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Spectacular and Immensely Fun, "Mission: Impossible" Keeps Soaring
*VERY MINOR SPOILERS*
The fifth installment of the now quintessential action spy franchise has arrived 19 years since the original. Times change, the crew changes, yet our hero is always going to be Ethan Hunt. This time, he's going to face his most seemingly impossible mission yet: take down a mysterious anti- IMF group called the Syndicate, with the help of a few allies and a disavowed British agent who may or may not be on his side.
Let's get on to the points.
Pros (Things that I enjoyed about the film)
1. The film starts with a blast with full-throttle action and doesn't hold up until the end of the movie. It's very fast-paced and an exhilarating adventure.
2. Our main team is made of our favorite agents: the nearly- superhuman Ethan Hunt, the lovable tech-genius Benji Dunn, the kick-ass William Brandt, and the return of original computer hacker Luther Stickell. It's worth to note that there aren't any female IMF agents though.
3. The two mega-action sequences here are able to stand alongside the stand-out scenes from its predecessor: the underwater scene and the airplane scene.
4. Tom Cruise is an action machine and here, he continues to just prove that he's the best at what he does, and despite his increasing age, he's also increasing his credentials as an action movie stars. It also amazes me that even at more than 50, he's still willing to do his own stunts. Incredible.
5. The villain here is the mysterious Syndicate. I found its motives to not be that original but not too preposterous and lazy either. (I'm pointing at you M:I 2. Spreading a disease and curing a disease?)
6. Rebecca Ferguson's character is a welcome addition to this film. Her presence adds another layer of mystery and keeps us guessing on whose side she really is on.
7. The story takes place on many different locations around the globe and including an exotic one (Morocco). This is one of the many things I really like about global espionage films.
8. The humor here is spot-on too. It does not feel forced and for the most part, it works. But more importantly, it does not detract from the direction of the plot and does not become distractions.
9. The climax is very smart and is immensely satisfying. It's lengthy and even without a jaw-dropping moment, it culminates into a very thrilling and pleasing finale.
Cons (It doesn't necessarily bog down the film but I felt that it could have been changed for the better)
1. There are many action sequences but I was disappointed that there was a lack of action scenes led by Jeremy Renner. We've seen him kick-ass in the previous installment, as Hawkeye in the "Avengers" films, and even become the leading role in "The Bourne Legacy". I really thought I would see him get some solo time, but not here.
2. I felt that the ending was a tad bit too abrupt. I would love to see more of the immediate aftermath for those more involved in the conflict.
3. The situation faced by the heroes is very similar to "Ghost Protocol", in the sense that they are disavowed by the authorities and therefore they are wanted people.
4. (Minor spoiler) The whole four-man team only get together halfway into the movie, so there's not a lot of action sequences where they all team up together where each does their own job and depends on the other (i.e. the Burj Khalifa scene and the India scene from "Ghost Protocol"). In most scenes here (especially the beginning), the main team is separated and off doing their own missions.
5. The conflict here is between Ethan Hunt and the Syndicate. At one point, it becomes personal, but I felt it was not just as personal as the one present in "M:I 3" where Ethan's girlfriend is abducted by Philip Seymour Hoffman's character.
6. Alec Baldwin's character is more comic than imposing as his role suggests (can be a good thing, depending on how you look at it?)
Overall, "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" is a very solid and very well-done action movie that is on par with the previous installment, which itself is already an incredible thrilling ride. It doesn't necessarily add anything game-changing to the franchise, but it doesn't put anything "Ghost Protocol" accomplished to waste. It certainly was very fun and ranks among the best entry in the franchise alongside "Ghost Protocol". It identifies what we love about the previous installments to deliver an entry that is immensely pleasing and satisfying. This movie is highly recommended whether you're a fan of the franchise, of action spy films, or of Tom Cruise.
