Category Archives: Fantasy

Hellboy (2004) Review

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Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains medium level violence
Cast:
Ron Perlman as Hellboy
John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm
Selma Blair as Liz Sherman
Rupert Evans as John “Johnny” Myers
Karel Roden as Grigori Rasputin
Jeffrey Tambor as Tom Manning
Doug Jones as Abe Sapien
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Towards the end of WWII, the Nazis resort to black magic and conjure a demonic-looking being called Hellboy (Ron Perlman). But the Allies capture him and he grows up to fight against evil rather than for it.

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I’ve been meaning to go back and watch the Hellboy movies from Guillermo del Toro again, especially after the more recent and underwhelming reboot. I remembered liking them quite a bit, and as it turns out they actually hold up quite well today. Despite some of its script faults, 2004’s Hellboy is a very fun fantasy comic book movie.

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Hellboy opens quite well and for the most works consistently well across its 2 hour runtime. It’s very entertaining, and creative, and the source material is perfect for del Toro to take on. The script is witty with some good lines and humour, the story is well paced, and it has a lot of fantasy and even noir aspects to it. It’s also heartfelt and genuine and establishes itself as a unique and larger than life comic book movie with a great atmosphere. Also keep in mind that this is back in 2004, so you can imagine how much of an impact and hit it would’ve been back then. Hellboy also does well as establishing its universe, though I feel like they could’ve done that without a human stand in character. It’s not all great though. The story isn’t really anything special, it’s a typical fantasy world ending plot that’s a bit predictable. It really doesn’t reach its fullest potential. Not all the characters are greatly handled. Hellboy of course is fantastic, but the human characters are particularly thinly developed and are quite bland, more on that later. Also maybe a slight nitpick, but it did feel like it ended a little abruptly, like there needed to be an extra scene right before it ended, but that’s a small gripe.

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The cast do a good job in their parts, even though some of them were restricted by the writing of their respective characters. Of course the big standout is Ron Perlman as Hellboy and he absolutely owns this role. His performance is larger than life, funny, likable, and well realised, and you can tell that Perlman is enjoying every second of it. It’s just hard seeing anyone else in the role. Selma Blair’s performance is good too, though her character does suffer from some confusion with the writing and characterisation, and not enough time spent with her. The love story between her character and Hellboy does actually work quite well though, and the actors share convincing chemistry. Doug Jones (along with the voice of David Hyde Pierce) plays Abe Sapien, an amphibious humanoid (and unsurprisingly plays him with a lot of makeup and visual effects). His character is the most memorable in the movie after Hellboy by far, and he really stands out in the scenes. Unfortunately his character doesn’t show up much in the movie, at least compared to the sequel. As I said earlier, the human characters were rather unremarkable. The biggest example is Rupert Evans as Myers, the lead human character. This character was bland, uninteresting, and very much felt like he was only there to be the audience’s insight into this world. However it’s easy to connect with Hellboy that we didn’t need that. It’s no surprise that when it came to the sequel, there was no stand in human character like that. John Hurt is in here as Hellboy’s father figure. The character himself doesn’t have a lot to him, but John Hurt as you’d expect does a lot with very little and elevates it. The villain side of the characters was rather forgettable. Karel Roden is okay as Rasputin (the main villain) but the character never really felt much of a threat, some of the side villains and monsters posed much more of a threat and were memorable than him. There’s a henchman who’s a Nazi and has a gas mask with blades, and he had far more presence as a threat than Rasputin.

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Guillermo del Toro directs this, and he was a great pick to helm a live action adaptation of the Hellboy comics. He directed this with such style and there was such attention to details, nothing here felt lazy. There are some solid cinematography and production design, with HP Lovecraft meets steampunk aesthetics. There are some excellent visual and practical effects here, and the best part is how del Toro blend the two. The creatures were particularly well handled, as if the movie was a full on creature feature. There are parts that don’t look so great, but considering that it was made back in 2004, it has held up quite well. The action scenes are riveting too, and are very entertaining to watch. The makeup is great, particularly with Hellboy and Abe Sapien. The score from Marco Beltrami was quite good, and added a lot to the movie.

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Hellboy is an entertaining and creative fantasy action movie, greatly directed by Guillermo del Toro, and features a perfect performance from Ron Perlman as Hellboy. I wouldn’t rank it as one of the best comic book movies, but it’s pretty good when looking at most of the comic books released in the 2000s, in fact it was ahead of its time. If you haven’t watched Hellboy yet, I strongly recommend doing so.

Blade 2 (2002) Review

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Blade 2

Time: 117 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Ron Perlman as Dieter Reinhardt
Leonor Varela as Nyssa Damaskinos
Norman Reedus as Scud
Thomas Kretschmann as Eli Damaskino
Luke Goss as Jared Nomak
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A rare mutation gives birth to a new vampire community called the Reapers, who attack both humans and vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes), along with an elite vampire force, is asked to wipe out the Reaper’s population.

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The first Blade turned out to be quite a success, and nowadays would be considered an underrated comic book movie. There were definitely some noticeable issues, but it seemed like it would be hard to top that with a sequel. Well Blade 2 did that with Guillermo del Toro, which takes the first movie and improves on it in many ways.

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Blade 2 definitely benefits from the fact that it doesn’t need to establish much of its universe like the first one did, even though that movie did handle the worldbuilding pretty well. The plot and overall movie is very fast paced, not leaving us with a moment to feel bored. Strangely enough one of the opening scenes started with a recap of the first movie by Wesley Snipes as Blade. It did take me a while to get used to the style, especially in Blade’s first action scene. After that point though, I got used to it. Now the movie is definitely less about the characters, and there’s nothing about Blade’s backstory here. Not that it’s bad but it definitely has a different focus compared to the first movie. It’s a much darker movie too, the first Blade had a dark atmosphere but it was quite cheesy at the same time. There are for sure some entertaining moments and some notable one liners but it’s definitely a different tone. A big part of that is the emphasis on horror, stronger than in the first movie, while remaining very much an action movie. The plot is a lot more focussed, there aren’t many subplots going on, and it’s very straightforward. I wouldn’t say the plot is great or anything, but it’s good enough for this movie.

