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How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
How To Train Your Dragon is up there as one of the best animated movies ever made. My only qualm is that title of the movie can put off adult viewers, but I guess that's the drawbacks of adapting. I didn't watch this movie till much later, having presumed from the title that it'd be a kids' movie.
Straight up, this movie has enough depth and logic to engage with adult viewers. But what makes this film stand out is its flawless portrayal of tear-jerking values of bravery, courage and faith. The story is brought along very well whilst at all times hanging on to the intrigue of its viewers. The movie is cleverly written and the characters are brought to the fore fairly well. The actors voicing the characters all do a good job presenting the animated characters to audiences.
Now. Here's what's truly outstanding about this movie - the incredible & mesmerizing soundtrack by John Powell. I wasn't surprised to learn that this score got nominated for an Oscar. Two particular tracks from the OST stand out in particular - Test Drive and Forbidden Friendship. You'd be jamming to these long after seeing the movie. The movie was very good, but the genius of John Powell's soundtrack is what makes this movie absolutely amazing.
Orbit Ever After (2013)
This short story is an intriguing and stirring take of an age old theme; the desire of a teenage boy to breakaway from an overtly cautious and timid family institution, and out into a world of more adventure. Without giving too much away, he eventually finds a reason to leave home, but at great perils. He must make a decision to pursue it at the risk of losing everything, or return to the eternal humdrum of home.
The plot is moved by an emotionally quirky narrative, all set in the uncertain, nullifying backdrop of outer space. There is an air of uncertainty in the context. We do not know why people left Earth and are orbiting the planet. The use of subtle, quirky humour to play down the surrounding uncertainty creates a sense of cognitive dissonance that only pulls the audience further into the plot.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster is exactly as you'd expect as Nigel, and plays the part to perfection. The supporting casts are excellent in exuding the right level of humour, which is the focal element of this short story.
Technically, this short excels for TWO reasons. The mesmerizing cinematography and a spellbinding soundtrack. They both combine to give the audience a sense of deep but playful melancholy at the end of the movie.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump happens to be a film that took off, up and away very easily, and it's not hard to see why. As much as it was a very good effort, you can't help but to feel the whole idea is slightly over hyped.
The best elements of Forrest Gump is 2 things. Firstly, the excellent performances by the actors. Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast were brilliant. Secondly, the many representation of historical facts weaved into the plot.
That being said, it's somewhat understandable, albeit contradictory, why this movie is being rated so highly among viewers. It's nice to watch a movie every once in a while, where everything falls into place perfectly, and no one really wants to question the sheer oddity of it all. Forrest Gump is a good example of that. The good performance by Tom Hanks alone undoubtedly is enough for the many to drench this movie in praise. The problem for me then becomes this. Knowing this movie is definitely at least a good movie, what's stopping it from becoming great? I think it falls short of giving us the ultimate sense of profoundness and awe by the end. It does, though, but not as profound as other movies from that decade, say The Green Mile (making this comparison since many claim Gump to be one of the best movies out there, it's only fitting to compare it to another heavyweight, nothing to do with Tom Hanks being in both). I also feel Gump, at times within the movie, has moments of drop and stagnation within the plot. It doesn't continually escalate with time. Usually in movies it's not a problem, or sometimes necessary, but in Gump, these lapses of stagnation can seem almost endless and perhaps a tad bit overused. I will give this movie credit for the acting and for the way it captures the counter-cultures, lifestyles and many nuances of the up and coming USA. It does a good job pacing us through these many historical elements, and has its moments leaving the audience at awe.
But I remained convinced a silent minority out there share my opinion on how this movie, despite being a very good effort, isn't as awesome as everyone makes it to be. It could be one of the best movies of the decade, but definitely not the best. 7.7 on my scales. A very good effort. Nothing more.
In Bruges (2008)
Dark, engaging, alcoves.
Had no doubts giving this one an 8/10. Just back recently from a cumbersome rating dilemma which saw me settle for a similar score for Pan's Labyrinth, which further strengthens my stand that IMDb should let us vote with more accuracy (for example 7.7, what pans labyrinth should've deserved).
I loved in Bruges. I thought there really was nothing wrong with it. How the dark elements were incorporated into the film, as well as the mesmerizingly haunting soundtrack that just weaved into everything nice and well. Colin Farrell did surprisingly well, with his native Irish tongue it was all set up for him to nail the role. Brendan Gleeson does well in his role too. Ralph Fiennes does a stellar job, being cast as the boss Harry Waters, classically and stylishly encompassing the character. Blatantly or so, he is extremely comparable to Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.
The magnificence of the Belgian surroundings coupled with the soundtrack is what really brings this movie along. The screenplay is also equally matched if not better. I would recommend In Bruges to all who've seen one too many of the usual stuff. In the days of Transformers and 2012 and CGI, this is refreshingly engaging to those who appreciate the art of a good movie.
El laberinto del fauno (2006)
Good. Not anything more.
I watched the movie not knowing what to expect. All I knew beforehand were a bunch of comments full of praise in this review section. Having just watched it though, this is how I would put it.
To be unbiased at all, this was a very good movie. I loved the blend of fantasy and all the real-life metaphors it threw to the viewer of hard life through the eyes of a child. I loved how it captured the pure innocence of childhood through Ofelia's eyes, played beautifully by Ivana Baquero. The rest of the supporting casts were also stunningly portrayed by Sergi López (whom I thought was the best in the movie hands down, for his chilling portrayal of Captain Vidal) and Maribel Verdú. No complains about the performances or the equally matched soundtrack. I'm fortunately not going to rant about the rest of the technicalities this movie gives though, that's all readily out there with the rest of the reviews.
On the underside however, surprising to find little of those among reviewers here, I felt however, the movie falls just inches short of achieving what it strived to do. Which was to play that theme of innocence lost or however it may be put. I felt that in the end, the level of awakening, or rather the level of self consciousness that the film-makers wanted the viewers to feel just wasn't as profound as it could have possibly been. I thought the ending was maybe just a bit too abrupt, and the light was somewhat dimmed (I wouldn't say lost), at making this film an all together completely over-whelming experience. I would've preferred if the movie had a tougher climax, and a tougher build up to that climax, then maybe it would have been a complete experience for me.
I also watched previously the Bridge to Terabithia, which was a more moving experience. Didn't do almost as well in the reviews compared to this though, but I felt THAT movie did had a more complete sort of feel to it. It could so easily have been sort of a remake to this one - but with a more grippy ending, and with a lighter plot.
All in all Pan's Labyrinth is a great movie I would recommend to anyone, based on the stellar performances alone. But maaaybe a bit too over hyped here among the folks at IMDb. 8/10