Tag Archives: 2001

Amelie (2001) Review

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Amelie

Time:  119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains sexual references
Cast:
Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain
Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix
Rufus as Raphaël Poulain
Serge Merlin as Raymond Dufayel
Lorella Cravotta as Amandine Poulain
Clotilde Mollet as Gina
Claire Maurier as Suzanne
Isabelle Nanty as Georgette
Dominique Pinon as Joseph
Artus de Penguern as Hipolito
Yolande Moreau as Madeleine Wallace
Urbain Cancelier as Collignon
Jamel Debbouze as Lucien
Maurice Bénichou as Dominique Bretodeau
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Despite being caught in her imaginative world, Amelie (Audrey Tautou), a young waitress, decides to help people find happiness. Her quest to spread joy leads her on a journey where she finds true love.

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I had seen Amelie appear on many “Best movies ever” lists, and for whatever reason I just hadn’t gotten around to watching it beforehand. All I really knew about it was that it was French and quirky, but that’s about it. Having finally seen it I don’t know why it took me so long to watch it, and I now know why it is considered a classic.

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Something to note about this movie is that the plot is pretty slight. The story of Amelie follows its lead character who makes a surprising discovery in her apartment one day, and she uses that to complete a good deed. It pays off well and so she dedicates herself to helping others find joy and happiness in their own lives in the most unexpected ways, while struggling with the isolation of her own life. That’s it when it comes to the plot though. The screenplay is marvellous, and everything is well put together, from how it opens the story, introduces all its characters (especially Amelie), paces the narrative, and keeps everything glued together. It is a very peculiar story especially in relation to Amelie’s life, and it is all presented with an irresistible charm, and with such wonder. The film with all of its eccentricities was simply delightful, lovely and surprisingly humorous, and all of it really adds a lot to the film’s personality. At its core, Amelie is a celebration of life and a story about embracing the little things in life, and it’s done in a sweet and endearing, yet very intelligent way. Throughout its runtime, it takes some time to ponder on little moments that might initially seem irrelevant to the narrative at hand, yet without these little moments, the film just wouldn’t be the same. They add to the movie in their own ways. The movie is around 2 hours and 10 minutes long, but I was into everything from beginning to end despite the less plot driven approach.

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Coming to the characters, there are many memorable characters in this movie, even the minor characters are memorable, and they are all performed well by the cast. With that said, the biggest stand out of course is Audrey Tautou in the lead role of Amelie Poulain. Amelie is such a wonderful and easily likable character, and Audrey beautifully captures her innocent, naïve and shy nature. It’s actually impossible to imagine anyone else playing this role. As great as the rest of the movie already is, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if Amelie wasn’t as perfectly performed and portrayed as she was here.

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The film is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and his work here is fantastic. What’s immediately noticeable when starting the movie is that the film’s visuals are notably gorgeous in pretty much every single shot, with every frame is bursting with unique life. The cinematography really is stunning, especially when it comes to the use of the magnificent colour palette used. The colours often correlating between the characters and the themes, and the colour gradients are so spectacular that they could rival even the most vivid Wes Anderson movies. There is always at least a hint of stunning shade of green, red or orange in just about every shot, and the colours pop like crazy. The colours, lighting and production design all contributed to create this fantasy and dream like feeling and aesthetic. The cinematography and editing are unorthodox in a smart way, it makes the film more eccentric, and the film becomes even more vibrant because of it. Some of the editing and CGI can be a little dated in an early 2000s way, but even that adds some level of charm to it. Also worth high praise is Yann Tiersen’s mesmerising score which works and elevates the whole ambience of the narrative seamlessly.

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Amelie is a quirky, heartfelt and entertaining coming of age movie. It is delightful from beginning to end, directed and shot vibrantly and with such energy, and has a perfect lead performance from Audrey Tautou. It’s really no surprise how it became widely loved amongst mainstream audiences. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001) Review

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The Devil's Backbone

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Fernando Tielve as Carlos
Íñigo Garcés as Jaime
Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto
Marisa Paredes as Carmen
Federico Luppi as Dr. Casares
Director: Guillermo del Toro

After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen (Marisa Paredes), and the kindly professor, Casares (Federico Luppi). Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds.

