Lucy

August 25, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Another Scarlett Johansson film, it must be a science fiction film. I went to see Lucy the other day.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

It is very much a Luc Besson film: slick fight choreography (Matrix/martial arts); crazy car sequences (Lucy drives the wrong way through Paris -at speed); rough unshaven cops; slick bad guys; and tight shots.

Johansson’s performance holds the film together and in many ways up. She plays Lucy – the ‘heroine’. The film starts in Taiwan and Lucy through a dodgy boyfriend ends up being offered a ‘can’t refuse deal’ from the Korean Mafia. Why Lucy is studying in Taiwan is never explained, and therefore that part of the back story unbelievable.

Lucy becomes a reluctant drug mule – this film can’t do good things for tourism in Asia. Her new business associates inexplicably detain her and beat her so badly the drug sachet inside her body ruptures and releases a massive does of some new tailored recreational drug into her system, and as it shows in the trailers, she starts accessing all of her brain – not just the 10% attributed to folklore. Lucy moves from party girl with interesting past issues to driven superior being.

Morgan Freeman plays the role of a neurologist – who is used to introduce some nice natural photography shots and explain brain pseudo-science to the films audience. Its quite a clever way to explain what purportedly happens if we used all of our brains.

Thats all really, there are some nice CGI of cell division, some kick-ass gun battles and there is a not too surprising end.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 24, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw this the other day and was quite surprised by its depth and political commentary.

Warning: Plot details discussed.

Steve Rogers, Captain America (Chris Evans), is back; and he is having second thoughts. SHIELD is about to deploy a surveillance and anti-terrorist system with global reach – any terrorist can be located (by their DNA!) and killed (with a precise collateral free hyper round). Steve has the old “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” question running through is head, and he isn’t comfortable.

Of course Steve’s concerns are borne out and he has to save the world – again! An old enemy re-emerges for a second attempt at world domination. Natasha Romanoff, The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), is there to co-save – not even Captain America can be in two places at once.

Robert Redford makes a surprise appearance; and Samuel L. Jackson provides some continuity from the first film.

The action sequences are really good, the graphics great, the plot is rich and the deeper questions are there if you want. What do you do if the ‘wrong’ people take control of your overwatch system? Not very much! Better not to set up one in the first place. Transparency, not secrecy, is the watchword.

Evans and Johansson do a really good job of being action heros (true to their characters’ comic book origins), yet portraying lots of inner personal and moral dilemmas. Johansson gets to show off her physical and acting versatility. She really owns the Black Widow role – Finn/Hiller/John were spot on when they cast her for the role.

Worth ago.

The Hunger Games: Catching the Fire

December 18, 2013 at 8:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Jennifer Lawrence :: Katniss Everdeen; Josh Hutcherson :: Peeta Mellark; Woody Harrelson :: Haymitch Abernathy; and Donald Sutherland :: President Snow are re-united for another view of life in a possible future North America (Pan-Am).

Sutherland does a great villain.

Lawrence is once more the conflicted reluctant role model; part of the conflict is what is she suppose to be modeling.

Some time in the past, the Capital won some kind of conflict with the other Districts, and has occupied them ever since with ‘peace keepers’. The Games are a tool of oppression and distraction. For a while I could not think of the Olympics as ‘just the Olympics’.

I found the second film in the series depressing.

As an indictment of 20% of the world enjoy 80% of the world’s resources – it is really in your face.

Once you suspend disbelief and enter the world of the movie, you are horrified that they have access to amazing nano-technology (and who knows what other ‘magic’), that you wonder how their world can be so set up so inequitably. A high level of technical advancement does not mean a high level of ethical and moral advancement.

Skyfall

November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Skyfall the other day. This film completes the Daniel Craig re-boot of James Bond. By the end film key characters will be in-place for the next era of Bond.

Spoiler Warning – plot elements revealed.

The film fills in the missing back story of Bond’s childhood.

