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Jurassic Park (1993)
Just as magical now as when it was released
I was too young to watch it in 1993 but I remember the huge hype and marketing that came along with this movie. We kids even had jurassic park backpacks without having seen the movie - they simply looked so cool. It puts a big smile on my face watching nowadays the scene where they show the merchandise. I bet all that stuff was actually put on the market when the film was first released.
I only saw the movie on TV a few years later, but the special effects were and still are absolutely amazing even on the small screen. The excellent casting, top acting and Spielberg's great directing make us experience the movie through the eyes of the cast. At first we're amazed by the gigantic and beautiful dinosaurs, later we fear with the cast for their lives.
The movie still looks and feels amazing more than 20 years after its release. Several things it does so much better than most other big action movies: The kids aren't annoying. Their acting - especially the girl's - is great. The dialogues are written with great care and the characters feel like real people. I can't pick a favourite character or actor in this movie, I liked them all. There is no needless display of violence. People die, but you never see it directly. The film knows that it works well as a thriller without descending to cheap gory effects. There is a reason though why this is rated PG-13 and I would not advise to show it to younger kids.
One of Spielberg's best, this is one all time classic and if you haven't seen it you definitely should.
Unusual German movie, very entertaining
Even though I live in Germany, it's been years since I have watched a German movie. The local cinema and made-for-TV movie market is saturated by cheaply produced romcoms and documentary-style WW2-movies. 'Who Am I' caught my attention with its very different theme. And it turned out being a very enjoyable watch. The first interrogation theme felt a bit overacted and over-directed to me and made me worry if they would try to hard to be "cool and different", but luckily the movie quickly found a good pace and well-balanced direction. It moves at a fast pace, with quite some jumps forth and back in time, but the director keeps it well structured, so that the audience doesn't get lost in the twists and turns. The visual effects are very well done, I especially liked the visuals of the 'dark net', depicting the online interaction between hackers as scenes in an underground train. There are some minor plot holes, and I found myself able to guess some things which would happen next, but the end of the movie will manage to surprise most viewers (now, how often can you say that any more?), and the fast pace and compelling characters (throughout well acted) will keep you hooked. This isn't a groundbreaking movie, but I see good potential for it to draw the attention of an international audience, which hopefully will lead to some more German movies in he near future who also dare to address unusual themes.
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
I enjoyed it despite its flaws
I admit this movie has flaws. It gets a bit too standard rom-com in its last 3rd, and I don't think many male viewers can (or want to) relate to a lead who nearly faints each time he encounters an attractive female. I agree also with other reviewers writing this film is a vanity project of Streisand (e.g. the reaction of the male students after she loses some pounds and wears nicer clothes - c'mon!).
On the other hand, the film just does so many things right that it ends up being very enjoyable (that is, if you like romantic comedies). The dialogue is smart, there are a lot of funny scenes, and especially the great chemistry between Streisand and Bridges as well as Streisand and Bacall stands out. Bacall steals every scene she is in and has the best one-liners, Bridges and Streisand also do a great job. I especially liked the scenes somewhere in the middle of the film, where both of them get more intimate (which is actually quite hot), followed by an argument. This argument just feels so rough and real. This more toned down acting is where Streisand really shines. It is also nice how Bridges comes to realize how much he misses his wife whilst he travels, which has nothing to do with how she changes her appearance later on. So it's not the typical ugly duckling story, where the male lead only shows interest after she turned into a swan (he actually rejects the swan - as probably much of the audience will do - we want the 'old Rose' back!). This is a nice contrast to Brosnan's character, whom he portrays as a wonderfully shallow, simple-minded pretty face.
Unfortunately, in trying to wrap things up, the film becomes a rather formulaic rom-com with cheesy ending. A bit more of fine-tuning by another director (removing the Streisand-vanity-scenes and the sometimes too strong female wishful thinking) could have made it a great flick. For me though, the acting (of the entire cast) and many funny and witty lines save this movie to be still well above average.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Far better than expected
I expected this would be another shallow chick flick with recycled jokes and two-dimensional characters. Luckily this movie far exceeded my expectations. It is a funny, fairly original comedy with a decent amount of character development. It especially surprised me how both Sarah and her new boy-friend are portrayed not simply as self-absorbed jerks. In the course of the movie you will probably find Aldous a weird but likable guy, whilst you will understand why Peter's and Sarah's relationship failed. The flashbacks of their relationship are very entertaining because it will certainly remind you of a relationship you or your friends had (or have). Overall, the casting department did a really good job and each of the characters got some good laughs on their side. Jonah Hill's role was a bit superfluous in my opinion, whilst Jack McBrayer really cracked me up by playing just another version of his role in '30 Rock'. Russel Brand's character was my favourite, very well written and played. There are a few sex scenes and vulgar jokes, but they come in small doses such that it won't put people off who do not appreciate this kind of humour. Go watch this for some light and not too brainless entertainment!
