostalgia for those who were once tormented children. From building forts to feeling ignored, Where the Wild Things Are manages to beautifully exhibit both the wonder and terror of growing up.

9. Humpday

Humpday is a cleverly inquisitve movie. At first, the film asks questions about sexuality and masculinity, but as it meanders to a fitting end, these queries slowly transform into examinations of a concept that is far more frustrating than sex. Growing up. Unbeknownst to our main characters, Andrew and Ben, they do make discoveries about themselves, and their inner demons are quietly exorcised. What makes this overall experience so cathartic is the innate goodness and relatability of the characters we follow. Now being twenty years old, I often bump into the proverbial quarter-life crisis. Thoughts of past accomplishments and future ambitions come up for dissection, and I’m sometimes unsure how to assess myself. Humpday happens to mirror some of my thoughts and apprehensions perfectly.

8. Adventureland

Adventureland isn’t just a movie that’s set in 1987. It’s a recollection of personal memories that vicariously warps us back to our own pasts. While watching this film, it’s natural to recall that sacred instance we first fell in love; it’s reactionary to conjure up memories of simply hanging out with old friends and realizing that life is pretty amazing when shared with the right people. Adventureland’s ability to feel like something in the past tense is a reminder that these years are the best years of our lives. Its depiction of joy, frustration, regret, and inebriation is honest and endearing, making us want to latch onto our own Adventureland, whatever that may be, forever.

7. A Serious Man

The latest Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man, opens with the quote, “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” What follows is an hour and a half of comically tragic torture, all befalling our gentle and very disgruntled subject, Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). How we respond to his misfortune depends on our own religious beliefs, considering that Joel and Ethan Coen never pamper us with their own direct discernment, other than to antithetically “Accept the mystery.” Many of this film’s oddities and philosophical undertones are stylistically reminiscent of one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, and that is perhaps why I adore it so much. Its wandering nature is not only thought provoking, but also brave, for it ultimately encourages us to find our own meaning to the movie’s unfortunate events ourselves.

6. An Education

Collectively, college students can be as pretentious as they are naive. I am no different. Nor is the main character of An Education, Jenny (Carey Mulligan). Her desire to become an adult far too quickly is triggered by the splendor of pop culture. She eventually finds herself circumscribed by an exquisite, highbrow life for which she is not yet ready, and it all clusters into a horrible yet calculated mess by the end. The illusion with which she is enamored is undeniably charming and elegant, and credit must be given to those across the Atlantic who made this film. Interestingly enough, behind said illusion is a reality we, myself included, should try to accept. We mustn’t be so quick to let our pretension overbear our not so necessarily terrible innocence.

5. The Hurt Locker

The most cataclysmic dangers in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker are not epic or turbulent. Rather, they are unforeseeable and omnipresent. Trouble could be within a crowd of seemingly innocent civilians, or behind a wall hundreds of feet away, or dangling between loose bomb wires that are within one’s grasp. The notion that these dangers are all “could be’s” and “what if’s” is what makes the experience all the more terrifying. Additionally, the characters we see endure these crises are communally unstable and unpredictable, only heightening the already established tension. The intensity that is embedded within The Hurt Locker damages our characters psychologically, and we are challenged to accept them as imperfect individuals who are merely trying to survive.

4. Star Trek

As made evident by his television series, Lost, JJ Abrams has a penchant for creating thoughtful relationships between strong characters. With Star Trek, he takes familiar faces from a renowned franchise and still manages to create crisp dynamics. It’s an absolute joy to watch the relationship between James Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), one that traverses both directions in time, blossom from pure hatred to something a little less vile. Their exchanges, which range from simple bickering to physical engagement, are some of the best parts of the film, and where their individual character arcs conclude makes the journey with them that much more satisfying.

3. Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham’s (George Clooney) forlorn philosophy on relationships is one that I, more often than not, subscribe to. Yet, his gradual but never completed metamorphasis into a more susceptible person is alleviating on multiple levels. I say “never completed” because we don’t really know if he is a changed man by the end. Along the way, Ryan is damaged, betrayed, and abandoned, and we are left without a cathartic, warmhearted climax. Knowing that everything is literally up in the air by the end of this film, we become refugees who are forced to find a home in whatever makes the film seem whole to us. Our interpretations of such a bold ending will be subject to debate, and this is where our human tendencies will be examined. This beautiful experiment that director Jason Reitman conducts is one that I will not forget being a part of.