Even after 19 years, the franchise just keeps soaring and if sequels are as good as this, I will certainly be looking out for future installments.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
"Genisys" is a new Genesis for the Terminator
"Terminator: Genisys", a reboot/sequel that serves as a modern upgrade to the original Terminator movie. In this beefed-up summer popcorn flick, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns once again as a Terminator re-programmed and sent back in time to protect, once again, a figure of great importance to the Human Resistance, who in the future will be engaged in a massive war against the machines of Skynet. But this time, it concerns the Sarah Connor, mother of the human leader John Connor, and this time, he's been there since she was a little girl. So when Kyle Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah, he becomes confused that Sarah is already aware of Skynet, his arrival and her destiny. This means that the past has been changed and the future is yet to be determined.
Time traveling is a tricky plot device, and this movie uses it extensively (multiple timelines) that it not only tangles the plot, but also our brains. It's all very confusing to follow, especially for those who are not devout sci-fi fans, because the film doesn't really spend that much time trying to ensure audiences get a fully thorough understanding of the situation. However, there is one plot twist that I appreciated, (but too bad the trailers revealed it), and that concerns John Connor.
Because this time, John Connor has become a Terminator. Yes, he is the villain.
I thought this was a smart move and put the movie in new territory, by having its supposed protagonist turn into an antagonist. It introduces something fresh to the franchise and the possibility of creating a conflict that is more personal and engaging to the two main leads. However, I felt the film didn't really utilize this opportunity to create a much more enticing John Connor, instead just depicting him as a simply a more advanced Terminator who simply talks a lot more. Despite the underused John Connor, Jason Clarke delivered a terrific performance, giving us a Terminator that is imposing and someone we all want to run away from.
There are many action sequences in the film and while none of them bring as much suspense as the first two Terminator films, they are still exciting. Granted, this is rated PG-13, so there's no split-head from T2. There are more evil Terminators present here; there's the T-1000 (liquid metal), T-800 (younger Arnold Schwarzenegger), and John Connor himself. I really enjoyed the one sequence where old Schwarzenegger faced off against his younger self, I thought that was a bit nostalgic and just simply awesome to watch see Schwarzenegger fight himself. I also found John Connor's abilities to be visually stunning and sophisticated (nanotechnology). However, it may sound odd but the visual effects of the T-1000 didn't look that pleasing as compared to the one present in T2. Perhaps they rushed it?
Schwarzenegger headlines a new group of cast members. As he has always done in the previous Terminator movies, Schwarzenegger delivers an excellent performance as the T-800 that it seems like this is the role he is born to play. His deadpan delivery of the dialogue also proves to be a major component of the humor incorporated in the film. Jason Clarke, as previously said, is terrific in portraying the revamped antagonistic John Connor. Jai Courtney was fitting as Kyle Reese, and his personality of being quite brash is spot-on. Emilia Clarke was appropriate as Sarah Connor, making her a strong female character but not quite on par with Linda Hamilton, though.
Overall, "Terminator: Genisys" delivers in the action department and is sure to keep us entertained for a good two hours. It provides a good foundation for future sequels to build upon, although I think it's about time to retire the "go-back-in-time-to-save-someone" arc. It doesn't measure up to the first two Terminators but is a vast improvement from the recent two dreadful installments.
A Festival of Pure Silly Joy and Nothing Else
"Minions", the spin-off everyone has been waiting for! Over the years, we've grown to be very fond of those yellow pesky yet lovable Minions who speak Gibberish and are very well-known for their carefree and silly antics. This time, they finally get to become the main stars of a 90-minute feature and honestly, they delivered what they were known for, their carefree and silly antics, and nothing else.
"Minions" starts out with an overview of the origin of the Minions (sort of). It explains that they are creatures whose purpose is to serve the baddest villain. But they always have hard time keeping their masters since their efforts to help them always unintentionally leads their masters to a not-so-good fate. The failure to find a master leads them to a depression and one Minion (Kevin?) decides to bring some of his friends along to find a new villain to serve, that is Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock).
