Posted : 4 days, 5 hours ago on 15 June 2013 06:28
(A review of Man of Steel
Following previous mediocre instalments in the franchise, Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel
is a much-needed reboot that followed identical trails to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins
. The film revisits the origins of Kal-El where his home planet Krypton is on the brink of destruction, his transportation and childhood on Earth as Clark Kent and finally when he fulfils his destiny as Superman. It had already been told in the original 1978 version starring Christopher Reeve but Man Of Steel
is a new instalment for a new generation. However, despite that it maintained originality from the first film adaptation and the comic books, Man Of Steel
is a whole new reinvention of the Superman
franchise on a visual and emotional level.
Visually, Man Of Steel
is the most different Superman
film to date. The film is a clear advancement on the series and an appealing visual director had to take charge of directing this reboot with a touch of sophistication behind it. Zack Snyder uses the same visually dim style from his previous films 300, Watchmen
and Sucker Punch
and supplies it in Man Of Steel
. These dark effects consequently added a more serious tone behind the film as opposed to almost every other previous Superman
installment. On the other hand, Snyder had not delivered on dramatic terms and, was in need of a breakthrough. In that sense, Snyder was reinventing himself as a director as well as the Superman
franchise. Consequently, the creative minds of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer provided Snyder with a solution that he is capable of adding emotional drama into his films and Man Of Steel
However, while Man Of Steel
reinvents the whole series and displays it for a new generation, there were certain flaws that did not entirely declare it as a masterful reboot. For example, the film begins with a marvellous opening sequence of Krypton’s destruction that builds up excitement for the remainder of the film, but after that point the film suddenly becomes rushed and occasionally jumps between scenes. Man Of Steel
was all about reinventing Superman and the build-up to Kal/Clark fulfilling that moved a little too quickly. In addition, it became rather forced at times, especially when the second half of the film is like one massive climax. However, this does not necessarily mean that it was not enjoyable. After all, we have been waiting a long time to see Superman’s return and now that he’s back and has never looked better, the long action scenes and noisy sound effects did not ruin much for the film.
On that note regarding Superman himself, Henry Cavill literally swept away Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the character in Superman Returns
. Let’s face it, Routh was clearly aiming to recreate Christopher Reeve’s timeless portrayal and it made no difference. However, Cavill was a much more convincing Superman. Like the film’s general visual style, the character’s costume appears darker compared to past ones, but Cavill’s portrayal adds a slightly less comical touch to Superman but more physically realistic. At the same time, director Snyder’s dark and visual style provided a new comical side to Superman and Cavill’s performance yet the tone grasped more believability. His masculinity really took its toll in Man Of Steel
as he will clearly gain further recognition from female audiences but more importantly, his performance added a touch of warmth and emotional depth like Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Man Of Steel
was a fantastic start for Henry Cavill in the title role and he deserves to play the character again.
Recent adaptations based on both Marvel and DC comics have now become more sophisticated regarding ensemble cast. The first Superman
film starred highlighted actors and Man Of Steel
maintains that allegiance. Four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams portrayed Lois Lane with an impressive performance that, like Cavill over Routh, completely blew away Kate Bosworth’s role. Adams has almost always been a serious actress and her role as Lois was not Oscar level but that was beside the point. Her talent as an actress worked impressively in the role of such an famous character. Michael Shannon’s performance as General Zod was absolutely fantastic! He was menacing, emotionally manipulative and physically terrifying. Furthermore, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane’s humane, humble roles as Jonathan and Martha Kent provided even more raw emotion to the film and symbolized love and family with morals behind them. Finally, Russell Crowe totally shines as Jor-El, Superman/Kal-El’s biological father, who becomes the striking hero again like he once was and gives Marlon Brando of all actors a run for his money.
Man Of Steel
is a breakthrough in the Superman
franchise and for Zack Snyder’s directorial career. He, along with the great Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer, have provided a highly entertaining, emotional and most importantly relevant
reboot. It may contain similar concepts to The Dark Knight
trilogy but Snyder’s work took over from Nolan’s; therefore, becoming his greatest and probably most successful film to date. Finally, Man Of Steel
is arguably the best Superman
film to faithfully portray the origins from the comic books and with this impressive reboot, we could be in for another adventure with Superman in the sequel and the Justice League
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Posted : 3 weeks, 1 day ago on 27 May 2013 12:47
(A review of The Great Gatsby
Judging by the striking mise-en-scéne and effective use of colour from posters and trailers, The Great Gatsby
is quickly identified as a typical Luhrmann film. It marks his first film since 2008 and only his fifth in total. Once again, like every other Luhrmann feature, The Great Gatsby
consisted of large-scale production concepts featuring a story and a variety characters that has the capability to signify powerful, thought-provoking dramatic emotions. Luhrmann keeps going round in circles because the majority of his films have so much going for them but resulted with pure emptiness and leaves the audience with very little to reflect on. Unfortunately, that is what happened with The Great Gatsby
and it was an overall let-down but still had certain positive aspects.
