Why has this slipped down to page four?!
Life of Pi
'I have a story that will make you believe in God.'
This is the promise upon which Yann Martel's 2001 novel Life of Pi, begins. 'I was sort of looking for a story, not only with a small 's' but sort of with a capital 'S' – something that would direct my life', said Martel in 2002, and whether or not the book literally met the lofty expectation it set itself, it was certainly a success by most other standards, shooting to the top of the bestseller charts and winning the author, amidst various raving reviews, the Man Booker Prize in the same year. Praised for its distinctive structure and Martel's vividly accomplished storytelling ability, the novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi and his struggle to stay alive on a lifeboat adrift on the Pacific Ocean alongside an adult male Royal Bengal tiger takes the reader on an emotionally arduous journey before delivering an intellectual sucker-punch that gives the book its elevated status.
As is so often the case, its success as a book brought it into immediate consideration for film studios, and the first trappings of Life of Pi as a film project came as early as 2002, and a number of notable directors were thought to be attached to the project, including M Night Shyamalan (noted for his descent in just over ten years from The Sixth Sense to Avatar: The Last Airbender) and Alfonso Cuarón (the Mexican director of the highly acclaimed Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). It remained, however, in the choppy waters of pre-development until 2009, when Ang Lee confirmed it as his next project. Lee, the Taiwanese-born American director who had shot to worldwide fame with 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and previously drawn critical acclaim for his adaptations of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain (2005), in a 2009 interview with Digital Spy magazine admitted 'How exactly I'm going to do it, I don't know … A little boy adrift at sea with a tiger. It's a hard one to crack!'
He had also noted, however, in the same interview, 'I think I've cracked the structure of the movie and I'll figure out how to do it later.' Given the distinctive structure of the book, which weaves in between multiple layers of narration, perception and introspection - delivered in turns by an awed outsider (the writer) and an unreliably philosophical narrator (the protagonist) - this was an intriguing assertion, to say the least. Three years on, then, it was disappointing to find an adapted screenplay that seemed to want to solve the intricacies of its source by simply standing back from them. Martel's prose approaches a sort of structured magical realism, rolling around in the grime and brine at every opportunity while slowly raising the level of incredulity one might feel with twists of invention; Lee's film only swims in a sort of detached romanticism, letting go of the reigns of realism only far enough to provide for the reliability of the final twist - which is in essence missing the point of the book. There is here none of the psychological complexity of Martel's story, and nothing to inject the dream-like quality that the novel only ultimately turns out to be.
Instead, Lee's adaptation attempts to bring all the intrigue and wonder into the main body of the work - and to a small extent, it succeeds. The CGI used in the film has been praised as some of the best in cinema, with the film's lauders calling it 'a landmark of visual mastery' (Robert Ebert), 'a visual masterpiece' (Marjolaine Gout) and 'visually amazing' - the last compliment coming from Avatar director James Cameron, who also laid positive emphasis on the film's use of 3D, noting that 'Life of Pi breaks the paradigm that 3D has to be some big, action fantasy spectacle, superhero movie'. The accolades for the film's visual merits are certainly not unfounded: Lee takes sweeping views of larger-than-life natural wonder to a whole new level of spectacular, with gloriously juxtaposed sea and sky, and magnificently thunderous storms. Even more at the centre of what makes the film tick, though, are the animated animals, which grant the film its gentle beauty towards the beginning of the film and the little grit it maintains later on.
The spotlight is, of course, on the Royal Bengal tiger the young protagonist finds himself shipmates with for most of the film, but there is a period in the book where the lifeboat is also shelter to a zebra, a hyena and a female orang-utan. In the book, their tenure on the seas is a couple of days, and the importance of this period is of great important to the tone of the book; in the film, these animals become sidekicks that flit so quickly in and out of importance that by the time the importance of the scene becomes apparent, it is too late. And this, perhaps, is also one of the main issues with the film as a whole: it is too short, and not in a good way. Pacing is often a problem with adaptations of books in general, with much seeming to be all too absent from the screen version. Some professionals have noted that the very art of script adaption is based on deciding what to omit - but this doesn't mean a film cannot effectively incorporate the essence of a book. Lee thought he had 'cracked' the structure, but it's difficult not to think that the film would have benefited hugely from a slower, more meditative, more intellectual approach.
Film Reviews Thread
PRSOM, thanks for the review
Yeah, and thanks for reviving this thread. It's been a while...
OfflineReputation:(Original post by hr30)
!(Original post by n-qia)
(Original post by shooks)
There are some great reviews on this thread - although it's gone a bit quiet lately. Anyone still up for doing these? Give me a nudge when you put a new one up and I'll look into giving it a spot on the homepage. (Open question - not just directed at those quoted - you just seem to have been fairly active on here lately)
A couple of mini-reviews of Hollywood films I saw this Easter:
Absolutely brilliant film - intelligent, cerebral and well thought out. The plot moves along at breakneck speed and the lead actors all put on fantastic performances. James McAvoy was fantastic in Wanted and X-Men First Class, as was Vincent Cassel in Black Swan and Derailed. Nothing short of an epic heist/action/mystery which keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat right until the last scene. As expected, Danny Boyle has outdone himself. In one word: unmissable. 9.3/10 from me.
