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|38 reviews in total|
Biographical sports drama Rush tracks the strictly competitive rivalry
between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1970s.
Even before you've arrived at the starting line, there may be understandable scepticism on whether Rush is really a race you wish to run with. However, like Moneyball (2011) before it, I was pleasantly surprised at how investing a story about a sport I know nothing about and care nothing for could be. Cars are useless without people to drive them. Rush is a vehicle painted with a core theme of the professional and personal consequences of fierce rivalry, between it two primary passengers. Formula One racing is just the fuel to push the vehicle to its eventual destination.
It is a story worth telling, both for those who were spectating during the 1970s, and for those like myself who are still taking driving lessons and didn't know the names Niki Lauda or James Hunt until this film existed. Behind Ron Howard's careful direction and sensitivity to the story, Rush invites its audience to witness the depth of competitiveness that Lauda and Hunt travelled through. Its expertly crafted pace, detail and tone complement the (f)actual events also, with Niki Lauda even expressing his positive reaction to the film's look and accuracy.
Despite a 123 minute run, your legs feel motionless. Rush is a timeless tale in two senses: 1. Its great display of the triumphs and pitfalls that competitiveness can have are accessible and applicable throughout history, throughout the modern world, and probably will be throughout the future 2. The film is so engrossing that not once did I question how much time had passed nor how close we were to the end. Rush has enough continuous momentum to take us to the end of the journey without exhausting emissions, as we cruise through seamlessly to the finish line
With its fantastic editing and storytelling techniques to push the story along without making it feel, dare I say...Rushed, Rush masterfully places its two protagonists in lanes so far apart that only their egos are able to fill the empty space. Like Batman and The Joker, Hunt and Lauda are represented as polar opposites whom were almost destined to become competitors, as it is only their mutual rivalry that fuels their motivation to win. Without one competing with such passion, the other wouldn't have the passion to compete at all.
The story is only complemented further by the enthralling performances of Daniel Brühl (Lauda) and Chris Hemsworth (Hunt), in addition to Olivia Wilde's brief yet brilliant supporting role. Rush's arrival at the finish line is as smooth as the ride that Ron Howard takes us along throughout. Thrilling, investing, interesting and well-made flawlessness, is about all one could request of a biopic that centres around such sensitive source-material. Rush is exciting, frightening but most of all the right thing to catch up to in theatres as its release seems to be on its final laps around UK tracks, so rush to see it. Oh dear I wrote it again.
The greatest flaw of the written word when encountered by languages'
other supreme companion, the spoken word, is the absence of voice. More
specifically, the power to speak in an epic manner (like that of
voice-over artists in film trailers) is silently nonexistent on paper.
Nonetheless, if you get vocally equipped to impersonate legendary
voices such as Don LaFontaine, then this review may make slightly more
(*Cue voice) In a world, where actress Lake Bell makes her feature- length writing/directorial debut, one woman peruses her dream of achieving success in the male-dominated profession that is, movie- trailer voice-over artistry.
Starting out as an amateur vocal coach, the film's protagonist Carol (Bell) battles prejudice, unlikely competitors and 'sexy baby' voices in her aspirations to be heard and eradicate squeaky vocal trends women have adopted. Even with its ambitious yet necessary purpose, In a World... is grounded by its comedic realism and vocal propriety.
In a World... is genuinely hilarious throughout almost every scene. There is something peculiar about observing real world annoyances as opposed to experiencing them. Watching someone awkwardly climb in and out of the backseat of a three-door car is, for some reason, a lot more amusing than attempting the feat yourself. Lake Bell's witty writing, timing and controlled comedy is astonishingly insightful due to its relatable nature, proving how being loud, obnoxious and repetitive is the inferior course for cinematic comedy.
Its realism is really the film's greatest contradiction. In a World... orbits and gravitates towards the world of voice-over artists and the business elements behind it. The film tells its audience of the deceitfulness that can occur in industry to get ahead. It echoes the dishonesty of voice over work itself, as essentially the artists are just pretending that films are great with modified voices when they work. Bell enlightens her audience to the falseness and often harsh reality of being an undervalued artist, by conveying these motifs as modern day issues, with genius, real humour to ensure its eventual light-hearted and grounded purpose.