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Wesley Snipes is as usual fantastic as Blade, he’s great at playing him both with the character with the charisma, the fight scenes and in delivering the lines perfectly. It’s hard seeing anyone else play the character. Kris Kristofferson is back as Whistler after he was assumed dead in the last movie. In the first Blade, Whistler got to do a couple things but here he manages to do a lot more, and he’s great. The supporting cast are good too, with the likes of Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus, and Leonor Varela. The villain played by Luke Goss was certainly more scary and threatening than Deacon Frost from the first Blade, but as the character and performance was less memorable. Still, he was different enough as a character to make him a decent antagonist for Blade to go up against.

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The key reason this movie works so well is director Guillermo del Toro. He added a lot of his own style into the movie, and it really makes it stand apart to the first movie. One of the things that you notice early on is that the lighting and colour really stands out, it’s a stunning movie to watch. The action scenes are also filmed differently, the editing is a lot more fast paced, and I think that’s what took me a while to get used to. After that first action scene though, I really liked them. The CGI is great sometimes, and pretty fake at other times, even looking a bit dated. The CGI especially stands out as being awkward when it’s meant to be representing people fighting. There’s particularly one action scene in front of lights which has moments where Wesley Snipes gets replaced with an animated version of Wesley Snipes, and he just looks really fake and cartoonish. Though this doesn’t take away from the action too much. As I said earlier, Blade 2 leans into the horror aspect a lot more than the first movie. In the first Blade it had some horror aspects, mainly to do with the vampire stuff. Here the vampires are a lot scarier, especially with the additions of the reapers. The monster designs are creative and very well detailed, and pretty much what you can expect from a del Toro movie.

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Blade 2 is a really entertaining and faced paced action and horror movie, which really works greatly with the addition of Guillermo del Toro as director. The 2 Blade movies are roughly on the same level, stronger in some aspects, weaker in others. All in all, I slighter prefer the second movie, but I highly recommend checking out both movies if you haven’t already.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) Review

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Zack Snyder's Justice League

Time: 242 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
J.K. Simmons as James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Director: Zack Snyder

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League was one of my most anticipated films of 2021. A brief background for those who don’t already know, Zack Snyder was helming Justice League but after his daughter’s death, left the movie. Warner Bros then got Joss Whedon to finish the movie, and he made a lot of cuts, changes and reshoots, and the end product released in 2017 was nothing short of disastrous. Critics didn’t really like it, audiences weren’t liking it, and fans not only didn’t defend it, they also despised it. When reports that Snyder had a long cut of the movie emerged, a movement emerged wanting the seemingly mythical Snyder Cut to be released. Years went by and it didn’t seem like it would happen, I myself didn’t have faith it would happen. However, in 2020 it was announced that Snyder would be returning to restore his vision in all its glory. After much anticipation it’s finally here, and I’m happy to say that it blew away even my highest of expectations.

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Throughout this review I’ll definitely reference the Whedon Cut plenty of times. Normally I’d just review the movie on its own, but that 2017 film makes it near impossible for me to do that. Also to make it a lot easier, I’ll refer to the 2017 Justice League movie as Josstice League, and this new Justice League movie as just Justice League. I think I should first address how both versions seem similar but how they actually aren’t, and address some misconceptions going in. Many detractors of the Snyder Cut have said that ultimately the new cut wouldn’t be that different and would basically be the same story. Yes, essentially Zack Snyder’s Justice League has the same story as Josstice League but only in the broadest of terms. The way that this story is told is so different. Aside from the tone, the length and more (which I’ll get into soon), the whole story is just developed a lot more, and the characters are fully realised. There is a lot more complexity to the story, and it’s a lot more interesting. It’s not the generic run of the mill superhero movie that Josstice League was, where the plot didn’t really matter and was just connecting one boring action scene to the next. There is plenty of room to breathe, and the pacing was steady enough that it wasn’t rushing, yet fast enough for me to be constantly invested in what is happening. There are so many scenes in this movie that weren’t seen in any of the prior trailers that it can actually be overwhelming, especially in the first 30 minutes. It’s not just that, even with the scenes that are in both versions, there are clear differences between them. There are literally scenes that have the same dialogue, but the versions in Josstice League were infinitely worse takes from the writing, directing to the acting and line deliveries. It gets to the point where it just feels like self-sabotage from Whedon. Even the footage that was purely Snyder’s that was also used in Josstice League feels a lot more in place and makes sense here. Additionally, some moments that were filmed by Snyder but no doubt was pushed onto him from WB are gone, an example being Batman’s “I heard you can talk to fish” line to Aquaman, which was in the very first teaser trailer. Just in general, you really feel this is Snyder with a lot more freedom. Despite the length, Snyder only filmed a couple of new scenes, everything else is his full cut from years ago, just fully restored with the CGI effects. With that said, he was able to change some aspects. For example, being able to change main villain Steppenwolf’s design from the generic tall guy in Josstice League, to his original and more superior design. Snyder even changed Superman’s red and blue suit to the black and grey suit, and while that is more of an easter egg and fanservice thing (it’s never addressed) it is fantastic to see on the screen.

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The most daunting thing about this movie for most people is the runtime, with it being a colossal 4 hours long, broken into 6 chapters and an epilogue. Of course, if Snyder got to release his version of the movie in the first place without it being changed by Whedon or WB, he would definitely have to cut it down a lot. Nonetheless, the movie we have now is 4 hours long, and absolutely benefits from that runtime. It takes like half the movie for the League to be together as a group, and in that first half sets the scene for what’s to come, really building up a lot with the characters and backstories. I think a lot of people won’t be expecting the character driven approach that Snyder has with the story, with quieter moments, especially between characters (a good example being Cyborg). It’s definitely dark for sure, and the R rating does feel appropriate for the movie even outside of the violence. Lots of people die, and there’s a lot at stake for the characters, with hints of a dark future to potentially come. With that being said, it is lighter than Batman v Superman (as it was intended to be). It also has moments of levity and comedy but unlike Josstice League, these moments actually work well and feel sincere rather than trying too hard to be quippy and imitate the MCU. There is a great balance of the tones and while I know that some people disliked Snyder’s DC movies for being really dark, I think it’s light enough that general audiences would be more inclined towards it, while it still remaining true to itself. Not only that, beyond everything, it’s an immensely hopeful movie, and you really feel that from beginning to end especially from the main characters by the time they are together at the end as a team. Hearing how Warner Bros wanted to go in a ‘hopeful and optimistic’ direction with this movie years ago is astounding, considering that this movie is exactly that. Justice League is also quite possible the most epic comic book movie. Snyder goes heavy with the mythology, while effectively showing the humanity of these people with godlike abilities, really helping the Justice League stand on their own thing and distinct from The Avengers and Marvel. Everything has so much weight from an emotional level with the main characters, to the larger scale stakes regarding the fate of the world. It really is best described as being DC’s Lord of the Rings. There are some very thrilling and satisfying moments throughout, and the third act is a complete blast. There is an epilogue which ties everything together for the characters but also leaves plenty of room open for follow ups. Those teases are especially excruciating because I really do want to see where the story and characters would go next, though it seems like they won’t happen at this time.