Although The Great Gatsby
is an adaptation based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, it contains almost identical visual and narrative concepts to Luhrmann’s previous film Moulin Rouge!
in 2001. In fact, The Great Gatsby
is almost like a remake, particularly in terms of narrative structure and character types. For example, the film begins with voice-over narration by a supporting, emotionally-ruined character telling a story about an individual who played an important part in his life and a love story unveils. In a sense, this has revealed the type of stories that Luhrmann goes for and he clearly has a passion for romantic-dramas. There are filmmakers out there who have directed films of the same genre but have delivered something different but the plot behind The Great Gatsby
is nothing short of flat and almost 140 minutes of no emotional engagement.
The Great Gatsby
is a typical romantic-drama but it relies on added visual effects in order to make the audience feel more attached to it. In that sense, it is Baz Luhrmann’s most visual film to date. Practically every shot in the film featured at least a glimpse of colourful, striking effects. However, the main issue with the implementation of 3D and visual effects are that they were the only features that kept the film going, which raises the question – what were they worth? They were aiming nowhere with nothing to show, message-wise, and it could have done so much more. Furthermore, the inclusion of modern music felt out of place when it is set in the 1920s. It is debatable how much accuracy in the time-setting that The Great Gatsby
was trying to aim at but it just did not connect.
To mix with his glistening visual style, Luhrmann usually selects the popular Hollywood stars. Leonardo DiCaprio reunites with Luhrmann after Romeo And Juliet
in 1996 and delivers a good performance as Jay Gatsby. After over a decade, DiCaprio becomes a young, striking actor and goes back to the early days of his career yet at the same time, he appears wealthy. In that sense, he was a decent choice for the role of Gatsby. In addition, Gatsby is a complex character and DiCaprio has not portrayed many characters with psychological backgrounds but he was occasionally convincing in the performance. However, there were times in which he was not. For example, his pronunciation of “old sport” when talking to another character, that becomes repetitive and progressively becomes more annoying, which does not tell us much else about his personality.
His on-screen relationship with Carey Mulligan, who portrayed Daisy Buchanan, was somewhat flat with no moral meaning behind their love for each other. It is one of those relationships in which fate and love keep them together but is not really analysed enough. In fact, it is Luhrmann trying to provide a couple that appeared romantic but did not have any emotional connection. However, as an individual performance, Carey Mulligan was definitely the best from the cast in the The Great Gatsby
. Like a rich woman in the 1920s, she wore glistening costumes and make-up and has attractive physical features. Mulligan fitted well into the role of Daisy and her performance was emotional.
Meanwhile, Tobey Maguire is possibly what mainly ruined the film. Maguire’s performance was flat and pretty dry, particularly the voice-over narration. Even the portrayal of the character was disappointing in The Great Gatsby
because at the beginning, we follow his story but when Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan are introduced, he becomes overshadowed and ends up standing there in remaining scenes. Finally, Joel Edgerton’s character Tom is a typical rich but emotionally abusive husband and his performance was also pretty good but it was the emotional relationship between the two protagonists and narrative structure that was a let-down.
In many ways, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby
follows down a similar route to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo
with the inclusion of visual effects in a drama; thus, creating a magical experience. The problem with The Great Gatsby
is that it had a serious lack of emotional connection with the audience despite the glistening production techniques. In fact, the high-scale of visuals and production design did not need to be included at all because they just did not connect with the plot. Thus, The Great Gatsby
was not an entirely bad film but it had the same idea behind almost every Luhrmann film and could have been so much better.
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Posted : 3 weeks, 4 days ago on 25 May 2013 09:53
(A review of Star Trek Into Darkness
In 2009, J.J. Abrams surprised us with his marvelous reboot of the Star Trek
franchise and once again, he embarks us on another spectacular ride into space with this sequel. There have not been many Hollywood reboots that have played kindly to audiences in recent years and, quite frankly, neither have many sequels. However, because Abrams’ work on Star Trek
was so successful, expectations were even higher for the sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness
. In addition, the majority of cast and crew were returning; therefore, it appeared a promising follow-up. It contains the same large-scale production elements as its predecessor and deservedly marks its place as another breath-taking roller-coaster installment in the rebooted Star Trek
The most successful aspect of Star Trek: Into Darkness
, like its predecessor, was how director J.J. Abrams had a much broader target audience instead of aiming only toward the avid Trekkies. The original elements from the TV series, such as characters, visual effects and plot, were still included and they would satisfy Trekkies. However, Star Trek: Into Darkness
delivers those features at a more advanced level, which does not go over the top like many Hollywood films today. The eye-popping visual effects bring an even more exciting and fresh experience than its predecessor. In addition, the darker and visually clearer tone behind the film makes it appear more realistic and follows many conventions of human drama; consequently, expanding a wider audience.
