Reviews written by registered user
|126 reviews in total|
I was anxiously awaiting this film, especially since I had seen Divergent several times recently as it is in regular rotation on HBO. I actually recommend that anyone intent on seeing Insurgent should get a Divergent refresher, since this story picks up just days from where the first film left us. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is plagued with nightmares and torn with guilt especially over the deaths of her parents, so for most of the film we only get this soul sucking melancholy from her, unless she is in hand to hand combat and then she transforms into this lean mean fighting machine. I am fully invested in this series because of the portrayal of such strong women. Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is even more committed to her Divergent witch hunt and will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo. In this story we gain Johanna (Octavia Spencer) and Evelyn (Naomi Watts), both of which are leaders in and outside the faction system, although Natalie (Ashley Judd) was lost, somewhat. The reason that I say 'somewhat' is that with the Erudite technology to get inside someone's head, the possibility exists for anyone to resurface. If it were not for the Tris and Four (Theo James) budding love affair, this could have quickly turned into another futuristic downer. The men played an integral role in the story, they were all supporters for their respective women. I was surprised at the direction that Caleb (Ansel Elgort) chose and I was thrown aback with the initial Peter (Miles Teller) situation. I suppose it was explained in the books, which I have not read so perhaps that's why I was sitting there perplexed. Although his initial alliance wasn't explained in the film, his top priority was clear throughout the story: self preservation. This film had it all sans any comic relief, it had action adventure, drama, romance, deception, great special effects and a reasonable running time. I for one am now anxiously awaiting Allegiant.
I was excited about seeing this film although I do recall last year that the chatter about it was less than favorable. My thinking was, how bad could it be coming from the Wachowski's who had given us the The Matrix trilogy? Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) works in a domestic capacity and basically hates her life. I thought the opening backstory of her birth and life was a bit lengthy, however it did paint a drab picture so that you could understand her distaste for her circumstances. When things did get moving it seemed like chase scene after chase scene, out of which two important factors became known. I had always wondered why no one ever remembers when aliens destroy major cities and how they are rebuilt so quickly and finally the mystery of crop circles has been solved. I feel like it is getting redundant to complement first rate special effects, because that is becoming the new normal. If a film has poor special effects, then that is when I will have to go in. But here it is, the special effects were Tony the Tiger great. The acting was top shelf as well, I wasn't really familiar with Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abraxas) until recently during Award season with his best actor nod for The Theory of Everything, but this dude is off the chain. I will say this, if you don't like your life you should consider that you might end up taken to another world drawn into a power struggle for the planet earth, manipulated, lied to and on a galactic hit list. I actually liked the film, although there were times that it failed like how the civil bureaucracy run around almost put me to sleep. This was seriously a when worlds collide story, but for me it worked.
The future of the teen to twenties continues to have a consistent tone in science fiction and fantasy. Either grow up and be responsible or die! I know that is a bit harsh but The Maze Runner and others like the Hunger Games paints a bleak picture in general in which the adults in charge build a world in which the only objective for its youth is survival. The star of this thrill 'run', Dylan O'Brien (Thomas) has been on my radar for the past few years as I must admit Teen Wolf is one of my television viewing guilty pleasures. The past few seasons he has emerged as an amazing talent and really showcased his emotional range when possessed by the Nogitsune in season 3. He is quite convincing in this role. I knew I would see this film but hadn't decided upon IMAX until the day of, and I have to say it was worth it to experience it in the biggest and boldest format for a feature film. As someone who had not read the book, I came in with no preconceived notions about the fundamentals, like WTF a giant maze, really!?! Yes, the trailer does give an indication that it is a test of some sort, but still. So I was contemplating how long would it take for the story to divulge what's behind it all, but I wasn't bored nor was I left feeling neglected by being unfamiliar. The mystery of what was taking place was part of my fascination with this film, working things out along with Thomas. My excitement continued to ebb as I ventured into the maze with him and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) as did my trepidation. This was a good movie, not saying it was great, but I enjoyed it for its entertainment value. I'm usually big on the special effects which has a significant baring on whether I see a film on the big screen or wait for it to come to video, but in this case the effects were not the star, the actors were, which is how it should be done.