There is a new Q: John Cleese is a bit long in the tooth to provide a stable part of the Bond universe; instead Ben Whishaw is set up for the role – possible for life!

There is a new Moneypenny.

There is a new menace – Silva – played by Javier Bardem; he is from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past, out to repay a betrayal. He is a new kind of villain: able to mix it with the physical stuff and a bit of a cyber wizard. As it turns out a very deadly combination.

There is a short romantic interest – played by very Eurasian looking Bérénice Marlohe.

Despite the cyber-terrorism theme, Bond returns to the basics: Q issues him with a gun and a radio. Gone are the gadgets of the past. Even, the Aston Martin DB5 makes a welcome return. There is a quiet question that hangs through the film: are the old values and approaches appropriate in the new world?

It is a Daniel Craig James bond, so it is gritty.

Hopefully no komodo dragon were hurt in the making of this movie.

Battleship

April 25, 2012 at 9:38 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Battleship this afternoon.

It was a little predictable, but it held my attention: alien scouting force isolates Hawaii and must be ‘dis-armed’ before they can establish two-way communication with follow-on forces. The main characters are: Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), Sam(antha) Shane (Brooklyn Decker), Petty Officer Raikes (Rihanna), Captain Yugi Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), and Chief Petty Officer Lynch (John Tui). Decker looks so much like Charlize Theron!

Hopper must step-up and get the job done when everyone above him in the chain-of-command is either killed or rendered in-communicado. Nagato is the one who end s up playing ‘battleships’ with harpoons. Lynch is the father figure who must put some backbone in a young officer. Aside from Nagata, it is very formulaic. There is even a football match!

If the publicity material had not pointed out that Raikes was played by popular singer Rihanna in her first movie role, I would not have noticed. Rihanna played the part really well. She does stern and determined very well.

It was an awesome sight to see the USS Missouri – the ‘Mighty Mo’- underway and (apparently) firing broadsides.

The Expendables

September 6, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | 1 Comment
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This is a film that I have to see – in the same way that I ‘have to’ see James Bond films, Star Trek films, and Seven Samuri Films.

It has: Slyvester Stalone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger! Like the dream team !! The contract negotiations must be worthy of an academy award !!! All those stars and only 113 minutes !!!!

It looks like a Seven Samuri / Guns of the Magnificant 7 re-work – there is even a guy who throws knives (Jet Li ?). A bunch of mercenaries who apparently agree to fight for free – for a good cause, and because the head guys asks.

A ‘must see’.

Knight and Day

February 8, 2010 at 1:29 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | Leave a comment
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Prior to the screening of Avatar, the following trailer registered with me.

Feb 7, 2010 by Film_Trailer_Hanger

This action thriller stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

It looks like Collateral meets The Scarecrow and Mrs King meets Bird on a Wire – with Cameron Diaz in the Kate Jackson / Goldie Hawn character.

Lots of apparent action and Tom Cruise quietly sending himself up.

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Probably good for a rainy day.

Terminator Salvation

June 15, 2009 at 1:02 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I had a spare three hours so I went to see the latest Terminator movie. Warning: plot elements revealed.

June 12, 2009 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

I found Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles kind of interesting, so I thought “give it a go.”

Christian Bale gets to play the first adult potrayal of John Connor. I found the rest of the rest of the cast looked like the cast from The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Marcus (Sam Worthington) for Derek (Brian Austin Green); Blair (Moon Bloodgood) for Cameron (Summer Glau) and Kyle (Anton Yelchin) for John Connor (Thomas Dekker ). Nice to see Yelchin showing some versatility (vis-a-vis playing the part of Chekov in Star Trek.

It is an action movie. It is loud and violent, and maybe a little formula-ish. John has to save his future father without revealing too much to those around him. Still, it pays homage to the earlier Terminator movies in a number of places; there is even a ‘tip of the hat’ to Arnold Schwarzenegger

The film stay consistent with the previous Terminator movies. It fills in some of the missing pieces; and does not try to re-invent things.