2. Olympus Has Fallen
Incredibly well-made, which is impressive considering that this film had a lower budget and a more rushed production schedule than it's rival film White House Down, which releases later this year. Gerard Butler is so effortless as the brutal action hero while Rick Yune is menacing as the lead villain (much better than he was in Die Another Day), and the film has more than its fair share of huge-scale action sequences which give Butler's previous action epics like Gamer and 300 a run for their money. It's definitely on par with some of the more intense action thrillers I've seen over the years and, most importantly, the screenplay is well-written and realistic. All-round brilliant film which I would love to see again and again. 9.5/10.
3. Spring Breakers
This one isn't very high on plot or emotions, but it more than makes up for this with fantastic cinematography - and not just the beautiful location shots of Miami. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Ashley Benson look fantastic and deliver intense performances that deviate as far as you could imagine from their teen films/rom-com images. They make the film look so glamorous and realistic, but the best thing about Spring Breakers is definitely James Franco. He's completely unrecognisable and gives a brilliant performance as Alien, but unfortunately his character is not given much of a chance to develop and gets a bit repetitive at times. Plus he's given a pretty pathetic exit scene. The film doesn't really reach a climax at the height of its emotions - rather it goes up and down all throughout and kind of fizzles out towards the end. Not much substance, but plenty of sex, nudity, swearing and violence to make this film stand out from every other summer blockbuster. 8/10.
4. GI Joe: Retaliation
I loved GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra (the first installment) so I had high expectations from Part 2, although I left it a bit late to watch the film owing to it's poor reviews. I chose to ignore those reviews and went to see it - bloody hell, am I glad I did go! This film might be a typical action-adventure, but it's incredible on the big screen. The Rock is the best part of GI Joe and delivers a ferocious performance as Roadblock, while Adrianne Palicki looks so luscious from start to finish - in no way is she just a pretty face. She has the looks to kill, and performs some amazing stunts that make her remind me of Gina Carano. Also included are the brilliant fight scenes and car stunts, with Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Byung-Hun Lee as Storm Shadow deserving special mentions for their fantastic martial arts skills. Some might think that GI Joe 2 has no plot, but believe me - there's a bigger sense of threat and motivation for revenge than there was in the first film. Unfortunately part 2 is lacking a bit in comedy that Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans brought so well to the first one, but Bruce Willis certainly keeps the adrenaline high as General Joe. If, like me, you're a sucker for action movies, this one is a must-watch. 9.4/10.
I missed about 30 minutes at the beginning as I had walked in from another film (awful experience - don't ask) and yet I still managed to pick up the story because it was so engaging. Tom Cruise is back into his larger than life, one-man-army kind of role but the plot is interesting enough to keep you glued to the screen for the whole film. Plus the visuals look stunning, and I really wish I'd seen this in IMAX now. Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough are fantastic as the female leads, while Morgan Freeman is epic in the very short screen time he has - that's the skill of a real actor, being able to draw you in so intensely, in a very short time. The storyline is well-established and creeps forward slowly until it reaches maximum excitement, although the climax doesn't live up to its full potential and I was left a little disappointed at the end. I love Tom Cruise and all his movies but while Oblivion was excellent, something felt like it was missing. Maybe I need to watch Oblivion again to fully appreciate it's awesomeness, but it was a bit confusing and slow in places, therefore not quite as good as Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Oblivion deserves 8.7/10 from me.
Next up: I'm looking forward to catching Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, RED 2, The Wolverine, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover III and Elysium.
OfflineReputation:(Original post by Jayk)
Name of Film: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008, Andrew Adamson)
So! Narnia 2.0 has trotted onto our screens, and I'll readily admit that I rather enjoyed the first one - so was more or less looking forward to being regaled with another tale of Narnia. Unfortunately, I came out of the cinema completely underwhelmed.
So, a year has passed for the Pevensie children - being, as they are, adults now trapped in human bodies - but in Narnia, more than 1,300 years have gone by, and a race of humans known as the Telmarines have invaded Narnia, and hunted the native inhabitants more or less to extinction. The titular Caspian, a Telmarine prince, has been driven from his home thanks to a plot by his uncle Miraz to over throw the Royal line, and so Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy must rally behind him to retake Narnia.
I'll get this out the way first - Prince Caspian annoyed me. Not the movie itself, but the character - Ben Barnes may well be a very fine actor, but when you saddle even a ridiculously fine actor with an absolutely horrifically annoying accent, you're going to rile some folk up. To be quite honest, I struggled to empathise with his - or indeed that of the rest of the Telmarines - plight, simply because I couldn't figure out where their accent was supposed to be from. Quite what was wrong with just letting them speak in a natural-sounding accent is beyond me.
