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It ruins it, precious
The third installment of a famous film saga usually either triumphs or fails spectacularly. It is the latter in this case.
This film truly disappoints, especially when compared to The Return Of The King. Not the least of which is its complete detachment of the joy, purity and epic feel of the Lord Of The Rings.
The added swear words, painfully lengthy battle sequences, lack of deep emotional moments and the prolonged scenes of a scowling, semi-maddened Thorin just scraped out any goodness that was in the trilogy.
Smaug falls after twenty minutes, random, unimportant creatures appear out of nowhere for war and worst of all, Bilbo takes a back seat throughout the whole battle. He doesn't even get use his sword, Sting, despite the poster showing him brandish it, ready for a battle he will never go to.
An Unexpected Journey was quite entertaining and playful. The Desolation of Smaug started to wear thin until the introduction of the title character, the majestic and terrifying Smaug. But this one, as a sole movie, simply had no particularly interesting scenes. I only watched it for my love of the characters, and the exiting moments of the first two. But I won't be watching it again in a hurry, that's for sure.
The Imitation Game (2014)
This is by far my most anticipated movie ever. And it was well worth the wait.
This film, about the accomplishments, trials and tribulations of gay mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, is utterly breathtaking and well crafted.
Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Alan Turing is not just the performance of the year, it's one of the best performances of all time. He breathes life, passion and extreme emotion into this role, more so than any other of his other performances.
Seeing what all these men and women did during the war, and all of the achievements Alan did, such as making the first designs for a digital computer (sadly this is only alluded to in the film) and shortening the war by two years, is just extraordinary.
The Imitation Game really does justice to a man so horribly wronged by a homophobic system at the time. We can only hope that prejudice doesn't recede to its harsher ways so that lives such as these are ruined forever.
Fell very flat
I was expecting intensity, an interesting story and character study from this film, but I was disappointed.
The film is intensely bleak, dealing with the sport of wrestling, with no laughs or empathetic moments. Channing Tatum wears the same bull-like expression throughout the whole film, not really evolving much as a character. I just found him whiny, cold and dumb. Mark Ruffalo (whom I really loved in the Avengers) despite being nominated for some prizes, unfortunately didn't stand alone for me in the movie.
Steve Carell's John du Pont, in a surprising dramatic role, comes off as creepy from the moment you meet him. You know fully well that something is off with him (and of course since he murders one of his friends at the end of the film). But sadly, the film doesn't focus too closely on why du Pont murdered Dave, other than the awkward, dysfunctional relationship with his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and the Schultz brothers distancing themselves from him.
For a film that's receiving a lot of awards and praise, this really doesn't cut it for me.
Gone Girl (2014)
The book was better
This is a really brilliant film, and was in good hands with David Fincher, but I couldn't help remembering how utterly fantastic, thrilling and scary the original book by Gillian Flynn was. How for the first time, I actually felt unsafe reading a book due to the massive twist in one of the first person narratives.
One of the flaws in the film is that the character of Amy (played in an intensely creepy and brilliant manner by Rosamund Pike) was not given all the details of her past, her life and relationship with her parents, and more into her relationship with Nick, to fully explain why she did the things she did.
Nick comes off quite quickly to the audience as being the unlikable bastard the public in the film believe. And also, the relationship with his dad is just hinted as being "strained" in the film and doesn't explore why they don't like each other much.
The ending, unfortunately, is pretty poor compared to the one in the book, using only ambiguity.
Although the movie is well shot and acted, finally giving the typical Hollywood audience something new and engaging, it simply didn't carry enough of the urgency and depth that the novel had.
The Judge (2014)
Powerful family drama
Robert Downey Jr returns to his first dramatic acting role since "The Soloist" in this film where he plays an arrogant, sharp tongued lawyer called back in the town that he hates to attend his mother's funeral. His sour relationship with his judge father (Robert Duvall) is further complicated when he is arrested for murder, and he eventually becomes his lawyer to defend him.
Throughout the film, both the evidence on Hank Sr, and the tensions between father and son rise up. The acting from both Downey and Duvall is absolutely superb, and the courtroom scenes are a perfect thriller-esque outcome.
Downey's character Hank talks fast and talks people down a lot, which made it hard for me to sympathize with him at first. The judge father, a recovering alcoholic, has a very firm attitude towards all three of his sons, which explains the tough exterior for Hank and his brothers. Yet there is immense vulnerability in all of them that eventually comes out during the heated moments.
If you want a good family drama to watch the next time you go to the cinema, look no further than this one.
Third Star (2010)
A gorgeous, yet tragic indie film
James, a 29 year old man who is ill with terminal cancer, is taken in a carriage with his three best friends to his favorite place: The Barafundle Bays in West Wales.
The film starts out as a fun and hilarious road movie, with the four young men enjoying their time trekking forests, goofing about and getting into bar brawls with locals, all the while trying to find a special beach that James loves.
However towards the end of the film, things start to get less funny, as James's illness worsens, he has fits of chronic pain that can only be treated with morphine. All four friends have different issues with their love and professional lives, which affect their relationships with each other.
The film looked and felt very similar to Alfonso Curaon's Y Tu Mama Tambien, another funny road movie which included cancer and the enjoyment of life before it's too late in its themes. Only in the last fifteen minutes of this film, the scenes get more and more difficult to watch as it comes to its inevitable tragic end.
The title is a reference to a mistake the friends make about the location of Peter Pan's Neverland. ("Second star to the right." "I thought it was third star?") The story of an immortal boy who never grew up, which is the opposite of James, the mortal man did not have long to live.
