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Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Exodus: Gods & Kings - or how Fox funded a revisionist take on the Bible
Let's make things clear: this is -most definitely- not you Sunday school story on Exodus. Yes, it is made by an atheist/agnostic (Ridley Scott, director of Kingdom of Heaven) and, possibly, written by another one (Steven Zaillian). At first, considering Noah was, even without the controversial material, a very religious-themed movie, I wondered how Ridley Scott, the man who directed the very atheistic/agnostic character of Balian in Kingdom of Heaven, could make a straight up religious movie in Exodus. I feared it would be a remake/update to The Ten Commandments. Boy, I shouldn't have doubted. Being an atheist myself, I actually find movies like Ben-Hur and the aforementioned Cecil B. De Mille's film like grand, sweeping (and tediously long) epic masterpieces. I do have conflict with the overtly obvious religious message but I shield myself from them. But after watching this movie I stood in awe, among other things, how FOX, a notoriously conservative entertainment corporation (see the scandals about an alien side-boob on Mass Effect a few years ago for reference), funded a $140 million (without promotion) revisionist take on the Bible. Because what Scott and Zaillian do here is just masterful. Not only they play with the notion that "God" is a manifestation of Moses conscience (after discovering himself a Hebrew he probably feels guilty about how the Egyptians mistreat his people) and, representing him as a child, as an immature entity susceptible to mood swings and tantrums; they also play with the tendency people have to find patterns in isolated events: for instance, the plagues (scientifically explained by Ewen Bremner's character), a storm and a tsunami happening relatively close to each other, may present a pattern to an outside observer. On the other hand, I think that the strongest part this movie has lies on the fact (apparently lost on most reviews I've read) how the Egyptian people suffered during the plagues, including Rameses (one of the most emotional scenes is the moment when he founds his son dead on his bed, an angle of the character never before explored in previous renditions of the story), and the inner conflict it causes on Moses (he grew up among them, after all). But, despite the high concept, this is the tale about two brothers that, despite their differences, you can see they still care for each other and how every decision they are forced to take against them is painful to make, something completely unexplored in previous versions of the story. And so, you find so fitting and touching that this movie is dedicated to Ridley's late brother Tony who died in 2012. This movie is not perfect though. As thoroughly noted in IMDb's goofs section, there are several anachronisms and factual errors that are mostly cosmetics and should not deter your enjoyment of the story, especially when you find yourself absorbed on the world Ridley has created and the way he shoots it (most of what happens on screen is real, even when you take into account the huge amount of visual effects this movie has). More glaring though, is the fact that you can see that this movie was trimmed before release and it surely has a ton of material to flesh out some characters (some of the important but barely there) and fill the reported 4 hour cut Ridley Scott submitted first. But, despite these flaws, Scott and co. have crafted a thoroughly enjoyable epic, way above his effort on Robin Hood. I recommend watching this movie if you are not offended by a more "factually focused" point of view and/or don't expect to see a faithful rendition of the Bible. If so, this movie is definitely not for you. Otherwise, this is another of Ridley Scott's underrated gems in his filmography.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Best Spidey film so far!
First of all, I want to say that I never was a fan of the older movies. The first Spider-Man came out when I was 11 so I said to myself that was the best movie ever. When number 2 came out, I was sorely disappointed so you could imagine my expression when I learned people thought that was the best superhero movie ever (the less we say about SM3, the better). It was a movie that showed that its director, Mr. Sam Raimi, loved the character and the mythology but the script failed in many different ways (that I will not summarize for this being the space for another movie). Maybe it applied when it premiered in 2004 but not anymore. And, sadly, that is what diminishes the impact of this new Amazing Spider-Man.
The first Amazing Spider-Man can be accused of being a remake of Raimi's and with some reason. But, luckily, sits among the good ones. Fortunately, this sequel throws everything away to become it's own beast. And, boy, what a beast! Successfully avoiding the curse for "too many villains" and being lighthearted fun in it's action sequences without being campy (I only can think of one character that fails in this but still can't really understand there are critics comparing this with Batman & Robin) it still manages to tell a heartwarming (and, eventually, heartbreaking) love story, wrap up plot threads established in the first film and present interesting villains with compelling arcs on their own. And, even with all this, Webb manages to find time to establish the new Spider-Man cinematic universe to come.
Rushed at places? Maybe. Scenes that didn't survive the cutting room? More than likely. And, even knowing how it would end (thanks to a spoilery "spoiler-free" review I read in a magazine), it still packed the same punch. That is a testament to the storytelling skills of its director and screenwriters (the underrated Kurtzman/Orci duo alongside Jeff Pinkner of Fringe fame), and also of its actors: Garfield, the definite Spidey to whom every future Spidey would be measured against; the lovely Emma Stone, who delivers a great female companion to the hero, and Dane DeHaan as a, at the same time, endearing and frightening Harry Osborn.
In a world where you have The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not the best superhero movie of all time. But it is a great time at the movies and the best Spider- Man movie so far.
