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The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Fast, entertaining and why the sour reviews?
Yes it isn't Matt Damon, that's right. It's an attempt to prolong an excellent series. Okay so let's watch the movie. I scanned the reviews before I saw the movie and went in thinking I'd be disappointed. After the bloated Dark Night, and the slightly less bloated Total Recall I expected to be checking my watch 90 minutes in as I did with those offerings, but when Bourne 4 ended I felt disappointed that it was ending. It is very fast moving, the action is excellent, the script is a brave attempt to weave the previous films into a new take on the series and I didn't find it poor, clichéd or in any way offensive.
The acting was very good except for one scene where Rachel Weiz went distractingly over the top but she was otherwise so good that that was easily forgiven.
What's wrong with the movie? I couldn't tell you. It went past like a freight train, was very entertaining and what else can you ask for?
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Why did they bother remaking this - and remaking it badly? Did we really need a reboot of this series? Who makes these decisions?
It seems like only yesterday I saw the first version and from memory it was far more entertaining and less painful to watch. This is not even better CGI. The script was labored, the acting was dull, the action scenes lifted it momentarily but it really felt like it had all been done before and was more fun.
Why bother making it - why bother seeing it?
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Disappointing dog's breakfast
For the first hour I was enjoying it. It had an actual story (a fairy story but why not?), the characters were not unbelievable, the actors seemed to have a grip on their parts (Charlize Theron had a half-nelson on hers but she's good to look at), the pacing was great, the visuals were just right, and everything looked set for a fine time.
Then what happened? The dwarfs happened. They started off well too. But then it seemed like someone got cold feet and decided a Grimm's Fairytale was too grim for a modern audience. Suddenly we're into an Avatar-like CGI fairy land, and the plot has gone into a sub-Avatar 'life force meets she who will do right by it' dead end. We get a mystical white hart out of Harry Potter, we get the dwarfs recovering from their lumbago and constipation because Snow White is among them, we get another mind-numbing drivel-powered subplot that seems to be meant to encourage the down-trodden masses to rise against their oppressors. We get wee little fairies who were taking their stage directions out of 'Hook'.
What happened to the story? Oh, here it is, Snow White eats the poisoned apple in a great scene that put some life back into the thing, but then we were off into 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Braveheart'. Dudes, I was saying to my popcorn, keep your heads down because this has started to seriously suck.
Then between some other random scenes that did nothing to restore any sense of hope the Prince/Dukes' son kisses Snow White but it's a revivification fail. Then the Huntsman kisses Snow White and she comes back to life in time to tell the Duke to get off his butt and risk the lives of all his subjects in some more LOTR/Braveheart scenes. Oh, here are the dwarfs again. Ah, the showdown between SW and Evil Queen. What point are they making here? Hard to tell. Don't suck the life out of virgins? Don't be nasty to people? Stay away from mirrors? The EQ dies. SW becomes a Good Queen.
Phew, so far by my watch we could easily have done without 45 minutes of gratuitous drivel and plagiarism from some much better movies, but maybe the director has just been setting us up for the big spectacularly mushy happy ever after ending.
Omigod, it's more drivel. Fine, fine, come on buddy lets do the needful now and get SW with the Huntsman and end the thing. But no. The last scene is a digitized loop of happy undowntrodden masses shouting let's hear it for the queen and I guess we're supposed to be intrigued wondering who SW chooses for her husband. Why are we supposed to be wondering that? My guess is that they had a better ending but polled it and found that some of the test audience liked SW pairing up with the Huntsman and some traditionalists wanted her to end up with the Prince/Duke's son, so they split the difference. Yawn.
One of the best...even 50 years later
Not many movies made over 50 years ago stand the test of time. Part of the problem is changing tastes, different idioms, more (or less) sophisticated tastes, jaded palate, addiction to TV-driven entertainment, and evolution of the cinematic arts. This movie, however, somehow survives the natural attrition of time and still entertains in all aspects despite its age.
I am not sure if it's the clever script, the wise direction, the pacing, or the storyline but Mr. Blandings 1948 touches every base, involves and entertains without any need to retrogress one's tastes or standards.