Evidently, the two Star Trek
reboots have advanced the entire franchise on a visual level but more importantly, it has now become an emotional series that is not just to satisfy the fans with the original concepts. Particularly in this sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness
keeps a firm grip on the audience with his emotional delivery from the plot, particularly when the film is often portrayed from Kirk’s perspective and intends the audience to emotionally connect to him. Surprisingly, this illustrates signs of friendship that progressively gives audiences a hint of warm satisfaction, such as the chemistry between Kirk and First Officer Spock. On the other hand, it has a realistic touch to it as psychological themes are included, particularly when the character of “John Harrison” gets into the film. Therefore, Star Trek: Into Darkness
has truthful morals behind it and illustrates ugly signs of humanity, which do not occur often in the science-fiction genre.
The majority of the ensemble cast from the 2009 reboot reprise their roles in this sequel, but it also introduces new characters that make it a different installment in the series. Chris Pine returns as Captain James T. Kirk. Knowing Hollywood these days, many of them cast actors in their films purely based on looks in order to gain a wider audience. In a sense, Pine follows in similar footsteps to Chris Evans but the former proves that he can be somebody more than just eye-candy. Also, the role of Kirk is a big responsibility as many Trekkies would expect Pine to portray him in honour of William Shatner’s long-time performance as the character. Still, Pine’s role of Kirk is impressive who still follows the trademark features of the original character that would satisfy, yet at the same time, applies the performance at a newly reformed level of acting.
Although Zachary Quinto is arguably the only actor to possibly portray Spock due to his identical physical features to Leonard Nimoy in the role, Quinto’s performance was also remarkable. Like Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto successfully balances the features of Nimoy’s role but makes a difference to the character. Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Antony Yelchin return in the roles of notable Enterprise crew members. Considering the performances are above satisfactory, the stand-out actor in Star Trek: Into Darkness
is Benedict Cumberbatch. He portrayed “John Harrison” and gave a sinister, manipulative performance. This character made the film more psychologically engaging that followed down an identical route to The Dark Knight
. Cumberbatch appeared cold from the very beginning; therefore, he added a more chilling effect that made Star Trek: Into Darkness
a darker successor compared to the previous film.
Unlike almost every other franchise installment, Star Trek: Into Darkness
and its predecessor were much-needed reboots that extended the originals further. This sequel progressed further than the previous film due to the further development of emotional drama and visual effects whilst still fulfilling the wishes of Trekkies by including various references from the originals. From start to finish, Star Trek: Into Darkness
is filled with excitement and will leave you demanding more. Therefore, the film does not run out of steam. Finally, the announcement of Abrams’ next project Star Wars: Episode VII
had initially received a mixed response from worldwide audiences, but following the success of Abrams’ two Star Trek
films, we could be in for a breath-taking seventh Star Wars
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Posted : 1 month ago on 16 May 2013 05:49
(A review of Iron Man 3
In addition to serving as the third installment in the Iron Man
series, the events of Iron Man 3
take place soon after The Avengers
. Following the success of that film, expectations were exceedingly high of what audiences were to expect in Tony Stark’s next adventure. However, Iron Man 3
underwent a number of changes compared to the two predecessors, particularly Shane Black replacing Jon Favreau as director and judging by the trailer, it had an eerie and more personal touch to it. Considering the changes compared to the film’s predecessors, Iron Man 3
is a fantastic installment into the trilogy and is another Marvel triumph.
Director Shane Black’s deliverance of creative humour and dialogue in his debut feature Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
in 2005 was displayed once again in Iron Man 3
. The character of Iron Man/Tony Stark has been the central source of the trilogy’s black humour throughout the past two Iron Man
films and The Avengers
. So, particularly through this character, Black’s style of dark humour worked. However, in terms of Iron Man 3
’s narrative structure, it appeared somewhat flat on occasions, particularly in the middle. Without giving too much detail, the story has a Dark Knight Rises
concept behind it and the repetitive structure creates a distinctively flat and more predictable touch.
Just like every Marvel film, the visual effects and action scenes are key points as they embark audiences into it all and, consequently, raise a high level of excitement. While specific effects and action sequences are impressive, there are some that appeared either mindless or forced. Particularly in the unique climatic build-up, the inclusion of several technologically-controlled Iron Man armouries as well as Stark and Rhodes, it became very clear that it forcibly aimed to be as intense and exciting by throwing these characters on the screen. Quite frankly, they didn’t even need to be included at all. Despite this, it was great to see Iron Man and War Machine/Iron Patriot in action again and to be introduced to new characters.