The movie itself is quite fun. It has plenty of laughs, and even if the majority of the laughs are slapstick comedy, the Gibberish spoken by the Minions are always something to giggle on. They do silly stuff. Their interactions with humans are fascinating and funny. They run into ridiculously impossible situations yet somehow manage a way to find solve it. It's hilarious. The gadgets are visually dazzling and cool to look at, but everything else was a bit lacking.
This spin-off lacks the incredibly likable human characters its predecessors had. No Gru. No Agnes. It substitutes them with a couple consisting of Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm). They do not resonate with us as Gru and the three girls did with us in the previous two films. The signature Gru accent is absent. The awkwardness of Gru trying to become a good dad is absent. The vibrant and distinct personalities of the three girls are absent. But rather than replacing them with other rich characters, we just get a female super villain who's really just a control freak or a megalomaniac, with a husband who simply just supports her along the way. I can't help but feel that they are just dull as compared to what we were offered previously. (There's also one random villain family but they're also plain.)
Ultimately, the lack of dynamic human characters causes this spin- off to not be able to achieve what I really loved about the first two films besides the Minions, that is the ability to have touching moments. In the first film, there was an arc when Gru started to actually open his heart to the girls, and when he started to gradually become kinder and more giving. The scene in space where he finally shrunk the Moon, but realized that he was on the verge of missing the girls' recital. The bonding between the girls and Gru. In the second film, there was this scene where Gru felt depressed after Lucy was relocated somewhere else, where he just sat outside his home alone in the rain. Agnes comes and the two have a chat.
In the end, it's a lighthearted comedy and it's enjoyable. Kids will undoubtedly devour it and will glee at the sight of those yellow Minions. But for those who expect something more than just rampage and silly antics, well this movie doesn't offer to you that much. It reinforces the popularity of the Minions but it's quite a shame that this movie could have been done with more thought and heart, but ultimately chose not to pursue it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
An Exhilarating Super-powered ride that barely manages to hold its strings together
*There are no strings on me*
First of all, huge kudos to Joss Whedon for wanting to take the job as the director of this mammoth movie. The sheer scale of this film is both huge and yet smaller at the same time as compared to the last outing. And yet, Whedon manages to pull it all together, despite a few loose strings, and deliver an exuberant two-and-a-half hour thrill ride with the mighty Avengers as they try to stop the technological enemy who is bent on human extinction, Ultron.
Despite the Avengers' fight for peace, not all the people in the world adore them. Realizing that the Avengers need a hiatus, Tony Stark attempts to jump-start a peace-keeping program Ultron so that they can take a break from saving the world. However, things quickly go wrong as Ultron immediately decides that peace can only be achieved through the obliteration of human life.
The film is simultaneously bigger yet also smaller in scale. On one hand, all of the conflict is based on Earth and therefore, there are no aliens involved (at least until the end of this film), and yet despite the smaller canvas, it becomes much denser as more characters are involved, not to forget the main villain himself. Handling a film this big is not easy and Whedon tries his best to develop his characters and while he doesn't accomplish this perfectly, he does it well enough that we get to roughly know what troubles each of these characters. And it's also welcoming that he spends more time with characters that don't have their own standalone movies such as Hawkeye, Hulk, and Black Widow.
Ultron is an interesting villain because he's different from other artificial intelligence villains. While it is true that his motives are based on logic, it's that he has a personality that sets him apart. He was jump-started by Stark, so therefore he inherits some of Stark's attributes such as his sarcasm and dry wit. But he's technological, he doesn't need the Chitauri army, he can make his own, he can reproduce at incredible rates, he can upgrade himself. He also has another perspective on the definition of peace. As long as he has access to the Internet, he's virtually unstoppable. Unlike Loki who's deceptive and mischievous, Ultron's straightforward. But the true standout was James Spader's voice. His voice was menacing, powerful and gave Ultron his signature feature.
