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The Great Gatsby (2013)
A beautifully shot dull film that lacks heart or a strong screenplay!
Visually splendid and the film has a fun soundtrack although doesn't really paint an accurate image and capture the atmosphere of the 20s. The characters were bland and even though you were meant to dislike many of them, there was nothing fascinating about them or particularly interesting or lovable in their characterisation, let's not even talk about development.
Furthermore all Tobey Maguire does is often stare into space having no variation in his acting and seeming bored through most of the film and he makes Fitzgerald's great narration of the book become dull and cheap dialogue, thanks to the script writers. Also the Wilsons who are an important part of the story are met briefly two or three times in the movie despite the fact that more attention should be payed to them instead of non-stop Baz Luhrmann-style parties and funky music.
Gatsby, the most important character seemed much more unsympathetic and unlikable and is portrayed as an asshole who just rubs it in Tom's face that Daisy didn't love him, instead of portraying him as a more heroic, likable mystery figure searching for a lost love.
Carey Mulligan was really pretty but that's all that can be said about her character, oh and to add, a comment I saw in a Star Wars prequel review that's quite relevant - you can't just put beautiful people in beautiful locations and expect them to love each other and the audience to connect with it, this is how the film portrayed their love and it agitated me. In my opinion, Joel Edgerton as Tom was one of the best performances as well as DiCaprio who both did pretty well on a fairly poor screenplay.
Overall, a quite poorly written film with weak characters for the most part and a story doesn't focus on the beauty of the time period at all or possesses the heart of the original material but instead has lots of shots of parties, colourful cinematography and a nice yet uneven soundtrack, although have to admit it was fun at times. As an adaptation, not too great at all. 5.5/10
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
An inventive, unpredictable, mesmerising space voyage! Spectacular!!!!
Truly spectacular, one of those rare amazing, inventive and often unpredictable blockbusters. The acting was great all round, especially Cumberbatch - wow, he was superb. The direction, cinematography and visual effects were all greatly innovative and brilliant; the screenplay fun, often humorous and has a lot of heart for all its characters which are all really well developed.
The film has some cliché moments which can't be avoided often with a film this scale however they make use of them well and still pack plenty of surprises. As well as this, despite not being a proper Trekkie myself, some moments gave me goosebumps from the awesomeness from seeing the Enterprise for the first time for example, which greatly honoured the original series. J.J. Abrams' lens flares helped create more realism in a lot of the scenes despite the fact he often overuses of them.
The villain was very interesting and the development, dialogue and motivations of his character were very convincing and inventive, Cumberbatch's fantastic acting greatly helped bring this character to life. Also the way he executed his plan showed a lot more cutting edge creativity than especially most modern blockbusters, not to say it's done nearly to the same level of genius but something I haven't felt in a villain's characterisation/acting since The Dark Knight.
Overall, a mesmerising film with nice homages to the original series, one filled with heart, grace, innovation, superb characters and acting and some impressive, clever visuals and immersive 3D, one of the only times I can say that. Up there with the 2009 one, not sure which I prefer, possibly the previous one largely due to the more clever story, despite this one having a much better villain, still not sure though. Still a very strongly recommended film, may hit my top 100 simply because how much I was impressed by it. 9/10!
Les Misérables (2012)
An immensely powerful and riveting masterpiece of modern cinema!
An immensely powerful, riveting, remarkably shot masterpiece of modern film making. The direction, screenplay, camera-work and music all around are just perfect, incredibly moving and sweepingly masterful.
The distinguished performances in the acting aspect is though possibly one of the biggest factors that makes this such a gem of a movie. From Hugh Jackman's daring, enthralling performance to the heart-breaking, electrifying, dynamic and perfect delivery from Anne Hathaway, especially the ''I Dreamed a Dream'' segment, which will leave you absolutely speechless. These are the two biggest stars when it comes to performances in this film but that's not to say that Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Freddie Redmayne and many others don't offer a skillful and beautiful addition to the bravura cast.