In a World... articulates the nonlinear path towards silencing prejudice. As Carol's voice breaks through an industry monopolised by males, she realises that the resolution to gender equality can perish and give way to tokenism. In a World... establishes that idealism is achievable through correcting the minor issues ('sexy baby' voices) before the more important feminist battle of universal fairness can be accomplished. Even with its truths of the current state of female representation and tokenistic values in the workplace, In a World... thankfully doesn't force its values down your throat, instead allowing a clear airway for you to express how undeniably likable, enjoyable and cool the film actually is.
In a World... is its own voice. It speaks of the power of the spoken word, of language, communication and how devastating or fantastic it all can be. It verbalises and gives recognition to a visually hidden yet audible industry. It reveals the many talents of Lake Bell and surprising range in Rob Corddry's (Hot Tub Time Machine) acting, whom we usually see in wacky, comically hyperbolic roles. In spite of all its resonance, In a World... is unlikely to be heard or appreciated by a large number, due to its limited release.
(*Cue voice) Witness one of the funniest films in years. Lake Bell has established herself as an excellent writer/director, in her creation of an effortless and pleasant film about the world of voice-over. Stop at nothing to hear, see and experience Lake Bell's In a World... while you still can.
Avoiding temptation, I will use my powers to circumvent writing
Kick-Ass 2 "Kicks Ass" in this review. This should be made easier by
the fact that this sequel to the 2010 original is immensely
disappointing and will mostly entertain teenagers who are too young to
Unlike most soul-squashing sequels, Kick-Ass 2's pitfalls cannot be found within the film's narrative...for the most part. Kick-Ass 2 continues the story of its titular character (Dave Lizewski) and Mindy Macready (Hit-Girl) as they deal with the temptations of both vigilantism and 'normal' life in high school. When Colonel Stars and Stripes assembles "Justice Forever", a group of aspiring heroes, Kick- Ass leaps back into the green and yellow spandex, while Hit-Girl decides the school hallways are a more fitting suit for her. Meanwhile, a 'super'villain calling himself The Motherf*cker assembles his own team to take revenge on Kick-Ass and other heroes after the events of the first film, completing the premise.
The premise is promising, and opens up some fun and entertaining altercations throughout Kick-Ass 2. Though predictable, it doesn't force itself not to be, and so is simple enough to follow also. Seeing the formations of opposing hero/villain teams gives the film its super strength and flight that elevates the story higher than almost all other abilities and features the sequel has. The more underwhelming aspects of the story involve Hit-Girl's, or now Mindy's, affliction with high school drama. While Chloë Grace Moretz does a great job in her role, the strikingly odd and alienating Mean Girls similarities feel exploitative of current trends, thus eliminating your enjoyment for the narrative overall.
Kick-Ass 2 doesn't take itself too seriously. The film promises profanity, effortless viewing, blood and entertainment. Unfortunately, the latter of the four falls through the floor and is brutally ravaged under the new direction and writing of Jeff Wadlow. As if the director thought Kick-Ass (2010) was too acoustic, he attempts to amplify and exploit the sequel's predecessor with a messy, jarring and unbalanced 103 minute melody.
Wadlow drops the genesis into a tank of thrashing sharks, hoping the messy splashes are enough to mask the abysmal continuation of a franchise that would have been better left unscathed. To reveal my true meaning, which no character in Kick-Ass 2 ever does, the simple and moderately enjoyable plot is surrounded by monotonous humour, senseless motivations and uncomfortable sexual exploits, involving 15 year-old dancers and a supposedly 'funny' scene suggesting rape. Further, the violence feels over-the-top even for over-the-top violence. This makes Kick-Ass 2 difficult to enjoy because the camera is shaking around in unison with your head's attempts to keep up, along with the shakes of disappointment and disbelief.
It appears that the writer/director took the common comic book theme of identity crises far too seriously. There are too many moments of Kick- Ass 2 that feel out of place or imbalanced. Some scenes delve into dark narrative turns that force Kick-Ass to deal with the consequences. Then the following scene will have crudely unfunny moments of abnormal bodily dysfunctions. Unlike the first film, the two tones do not blend well as they are of such extremes that they can hardly see one another as they drift apart.
