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46 reviews in total 
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82 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
Another failed attempt to recapture the magic, 31 January 2016

In 1999 Star Wars creator George Lucas finally began to give us his view on the events that led to Star Wars IV, V and VI. The first Star Wars trilogy was, as we all know, a milestone in cinema history and it's not easy to top something like that. He didn't succeed to top the original trilogy and although successful commercially, fans weren't all to impressed with the prequels. The story was flat, the characters annoying and the special effects too clean. It could be that this even led to his decision to sell off his Lucasfilm and all the rights to the Star Wars imperium. Disney picked up those rights. Maybe because they thought they could do better. Well, commercially they were right. But better films? Their first installment isn't that impressive. It's worse than The Phantom Menace.

Let's get one thing straight: even though it picks up 30 years after Star Wars VI, this is not a sequel. This is a remake. J.J. Abrams tries to get back to the feel of the original trilogy. But essentially copies the storyline of Star Wars IV A New Hope. Okay, so that's disappointing. But let's see where this goes. Abrams then proceeds to give us some awkward comic relief scenes, deep friendships within two minutes of meeting each other and some wooden dialogue. The new bad guy is a spoiled brat who has a tendency for tantrums (and commands the largest army in the galaxy?) and a Supreme Leader who is a hologram. Too make a long story short: I wasn't all too impressed. It's just another failed attempt to recapture the magic of the much loved first three films from the seventies and eighties.

Was it all bad? No, off course not. Abrams knows how to direct action and impress with fine special effects. The casting of John Boyega is a courageous move and commercially smart. Too bad that his character comes off as more annoying than brave. Same goes for the character Kylo Ren. That I am not a fan off Adam Driver does not help either. Newcomer Ridley does hit the right tone and impresses as the new lead character. The familiar faces of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbakka appear, but does that help? They don't bring anything new or fresh. Except for one pivotal scene near the end, which to be fair, was very well done.

It's the first installment, maybe it needs to gain momentum. But The Fellowship of the Ring and Star Wars IV were first installments too and they impressed the hell out of people. There are two other films coming in the next years. But this first one just is not all it's hyped up to be.

Arbitrage (2012)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gere's best performance in years, 20 October 2012

Arbitrage is a wonderful film. It is a slow paced, well written and very well acted piece of cinema. It looks like Gere is choosing his projects with better care. A supporting cast of Sarandon, Roth and others do their work. But it's Gere's show.

Gere plays one those people you read about in the paper. The ones who defraud their company, a pension fund or a bank for hundreds of millions. It's cases where everybody scratches their head: 'How is this possible? Right under everybody's nose?' For me, this film is about loyalty. If you ask me, 'these' people (the Madoff's and such) depend on others not to tell. They are charismatic, charming, sometimes do the right thing and make you believe by not blowing the whistle, you are actually saving other people. When in fact, they are the most egocentric, narcissistic personalities you will ever find.

I won't give away too much of the plot, but Gere's character is such turd in a suit: it's beautiful to see on screen. He keeps telling the people around him not to turn on him, because it's not him that gets hurt. It's other people's jobs, pensions etc. But it's just his own behind he's saving. Writer/director makes us root for him. 'Come on, get away with it' we think. You want him to win. When in fact, he's evil. But he sells it good. Like Gere sells his character. Like the Madoff's of this world sell us.

The thing that stayed with me was that one the main supporting characters comes off as naive when in fact he/she is just wanting what we all want: to tell the truth. But truth doesn't get you very far. That's what we learn from Gere's character. And almost - just almost - we believe him.

I give this film 8 out of 10.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Great fun, but let's not exaggerate, 4 September 2012

I have been a comic fan since the mid 90's. After a gap of almost 15 years a recently picked up my old hobby. Much has changed since I last read Spider-man, Wolverine and The Punisher. I never have been a fan of Fantastic Four or The Avengers. And after this movie, I won't change my mind about it.

Not that The Avengers is a bad film, it's really not. But it's not all that the hype pretends it is. Whedon makes a very enjoyable popcorn-movie that's true to it's comic book roots. You get a lot of bang for your buck: 6 superheroes in a 2+ hour movie. Whedon keeps all his movies light and with humor. I finally see what he intended with Alien Resurrection. Although I still think it would not have worked. Alien doesn't lend itself for humor. But this material does. And Whedon does it well. The story isn't too complicated. I'm glad all these movies use elements from the golden or silver age of the original comics. The story is a old-school kinda story. Not complicated and with little back story (because all of them had an individual one. Some even two!).

The effects are well done, although I think on a TV screen (even by today's standards), it's just too chaotic to really follow. I had the same feeling with the horrendous Transformer-films. Although the action in this film isn't half as confusing as those three turds.

All and all: it's a nice blockbuster with steady performances, good action and an old fashioned, humorous story. I could write half a page about it being a little too patriotic and militaristic, but hey, I'm European. I really don't get all the fascination with guns and jets and stuff.

