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phd_travel

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723 reviews in total 
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Oculus (2013/I)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Scary in an original way - just a let down at the end, 22 April 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story was involving and scary in an original way which is hard for a horror movie. The cast though not very familiar is watchable and we'll probably see more of them soon.

It was all quite good except a couple of dumb things till the ending which was such a cop out. A haunted mirror possess people to destroy themselves and loved ones. The terror of the young kids is quite effectively shown. If the sister Kaylee lived it would have been much more feel good and less annoying. Also what was the fiancé doing at the house? It's no Conjuring but it's okay for a watch. Just be prepared to be let down at the end.

15 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Not as good as the first one - feels incomplete, 16 April 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The problem with these sequels breaking up into 2 parts is that with the years in between you kind of forget what happened earlier. This movie felt half finished. The first one had the historical setting which made it interesting. I know they are trying to go in a new direction. They should have finished the Bucky story and shown some romance with Agent 13. There simply wasn't enough story for one movie over 2 hours long. What there was enough of was punching and kicking with fights between almost all the main characters.

The cast did a good job with the material. Big role for Scarlett. Good to see Emily Vancamp from Revenge in a role here.

So in the end the draggy moments got the better of the movie.

Divergent (2014)
3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Much better than similar movies, 16 April 2014
9/10

The story is so much better than "Hunger Games" which I found sickeningly stupid. The more intelligent premise of Divergent is involving and you feel more for the characters. Even though the movie is long is moves a long and is well directed and well paced. The fight scenes aren't overdone which makes it convincing.

The cast is likable and well cast like in Twilight. Shailene Woodley is actually good and sympathetic here seeming vulnerable and feisty at the same time. She isn't as beautiful as Lily Collins in Mortal Instruments but she is a very believable actress here. Theo James looks a bit older than her but they have good chemistry. Supporting cast is good too. Liked seeing Ashley Judd on the big screen again and she looks like she could be Shailene's mother. Maggie Q is quite a welcome presence too. Kate Winslet is suitably loathsome without overdoing it.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Noah (2014)
36 out of 72 people found the following review useful:
Wrong focus, 16 April 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was disappointing because the focus was mostly on the ridiculous shipboard melodrama about the worst father and grand father in history. Instead of all the tears of Jennifer Connolly and Emma Watson and Russel Crowe's angst so much more real story could have been shown.

A Disney like treatment of the animals would have provided some charm. A Roland Emmerich grand disaster movie treatment of the flood would have provided some sweep and spectacle to wow at for at least 20 minutes. Instead the flood seemed passed over and the animals were also given scant screen time compared to the high seas family drama. Three ludicrous things were the CGI monsters, the crazy king and the fighting that looked beyond the abilities of the portly Mr Crowe.

Inadvertently hilarious too when Anthony Hopkins had to say "got your looks from your mother clearly" to explain why Noah's wife and sons look like models when Noah looks like a hobo.

Overall an optional movie.

It seems a shame to pass on this movie but it isn't good.

12 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Good but not perfect - a bit hard to follow., 3 February 2014
7/10

First off the cast is top notch. This use of big time movie stars to do TV series really raises the standard. Matthew is becoming a great actor not afraid of looking terrible. Woody is intense and just as good at drama as comedy. Oh dear Alexandra, don't think I can see you in Percy Jackson stuff anymore! Michelle Monaghan is pretty here and a bit too pretty for a small town cop's wife but never mind.

The two time frames are quite well differentiated they are aged appropriately with effective hair and makeup so it's not confusing.

The thick drawls can be a bit hard to understand. The main problem is that the plot is revealed through some of these mumblings and it makes it easy to miss plot elements. Should not have to concentrate so hard to decipher the plot.

So far the crimes aren't that interesting but it's early days after only 3 episodes. Hopefully it picks up.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A courageous movie - deserves more praise, 29 January 2014
10/10

Kudos to Brian de Palma for making this brave movie. There aren't many movies that show war crimes by U.S. soldiers. Most Vietnam war movies focus on the impact of the war on the U.S. soldiers. The effect on civilians in Vietnam is often too painful and unpopular to deal with. It is a movie that shows Vietnam as tragedy for everyone involved not just the combatants.