This film is long overdue, although it seemed to me that there was so much more content excluded from the storyline. If a film maker chooses to focus on the artistry and creativity that came forth from an individual then it is best not to delve too deeply into the demons, which for James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) were much bigger than portrayed in this film. I wasn't a fan of the style of filmmaking applied to this tale, I would have preferred a more linear approach to the historical events that shaped Mr. Brown's personality. Starting a story with some event that takes place at the end is not that unusual, but there was so much jumping back and forth from childhood to young adult to the 'Godfather of Soul' that it was hard to connect to the story initially. Then there were the soliloquies, I didn't quite fathom why they were needed since they really did not add much to the storytelling other than try to place the audience inside of James' head. This story of the lifelong friendship of James and Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) was interesting and engaging, but nothing about this film was more entertaining than the music. I tried to be a good moviegoer so I didn't song along aloud, but it was almost impossible to just sit without moving to Caldonia and Get on Up. I couldn't help but reminisce as Please, Please, Please and This is a Man's World permeated the crowded theater. And yes, I fought back the tears during Try Me. The story did include a pivotal encounter with Little Richard (Brandon Smith) and the events that led to Bootsy Collins becoming a band member, but there were other musical icons that touched his life that were not mentioned. I guess the movie would have been too long to cover everyone. Mr. Boseman did a fine job of mimicking the enigmatic dance moves of Mr. Brown and his lip-syncing was palpable, but I just wasn't fully convinced with the vocal recreation. James Brown had a distinctive style of speech that few have been able to capture. Eddie Murphy did it with his comic genius on SNL with Hot tub, but he too may have fallen short if he was expected to maintain the sometimes indistinguishable speak throughout a feature film. I enjoyed this film, I saw it with my mother who is 74 and she loved it. The first concert that I ever attended was a James Brown concert. You don't know at the time that when you're just out for some entertainment, you're actually in the presence of greatness and that you are a part of historic events.
For a Sci-fi film with enviable comic relief this story had to have one of the saddest opening scenes ever when we first encounter a young Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff), who appears to be just any small town USA young boy experiencing a devastating hardship, then his life takes an incredible turn for the unexpected. What this scenes does besides pose a question of who fathered him it sets up the soundtrack that accompanies the entire film, since in 1988 everyone had their Sony Walkman and Peter was no exception. We immediately fast forward to 26 years later and find an adult Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) who is a bit of a scalawag, on a commissioned job to retrieve a mysterious orb, which leads to unimaginable adventure. The story of how the Guardians came together was happening on the forefront, but there were also some other major stories taking place like a maniacal Ronan (Lee Pace) bent on destroying a world, Drax (Dave Bautista) driven by revenge, whatever the heck was going on with Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) who was some sort of space pirate and a sibling rivalry that made for one of the great fight scenes. There were a number of things that tied this film to other stories that have been told focusing on the Marvel Universe including Benicio Del Toro reprising his role as the Collector who we only encounter briefly in Thor the Dark World (after credits) and Thanos another after credits character previously introduced. The special effects in this film were as big a star as the actual stars especially for the only characters who were already in league together, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). These characters always felt as real as Star-Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax. Who would have expected to come to a movie and feel any kind of emotional attachment to a raccoon?! If you stick around through the credits you will understand why the effects were first rate, there had to be at least ten animation companies credited. As with all the Marvel films there is an after credits scene, however the thing is if you are too young to remember the pop culture of the 80s you may not get the joke. This was storytelling at its best, and was very entertaining from beginning to end.
