Category Archives: Movies

‘Man of Steel’ Film Review

Director/Directors: Zack Snyder

Cast: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adam, et al

Rating: 12A (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2013

Review Rating: 3 ½ stars (good, lives up to the hype)

First of all, I’m not going to clutter up this review by providing a synopsis; go and have a look elsewhere if you want that. Instead this review is going to focus on the acting, how good the story was, and other such things that will affect the movie’s actual star-rating.

We’ll begin with the acting. Henry Cavill, as Superman, was probably the best Superman I’ve seen on screen, although Christopher Reeves definitely wins in the `fun’ category. Cavill, although making only an extremely brief role as Clark Kent the journalist, seems to do so well if indeed there will be any sequels to this film where he could play the nerdy guy a little more. I found his Superman to be slightly naïve, but in a good way: he hasn’t learnt everything yet, and there are still dangers out there he must face. The performances that stood out for me, though, were Michael Shannon as General Zod and Russell Crowe (Jor-El), whose British accent has improved a great deal since 2010’s Robin Hood.

Some people who have watched the film have mentioned that Superman and the film in general are humourless and lack character. Don’t believe these people; Man of Steel does indeed have a few laughs, although of course these are not as frequent or stupid as Reeves’ Superman. And who can blame Snyder and the writers for this? We are not in the 70s and 80s anymore, and showing a Reeves-type Superman nowadays would be downright wrong for today’s audience.

The Kryptonian costumes are stunning, so much so that I would not mind owning an outfit myself, and the CGI is heavy, but as a whole it adds a lot to the film and in some cases is quite beautiful, especially with the scenes on planet Krypton. Other people I know who have watched the film have complained about `shaky camera’ throughout the film, but to be honest I didn’t notice it much until it was mentioned to me. Just be aware that the camera style may not be for everyone. As for the story, it does have a strong resemblance to 1980’s Superman II, but obviously it’s darker and has a lot more destruction. If you like destruction and chaos that’s fine, but for me it was a tad too much.

The same goes for the action, and this is my major gripe with the film, which ties in with the review’s title: there is far too much, and it is nigh on constant. The flashback to Clark’s past does slow and quieten the movie a little, but nowhere near enough (the flashbacks are a neat way to do an `origins’ story and get straight into the action, by the way). Of course it is not that Snyder cannot direct slow films. In fact, far from it – see his excellent Watchmen to understand what I mean. I think it was simply the script being too condensed and full of fights. The only one that stood out for me was Superman and Zod’s second one-on-one fight.

Don't just stand there, Supes...

Don’t just stand there, Supes…

And the action hinders Lois and Clark’s relationship, too – there isn’t enough `alone time’ for them to really get to know each other, and it makes the whole love aspect of the film far less believable. The precious time they did have together showed that their chemistry was okay, but I don’t think Amy Adams was quite up to the task, although she did try.

Overall, the movie did live up to the hype of the trailers, but only just. Hans Zimmer’s score is as good as his The Dark Knight trilogy and other such works, but if you’re one of those people who don’t like his music or find it mediocre, then there’s nothing new in that department. The acting is great, the dark twist on the character is good, and the directing is well done. If you liked Nolan’s take on Batman, then you should like this (although it is evident that this is Snyder’s film,even though you can see hints of Nolan as well), but be prepared for slightly more cheesiness than the vigilante Dark Knight. Watch out for a couple of Lexcorp references, and remember that The Justice League movie and other such DC characters coming to the big screen rests on Man of Steel’s success, so go ahead and watch it in the cinema! Sadly, however, there is no post-credits scene of Batman. Next time, maybe…

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‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Film Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director/Directors: Peter Jackson

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A)

Stars: 3 (Average)

Well the time has finally arrived. It’s been months of hype and excitement for the release of the first instalment of The Hobbit, and thankfully it has been directed by Peter Jackson, the same person that directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But has he managed to maintain that level of quality that LOTR did, and what’s the big deal about this 48 frames per second?

