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97 reviews in total 
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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Walt Disney would have been so proud., 22 December 2013

While reflecting her childhood in Australia, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) goes to Hollywood to adapt "Mary Poppins" to the big screen. She meets Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who made a promise to her daughters he wouldn't think it would take 20 years. As they work things out to procure the rights, their relationship begins to build.

When I first heard Tom Hanks was going to play Walt Disney, I couldn't get more excited. He is one of those actors where he can deliver a fantastic performance no matter what role he can get his hands on. Hanks brings so much enthusiasm where he goes right into the character. His performance as Disney is no exception. After his breakout performance in "Captain Phillips", Tom Hanks, again, hits it out of the park.

Emma Thompson delivers a terrific performance as P.L. Travers, the author of "Mary Poppins" who thinks about her rough childhood including her alcoholic father (exceptionally played by Colin Farrell). Travers might be very strict about her expectations for "Mary Poppins", but she is very sympathetic on what inspired her to write her book.

Seeing movies about movies ("Hugo", "The Aviator", "The Artist", among others) remind me why I became a movie buff. "Saving Mr. Banks" did a wonderful job dramatizing the making of one of the most beloved Disney films of all-time.

It's melodramatic without being sappy. It will make you laugh, cry, and be undoubtedly moved. I highly recommend it for the whole family. However, I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids, because it deals with themes such as alcoholism and despair.


6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Better than "An Unexpected Journey"., 13 December 2013

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of dwarfs are continuing their quest to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). While Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is taking a different path, Bilbo and the dwarfs must have what it takes to take back Erebor.

Either if you loved or hated "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (I, for one, loved it), chances are you are going to enjoy "The Desolation of Smaug" even more. Peter Jackson does a capable job of continuing the story on a high note.

The actors all do a great job reprising their roles (not to mention Orlando Bloom as Legolas). Benedict Cumberbatch completely chews the scenery doing the motion capture of Smaug. His deep, evil voice is what truly makes the character.

With thrilling action sequences, brilliant sets, and a more serious tone, "The Desolation of Smaug" is an astounding entry to the trilogy. About time to look forward to "The Hobbit: There and Back Again".


3 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
In a time where the most anticipated blockbusters have been disappointing, Catching Fire takes a completely different turn., 30 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A year after winning the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are about to take a victory tour of the districts of Panem. Before she leaves, Katniss gets an unexpected visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland). He talks to her about how her victory led to a rebellion.

This leads to the Capitol to start a "Quarter Quell", an event that is held every 25 years where the previous winners get a chance to compete again. With Snow watching her every move, Katniss must, yet again, have what it takes to survive.

For someone who has not read the book, I enjoyed The Hunger Games (2012). Despite the entire Hunger Games sequence being shaky at times (due to its camera-work), the movie contained fantastic visuals, wonderful performances by an ensemble cast (notably from Jennifer Lawrence), and it brought an emotional punch. I've been looking forward to seeing the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen and her will to survive in the dystopian future.

In a time where the most anticipated blockbusters have been disappointing, Catching Fire takes a different direction. Not only is it a note-worthy sequel, but it's also a slight improvement over the previous film.

Jennifer Lawrence returns delivering a miraculous performance as Katniss Everdeen. Like before, she brings the sympathy, the strength and guts that made her such a memorable heroine. No one can play a better Katniss other than Lawrence herself. What amazes me about Josh Hutcherson is how far he has come as an actor. His performance as Peeta Mellark is no exception. The rest of the cast including Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, among others are stellar.

The main quality that improved in Catching Fire is the entire Hunger Games sequence. Not only is it exciting and had little to no shaky camera-work, but it brought some genuinely clever ideas. The visuals are prettier, the themes (involving survival and revolution) are more mature, and the action set pieces are much more exciting.


1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
As entertaining as Thor (2011), 15 November 2013

Thor, the Prince of Asgard (Chris Hemsworth) is doing his best to protect the Nine Realms of Asgard. When Thor learns of an ancient race, known as the Dark Elves, coming to threaten the Earth, he reunites with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and brings her to Asgard so he could go into "The Dark World" save Earth as well as Asgard.

Either if you liked or hated 2011's Thor (which I enjoyed, but not as much as the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), chances are you will enjoy this sequel as much or more than the first one. I, for one, was not expecting it to be better.

Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse prince with the smirk, the wits, the charm, and the power/strength. Tom Hiddleston brings his evil back into his role as Loki, the adopted brother of Thor, who is imprisoned for his attacks on Earth. Anthony Hopkins can play anybody, either as a cannibalistic serial killer or a Norse king, and would still be awesome. Natalie Portman can be charismatic as she is adorable as the love interest to a Norse prince. If there is a weak point, however, it would go to Kat Dennings.

Although some scenes can be a bit too silly and the story can contain plot holes, the action sequences and the visuals can make up for that. The result: a wicked good time at the theater.

Bring on the sequel to Captain America!


2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Mostly faithful to the novel, but not perfect., 2 November 2013

Set in the near future, an alien race is about to destroy mankind. Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) enrolls Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy but intellectual boy, into a special military school to prepare for the upcoming alien attack. With Graff having the highest of expectations for Ender, will Ender have what it takes to be a hero and save humanity? Ender's Game is one of my all-time favorite books. Once I picked up the book, I wanted to keep reading. Orson Scott Card does a wonderful job telling the story of one's hope of saving humanity. When I first heard that Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford are going to star in the new adaptation of this brilliant piece of sci-fi literature, I was stoked. Not to mention the look of it is true to the book.

The result: A pretty damn good adaptation of an otherwise wonderful sci-fi book.

Asa Butterfield (Hugo) nails it as the title character. He may be too old to play Ender, but maturity is all it matters. He performs it well. Ben Kingsley (also from Hugo) does a pretty good job as Mazer Rackham, a former pilot who trains Ender. Viola Davis does a solid job, but I feel that she is quite miscast as Major Anderson. Harrison Ford steals the show as Col. Graff.

For a fan of the book by Orson Scott Card, this adaptation is, for the most part, quite faithful to the source material. For instance, the scenes in the Battle Arena are exactly what I imagined while reading the book. They are riveting as they are mind-blowing. The visuals are phenomenal and the cinematography is beautiful. The climax is very exciting The biggest gripe is the running time. TOO SHORT! The movie is two hours long, but I wish it could have been a half-hour longer. I would have like to know more about the alien race.

Nevertheless, I had a good time with Ender's Game.


1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A first-rate, nail-biting, heart-pounding thriller, 19 October 2013

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) takes command of the Maersk Alabama to send tons of cargo to Kenya. One day, he sees a group of Somali pirates coming towards the ship. When the pirates, led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), hijack the Alabama, a battle between good and evil commences.

I had never heard of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, right until I saw the preview for Captain Phillips. It looked really intense. Even when I saw Tom Hanks, I was sold.

Right from the first scene, I was hooked to my seat.

Tom Hanks has been my favorite actor since I saw his amazing performance in Forrest Gump. He brings this power where he not only plays the character, but he lives it. When his character is in a horrible situation (like in Captain Phillips), he brings this enthusiasm right in front of the camera. The result with Captain Phillips is an unforgettable performance reminding me why he became my favorite actor. Barkhad Abdi and the others are so electrifying as the Somali pirates that it makes your jaw drop.

Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) uses his trademark shaky camera-work to make it seem as if we are part of the action. It's well edited, cleverly scripted, and as a whole, it will leave you breathless.


Rush (2013/I)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Ron Howard is back!, 15 October 2013

Ron Howard has come a long way from being a star on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days to being one of the most gifted filmmakers of our generation. He has made some great films (Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind) and he made some bad ones (The Grinch and The Dilemma). With his latest movie Rush, about the rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1976 F-1 season, he has literally come back to the top! Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl deliver two of the best performances of the year as Hunt and Lauda, two F-1 racers turned enemies. These are performances where they step right into the character instead of acting for the sake of acting. It's just fascinating to see these two battle each other on and off the racetrack. That gives a sign of true rivalry.

The racing sequences are riveting and make you feel as if you are part of the action. The cinematography is fantastic; the pace never drags; it's one of the best experiences of the year.


Gravity (2013)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
One heck of a thrill ride you don't want to miss., 4 October 2013

While on her first space mission, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is working on repairing the space shuttle Explorer. After a huge amount of debris comes and destroys the shuttle, it sends her, along with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) roaming around in space. Despite running low on oxygen, she tries to do anything she can to survive.

