Reviews written by registered user
|41 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have been foaming at the mouth, waiting very impatiently for the
release of this movie. Like most here, I am an avid Tolkien fan. It's
hard to sometimes separate the fiction from fact when I feel like I
know these characters as well as I know myself.
Peter Jackson has proved with LoTR that he knows Tolkien's work intimately and he treated the material with care and love, labouring over details, producing a masterpiece and additional materials that really is every fangirl's (or boys) dream.
I went into The Hobbit with very little idea apart from knowledge of the book and who had been cast in some of the lead roles. This was on purpose. I really didn't want to spoil anything for myself, and I wanted to invariably avoid anyone else's opinion on what the movie SHOULD be or IS before having actually seen it.
Let me tell you, anyone who claims that The Hobbit is "too much of the same" or "not distinct enough" from LoTR would be right. But that's the point isn't it? This is THE SAME WORLD. This is some of THE SAME CHARACTERS. And really, it's glorious.
After almost a decade since RoTK, I sat in the cinema with the goofiest grin. The movie opens with snippets of the Trilogy's amazing score, dispersed among new pieces of music. It makes you feel nostalgic, sweeps you back into Middle Earth seamlessly and leaves you feeling like you're back among old friends.
I didn't expect to see Elijah Wood as Frodo. It was a wonderful surprise. To have The Hobbit segue so neatly right where the FoTR begins is fantastic. Here and there, to be able to piece together places, names, characters and see the groundwork for events you know plays out in the LoTR trilogy just blows your mind.
Viggo Mortensen was cast in one of the most iconic roles in fiction. And it has immortalised him as Aragorn, the King of Men forever. He had an on screen presence that commanded attention and made us believe he was capable of being the King he was destined to be even before he was ready to assume the mantle.
Richard Armitage is that person in The Hobbit. As Thorin Oakenshield he has commands your eyes and ears, taking over every frame, making you search for him whenever he is in the throng of Dwarvish companions. He is magnetic, he is magnificent and dare I say the sexiest Dwarf to grace our screens ever.
Like Viggo, Richard also sings. The deep, dark baritone works perfectly with what I assume is the Trilogy's main theme. He is magnificent. And the score is breathtakingly beautiful. Howard Shore deserves serious accolades.
Martin Freeman imbues Bilbo with bewilderment and uncertainty, but a stout heart. The chemistry between the cast is just as it was with LoTR. They complement one another in all the right ways. The brotherhood, the companionship evident.
Everything about The Hobbit feels familiar. And yet it's just as exciting as the trilogy that came before it. I would caution against expecting a reinvention of the wheel. This is a world created in such detail, why would you want a new spin on it? Instead, we get to revisit this wondrous place, this eternal Middle Earth. And we get to partake in a new adventure.
It is an unexpected journey, but an exhilarating one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went in knowing that this movie had garnered mixed reviews. It seemed
that critics were divided on whether the campy feel was good or bad.
I thought this movie was very entertaining. The numbers are great and whoever didn't know it already, surely knows that both Cher and Aguilera can belt out a tune and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The story is a simple one. Ali leaves her small town and heads to LA to make it big as a singer/dancer/performer. With some persistence, she makes friends with the handsome Jack (Cam Gigandet) and lands a waitressing job at a downtown Burlesque bar owned by Tess (Cher) where he is the barman. Tess refuses to give Ali a chance, but she persists and gets the gig. During her debut, Nikki (Kristen Bell) the jealous reigning Burlesque queen, turns the tables on Ali in a plan that backfires. Ali sings her heart out and Nikki ends up looking the fool.
Jack and Ali share loads of chemistry but he is an engaged man and she is driven to the arms of Marcus (Eric Dane) a real estate developer who wants to sell the debt-laden club in an effort to tear down the club and create a sky-scraping paradise. Jack is jealous of Marcus, Ali is jealous of Jack's fiancé (cameo by Diana Agron) and while miscommunication ensues, the ending is pretty easy to figure out. The club is saved, Ali is a hit, Tess is happy and Jack gets the girl.
