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.


Olympus Has Fallen

April 21, 2013 at 10:13 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Olympus has Fallen is strictly a boys’ movie.

Plot discussed – in some detail

Once Ashley Judd’s character dies in the opening minutes – never to be seen again – the film revolves around Gerard Butler (Mike Manning), Aaron Eckhart (The President), and Rick Yune (Kang). Kang – a North Korean – is the bad guy; The President is the ‘game token’ – held for long periods by Kang, but as in most games, it is who hold the token at the end who determines who wins; Manning is a Secret Service Agent – on a self-tasked with getting the token back.

The film is like a tribute to the early Die Hard movies. One man trapped in a building – the White House – with terrorists; will he have enough ammunition? will he have enough time, before his superiors negotiate away everything.

The film works through a scenario where enough ‘red’ forces overwhelm the White House Secret Service Detail and take it over and hold the President hostage. In reality, I hope that the White House has more internal defenses than shown, and that the Secret Service Detail have better tactical awareness – still it is a movie, and hopefully make believe. Once the terrorist hold the White House, they start torturing the nuclear fail-safe codes from the President, Vice-President and Secretary of Defense.

Manning is in the right place – inside the White House – to remove the terrorist one by one. In the end, all it needs is one man on the spot prepared to do whatever is needed – even if he has to wade through a stack of bodies and ditch his morals. There is a reason why this is an R16.

Morgan Freeman makes an appearance as the Speaker for the House, and second in the succession, so ends up negotiating with the terrorists. One in accuracy: he is never sworn in.

The film comes out at a time when tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising, so that it is a bit more relevant.

I was disappointed that Ashley Judd got so little time on screen.


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.

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.


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.

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