I have two questions: (i) was that really Arnie in the final confrontation? (ii) John knows that Skynet will one day produce human tissue covered terminators, so why is he so surprised?

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Casino Royale

February 3, 2009 at 1:21 am | Posted in DVD Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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Having watched the sequel, first, I managed to get hold of Casino Royale and finally see the introduction of Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Warning: plot elements revealed

January 31, 2009 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

I was disappointed, I felt the major tension builder – the card game was badly handled. The result was that the film was a like one of the old Bob-Hope-and-Bing-Crosby Road-film; only no humour – just action and thuggery. The action scenes were very well done – John Woo has had a big impact in terms of raising the bar in this area. The run up a crane-arm chase segment is so amazing that it is totally unbelievable – the athleticism and skill required reduces the action scenes to choreography for gymnasts. It was like watching the Cirque de Soleil!

The film introduces us to Bond and explains the way he is, but that is useful only if you have seen most of the other Bond films. Otherwise, there are these odd moments when the film seems to pause, before moving on for no reason – the Aston Martin, the Martini, the dinner jacket, and so on.

I read the book when I was younger, and this turned out to be a drawback. Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green), in the book, works for M16. The concept of sending a Treasury official along to handle the money side of things is so contrived as to be implausible, and against printed reality that I momentarily dropped out of ‘sit back and enjoy’ mode.

Also, in the book, Le Chiffre (ably played by Mads Mikkelsen) plays baccarat – not Texas Holdem. The protracted poker game just did not build and hold tension. I felt the game was pretty much ignored and the audience was expected to take it all on trust.

The film is has a very fast pace, and feels like one long chase. There is no end as such, because the film is just part one, and transitions smoothly into part two – Quantum of Solace.

Daniel Craig play Bond very well; I never believed that spies lived the high life and occassional shot someone. Craig’s bond is gritty; he runs, gets wounds bigger than will be covered by a bandaid, gets dirty – much more believeable.

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Quantum of Solace

January 6, 2009 at 12:24 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Even though I had not seen the prequel – Casino Royale, I had a spare two hours, so I went to see Marc Forster’s take on James Bond: Quantum of Solace.

Warning: plot elements revealed

December 30, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This film is advertised as picking up exactly where Casino Royale left off, so I wasn’t surprised when the film starts with a car chase – but then again it is not an uncommon way to start a movie these days. Bond (Daniel Craig) is back in an Aston Martin being chased by two black Alfa Romeos – bullets fly, the police get involved, cars crash, Bond gets away.

The surprise is that there is someone in the boot; the bad guys were after Bond’s captive. But before MI6 can interrogate the captive, a mole within MI6 takes out the interrogation team and security team, and almost kills M (Judi Dench).

And so this recreation of James Bond shows us – the audience – a glimpse of the recreated Smersh. Much of the film is used to develop the concept that there is a global conspiracy – MI6’s has a ‘new’ nemesis – Quantum.

Revenge is the theme of this film. Bond encounters Camille (Oleg Kurylenko) a young women scarred physically and mentally, out to avenge the brutal murder of her family. Bond is out to revenge the deaths of: Vesper, killed in Casino Royale; Fields (Gemma Arterton), killed to frame Bond; and Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), killed to frame Bond. Inevitably Bond and Camille pair up – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Fields’ death is quite unpleasant, drowned in crude oil, and appears to be Forster’s tip-of-the-hat to Goldfinger. Fields is found naked, covered in oil, on a bed; very remanisant of Jill Masterton (Shirley Eaton) painted in gold.

The film is has a very fast pace, and feels like one long chase. The end has the inevitable showdown in the desert, with bullets and bodies flying. The very end shows that Bond has not been consumed by his need for revenge, or perhaps that there are other ways to get revenge, than just killing someone.

Daniel Craig certainly brings a hard edge to Bond.

I thought the ‘bodies in the sand’ lead in, at the beginning of the film, very innovative and very relevant – Quantum are out to corner all of the water in Bolivia.

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