Although previously stated that the story of Iron Man 3
felt a tad flat on occasions, it exposed characteristics of the Iron Man character that had not been portrayed in the predecessors or The Avengers
. Iron Man 3
illustrates the character as vulnerable, not an all-powerful force and more importantly – a closer, personal analysis into Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr. marks his second collaboration with director Shane Black and once again portrays Tony Stark/Iron Man with a memorable performance. While still an arrogant hero, Downey Jr becomes the most emotional in any film that he’s been in since rebooting his career. Therefore, a little twist was added and we could be in for something extraordinary in The Avengers 2
and possibly Iron Man 4
Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Stark’s love interest Pepper Potts. Their relationship is tested in Iron Man 3
and on occasions, becomes more important to the story than actually saving the world from harm. In that sense, it added a romantic-drama touch to it. In addition, Don Cheadle returns as Colonel Rhodes with the same War Machine armour. However, the upgraded armory transformed him into the Iron Patriot. While the performance and re-interpretation of character is likeable enough, he is still overshadowed by Stark and new figures. On that note, Guy Pearce’s portrayal of Aldrich Killian was great with a psychotic touch and has a scramble for power, like any comic book villain. As for Ben Kingsley, he easily became the best actor in the entire film in terms of performance. While avid Marvel fans could be disappointed with the twist of the Mandarin character in Iron Man 3
, Kingsley’s performance was so exposed, free and unstoppable in relation to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight
Thus, while everybody wanted to see Iron Man 3
as a follow-up to The Avengers
, we got a superb third installment in the Iron Man
series that certainly triumphed over the disappointing second film and has become a solid build-up to The Avengers 2
. It was a slight bend compared to other Marvel films as it became less a superhero film but more of a crime-thriller. Nevertheless, Shane Black’s work on Iron Man 3
was impressive and the hopes of a possible Iron Man 4
could be worth taking.
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Posted : 1 month, 3 weeks ago on 28 April 2013 06:17
(A review of Oz the Great and Powerful
For this prequel to even come close to the timeless magic of The Wizard Of Oz
was virtually impossible, especially when Hollywood are loaded on remakes, sequels and prequels with CGI effects. However, Oz The Great And Powerful
is a telling of the story leading to the events of the 1939 classic; hence, we get an insight to how Oz became the Wizard and the relationship between the witches. With this in mind, there was a great deal of curiosity about Oz The Great And Powerful
but like many films that focus primarily on visuals, expectations were average. Despite the film was corny regarding script and narrative structure, it was still a visual delight that marks a satisfactory return to Oz.
Oz The Great And Powerful
had so much going for it regarding visuals, but there was more against it in terms of narrative structure, characters and plot. So, in order for it to succeed, an experienced and recognised director was required. Sam Raimi already took a huge turn in his career from the director of Evil Dead
, but Oz The Great And Powerful
had become an even more unusual addition to his filmography. However, on a visual level, Raimi can deliver and his representation of Oz could be an interesting transformation. However, while his work on Oz The Great And Powerful
is fantastic, visually, and is worth paying to watch in 3D, there is quite a number of flat, bland elements that does not make it the experience that it should have been.
After 73 years, Oz The Great And Powerful
clearly was not going to be the same as the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland, but portraying some kind of contribution would satisfy fans. Also, due to the high number of films today in a similar category to Oz The Great And Powerful
, a hint of originality needed to be included. Therefore, audiences would rely on the film to capture the breath-taking visual experience along with using tools of originality from the 1939 version. However, it was difficult because the film was not going to achieve both at the same time and unfortunately it didn’t. The narrative structure was not in a word ‘shambles’ but it did have a similar idea behind the story like in Alice In Wonderland
and The Chronicles Of Narnia
. That is what audiences are used to now with technological advancements and Oz The Great And Powerful
severely lacked the imagination of a new adventure and became extremely predictable.
James Franco makes his fourth collaborative appearance in a Sam Raimi film, but this time in the leading role as Oscar Diggs, a small-time magician who enters the Land of Oz and makes his path to become the Wizard. Following Frank Morgan’s eccentric portrayal of the character in The Wizard Of Oz
, James Franco would not be at the top of the list to portray the Wizard at a younger age. However, Franco is at the prime of his career so he must have been cast in the role of such a big character for a reason other than as a box office booster. Unfortunately, Franco’s performance was disappointing. There was a severe lack of charisma about his role and at times, it was just James Franco playing himself in a fancy costume. The character of Oscar Diggs is suitable in Oz
and the pieces fit which lead to the original version but Franco’s mediocre performance does not completely fulfill what we should have seen.
In supporting roles were Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as the Three Witches of Oz. First, there’s Kunis, most certainly a cash-grabbing selection in the cast, as Theodora who transforms into a certain witch that we have seen before. Very much like Oscar Diggs, Theodora as a character was handled rather well but again, it was the actor who failed. Kunis’ attractive appearance is bound to catch the eye of the audience but there was just nothing beyond that. In fact, her role came across as boring and even the character development was not getting anywhere and suddenly altered without telling the audience. However, Rachel Weisz is the complete stand-out performer as Evanora, who becomes a scheming, beautiful character who seduces the audience with her magic and totally sweeps away Julia Roberts’ performance in Mirror Mirror
. Michelle Williams delivers a great performance too as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. In a nutshell, some of the characters should have had a better cast and the inclusion of CGI characters should have been excluded.