This isn't the only problem when it comes to actors - two, possibly even three of the central actors are turning out to be rather poor choices for their roles. William Moseley comes out the worst of the bunch - he certainly possesses the physical chops to pull off an action-heavy role like Peter, but lacks the necessary acting prowess to pull off some of the more emotional moments. He also tries his very hardest to give something vaguely fearsome in his battle cry, but I've been more terrified by sloths on Valium. Then there's Anna Poppawell as Susan, who now seems content to turn up and look pouty, only she's not exactly Scarlett Johansson, and so she successfully brings nothing to the role bar a stale reading of the lines.
Georgie Henley is perhaps the biggest disappointment. After the mischievous glint present in her eyes in the first movie, she's now just another competent child actor that - whilst better than the two eldest of the four kids - is still merely solid and nothing more. It's perhaps surprising, then, that Skandar Keynes as Edmund comes off with the most kudos - he's somehow managed to naturally extend the spoiled, arrogant brat in the first film to a world-weary teenager with a ready wit and a wicked edge to his grin. To say that he underplays it to great effect is something of an understatement.
The quality of the actors playing humans is particularly disappointing, given the array of brilliance that infuses the CGI characters. Eddie Izzard provides a charming - albeit rather prototypical - portrayal of Reepicheep; the only disappointment being that there's so very little of him. Peter Dinklage puts in a rather fantastically grumpy performance as the dwarf Trumpkin, along with some understated performances by the CGI-enhanced centaurs and satyrs.
It's also a huge pity that the fight sequences - in the first half of the film at least - are completely bloodless. Not just literally - this is a PG movie, after all - but also figuratively; there's just not the spark of energy and excitement that the battles in the first film had. Fortunately, they pick up after the half-way point, culminating in an absolutely terrific final confrontation that starts with a man-on-man duel and ends with a full-scale battle completely with collapsible ground. It does decided to devolve into deus ex machina, and whilst it's explained and developed properly in the source novel, here it just feels tacked on.
In all honestly, it falls down to Andrew Adamson's direction. Having come in fresh from the Shrek movies, he seems only able to competently direct things that don't have grounds in reality! It's unfortunate, really, because this did have the potential to be a thoroughly entertaining film. It is instead merely an average one - technically a better achievement than the first one, but somehow worse for the experience. Worth it if you're a fan of Narnia and you're able to work past Ben Barnes' ludicrous accent, but missable if you occupy the space outside that particular intersection of oddballs.
Rating Out of 10: 6
I loved PC the best, of the three Narnia films Walden has made. I thought it the best adaptation anyway, while LWW was probably the best film. VDT was the worst for me on both counts. Read my reviews of the latter two Narnia films below. I'd love to know your thoughts on VDT!
PC: Living by Faith
VDT: Living in Another's Shadow
Skandar's done acting, for now. Georgie has starred in two films since Narnia: "Perfect Sisters" (2012), which will hit the screen in February 2014, and "The Sisterhood of Night" (2013), which has no release date yet. You can get information on both films on my website or on her IMDb page. I'd love to know what you think.
My thoughts on some films I watched at home over the last few months:
1. Pacific Rim
This was exactly the kind of film I needed to see after I thoroughly enjoyed other blockbusters this summer such as Man Of Steel, Iron Man 3, The Wolverine, Fast & Furious 6 and Star Trek 2. Pacific Rim has got all the right components of an all-out magnificent entertainer: incredible special effects, brilliant stunts and a great execution with some terrific performances from Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rob Kazinsky and Rinko Kikuchi. The film does have its ups and downs, becoming a little bit slow and dragging before rocketing into huge monster-robot battles that rival the Transformers trilogy, but overall it's a solid use of 2 hours. I was captivated by this film on my laptop screen, which just makes me regret not seeing it in IMAX when it first released. It's not as good as some of the other hugely-successful films that Hollywood has produced in the last few months, but definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of monster/disaster/end-of-the-world films. Pacific Rim particularly reminded me of Independence Day and Godzilla - combined with the fact that Guillermo del Toro is hugely reliable for delivering high quality films, this one is not to be missed. Worth a watch at least once. 8.5/10.
