Lists  Reviews  Images  Update feed
MoviesTV ShowsMusicBooksGamesDVDs/Blu-RayPeopleArt & DesignPlacesWeb TV & PodcastsToys & CollectiblesComic Book SeriesBeautyAnimals   View more categories »
Listal logo
All reviews - Movies (672) - TV Shows (4)

A depressing musical with energetic passion.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 20 January 2013 02:49 (A review of Les Misérables)

To adapt a stage musical, an extremely popular one at that, onto the big screen requires a tremendous amount of determination, co-ordination and most importantly, a high level of knowledge. For director Tom Hooper and co to produce Les Misérables from the play is no easy task, especially when not only trying to be as faithful as possible to the original source but at the same time, to make a few steps away from it. Many stage musical adaptations have worked in the past, particularly in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, because they managed to grasp both a staged and cinematic atmosphere onto the screen. Thankfully the same can be said for Les Misérables but it still has weak links.

Following his Oscar winning success for The King's Speech, Tom Hooper took charge of behind the camera and once again, provides sublime direction. The stage play and Victor Hugo's novel has depression written all over it and there is so much negativity. However, along with practically every song in Les Misérables, Hooper created a great deal of passion. With this in mind, the songs became a way for each of the characters to entirely expose their inner selves and added such strong energy from within. However, Les Misérables is structured into three different stages and at times, it slightly lost a little steam. With the story being so broad and especially the 2 ½ hour duration, you eventually grow out of the songs and the story occasionally aims nowhere. The first two acts were rushed but the third one was slow. Still, Les Misérables needed to provide something more thought-provoking to the audience other than making them weep and listen to songs; and it did that admirably.

To cast actors in a feature without them being a solution for profitable advantage is difficult, especially when this one is based on such a popular musical. Also, the ability of passionate singing has to count for something. Still, Hugh Jackman cracked out of his shell and delivered a genuinely heartfelt performance as Jean Valjean. We see this character in three different stages of his life – as an imprisoned thief, a wealthy factory owner and a caring guardian. This guy suffers throughout the majority of the film and through Jackman's surprisingly impressive, energetic singing; we can emotionally connect to Valjean through these moments of his life. Jackman has always been a strong leading performer and once again, he did just that. Furthermore, Russell Crowe has received mixed responses not only regarding his singing abilities but his general performance in Les Misérables. Although he expressed signs of inner passion within police inspector Javert through singing, he was perhaps miscast for the role. He was not quite as despicable or as cruel that he should have been. Don't forget, this is the guy who played Maximus, Robin Hood, Jim Braddock and is about to play Jor-El and Noah! He is a great actor but he has 'hero' all over him. Therefore, his antagonist role in Les Misérables did not entirely work.

Meanwhile, Amanda Seyfried's performance as Fantine's child Cosette was somewhat flat. Seyfried may have had the physical attributes of Cosette but acting-wise, like Jayne Wisener in Sweeney Todd, she was not a very convincing central character and she mostly failed to grasp the emotional depth to her performance. Despite this, her singing was decent enough. The same can be said Eddie Redmayne too. He may have succeeded as a singer but he was also miscast in the film as he lacked the sophisticating charm of Marius Pontmercy and failed to grasp a realistic emotional connection between him and Seyfried as Cosette. However, Samantha Barks becomes easily the best of the youngsters as Éponine, a teenage girl madly in love with Marius. This character and performance from Barks becomes what Seyfried should have been.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen became the more eccentric additions to the cast as the Thénardiers, two housekeepers who are the parents of Épione and serve as Cosette’s temporary guardians. Together Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen provided a little comical humor and added more sophistication from a past musical adapted from a play (Sweeney Todd). Nevertheless, the obvious stand-out of Les Misérables is Anne Hathaway, who delivers the performance of her career as Fantine, a young factory worker turned prostitute. This character summarizes the entire film’s heart-breaking and emotionally shattering tone as we see this desperate young woman trying to support her child but results in despair and tragedy. Hathaway will steal and then break your heart to pieces, especially when she sings "I Dreamed A Dream". She deserves an Academy Award for that song alone!