Jack and Ali have loads of chemistry and i was pleasantly surprised that Aguilera wasn't actually a horrible actress. I have seen "Crossroads" and there will be the inevitable comparisons to Britney Spears' acting debut. Let me tell you, i could care less, but where Britney failed miserably, Cristina shows promise at being able to play a role with some decency. Granted the subject matter - sing and dance - is an arena where she is pretty comfortable, but i thought she did an admirable job.
Cher is but Cher and there is nothing much i can say about her performance. Stanley Tucci, the actor most lambasted for choosing a part in this movie was great as Tess's best friend, seamstress and confidant. Did i mention Peter Gallagher was in here too? His role is mainly superfluous, but thats besides the point.
This movie is like an Aguilera concert. Singing, dancing with a dash of romance and a serious feel good factor.
I loved it! 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Annoyed am I! I'm not anti-Disney movies. In fact, I enjoyed the HSM
movies as much as anyone else. They are fluff, but they were
entertaining enough. The one thing they had going for them, was the
fact that despite the thinly veiled plot, the music was catchy, and the
choreography was energetic, seamless and well performed, and the young
actors were effective in their respective roles.
Anyone who tells you the disaster that is 'Camp Rock' is a worthy successor to HSM, is either the writer, director, or someone equally close. Because besides for the people involved in the production of this movie, no one else can seriously call this entertaining.
CR is hailed as the movie starring the current darlings of pop culture, The Jonas Brothers. Problem number one. Because besides for the eldest Jonas Brother, the other two members of the trio have less screen time than all of the extra's combined! Am I the only one who saw that as a problem? The marginalised brothers probably filmed their scenes in a day or maybe two to be fair!
Within minutes, the plot is glaringly apparent. Insecure girl longs to be popular. Rich popular plastics accept girl only once she lies about who she really is. Girl meets popular boy. Boy finds himself/inspiration through painfully clichéd interludes with said girl. Girl's secrets are revealed by head plastic, boy despises her (without affording her the opportunity to explain, of course), girl learns her lesson, boy forgives girl. The end. Oh, there are a few painful musical ditties in between!
The cast: The one Jonas brother who does have screen time (I forget his name) delivered a passable performance I suppose. Besides for working with an appalling script, he seemed to be able to carry his role. He didn't really have much to do, besides flick a lock of hair, croon a few heart wrenching tunes, and show off a few very stiff dance moves.
The lead actress was just annoying. Whenever she got the mike in her hand she was singing like a frikkin pro. Hello! Wasn't she supposed to be a shy novice?? And when I say like a pro, it's with a generous dollop of sarcasm. Because none of the cast could even lip sync convincingly! And was it necessary for her to show off her molars, premolars and incisors when she smiles??
The Sharpay Evans plastic wannabe was arguably the worst member of the cast. Her singing was horrendous, and so was her acting.
Music and Dance: Bad, bad, bad. Apart for one or two - almost - catchy tunes, the rest of the soundtrack is utter nonsense. The choreography was just embarrassing to watch, and none of the actors seemed able to carry their dance moves with the effortlessness so easily displayed by their HSM counterparts.
Plot: Three words: Gaping black holes! Jeez I kept going, "Huh..? What did I miss? Why did that happen?!" Formulaic, contrived, to say it was transparent is an insult to the word. Nothing is funny, nothing is witty.
Instead we are left with embarrassing, cringe worthy dialogue like: Girl: Why are you looking at me like that? Boy: I don't know..
Plastic: Btw, your lip gloss is sooo not glossy!
W E M L What ever major loser!
Please pass me the butter knife so I can start hacking at my wrists right now! Argh! So finally, if it's not glaringly apparent yet, this movie was just plain awful!
* star and that's a kindness!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The title of this film, Blood Diamond refers to diamonds which are
harvested, smuggled out of the country and then exchanged in order to
fund the procurement of weapons used in Civil War. That, in essence, is
what this movie is about. Set in Sierra Leone in the early 90's when
rebels were running riot, people were massacred, young children were
recruited as child soldiers and men were enslaved in order to work in
the diamond mines, its a harsh and scary look at how many of us
(inadvertantly) acquire our bling.
The story revolves around, and is mainly viewed through the eyes of actor Djimon Hounsou, who portrays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman whose family is broken apart by rebels who invade his village and takes him captive to work in the mines harvesting diamonds. Its while working here that he finds a large pink stone and instead of handing it to the smugglers, he hides it.
