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Rogue One (2016)
Enough of all that's good about the franchise
I have now watched this film twice and I will confess to struggling with the first viewing with almost too much of what I have known and enjoyed of Star Wars over 40 years.I found it almost too serious for the first hour but given that the entire story is predicated on one line from episode 4 about loads of folk dying for the cause, inevitably one is going to experience some fairly bleak stuff. That said,I found the script to be almost too adult as if I was watching a modern war movie by the likes of Ridley Scott or even Quenten T without any blood, and be assured this movie has no blood.There are lots of great surprises in terms of links with Ep 4 especially and the introduction of character actors from other genres to create a new dimension to the action(Johnny Yen, Yip Man)was a creative move I found quite acceptable.The following on from Ep7 with a strong female lead works really well for me also. Dare I say the on the money moment in the film was a Vader entrance which I found absolutely stunning and the seamless link into Ep 4's opening was sensational for me. I do have a couple of minor quibbles ...I'm sorry but the two stunt men in the Vader suit at different times didn't seem quite huge enough to me but maybe Dave Prouse had bigger heels, or maybe all the actors in this film are a bit taller!! All in all by the end of the second viewing in what was a daytime empty auditorium I was suitably emotional to forgive any anomalies, hence the maximum score here withe small reservation that you really do need to concentrate for the first hour and a distracting full first night audience doesn't help that atal.
The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Moments of sheer brilliance with some irritation
All that is Edgar Rice Burroughs is portrayed perfectly in this story based on his characters. I cannot emphasise enough the sheer brilliance of the films ability to translate onto the screen every aspect of the ERB's world from the stunning landscapes to the animals imbued with almost human demeanour's to make Tarzans connection with them all the more real. All this makes the film well worth watching and a real cut above many drama/adventure type films which we are constantly being fed. Iwill go and watch it again probably on the big screen for all the reasons mentioned. However whilst I much admire one very famous actor who has asignificant role in the film I found his character and script veryirritating and not necessary for the story.I also found what seemed to me an almost political point making all through the film to be very annoying and detracting from the beauty of the characters and original idea. I think perhaps the script writers tried almost too hard when all we needed was ERB's world brought to life. Casting notwithstanding the 'star' already mentioned was perfect and the lord of the jungle himself was beyond words in the role.
Eddie the Eagle (2016)
An outstanding 'feelgood' film about human spirit
I remember all the hype surrounding Eddie the Eagles achievement in compeating in the Winter Olympics.I don't really care how accurate aspects of the film are,its a brilliant piece of entertainment about overcoming unbelievable odds to achieve an ambition which took real courage and determination.One thing that the film got right was the fact that 'The Eagle' got an individual mention in the closing ceremony,possibly the only individual athlete ever to be honoured in this way. But that is the whole point about his story. Its about having the courage to see something through without all the sponsership and financial support which clouds all sport today.The story speaks for itself, this film is not a documentary but its a wonderful piece of entertainment .
A Very Serious Piece of Cinema
I'm not sure what my expectations were but I was excited at the prospect of my two favourite comic book characters appearing in the same film.This is a very grown up film which deals with some astonishing issues in a very serious way. Notwithstanding the genre is 'comic strip' and therefore very 'not real', this is a highly successful piece of thought provoking entertainment.It is difficult not to use some very over worked superlatives but , yes, well cast, good story, excellent effects(I didn't notice the bad bit of CGI others have mentioned) but I do sit near the front in the cinema as part of the plan to 'leave reality at home'. All in all a film that will stand several re viewings and I imagine will still be worth watching a few years on. I apologise for singling out one aspect in that Ben Aflecks performance was right up there with some of the best I have ever seen.It will surprise you, staggering!!