Although Les Misérables is not strictly a historical film, it does have certain set-pieces of the past behind it. It worked perfectly for Tom Hooper in The King’s Speech and once again, grasping a historical atmosphere miraculously worked for him in this musical. Depending on what they’re hoping for, fans of the stage play (or even Victor Hugo’s novel) should be at least satisfied with Hooper’s adaptation of the tale. Nevertheless, this film adaptation has a few problems with acting and pacing but it still expresses a deal of depression and misery in a form of energetic passion and, thus, becomes a well-accomplished and gifted musical.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

The most thought-provoking film of 2012.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 18 January 2013 12:32 (A review of Amour)

From Michael Haneke, the director of critically acclaimed European hit The White Ribbon in 2009, comes a heart-breaking drama that teaches the audience about the power of love and gives them an in-sight to life when reaching the period of old age. The French title 'Amour' simply translates 'love' into English, which immediately indicates to the viewers what the central theme is as well as what type of story and characters we will be seeing. In that sense, the romance and love within the film is told in a deep, profound form of both beauty and tragedy. Therefore, Amour is a beautifully heart-breaking drama that explores love more than most romantic films and is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking flick of 2012.

To give the film a modern and perhaps more realistic tone, Amour is structured a lot like a documentary where it focuses only on the two central characters inside their home and is filmed with slow camera movement, long takes and the absence of music. In Amour, there is no outside world so we are literally trapped inside this flat to experience the trauma for ourselves. Haneke's purpose of making such a film is to spark a message about love itself and it is portrayed in many ways through feelings and actions. Haneke creates emotion through dialogue in his superb script but more importantly, he displays physical affection between Georges and Anne and we even get a moment where we learn about their sex life. Although it is very briefly discussed during the film, sex still plays an important part that keeps the love alive between Anne and Georges. It is taught as an action of love, not just for purposes of pleasure and offspring.

Amour is told through the eyes of this elderly couple and because it is such a closed-in and personal film, Georges and Anne are represented as the elderly man and the elderly woman. With this in mind and being a film about love as well as illness and death, the roles of Georges and Anne would require a duo of aging actors with strong stomachs. Jean-Louis Trintignant portrays Georges with a fantastic performance that symbolizes the experience of witnessing emotional pain and grief. Although we can emotionally relate to his distress and heartbreak, we also see Georges as a very dangerous individual through events of frustration, anger and even a shocking, unexpected moment. Still, Trintignant is absolutely fantastic in the role and he grasps the emotional depth of Georges to help us emotionally relate to him.

In an even braver move, Emmanuelle Riva takes on the role of illness victim Anne. After suffering from strokes, Anne is gradually getting worse and is literally in the twilight of her life throughout the whole film. In some ways, Anne is not a character from a film. There are so many elderly women in the world with similar conditions to this character and because Riva's performance was so strong in Haneke's documentary-like style, she’s almost completely separated from an on-screen role. Therefore, Haneke grasps that realistic feeling to create a message and Riva literally defines a struggling elderly lady. Amour certainly does illustrate the depression sadness of illness and death, but its two leading characters display the beauty of life. It isn't only because of their daughter and the screenshots that Haneke uses which displays this, but Anna and Georges have been together almost all of their lives and they have worked together all their lives. This helps the audience imagine their life together as they have got to stage of elderly life.

Compared to many films today, Amour has a relatively low budget at only 7 million euros but in that sense, Haneke's latest film has taught us that not all high-budgeted features symbolize cinematic greatness. We did not need to see any mind-blowing technical production or spine-chilling music in a film like this but in terms of characters, performances, direction and writing, Amour is a piece of cinema treasure. It sends you on a journey of psychological drama filled with depression about illness and death which will make you cry yet the film gradually sends a moral, thought-provoking message about the overwhelming power of love and the beauty of life.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A beautifully crafted but poorly structured film.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 13 January 2013 01:07 (A review of Cloud Atlas)

With Cloud Atlas featuring some kind of philosophical purpose within its six different stories along with an impressive ensemble cast, the direction from Andy and Lana Wachowski and clocking at almost 3 hours, it seemed to have ‘epic’ all over it. However, in the end to call Cloud Atlas an ‘epic’ film is perhaps an overstatement as it does not quite achieve the potential that it has made out to appear. Of course, the film succeeds on the technical side of things and is a visual delight, but that was already to be expected of it. On the other hand, when it comes to the writing, direction and acting, Cloud Atlas is a disappointment.

Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is the latest feature from the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix trilogy) who have another associate behind the camera: Tom Tykwer, director of The International and Perfume: The Story Of A Murder. While Cloud Atlas succeeds admirably with make-up, costume design, visual effects etc, the film’s major problem is structure. We still see the same six stories in the film that are in the original novel but the Wachowskis and Tykwer tell them in a shambled order where certain moments within one story are unexpectedly cut to another. This is not only confusing for the audience but also annoying. Furthermore, the stories are set in all different stages displaying many walks of life. So, the film could have worked much better if it was structured in either a chronological order or in a way where one particular moment of a story ends to begin another. The Wachowskis and Tykwer can do better than this but they could have done worse.

Like many films, the ensemble cast is one of the major stand-outs that hold them together. However, it always depends on whether they deliver in terms of performance. Although he is not declared the leading actor in the film, Tom Hanks is perhaps the one who makes the tallest stand as he, as well as the majority of the cast, portrays at least one character from each story, whether it’s leading, supporting or even cameo. Hanks has been a strong leader in many films and he delivers exceptionally well in his roles with strong heroism and sophistication. In addition to the cast are Halle Berry, who mostly portrayed journalist Luisa Rey, Jim Broadbent mainly as publisher Timothy Cavendish and other actors such as Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy and Hugh Grant.

Whichever way you look at Cloud Atlas, it is simply six decent films mashed into one that has been poorly structured. It could have been following the same as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life in terms of human drama with a philosophical meaning, but the six stories just lacked that moral connection that it needed. Nevertheless, Cloud Atlas is not a bad film seeing as it technically delivers as expected and the performances are solid, but the Wachowski’s and Tykwer were no match for the film that they were going into, which means it should have been directed by a more sophisticated filmmaker.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A breathtaking visual & emotional adventure.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 11 January 2013 08:59 (A review of Life of Pi)

In most recent years, we experience that one hit which embarks us on an unforgettable adventure and will want to continuously revisit. Following in similar footsteps to Avatar and Hugo, the audience are whisked into a magical world that is filled with stunning effects. Visually, you cannot go much higher than what is in Life Of Pi and the film also gifted for the breath-taking experience in 3D and makes it worth every penny. On the other hand, along on this jaw-dropping and eye-popping journey we venture on an emotionally engaging ride that could bring tears to the audience’s eyes. Therefore, director Ang Lee balances the scales of visual magic with thought-provoking drama and results in a piece of cinematic treasure.

Based on the novel of the same name by Yann Martel, Life Of Pi was adapted onto the screen by director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and in his latest feature, we go on an adventure beyond anything he has ever done. Life Of Pi has themes and moral ethics all over it which play a vital part in the film. For example, it has a firm hold on elements of religion. The relationships between the characters are representations of tragedy as well as the beauty and faith that religion beholds. It also shows the goodness in the world and how both mankind and beasts signify this through communication and natural instincts. Life Of Pi is evidently Lee’s greatest visual achievement so far and with his use of restrained emotions trailing behind from his previous films, this is another one of his masterpieces.

In the leading role of Pi is Suraj Sharma who, similar to Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire, takes the audience on his courageous journey from a somewhat poor Asian environment to exposing his inner self. Pi is a character filled with passion and bravery. So, when he survives the shipwreck and is cast out to sea on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, the audience are literally there with him. In Sharma’s remarkable performance, we experience a lot of heartbreak, love, loyalty and at times, suspense. Sharma’s portrayal of Pi is not quite close enough for Academy Award consideration but it is still one of the greatest young star performances of the year. Meanwhile Irrfan Khan, who ironically had a role in Slumdog Millionaire portrayed Pi as an adult who is telling his story to a young writer. Although Sharma’s performance indicates exactly what the experience is like when you’re there, Khan’s portrayal is slightly different and perhaps more thought-provoking as the elder Pi tells the audience of the after-effect and influence it had on his life. Therefore, both actors portrayed the character from two different perspectives and exemplified an important time in one’s life about self-discovery and love from within the heart.

