Thursday, January 30, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008) Review

A few years ago, we would be done with the Indiana Jones films now. Isn't that weird to think about. But, we now have a fourth Indiana Jones film (not quite sure if it's the last but...we'll see) which I picked up on DVD recently so it's time to finish off the Indiana Jones quadrilogy with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal of the most spoiled films in recent history (you all know what happens, don't you!).

During the cold war, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his work partner Mac (Ray Winstone) are brought before a soviet group led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who uses Indy to find a magnetic crate ctntaining an unrecognisable corpse. Indy returns to university but is interruped by the arrival of a young adult called Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who brings Indy a letter from a great scholar called Oxley (John Hurt) and the two find themselves on a quest which details the legend of mysterious crystal skulls.

I know what you want me to say. "This film is terrible, waste of time and effort, craps on the original's legacy, NUKE FRIDGE!!!"., I completely disagree. I actually enjoyed this film...quite a bit actually. Is it up there with the others, of course not, but damn it if it isn't better than Temple of Doom. To begin with, I was actually impressed with how well Harrison Ford held up considering it had been 20 years later. Indy, while losing a bit of his suave, still keeps his badass attitude along side a good team of characters. I actually liked Shia LaBeouf as Mutt, who proves his worth and made me actually like Shia LaBeouf and other characters such as Ray Winstone's Mac as well as the surprise character from the second half. Plus, it does have all the elements that go into an Indiana Jones film!

I will admit that it does have problems. While the fridge didn't have me completely up in arms, it was the waterfall scene that had me stepping back and thinking "...what". I know that there is the idea of suspension of disbelief and, while Indiana Jones does run on this idea, but this was up there with the Temple of Doom raft scene. There is also waaaay too much reliance on CGI. The first three utilized more practical effects which would obvious date less than CGI from 2008! A mixed thought was the use of callbacks to the older films. Some are painfully obvious than just seems like fanservice but other, more subtle ones are welcome (did you catch Indy quoting his father?). Plus it's the only film I've seen recently to have a continuity cock-up that actually bothered me. I normally just let them slide.

So in short, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...not actually that bad. I feel that the only reason it gets so much flack is that it really didn't need to exist. Okay, it is true as the ending of Last Crusade is much more satisfying but since it exists, I'll take it for what it is and that's another Indiana Jones film. All that's missing is the whip.

It may seem like a mixed bag, but it does step up with some likable characters, good acting and Indiana Jones worthy action.

So would I want another Indiana Jones film? Well, I actually wouldn't be against it after watching this as long as Mutt sticks around (and he probably will).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989) Review

Still keeping to the Indiana Jones films and we can now take a look at the last in the series...or at WAS the last but it sure isn't that now. Aw well, that isn't going to take away anything from this iteration. Let's see what happens when we put Indiana Jones and James Bond together for a journey after another fabled artifact. This is Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) receives a journal that details the chronicles of the Holy Grail that appears to have been sent by his father, Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery). Indy and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) travel to Italy and meet an American collector named Walter Donovan (Julian Glover). indy hears from Donovan that the mission for the Grail has soured with the dissapearnce of Indy's father. After rescuing his father, Indy and Henry Jones team up in a race against the Nazis to follow the trail to the Holy Grail.

This is easily my favourite film in the Indiana Jones series. I know I've said this twice now but Harrison Ford is STILL excellent as Indiana Jones and, with the addition of his father, we actually get much more development for his character (the film opens with a flashback with River Phoenix as Indy and it's brilliant!). Speaking of which, Sean Connery is an excellent addition to the cast. Ford and Connery work off each other exceedingly well and you can believe that they are father and son. The other characters, such as Sallah and Brody from Raiders of the Lost Ark, are also well acted and offer a good dynamic among the entire cast. 