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I was interested in The Devil’s Backbone simply because Guillermo Del Toro was directing it, outside of that I really didn’t know what to expect from the movie aside from it being a horror movie. It turned out to be a great and surprising ghost story, and actually one of Del Toro’s best movies.

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The Devil’s Backbone does fall under being a horror movie, however I’d say that it’s more of a ghost story, it was more unsettling than actually scary. The backdrop and setting are great, with the story being set at an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. This helped in creating a creeping and menacing atmosphere. There’s a lot of thematic elements at play here too with the effect of war. It’s a very dark and haunting story, and the climax is particularly brutal. It is similar in tone to Del Toro’s later films like Pan’s Labyrinth, and like those movies, the real monsters aren’t ghosts or supernatural elements, but humans. In fact, this is much less fantastical and more grounded than Pan’s Labyrinth, the characters feel very much human. The pacing was good and really keeps you invested in what was happening while not feeling too rushed, the runtime at about an hour and 50 minutes was just right for the movie overall. The story itself while arguably predictable (especially as the movie moves along), is interesting, well written, and surprisingly moving. There’s a lot happening in this movie despite the initial simple premise, with swirling plotlines and multiple themes, and Del Toro balances it out. It’s definitely one of his most intelligently written films.

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The acting is great from everyone. The child actors do well on their parts, especially the leads in Fernando Tielve and Inigo Garces, and their dynamic was great and very believable. The adult cast including Federico Luppi, Eduardo Noriega and Marisa Paredes are also very good in their roles, the children stand out the most but the adults aren’t far behind.

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This is Guillermo del Toro’s third movie and he’s definitely progressed as a filmmaker when considering his past movies with Cronos and Mimic, while those were quite good, The Devil’s Backbone is very much a step up. Although it’s at a lower budget (at around US $6.5 million), it’s fantastic on a technical level. The cinematography is great, beautiful and it encapsulates the whole movie with a ghostly vibe, which is helped particularly by the camerawork, lighting and colour tones. The aesthetic is definitely gothic, and that definitely fit the tone of the story perfectly. The setting at the orphanage is well captured here, with a lot of attention to detail particularly with the production design. The horror is subtle, and you don’t get too many scares (again more of a ghost story than a horror film), and you really feel the sense of isolation throughout the movie. The score from Javier Navarrete added a lot to the movie too.

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The Devil’s Backbone is a greatly directed, written and acted movie, a grounded and haunting ghost story. It is on the higher end of Guillermo Del Toro’s filmography yet has been somewhat overlooked, definitely worth watching.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Review

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The Royal Tenenbaums

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Danny Glover as Henry Herman
Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum
Anjelica Huston as Etheline Tenenbaum
Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair
Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum
Ben Stiller as Chas Tenenbaum
Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum
Owen Wilson as Eli Cash
Director: Wes Anderson

Three grown prodigies (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson), all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother (Anjelica Huston) are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal (Gene Hackman) had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family.

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I had heard a little bit about The Royal Tenenbaums, but generally I just knew this as one of Wes Anderson’s movies, and so I knew that I would eventually get around to it. For many, The Royal Tenenbaums is considered one of his best films and having seen it, I would consider that to be the case too. The performances are all fantastic, the direction is outstanding is a joy to watch, and the script and story is really endearing. I really loved watching this movie.

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Compared to a lot of Wes Anderson’s other movies at least, it’s more of a drama than a comedy. At its core, The Royal Tenenbaums is a family drama. You get quite engaged with what is going on, so even if you don’t find the movie to be quite funny, there’s something that you’ll be interested in for this movie. I still did find the movie quite entertaining and also funny at times. It also does work very well on an emotional level, in fact there’s an underlying feeling of sadness amongst most of the characters, and touches upon some serious themes and topics at points. There is a great tonal balance throughout, transitioning between comedy and drama with ease and not taking away from the other tone. I have to say, this is one of Anderson’s best scripts, definitely one of his most complete. The movie is paced steadily across its hour and 50 minute runtime, and if you aren’t into the movie and the plot by the first 30 minutes, you might find it a bit of a drag to sit through. But the plot, quirky dialogue and especially the well realised characters all come together to make a film that I was personally invested in from beginning to end.