Computer-generated imagery has always been the most ideal gimmick to boost a film’s profits following its release and most of the time; films have delivered only in that area. However, although Life Of Pi certainly does deliver on that visual standard with outstanding CGI effects, the film provides a new meaning and purpose to them. Practically every animal is fully computer-generated but the most important is the Bengal Tiger. This is not just any piece of impressive effects, let alone any tiger. What we have is that this animal has personality and we see this through its body language and facial expressions. It still has its predatory instincts by wanting to kill and eat its prey on the lifeboat, including Pi but at the same time, we can emotionally relate to him, especially after being given the unofficial name of Richard Parker from Pi. Therefore, considering that it is a full CGI character and that it is a tiger, ‘Richard Parker’ is a solid supporting character that creates a firm but unlikely connection between beasts and mankind.

If you observe Life Of Pi at a grand scale, you’ll notice that it delivers the same type of charm and inspiration from the Indian culture as Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, but at a slightly higher scale of emotional warmth. The film may have had an occasionally slow build-up to the shipwreck, but Life Of Pi will make you chuckle, make you feel a balanced mix of joy and heartbreak and will leave you with a huge grin on your face. As far as Academy Awards are concerned, it has a strong chance and it has shown that there is even more to 3D and computer-generated effects than eye candy and a money-grubbing gimmick. Nevertheless, Life Of Pi welcomes all audiences to enter the magic within and provides an unforgettable experience.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Terrifying psychological horror.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 10 January 2013 04:18 (A review of Sinister)

Typically Jason Blum, the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, a more creative horror film, takes the part of producing his latest horror film Sinister. Even before you get into the film, Sinister begins like your traditional Paranormal Activity-like introduction where in a calm and clear environment, an innocent family are moving into a new home unaware that there are dangers ahead and are, therefore, falling into a trap. However, each time we see this very regularly used beginning, we see a new original horror story. In the case of Sinister, it is still commonly based with intense and heart-pounding horror but beside that, it uses another creative method of films and expresses a hint of intelligence behind the world of horror, which does not happen often anymore.

Sinister was directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson, who previously worked on The Exorcism Of Emily Rose in 2005 and more recently the appalling remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. So Derrickson’s work has not been widely received up until Sinister where he focuses on a number of issues at the same time. At a balanced level, he develops the plot and narrows it down to its sinister secrets and revelations as well as making us terrified by what we see on screen. Sinister has its share of violence and hideous physical appearances of some characters but unlike many plots of modern horror, it is disturbing. In fact, it maintains the same level of fright and afterthought as the first Saw film. Judging by the dirty and damp cinematography, the whole murder-mystery case through technology and well, how Sinister in general is structured mixes and creates a connection to Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Therefore, Sinister is a crime-thriller as well as a horror-thriller.

Although he has made some great appearances in a number of films of the years, Ethan Hawke has always been an underrated actor. However, in Sinister he totally carries the horror and psychological disturbances of Ellison - a young father who’s hell-bend on completing his latest work by obsessing over it as well as the on-screen murderous films that he finds. Hawke’s performance was impressive and shines when he creates moments of obsession over the book and his desire to finish it as well as stress of finding the research and the situation he has been placed in. In addition, Ellison’s caring but at the same time frustrated wife Tracy is your typical innocent, helpless woman in a horror film. Although we don’t see a lot of screen time of supporting characters because Hawke carries almost the entire film, Juliet Rylance’s performance as Tracy is also impressive. From the time that we actually see them, the two youngsters Clare Foley and Michael Hall D’Addario are exceptional in their roles too.

Nowadays, horror films have really been about the squirms and laughs of gore as opposed to creating a frightening, suspenseful atmosphere. Although Sinister has moments of violence, it is still an original, smart and terrifying horror film that is perhaps on the same standard of terror as Saw. Furthermore, Sinister is staged in one particular location and there is a sense of entrapment for not only the characters, but for the audience too. Just by seeing the title alone, it immediately indicates what you’ll be in for and it certainly delivered that. Thus, if you like seeing original psychological horrors filled with tension and strain, this is for you.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A heartbreaking and enchanting but flawed tale.

