Tag Archives: 1997 movies

The Castle (1997) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Michael Caton as Darryl Kerrigan
Anne Tenney as Sal Kerrigan
Stephen Curry as Dale Kerrigan
Sophie Lee as Tracey Petropoulous
Eric Bana as Con Petropoulous
Anthony Simcoe as Steve Kerrigan
Wayne Hope as Wayne Kerrigan
Tiriel Mora as Dennis Denuto
Costas Kilias as Farouk
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as Lawrence Hammill QC
Director: Rob Sitch

The quirky Kerrigan family lives together in a makeshift home they built themselves — with great pride and a bizarre attention to detail — a few yards from the edge of Melbourne, Australia’s busy Tullamarine Airport. When a building inspector condemns the building and reveals that the government plans to use their land for an airport expansion, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) and his brood recruit hack attorney Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora) and prepare themselves for the fight of their lives.

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I heard about The Castle from some people, I heard that it was an Australian cult classic and that it was absolutely hilarious. So I’ve been meaning to watch it for a little while. Having finally seen it I can see why it’s so beloved. The Castle is hilarious and entertaining and has such an irresistible charm to it, it is definitely worth giving a watch for those who haven’t seen it (which given the fact that its still only a cult classic is probably most people).

One of the best parts about The Castle of course is that it is hilarious. It’s also not the type or style of comedy that you would usually see, which is always refreshing. I’ll just say that if you live in Australia (or even New Zealand like me) I think you might get something out of it even more than people who don’t. So yes, this movie is uniquely funny but at the same time you are rooting for our main characters, so you actually do care about what’s going on. There is some aspect about this movie that just works and I can’t explain what it is, there is a vibe surrounding this movie and its main characters that really elevates it from just being a typical quirky comedy. It’s easier to understand by seeing it than having it be explained to you. The Castle is short and sweet at an hour and 25 minutes long and that was the right length, it is long enough and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I honestly can’t think of any issues this movie has, for what it is it is great.

The characters are hilarious and memorable and the cast were really great in their roles, especially the Kerrigan family played by Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Sophie Lee, Anthony Simcoe and Wayne Hope. The stand out is the lead character played by Caton, who is the father in the family. These characters are simple and aren’t exactly that smart but they are likable and they have a charm to them, you’ll know what I mean when you watch it. They do a good job at making you laugh at them but still care and root for them. Other actors like Tiriel Mora, Charles Tingwell and Eric Bana (who makes his acting debut here) are really good as well and usually get a chance to shine. Everyone in the cast does their part.

Rob Stich’s direction isn’t anything outstanding but it was at the level that it needed to be. You really feel like this is a small movie (and it is, being only $750,000 Australian) but it really didn’t need to be anything special. The editing, direction and style really added to the comedy at times, especially with the use of the narration.

Having finally seen it, I can now see why The Castle is an Australian cult classic. On top of it being hilarious, it has some sort of vibe to it that instantly makes everyone enjoy it, I can’t explain it. Honestly I think it’s something you need to watch for yourself. It is a smaller movie and it may be a little difficult finding copies of it but I think it’s worth checking out whenever you can, you won’t regret it.

Batman and Robin (1997) Review

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Batman and Robin

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin
Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Director: Joel Schumacher

This superhero film finds Batman (George Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O’Donnell), attempting to the foil the schemes of a deranged set of new villains, most notably the melancholy Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who wants to make Gotham into an arctic region, and the sultry Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), a plant-loving femme fatale. As the Dynamic Duo contends with these bad guys, a third hero, Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), joins the ranks of the city’s crime-fighters.

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Despite mixed reviews of Batman Forever, it did well enough and so Joel Schumacher returned for the sequel. Batman and Robin killed the Batman franchise for about a decade before being picked up again by Christopher Nolan. Even though Batman and Robin is one of the worst superhero movies ever made, out of all the bad superhero movies this is actually kind of enjoyable. It is absolutely a movie that’s so bad it’s entertaining.

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If Batman Forever was cheesy, Batman and Robin takes it to a whole new level. The tone is completely corny and it tries being a really bad cartoon, there’s even a scene where Batman has a bat credit card. This film is extremely over the top, a great example is Batman’s introduction. The dialogue was terrible, for example there are so many puns, most of them ice puns from Mr Freeze. It’s actually hard to summarise everything wrong with the movie, all of that can only be seen if you watch the whole movie.

