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(in order of release)
Still, have a look though. These people could still have the opportunity of being the 13th.
The Mummy (2017)
Adventurous, scary, thrilling...in other words, FUN!
People, it's way past time to stop making comparisons to previous versions. It's time to stop nitpicking at every single thing. It's time to get off the high-and-mighty pedestals you've set other films on. It's time to stop looking for high-class art in every film. It's far beyond time for you to just go to the cinema and experience the one thing, the sole thing, movies were invented for.
The Mummy (2017) is one particular film that was made for fun and enjoyment. It has comedy that does not feel at all forced, scares, creeps and thrills that will have you on the edge of your seat, a menacing, creepy and bloodthirsty implacable villainess who will always be in your mind's eye after you leave the theater, and of course heart-stopping, intense, (mostly) non-CGI action.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
A Wonderful World of Music and Love
When Disney first announced their slew of live-action remakes after the financial success that was Maleficent, I had great doubts about them. Maleficent was, to a point, fun, but the amount of films they planned to make in such a short time sounded like they were not going to do the originals justice. I found myself proved wrong with Cinderella. Alice in the Looking Glass was a lost cause. (Pete's Dragon, while not a remake of an animated classic, was utterly beautiful). The Jungle Book was nice, but highly overrated in my opinion.
Then there was this. This ... THIS ... is true Disney at its finest. A classical romantic musical adventure extravaganza filled to the brim with a strong story, upraising laughter, marvellous tension and pulled-straight-from-your-heart tears of both sadness and joy. Bill Condon's direction is a complete triumph and, if I may, the best thing he's ever made thus far. Alan Menken's return as composer is spectacular, restoring lyrics that were deleted from the original film and adding in three new and very moving song numbers (Evermore, the Beast's solo, is a personal favourite). Every cast member was masterfully chosen for their roles in both professions of acting and singing; Emma Watson defies all expectations, Dan Stevens puts on a magnificent and awesome Beast, Luke Evans perfectly conveys the villain's immoral tendencies in the form of a realistic psychopath, Kevin Kline and Ian McKellen are as funny as ever, and Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson pull of their respective roles (and singing) of Lumiere and Mrs. Potts with performances that would make Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury proud.
And the music... oh, the music. All the well-remembered and beloved songs of the 1991 animated masterpiece are back, fully realised in all of their resplendent glory and never losing any of their charm.
If it's classic Disney you love, then this is your film.
One Helluva Ride
Since watching Guardians of the Galaxy, I have not viewed a single superhero movie that made me feel one hundred percent great. Today, that has just changed. Sure in the months leading up to Batman v Superman's release, I had my doubts. Who didn't? Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne; like who would forget his atrocious performance as Daredevil over a decade ago? Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor; what are you thinking, casting agency? This is just WB and DC trying to copy and compete with Disney and Marvel. They're stuffing too many heroes' introductions into the one film.
But when the trailers and TV spots started coming out, with each one, those doubts were being chiseled away. And so in recent weeks, I made the decision to take the plunge. I am so glad I did. I won't spoil anything for those who haven't seen it as it is obviously far too early in its release to do so, but I will say this.
Ben Affleck as Batman? Move over, Michael. Move over, Christian. Sorry again, Val. For the last time, get away from me, George! Ben Affleck was born to play this role. He brings such a raw power and intensity to the character of Bruce Wayne like no one, except for Kevin Conroy, has before. Throughout the entire film, I was constantly asking myself, "Is this really the same actor?". And I was given the unbelievable answer. Yes it is. Affleck carries the torture, the pain, and that deep and driven sense of loss so well that it is now difficult for me to see anybody else playing Batman in the future.
Jesse Eisenberg? I remember all the complaints. 'He looks nothing like Lex', 'He sounds nothing like Lex', 'He acts nothing like Lex'. But that is the entire point of Jesse' performance. If he is similar to all the other incarnations of Lex, then he would become predictable and easy to read. All those differences have allowed Eisenberg to create a version of the legendary arch-nemesis of the Man of Steel that is over-the-top, absolutely terrifying, and as creepy as hell.