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 4 January 2013 09:24 (A review of Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Beasts Of The Southern Wild is based on the one-act play named Juicy And Delicious by Lucy Alibar, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. To put it simply, the story is told of a six year old girl and the relationship with her unhealthy, ill-tempered father in their poor family home and the problems that come before them. It is a magical tale and is told through forms of the real world that mixes with the prehistoric age. In that sense, the film creates an essence of beauty and represents themes of nature and imagination. On the other hand, the film has its share of raw emotion and tragedy within it. Beasts Of The Southern Wild may have had a few problems regarding what it actually wants to be but despite that, it is still a heart-breaking and thought-provoking film that will keep hold of you from start to finish.

Dramas mixed with fantasy or vice versa are usually represented in either an eccentric world, characters or specific props used within. In the case of Beasts Of The Southern Wild director Benh Zietlin, who is making his directorial debut, plays with it and at times, makes the film feel a little unrealistic. The whole sub-plot, not so much with global weather issues, but adding the appearance of the pre-historic creatures felt a little out of place and did not quite connect with the film’s emotional mood and neither does it create a vital effect on any of the characters. It has worked in films such as Big Fish and Where The Wild Things Are but in Beasts Of The Southern Wild, it seems like the added fantasy genre has been pushed in to make the child protagonist and the entire film a little cuter but the heart-breaking drama shifts that sub-plot aside and illustrates that is serves little purpose. However, judging from the leading character’s avid imagination, the fantasy side of the film was either underused or entirely irrelevant.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild is shot through the eyes of a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy and this character has not only an avid imagination but is quite a bright spark for her age. We see this through not only on-screen performance but through regular narration throughout the film. In the role of Hushpuppy is 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis who is making her acting debut, and what an outstanding start it is. In most films that you see, child actors portray supporting characters and the majority of them are the same popular young stars we see regularly. However, what we have with Wallis’ performance is not only the start of a shining, young star’s acting career but a breakthrough. She totally takes control of the film all by herself and takes the audience on her emotional adventure. Hushpuppy herself is a strong leader and Wallis carries this marvelously well. We see signs of mature intelligence, particularly around her father and when she’s attending to herself independently. On the other hand, we still see a vulnerable, innocent little girl still in the stages of childhood. For all these reasons, Quvenzhané Wallis strongly deserves an Academy Award nomination for Best Leading Actress.

Meanwhile, in the role of Hushpuppy’s father Wink is Dwight Henry, who at an unrevealed age is also making his film acting debut. Wink is a bad-tempered, unhealthy middle-aged man who is arguably an alcoholic and occasionally abusive towards his daughter. However, we see quite a few tender moments between them which indicates that there is love there that has been manipulated by bad health, alcohol and forecast issues. Henry’s performance was not quite as mind-blowing or emotionally engaging as Wallis; not just because she’s a child, but Henry still exemplifies a physically and emotionally troubled father. This duo of newbie actors and their characters create a tender and vulnerable connection and will make the audience grab a couple of tissues.

Dramas are usually presented to intentionally manipulate the audience to make them cry, through particularly music and other sound effects. Beasts Of The Southern Wild certainly has that but because the film is told through the eyes of a little girl, we experience it along the way and feel it all for ourselves. It may have a few issues regarding the fantasy sub-plot, but the drama shows why Beasts Of The Southern Wild has a gift of telling the audience a story through a little girl and takes us on an emotional adventure. Quite frankly, the film is not for the faint-hearted but it is definitely an enchanting motion picture that is gripping from start to finish and is one of the most powerful films of 2012.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Ben Affleck is on a roll!