Third Star is ultimately about the celebration and embrace of life and that the true enemy is not death itself, but the waste of life by constant pain and worry.
Yeah, it's that bad
Let me first start by saying that I am a huge fan of the first movie, The Last Rainforest: with its intriguing animation, original beautiful storyline with the strong themes of environmentalism and deforestation. The characters were splendid and fresh, and the villain Hexuss, played by Tim Curry, absolutely terrified me as a child.
So watching this movie felt like someone was attempting to butcher it beyond recognition.
The first of the many things I saw wrong with this film is the animation. It's cheap, flat and uninteresting. There is no plot, so to speak of. A few hunters kidnap baby animals (who are not even that cute or worth feeling too sorry for) and the residents of Ferngully have to go and rescue them.
All the actors from the original film have been replaced by less professional voice actors. The characters are simply cardboard cut outs of the original. Crysta seems to have completely forgotten about Zak, their relationship being the core center of the first film, and Pips is complaining about nothing.
But the worst change is Batty. Voiced by Robin Williams in the first, the newly voiced Batty in this sequel is just loud and abrasive. For some unknown reason, his head antenna is missing, he has hands instead claws and automatically overcomes his fear of humans to cheer the animals up when they are locked away. And the villains are just the most awful creations ever. They are the repeated stereotypical human hunters who view animals as nothing more than object to be killed and sold over for money, with horribly bad dialogue and silly laughs.
Avoid at all costs.
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
Bad bad bad in every way
This is one of the many sequels that Disney attempted in the new millennium, which marked the end of the Disney Renaissance era. Some of them were merely shadows of the original versions and many felt like someone had taken a straw from the originals, sucked it through and then vomited them out, leaving behind a total mess.
In this case, it's the latter. I can't even begin to count how wrong this sequel is on so many levels. The plot is riddled with clichés and is basically the same as the 1967 version, with the original characters brought back, but with not as much action or development. The new human characters are overtly annoying, especially the psychopath-in-making Ranjan, not to mention the father basically echoing the same thing almost every father in a Disney film says ("I'm very disappointed in you." "I shouldn't have been so hard on you.") If I had a nickel for every time someone said that, I'd be able to finance my own movie.
Another terribly written scene involves Kaa, who, after being needlessly and brutally abused every time he goes near a man-cub, meets Shere-Khan again. You would think after everything that happened during the limited time he was on screen, he would have wanted to rid the world of man cubs and tell Shere-Khan, who is bent on revenge, where to find Mowgli. But instead he lies to him, which makes absolutely no sense. Kaa had no reason whatsoever to lie to him. As I said, the writers were taking everything from the plot of the first film and put it into this one, having nothing glue together as it should.
The songs are also rubbish and highly forgetful, and John Goodman can't bring back Baloo to life as Phil Harris did. Goodman is no bear. He's a Sullivan.
Although the animation is much better, it cannot save the fate of how pointless this sequel is.
The Fifth Estate (2013)
Good film, great acting, weak script
I personally liked the film, which had a lot of suspense and superb acting.
My issues with the film lie with the script, that seems to show Julian Assange as somewhat of an antagonist, although not all the way. The script is based on a book by Daniel Berg, a former colleague of Wikileaks who as since fallen out with Assange, which doesn't pan out as trustworthy source. I also felt it was made a bit too soon and could have benefited from being made in a couple of years.
In the film, everything about Assange portrays him as a man who is increasingly untrustworthy while being in charge of a website which exposes all kinds of corruption in different countries, and which fiercely protects its sources. Through Daniel Berg's point of view, as a person, Assange is an odd, anti-social egomaniac who constantly invents stories about how his hair grew white, cares very little about the consequences coming after the exposure of corruption through the leaks, not thinking things through and is sometimes mean, cold and condescending towards individuals and his friends and family.
Despite the positive things about him, such as his charisma, determination to change the world and the fantastic, wonderful things that his website Wikileaks has done, by the end of the film, he is still made out to be a liar and manipulator, wanted for rape in Sweden; a bad guy who's done a good thing with his website.
Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely brilliant as Julian Assange, and succeeds in portraying Assange as a complex, three dimensional character, something the script was not at all prepared to do. The real Assange dismissed the film as propaganda and politely asked the actor not appear in the film.
My other issue with the movie is that they hardly focused anything on Chelsea (formally Bradley) Manning, the soldier who leaked the most voluminous and controversial documents in history. Here also, Assange is shown to seemingly care only about showing the world's most valuable secrets, and not think about the repercussions that Manning faces because of her leaking the documents (Assange publicly praised Manning as a hero for the exposure of the US military documents)
Maybe Assange is vain and hates that a film portrays him for who he really is (as it seems the same for many people who worked closely with him) or maybe he's right and the truth was not obtained through this film. But one thing is for sure, the whole truth of many things will probably never be known.
Van Gogh: Painted with Words (2010)
At first, I was a little taken aback by the way the film was presented: a half documentary, half bio-pic, but I realized the filmmakers didn't want to fake anything in regards to what the real life characters had said to each other.
This is the brilliant, sad but enriching story of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, played to absolute perfection by the wonderful Benedict Cumberbatch. Van Gogh has always fascinated me because of his preoccupation with social justice, much like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, his gorgeous style in the colors of his paintings, and his battle with mental illness.
It was sad to know that he only sold a fair few of his paintings while he was alive, and only became really famous after death, and not being able to experience full happiness in his life. It's the continuous and inevitable trend that no one seems to appreciate artists until they die. Even though it's important to remember and cherish what that person left behind, the beauty, the words, the message or the brush, it's still always important to remember the person, because all the beauty and creativity in the world comes from within.