Ultron's not the only newcomer. There's also the Maximoff twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The twins are not "mutants" but rather, a result of an experimentation conducted by Hydra member Baron von Strucker. They've suffered a harsh past and therefore, they have a very strong bond as they protect each other. Quicksilver can run incredibly fast psychic powers. These two characters provide something fresh to the film as their powers are visual delights (although that one scene from "X- Men: Days of Future Past" remains superior) but they're among the crowded canvas of super-powered characters in this film. Therefore, their characterizations are not that extensive but enough for us to relate to them and to keep the action engaging. (There's also the Vision, but it's much better that he remains as mysterious as he is now.)
Talking about the action, the action sequences are absolutely outstanding. We get an adequate dose of each character kicking ass and showcasing their powers and abilities. One thing I enjoyed was that the action took place in different locations all around the world and this was very nice to see that the conflict was global and just kept it fresh. Most of the time, I just gasped in awe and just was astonished by just how awesome the action was. Some of the shots were so jaw-dropping I wished I could immortalize them into posters. It brought my inner geek out. Apart from being exhilarating, it was also humorous and that's also another primary reason I loved about this film. Some movies work well with a dark and brooding atmosphere, but I loved that this one was not so gritty but instead, more fun and just more about the adrenaline- filled ride. But all this wouldn't be a fully baked cake without a brilliant script. The script, although unable to delve deep into each character's mind (wished Scarlet Witch explored more), ultimately reminds us that despite their incredible powers, the Avengers are still humans and have faults, and this makes them feel real and to be rooted for.
Final Verdict: It can't help but feel very crowded but Whedon ultimately manages to keep all of the gargantuan content together, despite a few slipped strings, and deliver a hugely sensational and satisfying sequel to 2012's "The Avengers".
Tip: The mid-credits scene is one to watch out for! Don't miss it!
"Do not go gentle into that good night"
Space is an interesting setting, due to its enigmatic properties, hidden secrets, and just the sense of awe it instills on us. There's something alluring to space, whether it's because of our curiosity to explore what's out there, or just because of the seemingly endless void of darkness. It's fascinating, and yet terror-inducing.
In "Interstellar", the earth has been ravaged by blight, and is in a desolate condition. Farming is the number one occupation and the only crops that still survive under the harsh conditions (frequent dust storms) is corn. Our protagonist is Cooper, a widowed engineer and former pilot who has two children, Tom and Murph. After an accidental incident, he stumbles onto a NASA hideout. There, he meets Professor Brand who informs him of the existence of a wormhole (a phenomenon that theoretically is able to act as a "shortcut" through spacetime). Then, he is requested by Brand to pilot the Endurance, an experimental spacecraft joined by Amelia (Brand's daughter), Doyle and Rommily, along with two versatile robots named CASE and TARS, on a trip to the discovered wormhole in hopes of colonizing new worlds to ensure mankind's survival. But this is a Christopher Nolan film, so there is sure to be more layers surrounding the plot of the film.
"Interstellar" boasts some of the most exhilarating and beautiful images I have ever seen on the big screen, and as i watched these spatial phenomenons unfold, I was completely baffled. I may not know much about astrophysics, but the wormhole and the spinning blackhole were extremely grand, massive, and digital wonders. Comparisons to "Gravity" will surely be present, but "Interstellar" is different enough in the sense that it has a much larger scale of setting and story then "Gravity".
One of the highlights this film carries is its scientific accuracy. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne served as the scientific consultant of this film and the movie had a lot of physical concepts, most of which were interesting, but sometimes quite hard to grasp quickly. The quite prominent concept is that of time dilation, a phenomenon that occurs due to the difference in gravitational potential. Time will pass slower when there is a higher gravitational potential. In one situation, the characters visit a planet that is in close proximity to a blackhole, which means for every one hour they're there seven hours have elapsed back on Earth. Time is a valuable resource and therefore, everything the characters do must be carefully considered. There are other concepts too such as gravity and the nature of time itself.