More positively, Wadlow manages to introduce a few new cool characters to the team. The most notable members include Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, Donald Faison as Dr. Gravity and Lindy Booth as Night B*tch. Carrey and Faison aren't given an amount of screen time that would justify their characters being embedded into our memories. Nonetheless, they are appreciated when on screen as being some of the only actually funny and enjoyable elements in Kick-Ass 2.
It is two hours of escapism sure, but there are times when the fire escape in the corner of your eye looks more appealing as you feel your head is about to explode. Kick-Ass 2 is essentially a recycled version of the first Kick-Ass film meets Mean Girls; it's the same gift with a new bow on top. Though you may wish to keep the receipt for this one as once unwrapped, you'll have wished you never received it. Kick-Ass 2 most definitely does not Kick A...ny other recent cinematic release from your attention, and I would recommend forgetting this film completely as it fails to bring justice to its significantly superior predecessor.
Many had presumed that Marvel's mutated franchise and even their
indestructible adamantium machine could not heal after the
disappointing releases of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and then X-Men
Origins: Wolverine in 2009. Nonetheless, the 2011 prequel X-Men: First
Class and this 126 minute journey half way across the world to Japan
have managed to mend these wounds. The Wolverine unleashes a fresh,
X-citing and much anticipated focus on the character that is not
impenetrable from criticism but is pretty much what any Wolverine fan
and cinemagoer could have hoped for.
The Wolverine opens with the titular character inexplicably placed in Nagasaki, where he rescues a military officer from the tragic atomic blast during The Second World War. In the present day, following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan, no longer considering himself the Wolverine, wanders the wilderness in anguish over the deaths of those close to him, which he must deal with eternally due to his curse of immortality.
What sets this film apart from other comic-book adventures corresponds to what makes Wolverine a unique character. The Wolverine sees its anti- hero on a quest for death more so than anything else. He does not seek heroics, recognition, justice or anything good, only the privilege of an end to his everlasting misery by death, which is brought to life tremendously by the film's screenplay and of course the Wolverine himself: Hugh Jackman.
The Wolverine calmly claws you in almost throughout its run in a beastly variety of ways. The Japanese landscapes provides a fresh setting, and makes the film visually interesting even when we are away from the action. Cinematographer Ross Emery captures the really X-traodinarily beautiful Japanese backdrops that are a refreshing change from New York skyscrapers.
While The Wolverine is great to look at when the beast's claws are retracted, the film is equally appealing when a regrettable soul gives Wolverine a reason to unleash the beast within. Notably, a scene involving a moving train is Class 5, stands out most memorably as the strongest amongst the film's action sequences. The final battle, while albeit a little uninteresting due to its loudness and surrender to clichés, can be forgiven due to its eventual satisfactory outcome.
One unfortunate element to the film that is less forgiving however, probably primarily from my own and comic-book fans' perspective, is the disappointing, unintimidating and lacklustre villain in Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). The actress is just a little difficult to understand at times, through both voice, and the fact her and the character seem to hold no real motivation or clear threat.
Unlike X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this significantly improved 2013 attempt is considerably well, more considerate to the character, with attention to plot, pacing and overall a more focused and consistent tone. The Wolverine dives claws first into the darkness of its protagonist, exploring how Logan's emotional scars cannot heal and are ever present, becoming increasingly burdening over time as he attempts to fix these unfixable wounds that torture him eternally.
It is almost redundant at this stage, 13 years after the first X-Men film was released, to praise Hugh Jackman for his consistently tremendous and irreplaceable portrayal of Logan/Wolverine. Almost, but not quite. Redundancy can be sliced and forgotten because Jackman simply owns the role of the X-Men's most beloved mutant. I have my suspicions that he actually might be the Wolverine, because the actor does not appear to age and is getting increasingly powerful with each performance. Hugh Jackman simply dominates his character, and hopefully will continue to do so for as long as mutantly possible, which in Wolverine's case, should mean forever.