I mentioned in previous reviews that I think the Indiana Jones films have a certain tone, I believe this is the one that got it spot on. It manages to balance light-hearted moments with very dark moments in an equal ratio. This also gives rise for some excellent action scenes (the tank scene, for example) as well as some humourous moments that are legitimately laugh out load moments. The suspense is heightened, the cinematography is better (the leap of faith scene is still genius) and expands the cast for an amazing film. The thing I love the most about it is that it feels like an actual journey. At the end, you feel like you have gone on an adventure with Indy and his Dad. The others didn't match this level of satisfaction.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is easily one of the my favourite films. It is an excellent film that is more than worthy of being affiliated with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both are masterpieces that represent the imaginative and original age of cinema. Nowadays, people just want the same recycled crap which doesn't let anyone come up with their own original and iconic franchises. Saw was probably the last original and iconic franchise that came solely from the minds of a few people who didn't look elsewhere for an idea for a film. I really hope for a return of films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Somebody has to have ideas...surely!

Likable, has great action, reaches a satisfying conclusion, has an excellent cast of actors and characters and would be one of the best endings to a franchise...

Yeah...WOULD all know what's next. Excuse me, I have to go nuke a fridge.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984) Review

Oh I'm going to be in trouble for this one. You know that horrible feeling when you get to a film that you know a lot of people like, yet you yourself think is very stupid and annoying...that's the spot I'm in now! I absolutely love Raiders of the Lost Ark (can't argue with a 10/10) and so did many people, hence why we now have a quadrilogy of films...doesn't mean they have to all hit bullseyes. Let's see why.

While working in China, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) finds himself escaping from a criminal named Lao Che (Roy Chiao) and steals his plane. Indy finds himself stuck in a small Indian village with a stage singer named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and a 12 year old Chinese boy named Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) and the three have to band together in order to rescue the kidnapped children, stop an insane cult lead by Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) and restore peace to the village.

I'll get the positive stuff out of the way first. Harrison Ford is still excellent as the now eponymous Indiana Jones (I guess they knew that there would be a franchise). The film offers a new tone (I'll get to that) yet Ford still captures Indy's badasse and suave demeanor. There is also some very memorable action scenes such as minecart chases, cliff fights and a great climax on a bridge. John Williams' music is still memorable and the new tracks also stick in your head (again, probably because of the LEGO game...).

Now for the bad things. My God, is this film stupid. Not just stupid, it's annoying too. Very, very annoying. Willie contributes absolutely nothing to the film and the film would actually benefit from her absence. Normally, a pointless character doesn't ruin the film...this one does. All she does is scream and complain constantly. As for Short Round, while he does actually do things, this doesn't stop him from being an obnoxious character either. He screams every line of dialogue but, like I said, actually does things. In terms of the film tone, it seems to miss what made Raiders of the Lost Ark so good. Act 1 and 2 don't feel like Indiana Jones. Act 1 is was too over the top and silly (the raft scene is just bullshit) while Act 2 is actually too dark for Indy. Indiana Jones has dark imagery, sure, but it's normally balanced out by some more light-hearted moments. They kind of muddled it up a bit here. Act 3 is much more like Indy and is easily the best part of the film.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is unbelievably stupid and annoying. Do I hate it? No...well, not entirely. Act 1 is a mess but the film does start to pick up during Act 2, as mean spirited as it is. Harrison Ford and Amrish Puri are the only actors that really stand out seeing as the others make me want to throttle them but there is some great action scenes and music. It is worthy of the Indiana Jones name, definetly, but I just don't think that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should get all the hate if Temple of Doom doesn't. Can't we agree that both of them are stupid?

There are some things in here that make it worthy of the Indiana Jones name but there is so much more wrong with it that stop it from being up there with the first film.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) Review

With my top ten films of 2013 list out of the way, I can get back to reviewing any random film I feel like and also back to reviewing whole franchises. One of my favourite film franchises is Indiana Jones so let's take a look at the legendary quadrilogy...yes quadrilogy. I will also be taking a look at the infamous Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to see if it is deserving of the hate it receives. Let's take a look at Raiders of the Lost Ark

In 1936, an archaeologist named Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) ventures to the South American jungles in search of a golden statue but inadvertently sets of a trap in the process. After escaping, he is confroted by a German man named Belloq (Paul Freeman) who steals the statue and Jones returns to the university he works at empty handed. Indy's friend, Marcus Brody (Denhelm Elliot), tells him about the fabled Ark of the Covenant that Belloq and his group of Nazis is trying to get hold of. Indy sets off to places such as Nepal and Egypt to beat Belloq to the Ark.