Audiences will come to the conclusion that Oz The Great And Powerful
is your ordinary 3D, large-scale blockbuster but has a large, old-fashioned background behind it. The film was playing with fire as it had to become a film by itself but at the same time, pay some kind of homage to The Wizard Of Oz
. Nevertheless, while Oz The Great And Powerful
uses specific references from the classic and becomes at least a decent effort, it is still a mixed bag that ignites how much miscasting and bad screenwriting can jeopardise the quality of a film as a film.
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Posted : 1 month, 3 weeks ago on 25 April 2013 06:20
(A review of Wreck-It Ralph
As opposed to many of the live-action films that we see today from Walt Disney Pictures, animated feature films within the organization have been on a roll following The Princess And The Frog, Tangled
and Winnie The Pooh
. At this moment in time, faith in Disney animation has been restored and in 2012, we have their latest feature hoping to continue the run - Wreck-It Ralph
. Just by judging the still images and trailers it aroused excitement and, therefore, a geeky approach to it as it takes audiences into the imaginative world of video games. With this in mind, Wreck-It Ralph
fulfills the video gamer ambitions as it certainly does take you on a breath-taking visual and imaginative adventure but is also a genuinely creative and original film.
In terms of storytelling and narrative structure, Wreck-It Ralph
is evidently one of Disney’s most original animated films which in many ways, goes down a relatively identical route to Pixar Animation Studios. In their stories, they charm audiences, they emotionally engage them, they make them laugh and behind their films, there is always a sense of sophistication and signs of knowledge within the specific themes. In that sense, Wreck-It Ralph
fulfills all of those categories and becomes distinctly close to feeling like a Pixar film. In addition, as opposed to many animated features Wreck-It Ralph
is an immensely colourful film that is not selective with target audience. It becomes a magical adventure for kids that expand their imagination, like video games in general, but also an enchanting film for adults too. Sure, it involves very child-friendly characters but along with its wacky humour, Wreck-It Ralph
gives the slightly older viewers, arguably those who grew up with older video game characters within the film, an experience to remember.
It is important to note that Wreck-It Ralph
is a 3D-animation feature, a style that has been on-and-off with Disney in recent years. Amazingly, it works as a breath-taking visual journey but the humour along with it makes it such a delight. The majority of laughs in Wreck-It Ralph
came from slapstick humour, especially from the leading character Ralph as he gets into situations and witty one-liners. Following in similar footsteps to Pixar’s past films, Wreck-It Ralph
has the charm between characters and emotional connection to the audience that Pixar themselves are slowly drifting from as of late.
Although audiences see iconic video game figures that merely make cameos, we see some warm, delightful, original characters. Without being too much of a fanboy about it, Ralph is a superb leading protagonist that is literally a smash hit on the film’s target audience. He is hilarious and he’s clumsy which is what kids want to see but at the same time, he’s emotionally engaging and has a strong personality. Ralph’s fascination to go into other video game worlds is the equivalence of the audience being dragged into this exciting world. Therefore, in a sense he becomes part of the audience.
Each supporting character comes from different backgrounds in the world of video games. First, there is Fix-It Felix, who is truthfully the “good guy” in the entire film who Ralph has been inspired by to become good. On a similar note, the little girl Vanellope von Schweetz becomes the key to opening Ralph’s warm-hearted side. Similarly to Boo from Monsters Inc
, Vanellope is an adorable additional character that kids will feel emotionally related too and adults will be humbled by. Meanwhile, other supporting entries Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun and King Candy are worth noting as they expand the audience’s imagination even further.
Similar to Toy Story 3
in 2010, Wreck-It Ralph
gives the audience a film of pure entertainment but manages to provide emotional warmth as it pays homage to classic video games and, therefore, seals satisfaction among viewers following prior expectations. Wreck-It Ralph
is almost everything that an animated Disney film has been before and should always be. It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s imaginative and it embarks the audience into a world that they will never forget. Wreck-It Ralph
is the type of wake-up call that Pixar really need now!
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Posted : 3 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 February 2013 09:07
(A review of Lincoln
Just by judging the title alone, Lincoln
became a potentially huge project that required a substantial amount of sophisticated figures in front and behind the camera. The legendary Steven Spielberg, arguably the most iconic filmmaker in the history of cinema, takes charge of directing another war drama, after Schindler’s List
in 1993, that deals with complex human emotions on a grand scale. Also, Daniel Day-Lewis, arguably the greatest living actor, makes a triumphant return to the screen to play Abraham Lincoln. Nevertheless, considering that Lincoln
is an extremely large film with a lot of history behind it, it works with outstanding performances from the ensemble cast and superb direction from Spielberg but occasionally had a few issues with narrative structure.