On the other aspects, Warner and DC are not at all copying the Disney/Marvel formulae nor are they trying to stuff a great number of heroes into the main story. The studio has infused a much different flavour into their superhero multi-film franchise that it is definitely going to have their rivals so very on edge. As for the number of heroes, besides the two title characters and Wonder Woman, the rest only get short but magnificent and memorable cameos, so for those who are still concerned about the amount: don't be.
Lastly. anyone who is expecting this movie to be as mediocre as Man of Steel, don't. Zack Snyder is once more a triumph in the director's chair. David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio have cobbled up a wonderful script between the two of them. The other actors and actresses that I have not mentioned s far have done such incredible work in their roles that this film will be a new career highpoint for all of them. And then there is the amazing and impressive instant classic masterpiece that is the score the great Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL have teamed up to create; there is not a single musical bar in any of the scenes that you are likely to leave the cinema forgetting. In fact, because I am in such awe of it, I'd go as far to say that this outstanding film score may very well be Zimmer's best one yet.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will most assuredly stand alongside The Dark Knight as the greatest DC comic book movie ever made.
My Mixed Feelings About This (Not Any More)
I know I'm going to get a lot of haters breathing hellfire down the back of my neck for this, but here it goes. I went into the cinema to see The Force Awakens with, not a highly anticipated approach, but a modest one with low to medium expectations. Despite that, I ended up conflicted in how I feel about it. Allow me to start with the things I've found good with the movie. The beginning was fantastic, from the visual of a Star Destroyer overshadowing a planet to the First Order's brutal attack on a village and to the introductions of the new 'Darth Vader' Kylo Ren and our two main heroes Rey and Finn and their funny little droid companion BB-8. And as for others, the return of Han and Chewie as main characters rather than secondary ones was a welcome plus; Supreme Leader Snoke gives off a sense of menace that is good to feel satisfied with but not as much as the 'it's great to be bad' you can get from original head villain Emperor Palpatine; and then of course there's the interesting, mysterious and climactic backstories of Kylo Ren and Rey, which I will not spoil for anyone who hasn't seen the film yet, but I can say that they are very engaging and will pretty much determine their futures in the later instalments. There are also many laughs to be had, especially with the scenes featuring any of our five main heroes, as well as scenes of tension, horror and of tear-jerking sadness.
But I'm afraid that's where the good things end, so people who don't want to hear one bad thing against this this film had better get out now and find a more positive article to read or else keep continuing and gamble on whether you keep or lose your temper. First off, there's the chemistry between the characters. As I've said before, the characters themselves are great; it is how they act between one another that I feel to be the letdown. Han and Chewie's friendship, for the most part, doesn't seem to have the same kind of synergy that the classic trilogy portrayed them as having. Rey and Finn decide to develop a close bond with each other that seems far too rushed. Then there's the frequent amount of call backs that it makes the film look like a rip-off of Episode IV. The bad guys are searching for an astro droid with critical information they don't want the good guys getting. There's a cantina sequence. The heroine has to be rescued from the villains' base by the other main heroes. And the final act, oh the final act; it regards destroying the former Empire's latest superweapon. They're using the Death Star plot a third time (don't they remember that people complained about that with Episode VI?). The pace of this mostly recycled plot isn't much better; at times it fits seamlessly and flawlessly and then at others it rambles on, making it feel slow and clunky. Also, it appears that the writer didn't know exactly what to do with the 'supposed' third main Rebel character Poe Dameron (for those who don't know, watch the movie, you'll see what I mean). But all of these negative reasons pale in comparison to the thing I view to be its greatest flaw: the score.
In the past, no matter how divided people were on any of the previous six films, they all agreed on one thing. John Williams never failed to deliver a magnificent, wonderful and memorable musical score. Well, this time, I'm afraid he has. The music for Force Awakens is minimalist at best, much too quiet and low-keyed. Now I'm not saying that that's bad because there have been themes like that in the saga before, but it's pretty much that the whole way through with the exceptions of the opening sequence, segment reprisals of classics such as Binary Sunset, and the ending scene. For everything else, it just doesn't give off the right sense of emotional power. Maybe it's because John's been composing minimalist scores for the movies done by Steven Spielberg in the past decade and he's forgotten the type of music he used in the previous films?