While the original Planet Of The Apes film did show that humans had been dominated by evolved apes, it did not have the same ominous tone that this film Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes brings to the franchise. This film paints a very real picture of the plausibility and the possibility of humans no longer being the dominant species. There was no need to waste time rehashing what took place in the predecessor film, so the telling of what had transpired during the opening credits left the entire film to address the task at hand; the fall of man. But, this film was so much more than a tale of how man fell, it delved into the dynamics of the father-son relationship, and how some wrongs can be so life altering that there's no coming back. This was an intelligently written, though provoking story that picks up roughly a decade after the apes flee into the forest. Caesar (Andy Serkis) now has a family including a rebellious son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and is leader to an enormous clan, which includes characters previously established. Maurice (Karin Konoval) the circus orangutan, Rocket (Terry Notary) the chimp- pimp, and Koba (Toby Kebbell) all of whom are living in unison until humans happen upon their home. This is the point where everyone's agenda begins to unfold, none clearer than Koba's whose disparaging past has completely marred him. He was the only character who had focused intentions, everyone else was somehow manipulated or unaware of the big picture that led to the human-ape clash, which caused me to sign with frustration several times throughout the film, which is my only issue with the story; the overwhelming naivete. I have focused primarily on the apes, but the humans do deserve some acknowledgement for attempting to avoid any further annihilation of the human race. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) was a good man who stepped way outside his comfort zone to fight for peaceful resolutions. Unfortunately, the cards were already stacked against them. I liken it to watching Titanic, you can hope that this time they will miss the iceberg, but it's inevitable. The special effects in today's cinematic world never cease to amaze me, what was done here is no exception. The apes were a given that they would be extremely lifelike, but to see how nature had ravaged civilization in such a relatively short time was a bit frightening. This was a very good film, from beginning to end. I enjoyed it immensely mostly because it made me feel some kind of way.
This film was so creative and imaginative that it made me want to go back and review Sleeping Beauty just to map the correlations; this was a wonderful new spin on an old tale. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was not just a one dimensional villain; she was truly relatable and genuinely garnered sympathy for all that she endured. I wasn't surprised that she had been betrayed costing her to lose her wings, that much was fairly clear from the trailer although the extent of the betrayal wasn't clear until I experienced the film. Hell has no fury like a fairy scorned! But anyone who has ever been angry for any reason knows that it is very hard to stay in that place. The passage of time depicted as Aurora (Elle Fanning) grew was the best gauge for the changes in Maleficent's disposition. The story was very engaging to watch as Maleficent also grew. Hopefully, there won't be a crazy Hollywood band wagon of films based on every classic villain's perspective; that would be such a shame and would put me back on my soap box regarding a lack of originality. Shrek did it right and now so has Maleficent. There were so many phenomenal special effects in this film that it's hard to call out some as superior to others. With that being said, whenever Maleficent exhibited her powers the results were awe inspiring, from the floaters, to her in-flight and those amazing battle sequences. The special effects were as much a star of this film as the talented actors. I did feel like some of the magical creatures were recycled from the Spyderwick Chronicles, but most were new creations so that's only a minor infraction. With all the action, an engaging adventure and a female lead, this film is to be enjoyed by all. I'll suffice it to say that this is a great film to kick-off the start to the summer movie season for avid film lovers.