The plot revolves around Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), who leads a cosy and sheltered life until Gandalf (McKellen) pops round for a visit. Within a matter of days, dwarves, trolls, goblins, and other weird and wonderful creatures become the centre of Bilbo’s life as he travels across Middle-Earth to try and find Smaug, a terrible fire-breathing dragon.

Many people say that The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, but really it’s the other way around: The Hobbit was published nearly twenty years before LOTR, in 1937. This means that Tolkien did not know much of what was going to happen after this book, if at all, and that’s where Peter Jackson comes in; because the vast majority of people now know the events of The Lord of the Rings, it’s only natural to include in this film scenes with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and a much older Bilbo Baggins, both of which are not in the book. And this isn’t just the once, oh no. Several scenes have been made-up and are not at all a part of the book, although it must be said that they fit in with the plotline very well. It must also be explained that for about an hour-or-so into the film, the script and scenes are quite humourous, a stark contrast to The Lord of the Rings trilogy (yet I must add that The Hobbit book is humourous throughout, as it was effectively meant as a children’s book). But whilst I realise why this is done, it happened a little too suddenly – it should’ve been more gradual a tone change than what it was.

I know, two rings - just pretend they're two of the rings of power! ;)

I know, two rings – just pretend they’re two of the rings of power! 😉

The film is heavy on CGI, but that is no surprise, and you soon get used to seeing it. The acting on the whole is excellent, and of course is very British besides one or two people. I must say that my favourite character was Gollum, still played by Andy Serkis, as he simply was the sweetest creature and also the most horrible one at the exact same time, which is quite a feat to pull off. These actors boost the film’s rating up to 3 stars, but the real reason I gave it this rating is because It felt like it lacked something quite large, something that should’ve been there but wasn’t. The 48fps did not seem as bad as what people were blabbering on about, but it wasn’t that, either. I think it was the lack of seriousness in the film. Sure, The Hobbit book was funny at times, but it was still written in a fairly serious manner; the film felt like a step away from The Lord of the Rings, almost like some TV-movie that tried to create an exact copy of an original idea and failed.

All in all, An Unexpected Journey is all right. The cast is fine, if not great, and the CGI has no fault, especially the scene with Bilbo and Gollum. I wanted to like this film – I really did. But the script was a bit too funny, and that for me pulled me away from the world of Middle-Earth and into some other land where this film is set, and I do not think it is Middle-Earth. So many scenes were muddled and even made-up (like Lord of the Rings, I know, but it still kept the serious tone) that I was just pointing out the differences compared to the book. A shame, perhaps, yet it is clever how Jackson and the rest of the gang have managed to bring Tolkien’s books to the big screen. Here’s to hoping that next year’s instalment will be better.

 

Fun Fact: Try and spot the Wilhelm scream during the movie; I did. Don’t know what a Wilhelm Scream is?

The Hobbit: An Unaffected Journey

Now, before I actually go into today’s post, I just want to say this: I’m extremely sorry that I did not post last Monday evening, but I was busy with other things (NaNoWriMo mostly), but it was for a good cause, as I won my first year of NaNoWriMo with 50,624 words! 😀 Anyway, with that out of the way, posts will hopefully be returning to normal, being published Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays – weekly.

The Hobbit

So the time is almost upon us; The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey is due to hit our cinema screens on the 12th, 13th, or 14th of December, depending on where you are currently living. But what this post will focus on is whether we as film fanatics/J. R. R. Tolkien fanatics should be excited for this prequel to The Lord of The Rings. Are you still a little worried whether this’ll be a flop, or are you wondering why people are saying it will be a flop? If you are either of these, or just want to carry on reading, then do so, good sir!

Why are people afraid this trilogy will be bad?

A few reasons, and so I will go into a few here, discussing the points I at least know of.