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 27 December 2012 10:09 (A review of Argo)

As opposed to his mediocre reputation as an actor, Ben Affleck has become a more successful film director following his debut feature Gone Baby Gone in 2007 and more recently The Town in 2010. Next on the agenda is Argo, another thriller set in the complex, political world. However, Affleck provides a sense of genius with Argo as it is not only a thriller about rescuing American captives from Iran, but also about the usefulness and charm of film. Sure, when you look at it that way, the plot is extraordinary but Argo has still got a hint of intelligence behind it. Therefore, Ben Affleck’s latest feature is not only about the complicating world of politics and the creativity of cinema, but also represents themes of bravery and commitment.

Considering his long filmography of mediocre on-screen performances and following only three features as director thus far, we have established Ben Affleck is more gifted when behind the camera. His direction in Argo is sublime! The opening sequence immediately sets up the forthcoming narrative of the film and, therefore, sends the audience into a suspenseful, gripping mood. After a very long and occasionally slow build-up, the nail-biting tension rapidly heats up upon arriving in Iran. In addition, Affleck illustrates the creativity of cinema in a more political way as opposed to a visual representation of the art like we saw in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. With this in mind and being a true story, Argo indicates the complexity of politics and government with the fascination of cinema in a reality form of art.

Let’s face it, Ben Affleck may have had the odd few decent performances throughout his career but he has never truly proved himself worthy as a talented actor. He appeared as the central character in his own film The Town, but Affleck returns as a leading actor as well as director to portray protagonist CIA specialist Tony Mendez. This character is leading the whole idea behind the fake film Argo as well as being the one to enter Iran to rescue the 6 hostages. However, although Affleck sparked as a leader at a satisfactory level, he slightly lacked the heroism and courage that symbolizes the character and what Tony Mendez himself had done.

Meanwhile, the majority of supporting cast in Argo were in roles playing characters that specialize part of film production. First, Alan Arkin portrays producer Lester Siegel in a performance that mixes the occasionally light humour and makes the film, at times, hilarious to watch. This makes Arkin the stand-out of the film and he deserves another opportunity at Oscar glory. Furthermore, John Goodman makes an appearance as make-up artist John Chambers. Goodman who ironically had another role playing a character part of the film industry in 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist, delivers a solid performance that is not quite as brilliant as Arkin’s but is still impressive enough to appreciate.

Argo may look your traditional boring and complex political feature but it is important to note that, alongside cinema, it is a film of creativity and skill. It is a film that can be seen as just plain Hollywood entertainment but Affleck’s marvellous direction proves that there is more to Argo than that. Therefore, it is a remarkable feature from Ben Affleck, who outshines himself by overlapping his gift as a director with his vintage satisfactory performance, and deserves critical acclaim and recognition at the upcoming Academy Awards.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

The 'best' of the series but glad it's over!

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 21 December 2012 09:53 (A review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2)

It is finally here! After four corny and needlessly overhyped predecessors, the finale of the Twilight saga has arrived. Blatantly a move copied from the final novel of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows being split into two films, the last installment of the Twilight franchise wanted to end on a high note and build up anticipation. Still, you can look at the film and believe that it has the exact features of yet another lame addition into the suck-fest franchise. However, it is still the conclusion of a series and it has, reluctantly, been financially successful. So there must have been something going for it. However, although it is perhaps the strongest film in the series, it still suffers heavily from the Twilight curse that put the icing on the cake and, thus, makes the entire franchise overall a complete failure.

The events of Breaking Dawn Part II pick up immediately after Part I with Bella having just given birth to a daughter Renesmee and resulted in her transformation into a vampire. The child becomes the central figure in Part II as the Voltori now want to kill her as an immortal child-vampire is forbidden. In defense of the film, we finally see some threat and it has been a long time coming! In addition, the climatic action sequence was somewhat enjoyable; perhaps the best moment from all five films. However, the term 'epic' does not even come close to Part II. This final installment did not feel like a finale. It was merely another additional story that just drags on and does not conclude anything. It does not leave the audience to feel any excitement or emotion. Furthermore, apart from atrocious performances, the entire Twilight series suffers from pacing. Part II starts off very slow and at least an hour of the film could have been within half of that time. This indicates that Breaking Dawn as a novel could have been one film instead of being two.