One of the few films that's truly made me break down in tears - more than once - largely due to Hathaway's lovely performance. There is pretty much simply nothing this film doesn't have. There are so many tones/moods it manages to mix superbly - at times it can be sad and tragic, terrifying and intimidating, extremely funny and overall just so astonishingly moving. Just wow!!!!! 10/10!
Excellent atmosphere/direction but meddled and unclear in many aspects
To say, this is the first and only Tarkovsky film I've seen for the time being. It was pretty damn good but it has it's faults. I'll start by saying the positive factors.
The film has an excellent sinister and mysterious atmosphere/mood that is developed sublimely throughout and makes you want to keep watching. The direction from Tarkovsky as he guides through this visionary world into the Zone through the conflict and relationships between the characters is superb. The acting is also very convincing and interesting to watch as their characters develop, save for the over-the-top excessive performance from the stalker's wife. The film also creates a great deal of mystery around the Zone, through the several disappearances of past visitors as well as its unnatural forces, which is intriguingly powerful to watch. The camera-work is also simply perfect, creating many memorable and unique mixture of tracking and still shots.
Now onto the negative points. The film is extremely slow paced which at times was quite compelling as it created a great deal of tension but at some points, certain scenes and shots went on for too long needlessly or became slightly dull. 2001: A Space Odyssey had a similar pace yet it never ceased to be interesting for a moment; the same cannot be said for Stalker. Now onto my biggest and most significant problem. The film, despite being well crafted for the main part, seemed like it wasn't exactly sure of what it was trying to say overall. It had a great build up and everything but concluded in an anti-climactic fashion as it didn't end on a strong note or left any last compelling or unforgettable sequences (especially in the Zone); also the journey of all the characters seemed kind of pointless by the end.
I may be mistaken and may see something new in Stalker if I ever re- watch it when I'm older but for now, all I can say is it's a very well made film in many aspects but it lacks good pacing, can become often too slow and most importantly doesn't have a true point or purpose to the journey of the characters or the story itself overall. Throughout I was often compelled though but from the last part of the film and by the end I found myself going ''Was that it?'' Although I am still interested to see Tarkovsky's other work. This one - worth watching but didn't see the masterpiece that I've heard so much about. 7.5-8/10.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
A splendidly shot yet hollow and soulless film
Let me begin by saying the positive side of things - the pacing is really good, occasional scenes and the finale are very intense and the film is overall very well shot. That being said, it is a soulless hollow film based on unforgettable true events which could have been handled with absolute care and precision in characterisation and storytelling yet still providing the thrills and entertainment, like Argo. This film has no hugely interesting characters, the acting is nothing above average, I don't see how Jessica Chastain staring into space, being very frustrated, angry and saying ''motherfucker'' a lot means fantastic acting. The only actors who did a good job were the Middle Eastern ones and they usually ended up being on screen for a short while or just get tortured. James Gandolfini stood out for me despite his short time on screen and not because of how greatly interesting his character was, just because he will always be the unforgettable Tony Soprano. So moving on from characterisation, the film shows many events throughout the past 10 years leading up to Bin Laden's capture. These were very well shot yet failed to provide any huge deal of suspense, grit or excitement (aside from the occasional short scene) and in general the storytelling or screenplay had nothing impressive to show. To say I love The Hurt Locker a great deal but I hope this doesn't win any Oscars for Bigelow although I can see it probably will because the Academy can't wait to get their hands all over this American political propaganda of a film and its re-telling of what could have spawned one of the most intelligently done thrillers of at least the past five years. Having said all this the excellent manner in which it was shot, the few thrilling scenes/good finale and its pacing still allows me to give the film some respect.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
One of the best films ever made, worth the wait! A masterpiece!!!!