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The acting and characters are vastly improved for everyone in Justice League. Ben Affleck reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman after the events of Batman v Superman. In this movie, Bruce’s faith is restored in humanity and is genuinely hopefully and optimistic as he assembles a team to combat the coming darkness, and it is a natural progression for this character. There’s particularly a brief exchange he has with Alfred later in the movie which just felt so perfect for his character and arc. Henry Cavill also reprises his role as Clark Kent/Superman, who begins the movie being dead after the events of Batman v Superman. Ultimately, he does serve a similar purpose as in Josstice League, but again is way better in every way here. Not only does he lack the very distracting CGI on his face and utter cheesiness and pseudo Christopher Reeve imitation that Whedon added, but it is also a much more genuine take on Superman. Yes, he’s both way more threatening and intimidating especially in the climax, but him returning as Superman was truly handled very well. Cavill has actually less lines than in Whedon’s cut, yet this take on Superman is way more powerful with less words. Gal Gadot also returns as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and while her role in the film is quite similar in both versions, she is portrayed and acted much better here, and doesn’t have some of the more embarrassing additions from Whedon. Her action scenes particularly are fantastic, I really loved the way that Snyder directs Wonder Woman action.

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There are three new Justice League members, and they are all pretty good. Jason Momoa is Arthur Curry/Aquaman, his role is pretty similar to the other movie but he’s thankfully a bit more serious than in the Whedon cut and isn’t making so many jokes. Additionally, we get a bit more of an arc for him and we get scenes with him and Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) which further develops him as a character. In a way, Justice League makes Aquaman’s arc in his solo movie even better and more rewarding. Ezra Miller is Barry Allen/The Flash, in both versions he’s very much the comic relief, the difference is with Justice League, the jokes are actually funny and he doesn’t randomly rant about brunch or something. There’s also more emotional weight for him as a character. The scenes with Barry visiting his father in prison (played by Billy Crudup, who also gets to leave a much better impression here) aren’t just basic character backstory elements, but actually feel genuine and heartfelt. Also, the scenes that utilise his powers are fantastic, Josstice League had Flash run really fast, which is fine and all, but Snyder’s take on Flash is something truly special. Two scenes stand out particularly, one is the introduction scene for him (which is initself a great first scene for him), and the other is a strong candidate for the best scene in the whole movie. However, the highlight of the entire film is Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. Zack Snyder has long said that Cyborg is the heart of the movie and he absolutely is. Of the newer Justice League characters, he gets the most time and development with Victor accepting who and what he is. He has a lot of character moments before he joins the League, and his arc is truly beautiful to watch. Fisher also performs his part fantastically, even when almost all of his body is covered in CGI, he leaves such an impression on screen. If nothing else, I hope this gets Ray Fisher the praise that he deserves (and hopefully will lead to more Cyborg in future DCEU films).

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The rest of the cast are great too. Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and Connie Nielsen really do deliver greatly in reprising their respective roles and do even better here. Irons was great even in Josstice League but Amy Adams and Diane Lane deliver some great emotional work here, and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta really gets more to do here. Some of the newer actors and characters actually have more impact on the plot, a chief example being Joe Morton as Cyborg’s father, who was just that in Josstice League but actually plays a notable part in the story in this cut. Then there’s even actors and characters here that weren’t in Josstice League with Willem Dafoe (who would reprise his role in Aquaman), Kirsten Clemens as Iris West (in Flash’s first scene) and Zheng Kai as Ryan Choi, all of whom are welcome additions to the movie. One of the main criticisms of Josstice League was the villain, that being Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf, with him being a very weak and generic antagonist with a terrible design. Hinds was among the first people to be openly disappointed with that theatrical cut and watching him here you can understand why. Steppenwolf is absolutely an incredible improvement here on many levels. While I wouldn’t class him as one of the best comic book villains or anything, he’s really effective here. First of all, he’s way more intimidating and scary in this, a large imposing force with a spikey armour exterior, he seems just impossible to kill especially during his action scenes. Not only that, he’s also actually got some motivations behind what he’s doing, and they are well set out. Something that the trailers for Justice League have really been pushing is that major DC villain Darkseid would be in this. He’s basically a cameo in this and a hint of things to potentially (or not potentially now) things to come. So don’t expect much of him, but he’s such a menacing presence when he’s on screen, and Ray Porter’s intimidating voice and performance makes him even more memorable.

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Zack Snyder’s name is in the title of the movie, so of course we would get to him eventually in this review. This is undeniably a film from him, his style is all over this but like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, makes each of his DCEU films feel distinct from one another. Something interesting is the 4:3 aspect ratio, I can get why some people would initially be turned off by this much like the long runtime. I will say that like many I was hoping for a much wider look to the movie. However it does add another unique aspect to this film over every other comic book movie. Also after a while you just get used to it, so just try to watch the movie on the biggest screen possible. The visual effects are great throughout, and the powers of the characters are showcased wonderfully, the highlight for me being Flash. The most shaky CGI is the new scenes that Snyder filmed, which is understandable. There are some other CGI moments which weren’t perfect, but for a 4 hour long blockbuster, that’s to be expected. Many of the designs are particularly great too, the main examples being the spikey armoured and intimidating Steppenwolf, and the ripped from the comic books look of Darkseid. The action is fantastic and might even rank amongst the best Snyder has done. You can see everything that’s happening on screen and it’s directed absolutely smoothly. It has an R rating for a reason, while it’s no Logan or Deadpool, it is more violent than the average comic book movie with dismemberments and blood and the like. However, it perfectly fits with the tone of the movie. The score by Junkie XL is fantastic and one of the standouts of the movie. It not just replacing Danny Elfman’s lackluster score, but every theme is distinct and fits the moment perfectly. I also love how he uses to previous DCEU themes to great effect here. I’ll also go ahead and say that the main Justice League theme is one of the best themes in a comic book.