2. Jack Reacher
Tbh I started this film with very low expectations given how the reviews were fairly below average and the amount of complaints received about how much it deviated from the books was quite worrying. But given that I love Tom Cruise and all his movies, I just had to watch this. I was pleasantly surprised as it's vastly different to the usual hardcore action entertainers that Cruise is famous for (i.e. Mission Impossible, Knight And Day, Oblivion and the upcoming Edge Of Tomorrow). Jack Reacher is a riveting, engaging murder mystery that utilises all of Cruises charm, charisma and incredible energy as well as exploring what it means to be lonely, isolated and in unfamiliar surroundings. Rosamund Pike has a particularly interesting role and her background in British TV probably helps with the fact that she plays a headstrong, good-hearted character. The film does very well at slowly building up the tension before speeding into the occasional car chase/gunfight/hand-to-hand combat, and the idea that Jack Reacher is a one-man army is explored quite well, although Tom Cruise is not hugely convincing in that aspect given his age, calm demeanour and height, among other things. It was interesting to see Jai Courtney pop up as one of the villains in this film (before his performance in the disappointing A Good Day To Die Hard) and overall the film carries itself knowing that it offers something different for Tom Cruise fans. I'm not 100% sure about the decision to appoint director Christopher McQuarrie for Mission Impossible 5 as I wouldn't want such a brilliant action saga to turn out like this - but I'd be interested to see how McQuarrie and Cruise can match or improve on the success of Part 4. Jack Reacher is a gripping, suspenseful and exciting film to watch - even if it's just once, make sure you catch it ASAP. 8.8/10.
3. 21 And Over
Given that many comedies in the last few years have been quite disappointing and haven't offered anything new, it was quite refreshing to see that 21 & Over is a completely different kind of entertainment. The 3 lead actors are excellent, very funny and gel together well - despite the fact that Justin Chon (who plays JEFFCHANG!!) doesn't have much to do and spends a good half an hour of the film out cold. The antics and awkward situations that the guys find themselves in are hilarious and, although not quite as entertaining as American Pie/Dumb And Dumber/Anchorman/Superbad/the first 2 Hangover films, this one is a great combination of slapstick, cringe-worthy jokes and drunk humour. Doesn't really have good repeat value as it doesn't really stand out from some of the epic comedies produced over the last few years, but absolutely worth a watch if you fancy a Friday night in with a hilarious film. 8.5/10.
4. The Hangover Part III
As you would probably expect, this one is one of the biggest disappointments I've seen recently. I gladly skipped this in the cinema due to the bad reviews and failing BO performance, then avoided it for a while after downloading - but one night I bit the bullet and thought I should give myself a bit of closure as the first 2 films deserve that at least because they were so brilliant. Part 3 however is just not a film that works as a comedy - there are so few genuinely funny moments and none of the epic jokes (particularly from Ken Jeong) that made the first 2 so memorable. I'm a big fan of Bradley Cooper and Zach Galafianakis too, but they were both just dragging in this film. I had to pause loads of times to go and do other things because it was quite awkward to stick with the film all the way through. Not because any of the actors are bad (they're all excellent comedians) but I think this film suffered because it was rushed so soon after the 2nd one did well - resulting in a bad screenplay, bad direction from Todd Phillips (who can definitely do better) and too many stretches of the film going without a single joke. Nonetheless, the supporting performances from John Goodman and Justin Bartha make this simply an OK film which you should watch only if you've exhausted every other option. Shame it's missing the famous Mike Tyson cameo too. 6.8/10.
I'm a massive fan of Jason Statham and I make it a point to watch every single one of his movies (whether it's at home or in the cinema), but sadly I've been quite disappointed with the ones he's made recently. I had high expectations from Hummingbird as it's something quite different to his usual beat-em-ups, even offering some opportunities for him to do some genuine acting with a few emotional scenes throughout. The film kind of coasts along and it's a bit too overstretched given how little of it actually contributes to advancing the story - I thought that director Steven Knight had a good reputation after delivering the film Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen, but Hummingbird felt like a film that took itself too seriously and was more about exploring what it means to be homeless and/or have no direction in life. The plot of the film is based on a murder, but the answer to that is never explicitly given and as the film loses direction about 30 minutes in, I ended up getting lost/confused a few times and had to double back. I reckon the film had good intentions to deliver a message, but it didn't grip me enough to make me think or even feel sympathy for Statham's character. It's a good attempt at deviating away from his all-out action entertainers (which I thoroughly enjoy) but now that Statham has tried to do something resembling an actual story, it doesn't really work. If you ask me, Hummingbird doesn't use much of what Jason Statham is best at - fighting, being angry, destroying bad guys and generally being a badass. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to his upcoming films Fast & Furious 7 and The Expendables 3 as he'll hopefully return to delivering highly-successful commercial films which are more entertaining than this broody, overly serious film. Worth a watch as a one-off if you're feeling miserable and don't want to go out. 7.5/10.