 

1.) It’s a trilogy –  yes, people are worried about this, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. For one, it’s Peter Jackson’s (the director) idea to split it into three, not the studio’s, so it’s not all about the extra cash, and that means Jackson may well have something special in mind to offer here. Secondly, if you take out most of the description and other things used to pad out The Lord of the Rings, you would end up with roughly the same amount of action. Does this mean the trilogy will be around the same running time as LoTR? Possibly. And thirdly, Jackson plans to use the appendices of The Return of the King book as substantial content to flesh out The Hobbit to make it a trilogy.

 

2.) Jackson is running out of stuff to doreally? Why on Earth do people think this? Just because he wants to direct a prequel of something he’s directed before (LoTR)? That’s like saying Tolkien ran out of stuff to do when he did a sequel to The Hobbit; this is just the other way around. Come on, guys, think of a better argument than that.

 

3.) 48fps instead of the usual 24 – what this means is that Peter Jackson has shot his trilogy with an unususual frames per second, and people are saying that instead of it looking hyper-realistic in a good way, it is in fact the opposite; hyper-realistic in a bad way. One projectionist told The Los Angeles Times, “It looked like a made-for-TV movie. It was too accurate — too clear. The contrast ratio isn’t there yet — everything looked either too bright or black.”Now, this I might just be able to understand. I’ve seen many made-for-TV movies in my time, and let’s just say I’m not really a fan of them. The script is awful, the acting can be a little off, and…wait a minute, the script for The Hobbit is almost definitely great, and it has an A-list cast! Granted the camera may look a little weird, but I must say it was never the camera that made me hate a made-for-TV movie.

 

I know I haven’t seen the film yet, and yes, maybe the fps is bad, but I’m reserving judgement for Peter Jackson. This is the guy that quite faithfully shot the The Lord of the Rings movies, and he’s also a loony for anything Tolkien. With a     good past record and an even better cast backing him, why are people picking holes in what he is trying to do? He is trying to provide entertainment, and until I’ve seen the first film (and possibly even the other two) I’m going to say very little about what I think, and that’s why I’ve named this post An Unaffected Journey: it’s not an artificial film, as the money going behind it is extraordinary, and the cast, crew, and director has produced exceptinal results previously. As I end this post, I will leave you with a quote by J. R. R. Tolkien himself.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

 

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

 

Do you think The Hobbit trilogy will be good? Why/why not? Post your thoughts in the comments below!

‘Skyfall’ Film Review

Skyfall

Director/Directors: Sam Mendes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, et al

Rating: 12A (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Stars: 4.5 (Excellent)

Bond is back, but is he as classy as he used to be? Is this film full of exciting explosions or is it an exploding mess?

James Bond investigates an attack on MI6, but he’s in for a nasty surprise (Bardem). M (Dench) is ruthless in this film, but it’s Bond’s loyalty to M that is tested. Is this an evil too big for Bond to handle?

Daniel Craig has aged a bit, hasn’t he? Changed race, too. And that hat doesn’t look terribly good on him. Is this even Bond? No? Sigh…Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

As always, the opening scene of this movie is brilliant. It revolves around a car chase, a motorbike chase, and an epic hand-to-hand fight on top of a moving train. This is commonplace for an agent such as 007…until he’s shot, of course! The famous opening sequence music video is also brilliant, sung by the popular Adele. Her voice suits the theme perfectly, and this definitely adds to the film.

The acting is great, the better performances being given by Judi Dench and Javier Bardem, although Daniel Craig’s performance is certainly nothing to sneer at. One thing this film did well was balance the old with the new – there is a classic Bond car in the film, but also gadgets that are more ’21st century’, and this was a great addition to the series as a whole. If I’m honest, there really aren’t many negatives to say about this film, especially in terms of entertainment value. There is, however, one part of the film that I deemed a little too unbelievable – a fight under the literally icy water lasts too long for Bond to live, but even so, this is a minor gripe.