The true story of the rape and murder of a Vietnamese farm girl and it's exposure by a soldier who refused to take part is shown in a straightforward and unflinchingly direct way. The rape and murder itself is beyond heartbreaking. Yet the story isn't one sided. It shows the perpetrators being in such a horrid situation that allowed something like this to happen. The movie shows the difficulties and consequences of being a whistle blower - how relevant today.

Michael J Fox gives a very moving and sympathetic performance showing he is a fine dramatic actor. My initial misgivings of him as being mainly a comedic actor were quickly dispelled. Sean Penn gives a totally believable performance as the idiotic sergeant in charge. The Vietnamese actress Thuy Thu Le's performance is so good that it's almost too painful to watch.

This movie isn't as famous as it should be and deserves a place among the most powerful and well acted war movies of all time.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A travelogue with a very slow story, 27 January 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is way too slow. The story about Life Magazine closing down and the last issue would be interesting if the story had unfolded more quickly with more interesting characters and some historical context. But the imaginings of Walter are off on a tangent. The pace needed to be much faster and the dialog more witty and interesting.

On the plus side the travel photography in Greenland and Iceland and Afghanistan is breathtaking. The skateboard ride is quite fun too.

Ben Stiller as director and star needed to tighten things up. The romance with Kristin was so mundane.

A nicely photographed movie with a slow and lackluster story.

Romeo & Juliet (2013/II)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
He's way out of her league, 25 January 2014
2/10

This is a tale of a woefully miscast movie. As Juliet, Hailee's isn't right for the part. She just didn't act like she was passionately in love - not even puppy love. Her delivery of dialog wasn't clear. She looks younger than her age - more tween than teen and her looks aren't special enough. Douglas Booth as Romeo is more beautiful than Hailee. He looks older than he is so it seemed a bit predatory. He manages his lines okay. There isn't much chemistry between the two. Too bad Lily Collins dropped out - she would have been much better.

As far as supporting cast is concerned, Damian Lewis as Juliet's father acts well but too Royal Shakespeare Company for the rest of the cast - like he dropped in from the theater. Natascha McElhone looks more like Romeo than Juliet so don't know why she was playing Juliet's mother. Mercutio is okay but Tybalt is overacted by Ed Westwick who played it like a cross between Chuck Bass and a bull in a ring, flared nostrils and all. Paul Giamatti should have moderated his accent a bit to sound vaguely European.

The tacky and overblown musical score is all wrong especially compared to the memorable and famous 68 movie score. It actually interferes with the dialog in some parts. Would have been better to have just used some classical music or had nothing at all in many scenes.

The only good thing is the on location filming in Italy which is picture perfect.

What a waste.

Shocking weight loss of the actors aside, interesting lesson about the FDA, 23 January 2014
9/10

One of the most memorable things is the weight loss to the two lead actors both Matthew and Jared. Jared Leto is unrecognizable as the mincing cross dresser. Matthew is painfully thin especially considering what he used to look like. Apart from the weight loss Matthew does give a convincing and believable performance. So does Jared. Their performances are deserving of the awards won so far. Jennifer Garner is less perky than usual and is good too. The story doesn't drag and has some humor and light heartedness which keeps it from getting too depressing. Maybe it didn't have to emphasize the drugs and promiscuity quite that much - just enough to show how he was infected.

What is unexpected is how interesting the story about the treatment drugs and the FDA. Not since And the Band Played On has there been such a good movie about the disease from a medical scientific point. The government interference in the best treatment and having to go abroad for better options is a good lesson for any disease.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Well acted and still effective, 20 January 2014

The story is powerful and shocking after all these years. It's as effective as a horror movie without any ghosts or blood or supernatural goings on. The family cruelty and tragedy is still painful to watch.

The atmosphere and direction are good and evocative of the time. The claustrophobia of the attic comes through.

Ellen Burstyn is perfect as the wicked grandma. Her coldness and vindictiveness really jump out on screen. The still young looking Heather Graham actually is quite right for the role. She looks pretty, selfish and silly enough to be the weak and terrible mother without overdoing it. She is better than the blank faced Victoria Tennant in the 80s version. The angelic looking young cast is good too. Kiernan Shipka (from Mad Men) is good at acting like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Mason Dye is suitably clueless then disillusioned. The incest is portrayed as delicately as could be for this story.

Worth watching. Hope lifetime makes a sequel.


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