Oblivion

April 18, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see Oblivion the other day, and was pleasantly entertained: part thriller and part action movie, with nice inverting plot twist. I did think the last two minutes detracted from the film’s overall impact.

Plot details revealed.

Tom Cruise is Jack – a post-war drone repair man. The film is set in a post human-alien war setting. It sounds a bit preposterous, but is what provides the plot device through which the film’s plot is explored. The drones are like the zeroids from Terrahawks on steroids! The drones are heavily armoured, fly, and have quadruple ‘auto-cannon’. They protect massive energy extraction plants that suck up seawater.

Andrea Riseborough plays Victoria – Jack’s partner in all ways; she is his com-tech, local controller, and life partner. I felt she had the most challenging role.

Olga Kurylenko plays Julia, an astronaut and someone from Jack’s past.

Morgan Freeman puts in an appearance as a resistance leader.

The film explores some big issues: orders over feeling; eternal love; karma. Jack wants to do what is right; Victoria wants to do her (apparent) duty. Why does Jack have memories of Julia? Is the war really over? as the film progresses, this last question keeps coming up.

The film has some breathtaking scenery – best seen in a movie theatre.

Looper

October 14, 2012 at 9:17 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Time travel science fiction movie – with a better than usual plot.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play ‘Joe’ a hit-man with a difference: Gordon-Levitt is the young Joe who must kill his older self, played by Willis.

The premise is that in the future forensic science is so good that given a body the killer can be identified – so you send the person back in time and they are killed there.

The film is all about how Joe ends up not killing his older self, and avoid even worse excesses.

Jeff Daniels is an improbable mob king-pin.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

August 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I finally managed to squeeze three hours out of my schedule to see this – I am glad to say that I was no disappointed. Spoiler warning: plot details revealed.

Despite being 165 minutes long, the time passed easily. As someone who has read Batman (and related) comics for the last 45 years, I was very comfortable with this film. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have left the characters as they currently reside in the DC Comic universe.

Christopher Nolan has done a good job of closing out the Dark Knight series. Christian Bale makes a good fist of Batman. It is an increasingly hard role to play: he must be the fourth or fifth actor in the role (including TV). Bale/Batman wrestles with his inner demons, as he wrestles with those that walk in Gotham City. Anne Hathaway is the surprise casting as Selina/Catwoman: she is able to shake off her ‘nice girl’ image, and be the cat burglar trying to shake off a twisted past. At times she steals the film.

Michael Caine (Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (guy with the cool toys) provide a bit of continuity from previous Batman films.

Marion Cotillard, as Miranda, is classy and exotic, and the surprise package at the end.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the future Robin tidies up one of the loose threads – with Batman gone, who will protect Gotham?

I liked the use of Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace to link Batman/Bruce’s origins to Bruce finally finding peace.

My only disappointment was the final scene removed any doubt: instead of Alfred and Bruce nodding to each other across the restaurant, with Selina facing away from Alfred; I would have had Alfred and Selina nodding to each other, with Bruce facing away from Alfred – leaving a little mystery.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

December 31, 2011 at 3:59 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see Tintin the other day. The Tintin graphic novels were one of the first comics I read, and I was curious to see how Tintin would translate to the big screen. Given the choice, I saw the 2D version; because to me comics/cartoons are a 2D thing.

The film is probably one massive piece of computer generated imagery – either from scratch, or a partial ‘degrading’ of real world imagery. In some sequences, the actors arms and bodies can be seen.

I found the nearly-real – ‘degraded’ – visual affect irritating. I prefer real world imagery (even if it is all computer generated) or a pure cartoon style.

The two characters I liked the most were: Snowy (Tintin’s dog) and Sakharine (the baddy). Snowy is the most intelligent and sensible character – but no one listens to him because he is a dog and chases cats. Sakharine steals the show from Tintin and Captain Haddock, through having a richer story and better lines – or maybe due to Daniel Craig’s voice performance.

Not surprisingly the film had a Indiana Jones feel to it – Steven Spielberg was the director. The film reserves the slapstick humor from the books – but in a way that I found corny.

The film clearly combines elements from: The Secret of the the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Curiously Bianca Castafiore, who does not appear in either book, appears in the film as a plot device to shatter bullet proof glass.

The pirate fighting scenes are the best.

RED

November 22, 2010 at 12:35 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see the film RED the other day. RED turns out to stand for: Retired Extremely Dangerous.

The main charaters are played by some very accomplished actors: Bruce Willis, Mary-Lousie Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Ernest Borgnine. It is a pleasure to see them working hard at producing such polished charaterisations of 2-dimensional characters. The comic book origins have not been directed out and it is great to see the actors gently parody themselves.

It looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. The gratuitous use of automatic weapons seems to have particularly fired up Helen Miriam’s character; or was Miriam fired up?