6. Red Dawn (2012)
I knew very little about this film before watching (except that it was a remake of the 1980's version starring Charlie Sheen) and I was absolutely blown away by this. It's a fantastic film that really did not deserve to be stuck in development hell for so long as it's much more violent, aggressive and also emotional than many other films could hope for. The action sequences and gunfights are incredible, and really lend a sense of acting credibility to the cast who, before this film was made, had not done anything like this. It's so exciting to see brilliant actors like Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Adrianne Palicki succeeding in Hollywood nowadays, and this film is evidence of how epic their performances can be. As well as being intense and dramatic, the film is also very sad as the rebellion loses friends and family along the way, but the sense of impending war and the motivation for revenge is so powerful that it kept me glued to the screen throughout. I haven't seen the original Red Dawn, but given that I love the remake then I absolutely must catch it at a later date. If you're a fan of violent action films like Rambo, Die Hard, Bad Boys etc then I highly recommend Red Dawn. 9.5/10.
As I mentioned above, I've found some of Jason Statham's recent films very disappointing and quite average - in fact most of them deserve to go straight to DVD because they don't actually contain enough action to justify being called an "action" film. Even with an incredibly stunning lead actress like Jennifer Lopez, this film fails to provide any kind of concrete action and, like most other Statham films, the fight scenes are used sparingly. I much preferred the previous film to use the character of Parker (Payback starring Mel Gibson) as that was much more violent, extreme and unsettling than this version. If you ask me, there are plenty of memorable characters in action films that Jason Statham is capable of carrying to success (look at Frank Martin, Lee Christmas and Ian Shaw in F&F7) but the script requirements are so important to prevent the films feeling dull. The worst I've probably seen in Killer Elite, and Parker comes a close second because it's just not interesting enough, nor are there any twists in the story to keep you on the edge of your seat. It's almost formulaic and tired as the film focuses more on showcasing the extreme beauty and seduction of Miami while nothing much else happens on screen. I only watched this because Statham is one of my favourite action heroes - if you're not a hardcore action fan like I am, I recommend you avoid this. 6.5/10.
8. Pain And Gain
It was definitely a treat to see Michael Bay go down a route for the first time in 7 years that doesn't involve massive robot fights. Pain And Gain is definitely along the same lines as Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys 1&2 (the latter which Bay is famous for) - except this is nowhere near as good as those. It's a shame as Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson are both incredibly charismatic actors with extremely powerful screen presence, but I think they felt underused here. Johnson especially doesn't have much scope to perform and the film does feel a little slow at times, especially as there are moments intended to be funny but really don't work at all. I didn't laugh in this film at all - although I did enjoy it because it's outrageously violent and bloody, but the characters don't have much room for development and that leaves the film feeling quite superficial, prioritising style over substance (something that Hollywood is not generally known to do - apart from the occasional film e.g. Spring Breakers). It's a shame really because I felt that the buddy-comedy dynamic that Martin Lawrence and Will Smith brought so well to Bad Boys was totally non-existent here. It was a pleasure to see Anthony Mackie rocking on screen as the third lead, but overall the comic timing and sense of entertainment isn't there. It's a great film that's made with passion but it's also quite cliched and feels like it should have been made 20 years ago when these kinds of films were more popular. Worth a watch if you fancy a good-old silly film that doesn't require much brainpower. 8/10 from me.
9. Bullet To The Head
Given my love of action films, it was only appropriate that I caught Sylvester Stallone in one of his few current leading man roles. He still carries himself with conviction, confidence and a threatening demeanour while also being the best at action sequences. The gunfights are pretty well done and the fight scenes excellently choreographed, but (like I mentioned above with Pain & Gain), the buddy-cop dynamic doesn't work very well. Sung Kang is a fantastic actor and definitely steals the show in any of his performances (especially the Fast & Furious films) but his character almost lives in Stallone's shadow for most of the film, which is a great injustice given that Stallone is not as fluid or agile as he was 30 years ago. Jason Momoa makes a fantastic villain and I'd be excited to see more of him - but the fight scenes with Stallone only highlight the fact that younger actors are better at action because they make them flamboyant, extravagant and impressive with a wider range of stunts. Stallone's fighting seemed quite limited to slugging, punching and strangling while Momoa and Kang make better use of the environment for their fighting. The plot is quite forgettable and doesn't really show off the potential of Hollywood action movies. If given the chance, Stallone is capable of doing much better than this, but his weaknesses are starting to show and will just get worse if he continues to do sub-standard films like this. Having said that, I'm more excited about his next film Escape Plan as I get the impression he will make a much better pair with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the plot is much more intriguing than this. Bullet To The Head is a good film, but only worth it if you haven't got any better action movies to watch. 7.2/10.
Strictly just an OK film. It's another one of those films where actors who are more famous for action, fighting and being a badass on screen have attempted to do something requiring a bit more skill - and failed. Snitch absolutely belongs to Dwayne Johnson, but the execution is so bad that I had a harder time keeping up than I do with most other films. If I cared enough I could have gone back to recap on bits of the story which lost me, but it just wasn't worth it. I resented the fact that it wasn't an all-out commercial action film like GI Joe 2 (in which The Rock was, well, rocking!) but rather this film felt extremely confused as to whether it was an action or a drama. The involvement of the DEA and the suspense of drug deals were both quite interesting, but the emotional performances required from Johnson in the scenes with his jailed son felt good at best, nothing special. Snitch is a film that relies on you already being familiar with dramatic films, in order to justify it's disappointing execution. The only reason I watched it until the end was because I don't like leaving films unfinished - otherwise I would have abandoned it early on and given it a miss. It's a completely average film that had the potential to be so much better and I have a feeling that the script was better than it turned out to be on screen. 7/10 from me.
