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.

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Tinker Tailor Solder Spy

February 28, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see the film based on the book by John Le Carre and it held my attention. In a world where spy movie means explosions and action, this was a spy movie with a difference.

There is lots of tension created by the skills of the director (Tomas Alfredson) and the actors.

For me the two standout actors were Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.

Gary Oldman is George Smiley, brought back into British Intelligence to find a ‘mole’ at the highest level of the Service. Since the plot revolves around Smiley, the film’s rests solely on his performance. Gary Oldman does an excellent job of bringing the role out of the shadow cast by Sir Alec Guinness – who played the same role in the acclaimed BBC TV series.

Colin Firth is Bill Haydon, a senior member of the Service. Colin Firth puts in a very subtle performance – playing spy who can seduce and charm both sexes.

My only question: Did people really meet and have offices in special rooms that resemble suspended refrigerated shipping containers?

Source Code

May 15, 2011 at 12:45 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Source Code the other day – curious to see how it would handle the central “ground hog day” premise.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens, a US helicopter pilot ‘in Afghanistan’. But who seems to be trapped in a capsule, where the only means of communication is a video link to a mysterious (US Air Force) Captain Goodwin – played by Vera Farma.

The Air Force has some secret project that sends someone’s consciousness backwards in time – Stevens is that someone and Goodwin is his controller. Steven’s mission is to find out the identity of the person who put a bomb on a train. The only catch is that Stevens arrives just eight minutes before the bomb kills everyone on the train (including his ‘host’). But ‘they’ can, and do, send him back as many times as it takes; or until the nuclear bomb, that the train bomber has threaten Chicago with, goes off.

The whole science behind the project is implausible – but the usual suspension of belief gets one through.

Stevens strikes up a relationship with Christina – played by Michelle Monaghan – on the train. Christina is a regular commuter – along with Steven’s host – and Steven eventually falls in love with her.

Stevens must find the identity of the bomber and find a way to save Christina (and all of the people on the train), and spend the rest of his life with Christina. Stevens is very focused on ‘not leaving friends and comrades behind.’ Christina represents something good – someone to spend one’s last moments with (forever).

Goodwin is driven to find the bomber and save Chicago, and she must build a relationship with Stevens to keep him focused on the mission, and along the way they develop a mutual understanding. The film and Goodwin are time constrained as to how to build this relationship, and it ends up with Stevens recalling Hot LZs at night. Farma does a good job in a difficult role.

Stevens dies over and over again, each time he uncovers another clue, or overcomes an obstacle.

As to whether Stevens can save anyone on the train, that depends on whether it is a time machine or a portal to a parallel universe or something else.

Avatar

March 1, 2010 at 12:33 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Went to see the 3-D version of Avatar afew week; I’ve been a bit busy and so have taken a while to write my thoughts up. But, the film has been out for awhile, so I am sure there are many reviews and opinion pieces. Warning: plot elements revealed.

February 7, 2010 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This James Cameron directed film is sure to win many awards for the special effects. The depiction of the Na’vi and their home world – Pandora – is just amazing. The 3 dimensional effects are realistics and never abused.

The storyline has no real surprises: natives sitting on top of valuable mineral deposites, but don’t want to move; man finds the values of the natives more appealing that those of his own; and do the right thing.

Sam Worthington us Jake Sully, a former marine, who is now a paraplegic, who is made an offer he can’t refuse: go off world and work off his twin brother’s contract with the mining company, and earn enough money to be able to afford the expensive medical treatment that will let him walk again. Jake is a must because, only he can operate the avatar grown partly from his twin brother’s DNA.

We see Jake increasing prefer the avatar over his own body: he has the full use of a powerful body adapted for the planet (of Pandora), the natives are noble (and one – Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana – of them likes him), and the humans are either money grubbing capitalists, or violent physcopaths.

So the stage is set for the showdown between doing the right thing and doing the selfish thing.

Sigourney Weaver’s talents are rarely given a workout. It has the feel of an Alien(s) re-union. With Michelle Rodriguez, the one person in the corporation’s security group to be given any moral character, reminding me of Jenette Goldstein!

I was a little disappointed by the storyline: no one sends cavalry against machine guns; if the Na’vi aerial elements could take some of the security helicopters on the first pass – why couldn’t take them all?; what a rediculous name for the ore! I am not convinced that the ore could be mined and transported economically enough to make a profit – there were no signs of planetary lift capability much advanced of our current capabilities. The costs of developing and growing avatars would be massive.

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Last Chance Harvey

May 12, 2009 at 1:10 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Warning: plot elements revealed

Warning: sad and often depressing

May 9, 2009 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This film revolves around two characters: Harvey Shine (played by Dustin Hoffman) and Kate Walker (Emma Thompson). Harvey is someone who appears to have hit the dead-end of a long cul-du-sac. Kate, seems destined for something similar, though not as bad – due only to the fact she never married. This film is an exploration of their respective cul-du-sacs and how they help each other get their lifes moving forward. Not surprisingly, they end up moving forward together.

Harvey seems to being by-passed at work and being by-passed at his only daughter’s wedding. It looks like he will loose his job and his daughter. Little cues signal Harvey’s genearl uncoolness – the suit he brought for the wedding is the wrong colour and still has the anti-theft tag still attached! Dustin Hoffman does a great job making Harvey somone who is a little out of step with everyone and everthing. It is so sad to watch – every scene is flinch material.

Katie, is no so much by-passed by life, as not having really started. She seems to be in a very unglamorous job with no great prospects. Then there is the issue of her mother, coming off cancer and an ugly divorce, who keeps ring her up on the cellphone.

But it all ends well for everyone.

On the tissue box scale this is a one, maybe one-and-a-half, tissue box movie.

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The Spiderwick Chronicles

April 28, 2008 at 3:19 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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April 20, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film apparently combines all five books of the same name by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s.

Three children move to the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, played by Mary-Louise Parker, in the middle of the night. The twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, played by Freddie Highmore, along with their sister Mallory, played by Sarah Bolger, are clearly not keen to be there. The mysterious disappearance of small knick-knacks soon lead to much stranger events – of greater import.

It is very convenient that Mallory is a fencing champion – a fairly ruthless one at that; she is willing to use one of her younger unskilled brothers for practise! Soon she is getting all practise she needs!

It turns out that the house has a secret and dark supernatural forces will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. The children have to defend the house and keep the secret out of the the hands of the dark forces.

The special effects are good and everyone puts in an honest effort. For a children’s film, some quite big issues are covered: the effect divorce has on children; good verses evil; whether the search of knowledge should override commonsense; family loyalty; the use of deadly force.

Overall, the film works, and entertains for its duration; but there were some moments when its flow hiccuped or skipped – perhaps the need to put five books into one movie put a strain on things. I also kept thinking ‘Weeds’ when Mary-Louise Parker appeared – the two roles were too similar. Still, worth the price of admission.

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