The Wolverine is one best of the X-Men film franchise, with its cool story, fresh setting, great and appropriately slow pace for a broken character, X-citing action scenes and a mostly perfect cast. The Wolverine may be picked last in class when many retrospectively consider 2013's best comic book adaptations. However, the James Mangold film is so far the surprise pick of the pack as it has exceeded expectations and filled any dubious doubts with cinematic satisfaction. While not quite a match for Superman's Steel, Wolverine's adamantium has far surpassed Iron (Man 3) and now has cinema-goers, comic book fans and I, anticipating next year's addition to the mutated series, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The Incredible, Brave and universally Monstrous animation studio Pixar
have undeniably been heard roaring the loudest with their 14 feature
films amounting to their reputation at the forefront of motion picture
animation, and film in general. The studio's small in number yet great
in quality features make it unsurprising that there is a particular
expectation for the animators to deliver more masterful art in the
present and future. However, most recently Pixar have delved into the
past with their first and very highly anticipated prequel, Monsters
Monsters, Inc. (2001) brought Pixar into the 21st century by opening doors into an entirely unique universe for audiences of all ages to enter. 12 years later, and the children who grew up with Sully, Mike and the rest of Monstropolis have been invited back to experience a stage in these great characters' lives that many of us also find ourselves in: university.
Monsters University sees Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan meet for the first time as they both desire to attain their major from the Scare Program but both have different views on how to pass the class. While Mike operates as the educated, hardworking, fearless yet physically unintimidating scarer, Sully excels fearsomely well at the scaring, but lacks the motivation, courage and book smarts Mike possesses, causing the pair to become rivals.
The writers constructively use the beloved on screen relationship between Mike and Sully to explore their differences in Monsters University, which are ironically everything they need to complete each other as a pair, as classmates, as colleagues and as who knows what if Pixar decide to expand the Monsters franchise further. This prequel justifies itself solely in the exploration of Mike and Sully's match as the perfect scare team; yin and yang embodied on screen.
As if Pixar were not punctual enough with the timely release of Monsters University (MU) for those who grew up with the original, but its setting also plays host to the film's central storyline which follows the MU Scare Games. With the release of this monster movie coinciding with the one year anniversary of the hugely successful London Olympics, Pixar manages to capture a marginal fictionalised element of magic that the 2012 Games accumulated, but a fraction alone is enough to captivate audiences, which Monsters University does indeed.
The parallels between the challenges that the MU fraternities must face and those accomplished last summer are certainly not forced in this prequel, and so make for delightfully relevant entertainment as we see Mike and Sully reluctantly join the same fraternity to fight for their survival in the university's Scare Program, overcoming numerous, humorous obstacles along the way.
Monsters University has a mix of fun features, all contained within a single, fun feature film. Whether you're a toy, bug, monster, fish, superhero, car, rat, robot or most likely just an everyday human, Monsters University will almost definitely delight and satisfy with enough laughs to energise the whole of Monstropolis. Pixar really unhooked the leash in 2013, having changed the tone from Monsters, Inc. whilst still managing to keep the collar on this prequel to ensure it belongs to the 2001 animation. While it lacks the heart and depth of the original, Monsters University surpasses its predecessor with a blend of humour, visual vibrancy and enough universityisms to keep any student mentally reaching out to the screen in relation, as the film reaches out to us in so many ways.
Monsters University has many welcome throwbacks (or throw forwards chronologically speaking if you prefer) to Monsters, Inc. that are only supplementary magical moments to the energetic, Monstrously good, nonstop party of animated fun. Monsters University proves that Pixar can graduate to prequels and still remain successful. The studio has just about every metaphorical studious qualification imaginable, and yet their fantastic writers, directors, animators and actors continue to imagine and conceive new, unique artwork. This provides us with excellent family fun, heart-warming stories and allegories, with Monsters University as the latest, and certainly one of the greatest. In all fairness however, most of Pixar's features sit atop their greatest offerings as it is difficult to favour one over the other.
"We always thought alien life would come from the stars, but it came
from deep beneath the sea". In fact, director Guillermo del Toro
brought new life to the monster movie genre with the epic and
undeniably entertaining Pacific Rim right here on land.
Pacific Rim delivers just about what one might expect from seeing its trailers or even just hearing about it. Guillermo del Toro's vision is complex in its ambition and scale, but simple enough in its high-concept premise. When the Pacific Ocean receives an unwelcome portal between dimensions, alien life invites itself into our world and certainly doesn't wish to remain unnoticed as mass destruction of Earth's infrastructure ensues. In response, the Jaeger Project is born, creating monsters of our own to combat the deadly, in a sense, subterranean species. Del Toro immediately invites us into his multidimensional universe, with the cinema screen acting as the portal where for 131 minutes you are transported on a journey of majestic imagery.