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George Clooney had the potential to be a great Batman but due to bad direction and writing he wasn’t good at all. The worst part about him is that his Bruce Wayne and Batman identities feel exactly the same with no distinction between the two. The best performance had to be by Michael Gough, who plays Alfred. Throughout all of these four Batman movies he’s been credible, even the Schumacher movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Mr Freeze and I have no idea why he was chosen. I have a feeling that it was because he was a big name because he does nothing but deliver bad puns. The most over the top performance was Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Uma Thurman is actually a good choice for Poison Ivy but just look at her performance. She acts like a pornstar obsessed with plants, and it’s honestly one of the most cartoonish performances I’ve seen in a movie.

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A good example of how over the top the action is, is shown in the first minutes: Batman and Robin are skating over ice and are using hockey sticks to get a diamond. The production design is also terrible, there’s a moment when a frozen car door opens and the ice on it wobbles. There’s also some obvious and over the top wire work, at time it felt like a puppet show. The costumes are worse, not just the Batman and Robin nipple suits. Mr Freeze’s suit is a giant neon lit ‘costume’ that just looks plain ridiculous. Fun fact, this movie was made to sell toys and you can see that everywhere. There’s even a scene where Batman, Robin and Batgirl change outfits between scenes without going to the Batcave to change.

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Batman and Robin is a bad movie and is the worst Batman movie. It’s cheesy, over the top, doesn’t make sense, isn’t Batman and it should be watched. I’m not kidding, it’s actually worth watching, more than Batman Forever even though that movie is a better movie. This movie is such a disaster, gets everything wrong and decades later it’s become this fascinating movie that could honestly be watched over and over again. Just know that the movie is absolutely terrible before watching it.

The Game (1997) Review

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The Game

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn as Conrad Van Orton
James Rebhorn as Jim Feingold
Deborah Kara Unger as Christine
Director: David Fincher

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide) his brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who has gone long ago and surrendered to addictions of all kinds, suddenly returns and gives Nicholas a card giving him entry to unusual entertainment provided by something called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Giving up to curiosity, Nicholas visits CRS and all kinds of weird and bad things start to happen to him.

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David Fincher has always been one of my favourite directors, with how he portrays his stories masterfully and with his great visual style. Fincher again doesn’t disappoint with The Game, one of his earlier films. It is a great mystery movie with twists and turns which really does pay off. As usual he brings his A-game here and delivers in making a captivating thriller. Although the way the film concluded needed some work, The Game for the most part works well and is intriguing from start to finish.

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The Game is a thriller which takes its time before the thrills start happening. Although it may take a little while, it is really worth the wait. Because the film starts out quite calmly, it’s really entertaining to see the tension eventually build from there as time goes on. It takes many twists and turns and I was entertained all the way through. There is a developing sense of dread and everything has a sort of nightmarish tone. The whole time as Michael Douglas is thrown into many crazy situations, you wonder what is going on behind the scenes. The film’s plot works up until the end, which has really divided a lot of people. Admittedly, the ending did have some problems, it was a little farfetched and when certain details are brought to light, you’ll notice that there are some conveniences to it. Despite some of the flaws however, I actually thought that it was a pretty good ending, even if I had to suspend my disbelief with some of the aspects.

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Michael Douglas is really good, especially when he is in scenes that are intense. He manages to convey all of his characters emotions. A lot of things that happened in the past involving his father comes into play into the movie and he makes it convincing. It’s mainly Michael Douglas’s show but many other actors do quite well in this movie. A lot of the other actors are great in the scenes they in, such as Sean Penn who really does make a strong impression despite only appearing a few times in the film.

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David Fincher made this movie look fantastic, as he always does with all his movies. The shots look like they were well prepared and repeatedly filmed until they got it right. Some scenes do stand out, such as an intense scene with Michael Douglas in a taxi cab as well as a scene near in the last act (which I won’t spoil) which was really well done. The soundtrack is also quite effective, sometimes it’s not that noticeable but it really works in suspenseful scenes. The editing ties everything together and is very effective as well.

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The Game is a great film with an entertaining and interesting plot, a good visual style and great pacing. Its ending could have been done a little better, but apart from that, there isn’t that much that’s wrong with The Game. It’s one of Fincher’s most underappreciated films and it’s definitely worth checking out.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

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L.A. Confidential

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence
Cast:
Kevin Spacey as Jack Vicennes
Russell Crowe as Bud White
Guy Pearce as Ed Exley
James Cromwell as Dudley Smith
Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
Director: Curtis Hanson

In 1950’s Los Angeles, someone’s killing imprisoned mob boss Mickey Cohen’s gang. After some shotgun slayings of the patrons at an all-night diner, three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White (Russell Crowe), ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime.

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L.A. Confidential is the best representation of 1950s Los Angeles I’ve seen in film. It is also a magnificent movie with a brilliant script, stellar performances, great production designs and countless other things that make a great movie so great. It is truly one of the best movies of the 1990s and one of the greatest films of all time.