Next up I've also got some other films from the past 1 year to catch up on. Choices include After Earth, Welcome To The Punch, Only God Forgives, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Silver Linings Playbook, White House Down, This Is The End and Now You See Me. Any recommendations?
I'm currently reviewing every film I watch between Halloween 2013 and Halloween 2014, all can be found here - http://philfilmblog.blogspot.co.uk/
(Original post by asif007)
Next up I've also got some other films from the past 1 year to catch up on. Choices include After Earth, Welcome To The Punch, Only God Forgives, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Silver Linings Playbook, White House Down, This Is The End and Now You See Me. Any recommendations?
Some quick reviews of (MANY MANY!) films I watched at home over the last few months. Read on if you're prepared to spend a while!
1. This Is The End
As I'm a huge fan of Hollywood comedies, this one was top of my list to watch, especially with the ensemble star cast and Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg directing. Needless to say, I was massively entertained as this is one of the most hilarious films ever made. The entire cast have got such a great camaraderie and all share fantastic comic timing which keeps the film engaging and so much fun to watch. Jokes fired every second plus the characters getting into some awkward situations which are so self-deprecating and funny - everything works. I'd say the film belongs to Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill but there are some brilliant supporting performances from Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and the luscious Emma Watson. Kept me in stitches throughout and I couldn't stop watching for a second! 9/10 from me.
2. Now You See Me
This is an extremely intelligent, slick thriller which manages to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat from the very moment the film opens. I really enjoyed the idea of bank heists being performed with magic and illusion as it was such a surreal way to portray a group of people committing ingenious crimes. As well as the story and editing being top-notch, the fight sequences and car stunts are excellent and really highlight the fact that this film can be called a hybrid of action and mystery, which some films find hard to get right. Under the brilliant direction of Louis Leterrier (the man behind hits like Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk and Clash Of The Titans), this is undoubtedly one of the most captivating films of 2013. Keeps you on your toes with adrenaline-pumping suspense from the start. 9.6/10.
3. White House Down
Sadly I found this one a little more dull and a lot less entertaining than it's rival film Olympus Has Fallen, which I reviewed above. Channing Tatum has great charm and energy as the main character (not to mention his great chemistry with Jamie Foxx as the President) but the film feels confused throughout as to whether it's a disaster movie (which director Roland Emmerich is best known for), or a buddy cop movie. It doesn't seem to get either one right. The sense of impending danger and the threat of terrorism to the corridors of power felt a lot more intense in OHF than this one which, despite being overly long, felt a bit too rushed and low-quality. The fight scenes were a lot more gritty and violent in OHF than WHD (IMO Channing Tatum doesn't handle hard action as well as Gerard Butler) so that left the film feeling a bit lacking as I had already seen the better version. Still enjoyable but took a while to get going at the start and fluctuated a bit so that sometimes I was gripped and other times I couldn't care less. 8/10 from me.
4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
I had high hopes for this one as it's based on an issue that's always in my mind and on the news everywhere. How exactly did the treatment of ordinary, innocent Muslim people change after 9/11? This has been a controversial issue for years and I was looking forward to seeing a sensitively-made film on it - except this one is just not very interesting. The fact that it jumps back and forth between present tense and flashback makes it confusing and difficult to keep up with, while in the crucial time that could be spent establishing the lead character's background - the film focuses more on his love story with an American woman. Definitely not the best issue-based film I've seen as it wasn't captivating nor thrilling enough to feel anything for the events happening on screen. The film tries to establish a mystery which fails before it gets off the ground and, despite some show-stealing performances from Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi - I just don't think this film's script was written well enough. Confusing, unorthodox and not very dramatic which is a shame as Riz Ahmed is a fantastic actor who makes the best of what little he is given to work with. I was expecting better as Mira Nair is a wonderful, well-established director... 7/10 from me.
5. Bride Wars
Call me feminine, but because I love all types of films, I'm also a big fan of rom-coms and chick flicks. I had a copy of this film on DVD sitting at home and decided to watch it on a rainy afternoon. It was actually quite engaging and fairly entertaining to watch (if a bit predictable). I love both Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson and thought it appropriate to watch one of the rare rom-coms without a male as the lead character. Some fantastic slapstick and cunning performances from both actresses make this one of the better modern life comedies I've seen recently. 8/10.