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There’s a massive talented ensemble cast involved in this film, and everyone is great here. If there’s a standout among them it is Gene Hackman in the lead role as Royal Tenenbaum, he’s fantastic and I think this is one of his best performances, if not his best performance. The rest of the cast are great too, including Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson, all of them performing their memorable characters very well, and having excellent on screen chemistry with each another (Paltrow and Luke Wilson particularly shine in this movie).

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Wes Anderson directs this so well, with his distinct style. Anderson’s attention to detail is really enthralling to watch and aesthetically pleasing, from set decoration to costume to shot composition and the colour pallet. There are some great visual gags that you can easily miss if you look away for like a second. I liked how the movie was structured in a storybook way, in fact it is divided into chapters, and it really gave it a different feeling. The soundtrack work well and is utilised perfectly, as expected from Wes Anderson at this point.

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I thoroughly loved The Royal Tenenbaums, even more than I was expecting going on. The all star cast were all great and played their memorable characters greatly, it was directed wonderfully, and it is written excellently, with an entertaining and emotionally engaging story. I think that this is going to revisit this movie quite a lot, and I see it becoming potentially one of my favourite movies. Definitely watch it if you haven’t already.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains supernatural theme
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
Ian Hart as Quirinus Quirrell
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: Chris Columbus

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is an average bespectacled 11 year old boy who has lived with the Dursley family ever since his parents died in a car crash. For some reason the family has always mistreated him. On his 11th birthday a giant man named Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) hands him a letter telling him that he has been accepted as a student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry learns that his parents were wizards and were killed by an evil wizard Voldemort, a truth that was hidden from him all these years. He embarks for his new life as a student, gathering two good friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) along the way. They soon learn that something very valuable is hidden somewhere inside the school and Voldemort is very anxious to lay his hands on it.

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With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald releasing towards the end of the year, I decided to have a look through all of the Harry Potter movies in the lead up to its release. The books were very popular and in the late 90s, Warner Bros were looking to adapt this acclaimed and beloved series (which was still going on) to the big screen. In 2001, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (no it’s not titled the Sorcerer’s Stone here in New Zealand) was released to much love from readers and non readers alike. I grew up with these movies with my family, so no matter some of the flaws that some of them have, I can’t help but love them. As for the Philosopher’s stone, it’s not one of the better movies in the series but I still like it, and watching it more recently, its actually impressive how well it started off the series for both those familiar with the Harry Potter books and those that weren’t.

Out of all the movies, Philosopher’s Stone is the most accurate to the book (you don’t get everything from the book in here though, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s only so much you can put into one movie). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s automatically a better movie than the rest. Seeing it again recently, Philosopher’s Stone actually does some very impressive things that I didn’t notice before. What actually surprised me the most was the length of the movie, it was 2 hours and 30 minutes because it felt so much shorter. Director Chris Columbus really keeps the movie at a pretty good pace, it never feels like it lingers on things too much and it never feels rushed. Another great thing is when it comes to establishing the world of Harry Potter. When it comes to adapting fantasy or sci fi source material to the big screen, one of the biggest challenges is establishing the fictional world in a strong way to the audience, so that they are immersed and perfectly understand what kind of world they are in. With the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s done greatly, the story is simple but effective enough that you are willing to accept all the crazy magical things that this movie is establishing to you. The movie is very light hearted, especially in contrast with the rest of the series, however it really was the best way to start off the series. The book anyway has a mostly light tone, so the movie brought it to the big screen very well. Though I won’t lie this movie can feel really dated and a little too goofy and over the top at times (too many instances to list).