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The writing of this movie is absolutely perfect, it is always entertaining from start to finish, and every piece of dialogue is constructed flawlessly to suit the characters, along with fitting the era of the 50s as well. The story is very interesting and takes many twists and turns as it progresses. It also successfully shows these three main characters and the ways they go around serving justice. The screenplay rightfully earned the Oscar for best screenplay adapted from a source, the book written by James Ellroy, which I haven’t read yet.

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All the actors do the roles very well, especially in portraying the type of characters they play. Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey play the main characters and are absolutely excellent. As I said above, they have different ways of serving justice, as well as having different personalities. This film brought to audiences the attention of Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe; this brought them to huge success and kicked their careers off. Along with those three excellent performances, the film also has some other great performances from actors like Kim Basinger, James Cromwell and Danny Devito. The most surprisingly thing is that apart from Kim Basinger, no one here got any Oscar nominations for acting, but then again, great performances don’t always get Oscar nominations, we’ve seen this happen in the past.

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The cinematography is decent but special credit should go to the people making the sets. The setting of Los Angeles in the 1950s is perfectly recreated here. The locations and the music are very convincing of the time period. The soundtrack particularly, which was composed by Jerry Goldsmith was absolutely perfect for the mood and vibe that the film was going for. The editing brought everything together and made the film even more enjoyable to watch.

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L.A. Confidential has everything I ask for in a movie, it is engaging, it has actors successfully portraying their characters and it has a brilliant script. There wasn’t really anything that I could think of which I disliked in this film, nor was there any scene that felt out of place. I actually feel that at the Oscars, this film deserved the best picture award, Titanic was a pretty good movie; however I still personally find that L.A. Confidential deserved it more, not that the Oscars necessarily matter. I strongly recommend you check this movie out as soon as you can. It is a fantastic film that ever since watching it for the first time, has made my list of favourite movies of all time.

P.S. A reminder that until December, I will likely not be able to post many reviews due to exams.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Good Will Hunting

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Will Hunting
Robin Williams as Sean Maguire
Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan
Minnie Driver as Skylar
Stellan Skarsgård as Gerald Lambeau
Director: Gus Van Sant

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius who works at a college in Boston. He’s discovered by Fields Medal winning Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) who eventually tries to get Will to turn his life around with the help of Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), as Will begins to realize that there’s more to himself then he thinks there is.

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Good Will Hunting has had a lot of attention and got a lot of good reviews but I never expected the level of greatness I was going to experience walking into this movie. Good Will Hunting succeeds as a coming to age story, a comedy, a drama and overall, it is very compelling and a wonder to behold. It is amazing from start to finish and is a film that really sticks with you afterwards. It is one of those films that are essential to watch at least once in your lifetime.

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The writing from both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon is truly flawless and well made; they must really understand the human psyche because all the characters feel very real and believable; in fact for me, this movie has the most believable characters I have seen in a movie so far. There are times in the movie that are really funny but there are also a lot of real drama moments that really catches people off guard. The drama in this movie is as well done as the comedy is and both tones are well used for the moments. The sadness also really hits hard, even I managed to feel the weight of the emotions and I’m not usually someone who feels emotion from a movie; Good Will Hunting also has many deep, personal messages that really got through to me. There is never a dull minute in this 126 minute long movie. The film is always interesting and that has a lot to do with the characters which are so perfectly acted.

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It goes without saying that this movie has great acting. Matt Damon plays probably the most complex character of his career here and he does such a great job becoming everything that his character is. Robin Williams is also fantastic here; he is usually known for being a comedic actor but here, he gives such a touching performance. Matt Damon and Robin Williams overall gave the best performances of their careers here and they play off each other really well; you can really see the connection between these two characters. Other actors like Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver and Stellan Skarsgard are also great in their roles and they all get their chances to shine in the film. Like I said previously, these characters are so believable and credit has to go to all of the actors in this movie who managed to do that. There isn’t a single performance that wasn’t good and they really takes the film deeper than it would have with different actors.

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The setting of Boston is well portrayed here. The cinematography here is good, though it’s not really the main focus of the movie; it’s the story and script, however even so, these simple shots used in the film somehow are quite effective. The score by Danny Elfman is great too – it really sets the mood.

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This movie should be seen by everyone as soon as possible if they haven’t seen it already; from start to finish, it takes the viewers on a captivating journey that never ceases to amaze me. With its brilliant acting, great writing and big emotional drama, it is a film that I will remember for years to come. Emotionally rich and fantastic, it is one of my favourite movies of all time and has made quite an impact on me.

R.I.P Robin Williams
July 21 1951 – August 11 2014