P.S. I Love You (2007)
Disappointing with and without having read the book
I had watched the movie when it first came out, and the only thing I remembered was that I didn't particularly like it and found Gerard Butler miscast. Recently I read the book which I thoroughly enjoyed even though it has some flaws. So I decided to give the movie another try. It didn't improve in my opinion. Changing parts of the storyline and removing characters is understandable and I don't mind that the movie did it. But except for the names of the main characters and the basic idea (husband lets his letters deliver to his wife after his death) they changed too much about the story. They should have made use of the strenghts of the book's story, which are in my opinion on one side Holly's deep grief and her friends' and family's struggles to bring her back to enjoy life, and on the other side the characterization of Daniel as compassionate, funny and cool friend to Holly. The movie shows how Holly remembers Gerry in many situations, but it does not succeed to convey her pain and the desperation of her friends to get through to her. I also missed the character of Daniel from the book. In the movie, Daniel is an awkward guy who says the wrong thing in every situation, and Harry Connick Jr plays horribly monotonously without conveying any emotions. And why was Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character added? What does he do except for looking handsome? By the way, I didn't dislike Gerard Butler as much as the first time I watched it, but I still think he doesn't fit in romantic roles. I give the movie 3 stars because I liked Kathy Bates' and Lisa Kudrow's performances and Hilary swank was okay. But it's sad to see how much potential for a good story and proper character development was wasted.
The Iron Lady (2011)
Very good acting, but rather dull story telling
The problem I have with this movie is that its main figure never really becomes likable. You feel sorry for her at times, but other than that you don't care much for her. I know that Margaret Thatcher was a controversial figure, but you need to have a story telling in a movie such that you can relate to its main character. 'Into the Storm' and 'The Queen' are prime examples of this. I would have liked to learn more about her political career, also the positive aspects: how she ran her campaigns, her successes as prime minister, etc. The movie primarily focuses on the negative aspects of her career. Furthermore, the relationship with her children is touched and her marriage is described especially in her later years, but there is not enough to identify with a wife and mother. The acting in the movie is very good, especially by Meryl Streep in the scenes where she plays the aged Thatcher. The writer and director missed to use the potential of the cast to make a great movie. Had they addressed more of Thatcher's family life and of her political successes, the audience could have developed more of an understanding and interest for the main character. You won't leave the movie theater entirely disappointed, but you just won't give the story or Margaret Thatcher much thought afterwards.
Starter for 10 (2006)
good university movie with great cast and slightly disappointing ending
This movie reminded me a lot of my own student times. I could very much relate to the main character, Brian, even though I studied in the 2000s and I am female. James McAvoy perfectly shows the curiosity, insecurity and naivety many feel when they first move out from home and study at university. You can see how Brian is torn between trying to fit in (going to parties where he knows no one, smoking pot), but also how he pursues the things he likes, no matter if others think he is cool (making it to a TV quiz show and being the most eager student in his favourite class). Brian could very well be the guy living next door in your student house, and probably you would become friends with him. Many of us will be able to remember scenes of our own student life depicted in this movie: feeling lost on a party, constantly sipping from your glass to keep yourself busy and trying hard to have a casual conversation with complete strangers; how your mother keeps asking you if you packed everything you need for the weekend and you don't know how to explain her that you're not a child any more ("Do you have towels? Yes? Then at least take some ham with you..."); or when you can't believe your luck because you see that the girl or boy you really like is interested in you as well. This movie just feels very real. My favourite scenes were those of the first kiss(es), full of anxiety, and played more realistically than in most movies I've seen. And the awkwardly misunderstood quote from "the graduate". The credit goes to James McAvoy who is perfectly believable as a first- year student and keeps this movie together even in its weaker scenes. He is supported by a strong cast, especially his two love interests and the leader of the university quiz team. Unfortunately, in its last 20 minutes (which is when the actual climax was supposed to take place, during the quiz show) the movie feels a bit rushed, becomes predictable and some scenes are a bit too much (e.g. how Cumberbatch looks... you'll know what I mean when you'll see it). It also takes the easy (and safe) way out in the final scenes. I give this movie 7 stars out of 10. If it wasn't for the last 20 minutes, I would have given it 9 stars. As it is, this is still a very entertaining and excellently acted movie which you will certainly enjoy watching.
light-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable
I stumbled over this gem on IMDb. I wonder why I hadn't heard of it before. It is the story of a penniless nanny (McDormand) who had nothing but bad luck and seems to have reached a dead end in her life. Then she enters the life of a singer and wannabe star who keeps herself busy dating several men at once and throwing lavish parties (Adams). Unlikely as it seems, McDormand has just the skills Adams was looking for to manage her chaotic life and help her pursue her dreams. What first caught me in this movie is the wonderful setting in the 1930s with elegant costumes, old fashioned cars and classy music and parties. Then, of course, it is the sweetness of Amy Adams who first seems careless and self-centered, but actually has a heart of gold. How she enters a room, how she relaxes on a sofa, how she performs on stage - exactly how you would imagine a 1930s starlet, sweet and sexy. In the end, the story is light-hearted, keeps you interested, and all actors fit very well in their roles. But what makes this movie shine out of the multitude of enjoyable but quickly forgotten flicks, is Frances McDormand's performance. She gives a credible and stunning performance. I found myself hoping all through the movie that she gets what she deserves - especially a bite to eat, finally (her hunt for food certainly makes for the best comedic scenes of the movie)! She plays a smart woman who despite all setbacks never gave herself up and who just needed a little push to discover her own abilities. This push she receives by Amy Adams and the (in my opinion not handsome, but in this movie from his first scene on utterly charming) Ciaran Hinds.
quite brainless but fun
Yes, the movie treats things like stealing and drugs too lighthearted. Nothing the girls do has any severe consequence on them or others. But this movie doesn't even attempt to have depth. It's just about leaning back, enjoying some good music and Liam Neeson's Irish accent. I enjoyed watching it more than I would have expected from IMDb's average rating, and I got to like all of the main characters. After all, the quality of this movie is still much higher than more recent teenage comedies in the likes of American Pie which only make jokes about sex or disgusting things. It's not the kind of movie I would watch many times, but I recommend everyone to watch it once who likes to see a teenage comedy without American Pie humour.