6. Escape Plan
I was a bit skeptical about watching this because Arnie and Sly's last films films (The Last Stand and Bullet To The Head respectively) were a bit sub-standard and just not reminiscent of the success they both achieved in the 80's/90's. But in this, their first ever performance together as lead characters, I was pleased to see them return to former glory. Escape Plan is a well-written and exceptionally dramatic thriller which keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the end. Surprisingly it works more on story and pacing than all-out action sequences (although there are some, which work really well). It was fantastic to see them both doing some actual acting rather than concentrating on one-liners and average action (hampered by their ages). I've come to the conclusion that they can both be fantastic as long as they work with A-list directors (by that, I mean ones who don't work on music videos, adverts or indie films like their previous directors have). A perfect example of screen legends doing what they're best at, in the best way possible. This film is much more intelligent and crafty than it appears to be: I'm sure you will enjoy. 8.7/10.
7. RED 2
I thought the first installment was a good film, but also distinctly average, a bit cliched and not very unique in style. Part 2 is very enjoyable but sadly more of the same as what went into part 1. I thought Bruce Willis was on fire as always, but John Malkovich as Marvin wasn't so crazy or deadbeat hilarious like he was in the first one. Plus Helen Mirren (who I thought was the best bit about the first one) has had her role drastically reduced for this one. Catherine Zeta Jones is fantastic but not very seductive as her character tries to be, and Anthony Hopkins is fairly run-of-the-mill in his role - nothing we haven't seen from him before (or, in fact, done better by him). Unfortunately this one felt a bit tired and didn't quite live up to the quality of the first one, let alone all of Bruce Willis's other epic action films. 80's action stars starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. 7.5/10 from me.
8. What Happens In Vegas
Highly entertaining and extremely funny, just as I knew Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz would be. Both are fantastic in the awkward comedy situations while slowly discovering love for each other. Las Vegas is a beautifully seductive city and, at the time this came out in cinemas, the idea of getting married on a drunk night out was just ingenious. Sadly this one has been subjected to a below-average Bollywood remake (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu) but the Hollywood version will always be the best. Tbh there's no reason this film could be called bad - script, acting, comic timing, romance, cinematography are all top-notch - making this one of the top comedies of the last 10 years! 9.2/10 from me.
9. Monsters University
I haven't seen the first one since it came out on DVD many years ago - but part 2 is absolutely wonderful, putting a unique spin on the college movie - a genre which, at one point in time, was starting to get tired. The animation looks beautiful and the characters so well sketched out that you really feel sympathy for them. Not to mention that it's incredibly funny and, although missing the input of baby girl Boo from the first one, part 2 more than manages to make up for that with a whole host of hilarious new monsters. Sharply edited and with some brilliant voice performances from John Goodman and Billy Crystal make this one of the very top Pixar animations. Very rarely do sequels end up being better than their predecessors, and if it had been made 15 years ago, I would have been absolutely crazy about this film! 9.3/10.
I don't usually like skipping the first installment of a series before watching the sequel (I haven't seen District 9) - but as I love Matt Damon so much and I knew this film's special effects were a major USP, I went straight into it without a second thought. This film tackles so many issues like poverty, health inequality, political instability and greed/socialism that it feels extremely well-researched and broad. The action sequences and special effects are second-to-none (probably the best VFX I've seen in a sci-fi since Oblivion) and there are some vicious performances from Sharlto Copley and Jodie Foster as the main villains. Riveting, gripping and visually spectacular - this is one of the best sci-fi films you will ever see (regardless of what the reviews say). In one word: incredible. 9.3/10.
11. Don Jon
Decided to watch something different and go for a romance with a unique twist. Joseph Gordon Levitt is stellar as the Italian-American stud who falls in love with Scarlett Johansson's character Barbara (she looks unbelievably sexy in this film!) while battling a porn addiction. Quite a curious choice but further evidence of JGL's brilliant versatility - without a charismatic lead like him, Don Jon would probably have never been made. Undoubtedly an excellent film, and an alternative choice in case you don't fancy a big-budget blockbuster or awards season film. 8.5/10.
12. Kick-Ass 2
Very rarely does a film as bold, daring, rude and exceedingly violent as Kick Ass (back in 2010) come along. I was extremely pleased that part 2 maintains everything about what made the first one so great, although sadly some of it has lost its appeal. It was exciting to see Jim Carrey taking on a completely in-your-face, crazy-guy kind of role (which he is so famous for) and undoubtedly the show belongs to Aaron Taylor Johnson as well as Chloe Grace Moretz. Where would Kick-Ass be without Hit Girl? The fight scenes are unbelievably cool, so well-made that they put some other action films to shame, and the storyline moves along at breakneck speed until the big final confrontation. In many ways this film went above and beyond what the first one achieved, which really says something about the potential for this to become one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood. I'm a massive fan of action movies and this one gave me yet another wonderfully entertaining experience. Cannot wait for the sequel (if it ever gets made!). 9.5/10.