Almost all of the Harry Potter characters were perfectly cast. The main 3 actors with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (who play Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively) do have some missteps but they all do good jobs. The child actors in the early films aren’t all the best and are a little rocky (especially with the line delivery), but they do improve over the years. The adult actors are all around well cast. Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore (who does a good job as Dumbledore in his two film appearances for their respective stories), Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape (absolutely perfect and much better than the book version of Snape), Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, all do excellent jobs. Even some of the one scene actors do quite well, like John Hurt as Ollivander the wandmaker. The only casting choice/character who doesn’t work quite as well is Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell. While not bad or anything, he really wasn’t anything special, was a little over the top and it’s pretty clear the moment he’s on screen that he’s secretly shady (for lack of a better non spoilerish term).

Yes, as you’ll probably get from my thoughts on the later Harry Potter films, I do prefer the darker movies but for what Chris Columbus was going for in the first two Harry Potter movies, it works rather well. It’s also a perfect way to bring the audience, whether they are fans of the books or not, into the world. Chris Columbus does a great job at establishing the Harry Potter world. The production design is really great, especially in Hogwarts, it really does make you feel like you’re in a magical school. The visuals aren’t as impressive as those in the later movies but for its time it worked very well. Some visual effects haven’t aged well (especially the green screen), but you can accept it as it’s a movie from 2001. John Williams’s score as always is iconic and very memorable, adding a lot of ‘magic’ into a movie with already so much magic. It is a little on the nose in a couple scenes when Voldemort is brought up and the score drops to an over the top ominous sound, but otherwise it’s quite good.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is still good, and as I said a perfect adaptation of the book. Even if you think it’s on a significantly lower level compared to the rest of the movies, I think it’s worth acknowledging a lot of the impressive things it did with establishing the world and keeping the long running movie at a pretty fast pace. It’s not my favourite of the Harry Potter movies, it does feel quite dated but it nonetheless did a good job at starting off the series.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains offensive language and sexual references
Cast:
Nicole Kidman as Satine
Ewan McGregor as Christian
Jim Broadbent as Harold Zidler
Richard Roxburgh as The Duke of Monroth
John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Director: Baz Luhrmann

A celebration of love and creative inspiration takes place in the infamous, gaudy and glamorous Parisian nightclub, at the cusp of the 20th century. A young poet (Ewan McGregor), who is plunged into the heady world of Moulin Rouge, begins a passionate affair with the club’s most notorious and beautiful star (Nicole Kidman).

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I was very sceptical about Moulin Rouge before watching it, although I liked Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby, I really didn’t like his Romeo and Juliet. It didn’t help that Moulin Rouge seemed to have a lot of elements that I hated in 90’s Romeo and Juliet. Nonetheless I finally watch Moulin Rouge (I didn’t want to judge it without actually watching it) … and it took me a few viewings attempts to do finish watching it. While there are some good things in Moulin Rouge, for the most part it just really annoyed me and I personally don’t understand all the acclaim.

I didn’t care for any of the characters or the story. The movie is surrounding love, however in this movie, everything about love just feels really shallow and doesn’t really have much depth. It just pretty much boils down to “love is good because it’s good and people who don’t like love are bad because they are bad”. I wish I was exaggerating. I can’t say which act is best because it all goes in and out of quality, one moment it’s obnoxious, then there’s something that has potential or is even legitimately good, then it goes back to being annoying again. The movie tries to be funny and quirky at a lot of points and it’s irritating when they do this, it took me 5-10 minutes for me to regret trying to watch Moulin Rouge. A lot of the characters are annoying as well, on top of them being over the top and cartoonish, there really isn’t much to them. They also have a tendency to make stupid decisions for no reason at all, particularly Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s characters. I wasn’t heavily interested in the story throughout, there were times where I was partially entertained by some sequences but I didn’t really care what happened. So when you’re supposed to feel something at certain points, I really felt nothing at all. Of course I know that there are lots of people who had completely different experiences to me, a lot of people love Moulin Rouge, this is just I felt when I was watching it.