This is definitely one of the best examples of a 'classic' film. Everything about it sticks in your head. The scenes, the characters, the quotes, the music, EVERYTHING! There is a 99% chance that you have probably seen this film (and if you haven't, what the hell are you playing at?). Harrison Ford is perfect as Indiana Jones as he conveys both badassery and suave yet also being rugged at the same time. Indy is one of my favourite film characters since everything about him is perfect. Other characters also are memorable such as Karen Allen as Marion and John Rhys-Davies as Sallah. John William's amazing score also captures the mood and characterization perfectly. 

I think what the most impressive thing about this film is it's use of special effects. This was before CGI was overblown so it makes things look more realistic such as the famous boulder chase or when the Ark is opened. It looks great. Speaking of looks, everything you see sticks to your mind. You won't forget Indy's iconic outfit, the design of the Ark, the locations. It's all good. The Indiana Jones films are unique for having violent action yet it keeps its light-hearted approach. It's funny yet freaky at the same time.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a bona fide classic. Everything about it is excellent and paved the way for one of the most beloved film franchises. Harrison Ford is excellent, John William's music sticks in your head (mostly thanks to the LEGO game, I'll be honest), memorable moments take up most of the film and is directed by a genius mind. Join me next time as we continue the legendary series with...a not so legendary iteration...oohhh I'm going to get a lot of hate for this...

Everything about this film is perfect. A true classic.

I find it funny that it's harder to talk about a good film than it is a bad one.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Top 10 Films of 2013

Another year of film has gone by so it's time to take a look at my top ten films of the past year. While I feel that we were spoilt in 2012 (I gave 3 films 10/10s...only 1 got 10/10 this year), we still got some excellent films so...yeah, let's look at them. Keep in mind this is limited to only films that I have actually seen (so no 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle etc.) but, without further ado, here are my top ten films of 2013.

Yes I know it's a month early but I was eager to write this.

10. The World's End
The last film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, while not quite hitting the greatness of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, is definetly worthy of being part of the trilogy. It's the best comedy of the year with some well written jokes and slapstick as well as some of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's best acting. The film throws some twists and turns at you which bring it to a hilarious (yet somewhat mean-spirited) conclusion to the trilogy.

See original review here: The World's End (Edgar Wright, 2013) Review

9. All Is Lost
Robert Redford goes through absolute hell to deliver Life of Pi minus the animals for a film dedicated to survival with only one actor. It creates the feeling of isolation and really makes you engaged in the perils of Robert Redford's character (yeah, he has no name). I'm sure hardcore sailors may be shouting "WHAT IS HE DOING?!" but it still offers greatness with Redford showing off his skills of being able to carry a film on his own.

8. Frozen
Winner of most surprising film of 2013, definitely. Upon its initial announcement and teaser trailer, I thought this was going to be a disaster. Not only is Frozen good, it's probably the best Disney film since the Disney Renaissance (look it up). It looks amazing, the characters are great and subvert the typical Disney stereotypes,  a surprisingly well written narrative and, my God, has a truly amazing soundtrack. 'Let It Go' is still the best song of year (Golden Globes can shove it).

7. Her
I'm not normally one for romance films but Her seems to be aimed towards single people which I can definitely relate to. The most impressive thing about Her is that Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson share a strong chemistry without Johansson being on set! The blend between live action and voice acting is done very well and seems to nail every romantic trope on the head.

See original review here: Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) Review

6. Iron Man 3
I just heard the sound of thousands of people saying "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU! IRON MAN 3 IS TERRIBLE! MANDARIN!" but...I thought Iron Man 3 was great. It's rare to find a film that conveys its humour solely through dialogue and landing every joke. Not only that but we also got some great action scenes as well as one of the best film twists in a long time (you're probably just angry because you didn't see it coming). Marvel pulls out a fresh experience with a surprisingly unique super hero film.