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League is so many things. It’s a triumphant comic book epic (the most epic of the comic book epics), a vast improvement over the disastrous 2017 movie, and a complete vindication for Zack Snyder and everyone else who worked on the movie. The characters are beautifully realised, the story is operatic yet poignant and heartfelt, and it’s fantastically directed with a bold vision. It really does rank among the best that comic book movies can deliver. If you are a DC fan there’s going to be a lot here that you’ll love, especially if you are a fan of Snyder’s DC movies. Honestly even if you weren’t such huge fans of Snyder’s DC movies, I still think you might really like it, ironically the 4-hour long movie the most accessible of his trilogy. The only people I can’t recommend this movie to are people who just don’t like comic book movies altogether. I don’t know if there will be a continuation of this story, I certainly hope there will be or at the very least an acknowledgement of this movie over the Whedon cut. Whatever the case, I’m incredibly happy that this movie exists in itself, and is firmly one of my favourite experiences watching a movie for the first time.

Spirited Away (2001) Review

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Spirited Away

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Rumi Hiiragi as Chihiro Ogino/Sen
Miyu Irino as Haku/Spirit of the Kohaku River
Mari Natsuki as Yubaba/Zeniba
Takeshi Naito as Akio Ogino
Yasuko Sawaguchi as Yūko Ogino
Tsunehiko Kamijō as Chichiyaku
Takehiko Ono as Aniyaku 
Bunta Sugawara as Kamaji
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku (Miyu Irino), who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents.

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Spirited Away was the first film from Studio Ghibli that I watched, and also among the first anime movies I’ve seen. It had been on many ‘best films of all time’ list, so I had been meaning to get around to it for a while. I went in knowing nothing, and it turned out to be really great and somehow lived up to all the hype and more.

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I didn’t know much about the movie going in and it turned out to be quite a surprise. So if you haven’t seen it before, I think it’s worth not knowing too much before watching. I can say that it’s very creative and endearing, and while it’s a cliché to say it, it’s quite magical. There’s a lot of imagination on display, it’s really like nothing I’ve seen before. It is a coming of age story about childhood innocence, that combines drama, adventure, comedy, and fantasy all into one film. There’s also so much in this movie to unpack it’s actually astounding.  It’s whimsical but is also surprisingly dark and frightening when telling it’s very mature story about greed and identity, in fact the whole movie is more mature than I thought it would be. There are plenty of themes of environmental pollution, labour relations greed and the passage to adulthood. It’s also a movie full of hope throughout. The plot itself is nicely structured and finely paced while the memorable and well thoughts out characters make the drama more compelling and are cleverly fleshed out in the script. The film does slow down to allow time for main character Chihiro and the audience to the see the beauty of the world. The movie does take time in its roughly 2 hour long runtime for her to take part in seemingly mundane things which does add a lot to the movie, I was invested throughout. One of the ways that the film handles worldbuilding well with a level of richness is the lack of exposition, showing the world, story and characters with the visuals and character actions instead of telling it to us straight up. It’s just all well crafted and put together overall.

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Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is animated and made absolutely beautifully. It was made in the early 2000s, and it still really holds up well today. It’s not just the movements but also the designs and imagination, as well as the environments. It really lets the visuals speak a whole other language to you as the viewer, the visual storytelling does a lot of the work for the movie without needing characters to speak it. It’s absolutely creative especially on a visual level. I can only imagine how kids felt watching this for the first time, mainly the designs of some of the creatures and people as they were far scarier than most animated movies. The score from Joe Hisaishi also adds a lot to the movie.

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Spirited Away is a much watch for sure. It’s a beautiful and endearing come of age film, that’s animated excellently. If you wanted a place to start watching anime, Spirited Away would be a great place to begin. It’s an extraordinary film that was a complete pleasure to watch, and a movie that I do want to come back to someday.

Weathering with You (2020) Review

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Weathering With You

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence & coarse language
Cast:
Kotaro Daigo as Hodaka Morishima
Nana Mori as Hina Amano
Director: Makoto Shinkai

Set during a period of exceptionally rainy weather, high-school boy Hodaka Morishima runs away from his troubled rural home to Tokyo and befriends an orphan girl who can manipulate the weather.

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When it came to catching up on 2020 movies, I heard of Weathering With You being particularly good, which is an anime film. What immediately got my attention and interest however was the fact that it was made by Makoto Shinkai, the director of Your Name. That was one of my all time favourite anime films, with its story, characters and visuals, it was spectacular and I highly recommend checking it out (and it works as an entry into anime if you haven’t watched any of it yet). So I went into this movie only knowing that, I hadn’t looked at the images or the plot beforehand, and Weathering With You didn’t disappoint.

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A lot of people are going into Weathering With You with the mindset of people who previously watched Your Name. To get it out of the way, there are some similarities between the two. It’s another highly ambitious and original film combining multiple elements including coming of age drama, romance, and fantasy. Both of them also has similar plot elements and the over-arching theme of love, with it being a personal story focusing on two youths, while feeling quite large in scope. There are also some differences. However, I do judge them as their own things, and I don’t take issues with how they are similar or different. They did a good job at setting you in this location, and the characters are well established. You are along for the ride with the main characters from beginning to end. Much of the plot and writing on paper looks like it should be melodramatic, cheesy and cliché, but these characters are actually developed, and these emotional stakes and conflicts are established so well and contains a lot of empathy that it works. Like with Your Name it has some emotional moments especially towards the second half, and while it’s not quite as strong as that movie, it was effective enough here that you actually cared about what happens by the end. This film is also a metaphor for climate change underneath the fantastical myths in the plot. In terms of flaws, I guess there are small sections where I wasn’t quite invested compared to some other parts, but those are minor and don’t border on being boring.