This is where our story kicks off, as it is through this action, we meet Danny Archer, a diamond-smuggler played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who, whilst in prison with Solomon, hears about the diamonds existence and is determined to have it in order to quit the business.
Our leading lady comes in the form of the lovely Jennifer Connelly who plays a journalist looking to expose the major players in the illegal diamond trade and hooks up with Solomon and Danny in order to find the diamond and use it to get Solomons family back. The film is told in just under two and a half hours of action packed, fast paced story-telling that ends on a somewhat predictable note.
Although DiCaprio's character is portrayed as being interested only in personal gain, and essentially not really concerned with Solomons family because he wants the diamond for himself, there were times when it wasn't clear to me if he really was a bad guy, or someone who did in fact have some good in him. I think in the end the viewer is left to make up his/her own mind as to what they think of him.
Leo's accent has also been a huge point of debate. Im South African and i was impressed with the accent. I don't think it was always consistent.. but as the movie progressed, strangely it became better as he went along. At times it is easy to pick up the American, sometimes British or even Australian tones, but mostly i was really impressed. Also, its interesting to note that South Africans must have one of the more difficult accents to pinpoint, because its really flat sounding.. almost guttural, much like German. SA has 11 official languages.. so you can imagine, like Americans, different provinces have different ways of pronouncing words. But the white Afrikaaner accent is a little more straightforward. I think he did a really great job.
I found this film to be brutal at times in the portrayal of rebel killings by young children who are 'brainwashed' to believe that they're serving their country. Harder still to swallow is the fact that its not fiction, its happened and is still happening all over Africa. For the few children who manage to get out of the life into which they were forced, the suicide rate is high as they cannot seem to cope with the reality of the horrific crimes they were made to commit. This is the real, deep, ugly, horrific existence for many people in poorer African nations.
This is possibly one of DiCaprio's best performances to date, but Djimon Hounsou stole the show with his emotional and courageous portrayal of a man trying to reunite his family. DiCaprio has certainly come a long way from his days as Jack Dawson in Titanic. He has finally matured into an excellent actor. Jennifer Connelly however, was really underused and her skill as an actress not really utilized fully.
Lastly, I'm a huge fan of Director and Producer Edward Zwick. He knows how to make wonderfully moving films. Like he did with the Last Samurai, this movie left me feeling moved. Quality film-making at its best! Lastly, this movie may be graphic, but its a great way to open your eyes to the realities of the world. Its gruesome got me thinking about a lot of things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i saw Eragon yesterday and all i can say is: What.a.botched.movie
Only my opinion, but i thought this was awful. Really bad. I don't usually use strong adjectives, but this was just so incredibly.. bad!!
You cannot prevent using Lord of the Rings as a yardstick.. but i will leave that for later and focus on the story first..
Firstly, the cast: I have no real issues with anyone cast. The young actor who plays the lead role, is OK. He is certainly good looking and plays the role with the 'wide-eyed' innocence i suspect the filmmakers were looking for. I think its his first film, and if that is the case, then i think he should be pleased with his debut. Really, not bad at all.
I love Rachel Weiss, but why choose her as the voice of Zaphira? I thought it was out of place and i could never forget i was listening to Rachel instead of focusing on the what the dragon/character had to say. With that said, i was so unsatisfied with what i was seeing, that perhaps Rachel was actually the only shining light.