The initial 30 minutes in this new universe, (a universe which is only further enhanced by the third dimension and IMAX experience) is unfortunately spent telling us what we probably already know. There are certain films where you wish you had known less going in as surprises are spoiled by your anticipation and natural assumptions. Pacific Rim differs in no way and in fact could have benefited from more constructive and ambiguous pre-released material as its opening half- hour is more or less an extended version of the trailers. As with most stories however, judgment should really be reserved until its middle and end have executed their purpose.
Pacific Rim is effortlessly enjoyable, tie-in toyable, with monsters and robots readily deployable into battle sequences so convincing and grand, that you look up to the screen as you would these monsters in real life and this makes Del Toro rightly employable.
While the action has you synchronised unbreakably with Del Toro's vision due to the prowess of the CGI, which just feels like I alone, you cannot help but wish for the camera to take a giant step backwards. Although obviously done intentionally, Del Toro leaves the camera awkwardly in between the action at times, and the result is perplexing. With films such as Jaws (1975) and Cloverfield (2008), the devastating creatures are purposefully obscure visually and shown infrequently to heighten the sense of danger and fear of the unknown. Meanwhile, with Jurassic Park (1993) and other similar creature features, we are monstrously engaged and aesthetically informed by being able to see the action and nonhuman characters clearly afar when necessary. Pacific Rim is uncomfortably framed in between this spectrum at times and this unfortunately lessens the visual value and experience of the film overall.
While the battle sequences are the most anticipated, decorated and appropriately stated highlights of Pacific Rim, they are only setpieces to the much bigger war. The primary point of interest away and even importantly within the action is the film's central theme of unification. Seeing the abandonment of international conflicts, petty feuds and meaningless separation between Earth's people holds a great deal of truth to it when faced with a common enemy. Del Toro maintains this theme consistently throughout the feature, with the giant Jaeger robots even requiring a coalition between two pilots emotionally and cerebrally to function capably.
While puny individual Earthlings are thrown in for purposes of making the film grounded and recognisable, it's really the robots and aliens you came to see. Nonetheless, Idris Elba and the brief yet excellent performance of child actress Mana Ashida stand out chiefly even when facing the immeasurable monsters at their doors.
Pacific Rim is quite literally a groundbreaking feat in cinematic excellence because Guillermo del Toro immerses his audience into his world, his galaxy, his universe with relative ease, and the goal to please, which he achieves. While it has its flaws and calculates its fair share of question marks for itself, Pacific Rim is difficult to deny as anything but entertainment. It's simple, it's smashing, its scale is felt with incredible zealous. It's Pacific Rim.
Where to begin? Well this origin story begins as a Superbly Magnificent
retelling of one of the most recognisable fictional figures on the
planet today. Man of Steel remains consistently loyal to its title,
showcasing Clark Kent's perceived misplacement into a world unknown to
his abilities, introducing Kal-El as the lost part of this
misunderstood Man, who finally Steels the show once a threat to Earth
results in his acceptance of his freedom to do right, and become the
shining beacon of hope for mankind: Superman.
With Henry Cavill as our nearest, powerful star, and a near unfathomably remarkably talented and irreplaceable cast to play the supporting characters orbiting him constantly, Man of Steel is nothing but awesome to watch from just an acting and characterisation aspect alone. Director Zach Snyder, Writer David S. Goyer and Producer Christopher Nolan, along with the perfect casting of Cavill, all manage to converge the three parts of the protagonist's identity (Clark Kent, Kal-El and Superman) with such delicacy and flawless excellence that makes the titular character, the Man of Steel himself, the highlight in this comic book film. Narrative, visual effects, music and everything else aside, Man of Steel is carried through galaxies because of its tremendously executed character study that cements itself firmly into the realms of other great superhero films including Spider-Man (2002) and Batman Begins (2005). Of course, the existence of a star is meaningless if the satellites orbiting it are not naturally flourishing with life, but oh Man do the supporting characters make gazing upon on screen stars a privilege to be a cinemagoer. Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Antje Traue and Michael Shannon among others, certainly collaborate as their own glowing constellation, and you cannot help but gape in enjoyment, and in doing so you might attain heat vision with how intensely enchanting the actors are.