After already succeeding with his World War II masterpiece Schindler’s List
, Spielberg returns to direct another historical bio-pic about a human symbol who changed the world. Throughout his career, Spielberg has handled all
genres but has almost always provided that grand scale of raw emotion and realism behind them. Along with superb cinematography, art direction and costume design, Spielberg literally sent the audience back into the Civil War and managed to grasp the dark tone of its time setting in a realistic, truthful format. Therefore, Spielberg is arguably the only one who could have pulled off Lincoln
Just like many bio-pics and other stories related on history, Lincoln
has a story where audiences know the beginning and the end, but has a complex plot in-between. Lincoln
is meant to tell the audience about the final four months of Lincoln’s life before his assassination and perhaps the final few weeks of the Civil War. With this in mind, the political dialogue and the substantial amount of characters from different sides and organizations can make Lincoln
hard to emotionally engage with. However, that did not always matter because it was merely a build-up to the obvious finale and just aroused curiosity of how Spielberg was going to handle it. As well as being based on true stories, Lincoln
is also based on a biography so reading about these events before seeing this film is highly recommended.
Daniel Day-Lewis has limitations as an actor when selecting films to star in. In 20 years, he starred in approximately 9 films, 2 of those which he won the Academy Award for Best Leading Actor. Although originally handed over to Liam Neeson, Day-Lewis literally becomes Lincoln in another breath-taking performance. The nature of the character was power and symbolism and Daniel Day-Lewis signifies this through his own powerful qualities as an actor. The audience gained a deeper understanding beyond Lincoln’s presidential status where we got an analysis of Lincoln as a human being like the rest of us. Nevertheless, Day-Lewis delivers another one of his gifted, trademark performances that should gain him his third
Academy Award for Best Leading Actor.
Although the film focuses primarily on Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis almost carries it by himself, he is supported by a group of veteran actors in memorable performances. First, Tommy Lee Jones is absolutely perfect
in a stand-out performance as Thaddeus Stevens, the Radical Republican Congressional Leader. He represents the bitterness of human beings within a political society and Lee Jones’s general physical approach has a somewhat cold touch and it worked brilliantly as Stevens. Furthermore, Sally Field also illustrated her strengths as an actress as she took on the role of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. It was her most vital performance in many years and she, along with Daniel Day-Lewis, provided the power and the sense of support within each other to win the Civil War and abolish slavery once and for all. David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have important roles in Lincoln
too and make their presence worth praising.
Evidently, the immensely heavy load of dialogue within Lincoln
does not make it an easy film for audiences to watch for 150 minutes. In that sense, its primary target audiences would be those who going in with an open mind or ones with a strong view of the facts during that period. Therefore, it is complex and unusual for those expecting another Spielberg adventure within a historical setting. Nevertheless, as a film, Lincoln
works with the technical praise going particularly to the cinematography and music but is also a bio-pic, quite a rare one today at that, which features some of the greatest performances from actors that capture almost exact resemblances, physically and emotionally, of the real-life figures that they were portraying.
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Posted : 4 months, 1 week ago on 9 February 2013 03:08
(A review of The Impossible
Behind the majority of tragic catastrophes in the modern age, we are provided with a film based on those events featuring a story that becomes a symbol of hope and leaves the audience a lot to reflect on. The Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 appeared out of nowhere and shook us all. In fact, it became one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history. So, The Impossible
examines the horrors of these events through an innocent family’s real-life experience and also leaves the audiences with a leap of faith within humanity. Therefore, although it is hard to watch on many occasions, The Impossible
is an incredibly powerful motion pictures that is filled with suspense, emotional drama and is quite possible one of the most courageous disaster stories adapted put to film.
Besides having a wide historical background, The Impossible
had issues as a film. Over the years, disaster motion pictures have been over-killed by Roland Emmerich, a director who succeeds on a visual level but totally misfires in terms of realism, heartbreak and emotional drama. However, the superb direction from Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage
) fulfills the purpose of The Impossible
at a both tragic and inspirational standard. While he has already worked on scaring and making audiences feel uncomfortable, he expresses something that hadn’t been done before. The tsunami itself is evidently an immensely powerful force of nature upon the innocent in a civilized society, but is exposed as a sin that totally tears the ordinary, peaceful lifestyle apart.
Furthermore, the actual disaster killed thousands so the biggest challenge was to illustrate a balance of respect as well as involvement between those who lost their lives and those who survived. While Bayona pulls this off beautifully, he gives the audience a very gripping in-sight to the disaster, particularly during the tsunami. The creative use of camera movement during the sequence created an uncomfortable illusion that the audience were as close to the tsunami as the victims within the film, and it did not need 3D effects. Therefore, Bayona’s direction in The Impossible
is among the list of most underrated and overlooked works of modern film-making.