The Plot: Here is where i stop applauding anything. The story was a mess from the beginning. I believe that this was written as a trilogy.. and they took the fact that it needs to be a success to make the subsequent sequels for granted. There is so much left unexplained. As the viewer, you are left wading through a maze of characters who are paper-thin with mystery and legend thrown in for good measure, all of which has no cohesion what-so-ever. Nothing is explained fully. Some things glazed over unsatisfactorily. Characters come and go.. some who seem to have no place being there to begin with. Joss Stone as the fortune teller appears for a second.. departs some non-news worthy information and the scene ends so abruptly, i was left wondering what just happened. Not to mention bad acting too.. *ouch* Eragon's cousin had no place in the movie at all. What was his purpose? Unless its meant for the next movie.. in which case it wasted our time completely. His mother is frequently hinted at, but her abandonment of Eragon never explained. Another thing left for the next installment? Where is his father? Why is he never mentioned? The boy who turns out to be the son of the enemy.. Of all people, i expected a greater explanation of his character. He at least seemed to hint at being marginally more exciting to explore. Instead we see a scar and we are left to figure out the rest by ourselves. Jeremy Irons does nothing to further the story. We hardly learn anything about his character before he dies. He does not impart ANY knowledge to the young rider, that he didn't already know. He does not teach ANY new skill which he does not already possess. In the end we are left with a man-child who basically gets a dragon, rides it and then goes to fight the evil baddies.. and shock shock.. defeats a powerful shade! Makes NO sense at all. Also, Eragon learns, or rather is told what 3 elvish words are.. boom! Next scene he is casting spells! Where did that come from? Throughout the movie we are told that spells and riding and skill takes time.. but Eragon learns everything in about a matter of minutes.
Also, the girl.. Arya.. Her presence is never explained either. I was left wondering who she was exactly and where she fit in. She is played up as whom i suspect will become the love interest for the hero in the sequels, but she looks much older and wiser than Eragon, making him look like a silly youth in the throws of a crush. The final scene of the move left me cringing. I kept thinking.. please don't kiss. It will be too humiliating to watch.
In the end, i watched the movie cursing the impetuous youth for his silly willfulness, then alternatively cursing the filmmakers for taking a story with such potential and mucking it up so incredibly badly. I am really not one to moan too much about bad movies. I love my fair share. But this was just sad to watch.
Finally, you cannot escape the comparison to Lord of the Rings. Not that Eragon even deserves to be whispered in the same breath as LoTR, but frankly, many an idea in this movie was stolen from Peter Jackson's Trilogy. The shade-guy.. (i forget his name) looks like a clone, if not one with a little more spine - of Gríma Wormtongue. The demonic evil warriors look suspiciously like Orc and the final battle is reminiscent of a similar stand - good vs evil - at the battle of Helmsdeep.
No sequels please. This was painful enough!
All in all, i suggest you wait till this hits the rental store.. and even then.. i'd wait till it hit your TV screen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Casino Royale opened in my country on Dec 1st. I've been waiting for
this movie with so much anticipation. The last movie i was this excited
about was Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings: RoTK back in 2003! Here are
my impressions: First off, i was convinced from the start that Daniel
Craig would be a great Bond. i don't know why i had faith in the guy.
Everyone else certainly didn't, and its not like i'd seen anything else
he had done before. I suppose its the 'loving the underdog' part to my
personality, but anyway, i liked the look of him, and if what the
makers were saying was true, then we needed a new Bond to usher in a
new era for the franchise. And boy, does DC deliver!! The premise of
Casino Royale is a clever one. Its the first book by Ian Fleming, and
with the introduction of a new James, it was a really clever idea from
the film makers. They use the back story of Bond as a backdrop to
presenting DC, the more beefed up, blonde super agent. The story
revolves around exposing La Chiffe (King Arthurs' Triston, Mads
Mickelson) as a terrorist funder, and so Bond gets sent to Montenegro
to play La Chiffe in a poker game. Introduce, 2006 Bond girl
(technically the FIRST ever bond girl), Vesper Lynd (portrayed by the
wildly beautiful Eva Green, who played Sybilla in Kingdom of Heaven)
who provides the cash stakes James uses to buy into the game. I have to
say, i loved the writers' job here. This story revolves not only around
how Bond becomes a 007, but also why he's the seducer of many but lover
of none after Vesper. The backbone of this story is about love. Bond
falls in love, and its the betrayal of that trust which gives rise to
the James we all know.
The opening Black and White sequence is great! You get into the story by getting a glimpse at how Bond achieved his infamous "licence to kill". Immediately we jump into a breathtaking action sequence.. letting us know right off the bat, this DC was no ordinary Bond, and like nothing we have seen in the last couple of Brosnan outings. Here was a physical, rugged, sweaty male lead who bled and hurt just like the rest of us. I really liked that he wasn't perfect, and in many ways, was just a trainee who still made a heck of a lot of bad judgment calls. He's driven by his ego and need to succeed, and that is a weakness both 'M' (D. Judi Dench) knows about, and Vesper exposes. Bringing me back to DC. The man's body is something to behold. Its easy to see how hard he must have worked out in order to look that good. The stunts were real and believable and its one thrill after the next.