Running at nearly three hours long, the film runs quite slowly in the first act, sweeps up into full gear in the second (after we enter the wormhole), but ends with a quite abrupt, rushed and confusing third act. Perhaps the concept makes sense but it feels quite out of place and preposterous. Nonetheless, the film is one that will make you think, one that actually requires you to think, and one that utilizes its characters to exchange ethical ideas. Director Christopher Nolan's confident sense of direction allows this movie to successfully hit the right notes as the film progresses.
The film has a lot of big talent in its cast and Matthew McConaughey leads the pack as Cooper. Fresh off his Academy Award-winning performance from "Dallas Buyers Club", McConaughey delivers a sensational experience as a caring father who is torn between having to travel far to save the world or be with his children. Anne Hathaway is superb as Amelia Brand, a very determined astronaut who later gets caught in her own motives and becomes confused in her judgment of what's right and wrong. Jessica Chastain was also amazing, able to display her anger and frustration at her father for leaving, and also her newfound determination to do something herself to help the human race. The rest of the supporting cast couldn't be anymore better. And don't forget about the two robots TARS and CASE, very imaginative creations who provide the light-hearted humor amidst the brooding atmosphere of the film.
In conclusion, "Interstellar" is a very beautiful visual experience that will take you back to that moment when you see something that made you feel out of this world, like "2001: A Space Odyssey". It is however a long epic film filled with technical concepts of physics and therefore, quite a heavy film for your mind to work on. But with the help of a superb cast and a clear direction from Christopher Nolan, "Interstellar" is a ride you should not miss, and instead experience on the big screen in its entirety.
A Film Bursting with Energy and Beautiful Storytelling, Unstoppable Fire
"Catching Fire" is the highly awaited sequel to the immensely box-office-smasher "The Hunger Games". Based on the middle book of Suzanne Collins's best-selling trilogy, it focuses on the complications Katniss faces after her actions in the previous film, and the rising of a rebellion against the cruel Capitol.
Katniss won the 74th Hunger Games, alongside Peeta Mellark. This means that she broke the rules as a single Hunger Game can only have one victor. by threatening the Capitol, they both won the game, although this meant breaking the rules. The Capitol felt mocked. What worried the Capitol was that this instilled a spark of hope within the citizens of Panem, and a rebellion itself might be imminent. So, in an attempt to reaffirm their authoritarian power, the 75th Hunger Games is born, and its tributes (participants) are to be chosen from the existing pool of victors. Since District 12 has only had one female victor, Katniss heads back to the arena.
Characters from the previous film are back. Our heroine Katniss Everdeen is back! She's even bolder this time around and her hatred against the Capitol is very conspicuous. Peeta Mellark is also back and let's not forget his famous rival Gale Hawthorne. Amazing side characters like Haymitch Abernathy, Cinna, and Effie Trinkett return too. Oh, and don't forget the lovable Primrose Everdeen too.
New movie, new characters. There's a new Gamemaker. Seneca Crane, the man with the fabulous beard, is replaced by Plutarch Heavensbee. He's more aggressive and his affiliation is mysterious. And the tributes! Just when you thought the District 1 and 2 tributes are terrifying in the first film, the new tributes are even more dangerous, having all been victors. Gloss, Cashmere, Brutus, Enobaria are the new Careers here. Other tributes include the brilliant Beetee and Wiress from District 3, the heart-melting Finnick Odair from District 4, the aged but humble Mags from District 4, and the violent & brave Johanna Mason from District 7.
"Catching Fire" amps up the stakes considerably compared to the previous film. While in the first film, only the other tributes pose the threats to the characters. But here, not only to the tributes become even tougher, they've also got the Capitol against them. The fate of the Panem is now in uncertain hands. Trust is scarce. What they say and their true feelings must carefully considered.
New director, new style. For those who despised the infamous "shaky cam" from the previous film, well don't worry. There are no shaky takes and you can enjoy the beautiful sets and thrills without a headache. The scenes are now smooth and some of the thrilling sequences are perfectly shot, literally perfectly. Watching it in IMAX glorifies this aspect.