The Revenant (2015)
An exceptional piece of cinema
I have now seen this film twice in four days and the second viewing affirmed what I thought after the first, This is an exceptional piece of cinema. The caveat to that is that folks who like to be spoon fed their entertainment may find it difficult viewing in places but be assured it is exceptional for a number of reasons in my view. Not least the casting, from the Hollywood mega stars(Leo&Tom) to the relatively unknown (to me) Native Americans. The other most important ingredient is the setting, harsh in the extreme.. All played their roles superbly with an unbelievable sense of the time in history when it is set as much as we can really understand what life was really like then. I would assume, pretty 'brutal' by the standards of modern western society. I had no trouble hearing and understanding the dialogue but often it was not greatly of consequence whether understood or not because there is a continuous sequence of events which leads to a fairly likely conclusion. On first viewing I did have a sense of wondering what was going to happen next most of the way through and unlike some reviewers I was not 'bored' for a moment, so much of what occurred was so dramatic as to be a constant chain of surprises, knowing from the meaning of the title what the final outcome would be.I should point out that both viewings were on the biggest screen of my local complex and I sit fairly near the front to get that totally imersive experience.I don't know where the filming took place but wherever, it was a good platform for early 19th century 'back of beyond' USA and that coupled with the unrelenting precipitation of snow or rain gave the whole thing a feeling of great authenticity.I have noted one or two reviews have been very picky about details but for me it was an outstanding piece of drama presented to the highest production values in a staggeringly beautiful if somewhat bleak, at times, setting. Not for watching on a phone or an ipad but as I said to start with an exceptional piece of cinema with outstanding performances from Leo and Tom especially.
The story continues
Some one once asked me if I liked one of the prequel films, I cant remember which it was but thats irrelevant to my feelings, to me it was just another bit in a very long story, a story I have lived with for nearly forty years, so any episode is just another bit of that story and accepting the first trilogy as worthwhile means any before and afters are simply backing up that original concept . There is no book , there is no founding tradition beyond those first three films so whatever happens we are stuck with what the guys with finance give us its that simple . Its a franchise still evolving unlike bond or the bible we don't have a back reference point beyond the Lucas imagining of Ep4. All that said I enjoyed this awakening but with the success of the star trek revamp I was fairly sure JJA would do a professional and thoughtful job of continuing the saga satisfactorily. In minutia, I thought all the cast performances were excellent. new and old well blended. The sfx were superb, but what else would we expect.The production values beyond the sky and the emotional content almost too much to bear at times. I confess I didn't 'get' all the script and I doubt many 12 year olds will but for me a few more viewings should sort that out. I thought period continuity was really cleaver and gave me great comfort at times. I hesitate to say, just go and see it but I think you wont be disappointed if you do and then you can talk about it with all the rest of the world, although 20 years ago I did meet a man who didn't know what Star Wars was, quite refreshing but unlikely to happen ever again in my life!!!
This is not a Zombie movie, it is real life drama
I have just watched this on my adequate large screen TV having not had the opportunity to see it in the cinema.I am very glad I read no reviews and I had no thought of relating the ideas in it to anything like the cinematic vehicle of 'Zombie' movies which I didn't once consider whilst viewing. It is a heart rending story about an incurable viral desease which manifests itself in the sufferers with appalling consequences to both the sufferer and those around them.Arnold's performance is astonishing in its depth and breadth which he is very quick to qualify in an interview as being based on his real life experience of being a Father. I found this both touching and very easy to relate to. This is a film of high level dramatic entertainment. I couldn't say it is enjoyable but it is entertaining with the Schwartzenegger charisma shinning through in ever frame he was in. Steller performances from the rest of the cast make it a travesty that it hasn't been seen by a bigger audience. Of course Arnold has to make his blockbusters but I would welcome more dramas in which his performances truly show him to be a man who is very good at reinventing himself over and over again to a spectacular level of success.(only 8 out of 10 because it made me so sad)
Not for the faint hearted.Tom Hardy beyond words
The only reason I have given this 8 out of ten is because I found much of it hard to watch.Tom Hardy has become one of my favourite actors of late with stunning performances every time he graces the screen but much of what this film deals with , institutionalised violence and mental instability which I do not find entertaining whilst acknowledging its existence and understanding that it should not remain hidden personally I don't feel the need for the graphicacey we experience here as with a number of other almost surreal classics from Kubric, Roeg,Antonioni et al. I guess, putting society's desperate need for the cult of celebrity aside I think this film becomes an extraordinary exercise in characterisation on the part of TH to rival anything I have seen in cinema over the last sixty years.I had the feeling at times that what I was watching was how far an actor could transform themselves into projecting the existence of another person to move you to almost like that character no matter how awful that character might be.I am minded of Charlton Hestons last performance as the Natzi criminal Mengaler with which he almost had the audience believing that his(Mengeler's) ethos was correct and the whole of the rest of society was out of step.So what you experience with this film is a performance beyond words creating an empathy and sympathy for the character which is probably misplaced in the cold light of day but it leaves you questioning the ineptitude and lack of ability on the part of us (society) as Bronsons keepers to resolve or at least help resolve his issues rather than exacerbate them which is how it appears from what we see.So in summation, Tom Hardy 10/10 subject matter , not sure, I don't know whether I needed to see it or not but I do not feel the need to watch it again but maybe one viewing is necessary just to admire the performance which as I said, is beyond words!!