Once again, the acting goes completely nowhere and there were not any signs of improvement. We finally see Kristen Stewart in the role of Bella Swan. The character took a few turns following the events of Part I as she now not only a vampire but she is a mother. Therefore, Bella actually has a purpose in Part II other than swooning around Edward again. Considering this, Bella is still very much trapped in herself and becomes neither a young teenage girl nor a grown-up, responsible parent. Quite frankly, Stewart does not blend with motherhood, even on-screen, when she is still only 22 and still has many teenage features. Nevertheless, with the Twilight franchise having drawn to a close, Stewart needs to break out of her comfort zone and take her role selections to a new level.

Like Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson still goes absolutely nowhere as Edward Cullen. He expresses no happiness as he is now a family 'man' and a married one. Out of all three central actors, Pattinson has always been the driest and worst one of them all. He is just there and does not make a romantic or emotional effect. In fact, he becomes the most anti-vampire that he has been so far seeing as Bella does everything that he should. In fact, it is like Bella and Edward are together because they have to be as part of the series. They have not connected at all and it seems they want the franchise to end as much as many viewers do too. On the other hand, Jacob's appearance in this 'finale' was almost irrelevant and hardly served any important purpose at all. In this part, he is Renesmee's awkward protector when she has parents for that and is still sticking his nose in the lives of Edward and Bella. However, to please pre-teens and easily-aroused girls for the final time, Taylor Lautner did take his shirt off (and strip). Nevertheless, it is goodbye to Edward and Jacob – the two guys who become girls.

Despite Breaking Dawn: Part II is perhaps the 'strongest' installment of the entire series and does end on a satisfactory note, it still leaves with the same elements that they have always had. Of course, young girls and pre-teens are going to enjoy this and will be disappointed that it is the final film. Still, for most of us it is a great relief that we will not have to put up with any sparkling vampires and werewolves that sexually arouse their target audience. However, knowing Hollywood as it today regarding remakes, we could be in for another reproduced franchise in the future. Unfortunately, it is possible but if it does happen, now is time to savour the moments in the meantime where Twilight has finally ended.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

This is no ordinary American high school flick.

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 19 December 2012 09:18 (A review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Let’s face it, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower looked like a traditional American high school feature. It has the approach of a teen film that has been repeated too many times. We have been told enough about the struggles of adolescence and have already had the laughs from experiencing them in awkward situations. In addition, the film marks Emma Watson’s first major role since the end of the Harry Potter series, which is clearly a move to boost box office ratings and did not really support the film from being anything new. Therefore, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower initially had a lot going against it. However, to a huge surprise it shifts every American Pie-like aspect aside and becomes a very serious and psychologically engaging feature that takes the behaviour of teenagers to another level.

Anybody can say that a film adaptation will be a disappointment compared to the original novel due to either lack of story, character development or how it is filmed. However, this is not the case with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. For starters, Stephen Chbosky pens and directs the film based on his own novel. This indicates only he knows what he is looking for in the film, especially when it has a flexible plot. The story looks very simple but it contains circumstantial issues of death and posttraumatic stress as well as themes of friendship, passivity and surprisingly, homosexuality. Therefore, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower focuses more on emotional drama and less on gross-out humour.

In the leading role is Logan Lerman as protagonist Charlie, who is a struggling teenager after his best friend’s suicide. Following this and aware of Charlie’s sensitivity, he is a bullying victim and, therefore, has a low amount of friends. The character of Charlie and what he goes through literally sums up the meaning of the film’s title. He is emotionally and socially struggling but after meeting Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), he gradually perks up and blossoms like a flower. Nevertheless, Logan Lerman’s performance is fantastic as he embodied Charlie’s issues through emotions, movements and expressions. For these reasons, he deserves awards and needs to appear in more upcoming projects.

Other young stars in the film include Emma Watson who, like Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman In Black performs in her first major film since Harry Potter. In The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, she portrays young American teenager Sam. This role literally cracks Watson out of her shell as we see her as someone beyond being Hermione Granger where she is a more romantic, sexy and at times, mature young lady. Therefore, Watson’s brilliant performance showed another side to her which proves that she has a future beyond Hogwarts. In addition, after his terrifying but wonderful breakthrough performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin Ezra Miller undergoes a huge transformation in the role of openly homosexual teen Patrick. He is easily the stand-out performer of the trio. Although we see a low amount of humour from Patrick, he is the central character who holds most of the friendships and connections together that we see in the film. This indicates that he, as well as Charlie and Sam, are still trying to maintain the ‘goals’ of adolescence but are exposed as young people with feelings where the audience can emotionally relate to them.