Firstly and most importantly the story of this film is sublime. From the very start the normal narrative structure is disregarded, as with previous Nolan's work. The story starts off with a powerful, unforgettable plane hijacking scene introducing the masked villain Bane portrayed brilliantly by Tom Hardy. It then moves to the life of Bruce Wayne (8 years after the events of TDK) and the emptiness he now lives in with the death of Rachel on his conscience and the crimes of Harvey Dent which he chose to take the blame for, for the good of Gotham. This is until Bane strikes again and forces Batman into action, along with newcomer Selina Kyle aka. Catwoman. The story continues to unfold beautifully with surprises at every twist and turn building up to a mesmerzing sensational last hour and climax. Batman falls and 'rises' in this film as Bane takes full control of Gotham causing Bruce unbearable pain by making him witness his city burn helplessly.
The acting in this movie is a step up from the last film as the whole cast do a fantastic job whereas in the last one, for the most part Ledger stole the show. Christian Bale gives his best performance yet as Bruce Wayne who actually feels like a down-to-earth human being in this one and not a distant billionaire playboy. In this one we can feel his despair and learn even more about him with the help of the brilliant characterization and development, as he faces immense challenges he must overcome and learn the true meaning of ''Why do we fall?'' whatever the consequences. The fact even he can be 'broken' shows us despite how much of a symbol he is and what he stands for, he is still physically just a man and all men can fall. He deserves an Oscar nod. Moving on, Tom Hardy portrays the huge masked villain Bane superbly and through his marvelous performance it makes him a completely terrifying and menacing person who is not to be reckoned with, especially by showing how powerful he is when he 'breaks' Batman. The execution of his master plan is very intelligently done and despite Hardy's performance not being as spectacular as Ledger's, he still does a hell of a job and his character complexity still allows him to be in the same league as Ledger's Joker. Despite how much of a monstrous person he is made to look, by the end we see his human side which makes us like him if ever the slightest, as we see he is after all still human. Maybe Hardy doesn't deserve to win an Oscar for his role, depending on how good other year's performances are but he definitely should also get an Oscar nod. These being the two strongest performances of the film nevertheless doesn't mean the rest of the cast didn't also do a great job. Hathaway portrays cunning, sexy Catwoman engrossingly, Caine does a fantastic job as always, as does new-comer JGD (John Blake) and Gary Oldman as Gordon is excellent as per usual. Marion Cotillard is another new addition to the cast, portraying business woman Miranda Tate intriguingly who is more cunning of a character than she looks and will surprise you greatly by the end. All in all, applause to the cast.
The characterization and character development of the film, as briefly touched upon before, is astounding. Each of the key characters are distinctive, have their own backgrounds and strong personalities, even the new ones and each have a fair share of screen time. This is one of the most contributing factors which makes this if ever slightly better than TDK. The old characters we have gotten used to are developed further, Caine gives a staggeringly astonishing performance as Alfred, the charming friend and butler of Bruce and contributes quite a bit to parts of the story. Bruce also is developed further very well, as mentioned before, and Bale delivers a superb performance.
The themes and issues explored also add to this film being greater/better than TDK. Bane's plan can be interpreted/associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the banking crisis nowadays and whether capitalism is the right direction to stay on or should the system be changed to allow a new sense of order (not anarchy/chaos, just something other than what we have now). As well as this it poses some ideas about revolution and questions - whether there ever will be a fall of capitalism or western civilization, through whatever means. This film contributes greatly to the world today and a lot of symbolic elements fill the story, unlike most/if not all other superhero films.
Moving on to technical aspects, the action of the film is bigger and better than ever, orchestrated breath-takingly from the opening scene of the huge plane hijacking to thousands of people charging at each other through the torn apart streets of Gotham, filmed on Wall Street helping to give just the massive scale of the action. The sound editing as well as the music of Zimmer are better than ever, it can be slow and calm at parts and yet mind blowingly fast, loud, intense and completely electrifying in a large portions of the film. The FX are also astonishing, especially the fact most of them were real/practical and not CGI.
Now on to the ending of the film (without telling you what it is), I thought it was spectacular, unexpected and a wondrous sense of anonymity is left with the audience leaving the major themes, ideas and further story threads allowing the audience to wonder and decide what will happen next, whilst still being given enough to be satisfied and blown away with this truly epic conclusion to the DARK KNIGHT LEGEND. Not my favourite movie probably but close, still deciding though. A strong 10/10!