Real Steel (2011)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Tears on steel, 15 February 2012

This movie is a pleasant surprise. This could have easily become a leave-your-brain-at-home dud, but it's actually a warm-hearted Rocky-like tail, sprinkled with The Champ-elements.

This has all the same ingredients as Transformers, but does everything better. The characters are understandable and likable, the humor is actually funny and the boy-robot relation is touching. Jackman and Lily have good chemistry and the special effects are well done.

Not that there aren't flaws: the origin of Atom is not mentioned at all and the robot-fighting is off course against all laws of psychics.

But after all is said and done, you watch the end credits feeling good and the tears shed at the end (everyone cries at the end, sigh) are tears of joy, not of pain or despair like after watching one of Bay's Transformers.

I give it 7 outta 10.

Warrior (2011)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
One of the best of 2011, 27 December 2011

Warrior has so many elements which normally press the wrong buttons with me. But when the end credits rolled, I was totally mesmerized. It's one of the best films of the year.

I don't know much about MMA or UFC. But although this film is about fighters and UFC, it's more about family, redemption and coming to terms with a painful past. I applaud the makers for making a film that takes it's time to develop. Characters are humans in this film, not video game characters. This film could have been made/marketed for the 15-19 yr old male-group. But that would have produced a very different and worse film.

All the main actors do excellent work, with the two main actors (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) carrying this film from start to finish. Noteworthy are also Nick Nolte and Frank Grillo as Edgerton's trainer.

Director Hood finds the right gritty feel and look for the film, as well as getting the best out of his cast and crew (with 4! editors). The fight scenes are exiting, but especially Hardy's scenes where his caged anger is about to explode are powerful.

One negative thing: Too bad this movie could not do without the (almost obligatory) nod to the uniform and military.

It's a great achievement and this deserved to do better at the box office. I'm afraid that producers with similar ideas will want a film that more is Rocky.

I give it 8 out of 10.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Somewhat miscast, but fascinating none the less, 18 December 2011

The Good Sheperd is a massive accomplishment. It's multi layered script incorporates the rise (and rise) of the US intelligence service after WWII. From the early OSS to today's CIA, it tries to shed light on not only the intelligence-counter intelligence game, but also the men and women behind the covert world. The thing that stayed with me after watching this film is that once you enter this world you never leave. And that may sound cliché, it's still unbelievable to me how much the main character is willing to sacrifice in order to keep doing what he thinks he does best.

The 'old boys' network is what defined the early days of the OSS and although it's not very explicit in this film, the attentive viewer can get the somewhat elitist way of thinking and acting from these agents/spies. The way of thinking is very important I think, because it defined our recent history.

This film is a long time pet-project of DeNiro and I can see why. It has everything in it: suspense, morally challenging, lost love in the 'what if'-category and very good written characters. Top it of with a very good supporting cast and greatness is in it's grasp, but it just falls short of it. I blame the casting of Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie for this.

I like Matt Damon in action films. He has the presence for it. Just look at the Bourne-films. But, like Mark Wahlberg, his range is far too narrow to play complicated characters. A remark made in the excellent TV-series Entourage comes to mind: 'You're a movie star, but that does not mean you're a good actor.' Damon should play into his strengths and keep doing action films. Matt Damon is miscast as the silent, somewhat nerdy main character. Damon never finds the right tone of voice, never the right look and never the right rhythm of his character. I am not a fan of Billy Cudrup, but when the two are in the same frame it's a perfect example of an actor totally in sync with his character and one that is not.

Just like Alexander, Jolie is also totally miscast in a role that does not suit her. Her greatest strength is her vamp-like attraction with a girlish tenderness (or maybe a hidden vulnerability) that is very, very rare in Hollywood. You have to let her play a role that suits her qualities best and the neglected, stay-at-home mom she plays here is totally unbelievable for me. Her emotional scenes become almost laughable when I think the opposite reaction was intended. I think the role of Laura would have suited her more.

Again, I think it's a fantastic film. It's a great accomplishment to make an interesting 2-somewhat hour movie with this much detail and information. The production design, the cinematography, the script and the supporting cast are excellent. For a not so experienced director, DeNiro does a fantastic job because he has made the decision to make the film and not to make 'a Film by Robert DeNiro'. His directing hand is invisible, and this is a hard thing to do when you have all the power. Just take a look at characters in this movie.

I give it 8 out of 10.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Big, loud and empty, 26 October 2011

What else can I say about this, that already hasn't been said? It's big, loud and empty. It's dangerously militaristic and gung ho. Like World Battle: Los Angeles it's a video game with cliché heroism. It's a live action 'I Want You' poster.