Anyway, that's my opinion of the film. For those who haven't seen it yet and still want to, please go ahead and form your own opinion. I myself am willing to go see it a second time, just so I can be clear on my feelings about it. Who knows...
UPDATE: You know the old line 'A film's better when you see it a second time'? It's true. Please forget about every negative comment I've made in this review. I was wrong. This is one truly spectacular film. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, go to the nearest cinema and do so. For those who have, I encourage you to watch it again.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
A great follow up; but two major problems
My first impression of Age of Ultron is that it's a great film. The action scenes are spectacularly done. The interactions between characters, except for a few, are wonderful. And, needless to say, we get a fantastic villain out of James Spader playing Ultron.
But there were two things I found wrong. The first is the beginning. While we were given this good prologue to explain the setup of the main story, it was followed up with yet more exposition to start the main story and lengthy party sequence with too many nameless extras (Stan Lee's cameo being the only exception) that dragged on. This is all before Ultron even begins to function, and we're already twenty to thirty minutes into the film.
The second is the romantic relationship between Hulk and Black Widow. Alright, I confess. I am a Steve Rogers/Natasha Romanoff fan. But this pairup was so badly mishandled. There is no leadup to it; it just comes out of nowhere. At least with Cap and Hawkeye, there was chemistry to found on.
Besides these two things however, I would go as far to say that this movie is so well done that it could practically be The Empire Strikes Back of Avengers movies. Instead of being focused on the action like the first Avengers film was, Age of Ultron focused more on the characters and their developments as they deal with the situations they are being put through, or putting themselves into in some cases. I won't say anymore as I will spoil the film if I do. Go to the cinema and see it for yourself.
Romance of The Stars
In Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope, Obi-Wan stated that both he and Anakin fought in the Clone Wars. For 25 years, everyone wondered what The Clone Wars were like. Well, this is where they begin.
Following ten years on from The Phantom Menace, the Senate of the Galactic Republic is now debating on whether to create their own army after several planetary systems have left to form their own government, the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which is led by Dooku, the Count of Serenno and former Jedi Master.
The debate, known as the Military Creation Act, has been met with opposition by Padmè Amidala, former elected Queen of her home planet of Naboo and now Senatorial representative for her people. The film begins when an unknown assassin bombs Padmè's starship in an attempt to kill her. Both Chancellor Palpatine and the Jedi Order become concerned for her safety afterwards and two Jedi are assigned to her as bodyguards: her old friends Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
In the years that have passed since they last saw each other, Anakin has maintained a crush on Padmè. On their first night serving their role as bodyguards, Padmè is attacked yet again and Obi-Wan and Anakin pursue the would-be assassin through the air traffic of Coruscant only to discover that there is greater mystery to the assassination attempts. Obi-Wan, under the orders of the Jedi Council, leaves to investigate while Anakin remains as Padmè's body guard and goes with her into exile, hiding at her private lake retreat on Naboo.
What follows is Obi-Wan uncovering further pieces of the mystery which as he finds involves the entirety of the galaxy, and the friendship between Anakin and Padmè developing into something more, as the Star Wars galaxy begins to descend into darker times.
Like The Phantom Menace, I have heard many negative comments about this film. Personally I think they are entirely wrong. Most say that the growing love between Anakin and Padmè is displayed in a very stale manner and that the chemistry is really poor. I believe otherwise, specifically in the scene where they first meet again. Anakin's awkwardness towards her continues to make me blush, and the various scenes on Naboo make my heart feel warm. Additionally their love theme "Across the Stars" is one of my most favourite pieces of Star Wars music.
Another negative comment I've heard people making is in regards to the backstory of popular character Boba Fett being established in this film. I think the way it was done was a great concept, have him as the cloned son of the genetic template for the soon-to-be Clone army of the Republic really fits in with the saga and sees him begin the journey which makes him the mysterious enigmatic man we see him as in The Empire Strikes Back.