I’m very mixed on the acting. Ewan McGregor at times is good, the problem is that I found his character annoying, and at other times I found him unlikable. McGregor to his credit, does manage to elevate his role slightly and he does have some legitimately good moments. Nicole Kidman isn’t so lucky, not only is the character annoying, she has to act completely ridiculous and it’s just embarrassing to watch. There’s particularly a scene with her, McGregor and Richard Roxburgh, it’s their first scene together and it’s just the most embarrassing thing ever. Though really she’s ridiculous throughout. Kidman does try her best. I don’t put this against her acting ability, she’s definitely a very talented actress, it’s really the character, the direction and all the material that she was given that was the problem. In terms of acting, the best was Jim Broadbent, he was legitimately entertaining and I liked it when he was on screen. The villain is played Richard Roxburgh and he is incredibly over the top, and unfortunately not in a good way. The big problem is that we are supposed to take him somewhat seriously at the same time and I couldn’t take him seriously at all.

Baz Lurhmann’s direction is also a very mixed bag for me. There are some good parts to it, for example the sets are great and all well put together, the problem is that the editing a lot of the time doesn’t allow us to appreciate these sets. There is so much cutting during some sequences that is incredibly jarring and obnoxious. There are also some sequences which are legitimately good, even great, one in particular being El Tango De Roxanne. But there are still some parts to most of the direction that really frustrated me. The style and over the top nature was really irritating to me and was for me the most frustrating part of the movie. At the same time I am fully aware that people actually like this style and that’s part of the reason they love it so much, but for me, the erratic cutting, editing and camera movements were obnoxious and only made the whole experience worse. As for the songs, none of them are original, some of the songs are fine, others are not so much. It didn’t blow me away, save for maybe one or two songs.

Moulin Rouge definitely has some praiseworthy elements but it is overshadowed by the more flawed elements that distract from the better elements. It’s really the style, direction and story that brings this movie down, which on top of leaving no positive impact on me, also just ended up being straight up irritating at times. Despite my dislike of the film, I do recommend that people go out and see Moulin Rouge for themselves, I can’t tell who is going to love or hate it. I have noticed that some people who hate musicals really liked it. As someone who despite not being a massive fan of musicals but enjoys a lot of them, I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge, and I really wished I could see what everyone else sees in it.

Hannibal (2001) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling
Gary Oldman as Mason Verger
Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler
Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi
Director: Ridley Scott

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from custody. The doctor is now at large in Europe. Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) remembers Lecter too, and is obsessed with revenge. Verger was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and though horribly disfigured, has survived. Verger realizes that to draw the doctor into the open, he must use someone as bait: Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore).

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On paper, Hannibal looked like it would be something fantastic. Everything looked great, it’s a sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and many other talented actors are involved and Ridley Scott is directing. It’s a shame really, since despite all that this movie didn’t turn out all that great. It’s not bad and it does have a lot of good elements to it but it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.

I haven’t read Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, so I don’t know how much they changed from the original source material aside from them removing one character and changing the ending. All I can comment on is what is in this movie, and I have to say that sadly, the story and writing for Hannibal was rather underwhelming and messy. The scenes with Clarice and Hannibal’s perspectives each feel like they are in completely different movies, and felt out of place whenever the film changes locations. I found the plot to move a little slow, it wasn’t boring but at times it was close to being that. It wasn’t as captivating as some of the other Hannibal movies. Another issue I had was the way they decided to portray Hannibal. I’ll get into detail later about what I mean, but to sum it up, he’s no longer unique, he becomes a typical over the top serial killer. Sure, we get more focus on Hannibal as a main character instead of being a supporting player, but he’s ironically less compelling in this movie despite that. As mentioned earlier, the movie does change the ending from the book, some will like it, others won’t. As someone who doesn’t like the direction that the book ending took, I liked the movie ending more, the book ending wouldn’t have worked at all for the movie with the way they decided to depict certain aspects (no spoilers).

Jodie Foster unfortunately didn’t return for this movie (for whatever reason) so Julianne Moore instead plays Clarice Starling and she does a really good job in her place. I get the feeling that her part wasn’t written as well as it should’ve (Clarice really doesn’t get to do anything until later in the movie) but Moore definitely added a lot to the role. The most stand out performance to me however was Gary Oldman as Mason Verger, who once again is incredible in another unrecognisable role. The makeup on him really was great and enhanced his performance. He’s completely covered in this makeup and looks nothing like himself but the way he acts and speaks made his performance really work. Giancarlo Giannini is also good in his role. Ray Liotta is a great actor but he was just annoying when he was on screen, I wouldn’t blame him though, his character really was the problem and he just acted what was given to him.