As ever, Bond stands out among the heaving crowd of other action/thriller films, and the ‘Britishness’ of it all just enhances the flavour. I may even go as far to say that this is the best Bond film yet, but that’s ultimately a very debatable view. The only way you’ll know whether it’s your favourite is by watching the actual film!

Seriously though, watch it.

‘Looper’ Film Review

Looper

Director/Directors: Rian Johnson

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, et al

Rating: 15 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Stars: 4 (Very good)

I hope you like time travel and telekinesis, because if you don’t, it’s doubtful you’ll like this movie. The movie’s plot revolves around loopers – trained assassins which kill targets from the future. However, only gangs are able to use time travel in the future, so when they need a body gone, they zap them back to the present day (in this case, 2044), where a certain looper takes them out. Loopers have only one rule: kill the target.

Even if the target is you.

The plot becomes reasonably complicated after this moment, so if you can’t get your head round paradoxes, forget this film. I’m trying to keep writing as few plot points as possible in this review, as I know people hate spoilers, and I loathe them with a vengeance myself. So without further ado – is this movie worth watching, and if so, how badly?

Well the opening scene is great, and if anything, a little shocking. Now ‘shocking’ doesn’t mean scary or “wow I wasn’t expecting that”, but it’s very sudden, and frankly, very well done. Yet whilst I didn’t say that this movie was scary, it is a little grim. One scene in particular, for me (which involved an older version of someone having something nasty done to them), wasn’t extremely pleasant to watch, which brings me to the review’s second point.

This film wasn’t at all what I was expecting. If you watched the trailer for Looperand thought, “Cool, that looks like a great action film,” I wouldn’t at all blame you for thinking that. But you’re wrong. Almost hopelessly wrong. This film is more of a slow-burner, and can be quite dramatic and moving at times. But whilst there are only a few action-filled scenes, that definitely does not stop it from being a good film. On the contrary, actually. The acting is superb, and there are three people in particular that stick in my mind: Sara (Emily Blunt), Abe (Jeff Daniels), and last but not least, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). I really want to focus on Gagnon for a minute. The sheer excellence of his acting in this film is extraordinary: he’s funny, charming, and basically, great. And to top it all off, he’s younger than me! I hope this little guy gets more acting roles soon, because he’s one good actor.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Also, kudos to the make-up department in making Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt look so similar. Sometimes it’s quite scary seeing them so much alike (I lied, the film is scary!), but it just adds to the entertainment factor of the film.

But, as always, there are negative points to this film. For one thing, the whole concept of gangs in the future and why only they can use time travel is totally ignored and forgotten about in the film; it was only explained in a sentence, and whilst I understand that it wasn’t an integral part of the film, it would still have been nice to have a bit of clarification. Secondly, there is unnecessary nudity (I mean that. There is absolutely no  point in seeing a woman’s top-half in this film) and swearing. While I understand that my view of swearing in films is highly different to the views of others, there were scenes where I’m sure the writers were adding swear words just to make the film ‘gritty and cool.’

Overall, though, a fantastic attempt at creating a witty yet dramatic film about time travel, unlike other silly attempts which only focus on the time travel aspect. I understand that this review is posted too late for you to see Looper in the cinema, but maybe, just maybe, this review was instead meant to be seen so you can all buy the DVD when it comes out on store-shelves!

‘Total Recall’ Film Review

Total Recall

Director/Directors: Len Wiseman

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Genre: Sci-fi, action

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 3 stars (Average)

Is it real, is it recall: this is the tagline of the movie remake Total Recall, but is it the correct tagline? Science-fiction and action fans better buckle up; you’re in for a flawed yet entertaining time.

