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The BFG (2016)
Missing "E.T." atmosphere, but still enjoyable.
Ever since Steven Spielberg ventured into grim and gritty features like "A.I.", "Minority Report" or "Munich", I always secretly hoped he'd look to his early career days and yet again give audiences another wonderful experience as he did in full abundance with "Close Encounters", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and of course, his, perhaps all-time creative triumph, "E.T.". Late Melissa Mathison's emotionally mesmerizing writing helped the film's ultra-success (along with the unforgettable Oscar-winning John Williams score), and I dreamed for this home run collaboration to take another come around. And then, 34 years later, it finally did. I would have absolutely loved to write that it produced another very similar undertake in spirit as the story of the small, benign, brown alien with telepathic powers, but unfortunately, this isn't the case. Now, don't get me wrong. My 7 rating gives a distinctive I wasn't disappointed, but only if we differ ourselves from the Spielberg-Mathison-Williams mashup and watch "The BFG" as a standalone project. The CGI is impressive, but then again nothing noticeably technologically improved of humans-and-giants together than what we've already seen in, for example, "Jack the Giant Slayer", made back in 2012. Mark Rylance gives his usual mild and heartfelt performance as the virtually generated character, but in this case, by my modest opinion, perhaps Andy Serkis would have been a wiser choice for the role. Mathison's script this time takes a much stronger turn on a fairy tale storytelling rather than perhaps somewhat basing itself on realistic grounds, which I, personally feel was a wrong turn, since I completely failed to connect to it, as I did with "E.T.". Kids ages from 5 to 15 however, might find this more appealing. Spielberg's directing, along with the John Williams soundtrack, is, as always, very smooth and without a false note, but still, one has to wonder if it still could've been on a higher scale. "The Extra-Terrestrial" was a film that spoke to everyone, all ages. "The BFG" will mainly speak only to children audiences. One also has to question if this endeavor could've, with just a little more creative effort been a cinematic experience to cherish for the next 34 years like with their 1982 feelings-roller-coaster blockbuster. This way, it'll just be for a year, maybe two.
In 1997, Roland Emmerich decided, after the colossal success of his "Independence Day" of 1996, to repeat the same procedure in spirit and wreck the world with an over the top sci-fi menace, probably hoping for a reprise of the same box office gross. He remade Toho's king of monsters for the US market, "Godzilla". Unfortunately, what resulted in the endeavor was a so much sillier and clumsier movie than his former "War of the Worlds" spin off. The audiences quickly recognized it as such and pretty much stayed away. The flick about a mutated sea-monster coming to Manhattan to lay its eggs/wreak havoc left a bad taste for everybody due to its goofy actors and completely implausible scenes, even for a brainless popcorn blockbuster. The movie tanked at the grosses, was tarnished by bad reviews and soon forever ended the Dean Devlin-Roland Emmerich writing-producing collaboration. It took many years on for any studio deciding to make a remake on the same plot line. Then, in 2013 a finally decent one emerged and got a green light. Gareth Edwards' "Godzilla" of 2014 is an immensely more entertaining and more serious project than the former one. The digital effect sequences are a million times more on the ground, the actors and their screenplay relationships too, which is the winning combo. The spectators loved this version of the prehistoric reptile time around and gave it roughly 200 million on domestic sales alone, which is a fertile ground for the works on a sequel. And it is on it's way too, slowly from the depths, but sure in quality, just like Gojira.
Realism instead of fairytale
As "Captain America:The Winter Soldier" began its release in the US and both the world it was fairly evident, due to instant super-success, we're facing something of somewhat finer quality. Let's get with the program, flicks that break quarter of a billion dollars income (which is merely now a question of date) at the States usually don't have to blame only their commonly strong commercial propaganda. We only need to remember "John Carter"'s 2011 misfire for that matter. The true reason for its fortune grossing is the realism of the combat sequences much closer in spirit with Daniel Craig's James Bond than say, "Captain America:The First Avenger". Further more, the real world everlasting problematics of war veteran reintegration among society, which is here probably the leading subtle plot line. All that combined result in a fast pace, confident and never-childish action thriller that delivers on many levels. Chris Evans is convincing and unusually calm as the all American unstoppable superhero, Scarlett Johansson is daring, sexy as well as illusive, Sam Jackson does his usual similar performance as ever and Robert Redford as the conniving billionaire utters his first time ever bad guy role with extreme prejudice. All together a strong 7,5/10. Thumbs up.
No desolations here!
Even though I formally thought "An Unexpected Journey" was a bit chipped off by quality from the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, due to its certain lack of seriousness the former Jackson Middle-Earth films had, I wasn't really disappointed by it. It was a different, more softer storyline, and under it had to have a different directorial approach. Going to see the second one, I had my worries if it's going to be on a dose less of action and excitement and more centered on the characters, which I always kind of felt myself, was a mistake for a purely adventure film, a road that many movies have taken on in sequels. Fortunately, it was nothing of a sort. "Desolation" gives a stronger adventure and enjoyment than the original Hobbit movie. Faster pace, beautiful sets, lovely score, costumes and most impressive CGI than ever before, with the comeback of one of the most beloved character of the original series, Legolas, will surely win over the audiences both fans of Tolkien's book and not, over the globe again this Christmas season. If anything, I'll definitely go catch it again. Thumbs up!
The Last Days on Mars (2013)
If there's anything I have grown sick of in the last few years, are these god-awful sci-fis with basically no plot than the first draft. It's like the producers were like: "Hey, let's make a movie about say...Martian zombies!" -"Ok, what'll it be about?" -"Well,you know, they run around, attack the non-infected astronauts, and all that hundred times before seen stuff in George A. Romero's flicks." -"Oh, okay then.". What happened to creativity?! No further explanations, no fresh ideas, nothing of that at all. Just another bad, cliché movie about Mars. It's almost the poor planet has a celluloid curse or something. "Mission to Mars" sucked, "Red Planet" sucked, "John Carter" sucked, and this follows. Maybe they get lucky on the fifth attempt.
Go home Hirschbiegel,you're drunk.
Olivier Hirschbiegel is the next candidate to replace good old Uwe Boll, the Ed Wood of the 21st century movie making industry. After watching his "Invasion" with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, a few years back, I was appalled by the shocking lack of any good directorial skills, choppy and confusing editing and shameful performances. A few years later they give a so much awaited biographical story of one of the most popular people in the 20th century into the hands of such an under-achiever? And they expect a success?! It had virtually the same fails just as the earlier mentioned flop. Naomi Watts' performance was fine, but unfortunately, I don't see her in the best actress Oscar round up next year, since the overall failure of everything else in this cockamamie stir-up totally shadows it, and pretty much makes such a thing virtually impossible. Keep clear of this disaster. Diana deserved better.