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Makoto Shinkai directs this, and you can immediately tell that this was directed by the person who made Your Name, with the visual style, the way the camera pans around, the hyper realistic approach to the worlds that makes you feel like you could live among the characters. etc. If you haven’t seen Your Name or any of his other movies, it’s pretty hard to put into words to explain how extraordinary they look. The visuals are in a league of their own, and the animation is breathtaking. The overall look of this movie overall isn’t as fantastical as Your Name, focusing on being more realistic, especially with all the locations and settings. At the same time, the fantastical elements in this movie looks great. I do think the music for the most part is great, however I do think that there’s a bit of an overuse of pop songs. Some of it was fine (indeed a lot of that was in Your Name) but by the last third of the movie it became a bit much. That’s really my only criticism with the movie on a technical level at least.

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Weathering With You is a fantastic film. The story is empathetic and emotional, the characters are great and well established, and its directed beautifully, with enthralling and spectacular animation. Treating them as their own separate movies, I do like Your Name more than Weathering With You, though the latter of them is still great. I definitely recommend checking it out as soon as you can, especially if you like anime.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Review

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The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies

Time:
144 Minutes (Theatrical)
164 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian Holm as Old Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Richard Armitage as Thorin II Oakenshield
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug/Sauron
Lee Pace as Thranduil
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Aidan Turner as Kíli
Dean O’Gorman as Fíli
Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler
James Nesbitt as Bofur
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Christopher Lee as Saruman the White
Billy Connolly as Dáin II Ironfoot
Stephen Fry as Master of Lake-town
Ryan Gage as Alfrid Lickspittle
Director: Peter Jackson

Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking the Arkenstone, despite Smaug’s fiery wrath and desperate attempts by the Hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to make him see reason. Meanwhile, Sauron sends legions of Orcs in a sneak attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, the races of Men, Elves and Dwarves must decide whether to unite and prevail — or all die.

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While I like The Hobbit movies, The Battle of the Five Armies has a lot of issues and is arguably the weakest of the trilogy. Despite many of the problems I have however, I’d say that it works well as a conclusion to the overarching Middle Earth story.

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Director Peter Jackson said that there was enough content to justify three movies, and having seen The Battle of the Five Armies I have to disagree. There are two main events, the battle at Laketown with Smaug and the whole final battle which fills the remaining running time. The narrative focuses on these two major events left in the story and how it bridges them. Smaug is dealt with in the first 15 minutes and while it was well handled, it’s pretty clear that it should’ve been put at the end of The Desolation of Smaug. So the movie is pretty much just about the titular battle and as you can tell, the whole movie is mostly this is one big battle. Leading up to that point, they are really building up this battle. However it doesn’t feel grand and important and epic like it was trying to be. It’s not a problem with the first two movies because those were smaller scale for the most part, but The Battle of the Five Armies is trying so hard to be something big, but it doesn’t work. You don’t care about the large scale stuff but the movie is definitely leaning more towards that than its characters. There is a bit of an emotional disconnect from the story and characters, it certainly doesn’t help that you can figure out most of what happens, it doesn’t actually feel like there are many stakes. When the camera shows a big battle with none of the main players being a part of it, you wonder what the point of it is. If Jackson really wanted to stretch the movies into three, along with the movie being largely about the battle, there’s other opportunities to add some other character building moments or something similar. Unfortunately, some of the characters that have been built up and introduced over the previous two films are squandered in mere cameo roles. It feels like a lot more of the runtime should’ve been spent with characters and their interactions, especially Thorin. Thorin’s madness and greed is a notable plotline, more scenes developing that would’ve been better, and it would suit the darker approach well. There was potential there, there’s some great scenes involving Thorin and Bilbo. Unfortunately, Thorin’s storyline of a man driven to greed is played oddly camp and over the top, and it loses any of its edge and effectiveness, you don’t even really take it seriously. When it does get to the third act, it focuses up a little more onto characters we actually know (as opposed to random CGI creations), and the conclusion was satisfying enough.

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By the time it gets to The Battle of the Five Armies, it’s even more clear that we aren’t really watching an adaptation of The Hobbit, it may bother some but as someone who never read the books I was fine with that. It does try to add as much Tolkien lore as possible. It does feel like fan fiction but with fiction from a fan comes passion, and you can feel the passion throughout. Hence why I’m not with the people calling the movie a cash grab. With that said, it can get a little silly at points, such as Gandalf’s first scene. The movie often tries to throw references to the LOTR trilogy which serves no purpose and felt cheesy and placed into the screenplay to get a reaction from the audience. They don’t really add anything and almost felt lazy at points. As someone who loves The Lord of the Rings trilogy and really likes the first two Hobbit movies, I do wonder what happened with some of the decisions made here. So much of this movie is over the top ridiculous. The Hobbit movies had that and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy had that, but some moments are so silly and goofy that it almost became fascinating, like Peter Jackson is actively trolling the audience or something. At a point I just sort of accepted it but it is beyond jarring. I wasn’t expecting so much stilted and awkward dialogue from characters, I’m not really sure what happened there. The comedy is kind of ridiculous too, I generally like the comedy in the other movies but it’s so over the top here. There’s even a comic relief character that the film keeps cutting to for some reason (and no he’s not funny). While I consider the extended cuts of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy to be the defining versions of these movies, The Hobbit movies are fine enough without them, especially the case with this one. I watched the extended cut, and like with the other Hobbit extended cuts, some new scenes are great, other scenes feel like filler.

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The cast from the past Hobbit movies return, and they are generally pretty good here. Of the characters, Bilbo and Thorin get the most focus, much of the other characters are neglected. Their dynamic is great, but I wish they got a lot more to do. Martin Freeman is good as always as Bilbo, but he doesn’t get to do a whole lot, especially compared to the past movies. Richard Armitage is great as Thorin, especially as it’s going towards the greed storyline involving him. As said before though, I wish the storyline was handled better because it had a lot of potential. Other actors like Ian McKellan, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and Lee Pace are good in their parts, though don’t get much chances to shine. A distraction character is some side character named Alfrid, who pretty much serves as some random comic relief. He was the deputy of the Master of Lake-town (Stephen Fry) in the last movie, and he was okay in his role. If they really wanted one of the two characters to be the comic relief in this movie, I wish it was Stephen Fry instead. Apparently the reason he is in this so much is because they liked the actor Ryan Gage, and I’m not sure about that reason, because he’s quite annoying in this movie. He’s fine for the first two scenes but they keep giving him scenes. He’s not funny, he doesn’t evolve or change over the course of the movie, and he doesn’t really add anything to the movie. He even dresses up in a corset to pretend to be a woman at a point, and by that point, you just really wonder what Peter Jackson and the rest of the writers were even doing at this point. He gets even more screentime in the extended cut, so if you wanted more reason not to watch that version, there’s that. One surprising addition to the last Hobbit movie was Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, who was quite good. One part relating to her that I didn’t like however was the romantic subplot with her and Kili, it wasn’t really convincing and was a bit of a distraction, but at least it was a small part. In this movie however they leaned even further into that melodramatic subplot, and the romance and the dialogue relating to it can get very soap opera-like, and not in any enjoyable way.