In this remake of the 1990 original, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is fed up of his mundane, down-to-earth (pun intended) life, wishing there was something more. But once he visits Rekall, a mind-bending experience that allows you to live your wildest fantasies without ever leaving a chair, things begin to change for the worse. Suddenly everyone is after him, and Quaid begins to realise just how much danger he’s in. Enter a hover-car chase, plenty of shootouts, and an angry woman set on killing Quaid.

The story takes place entirely on Earth (unlike the Arnold Schwarzenegger original, which takes place on Mars), and the city is hard to ignore: it’s a beautiful, Blade Runner-come-Venice type deal, complete with higher and lower levels of construction. If there are any gamers out there, think of the place as the new Deus Ex game, and you’ll get the picture. The film is CGI-heavy, but it doesn’t detract from the experience, apart from maybe one or two scenes which look obviously fake. Basically, what this means is the backdrops of the story are just as important to take in as everything else, especially if you love technology and gadgets. The movie is far slicker than the original too, and one particular gadget really caught my eye: a fridge with an LCD screen to write messages. Small things like this really enhance the experience and draw you in, and ‘The Fall’ (a very interesting way of traveling between the United Kingdom and Australia) is just incredible to watch, and for writers, readers, and film-buffs who let their imagination run wild, stuff like this really makes the film worthwhile to watch. Even though, sadly, the invention wouldn’t quite work. Still, one can hope.

Unfortunately, there were some things which did not quite make this film a modern masterpiece. There were no outstanding acting performances in the film, and even Colin Farrell fails to make the main character memorable (Arnie’s charm in the original is undeniable). The beginning is terrible in the case of intense flashing lights, and I’m sorry to say that it was so bad that I had to look away, making me miss the first few minutes of the film. Of course it probably won’t be as bad when it’s released on DVD. Also, the two actresses, one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’, are sometimes hard to differentiate, especially during fight scenes, as neither have any unique features which set them apart from one another. Another minor point is that Bill Nighy’s American accent fails to impress, and seeing as his character’s stay is short, it definitely is a shame.

However, one thing continues to grate on me, and that’s the tagline: Is it real, is it recall. In the original movie, there are hints of the whole thing being Recall (meaning Arnold Schwarzenegger was imagining the entire thing the whole time) and also hints that it is indeed comletely true, making it the viewer’s choice to decide which it was. Whilst I am not going to spoil which it is in the remake, it’s pretty clear whether it is real or not, and that almost defeats the whole point of the film. Hint: in the original Arnie has to take a pill to ‘wake up’ in Recall, but let’s say in the remake the way to ‘wake up’ is a little more…drastic, and also it is a plothole. However, as I don’t like giving spoilers away (I hate them myself), I will say no more. 😛

To sum up, then, Total Recall is neither a genius piece of filmmaking nor is it a radically different step forwards in the genre. But as either a night in or a night out (depending on when you watch it), this is a film that will deliver action-packed sequences and a good time, and for those of you who have seen the original, there are a couple of cheeky nods towards the original. For those of you who haven’t seen the original and would like to, I suggest watching it before this one – it’s much better. And even though this Douglas Quaid wasn’t in quite as much of a predicament as the original Quaid, it is still worth the watch.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises

Director/Directors: Chrisopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 4 stars (Very good)

Recently there has been a definite hype over superhero films, and it shows: the superhero genre gathers many fans every time a new film breaks through, such as The Avengers. But the Batman films have blown all others out of the water, and The Dark Knight Rises isthe finale of the trilogy. Whatever your thoughts on Batman, you cannot deny that this is the blockbuster of the summer.

While Batman Begins focused on Batman’s origins, and The Dark Knight enjoyed showing viewers all the chaos of Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises plays on your emotions, and it successfully delivers in this endeavour – Bane is the antagonist in this sequel, and he tests Batman both physically and mentally, making him the ultimate villain. The film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, and Bruce Wayne refuses to leave his manor because of Rachel’s death. However, with Bane on the rampage, Batman is needed more than ever, and it’s Bruce that has to make the decision: do one last job as the Batman, or let Gotham crumble?