The title of this film and the trailer made it quite clear that the plot would deal with time travel. With time travel there's always the risk of some paradox, but my thoughts were that there was a need for some type of event or portal to an alternate universe or something phenomenal to reclaim characters that had been lost to in prior X-Men installments. Days of Future Past tells a very creative story surrounding the Sentinels, which we only previously got a glimpse of in a school training exercise. The design of the newest X-Men nemesis in this film was spectacular; the special effects were sublime in conveying how impervious to most any attack these massive creations were. I recall from the animated series on television how all the key characters battled against the Sentinels, which would have been basically impossible with so many of the X-Men having met their demise in The Last Stand. There were a few new mutants introduced in this new tale, Adam Cantu from televisions The Following as Sunspot, Booboo Stewart best known from The Twilight Saga is all grown up as Warpath and most notably Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Quicksilver was an integral part of getting things moving, no pun intended, his character was the most entertaining because he was both quirky and uncontrollable. He was not one of the characters that recalled as front and center from the animated series, but he certainly made a lasting impression and will hopefully be back. Aside from the new mutants the other very interesting aspect of the story was the state of existence the players were in from where we left them at the end of First Class. This was a young Professor that I had never known. Rather than go on about all the things that made this a great film. I will suffice it to say that it was the best in the series so far. It was creative and masterfully told. I loved it and am looking forward to the next story featuring Apocalypse, who as I recall was a most difficult foe. BTW if you haven't seen this film yet, be sure to stick around after the final scenes for an after credits treat.
Godzilla has been around longer than I have, so I've had the opportunity to see his many incarnations over the years starting with the 1956 King of The Monsters starring Raymond Burr, which I saw many years after it premiered but found it extremely memorable. The trailer for this monster reboot immediately wet my curiosity. The story was obviously going to be done with finesse there seemed to be an air of mystery, and was being told as if it were a serious drama. I've realized that when fictional tales are told with a dramatic flair making the tone more realistic the more serious I take them. Case and point, there was a campiness to the last Godzilla that added to my distaste for it, not to mention his lizard-like appearance, then came this latest offering and I am filled with the same excitement for Godzilla as I remember having as a child. There were some questionable actions and scenes by some of the characters such as Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) having encounter after encounter with skyscraper sized monsters and narrowly escaping with his life just too many times to be believable. The monsters however were absolutely believable, and I have made no secret of the fact that I have a great appreciation for first rate the special effects and in this case they were very worthwhile to watch. I also appreciated the scientific explanation for Godzilla's existence and feeding habits as detailed by Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). I have to say that I am now looking forward to expansion of the series, with an updated Mothra, Rodan, MechaGodzilla any other combatant for Godzilla and anywhere else the film makers want to take us in the monsterverse. On another note, yes I look for 'Us' in every film, so it was nice to have Captain Russell Hampton (Richard T. Jones) on the job in command and defending the world from the carnage.
I did not realize that Frankie and Alice was a 2010 film until I looked it up at IMDb. Although, I did notice while viewing the film that Halle looked incredible and youthful as the lead character in the title role of Frankie. This is the second time that Ms. Berry has been on screen as an exotic dancer, she was less memorable in that short lived role in The Last Boyscout. Frankie Murdock (Halle Berry) comes across as someone who knows what she has to do to survive her circumstances how to pick a mark to get paid and even hands out vocational advice to coworkers. We find out however, through her erratic behavior it is revealed that she is not as well put together as she first seems. I knew from the trailer that the film dealt with multiple personality disorder or whatever is the current clinical name for split personalities, so the film The Three Faces of Eve came to mind as I attentively watched the story unfold. Through a series of flashbacks we see Frankie as a child and a young woman and eventually learn and understand the root of her mental illness as she undergoes treatment with Dr. Oz (Stellan Skarsgard). I would love to see Mr. Skarsgard step outside of his character, he has this Zoolander approach to acting, no matter what persona he is portraying it's always the same look. Ms. Berry on the other hand was on point she was emotionally engaging, showing a range that was both compelling and evoked compassion for what her character had endured. Her personality was splintered; her experiences caused her coping mechanisms into overdrive. Halle Berry proves that the title of 'Oscar winner' is well deserved. She played the role very convincingly with Oz and against the other key characters in the film her mother Edna (Phylicia Rashad) and her sister Maxine (Miranda Bailey oops, I mean Chandra Wilson). I enjoyed this story because it was interesting and not a new construct, it was nice to see the bad guy in the usual places, but to find a completely unexpected bad guy in this film was bittersweet. The first half hour or so became a bit annoying with all the jumping around, but not enough to reduce the entertainment value.
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