A Masterclass in acting from Tom Hardy
I guess if you want to know the history of the Kray Twins, you can google it and I'm sure all the historical facts will be there. The thing which makes this film so good, is everything about it. You could be tempted to say as I have in my heading , it is a masterclass in acting but it is just so good in all other respects right down to the two brief cameos by John Sessions as Lord somebody to Kevin McNally as Harld Wilson.Everything about it was utterly believable without all the stylised stereo types we have grown accustomed to with films about East End gangsters. Oh yes and whilst we see blood occasionally it didn't take on the proportions of a cartoon which again seems to be the stock in trade of most Hollywood efforts. This was an extremely well made film about real people who were larger than life characters but at no point did it stray into caricature largely due to excellent directing and outstanding performances from Tom Hardy , ably supported by Emily Browning Paul Bettany and of course Chris Eccleston. The periodness seemed perfect to me again without all the silly stereotypes associated with films set at this period and the street sets were stunning in their film noir appeal . If Tom Hardy doesn't get at least nominated for an Oscar then there is no justice but the entire production was nothing short of superb.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
outstanding performances ,bit disappointing film
I think I started to read a review and it made the statement'well I guess there's not really many folks who will remember this as the TV series!! Well there are, I'm sure plenty of us and many of them will be a bit disappointed with this take on something that I have very fond memories of. Lets be clear, The two main protagonists , Henry and Armie gave stellar performances with good support from Hugh and the young lady whose name I cant remember but the plot line was so hard to follow initially and getting used to an Illia kuryakin who was directed as a bit of a thug with a Napolion Solo who was clearly just as capable physically, was all a bit odd. I appreciate that It was never going to be a big screen version of the series but take a tip from Tom Cruise(Mission Impossible reboot) couldn't we at least have the music from time to time, lets face it , in the 'Lone Ranger' which I loved , it was definitely made more exciting by including the original TV theme at the appropriate moments as with MI 1,2,3,4& now5. I understand that as a director Guy Richie has a style all his own but it owed more in this revamp to Michael Caines Harry Palmeresque spying world than to the much lighter definitely fictional world of U.N.C.L.E. (not Uncle) and T.H.R.U.S.H.(don't remember what that stood for but they were the baddies). I think the biggest problem was the attempt to say this was real spying during the cold war but the TV series never made any attempt at reality and thats what made it so much fun and I think this movie whilst the acting was great I doubt they had any fun making it and it wasn't much fun to watch, what a shame, what a waste of a great genre of non reality. I have had the release date on my calender for six months , my expectations were high with an excellent cast ,but I really was not expecting a remake of 'Funeral in Berlin' but thats what it felt like. Oh yes and my cinema marketing billed it as an action comedy. Trust me, all the funny line(yes I mean line, not lines) were in the trailer and that was it! I doubt it will run to a sequel or two but clearly that is the expectation from the ending.Not a chance unless they've already been canned.what a shame,I feel so let down.