The beginning is slower than The Dark Knight, having a more common tie with Batman Begins. However, this time it is only cranking up the tension until it can take no more. But compared to the last two, this film seems less dark, both with its lighting and with its plotline. Yes, things happen which depresses you – after all, it’s Gotham! – but perhaps this film made more of an emphasis on Batman as a character, rather than his external affairs.

One thing I did not like about the film was the unnecessary romance that Bruce had with Miranda. Perhaps it was just me, but after about seven years of being holed up in a mansion grieiving about Rachel, suddenly he finds a ‘romantic interest’? I found this a little annoying, and frankly yanked me away from the plot a little bit. Also, another thing which I found mildly frustrating was Bane’s voice – a few of his lines were hard to hear and understand in my opinion, and this detracted from my enjoyment of the film.

One thing really stands out in the film, though, and that’s all the links, references and cameos. Scenes from Batman Begins return in The Dark Knight Rises, and the events from The Dark Knight alsocome into effect in this film. Different villains are mentioned or seen throughout e.g. Killer Croc and Scarecrow, and this was one of the nicest features about the film. Batman fans will, however, be able to see some twists coming, but this doesn’t lessen the experience in any way.

A fitting end then, and a film which ties up the trilogy nicely – although be prepared to shed a few tears. Christopher Nolan has done a wonderful job at bringing the Batman to life, making him realistic and gritty, and it’s a job that should be commended for years and years to come. Watch this film as soon as you can.

 

What did YOU think about The Dark Knight Rises?

 

‘Ice Age 4’ Film Review

Unless you haven’t guessed already, this post is essentially a review of the film ‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’, which I happened to watch last night. Also, another thing which you probably haven’t guessed yet: I’m a film buff. Now, the Web Definition of this is, “I have something to say about this movie!” and I think it’s safe to say that I have something to say about most things, especially films, books, and video games (yes, my boyishness is seeping through again). So here it is – a fairly quick review of Ice Age 4; I hope you enjoy.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

Director/Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thermeier

Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, et al.

Rating: U (Forget this bit if you’re not from the UK!)

Genre: Family Comedy

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 3½ stars (Recommended)

Things are about to heat up. This becomes very clear during the first few minutes of Ice Age 4. While the past three films did focus on ice caps melting and dinosaurs interrupting, the fourth one turns it all up a notch, with lands breaking apart to become what we know today as the continents. Manny, Sid, Diego, and an insulting relative known only as ‘Granny’ are thrust apart from their ‘herd’, causing them to go on a wild sea adventure to reach them again before they are seperated forever. Along the way they encounter pirates, ships, and storms; can these four unlikely heroes manage to find their way home?

The premise of this film is a simple one, but also a predictable one. While I understand that this is an adventure comedy for both young and old, it felt far more plodding than the previous three. Since we follow characters on both land and sea, the film’s scenes can become choppy and jarring, sometimes creating an uneven experience. The script was good overall, and the animation fashioned some very amusing scenes, such as Sid’s paralysis. But it was the plot itself that was a let down; while there was comedy interspersed throughout, there was always feeling of dullness that could only come from a clichéd plot.

The voice acting was great, however, and perfectly suited their animated selves. Manny (Ray Romano) in particular has an hilarious personality, especially with his voice mixed in. The film’s background music was basic but effective, and it didn’t feel like it was too loud or forceful during the scenes. Nevertheless there is a pirate shanty that, whilst clever in its wording and structure, is unnecessary and didn’t feel like it was supposed to be in an Ice Age movie.

But it isn’t terrible by any means. While the film could be good as a standalone, it is the characters within it that really make us come back to watch the next installment. Worth watching then, if you enjoy some clever slapstick, good voice actors, and great animation. A recommended watch.

Please comment if you want me to add anything to my next review, and remember to Follow my blog if you want to keep up to date! This review should be going into the review section soon. 🙂