Now there’s one major performance that I’ve held off talking about, and that is Anthony Hopkins as the titual character. Hopkins was great in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon but here… he wasn’t that great. While he felt unique in both of those films, he was incredibly hammy in this movie, going quite over the top and seeming more like a parody of Hannibal than actually Hannibal Lecter. It is often hard to take him seriously at points. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs worked well but here it’s typical laughable serial killer obsession kind of stuff, it’s almost sexual and is just sort of weird rather than being captivating. It’s sad that Hannibal ironically is one of the biggest flaws in Hannibal. Not to say that Hopkins/Hannibal don’t have any good moments in the movie, but most of the time he wasn’t that great.

The direction by Ridley Scott is really good and one of the highlights of the movie. Something consistent throughout all of the Hannibal movies, no matter how good or bad they are, is that they all look beautiful. Hannibal is no exception, this film looks really good especially when the film is Italy. If there’s an aspect of the direction which wasn’t handled that well it was the violence. It’s not necessarily the level of violence (as the Hannibal show has even more violent moments but yet have executed those sequences excellently) but it’s how it’s presented. A good example is a scene involving a brain in the last act. It was so cartoonishly violent that I just found it funny rather than terrifying and horrific. A lot of the moments of violence just feel rather forced and over the top, though to be fair, I can’t blame Scott for the way these scenes turned out here. The scenes that they are adapting from the book aren’t easy to portray on screen without going too over the top and violent or too tame. Even Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) decided not to return to direct this movie because he found the Hannibal novel too violent and unadaptable. So I give Ridley credit for at least trying. It is nevertheless something that really stands out as an issue with the movie. The music by Hans Zimmer is great as usual, and works very well in the movie. This movie’s atmosphere is also great, and the soundtrack played a part in that as well.

Overall the movie is a mixed bag. The story itself was a bit messy and unfocused and it wasn’t as interesting, and it goes way too over the top at times. Even Anthony Hopkins was hammy and unfortunately rather silly, difficult to take seriously. Despite all that, the movie still has some really good stuff. The acting from most of the actors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini) is great, the direction from Ridley Scott is solid, so this movie is not without some high quality aspects. Hannibal is an okay film overall. If you liked the other Hannibal movies I recommend at least giving it a look, but don’t expect anything on the level of Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Review

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The Fast and the Furious

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Leticia “Letty” Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Rick Yune as Johnny Tran
Chad Lindberg as Jesse
Johnny Strong as Leon
Matt Schulze as Vince
Ted Levine as Tanner
Director: Rob Cohen

LA street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) falls under the suspicion of the LAPD for a string of high-speed electronics truck robberies. Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) an officer of the LAPD, joins the ranks of Toretto’s highly skilled racing crew undercover to convict Toretto. However, O’Connor finds himself both enamored with this new world and in love with Toretto’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) As a rival racing crew gains strength, O’Connor must decide where his loyalties lie.

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The Fast and Furious franchise is today one of the most popular action franchises today, with its seventh instalment released earlier this year. Watching the original 2001 film, it was interesting to see how it started off in the first place. Looking at it now, it’s actually quite well set up with good action, although quite different from the later instalments. Although I don’t think it’s as good as the more recent films in the franchise, I still found this first film to be quite enjoyable.

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People more familiar with the newer films should know that unlike those films where it had focused on the main characters doing such activities such as pulling off heists, this film was focussed on street racing, in fact that is what the first 3 films focused on. The film at times does feel a little slow for a film about street racing especially in the first act however once it got into the second act I was invested in the film. Granted, like all the Fast and Furious movies, the plot doesn’t really matter. We are really just there to see guys drive fast cars and enjoy the action that unfolds. The film is quite good at that but don’t expect them to be parachuting in cars onto a bridge or anything similar.