Did any of the previews for Gravity make you feel dizzy? Certainly did for me! They make you have this urge feeling how terrifying it would be to be lost in space. Not only did the movie look tense, but also breath-taking. Gravity met my expectations in every way. This reminds us why we love going to the movies so much; to experience something unlike anything we've seen before.

I'm not a Sandra Bullock fan, but she delivers the best performance of her career as Ryan Stone, the rookie astronaut who tries to have the strength to survive. She plays one of those heroines where we have sympathy in her and hoping she will survive.

Although not having a lot of screen time, George Clooney delivers a note-worthy performance as Matt Kowalski, the astronaut on his last space mission before retirement. He also tells some amusing stories about his past. He provides the comic relief.

Gravity features some of the most amazing visuals and tracking shots (including the first 13 minutes) that I've ever seen this year (or any year). Thanks to Alfonso Cuarón (director of Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) for his outstanding work of giving a glimpse on how scary space can be in many ways. The theme of isolation/survival is done capably well. I love how realistically depicted space is, not to mention the eerie score by Steven Price. Of course, the story is straight-forward, but that's the whole point in this terrifying, tense, emotional, and visually breathtaking masterpiece of a film.


Prisoners (2013)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Talk about INTENSE!, 21 September 2013

After Thanksgiving dinner, two girls from two different families decide to go outside and play. Moments later, they go missing. This causes panic between the families including Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), whose daughter is one of the girls who are missing. With Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) on the case, Dover tries everything he could to find out what is going on.

With 2013 starting its fall movie season with some intense thrillers, Prisoners is one of those that I had very high hopes for. Although the trailers gave away a little too much, I thought it looked really intense. Even with an ensemble cast, this movie looked like it would get some Oscar buzz for its actors (for everything else). Prisoners didn't disappoint. Right from the very first scene, I was hooked.

Hugh Jackman delivers an award-worthy performance as Dover, the father who tries to find what he is looking for. Jake Gyllenhaal might get a Best Actor nomination for his terrific work as Loki, the police detective who is on the investigation of these two girls. The supporting cast (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo) also does a great job.

When I say Prisoners is intense, I mean it's really intense; almost to the point where it becomes eerie and unsettling. The eerie thing about this movie is that it looks real. The characters and their religious beliefs are real; the situation is real; everything in this movie is real.

This movie plays out like a puzzle. You have to pay attention right from the start to figure out what is going on. It's like we (the audience) are following the characters' footsteps as they are trying to solve this case.

Prisoners is an intense and thought-provoking experience that has to be seen to be believed. I'm pretty sure a lot of people are going to talk about it for days to come.


4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The definitive summer movie: Funny, dramatic, moving, and well-acted., 2 September 2013

Duncan (Liam Jones) is a shy 14-year-old having rough time fitting in when his mother (Toni Collette) is going out with her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). While on summer vacation at Trent's beach house, Duncan tries to find his own place in life while he strikes up a friendship with Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of the local water park.

Like Blue Jasmine, The Way, Way Back is one independent film that I was stoked to see. From seeing the preview, it looked like it would be a future classic. Since I had finally seen it at a theater near me after a month of waiting, I got to say this is one of the very best films of 2013.

It might seem a bit odd for some people that Steve Carell is not playing his traditional goofy character in this movie. I actually think it's nice to see a funny actor doing a serious role. Carell does excellent playing the Duncan's mother's jerk-of-a-boyfriend who encourages Duncan to go out and improve who he is. Newcomer Liam Jones does an outstanding job playing the kid who goes out and find his own way in life. Even the supporting cast is great, especially Sam Rockwell.

I predict he should take home the Best Supporting Actor nomination as the sarcastic water park manager and Duncan's secretive friend. He provides most of the film's comedy and one dramatic scene that will prove he will get the nomination and possibly win.

Movies like Forrest Gump, The Truman Show and It's a Wonderful Life do a capable job of mixing comedy and drama together. The Way, Way Back is also one of those movies that prove it can be entertaining as it is funny and dramatic. This is a wonderfully relatable film by writers/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who capture the theme of finding one's life so well, it made me leave the theater with a smile across my face.


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