The sets are amazing. The Capitol is amazing, futuristic, and just awesome. Beside the beautiful Capitol, there's also other districts too that are shown in the film, most notably District 11.
Performances were outstanding. Jennifer Lawrence is without a doubt the star. THE STAR. She has incredible talent and powerful skills. Her performance is incredibly captivating and we are always with Katniss. However, that's not to say that the other members were bad. They were also great, but do not measure to Lawrence's ability. Josh Hutcherson was great as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth was stellar as Gale Hawthorne. Sam Claflin was charismatic as the handsome Finnick Odair and Jena Malone was vicious in portraying Johanna Mason. Donald Sutherland was imposing as the feared President Snow and Stanley Tucci was of course charming as the exuberant host Caesar Flickerman.
With excellent storytelling capabilities and an interesting continuation, "Catching Fire" is one hell of a ride, with exhilarating action sequences and powerful performances, especially Jennifer Lawrence as the lead heroine. This film surpasses the original film in almost all aspects. Its story is more interesting, its themes are more mature, the stakes are higher. Wonderful job!
Final Verdict: "Catching Fire" is a perfect continuation of "The Hunger Games", with fluid pace, excellent storytelling, an interesting premise, and flawless performances, most notably Jennifer Lawrence.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The God of Thunder Returns, with More Lightning
Marvel's superheroes just keep coming. It's just only been a few months since the release of the immensely successful "Iron Man 3". Now it's Thor, the God of Thunder to strike back. Thor is of course the least relatable of the Avengers. But that doesn't stop this movie from succeeding.
There are multiple references to what happened in the blockbuster "The Avengers". Often referred to as the "alien invasion in New York", it doesn't really play a major role in the primary plot in "Thor: The Dark World" itself. So, even if you haven't watched "The Avengers", don't worry, you won't feel left out.
The plot of "Thor: The Dark World" concerns with something extremely ancient. The Aether is kind of like a fluid that is extremely full of energy and is able to turn ordinary matter into dark matter. This ancient relic begins to play its part in the story after scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) travels to another world accidentally and encounters it. It is later revealed that every 5000 years, the nine realms will be in perfect alignment and therefore, borders between these worlds become blurred. This is an event known as the "Convergence".
However, due to the recent activity of the Aether, a race called by the Dark Elves, led by Malekith, are awakened. Apparently, they were once ruthless rulers who were defeated by Odin's father Bor. Bor vanquished the Dark Elves and it started a peace that lasted for thousands of years. However, Malekith wants the Aether to plunge the whole universe into total darkness. He intends to that at the peak of the "Convergence". Now, it's up to Thor to stop Malekith and his evil schemes. If Thor is to defeat Malekith, he's going to need help from someone unlikely...
Yes! A team-up between Thor and Loki. This is one of the most exciting components of the film. Thor is serious, powerful whereas Loki is wise-cracking, mischievous, and very tricky. Together, they form a very well-balanced duo and seeing them work together is true joy.
There is plenty of action. Of course! It's a superhero action movie. But the superpowers incorporated here are mighty and therefore the sequences are intensified. The Aether is slick and don't forget, Mjolnir is a ravager. The 3D is amazing and I watched this in IMAX 3D. Not all of the scenes were shot in IMAX, but some of the landscapes were incredibly beautiful. More of Asgard is revealed and it really is gorgeous.
The movie also had a comedic nature. In fact, it was funnier than I expected. The mischievous and charismatic Loki is plenty of fun to watch. Watching him on screen is pure delight and his character is extremely interesting. But you also have to keep an eye on Dr. Erik Selvig, Jane's ally. He's gone a bit crazy in this movie and therefore, his antics are hilarious in the movie.
Malekith is an all-powerful villain and he is intimidating. However, I didn't really think he was an interesting villain. His background is rich but that was short. We don't know really know Malekith. He is extremely devoid of character and sometimes, he's so boring. He, along with his race, speak a language that sounds like pre-historic dialect to me.