I've seen the leads in other movies and they were fine, but this is an exception.
It isn't ranked very high on the list of great comedies but in my opinion it is superior as a work to The Philadelphia Story and the other also excellent comedies of the period.
This movie works on many levels and despite my expectations (that I would have to condescend to enjoy it), I found that it exceeded them.
There are many great scenes in here: the well digging, the cupboard, the breakfast in new york, the love scene, the drive, the bathroom scenes, the list goes on...and on.
This is just a great movie that shines above all the remakes and truly shines in its own right as a great piece of film making.
Even more than 50 years later...
Labored, Clichéd and Boring
I went into this with high expectations as the saying goes, along with my two friends; we even hung around to catch the late nite session because strangely our cinema complex only had two showings a day of this hot new release. Huh?
We were three of twelve people sitting in the theatre. Huh? Apparently on opening day earlier in the week, due to all the hype that has apparently infected the IMDb ratings, the admission lines for this film had caused a minor traffic problem. Where was everyone? Regardless we three certainly expected two hours of lively entertainment and hunched down in our seats. We overlooked the first thirty minutes and the awful soundtrack. We glanced at each other as we went into the next thirty minutes: 'Nice camera work,' one of us said. By the one hour mark I was wondering when the movie was going to get going. Yes, there was Ryan Gosling, he's okay for an automaton, maybe that's the character. There's a sort of clichéd love interest - single mother with young son. Yawn. Oh, here's some sort of Goodfellas type character. Hmm, OK. Gosh the dialogue is sparse but maybe that's a good thing because when the actors do speak it sounds pretty lame. Oh, here we go, something is going to happen now. Ah, someone is killed. A scene in a strip club. That's original. Violence and gore. Right. But when is this thing going to take off? Check the watch. Probably another 30 mins to go. Hmm, well may as well see it through. Oh, it's over? That's a pleasant surprise. Great let's get the hell out of here.
'What was that?' one of my friends asked.
'It was one of those movies where all the good stuff is in the trailer,' said the other.
We all agreed.
The plot is dullsville. The acting is robotic. The night cinematography is technically excellent. None of the characters are likable. The dialogue is clichéd. The pace is labored. The sound track is awful. Hypnotically bad.
At least by the end of the movie I'd solved two mysteries - why there were only two sessions for a new release and why people stayed away in droves after the opening. Obviously people are voting with their feet.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Incredibly bad - And I mean 'incredibly'...
Incredibly because I had read more than a dozen reviews on IMDb before I saw the movie and went in expecting to be very entertained. Every review said the same thing 'Great movie!' I settled back, a smile on my face, and after the first ten minutes I went 'Uh? Is this really the plot - that this mutant-powered kid after seeing his mother shot, and after trashing a room full of heavy metal objects, and after crushing two Nazi soldiers inside their helmets, DOESN'T at least try to kill the guy who killed his mother??" Then it seemed to get worse. The acting was so bad that I was waiting for the joke to be sprung on me - this must be a play within a play, where the play within is really obviously poor...
An hour later, remembering the glowing, enthusiastic reviews, I checked my ticket in case I was not seeing the same move. Then I told myself the second half must be amazing, how else could anyone admire this drivel? The costumes were embarrassing: they reminded me of an Austin Powers farce; the dialogue was so amazingly clichéd that I was guessing the next lines without effort, or error. The director seemed to be missing, presumed dead. The CGI was CGI; after the third time thru watching Raven turn on her blue-skin I was starting to think fondly of Transformers 3. The plot seemed to have been designed by a committee; I imagined a room full of brainstorming writers saying things like 'Wait! let's put Kennedy in there? We got any footage? Cuban Missile Crisis!" "Right! hey we need some really heavy type Russian general types, like in Dr. Strangelove only different." "Yeah, and lets put a twist in there where after the mutants have saved humanity, all the ships, get this Russian AND American, blow them to smithereens for no apparent reason." "Oh yeah, I love it!" After what I was sure had been 2 hours I ran from the theatre as the credits rolled. I was amazed to find it had only been about 100 minutes. Time flies when you're having fun, and drags when you're not.