In front of Spanish director in a Spanish-made film based on a Spanish family are two British
actors taking the roles of young parents Maria and Henry (Enrique in real-life). First, there is Naomi Watts who delivers a very powerful performance as an innocent wife and mother who becomes on the verge of death and must take a large step in order to survive. Watts’ role is not entirely shown in a powerful form through dialogue and chemistry with other actors but particularly during the second half of the film, we saw her emotionally and physically suffering through her eyes and figural expressions. Watts is an underrated actress anyway but her performance as Maria is one of her best to date.
On the other hand, Ewan McGregor portrays Henry (Enrique) who becomes separated from his wife and eldest son following the tsunami. McGregor has always been a Hollywood star but despite that and a few exceptionally great performances, he mostly fails to grasp the realistic touch of his roles. He is more of a supporting actor in The Impossible
as child star Tom Holland (who portrays the eldest son Lucas) overshadows him but when we do see McGregor, he is good enough. As for Tom Holland, yet another child newcomer in the film industry, shines out of nowhere in the role of Lucas. As Watts’ appearance slowly drops whilst McGregor’s increases, Holland literally carries the film and becomes the symbol of innocence and courage behind it all. So, in some ways he is the bigger priority in The Impossible
than the more sophisticated McGregor and Watts.
Despite The Impossible
evidently showed signs of courage within humanity, the film is still gut-retching to watch as it shows the horrors of that shocking, devastating Boxing Day. It has a very similar set-up to Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center
but Juan Antonio Bayona created much more realistic drama through impressive camera movement, editing and managed to capture the heartbreak of the hundreds and thousands who perished through a single story about a civilized family. Nevertheless, ‘the impossible’ becomes fulfilled here and is a dramatic journey that sets up a new benchmark in disaster cinema.
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Posted : 4 months, 1 week ago on 5 February 2013 02:11
(A review of Silver Linings Playbook
Before seeing it, Silver Linings Playbook
has the approach, like your traditional romantic comedy, where it is colourfully filmed and looks to contain a high level of predictability within the plot, mediocre performances from the actors and has nothing to show for it. However, it does not contain elements that forcefully add gross-out gags and sexual references. Based on the debut novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook
is a romantic-drama that does have its elements of dark humour but more importantly, it demonstrates psychological issues within human beings in general. Supported by the sublime direction and script from David O. Russell as well as breath-taking performances from its ensemble cast, Silver Linings Playbook
is a dark but at the same time, light-hearted and hilarious film.
After providing us with The Fighter
in 2010, David O. Russell displays human drama, particularly the psychological bi-polar disorder, in another form of genre and expresses it through the emotional and most tender themes – love and friendship. In addition, Silver Linings Playbook
determines a lot about fate, particularly through the relationship between Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and their emotional connection. In that sense, we get thought-provoking messages about the human mind. It has so much depth, mentally, but the added humour within the film really comes into play. As opposed to intentionally making us laugh out loud like in most comedies, Russell adds the laughter in certain situations (mostly in ones that spark awareness of bi-polar) where the audience occasionally feel bad for laughing. Nevertheless, in almost every aspect, Silver Linings Playbook
becomes another fine achievement from David O. Russell.
Despite Russell’s direction and screenwriting skills are sublime in Silver Linings Playbook
, the film’s strongest field is undoubtedly the acting from its ensemble cast. Each of the characters, particularly the four central ones, illustrates some kind of mental conditions. First, there is Bradley Cooper who literally gives us his breakthrough performance as Pat and becomes an entirely different actor compared to his past roles in comedies. His role in Silver Linings Playbook
does contain the odd moments of humour that he is known for but more importantly, he fills the mental instability of a troubled man looking to change, become a stronger person and try to get his wife back. Similar to fellow Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper cracks out of his shell and goes to new depths as an actor following his performance.
Alongside Bradley Cooper leading the film is Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress at the prime of her career. Most recently recognising her as the innocent girl turned hero from The Hunger Games
, Lawrence becomes a woman in her role as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook
. Tiffany is also troubled who is a widow and has a sexual reputation. Lawrence goes into this character with such strong force where she fits in every physical and emotional feature. She’s incredibly attractive, she’s a rebellious youngster and she has a strong heart. Meanwhile Robert De Niro, without a doubt the most sophisticated actor in the film, delivers without a doubt one of his strongest performances in a long time as Pat Sr. We see signs of psychological disorder in Pat Sr. too and knowing that De Niro has portrayed similar characters throughout his career, nobody could have pulled it off better. Finally, Jacki Weaver is the innocent one in the center of it all as Pat Sr’s wife and Pat Jr’s mother Dolores who also delivers a superb performance.