13. Machine Gun Preacher
Based on a true story about a man who discovered God and travelled from the USA to help child soldiers in Sudan, this film is beautifully moving and wonderfully made. Gerard Butler is one of the best actors in Hollywood right now, and certainly deserves all the recognition he gets for balancing huge blockbusters like 300 with smaller art-house movies like this. As well as being extremely violent during the scenes of Sudan's civil war, the film is extremely tragic and shows exactly what kind of willpower the human race can build in order to save others. The courage of one man combined with a caring nature as well as brute force, makes this one of the most empowering films to come from Hollywood in recent years. Some amazing supporting performances from Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon just add to the ferocity of this incredible film. Very close to masterpiece, and makes me interested to catch some similar films about war and human survival, such as Hotel Rwanda. 9.6/10 from me.
14. Identity Thief
Sadly this film can hardly be called a comedy because it just isn't that funny, despite the fantastic Melissa McCarthy headlining. Jason Bateman is capable of better roles than this, and the film virtually belongs to McCarthy because of her outlandish behaviour and great comic timing. It's ok in some places, but in others it just failed to interest me at all, which is a shame as I thoroughly enjoyed director Seth Gordon's previous film Horrible Bosses. I guess it's just a case of hit and miss with this film - despite how much I love comedies, there are bound to be some I don't like that much. 7/10 from me.
15. Silver Linings Playbook
I don't usually watch these kinds of films, but I'm glad I stuck with it and chose something different. A moving, deeply thoughtful look into a man living with mental illness, his process of recovery and how he ultimately finds new love/starts a new chapter in his life. Bradley Cooper is unbelievable and Jennifer Lawrence absolutely wonderful in the lead roles - their performances showcase such a range of emotions with everything from anger, elation, hatred and love to low self-esteem and depression being explored. It's a slow-moving but extremely insightful experience with star supporting roles from Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker and Anupam Kher. Just brilliant, and completely deserving of all the awards it won last year. 8.3/10.
16. Thor - The Dark World
At first I was a little skeptical about watching the sequel because I found part 1 pretty slow, dull and uninteresting. However, I'm pleased to say that Thor 2 goes way above and beyond what the first one achieved, with some excellent performances all-round. Chris Hemsworth adds a lot more menace and ferocious screen presence to Thor than he achieved with the first one (as well as The Avengers) while Natalie Portman has a much bigger role as Jane and Christopher Eccleston is superb as the main villain Malekith. Part 2 has got several highly impressive stunt sequences which lay waste to the first one. Combined with some sharp comedy from Kat Dennings (love her!) as Darcy, part 2 is overall a much better package than the first one. The special effects (especially the shots of Asgard) are stunning and the pacing of the story keeps you engaged throughout, which really reminded me of previous epics like Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings (Thor 2 has the same sci-fi/fantasy feel as them). Quite appropriately this has become another Marvel blockbuster and I'm incredibly excited for the next films in their line-up: Captain America - The Winter Soldier, Guardians Of The Galaxy and The Avengers - Age Of Ultron. 9/10 from me.
17. World War Z
This is undeniably one of the greatest disaster movies ever made, let alone one of the best zombie movies out there. The special effects, stunts and emotional performances from the stellar Brad Pitt make this film hugely appealing and overall it turns out quite spectacular on screen. I was quite impressed with the scenes containing hundreds of zombies stampeding together in order to kill, as this gave real credibility to a film which shows terror and despair better than most other horror movies could hope for. Reminded me a lot of I Am Legend (with Will Smith), except this one was much bigger on large-scale stunts and had a much more global appeal with the main character hopping from one continent to the next as the story progresses. Massively enjoyable film which is enhanced that much more on a massive screen in 1080p HD - make sure you watch in Bluray quality if possible! 9.5/10.
18. The Internship
It's not actually that funny compared to other star examples like Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, Role Models, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, The Break-Up, 21 And Over, The Hangover and Hall Pass - but this is a surprisingly enjoyable film because it's so sweet and quite relatable. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan play exactly to their comic strengths and acknowledge the fact that they're older comedians in a world full of younger talent. You can sympathise nicely with the lead characters to the point that you actually want to find out what happens to them, and it's rare to find a comedy of this type which is so genuine. A brilliant cameo from Rob Riggle and some great supporting roles from Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi and (the stunning) Tiya Sircar make this a pretty enjoyable film - but not for being funny. Tbh there are better comedies out there but stick with this if you want to see a different take on the underdog story. 8.4/10.
Next up, some of my choices include recent hits like Riddick, The World's End, Alan Partridge, Gangster Squad, Prisoners, Runner Runner, The Family, 2 Guns, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, Paranoia and Dead Man Down, but I'm not sure how good some of those might be. I also want to watch some older films like Heat, American History X, Fight Club, You Don't Mess With The Zohan and Watchmen (Ultimate Cut - 3 hours 35 minutes long!!). Any recommendations for which one to watch first?
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