Performances were wonderful. Chris Hemsworth is a well-rounded character and has given Thor adequate depth. Natalie Portman is stunning as the pretty and intelligent Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins shows his class as Odin. Tom Hiddleston is flawless as Loki. His performance is top-notch. Christopher Eccleston's performance was polished enough, although his character was a bit boring.
So is it a good movie? Yes. "Thor: The Dark World" is a good sequel and I would say that this exceeds the original in quality. I enjoyed the film although the villain was kind of dull. It may fall in some aspects but overall, this is a great success. And as a Marvel film, check out the two post-credits scenes.
Final Verdict: "Thor: The Dark World" is a well-polished sequel that has great action, excellent chemistry (especially between Thor and Loki), but lacks character in the villain.
Fresh and Gripping; Space Masterpiece
"Gravity", the movie that's been talked about for quite a few months now, is something unlike any other. It has extremely beautiful shots, dazzling visuals, gripping narrative, and fantastic music. Alfonso Cuaron, director of the third "Harry Potter" film, has a guaranteed a spot as one of the masters of film-making with this film.
Set in space, a very intriguing setting, "Gravity" is a survival thriller about bio-medical engineer Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone and astronaut Matt Kowalski and their exciting tale in space as debris from a Russian anti-satellite test creates a chain of destruction that damage their space shuttle and leave them stranded in space.
The movie is pure thrill. There are so many unexpected situations and each of them is memorable. The suspense starts fairly quickly when their space shuttle is hit by high- speed debris. The music elevates the tension and therefore, each of the suspenseful scenes never fails to please the crowd. Dying and getting lost in space is quite a terrifying scenario and terrible way to end one's life, and therefore, you're going to be on the edge of your seats as the action ensues.
The visuals were magnificent. Space is intriguing and this movie provides plenty of space panoramas. We see different parts of the Earth from space and it's just splendid. I also loved that the shots were long, instead of short unsatisfying ones. The scope of the setting is massive, and this is meant to be seen in a large screen, possibly IMAX. The 3D is pure enhancements and it's definitely recommended.
"Gravity" doesn't have too many characters to play around with. Instead, we focus on Sandra Bullock's Ryan Stone, the female protagonist of the story. The other leading guy is Matt Kowalski, portrayed by George Clooney. By not having too many characters, we get to take a look inside these characters, really get to know them and this film does it, especially with the character of Dr. Ryan Stone.
The movie is headlined by two Academy Award winning actors and they are nothing short of excellent here. Bullock is so good in portraying the role of Dr. Ryan Stone here. She brought all the emotions here and was great. George Clooney was also impressive as the slightly cocky Matt Kowalski (although his role is less compared to Bullock's). They are experienced actors and this film shows just how professional they are.
Brilliant. That's the word for the film "Gravity". Never before have I seen something like this. It's gripping, it's beautiful, and perfect. This year has not been a very successful year for sci-fi but "Gravity" is different from the rest. It may contain more drama but it is nothing short of spectacular. Not all will find the brilliance but older audiences should discover just how magnificent this film is. "Gravity" is wow!
Final Verdict: "Gravity" is an experience like no other and will engage audiences with its thrills, visuals, and plot as if it's gravity itself.
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
James Wan is on a hot streak this summer. After the success of July's "The Conjuring", he returns to deliver more thrills in "Insidious: Chapter 2", the sequel to the horrifying "Insidious". It may not compare to "The Conjuring", but "Insidious: Chapter 2" is also definitely a thrilling experience.
The main characters from the first film are back and the story picks up directly from the end of the first film. The Lambert family are back and the target of hauntings again. Patric Wilson is back as the head of the family, Josh Lambert and Rose Byrne is back as Renai Lambert. The kids are also back and even Specs and Tuckrr are back. The only new members are the new ghosts.