The story is paced well, moving from action to drama and back to action again. The scenes between DC and EG are wonderfully done. Vesper is not your typical bond girl. Here is a woman with a story of her own, and has more than enough self restraint, and respect for herself, to not be another notch on Bonds bedpost. The movie is also littered with great visual scenes between the two, where no words are needed in order to communicate the complexity of the characters and the emotional upheavals. The "shower scene" pops to mind here, the scene where James fights to free Vesper from her cage and finally where he embraces her dead body. No dialog, just raw emotion. For any bond, thats a really unique challenge. The writers wrote about a human, not just the secret agent. Great lines run abundant as well. The witty banter between James and Vesper, the sarcasm apparent with La Chiffe and the comical run-ins with M.
My only regret is that Vesper's reasons for betraying James is nothing but a voice-over / phone call from M. We learn she was being blackmailed to save a former lover (whom we never meet or know whether he is still alive), despite the fact that she has let go of him because of her love for James. Its a great testament to James's feelings when he utters, "The b*tch is dead". M manages to let him know Vesper saved his life in the end.. but its too late.
Born is Bond, James Bond. *goosebump moment*
DC is in my opinion the best choice they could have made. Brosnan was good, but this is a new era for the super agent, and i am left with no doubts that DC will bring a new life to the character.
What an excellent movie. 8.5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After the days of BTVS, this was a fantastic show. In fact, i think it
surpassed Buffy. The characters had real soul and didn't include
whining bratty sisters and robotic girlfriends...
However, for those who loved the show, you have to admit that the way they ended it made me at least,sick to my stomach. I watched the finale, and I was so unsatisfied! I still bow down to Joss, he is a GOD, but there were so many unanswered questions!
Firstly, not to sound like a broken record, but Buffy and Angel are one of the most romantic couples EVER, and things end like this? With a stinking trip to Rome a few weeks ago - and boom Angel and Spike both have this epiphany? Life has to go on they have to choose their own paths...? BS! I mean, come on! And now we are expected to believe that he is telling Connor about the new woman in his life the werewolf chick THIS is the love he is thinking about on his FINAL DAY? After everything that has happened? I think not!
Secondly, since Angel's inception, since his days on BTVS, there has been talk about the reward he was to eventually receive for his goodness - namely, his mortality. Are we to believe that Angel signs it over? Perhaps at the end of the day the picture they want us to have is that he cared more about doing good, than the ultimate reward? For me, that doesn't wash. I wished that perhaps he had been granted his mortality, spent his last day - in the sun, with all the pleasures being a mortal can bring - and then perhaps fought as a mortal or something like that.
Thirdly, Connor. They seem to have made peace, and will never be close, but Angel was about to DIE and we are left with this picture of Connor retreating into suburban bliss as his father is left in a crumbling Wolfram and Heart? NO, NO, NO! I'm horribly disappointed! I watched Angel since the day he stepped onto our screens in BTVS, and followed him all the way to his own show. I HATE the way that they ended this. Please, don't think that I expected champagne and roses, but I feel like in the space of the last two episodes we have been given too much info, and too little has been tied up sufficiently.
Again I say: Buffy, the love of his life Connor, who HATED his father and then at their departing suddenly understands Angel's motives took him long enough! Angel's mortality Fred being turned into Illyria, perhaps one of the better moves, but Wesley was just becoming nerve-wracking in his inability to get over her...
And lastly, the biggest disappointment - that Lorne, in my opinion, lost faith in his leader and abandoned all of them when they needed him most. I quote, "I still don't trust him..." How could he? After everything! They all had a role to play, consequences to face, and he left. I mean, even Lindsey came to the party in the end! As a fan of Lorne's character since day one, this bitterly disappointed me. And so we are left with the image of the Chosen one (I'm not even sure if it was Angel or Spike but seeing that they made Angel sign the page, I'll assume it was him all along) Spike, Illyria and a dying Gunn -- Fighting till what will probably be their death.