See original review here: Iron Man 3 (Shane Black, 2013) Review

5. Star Trek Into Darkness
I wasn't the biggest fan of J.J. Abrams' first take on the Star Trek universe (although, rewatching, it was better than I remember) but Star Trek Into Darkness is much stronger and memorable than the first. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg provide stronger performances than before and the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch (who probably wins the award of most films done in a year) makes for a better villain than the first. I'm not going to argue with a film that has "KHAAAAAAAAN" in it.

See original review here: Star Trek Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams, 2013) Review

4. Saving Mr. Banks
2013 saw be gain an appreciation for Mary Poppins (mainly because I never saw that scene with Mr Banks near the end before) and Saving Mr. Banks came out at the perfect time. It tells the fascinating true story of the legal battle over Mary Poppins with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks delivering delightful roles. It also has an amazing supporting cast (Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman and an amazing Colin Farrell) which makes for a very strong and emotional film. 

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Happy now? The Hobbit series finally reaches the greatness of The Lord of the Rings. The Desolation of Smaug doesn't suffer from the flaws the first film had since everything has now been established and we can continue on the quest instantly. Martin Freeman delivers a much stronger performance and I'm sure everyone knows how amazing Benedict Cumberbatch is as Smaug as well as how great the CGI looks in order to create Smaug. I have absolute faith in The Hobbit: There and Back Again

2. 12 Years a Slave
While I can't ignore the fact that this is blatant Oscar bait, I wouldn't surprise me if this sweeps the board. For me, it's only number two as there is one better but still 12 Years a Slave prevails in the very strong acting. Chiwetel Ejiofor is simply brilliant as he manages to convey the hell that Solomon goes through 12 years while working with a very strong supporting cast (Michael Fassbender is nothing short of amazing).

1. Gravity
Yeah, well what did you expect? When this film came out, it was huge and deserved every star it received. I've always wanted to see a realistic space film dealing with isolation and focusing on one person. Sandra Bullock does exceedingly well and gives one of her best performances. George Clooney also does very well as a supporting role (snubbed at the Oscars, I would say). Gravity was incredibly hyped up around its release and deserved all the hype it got.

See original review here: Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron, 2013) Review

So what didn't make the cut?

Now You See Me (Louis Leterrier, 2013)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)
Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013)
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (Declan Lowney, 2013)
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (Nick Hurran, 2013) (What do you mean that doesn't count?!)
Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor, 2013) 
Despicable Me 2 (Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, 2013)
Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild (Riyad Barmania, 2013)
The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013)
This Is the End (Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, 2013)
The Hangover Part III (Todd Phillips, 2013)

Yes, just like last year's list, I will update the list if necessary.
This list also seemed fitting because we hit 50,000 PAGE VIEWS! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987) Review

One of the first films I reviewed was Ferris Bueller's Day Off and much later I took a look at The Breakfast Club so I figured it was time to look at another 80s John Hughes film that focuses on adults as opposed to teenagers. Let's take a look at a John Hughes film with a different setting, Planes, Trains and Automobile.

After a long day at work, Neil Page (Steve Martin) just wants to get home so he can spend Thanksgiving dinner with his family. After having his taxi stolen, his seat reservation denied and his flight grounded by bad weather, Neil winds up stuck with Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower curtain ring salesman as well as a blabbermouth. The two have to set aside their differences in order to traverse the country and get home in time.

John Hughes always made great, classic films in the 80s and Planes, Trains and Automobiles is no exception to this. Just like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this one does great on both the comedy and heartwarming moments. John Candy and Steve Martin make an excellent comedic duo and play off each other very well. This is probably John Candy's best role as he manages to be a blabbermouth yet you get that sense that he is a genuinely nice guy. The same goes fro Steve Martin who conveys a character that, while may be grouchy at times, proves to be simply an overworked jerk with a heart of gold. This leads to the great combination of hilarious moments and heart warming ones.