The story is similar to the first one, about astral projections. This time, it's the dad. They move to Lorraine's (Josh's mother) home to stay and strange occurrences still happen; the piano playing by itself, the baby's toy turning on by itself. Then they connect it to a mysterious person and it gets creepy.
The film is quite interesting. The flashbacks and background stories are intriguing and creepy. But what made the movie succeed was its shocks. The movie is skillful in producing scares and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was well-done too and provided quite the tension. The performances were also not too shabby and well-done.
However, what I felt was that kind of got repetitive towards the end. It was definitely formulaic and therefore, in the end, it got kind of annoying. In the end, the conclusion was nothing surprising and therefore played out normally. The last scene was quite expected and it's not surprising that the third installment is in the works right now.
But overall, "Insidious: Chapter 2" is quite a fun experience and it delivers quite enough shocks to satisfy horror fans. It may not surpass the freshness of the first film but "Chapter 2" is quite satisfying.
Final Verdict: Not a huge accomplishment, but "Insidious: Chapter 2" is a fun horror flick with an adequate amount of scares and is quite creepy.
Revisiting "Pitch Black"?
That's the kind of experience you're going to face when you watch this third installment of the "Riddick" franchise. Coming off the moderate second film, "Riddick" goes back to its roots and presents itself as basically a replica of the first film, a tale of survival.
There is practically no story here. The only scene that had more of a story lies in the first ten minutes. And it's not part of the main storyline, it came as a flashback describing how Riddick ended up in the desolate planet that will become the setting of this film. It is revealed that after Riddick became the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, he wished to go back to his home planet of Furya. He made a deal with Vaako that he will be brought to Furya in exchange of him relinquishing the crown to Vaako. After Riddick lands on a desolate planet which he believes to be Furya, it is revealed that it is not Furya and he has been betrayed by the Necromongers. The Necromongers leave him and Riddick is stranded here. From then on, there is no single mention of the Necromongers anymore and it's basically a revamped "Pitch Black" all over again. (At one point, Riddick even said that it was the beginning all over again).
The first part of the movie was delivered in a very slow pace. We got to see Riddick beat up the deadly animals alone. There isn't a variety of creatures here; I only found three (striped feline creature, giant scorpions, and pterodactyls). However, there was one bright spot of the film that offered humor for the film and was a bit unexpected. Riddick takes care of one of the striped feline creature and soon it becomes Riddick's companion. The creature is actually quite adorable (an unusual word used to associate with the term "Riddick"). That was the only character that was actually quite interesting.
The other characters (the mercenaries) were dull and boring except the incredibly annoying Santana. I'll admit, at some points, he was actually pretty funny and provided the movie a comedic tone. However, sometimes, he just came across as being annoying and presenting the characters with additional problems. The side characters were basically unknown. You only know their names, but you don't know who they actually are. We don't know anything about them, because they're all so busy shooting the monsters.
This is what goes on for the rest of the movie. The mercenaries hid the battery as they intend to use the function-less ship as bait. Riddick stole it and put it somewhere far away. They don't make an agreement until a storm comes where large hordes of giant scorpions come lurking out. The two alliances comply to each other's terms and attempt to pass through the large flocks of scorpions and retrieve the battery. That's basically the whole movie aka "Pitch Black" all again.
The action sequences were quite thrilling, but nothing to brag about. It was quite standard with all the slashing and blood. The film is actually quite bloody and extreme. There are many decapitations and lots of blood. The creatures are too quite disgusting with all the organs lying around in some cases. But the action scenes were one of the positives of the movie. Another positive is the comedic theme incorporated here. It actually worked and was quite well done.
"Riddick" is certainly an improvement over "The Chronicles of Riddick" but is definitely steps below the original "Pitch Black". It is basically a revamped version of "Pitch Black". Newcomers won't find this that great but fans should find themselves quite satisfied with this installment (although I was a bit let down by the alarmingly close similarity to the first film).
Final Verdict: "Riddick" is a near-exact replica of the original "Pitch Black" that should offer enough to satisfy fans, but not newcomers.