No, Angel deserved more. He deserved the happiness that he had worked so hard for...even if it was for a fleeting moment...
A fantastic show that deserved better in the end. LONG LIVE ANGEL INVESTIGATIONS!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Primed as being spectacular and a dizzying summer blockbuster, I was
excited to see Troy. Not only is it the type of movie that drags me to
the cinema (Epics involving love, honor, bravery and of course
beautiful men...gotta love them!) but also the cast included some of
the hottest talents at the moment. I was initially neither here nor
there about my feelings. I knew that I liked what I had just seen, it
being my kind of movie, but I felt a bit at sea as to the degree of
that like. I had a lot of initial criticisms, but now I find Troy still
occupied my thoughts days later.
The story itself is a classic, and there is no doubt that the director chose to portray that classic in a way that would appeal to audiences worldwide.
The cast is a more interesting focal point. Brad Pitt, having taken a break from Hollywood, had undoubtedly chosen to come back with a bang. I initially thought that Pitt was miscast; an opinion that I felt very strongly about. The more I think about it...I still think that he was, although I cannot offhand think of anyone that could have potentially done a better job The greatest problem for me is that in order to make the character memorable (and by memorable I mean NEVER being able to see anyone else play the character better) the actor needs to embody not only the words, but the character itself, in spirit, mind and body - you've got to own the role (E.g. Viggo as Aragorn I mean, can you picture anyone else in that role? I didn't think so...) therefore, Brad was OK. He had the body down pat, the mind...urr...perhaps...the spirit...I think he tried... He managed to pull off a role that someone else could potentially have mucked up.
Where he lets down in some parts, he more than made up for in others. The scenes in which he seems emotional and vulnerable were beautiful and Pitt could not have done a better job there. For those scenes alone I rate his effort highly. But will he be forever remembered as embodying the character of Achilles? Will people ever see another film of similar nature and miss him as the warrior? I think not. But others may disagree. I too am caught in the man's beauty and appeal in the film. Perhaps that makes me totally biased. However, he did portray many of Achilles's traits with conviction. There just seemed to be something missing. His scenes with Rose Bryne, Briseis, were for me, some of the best in the film. She tamed the beast, and his vulnerable side was wonderfully contrasted with the glory-seeking scared warrior. I would have enjoyed greater character development here, but then again, they were not the primary love story.
There has been a lot of hype about Orlando Bloom. Many hated him; others loved him. I realize that the character of Paris is a soppy, rather wimpy one. With that in mind, I say that Bloom did a good job. He was wispy and innocent enough to pull the character through the movie. I am in no way saying that he could not have done better, but the part of Paris is clearly one that has not endeared him to fans. His previous roles, most recently LoTR and Pirates of the Caribbean, the former with hardly any dialogue, and the latter in the shadow of Johnny Depp, were both adequate, especially his endeavors with LoTR. I have to also admit that he charmed me in PoTC, so I really have no real problem with him. As an actor I cannot deny that he needs growth, but he portrayed Paris as any other actor would have done. (Perhaps with a little more weird facial expressions..) Diane Kruger though...what a disappointment! She is beautiful, no doubt, but the most beautiful woman...? I think not. Saffron Burrows as Andromache was much better in the acting department, and the looks, although on closer inspection seemed a tad too gaunt) Helen seemed rather indecisive and frankly, I cannot imagine any man risking life and country for her. She lacked adequate chemistry with Orlando too. She somehow seemed older and more mature...? Being the love story everything revolved around, this disappointed. However, my romantic illusions were more than adequately resolved with the Achilles/Briseis love story. Those two had a great chemistry, and outshone the aforementioned couple by a mile. But, I also realize that to find the perfect Helen, so beautiful, so elegant... a task I would not have wanted. I suppose that Diane's beauty is debatable. Some may think her stunning; others like me think she's beautiful, but not beautiful enough (what an absurd statement) Eric Bana was superb, excellent as Hector. Not only was he brave and strong, but also he loved his country and family and portrayed all these elements with sincerity and enough emotion to touch me. He definitely delivered one of the best performances, if not the best.