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I’ve generally thought Peter Jackson’s direction of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies have been great, and while I liked some of his work in The Battle of the Five Armies, it has issues. Something about the look of the movie is off, particularly here even when compared to the past movies. It’s got this overly glossy look to it. The Hobbit movies’ effects get worse with every instalment, which means it looks the worst here. Not that it’s all bad, some aspects like Smuag still look fantastic. Where you mainly notice the visual effects issues are in the action scenes, and that’s probably why some of the visuals of the film look quite off. The overuse of CGI and green screen really distracts and makes it a bit of a mess, with far too many sweeping shots of CGI landscapes, townships and castle-rubble. Those types of scenes stood out as looking a bit fake in the other two movies, but at least it wasn’t constant. This movie is mostly a big battle movie however, so they stand out a lot more. It already feels jarring with the past two movies not really being battle movies at all. The action scenes for the most part are good, there are some great set pieces like the opening sequence with Smaug. Each set piece tries so hard to top the next, with large environments being destroyed. A lot of it is really over the top and silly, even by Jackson’s Lord of the Rings standards. Stuff like Legolas jumping up on falling debris is straight out of a video game, in fact any action scene with Legolas takes the edge of the battle scene with his plot armour, though they are undeniably entertaining. A lot of the action doesn’t really have any impact and just feels like computer people attacking each other, mainly because it is. In fact, you could keep some action scenes in and remove others and it wouldn’t change much of the plot at all. The music from Howard Shore is unmemorable but fitting.

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I still like The Battle of the Five Armies but it’s by far the worst instalment in the Middle Earth series. It doesn’t do enough to justify the Hobbit movies as needing three films to deliver the story, and has multiple issues on writing and directing levels. If you didn’t like the previous two movies, you definitely won’t like this one. With that said, I do like it. It has some good moments, the action is gloriously over the top and entertaining, and I enjoyed watching it. I just wish it was much better than it was.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Review

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Time:
161 Minutes (Theatrical)
186 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield II
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
Lee Pace as Thranduil
Stephen Fry as Master of Lake-town
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Director: Peter Jackson

Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage) continue east. More dangers await them, including the skin-changer Beorn and the giant spiders of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood Elves, Bilbo and the dwarves journey to Lake-town and, finally, to the Lonely Mountain, where they face the greatest danger of all: the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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As a big fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, I found The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be good but a little disappointing when I first watched it. However, after repeat viewings, I’ve been liking it more over time. Still, I’ve always found the sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, to be an improvement over the first Hobbit movie in some ways.

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First of all, what is immediately noticed is that this movie is a lot faster paced than An Unexpected Journey, mainly because it didn’t need to set up anything with the story or characters, it just heads right into it. At the same time, it does build on the already established characters over time. The tone is a bit all over the place especially with the humour, but it is still a lot better than the first movie’s tone. The movie does feel overstuffed at times but as I said earlier, it moves at a respectable pace, and it still feels less crowded than the last movie. There are worldbuilding scenes with Gandalf after he separates from the Dwarves early on for certain reasons, and I did like that plotline as it was linking into the past Lord of the Rings movies. However the main focus lies with Bilbo and the dwarves as it continues to follow their adventure, and I liked watching that. If you’ve watched the first movie, you can probably tell at this point that they are doing their own thing instead of just being a straight adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Peter Jackson is having these three movies as a prequel trilogy to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by using The Hobbit as a vessel. He’s taken liberties in deciding what to show, and for the most part I’m on board with them. These Hobbit movies are long but generally I prefer that they are longer than shorter. With regard to the extended cuts in all three movies in the Hobbit Trilogy, there are some great new scenes that add a lot to the world and characters, and there are also some unnecessary additions that weren’t needed. The Desolation of Smaug is darker than An Unexpected Journey, but doesn’t have the narrative weight of the LOTR trilogy, which is why I think these movies really suffer as their core. There are times where it tries to be as strong as LOTR but it just can’t reach those levels. The third act is pretty strong, though I’m not sure about the ending. At first I thought it was good, looking at Battle of the Five Armies though, it’s quite a wonder why they decided to end the movie where they did. There’s a whole major plot point that takes 15 minutes to end, and instead on concluding it here, they put it at the beginning of the next film. While it works as a cliff-hanger, it is a bit of a double edged sword.

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The cast all around are really good. As expected, Martin Freeman is once again great as Bilbo Baggins and he continues to do some great things here, even if he’s in the backseat sometime. Ian McKellen is once again great as Gandalf. The dwarves and their respective actors are good even if they are still lacking and aren’t quite fully fleshed out characters, they have more characterisation compared to in the previous movie. Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, his appearance seems unneeded especially as he wasn’t in The Hobbit book, but I liked seeing him here. A new character introduced into the Lord of the Rings world in Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel. While the addition could’ve backfired, she was actually a welcome addition. I wasn’t such a fan of the romantic triangle subplot with her and Kili (Aidain Turner), it wasn’t convincing and doesn’t quite work but you can look past it. Other actors including Luke Evans and Lee Pace do well in their parts, and even Stephen Fry makes a brief but memorable appearance. Benedict Cumberbatch performs the voice and motion capture work as Smaug and everything about Smaug was great. His introduction scene with him and Bilbo and their conversation together was one of the best scenes of the movie.

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Peter Jackson once again has a great handle on this movie. There are some really good action scenes with some great creativity. One of the highlights was one involving a river and barrels in the first half of the movie. The action is unapologetically over the top for sure, even more so than the LOTR action, but is nonetheless enjoyable. Compared with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit movies have a much greater emphasis on CG than practical effects. For the most part it doesn’t bother me like it does other people, it’s just a little jarring at times. There are stunning visuals and I like the settings, whether they are made with practical sets, actual landscapes, or if they are CG created. Some special effects are great, Smaug in the last act for example looks fantastic. Some of the other effects can look a little iffy sometimes however. Not bad perse but it’s just sort of the issues that you would see in most modern blockbusters.