I really can't fault Bay here. He's an advertising man. He is hired to sell. And he does. Everything is sly, shiny and slick. Nice slow mo's, nice legs (courtesy of some new hottie) and great musclecars. Hormones, heroes and guns. Sign up right here. Do your part and earn citizenship. Oh wait, we're not there...just yet.

I fault the viewers who buy a ticket to this. That includes yours truly. Because as long as these things double or triple their budgets, it's still gonna get made. Number 4 is in the making and it's our fault.

An awful film that deserves an awful review: 1 out of 10.

37 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
History repeat, 12 August 2011

The Conspiritor uses an event that happened 150 years ago to tell a story which is all too familiar in our time. The backdrop off a shocking, sad event and the following massive public outcry pushes the powers to be to extreme measures, which they stand by because they feel to be forced to do or because they really believe it to be the only right thing.

Robert Redford has been well known for his political views and has displayed them already in the somewhat uneven Lions for Lambs. I like filmmakers who speak out. I can maybe not always agree, but I wholeheartedly admire that in this time of mindless action drivel like Transformers, Drive Angry and The Mechanic there is still hope for without trying to be arrogant: meaningful films. Redford uses the assassination of Lincoln to portray a nation in mourning and sadness. The Civil War was all but over and the policymakers were already planning the next step: the forming of a real Union. The assassination of Lincoln endangered the entire Union. The people wanted revenge and Edwin Stanton (an excellent Kevin Kline) serves it cold. Since her son is nowhere to be found anywhere, he settles for the next thing: his mother Mary Surrat. 'I don't care which one it is, as long as one of them pays the price'. Young Frederick Alken (James McAvoy) has the ungrateful task of defending her.

I don't know much about the Civil War and the period after that, so I can't say how accurate this film is. But what I can say is that it's a masterpiece in creating a period not so distant from our current world. If you replace the assassination of Lincoln with the 9/11-attacks, you have a film that stands firm. It asks relevant questions and holds a mirror right up to our faces. Are seeing clearly? In the sadness and outrage of such a shocking event, do we still see clearly what's going on? Do we still, as a people, have perspective enough to define friend from foe from guilty to innocent? Do our leaders have the capability, strength and courage to make us see or tell us 'no' when we are wrong? Or do policies, political views or elections hold them back and make them just give the public what they want? Mary Surrat, Lincoln, Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Bush, Edward Stanton, Abu Grahib, post Civil War Washington, Guantanomo Bay. History repeats itself over and over again. When will we learn? Guilty or innocent. Is it important? Do we care? I give this film 8 out of 10.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Finally, story and action are aligned!, 25 July 2011

Source Code mixes science-fiction with a love story and questions about morality and ethics. It's not like most movies: this one actually has a story, not just effects. For that matter, the action isn't really on the foreground. It's not your standard blockbuster.

Director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley created not the most original film, but one of the best executed. A fine cast do the rest. Jake Gyllenhaal is dependable as always and especially Michelle Monaghan has the exceptional quality to have chemistry with almost any actor she works with. Believe me, in the role she is playing, it is hard not to come off as annoying or damsel in distress. And she doesn't.

Maybe if you looked real hard, you would find plot holes about alternate realities or universes or time travel in this film. But I didn't want to think too much. The filmmakers has my permission to just go ahead and tell their story.

Source Code will be judged by some as dull or talky. That's the part of the audience who loved T4 or Transformers I-III. Those 'movies' are just action scenes molded together. This has story and action more in sync. This movie is more for the people who like to think and not have their thinking done for them. That's rare these days. Just ask Capt. Stevens, main character in Source Code.

Trust (2010/I)
32 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
Half seriously good, half Hallmark movie-of-the-week, 20 July 2011

David Schwimmer behind the lens of a movie with the synopsis of a movie-of-the-week about internetpredators. Wow, this could go either way I thought. And it did.

The Good: This movie is carried by its young leading star. Liana Liberato is Annie and she makes us feel every emotion she has. Sometimes we just don't get her: her actions or what's she's saying. Then, and this is where the screenplay and direction comes in, there are a few lines of dialog or a well chosen shot and we get what's being said. That symmetry is what makes Trust good.

It's never overly dramatic and definitely does not hold back in depicting the loss of innocence and broken trust within the family or the minds of the family members.

This is B-movie with an A-list cast and the movie works because of the above average actors.

The Less: It's still a little cliché. Dr. Phil would approve this film. The Hallmark-channel feeling is never shed off and although it's bold in depicting it's story: it's also very predictable. There's no grey here, only black and white. This goes also for the characters: the innocent teen, the understanding mother, the work oriented father etc.

Overall: The screenplay mixes good dialog and a dramatic look at teens growing up in the information-age with clichés and predictability. Schwimmer passes his exam as a director, as opposed to a actor turned director. It's not bad and watchable alone for the Tour de Force by Liberato, but don't expect a masterpiece. Because that would be too much credit. I give it a 6 out of 10.

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