My 17 year old son loved it. When I told him I thought it was stunningly bad he asked me if I was in a bad mood. I didn't feel in a bad mood, although my mood had been better when I bought my ticket. I said, "No, I don't think so. I just think it was a very poor movie. I think it's INCREDIBLE that IMDb had so many positive reviews. In fact, I feel a bit strange about that." That's the incredible part.
True Grit (2010)
Not a winner
It seems that the consensus of opinion is that this is another masterful work by the Coen Bros, but it left me disappointed. In a nutshell it felt to me that they never got the movie together.
The story has some intriguing elements - the young girl seeking revenge, her character, her choice of Rooster as the hunter; Rooster himself; the Labouef character and his contrast with Rooster; the nature of the villain (before he is seen);and the usual thrill of a chase. But somehow all these fine elements didn't ever seem to come together - I kept waiting for it to happen and it never did except in the most slap-dash and corny way. Even the last scene failed to ring true: it was possible to suspend disbelief over Mattie's character for the sake of letting the young actress show her stuff and the director to add a curious dimension to the character, but in the end I didn't care about her at all.
There was a real tension being built up to the confrontation with the villain but from then on the move just seemed to run out of gas and depend on clichés to get it thru to the down-beat ending.
Cinematography was excellent, script was good, cast was good, but somewhere in there the directors lost interest and failed to do a professional job of making a movie.
This is a very remarkable movie. After the first 30 minutes I felt I had had more pleasure than usual from a film. This was an odd feeling considering how old-fashioned and simple the direction seemed. After an hour I was amazed at how engrossed I was in the story and the characters. I paused the movie several times to reflect on it. The cinematography is minimalist compared to current styles; the direction is out of sight and unobvious; the story is very simple, based on progress through time, but covering in its scope all the important questions of life, death, honesty, honor, and that most difficult to define quality compassion. It provides a viewpoint on love, friendship, war, peace, victory, defeat, courage, understanding and the human spirit. Quite an amazing tour de force. I understand why Churchhill wanted this banned it was not the mood he needed to bolster his own position and rally the population, yet it is more honest than any of his speeches, and more human than he ever succeeded in being. War is a horrible thing. Life is a glorious thing: I think that is the message of this movie.
Jurassic Park III (2001)
This is my vote for the whole series. Considering the oh so lame movie offerings since the first JP I found this entire series very entertaining and definitely worth watching, if only for the excellent story premise and cinematography. #1 was clearly the best because it didn't talk down to the audience and demanded attention. The second and third in the series took a little too much for granted, too inclined to lean on the proved, successful moments of the first and so not innovative in any way. Yet, there are more high points than low points, and they are each excellent examples of the film-maker's craft. They all carry you away to a whole different plane, professionally and enjoyably, and apart from Avatar and a few other exceptions like LOTR,early Harry Potters, perhaps a couple I haven't named, few other movie series have been as well constructed. Michael Crichton's imagination lives on beyond him.
Kakushi ken oni no tsume (2004)
A Beautifully Made Film
Having recently worked through a dozen or so samurai films, including Kurosawa's generally brilliant offerings, my taste had become fairly attuned to the genre and although several were very good the style was beginning to wear thin. Until Hidden Blade. This is an exceptional film; original in story, characters and direction. The plot is quite simple: a samurai whose father's disgrace has reduced the family in status, lives with a maid and a servant. He is in love with the maid, and she with him, but the social conventions and their own decency prevent this from becoming anything more than a tender friendship. The samurai's sword school companion gets himself into trouble and finally their sword-brother relationship leads the plot to a climax. There are several fights, a background of western military training being given to the samurai in this area, but above all that is the compassion and decency of the samurai and his maid. There is not a wasted moment in the direction; the scenery is beautiful; the acting is very engaging; the story seems to move at a gentle pace but it's impossible to take your eyes off the screen - one of those truly well- made movies where the technical excellence is so understated that you know only that you're being swept along with the story. Highly, highly recommended.