So, with this rather useless dissertation, I say that Troy is no Gladiator, but it touched me. I felt emotion envelop me as * SPOILER * Achilles knelt over Hector's body, and that brave, fearsome, arrogant warrior was humbled and sincerely vulnerable; and indeed the death scene (beautifully done by Brad and Rose) His, "you gave me peace in a lifetime of war" wrapped itself around my heart. Therefore, although this movie doesn't rank among my all time favourites, the DVD will be mine. And the more times I watch it, the higher my overall rating becomes. So the 7.5 to follow may have progressed to a 8.5 by the time you read this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kingdom of Heaven is a movie, much like King Arthur, that needs to be
viewed more than once and preferably the Directors Cut when you see it
for the second time, for there is much left unexplained, even after 2.5
There is no doubt that the movie is a visual feast. It is beautiful to watch and i marvelled at the skill and mastery of Ridley Scott. This movie, although tagged and advertised as the next Gladiator is not that, i don't think that there can ever be, but there is something here that i found infinitely intriguing. Something that captivated me, even when in the back of my mind many unfolding scenes seemed to leave me unsatisfied.
The movie begins with the funeral of a woman we learn is Balian's (Orlando Bloom) wife. We learn that her suicide after the death of their child is what has driven our soon-to-be hero to the depths of depression as he has committed himself to spend his days repenting for her sin. Enter the father he never knew Godfrey (Liam Neeson) and the story begins. The entry of this character already sets the scene for the Directors Cut. We know too little about Godfrey, his importance to the King, his role within the struggle at the time, his lack of involvement with Balian, and his sudden return to recruit his son - all which is never really answered and explored, leaving a crucial hole in the story. Circumstances arise and after initial refusal, Balian joins his father on the journey to Jerusalem.
From here the story escalates as Godfrey dies and Balian is left to take up the mantle his father left behind. I never understood his ready acceptance thereof. This is not really explored. We then enter the realm of the royalty. We are introduced to the other players. Jeremy Irons, a strong performance, but again poor character development. He later disappears altogether. The Princess of Jerusalem, Sybilla, another character poorly developed. I never understood her role, her instant love for Balian, and the choices she later makes, by handing her husband the crown, then repenting for something that we all knew was a mistake from the very beginning. Eva Green struck me as really beautiful as the Princess, but with so little a role in terms of character development, i was left unfulfilled by her purpose in the movie.
We follow Balian as fate takes him to his ultimate destiny - fighting for the people. Orlando Bloom surpassed my expectations in the role, shouldering his first real leading role. He always struck me as an actor with very little meat. A pretty face who happened to be cast in movies that made his name even bigger, without really proving what he is capable of. He surprised me here. I thought that he was really good as the withdrawn, somewhat apart, the loner character that Balian comes across as. i was drawn in my his quiet nature and strong dialogue. There was something about him that to me shouted a newfound maturity as an actor. Although a far cry from being at the peak of his game, this is his strongest performance to date. I glimpsed some of the shifty eye-movements that Bloom is famous for (especially in Troy) but they were easily overlooked. I think that at times his character did lack a little emotion - his relationship with Sybilla for example didn't really move him from his quest - but this i think was more the Director and Writers problem, not Orlando's. Overall i was impressed. After having read numerous reviews that he was the weakest link in the movie, i was surprised that i disagreed. No Russell Crowe or Viggo Mortensen rousing the armies to battle, but he gave it a great try.
I found the demise of Guy an anti-climax as well. Besides the final humiliating ride on a horse, we never really delve into his demise, and never have the satisfaction of seeing him get what he deserved.
I also think that the underlying message involving the Muslim/Christian battle speaks very eloquently to our times, and was dealt with in a tasteful manner that was not overkill to the viewer, keeping it as light as the movies ultimate message would allow.
However, overall, i felt this movie didn't flow very well. There seemed to be a shifty feel, not a nice smooth pace maintained to the conclusion. The movie itself will be better viewed with the Directors Cut, perhaps allowing for all the developments that there was no time for.
Having said so much about how much i disliked, i still left the cinema intrigued by the story and the characters. I liked the movie, despite all the reservations. The cinematography was brilliant and i was really drawn in by good performances from Bloom and the supporting cast.