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The Desolation of Smaug doesn’t quite reach the level of the Lord of the Rings movies and has its problems, but is definitely the best of The Hobbit movies, and is pretty good on its own. It was directed very well, there’s some good visuals and action, and the cast are great in their roles. If you liked An Unexpected Journey it’s worth a watch, and I’d say it’s worth a watch even if you didn’t because you might like it a lot more.

Sucker Punch (2011) Review

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Sucker Punch

Time:
109 Minutes (Theatrical)
138 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Emily Browning as Babydoll
Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea
Jena Malone as Rocket
Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie
Jamie Chung as Amber
Carla Gugino as Vera Gorski/Madame Vera Gorski
Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones
Jon Hamm as The Doctor/The High Roller
Scott Glenn as The Wise Man/The General/The Bus Driver
Director: Zack Snyder

Locked away, a young woman named Babydoll (Emily Browning) retreats to a fantasy world where she is free to go wherever her mind takes her. Determined to fight for real freedom, she finds four women – Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) — to join together to escape the terrible fate that awaits them. With a virtual arsenal at their disposal, the allies battle everything from samurais to serpents, while trying to decide what price they will pay for survival.

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Sucker Punch released 10 years ago remains a very polarising movie. Zack Snyder is a very divisive director, to this day it remains the strangest movie that he’s created. Having seen the extended cut of the movie, I can say that I am in the group of people who likes this movie, even though I can somewhat understand some of the mixed responses.

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This is the only movie (until Army of the Dead) from Zack Snyder that isn’t based off an original source material. Before I go into the different versions about the movie, I’ll talk about the movie as I saw it. Some of the part of why the movie didn’t get so well received was expectations. From the marketing, trailers and posters, Sucker Punch looked to be like a videogame influenced Charlie’s Angels with a group of young women with weapons taking on giant robots and dragons. Now these action sections are actually all imaginations taking place in the mind of the lead character. With that said, I do think that you still might be able to enjoy it as an action fantasy movie. I can’t go too deep into the movie without spoiling anything so I’ll try to be as vague as possible about the plot. The action scenes are entertaining, though you are aware the whole time that what’s happening on screen during these moments are just in the head of the main character played by Emily Browning. While these scenes are fun, there’s not much to explain the setups of those scenes, and I wasn’t able to pick them up even on a second viewing (unless I’m missing something). It could very well be that it’s just an excuse to have large action sequences and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t want those moments removed.

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Zack Snyder has described Sucker Punch as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns, and that’s a very fitting description of the movie. It’s quite an ambitious movie, especially because the narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening. There are already plenty of deep dives into what this movie is. Essentially, Sucker Punch is intended as a female empowerment film, a commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse, and the story is essentially about escaping. Even if you don’t like the movie, I do think Snyder deserves a lot of credit for really trying something risky and trying to say something. That’s not to say that the script doesn’t have its issues. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten. The narrative isn’t always coherent, but I wouldn’t trade that out for one that was 100% clear cut. The version of Sucker Punch I watched was the extended cut. I will say that although I haven’t seen the theatrical version, from what I could gather from looking online, the cut down version on paper looked a bit messy. When Zack Snyder makes a movie, every single time there have been more than one version, it’s been shown that it is best releasing the version that was filmed instead of cutting it down. For Sucker Punch, the extended cut actually fully realises the message and intent by the end, and with such a bizarre story it needed to be told fully. On top of that, instead of it being PG-13, it is now R, which means you never feel any restrictions. With that all being said, it has been confirmed by Zack Snyder himself that there has been no official release of a director’s cut, hence why it’s called an extended cut instead. Nonetheless, this is the version of the movie to watch.

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The cast all play their roles very well. The main cast played by Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung were quite good, especially Emily Browning as the lead character. Other actors like Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn are also good. Even if some of the characters were underwritten, the performances made up for them.

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Zack Snyder’s direction is great, from beginning to end you can definitely tell that this is one of his movies. In fact you could say that this is the most Zack Snyder movie that Zack Snyder has ever made. Some have criticised this movie with the tired criticism of ‘it’s style over substance’, to which I’d counter with ‘style is substance’. Snyder excels at visual storytelling, and the biggest example of that in the movie is the incredible opening sequence, which tells so much within the 5 minutes without any dialogue being spoken. Larry Fong’s cinematography is fantastic, there are some very stunning visuals from beginning to end. There are many stand out action sequences, including a war sequence, a fight against giant samurai, and the like. Even if you don’t like much of the story, I think you would still be able to get a lot out of the action, even if some of them do feel video game-esque (especially with the CGI) and don’t really have any tension. The soundtrack is very well picked for this movie and works excellently for it.

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Sucker Punch is a pretty polarising movie. The performances were really good, I loved Zack Snyder’s direction, and I like what Snyder was really going for with the plot. If you do choose to check it out, I recommend checking out the extended cut. Not all of the movie works, and there’s definitely some messiness to it, but a lot of it does work.

The Midnight Sky (2020) Review

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The Midnight Sky

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Content may disturb
Cast:
George Clooney as Augustine
Felicity Jones as Sully
Caoilinn Springall as Iris
David Oyelowo as Commander Adewole
Tiffany Boone as Maya
Demián Bichir as Sanchez
Kyle Chandler as Mitchell
Director:
George Clooney

A lone scientist (George Clooney) in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

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I heard about George Clooney directing and starring in a movie for Netflix, and that the movie would be in the sci-fi genre. I went in with a relatively open mind considering the mixed reviews, and checked it out for myself. I wouldn’t say The Midnight Sky is bad but I wouldn’t call it good either. It’s for sure got some good elements but on the whole is just okay.