Structurally, Man of Steel adopts a fairly unique craft in presenting Clark Kent's craving for a legitimate identity, with flashbacks to expose the routes of his anguish set upon him by his paternal father Jonathon Kent (Costner). These scenes are surprisingly amongst the greatest that the film offers, with Superb character development and emotional depth that has yet to be reached by any other comic book adaptation other than Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. As someone not at all fond of the Superman character before seeing Man of Steel, I was captivated by Snyder's and the cast's ability to provoke such emotion from what I thought would only be an action film, though I could not have been more incorrect, as it is so much more.
The main narrative is by no means unique. Primary villain General Zod of the Kryptonian race, attempts to carry out plans we have seen a number of times before, but his motivation behind this is extremely convincingly elaborated and explored through Shannon's portrayal. Though at times slightly overshadowed by his sidekick Faora (Antje Traue), Shannon is worthy of the title General as it is in his DNA to be so. This is what sets him apart from Cavill's iconic character. Superman's DNA enables the freedom to decide what is right and wrong, but is primarily nurtured by the presence of biological father Jor-El (Crowe) and both Kent parents.
There are honestly too many features to applaud throughout Man of Steel. The film is undoubtedly a masterful work of filmmaking in its aesthetically astounding set-pieces, which while very much overloaded into Man of Steel, are still appropriately contained by the visual prowess of Zach Snyder and the special effects team. Additionally, Hans Zimmer yet again delivers his trademark composition; that trademark being majestic excellence that is simply a pleasure to listen to, with or without the Super images to accompany it on screen. There is almost no escaping the beautiful visuals and sounds that make up this 144 minute feature, not that you would want to miss a second. Watching Man of Steel, you feel like Superman taking his first flight, taking in the incredible sights with an enormous grin of delight in spite of the fright that the experience might not have reached the height of your expectations. Well right from lift off, Man of Steel is a truly thrilling and enjoyable cinematic experience, frame by frame, scene by scene, act to act, Man of Steel is immensely wonderful until you feet get back on the ground and the last credit scrolls out of you vision.
Even though towards the film's conclusion, the title Men of Steel feels more appropriate as seemingly unwanted characters begin to overshadow General Zod and the Man of the hour (well two hours, twenty-four minutes), indeed, Superman Returns (pun intended) and the on screen revival of the character comes to a most satisfactory end. This is a thankful return, as without the core character to standout amongst the features that orbit him, Man of Steel would not have been the phenomenal film that it is. You could pause Man of Steel at almost any moment and witness sensational cinematography. You could close your eyes and just listen to genius Hans Zimmer composition. You could even just walk into the theatre midway through the screening and avoid the character development, and appreciate the jaw-dropping action sequences. Doing any of these would result in substantial enjoyment I can almost assure, but you would also most likely miss out on the Man, who is actually quite Super even without the cape.
"Come in close. Because the more you think you see, the easier it'll be
to fool you..." Not only do the distributors of Now You See Me use this
piece of gripping dialogue as the tagline for the film, but exhibitors
will also utilise it to trick international audiences into delving into
their pockets and wasting their time with this enormously disappointing
and unexciting caper film. Now You See Me follows the story of four
magicians, known as The Four Horsemen, as they captivate the world with
'magical', near inexplicable bank heists before rewarding their
audiences and supporters with the money they take. The only trickery
happening here is being hypnotised by the highly intriguing trailer,
only to find you yourself have been robbed as you sit in disbelief that
you paid to see a film that is about as unique and intricate as a card
game of snap!
Despite the sensational ensemble of Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, they fail to assemble accordingly. They all deliver satisfactory performances but are not given the opportunity to flourish as we may have seen them do so in past roles. This is primarily due to the fact that director Louis Leterrier, along with the writers, attempt to pull too many rabbits out of the hat at one time and so rather than enjoy one bunny at a time, we instead see a ton of terrific actors be undervalued and restricted in showcasing their talents. Most oddly, The Four Horsemen (Eisenberg, Fischer, Harrelson and Franco) are even given surprisingly little screen time after their thirty minute introduction as the film begins.