In many ways, Silver Linings Playbook
has many concepts of human drama and comedy that we saw in Little Miss Sunshine
in 2006 where it goes into the mindset of each character and gives the audience an outcome full of emotions. It is not a psychological drama. It is simply a drama that deals with psychology in other forms of romance and comedy. Silver Linings Playbook
amazingly crafts the romantic sequences at a dramatic and humorous level without it being corny or clichéd. It’s emotionally engaging and progressively leads to teach the audience a few lessons about human psychology. Thus, Silver Linings Playbook
is another incredible film from David O. Russell and is undoubtedly the best film of 2012 in terms of ensemble cast performances.
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Posted : 4 months, 2 weeks ago on 30 January 2013 09:49
(A review of Hitchcock
For decades, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
has been a vital film of study as well as being arguably the original source of modern horror. It was also the first of a 30-year long but remotely pointless franchise and has been remade. However, the story behind the making of how it all began has yet to be made as a cinematic adaptation. Adapted from the non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello, Hitchcock’s memorable work on Psycho
finally comes to the screen for the first time. In the film, we have been expecting to see all the facts based upon the making of Psycho
and to understand the cast and crew as ordinary people. Therefore, it was bound to excite avid film fanatics and as a result of this, Hitchcock
had overwhelmingly high expectations. However, considering that it was fascinating regarding the facts but as a film, it was a disappointment.
As everybody knows, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema but to make a film about him is challenging and perhaps requires an equally sophisticated director to take charge of behind the scenes. The privilege eventually went to Sacha Gervasi, whose only previous experience as director was for documentary Anvil: The Story Of Anvil
. Therefore, he is making Hitchcock
his directorial debut. A heavy weight would be on the shoulders of whoever was chosen to direct Hitchcock
, but Gervasi's lack of experience really got the better of him here. Of course, he tried and his visual interpretations of some facts during that time were convincing but still, the project was too big for newbies in the film industry.
However, the film does not suffer entirely because of direction. The structure of the film is poor. It is a mixture of two central stories – the making of Psycho
and Hitchcock’s own marital problems with his wife. Therefore, it becomes a bio-pic and a romantic-drama that sends the audience in unknown directions and becomes a shamble. Furthermore, why does Hitchcock see and talk to Ed Gein? Psycho
itself is based on a book from a few crimes that Gein committed and many moviegoers should know this by now, but screenwriter John J. McLaughlin adding that sub-plot into the script was pointless and served no meaning. The film clocks in at approximately 90 minutes and because it has mixed stories, it could have lasted for 2 ½ hours in order for it to work. In that sense, it was flat and very rushed.
On the somewhat brighter side of Hitchcock
were the performances. The great Sir Anthony Hopkins puts on a body suit and undergoes complicating make-up procedures to consequently become an almost exact replica of the Master of Suspense. Just like a strong director would be needed to make Hitchcock
, an extremely talented actor is essential when playing Hitchcock himself. In the role, Hopkins expresses the features of Hitchcock through the same facial and figural expressions but in terms of on-screen chemistry between characters, he lacked the bitterness as well as the talent and commitment that Hitchcock put into Psycho
. However, although the film has poor structure, it helped us see Hitchcock as a person, not only as a great filmmaker, through the marital storyline. Still, Hopkins was probably the best choice to play the Master of Suspense and he overall delivers in the role, but he was still a tad shoddy at times. Meanwhile, Dame Helen Mirren delivers a great performance as Hitchcock’s wife Alma. Compared to Hopkins and the majority of supporting actors, Mirren’s portrayal of Alma is perhaps the only one that is considered ‘normal’ and is almost like everybody else who does not have a popular celebrity status among Hollywood. Still, Mirren’s performance is impressive despite portraying an highly repetitive character type.
Furthermore, the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh was an unusual but at the same time, curious decision. Of course, Johansson was a beautiful choice when portraying the beauty of Leigh, but in terms of performance, it was literally like she was playing herself and expressing her sex symbol reputation, not performing as a talented actress going into arguably the greatest thriller of all time. Therefore, she did not entirely fit into Janet Leigh’s character. However, James D’Arcy is without a doubt the most accurate performer of the entire film as he was absolutely marvelous as Anthony Perkins. Although, he does not get much screen time, D’Arcy almost brings Perkins back to life with his timid and shy mannerisms. He even performs as Norman Bates on occasions through these sensitive ways that Perkins possessed. Jessica Biel makes a decent supporting appearance too as Vera Miles.
As previously established, Hitchcock
is a large project that has many trails behind it and has so much going for it. It may have been challenging to pull off but it still had the potential to be a truly great film, but unfortunately it became rather dull that progressively reached a flat end. Admittedly, audiences can become over-psyched with this and expect it to be as superb as how Alfred Hitchcock himself would film it, but for that reason, the film should have been placed in the hands of a more experienced director and screenwriter. Nevertheless, despite that Hitchcock
provided enough facts to keep the audience interested and most of the acting was a hit, it was still a let-down and, thus, did not become the great film that it could and should have been.
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