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The actors for the most part do well, they aren’t really spectacular but they aren’t really supposed to be, the action with the cars is supposed to be the main focus. There was really only any character development with a couple of characters but they all did well with what they have. I actually liked Paul Walker as the main character, I know that a lot of people have a problem with him but I think his character worked for the film. The show stealer for me though was Vin Diesel, he’s often one of the main highlights of the Fast and Furious films. The rest of the cast which consisted of actors like Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster also worked for their roles. The villain played by Rick Yune was decent, he does usually play great villains (Olympus has Fallen, Die Another Day). He’s not really the villain until the second half but he does well with what he’s got, despite being not very developed.

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The Fast and Furious franchise always has had great action (with maybe the exception of 2 Fast 2 Furious) and that was always there from the beginning. The stunt work, especially with the cars is very commendable. If you are going into this film (or any Fast and Furious movie for that matter), do understand that the film isn’t realistic in the slightest, however honestly, this might be the most realistic Fast and Furious movie in terms of action scenes. The film also has a nice sharp and quick style which really works for the film.

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While not one of the better Fast and Furious movies, it is still a decent movie and I really enjoyed watching it. If you never enjoyed any of the Fast and Furious movies than this won’t change your mind. It’s exactly the type of film you’d expect called Fast and Furious. If you liked the more recent Fast and Furious films, I think it’s worth checking this one out. It’s not as exciting or have as much overblown fun as the latest films but I think there’s quite a bit of enjoyment to have here.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Time: 178 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Battle violence and fantasy horror
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey
Viggo Mortensen as Aragon
Sean Astin as Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee
John-Rhys Davies as Gimli
Billy Boyd as Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Sean Bean as Boromir
Cate Blanchett as Galadrial
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Director: Peter Jackson

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his power so that he could rule all others but the One Ring was eventually taken from him. After many ages it fell into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo (Ian Holm) disappears, giving the Ring to his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood). When the wizard Gandalf (Ian Mckellen) discovers the Ring is the One Ring of Sauron, Frodo is joined by him, Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom), Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davis), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Boromir (Sean Bean) and his three Hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Sam (Sean Astin) in a quest to destroy it. They must journey across Middle-Earth and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

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It’s not uncommon for anyone to say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of the best films of all time. Peter Jackson successfully brings the much loved books to life with much unrelenting energy. With the film being visually striking, an interesting story and having unforgettable characters make it a classic and an essential film for everyone, no matter who they are, or what age they are.

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Despite the movie being quite long (at nearly 3 hours), it is always engaging from start to finish. Helping this is the opening scene; the opening scene to this movie is one of the best opening scenes I’ve seen, it’s up there with Raiders of the Lost Ark; it’s exciting, it’s interesting and it sets up the tone for the rest of the movie. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any of The Lord of the Rings books, so I don’t know what the movie shows which are shown in the book, but I do know that these changes are well done, such as Arwen being more involved with the story. The whole story is well structured so that the audience is always invested in what’s going on.

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All the actors play their roles very well, every character have personality and are distinct from one another; I am very satisfied with the casting in this movie. I thought that Elijah Wood was really good as Frodo and was really relatable. Sir Ian McKellan doesn’t just play Gandalf here, he IS Gandalf, and every moment he lives and breathes as his character in this movie, his best scene of course involving the Balrog of Mordor. Viggo Mortensen was also well picked as Aragon. Other actors like Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davis, Sean Bean, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin and Christopher Lee also do great jobs in their roles.

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Peter Jackson’s movies are always really good when it comes to special effects and this is no exception. The action scenes are very well done, the two that stand out are in the opening scene and another which is close to the end of the movie. Helping this is the editing which is absolutely perfect. The locations are also well chosen, New Zealand’s wildlife ends up being a great location for many of the locations. The soundtrack by Howard Shore adds incredibility to this movie, giving the film great moments, whether it may be action scenes or others. The costumes are also done incredibly and are impeccably designed. Everything makes you feel like you are in middle earth.

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The Fellowship of the Ring is a great starting point in the Lord of the Rings franchise. The look of the movie, the acting, the characters and the overall story are brought to life by Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson has brought the acclaimed books to the big screen to huge success. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, and The Fellowship of the Ring, kicked the franchise off with a great start.