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The Midnight Sky consists of two storylines playing at the same time. One is of George Clooney on a base in the arctic, the other is of a crew of astronauts in a ship in space. The Clooney storyline consists of him and a girl trying to make contact with the ship, enduring through harsh and cold conditions to do so. There are aspects of it that could’ve been handled better for sure, but I was relatively interested in it. I liked the simplicity, the dynamic that Clooney’s character has with the girl, and the steady and character driven approach. The whole movie probably would’ve been a lot more effective had it just been this. The other storyline is about a ship returning to earth and it just wasn’t interesting. It holds no emotional gravitas compared to the other, and so the emotional beats fall a bit flat. A big part of that is because we don’t really care about the characters all that much, the characterisation is very weak despite some attempts to define them. Unfortunately, I can’t even really call it a subplot because it has as much screentime as the Clooney storyline, there’s even a whole 20 minute period where Clooney doesn’t make an appearance, almost making you wonder whether he’s actually the main character in all of this. What’s not helping this storyline is that it feels very derivative of other sci-fi movies like Interstellar, Gravity and Ad Astra. Not that it’s inherently a bad thing, but it does highlight that The Midnight Sky just doesn’t succeed nearly as well as those other movies. It really says something that the only moment I really remember from this storyline was when the actors just start singing Sweet Caroline. The movie really is undercut not only by the second storyline, but the constant switching between the two. These two parts don’t really fit together well, and they end up making the tone uneven as they are essentially two separate sci-fi movies trying to co-exist and link together. The third act is where the two storylines come together and intersect, and it’s meant to be quite an emotional punch, but it really fumbles the bag with that and just has no impact at all. As you can probably tell already the biggest issue with the movie is the script, and there are plenty of other issues with it that I haven’t even gotten to yet. The dialogue a lot of the time is stiff and uninteresting, and you don’t really care about many of the plot twists. The use of flashbacks (mainly with George Clooney) weren’t handled the best and feel quite out of place. The longer runtime just makes the viewing experience that much more tedious, 2 hours may not sound long, but with the slow pacing combined with a less than riveting story makes it a bit of a slog. Another side note, the last scene with the credits was really awkward, it’s one of those credits where they play it right in the middle of the scene and so we are effectively watching them roll credits before the ending has actually ended.

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There is a good cast involved in the movie, but generally they aren’t utilised the best. George Clooney does well in essentially the lead role. His character doesn’t amount to much outside of a sombre and quiet person with a regretful past, but Clooney plays him well. The crew of the ship in space are played by Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demian Bichir, and Kyle Chandler. The actors played their parts relatively well but are definitely held back by their bland and underdeveloped characters, and so are quite forgetable.

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The visuals and direction from George Clooney are where The Midnight Sky works at its best. It’s quite a good looking movie, I like the visual effects, and the production quality is good for the most part. The setting that Clooney is at with the snowy wasteland looks great, and gives the film a uniquely chilly atmosphere. The scenes taking place in the ship in space look decent, but they look like every other sci-fi movie only a little worse. There’s also the score from Alexandre Desplat which is really good and does add something to the movie (even if it doesn’t really save it).

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The Midnight Sky is a very flawed movie that manages to have some bright spots. George Clooney acts well in the lead role, and the visuals and other technical elements are solid and impressive at times. However much of the writing is where it holds it back, from a significantly worse second storyline, to a plot that fails to be compelling, interesting or resonant. If it was like 30 minutes shorter, it would’ve been easier to recommend. I guess if you’re really curious about The Midnight Sky, check it out for yourself, but otherwise its probably not worth it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Review

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Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence, sexual references and offensive language
Cast:
Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers
Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells
Chris Evans as Lucas Lee
Anna Kendrick as Stacey Pilgrim
Brie Larson as Natalie V. “Envy” Adams
Alison Pill as Kim Pine
Aubrey Plaza as Julie Powers
Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram
Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves
Director: Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and instantly falls in love with her. But when he meets one of her exes at a band competition, he realises that he has to deal with all seven of her exes to woo her.

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I had watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World a long time ago, and I remember liking it at the time. Looking at back it though, I had this slight feeling that probably didn’t like it as much as a lot of people nowadays do. Rewatching it recently, that feeling was confirmed for me, but I still enjoyed it reasonably well. It’s not one of my favourites from Wright but his work on this movie was nonetheless great and I was entertained.

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I’m not familiar with the source material (the graphic novels) but I heard that the movie is pretty accurate to them. At under 2 hours long, Scott Pilgrim vs the World kept me reasonably entertained throughout. There are some simple but memorable enough characters, as well as witty and quotable dialogue. The plot isn’t overly dramatic or sappy, you aren’t really emotionally invested in the story or characters but I don’t think you’re meant to. The movie is funny, though the comedy doesn’t work quite as much as Edgar Wright’s other movies. There’s also definitely a lot of creativity throughout the film. I will say that the movie doesn’t fully work for me. The plot does what it has to and ultimately it works in its execution, however I’m not really invested in the plot and characters a great deal. Even though I said the movie probably doesn’t intend to be one whose plot you get emotionally invested in, I just wasn’t invested on any level. I was only watching because I was sort of entertained with what I was actually watching. I’m not inclined to rewatch Scott Pilgrim as much as Wright’s other movies. It’s not that memorable but it is still enjoyable.

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The cast generally do well in their parts. Michael Cera plays the quirky and awkward Scott Pilgrim, and it’s likely his best performance. With that said, Pilgrim is quite an unlikable protagonist, so I can really get the people who are put off by him throughout. I certainly didn’t really care for him but I generally tolerated him for this movie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is quite good in her role of Ramona Flowers. Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brie Larson and Aubrey Plaza are decent in their parts. The over the top evil exes of Ramona that Scott Pilgrim has to fight are pretty entertaining, especially Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman, though they don’t have a lot of screentime.

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Edgar Wright’s direction is the reason why the movie works as well as it is. The style can be described as being like a mashup of comic books and video games. I guess if the style doesn’t win you over in the first 30 minutes, then the rest of the movie probably won’t work for you. Looking at it, it’s so easy for it to become obnoxious or insufferable, but Wright makes it quite an entertaining and visually stunning movie. There is a lot of energy throughout which goes a long way. There’s also a lot of visual comedy which Wright is known for, and they’re quite well implemented into the movie. The editing is quite slick and adds a lot to the movie, especially with regards to the action. There are some beautifully shot action sequences that are very entertaining and creative. There’s also a great soundtrack to go along with it all.

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I think that Scott Pilgrim vs the World is good overall, if very flawed. Most of the cast are great, it’s very stylishly and incredibly directed by Edgar Wright, and it’s pretty entertaining throughout. It’s on the lower end of Wright’s filmography for me and I don’t really love it, but it still has a lot of his recognisable and great elements from his other movies.