Although The Perks Of Being A Wallflower may appear as an American teen film, it goes completely past that and has resulted in one of the strongest films about adolescence and youth in a very long time. It is still a dark film because of personal issues provided but how it is executed through its themes; the film is also beautiful to watch. Thus, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower replaces the clichéd, gross-out gags with painful realities and progressively serves merely as a pat on the back to young people who suffer from bullying and emotional distress and expresses a message about the importance of friendships, family and love.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Master acting but amateur indication of meaning.

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 17 December 2012 12:44 (A review of The Master)

For the first time since There Will Be Blood in 2007, Paul Thomas Anderson releases only his sixth feature to date. Following critical reception of his past films and being a director of quality over quantity, Anderson's latest film The Master was going to become an immediate lookout for Oscars. However, this is a very different project compared to his past works as it is a film for the audience to just observe and work out for themselves. Therefore The Master is not to everybody's taste. The film may feature absolutely fantastic Oscar-worthy performances from its ensemble cast and at least satisfactory direction from Anderson, but it is still a slight misfire.

Every great director of quality over quantity has made at least one feature for audiences to observe that expresses the world in either a natural or unusual way which usually provides a philosophical meaning. What Anderson wanted the audience to visually look out for in The Master becomes very clear but, unfortunately, it becomes rather bleak and does not become the mesmerizing film that it should have been. To cut it short, the plot follows a war veteran returning home and suffering from post-dramatic stress and alcoholism. It sounds simple and it can be portrayed in a much easier way for audiences to understand but as the film continues, there are moments added that just do not quite adjust and leaves the audiences with almost nothing to reflect on. For example, the whole fictional philosophical movement 'The Cause' did not feel in any way connected to true problems of alcoholism and post-dramatic stress. It becomes a fantasy playing with reality and it does not work.

However, Anderson directs a fantastic group of actors that result in being what makes The Master at least a satisfactory film to endure. First, Joaquin Phoenix makes a triumphant return to acting in the role of struggling war veteran and now alcoholic Freddie Quell. Ironically, Phoenix has had issues with alcohol in the past and in The Master, we see him as beyond an actor playing a character. In that sense, he is expressing to viewers of what his own problems were and how different one can become. In addition, Phoenix exposed the damage that aspects of life can cause, which also includes his clear sexual addiction. That and what Freddie's duties were in the war are undermined by focusing more on his alcoholism and goes into his dysfunctional mindset. Nevertheless, Joaquin Phoenix may have had a distinct advantage going into the role of Freddie but his performance is undoubtedly the strongest feature in The Master. Therefore, he deserves that over-due Academy Award that he has missed out on a number of times.

Among the rest of the cast is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is marking his fifth collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson. He plays Lancaster Dodd, the leader of 'The Cause'. Hoffman plays Dodd with such simplicity yet in a rather subtle manner. As opposed to Freddie, Dodd is a controlled and respected individual. We see this through his calm tone of voice, his well-presented appearance and evidently, being the head of a specific community. However, gradually he slowly becomes angry and emotionally-threatened, particularly during his encounters with Freddie. Amy Adams makes an appearance in The Master too but her character Peggy Dodd does not get enough on-screen time but when we do see her, she indicates the wealth of Lancaster and sees a rather logical relationship between him and Freddie.

It is safe to say that what we see in The Master is not to everybody’s liking and perhaps deserves another viewing to grasp a clearer understanding. It evidently has so much going for it, including elements of religion, philosophy and mankind that could have been analyzed a lot more, but it suffers from a needlessly complex plot which goes down a road and eventually ends nowhere. Therefore, The Master is not the deserved Best Picture candidate that it should have been. However, at the same time in defense of the film, the performances are great and it should not be overlooked either.

0 comments, Reply to this entry