Other complaints are Yoda being able to be so fast when duelling when he requires a walking stick (he's the Grand Master of the Jedi Order and he's over 800 years old, exertions of lightsaber duelling exhausts him afterwards), the assassin despite being named by Anakin as a changeling does not change herself into a different disguise when attacking Obi-Wan (being in a public nightclub I think it would easily be noticed), and Ankin being a complete cry baby. Anakin is meant to be conflicted in the things he does in the film and he is IN LOVE when the Jedi Order has decreed that their warriors should not. He is letting his feelings out.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is perhaps the greatest live-action romance story I have ever known. I watched when I was eleven years old. It did not make me cringe, I enjoyed it. Star Wars is not an adult romance film where men jump into bed with the nearest girl every night, it is a space fantasy meant to be seen by all ages. The romance is done in a way that a general audience can understand it.
If you would watch this film for the first time ever or see it again and look at it from this point of view, then you can judge whether peoples' complaints are verified or not. My fellow Star Wars fans, please take some advice: trust in the Force and in George Lucas, the creator of the greatest film series of all time.
The Sith Menace
As a kid, I watched Star Wars 4, 5, and 6 on videotape countless times. I absolutely loved those films. Then when I was 8, I froze at the news I was given. The Star Wars saga was being continued.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, this is the only one of George Lucas' science-fiction fantasy masterpiece series that I did not see at the cinema, so I had to wait for it to come out on video. It was well worth the wait.
The film goes back thirty two years before Episode 4, back to the beginning of the end for the Old Republic. The tranquil planet of Naboo is threatened by the greedy members of the Trade Federation, who have recently been angered by the Republic increasing the taxation of trade routes. They are secretly backed by the scheming Sith Lord Darth Sidious, the future ruler of the Galactic Empire. Two Jedi Knights are sent to intervene.
The events of the film are then set into motion when Sidious orders the Federation leaders to kill the two Jedi and invade Naboo to force its democratically elected Queen to sign a treaty which would allow them to bypass the trade routes. The Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi escape to find the Queen and escort her to the Republic capital of Coruscant. To stop them, Sidious sends his apprentice Darth Maul to hunt them down.
Many fans of the series believe that this installment is a weak one for its story and characters. I myself believe that is a mistake. It is the role of the Jedi to complete their missions with compassion and only interfering with planetary roles when necessary. As for the complaints about Anakin, the point of the way Jake Lloyd plays the role is that he is supposed to be an innocent child. He is not evil from the day he was born. With Padme/Queen Amidala, yes she is only fourteen years old and has much to learn in the role of being a planetary representative, but she is sharp minded and ready to defend her people in any way she can. And finally, Jar Jar Binks. Many say he's horrible, but I say he is one of the most enjoyable characters I have ever seen on the big screen.
The Phantom Menace tells the beginning of a film legacy and commences the rise Of Anakin Skywalker to becoming a Jedi and his subsequent fall to the dark side as Darth Vader. It is a fantastic opening to the best film series of all time, and I would not have had it any other way. If any of you believe me in this, then the Force is with you... always.
The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)
The Better Version
It is said that it is hard for a remake to reach the level of its original counterpart, but this film is the rare exception. It reaches the level of the 1935 Hitchcock film and vastly surpasses it. Instead of the restricting in-studio black and white shots, this film offers the realm of colour and the expansive location shooting of the Scotland hills.
Set in 1914 before World War 1, Thirty Nine Steps follows the story of Richard Hannay (Richard Powell) on the run from London after being framed for the murder of a spy (Sir John Mills), and being pursued across the Scottish landscape by both the police and the real murderers, led by the scheming villain, Edmund Appleton (David Warner).
Appleton plans to assassinate someone of great importance at a certain time back in London,and it is up to Hannay to interpret the clues the murdered spy has left behind, evade his hunters, and return to England. This leads to one of the most fantastic climaxes the cinema has ever seen.