Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
Shanghai impressed me as a very well-made film. This tale of espionage and double dealing kept me hooked throughout. Shanghai compels the viewer to pay attention in order to piece together a jumble of unclear relationships and alliances. There are many acts of betrayal in the story and they unfold from start to finish. The film also gets high marks for its depiction of pre-World War II Shanghai. The audience get a good visual sense of the cosmopolitan characteristics of the city and in fact, even its delights, like its bars and casinos, compare favorably with those in other modern cities. The acting in this film deserves commendation. Though I am not much of a John Cusack fan, I found his performance believable and not overdone. Li Gong and Yun Fat-Chow are also well cast. Their demeanor came across as natural. I would recommend this film to anyone without reservation.
The word that came to my mind after seeing, Killers, is flat. I couldn't quite figure whether this film was made to elicit laughs or keep the audience in suspense. The shift from lighthearted moments to life and death scenes and vice versa were too abrupt. Killers also struck me as a lame attempt to ape a James Bond film. Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl seemed to come straight off a magazine cover, nice and glossy but flat. It was difficult to relate to them in any manner. There are times in the film when I had to exert some effort to prevent my mind from drifting elsewhere. The premise, storyline and casting of this film simply do not work.
Grown Ups is one of those films that can be seen as either fun or repulsive. Adam Sandler's slapstick and often times, bawdy brand of humor tends to polarize viewers into opposing camps. One cannot help but think about Saturday Night Live, with the composition of the cast and the way the script is written. You can feel like you are watching a set of comedy skits stitched together. Having said that, Grown Ups, in my view generates enough laughs to be considered entertaining. The characters do go over the top with their physical routines and coarse jokes but that can also be what separates this film from other comedy flicks. Sandler risks making films that border on the absurd and that is what can turn away some people. There are times though that Sandler's daring can make it worth paying the admission price. Make it a matinée though.
Iron Man 2 is straight out entertainment. From the special effects to the fast paced way that the story is told, there is always something to keep the audience glued to the screen. Robert Downey Jr. is well suited in his role as Tony Stark. He portrays brashness with a bit of satire and the result is a performance that is captivating and at times, funny. Mickey Rourke also does well as physicist, Ivan Vanko. Rourke is a natural at playing sinister characters and in Iron Man 2, he comes off as someone capable of going to unknown lengths to get what he wants. Though this film appeals first to eyes, there are serious themes that underpin the story; themes like greed for power and money, the overpowering urge for vengeance and even the importance of parental love. In general, I liked how the film makers mixed in doses of action, humor and intrigue which together made for an interesting movie. I am looking forward to another sequel.
Ridley Scott stamps his trademark style of telling stories of larger than life heroes on a grand scale in the latest film on Robin Hood. Much attention is paid to convey the scale and ferocity of battle scenes that there is more than enough gore to make one flinch. The commendable trait of Scott is that he takes pains to develop the personal story of his lead character. It is as if he is doing a character study and inviting the audience to join him. Robin Hood clocks in at a relatively lengthy two hours and twenty minutes yet there are no scenes that can be called extraneous and that shows one more strength of a Ridley Scott film, good editing. The cast do a believable job of portraying life in medieval England and France, a feat that owes very much to the competence of the set and costume designers. I think this film is well worth the audience' time and money. It makes me hope that there will be a sequel soon.
Coco Before Chanel focuses on the life of the fashion icon before she became one. Portrayed here by Audrey Tautou, the Chanel that is revealed in the film is a woman at the cusp of two worlds, one that is traditional with strictly prescribed gender roles and the other, a world that allows for self-realization and independence especially for women. Telling Chanel's story then invites taking on bigger themes which unfortunately, the film's makers steer away from. There is not much said about the milieu in which Chanel lived. Much is left to inference. The look of the film is commendable. France lends itself very well to cameras and the shots of the countryside and seaside areas seem like living art. This film I would rate as about average for a biopic, an interesting person for a subject whose story is told in an uncritical manner.
The selling point of the film, The Expendables is the iconic cast itself. Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger and company bring their star power to this otherwise average action film. The storyline does not offer many surprises. This is still a good versus bad guys film with a lot of firefights in between. There parts and scenes in the film that could have been shortened or removed with little effect on the finished product. Schwarzenegger's cameo is really an end unto itself. The whole point of the scene being his appearance. Also, Mickey Rourke is given a role that is inconsequential, which is quite unfortunate, since Rourke is very much a fine actor. This in turn brings up another shortcoming of this film. Audiences are used to seeing this collection of stars in lead roles. They carry their films. In The Expendables, they are almost reduced to being bit players. What this film has going for it, are highly entertaining action sequences and doses of self-deprecating humor that can only be delivered by actors who have reached the heights of stardom. By watching this film, you really get what can be expected of a Stallone film, an emphasis on the visual rather than on dialogue and complexity of plot. Setting aside expectations of a memorable screenplay, anyone viewing The Expendables can still find it worthwhile to see.
IP Man 2 is filled with many memorable fight scenes. From one on one fights between combatants using different martial arts styles, all out brawls and matches between a western boxer and martial arts practitioners, IP Man 2 more than satisfies the action film buff. What is noteworthy about this film is that, it features many memorable characters including IP Man, Master Hung, Fatso and the boxer, Twister. There is a caricature flavor to the characters yet they never go overboard. You sympathize with them for the hardships and injustices that they endure. IP Man also goes beyond being just a fight film as the story delves into the values like brotherhood, loyalty, patriotism, equality of people that make the characters engage in combat. It is not fighting merely for the sake of doing so. This a good film worth seeing.
If you were expecting to see an original story, fantasy film then Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is not for you. On the other hand, if you were looking for a highly visual and fun film then in general, you probably will enjoy this film. Prince of Persia keeps the audience interested with lots of action and fight sequences. In fact, if you took those out you would be left with just about half of the film. This much I can say about the fight sequences, they are well choreographed and incorporate CGI effects very well. The special effects do not overwhelm the excitement of the sword and fist fights. Prince of Persia feels and looks very much like a Disney film with a lot of attention being paid to the aesthetic qualities of the finished product coupled with the requisite Hollywood type ending.
Salt is a fast paced spy thriller that keeps the viewer riveted to the edge of his or her seat. Angelina Jolie is well cast as the double agent Evelyn Salt. It is a challenge to think of any other actress who could do a better job than Jolie of projecting an air of mystery while taking on a physically demanding role. Like other films in the espionage thriller genre, Salt leaves it up to the audience to sort out the good guys from the bad ones. The plot is not too complicated that it will befuddle the audience but it has enough twists to keep them interested from start to finish. Salt has a noticeably short run time, just over an hour and a half which is comparable to a typical animated feature. Perhaps, the speed by which the story unfolds does not allow for more subplots which may not suit viewers who want more substance in their films. But as with other summer fare, this film is very much within the ballpark. It is highly entertaining with a big name star for a lead and is marketed to as wide an audience as possible. I would say that the audience does get its money's worth by seeing this film.
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