The plots is a little convoluted and contrived – as fitting a dark comic story revolving around retired CIA assassins. At its core, it is a ‘putting the band back together’ movie. Retirement sits heavily on the old killers and they all welcome a chance to relive their youth (and kill again).

Helen Miriam is perfect wearing a white fur coat and carrying a sniper rifle as comfortably as one’s favourite formidable aunt might carry gardening shears.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, the former number one assasin at the CIA, who is so bored with retirement that he strikes up a chance connection with some one in the US government pensions department. Sarah Ross is ably played by Sarah-Louise Parker, a capable women who has been forced by the vagarities of a unrewarding life to travel only through spy thriller-bodice-rippers. Director , Robert Schwentke, shows restraint with the Anne character – in that she does not transform into another violent character (in a movie populated by violent characters).

John Malkovich, plays the nutty character: “11 years of mind control experiments”, “I don’t like to spend too much time in the open – satelites”. He is great.

It all ends well – for the ‘band’. As with movies of this genre, it ends badly for the bad-guys !

Could this be some kind of handing over of the torch moment? Karl Urban plays William Cooper – the CIA’s current number one assassin. Inevitably Moses and Cooper go head-to-head; Cooper is good, but Moses still has it (just). But does this mean that Urban will star in a series of action thrillers that cement his place in movie history?

Good to see Borgnine get an outing – to be honest I though he had passed away. He has a small role playing the part of a CIA records keeper, buried in a secret vault.

Salt

September 6, 2010 at 8:18 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see Salt the other day.

There was an efficient introduction of the main characters, and then into it: someone is ‘outted’, a series of amazing chase and action scenes. Angelina Jolie plays a hard women – physically gifted, intelligent and mentally tough – oh so tough. Jolie’s character survives Korean prisons, living undercover, betrayal, and lots of physical punishment. There is the usual surprise finish.

Liev Schreiber fills out the cast – it all revolves around the two of them.

If you have never seen a women jump onto a moving truck; there is one chase you have to see. Oh, there is a very high body count.

A must see for Angelina fans.

Knight and Day

August 31, 2010 at 1:34 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Knight and Day. It is smooth as you would expect from a Tom Cruise movies.

The plot is a little complicated: is Cruise the rogue agent bent on exploiting an amazing new battery (and the unworldy genius behind it)? or is he out to save the world from the true rogue agent? Cruise works for the FBI and Cameron Diaz is an innocent by-stander who gets caught up with his attempts to straighten things out.

A running gag is Cruise continually puts Diaz under – to save her nerves and her life.

Tom Cruise quietly sending himself up, and some comparisons with Mission Impossible 3 and James Bond: Die Another Day are inevitable.

Harry Brown

August 26, 2010 at 4:51 am | Posted in Film Review | 2 Comments
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I went to see Harry Brown: it looked interesting (revenge, decline of civilisation) and it had Michael Caine in it.

This film is grim and raw; some of the characterisations are just scary – Sean Harris, as Stretch, deserves an award for most scary and convincing drugged-out-gunrunner.

The action all takes place on a housing estate; history may well record that one of the origins of the decline of British social values was the post-war housing estates. Just as Caine is no longer Alfie; Britain is not little villages in a green and pleasant land.

Harry, a former Royal Marine, highly decorated, with no surviving family, decides to avenge the murder of his friend Len – played by David Bradley. Harry is driven to this because the police and justice system seem powerless to give Len justice. The police’s attempt to clamp down on the gang results in a riot that the police only just manage to contain. During the riot Harry finds and confronts the kingpin running most of the crime on the estate.

This film is so well made, the performances so good, that I felt unwell afterwards.

Pour Elle

May 6, 2010 at 12:59 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Contains: plot details

I went to this the other day and was quite surprised: I believed that a mild mannered man could do violent things for one he loves; Diane Kruger looks like Natalie Portman’s older sister; and sub-titles become invisible after awhile.

Pour Elle is a French film directed and written by Fred CavayĆ©. Kruger, even though her character (Lisa) is the elle of the film spends most of it off camera – she is in prison for murder. And slowly going out of her mind. Her husband (Julien) – played by Vincent Linden – is desparate to get her out. Having exhausted all legal avenues of appeal, he decides to take matters into his own hands. We see what a man of reasonable intelligence and determination is capable of.

It is all very French and gritty. Somehow more believable than an America movie.

There is violence; many laws are broken – though only a few moral ones. How does a man break his wife out of a medium security prison and then fly off with her and his young son? Avoiding police drag-nets and their photos being posted at all airports and sea port? With lots of money, lots of planning, calm execution, and a little bit of luck.

The big takeaway, is that if you ever find your carpark obstructed by a fire extinquisher -don’t immediately pick it up ! Walk around your car and other cars, and look for a body.

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