In all fairness, Now You See Me does remain consistent. Consistently unintriguing that is. The film's aforementioned tagline, along with unsubtle hints scattered dubiously throughout regarding the illusionary concept of misdirection, completely ruin any surprise and twist that the 'suspense' film has to offer. By doing this the film leaves little to be unveiled during the climax, one would think, though time is actually wasted explaining all of the plot points you already guessed, while conjuring up new components to the story that remain unresolved and/or illogically explained to the extent that even in a film about magic/illusions, you fail to believe any of the tricks being performed. The illusion of cinema fails as much as the illusion of magic fails to prevail in Now You See Me.
Now You See Me is comparable to the student who believes they are the cool fresher on campus, the funniest, with a unique personality, and a mistaken sense of self-intelligence that causes them to continue to contribute to seminars despite the fact they never answer anything correctly. No, in fact, Now You See Me needs to be told by its peers (let's say that's us) that it is not nearly as intellectually gifted, cool, witty or exceptional as it pretends to be. You most certainly will not miss out on anything if you chose not to befriend this dull, generic and embarrassingly misleading film, that is posing as an intricate and sophisticated figure on the surface.
When the first thought on my mind after exiting my cinema seat after Now You See Me was "I actually wish the film had been sold out so I could have returned home to watch The Prestige (2006) or see Man of Steel (2013) again", it pretty much encapsulates my attitude towards the disappointing Leterrier film. While there is nothing necessarily evident to hate in Now You See Me, there is not a single component to commend as great either. Now You See Me is truly a forgettable 115 minute time thief, and though I have Seen it Now, I would have preferred instead to have missed it and been kept under the illusion that it was in fact an intricate tale, rather than a misdirected fail.
Even with an extremely strong and enticing premise at the forefront to
paint over the array of farcical stupidity and predictability, The
Purge's core foundation that caused audiences to stop and stare is
unable to completely gloss over the film's plethora of flaws as they
seep through the cracks. The finishing coat that is the idea behind the
film does just about enough to prevail and not fade away to the
questionable layers beneath it. The Purge follows a family's struggle
on one very 'special' night of the year; a night in the near future,
where all crime is legal (including murder) and emergency services are
disbanded for a period of twelve hours, which has radically reduced
crime and allows for economic prosperity throughout the rest of the
year. That premise alone intrigues via only a simple synopsis, and in
the film, this fascinating night just about maintains what could have
been a disastrous and laughable trip to the cinema, as a moderately
The Purge successfully creates its world in the opening title sequence. You instantly believe and accept the film's set-up and despite some annoying characters, the film undeniably has your attention, if only for a little while longer. The greatest feature of The Purge is its ability to remain relevant, before, during and after seeing it. While many may remember it for the wrong reasons, it can certainly impress by encouraging the audience to consider during to themselves, and ask aloud to those around them after, "What would you do in that situation?" The trailer reveals the family's son as a young and somewhat idealistic figure whom opens the family's security system to allow an unknown victim of the purge to find solace in their home. Would you risk your own safety for the potential rescue of a wounded stranger? These are the kinds of questions that The Purge elicits very triumphantly, and it is nothing but a shame that these social, moral issues were not delved into more critically. The Purge is a film that should be remade into a drama/thriller piece, taken more seriously and produced more coherently to restore its purpose that got lost along the way of this 2013 supposedly 'horror' effort. It doesn't really warrant the categorisation of horror, due its lack of fear inducing power other than a couple of jump scares.
The Purge manages to defy logic and reason on multiple levels, and not the levels that one would expect it to. The film in fact has a very convincing, albeit radical, premise that you adopt as reality, and with its rising action to maintain a sense of intensity rather than fear, The Purge disappoints by behaving foolishly elsewhere. First and foremost, the decisions of certain characters make little to no sense, leaving the audience to ponder over their judgement, rather than remain engaged with the film itself. Additionally, The Purge treats, or more so mistreats its audience very condescendingly, to the extent that you actually question whether the filmmakers just gave up trying to convince anyone of anything half way through production. There are countless instances of characters being save 'just in the nick of time', and it becomes frustratingly disappointing as after the first successful try, they just continue to demean all viewers by creating a idiotically predictable plot that a toddler could decipher in seconds.