2. Mary and Max

Australian film, Mary and Max, is a claymation feature that is crude and sophisticated. The tone is childlike in appearance, but its deeply sad themes resonate particularly well with me at this point in my life. Currently attending college, I feel like I’m inside some sort of purgatory or in-between. I’m no longer a kid, but I’m not yet an adult. This place can be, at times, very lonely. The film’s characters are from both ends of the spectrum-Mary is a young, lonely girl, and Max is an old, misunderstood hermit. Where they converge in similarities and differences is exactly where I reside-that bubble of misunderstanding and uncertainty. Complemented by a captivating score, Mary and Max unfolds with the innocence of a children’s book, but its insight is extremely powerful.

1. Inglourious Basterds

I never thought I’d ever be putting a Tarantino film at the top of a favorites list. He’s a filmmaking genius, but the romantic in me doesn’t necessarily anchor to his masculine movies. However, upon further meditation, there’s no doubt in my mind that Inglourious Basterds is my favorite film of 2009. Tarantino’s orchestration of remorseless action serves as a shrewd device for both entertainment and examination, and I love everything that occurs on screen. More impressively, beyond the conscious brutality that Inglourious Basterds sustains is a great deal of lacerating tension that comes from people simply talking. Tarantino’s loud audacity is most prominent in his quietest scenes, creating a wholesome, epic experience-one that I admire from beginning to end.

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My experience with Star Trek consists of catching a very few episodes as a kid. The series never grabbed my attention for I was too much of a Star Wars fan to consider any other sci-fi series to be in its league. So while a review of this movie is far better off in the hands of a Trekkie, I’d still like to share my thoughts.

I think JJ Abrams’ revival of the series is great. It’s certainly the best way to start off a nice looking Summer. A popcorn movie displaying a dazzle of special/sound effects. As of late, I’ve been having a gripe with special effects in movies. Everything seems too computerized for me; before the movie, trailers for Land of the Lost, Transformers, and GI Joe all appeared, and all of them had lackluster effects. Granted, these films are not yet finished, but still…everything seemed blatantly spawned from the glossy touch only a computer could provide.

However, Star Trek, while heavily CGI, is nearly flawless in its execution, showing the care and precision that went into making this film; it certainly feels real.  The grandeur of space that Abrams captures is mesmerizing to watch. The epic scope of space almost devoured me whole while in the theater. Oh, and seeing a planet collapse into itself made me smile.

With the obvious out of the way, let’s focus on the story. The plot involves some intracices of time travel that are spolierish to the movie, so I’ll refrain from going into detail, but it focuses on James T Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) aboard the USS Enterprise, and their entanglements with each other and the protaganist, Nero, a vengeful Romulan who uses red matter, a subtance that creates a black hole after contact with matter, to destroy planets. The plot, as will any plot involving time travel, is a bit contrived, but according to two friends of mine, it’s something very Trekkian and JJ Abramsish. Thankfully, the pace of the film doesn’t really allow you to think about what’s happening chronologically. Instead, it just asks you to hang on for dear life because it’s such a fast paced and fun ride. So the plot, while bothersome to others, works fine for me.

The characters are all fun to watch. While a few exchanges of dialogue are terrible, the banter back and forth between Spock and Kirk is great, and the acting done by the two wonderfully delivers a great tension between the two beloved characters. The acting overall is splendid, and there are certain moments that just seem iconic. I feel like I’ll never forget the first time I saw these certain moments/characters on screen.

The film isn’t perfect though. Abrams binges on lens flare, which becomes abundantly annoying within the first half hour. And speaking of the first half hour, it isn’ all that good. It’s too rushed and cliche, and the entire car scene in the desert is overdone. Parts of this movie definitely could have been cut/changed. For instance, when Kirk lands on Delta Vega, he gets chased by monsters, but this, I thought, was absolutely unnecessary. Let us enjoy the vastness of what seemed like a really breathtaking planet. Another problem for me is the villain, Nero. He was poorly written. At times, I felt sorry for him and not in a sympathetic sort of way. He appears whiny, desparate and reckless, things I don’t want to see coincide with the word Villain.

Besides my nitpicking, Star Trek is an overall great movie. The acting, the action, the sound, the music, are all part of an experience I encourage you to take. The revival of Star Trek is surely happening, and I’d definitely want to see what can come out of this franchise. It’s funny; if I compare this to say, Revenge of the Sith, I’d choose Star Trek. I never thought I’d say something like that, but my, did Trek deliver on so many levels.

9 out of 10

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