The Last Airbender (2010)
First of all... this is not a perfect movie. There is a very big script error about 10 minutes on the film, yes, but forgivable. Many subplots from the 20+ hours TV series were left out, which is not really a bad thing considering this is a PG film (which means this is for kids... which means it cannot be too long i.e. 2+ hours) and a lot of things were condensed. The result: a very ENTERTAINING, visually astounding film from M. Night Shyamalan. Special mention to James Newton Howard for a marvelous score (an Academy Award nomination maybe?).
All in all, a very faithful adaptation of the amazing TV series. Yes, not better but still very watchable (at least is better than Clash of the Titans).
Inception is NOT Paprika!
Many people may think: why to write the 1254th review of the same film? Well, because something is needed to be pointed out: Inception is NOT Paprika. I've seen both films recently ("Inception" just yesterday) and its plot is completely different. Yes, they share the aspect that one person can enter someone else's dream (Paprika's spoiler: and even shared dreams to an extent) but the development, the goals of the characters, the scenarios (not just the look, but its use) and the plot are completely different. We're facing two films with their respective strengths and weaknesses. I think there's so few left to speak about Inception, but to say that everything on it was carefully designed and filmed. It's definitely the work of a genius that will stand a top with others Sci-Fi genre classics. Keep up the great work Mr. Nolan. You're from now, my favorite director.
Robin Hood (2010)
I really don't know what movie previous reviewers saw to say this movie is terrible. It was amazing! It was a goof at the opening charts, yes, but... it doesn't take anything to the movie's overall quality. Another reviewers said that there is no Robin Hood here... that was the point! This was stated since the beginning as a origins story... is really that hard to get? The climatic battle was criticized a lot too but without any kind of logic. I mean, how armies landed on shores since the Roman Empire? I love Ridley Scott's films. Yes, this not one of his bests but it's still a pretty damn good flick. The acting was pretty good with special mention to Mark Strong (amazing) and the veteran Max Von Sydow: with all his years he's still one of the best on the business. The battle sequences were beautifully shot and greatly choreographed (a Ridley Scott's constant, I think). Every penny spent on the making of this film worth it. The story, though not really historically accurate, is compelling and very well constructed, reflecting in a great way the living of that time. But again, that a Scott's constant. He really knows how to make great films.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Very Entertaining Film... but lacked something
I've just watched it today (on 2D fortunately) and I have to tell you... this is a very good film: very good action scenes, good acting, nice music, great production design, CGI for a 60 - 80 million film (stunning). Overall, very entertaining. But it lacked something: the script and dialog are very rushed focusing only on action scenes (or chopped off by producers like always, converting a promising film into an above average action flick)... Louis Leterrier does his best with the give material. I had high hopes when I read Lawrence Kasdan was attached to the project... but evidently he isn't. Anyway, far superior than Percy Jackson... though very entertaining.
But overall is a pretty good action film. I saw the original film about ten years ago (I will not make comparisons because I barely remember it) and made me a fan of Greek mythology. Now, the remake brought back to life that old affection.
If you like action movies and a couple of hours of entertainment, this is for you. 8/10.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Director's Cut: A Masterpiece!!!
I saw Kingdom of Heaven on DVD back on 2005 and I loved it! It was an epic (and fictionalized) account of historical facts... but still great. On the level of Gladiator. But it seemed chopped in some parts. It was still great though. And Kingdom of Heaven became one of my favorite movies ever.
But a few months ago, I heard that Director's Cut, around three hour long, was a masterpiece. And sure it was!!! It was too difficult for me to find it but I finally saw it this weekend and my reaction was even better that when I saw the Theatrical Cut my first time: gorier, clearer, more character development, more tragical... and an amazing final duel that you surely will never forget. This film, if released this way, could have not been a box office success... but could have earned Ridley Scott and William Moynahan a couple of Academy Awards more.
This is definitely Ridley Scott's latest masterpiece, even toping Blade Runner and Alien!!! 10/10
Emmerich takes disaster movies into a next level
I saw 2012 last night on a special screening by my college and I have to admit, my expectations were not too high... I mean, Roland Emmerich directed Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow and Godzilla (funny films to watch, BTW). And when I heard he was directing a 2012 film I was not surprised. I thought he would take the Mayan prophecy as a main part of the plot and that's it, that's why I didn't understood the amount of characters. But, when the movie begins, they (Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser) offer a scientific explanation (if not realistic or plausible, at least sound better than it will happen just because the Mayans said so) of everything that starts this year and projects to the future. It looks that they wanted that year 2012 was just a mere coincidence. And it works well. Destruction scenes (earthquakes, eruptions and tsunamis) are just amazing. Full of clichés... but they work, at least for me... and the rest of the attendants. But something is necessary to stand out: this films shows the harsh reality of this world, that is (major spoilers ahead) 1. just rich people are allowed to live, no matter if you are smart or hardworking (or helped someone else to survive), if you are not rich, you're dead, and 2. people in panic are even more dangerous than an enormous tsunami. Emmerich takes disaster movies into a next level by making, not only the best destruction scenes in (maybe) movies history, but he (major spoilers ahead) is really filming the end of the world as we known (that obviously includes millions of casualties). Very worth watching film. If you can catch it on a theater, even better.