The film seems to run on the idea of "how bad can things get" with things getting worse and worse for Neil Page. This is what makes the movie stand out as it builds onto the hilarity of the situation. If you've watched shows such as Family Guy, you have probably seen many references which is to be expected considering how memorable this film is. The film dedicates to the two characters with no other main characters which makes for an excellent dynamic between the two stars.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a very enjoyable flick from the great, late John Hughes and can go well with the likes of The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off but tailored more towards the adult audience who are looking for a hilarious and heartwarming experience. As you could probably tell, I've run out of 2013 films to review and just in time since the Oscar nominations have been released. I'll probably do something similar at some point.

Steve Martin and John Candy make an excellent comedic duo in this heartwarming and hilarious flick.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013) Review

First impressions are important in order to grab the audiences attention and engage them into your film. I'm not sure if anyone told Baz Luhrmann this as, after the very first scene, we are trusted into something I was not expecting with a film set in the 20s...modern music. With this scary fact out of the way, let's take a look at the modern interpretation of The Great Gatsby...I've already reviewed the Robert Redford one so go find that if you wish.

Midwesterner Nick Carrarway (Tobey Macguire), after having just move house, discovers that his neighbour is a famous yet elusive man known as Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is known for throwing gigantic parties for no particular reason. Nick receives a formal invitation from Gatsby and the two quickly become friends. Things develop when Gatsby's rediscovers his old love, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and Nick tries to get the two together again.

Like I said...modern music. This isn't just a bad point, it cripples the film a bit. You don't walk into a film that claims to adapt a literary classic and expect club music that only a small portion of the audience would actually enjoy. Whoever said "let's get Jay Z to do the music" was an idiot. I guess I understand what they were saying (their parties and the equivalent of our clubs) but it was never needed to be established (although, saying this, I did like 'Heart's A Mess' by Gotye but at least that's on the credits).

One thing I didn't like about the original was that, while Robert Redford was good, the rest of the cast wasn't that memorable. This isn't the problem with this one. Tobey Maguire proves himself as a serious actor quite well alongside a very chipper Leonardo DiCaprio who continues his strong, Oscar-less career. Also good are Carey Mulligan as Daisy, giving an improved version of Mia Farrow's role, and Joel Edgerton as Daisy's husband Tom who hams it up immensely. What the film does have going for it though is the look. Whiel it does overuse the CGI (they couldn't find a real house? Really?), it looks really nice with a grand look.

The Great Gatsby...isn't great as the title would have you believe but it isn't a failure either. It's biggest faults lie in the use of modern music and an overuse of CGI but it makes up for these issues with a strong cast and a great look. Not the worst film of 2013 but I have seen far better...I'm sure we'll get a truly great adaptation of this story some day, but this isn't it.

With a poorly chosen soundtrack and an overuse of CGI, The Great Gatsby suffers from weird design decisions.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013) Review

Have you ever seen a film teaser trailer and thought "Oh God, this is going to be a disaster" and then see more publicity that furthers your suspicions about said film. However, as the film is released, you see that it is given high praise so you finally go watch the film...and then wish you watched it the day it came out and regret all the bad prejudice you had against the film. This was my experience with Disney's latest animated film, Frozen.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are royal sisters of the kingdom of Arendelle. On the day of Elsa's coronation (yes, we actually have a Disney QUEEN!), Anna and the kingdom learn of Elsa's ability to create snow and ice out of thin air. Fleeing into the mountains, Elsa creatres her own ice kingdom and starts a new solitary life. Anna travels to the mountains with the help of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven and sentient snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) in order to help her sister and restore summer back to Arendelle.

While I enjoyed Wreck-it Ralph alot, it wasn't exactly a Disney classic as it felt more like a Pixar film (still great though), Frozen is a comeback for classic Disney with a retelling of a classic story which was a story that was long over due for a Disney film. Now it's here and I absolutely love it. I'll get the best bit out of the way and that's the soundtrack. Good...God is the soundtrack amazing. Out of all the songs in the film, only one falls flat (you know which one...) but for what is good is REALLY good. If 'Let It Go' does not get nominated (or win, even) for the Oscar for best song, it will one of the greatest crimes against music. It's well written, the sequence is gorgeously animated and the singing, *sigh*, Idina Menzel's voice is perfect and absolutely dominates the film. Others such as 'For the First Time in Forever' and 'Frozen Heart' are also great (I also have a soft spot for 'In Summer').