On the arrival of that moment in The Purge when you come to the realisation that it failed to live up to expectation and is disregarding so much logic and reason that you think at any time gravity might be dismissed, then you can finally just have fun with the film. Despite its refreshing premise, The Purge breaks its promise of being an inviting social commentary and becomes a simply disappointing yet watchable slasher-like flick.
Oddly, I would have to concede that in spite of all of my hate for The Purge's silliness, woeful acting by some, and the frustrating delusional mentality of many of its characters, the film is overall still reasonably enjoyable and not completely worthless. In fact, it is certainly worthwhile, which is exclusively attributable to the conception of the foundational idea that is required to juggle the remaining frightful (not in the intended manner) features of the film, whilst balancing itself. Unfortunately, many of these features are such abysmal that The Purge's premise can only handle so much responsibility, and many of these disastrous elements of the film fall to the ground, in the mud, where they belong. Nonetheless, The Purge is memorable for its highly unique criminological approach that maintains intrigue throughout most of the film, and shall perhaps linger importantly for its impressive aptitude for giving the audience something to debate amongst themselves after walking out of the 85 minute feature.
Being forcefully persuaded into seeing a film when you have no interest
or knowledge of it is one thing; but to then be pleasantly surprised at
your own delight and enjoyment of that very same film is certainly
another. Behind the Candelabra follows the contextually tragic moments
in the life of the musical entertainer Liberace, and unfortunately is
likely to remain somewhat of a hidden treasure due to its limited
release. The cinephiles that are fortunate enough to discover it
beneath the grains of less humorous, less glamorous and less genuine
cinematic offerings (which all still garner abundantly more popularity)
will hopefully have discovered a truly refreshing gem of a drama film.
Behind the Candelabra is a HBO Films production that has been reserved to a US television release as well as a limited European exhibition, due to its thematic content being "too gay" as director Steven Soderbergh articulated. This devastating justification from the Hollywood studios for not picking up the film is as tragic as Liberace's own fear for the economic impact and public reputation that he believed he would see diminish if his personal life were to be known. Sadly, as the majority of fans probably never knew of Liberace's true personality, today's majority will not have the pleasure of witnessing this pure and remarkably emotional biographical film.
Despite the film itself being projected on screen, Soderbergh's true intentions are for the emotion of the film to be directed and projected onto us: the audience. Behind the Candelabra is truly enjoyed and experienced as a collective group with every other cinemagoer in the room, though you yourself will forget there is another soul in the theatre due to the emotionally investing 118 minute feature in front of your eyes that takes you away from your own reality and places you in an interpretation of Liberace's.
Michael Douglas' magical performance as the once internationally renowned entertainer captivates your consciousness with his electric charm, fabulously worn costumes and overall tremendous acting ability. Douglas' performance however only constitutes 50% of the relationship that the film revolves around, and is irrelevant without Matt Damon's pivotal and magnificent portrayal of Liberace's other half, Scott Thornson. The relationship they share, IS the film. Without the two talents to confidently and charismatically carry Thornson and Liberace into the 21st century, the film would certainly fall apart and lack the sense of purity that the two actors manage to organically create as they collaborate. It is a great sadness to see the relationship stumble over avoidable hurdles, and conversely a thing of beauty to see the non- fictional characters high jump over obstacles to sustain their romance.
Other features of the film greatly supplement the focal relationship and characters to a quite notable degree. While Douglas and Damon certainly carry the film, Soderbergh piles other cinematic elements atop of the actors' hands which make for a visually and audibly delightful experience. The costumes, sets, locations and most emphatically the soundtrack are powerfully incorporated to give Soderbergh's film an enjoyable charm, and while only supplementary to the core relationship, they are distinctly memorable due to their grandeur through both sight and sound.
The only thing lacking in Behind the Candelabra is that there is nothing negative to criticise about the film. This is a rare feature of any motion picture, and it is the result of great filmmaking. Behind the Candelabra is consistently purposeful from one scene to the next. It is subtly humorous when appropriate, tragically emotional on cue and ultimately continuously engaging throughout. While it may not receive the attention it deserves, Behind the Candelabra remains amongst the best of the opening half of this year's film releases that I have seen, and particularly is the most genuine and purposeful.
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