I think that this is one movie you will have to make up your own mind about. Reviews are all conflicting and range from outright hate to devotion. I think there is something for you here, you just have to find it. Its worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This review contains spoilers.
The Last Samurai. What a movie. From the minute I first lay eyes on the opening scene, something tells me this is going to be fantastic. The music moves me, the scenes unfold. You spot a man, yet unknown, sitting in silent contemplation as a voice-over informs you of the myth surrounding the birth of Japan. You meet another man, desperate in his attempts to sabotage his life it would seem. A drunk. A man confused, with no direction, with what seems like a tiny piece of his soul intact after much hardship. What has he done? What is his story? We don't know yet. But I am intrigued.
I have to start by saying that I am not one to critique, dissect and cross-examine movies. I know little of brilliant film-making techniques. All I know is what I like. Sometimes I like trash, sometimes I like movies critically acclaimed as masterpieces. It's a matter of personal gratification and what I get from a movie.
The Last Samurai, the story of an American captain played my Tom Cruise who after being instrumental in the death of thousands on the battlefield, finds solace in the bottom of a bottle of brandy. He cares neither if he lives nor dies. He is volatile. He is hurt, has no honor and seeks to sabotage his life. He is asked to lead Japanese soldiers into battle against a group of rebellions the last group of Samurai. It is here that we begin to see where his destiny might lead. The Samurai takes him captive, lead by Katsumoto played by Ken Watanabe. And the second act of the movie begins. Algren starts to feel again. He is forced to examine the man he has become, and also forced to play an active role in what his destiny is to become. In the Samurai village we see Algren interact with many characters. Katsumoto, Ujio (Katsumoto's general), Taka (his caregiver and the wife of a Samurai, Hirotada he killed in battle), Higen and Magojiro (Taka's son's), the silent samurai 'Bob' and Nobutada (Katsumoto's son). It is here the drama unfolds and we learn as Algren learns. He unwillingly becomes friend, confidant, leader, father and husband. It is an amazing journey, one skillfully brought to life by breathtaking direction.
The third act begins as Algren takes up the mantle of his destiny and together with Katsumoto takes a stand against the Emperor and helps the Samurai captain retain his honor, while regaining his own.
Having said that I know nothing about the technicalities of film-making, I have to mention that to my untrained eye, the direction of this movie seemed flawless. Using different effects - slow motion, sound, reflection, emotion, and silence there seemed to be no scene where Zwick didn't use them to perfection. This is a movie of silent complexities. Props are used to give silent messages, characters use body language and communicative facial expressions with eyes that are filled with a story of their own to tell you exactly what you need to know. More than words ever could. A simple shrug by Katsumoto tells you this is a man under intense pressure, but the words are never uttered. The score I found particularly moving. It blended beautifully with this striking story.
This movie is beautiful. Simple, yet so complex at the same time. Friendships are at the core. Honor leads the way. And love is redeeming. I am not a Tom Cruise fan. In fact, I rebelled against seeing it initially because I didn't feel like seeing a movie about an American joining the natives, teaching them his ways and winning the hearts of the masses. This is, and was not, what The Last Samurai is about. I love the fact that Algren enters into the world of these amazing people and he learns from them. There are no American heroics. I also love the fact that the movie retains all the respect that these people deserved. There was no out-of-context love story where characters strip naked and go at it to make for more sizzling storytelling. In fact, one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire movie is the unconventional love scene between Algren and Taka, as she dresses him for battle. I love the fact that he movie makes you hunger to learn about this fascinating culture as it is told in a respectful and dignified manner.
A word on the acting then. I cannot point to a weak link. Tom Cruise was exceptional as the wounded captain. Just amazing. One of his best performances and may have turned me into a fan. Ken Watanabe. What an amazing actor. He embodied the soul of the Samurai in every gesture and that was breathtaking to see. Koyuki, what a beautiful and graceful performance. The children, especially the boy playing Higen had a depth that made it all seem so real.
I find myself able to watch and re-watch this movie from start to finish, and then start again. Its amazing and in my humble opinion, one of the finest ever. I am truly biased at this point. So I can do no more than recommend that you decide for yourself.
9/10 perhaps even 10
|Page 1 of 5:||    |