I've been begging for the return of hand-drawn animation but Frozen helps me get over that fact that it's basically gone. Frozen is really well animated with really fancy snow and ice effects (like I previously mentioned, the sequence for 'Let It Go' is gorgeous). One of my early complaints was that this looked like Tangled re-skinned but I am wrong. The characters do look different from previous ones, with great voice acting to make them memorable, and even characters like Olaf have very unique designs. The tone of the film is also stepping back to what Disney was good at. Some dark scenes, some hilarious moments, some heartwarming scenes and the such. It's what Disney does best.

Frozen is worthy of being part of Disney's line-up. Despite being CGI, it looks gorgeous and, when accompanied with some great voice acting, makes for some very likable and memorable characters. The best thing is the soundtrack which features one song that is nothing short of perfect. It doesn't quite reach 9/10 because there is one aspect that is up there with the gargoyles from Hunchback of Notre Dame in terms of annoyance but, other than that, Disney is back.

Beautifully animated, great characters and a truly amazing sountrack, Disney is back on its feet

although looking at what's next...just how long is Disney on its feet for?

Monday, January 6, 2014

All Is Lost (J. C. Chandor, 2013) Review

Have you ever wanted to see what would happen if you took Gravity and spliced it with Life of Pi...without the tiger? I have a feeling it would be something like this. While Gravity seemed to boast about its very small cast (about 3, I think), clearly J. C. Chandor wanted to beat that by having only one actor. All Is Lost definitely has the smallest cast this year but does the simplicity mean that it's a stronger film as a result? Let's find out.

1700 miles off shore is a man (Robert Redford) on his yacht in the middle of a solo voyage. No one else in sight and all alone, he finds trouble brewing when his boat is struck by a container seemingly out of nowhere. He puts his survival skills to the test by gathering supplies from his sinking vessel and taking the life raft out into the unknown in hope of safety.

I think it's safe to assume that Robert Redford is on his way to an Oscar. A good performance is a good performance but having convey the entire film with little to no dialogue (the script is only 32 pages long). Despite having no name given, you do get enthralled in his ordeal and you do want to see him survive and get to safety. The film does work very well without dialogue and offers a stronger experience...actually, yeah, it is more of an experience than a film. You wouldn't dig this out at a party to watch but then again, that's just the way films are made now (Oscar much Oscar bait).

I will warn you that some people may find this to be very boring. I didn't but I'm quite tolerant of slow films. If you enjoyed Life of Pi and can imagine it without the tiger and the whimsy then that's what you're going to get. Gravity on the sea, if you will. It takes its time with progression of the narrative but whether or not it will keep your attention is more based on what kind of films you're into. It's not a film that was made to be enjoyed, kind of like Breaking Bad, you just have to experience it.

All Is Lost is a very simple film that doesn't waste time with symbolism or messages, it's just a story that unfolds in front of you. Robert Redford does an excellent job of carrying the film, especially without the use of words. I recommend it to people that enjoyed Gravity should check it out to get a similar concept interpenetrated differently. For my next review, you guessed it, another 2013 film..I'M CATCHING UP, ALRIGHT?!

Robert Redford carries the movie that offers a strong experience.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Now You See Me (Louis Leterrier, 2013) Review

You can probably tell that I'm gathering up films for my Top Ten Films of 2013 by the influx of 2013 films being reviewed. I am working on the list so here's another 2013 film that seemed to have come out of nowhere, Now You See Me. This was bought on a whim since it had an intriguing concept behind it with a strong cast and though "what the hell". So how was it? Let's find out.

Four magicians (Jesse Eisenburg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) are called together by an unknown person in order to take part in some trick assisted heists that will leave them very wealthy. When their first heist seemingly goes off without a hitch, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is called in to track the magicians down and work out how the heist was achieved with the assistance of an ex-magician (Morgan Freeman).

The thing that this film runs on is twists. There are many throughout the film (some even counter twist...yeah) which means that the film is un-predictable. It seems to pride itself on it's intelligence yet is somehow also an action film. It's a peculiar mix of genres that makes the film unique. It was a sureal experience than generally had me guessing throughout. The idea of magicians pulling off heists is the main reason that I decided to watch this film and it was a good judgment call. Having this concept with the idea of twists throughout he story works very well.

While actors such as Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg are playing their typical roles (yet still enjoyable), the acting is pretty good. Isla Fisher and Dave Franco prove to be memorable but the standout actor is Mark Ruffalo. This is his film and pis the most memorable performance in the film. It's good to see Mark Ruffalo get more appreciation after he seemed to pop out of nowhere for Avengers Assemble (a very strong start to his career, I'm sure).

Now You See Me was the surprise film of 2013 for me. It lives by its own words of "be the smartest person in the room". It is enjoyable thanks to the acting (helmed by Mark Ruffalo), clever twists and an interesting concept to begin with. I still have more 2013 films up my sleeve and if you were wondering when I was getting round to my top ten films of 2013, I do that in Feburary as that's when I did it last year (tied in with the Oscars...which is March this year...).

A clever film with some strong acting, an intriguing concept and good twists.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock, 2013) Review

Time to enter a new year with a film I saw...just before 2013 ended. I was planning on doing reviews before New Years but I've been ill so that wasn't going to happen. At any rate, the evening I went to see this film, Mary Poppins just happened to be on and ended right before I left to the cinema which is something I would recommend you do. Watch Mary Poppins to refresh your memory of the film and then take a look at Saving Mr.'re gonna need to remember that film.

In the 1960s, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of Mary Poppins, is in a copyright war against Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) who wants to make a film based on Travers' work but she is reluctant to hand over the rights to her creation. She is given partial creative control and visits Walt Disney Studios to work with the Sherman Brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) and screen writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford). As Travers steps in to the creative decisions more and more, her childhood seems to make an influence on her as she recalls her relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) and where the idea of Mary Poppins came from.

Why haven't we seen films like this before? I have never seen a film that was a dramatisation of making a film (an iconic one at that) especially one from the perspective of writing, not the directing. Saving Mr. Banks lets us see film making from a perspective that is rarely seen (or, if it has, please show me) and tells a fascinating story about the inception of an iconic film. It's well written and well put together. While some might end up arguing that it does twist history a bit, you don't really mind when watching this because you are brought into the fascinating world of Disney and the making of a real Disney film. I think this is the first time that an actor has portrayed Walt Disney in a film and it works very well. The only loose bit is the overuse of flashbacks but it does make sense in context and does tie everything together.

The films strongest point is the acting. The promotional material would have you believe that this is a duo piece between Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. It is not. This is Emma Thompson's film through and through. Tom Hanks plays more of a supporting role and does a decent job. Sure it's obviously just Tom Hanks but he does capture the spirit of Walt Disney. Emma Thompson is fantastic as P.L. Travers and shows this off best when she has to balance the strict, stern side with the heart-broken and traumatised side. I definitely see her on track for an Oscar. Speaking of Oscars, I think the surprise actor here is Colin Farrell as her father. This is easily his best acting in any film he's done and I will be very surprised if he isn't at least nominated. Supporting actors such as Jason Schwartzman and Paul Giammati are also very likable. The film seems to run on likability which, considering this is a film about the inception of one of the most whimsical films every made, is to be expected.

Saving Mr. Banks was a captivating film that runs on likability. Some may argue that it does up the whimsy in the flashback scenes, the acting is amazing, the writing is stop on and it looks very nice indeed. It's practically perfect in every way...emphasis on practically. With two guarantee Oscar nominees, I whole-heartily recommend Saving Mr. Banks...although it's probably out of the cinema by now...sorry about that, bit late on that one.

Does an excellent job of telling a fascinating story surrounding one of the most iconic films to date.