Time: 108 Minutes Age Rating: M – contains medium level violence Cast: Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce Eva Mendes as Monica Fuentes Cole Hauser as Carter Verone Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker James Remar as Agent Markham Director: John Singleton
Brian O’Conner, a former police officer, partners with Roman Pierce, his friend and a criminal, to bring a drug lord to justice in order to erase their criminal record.
There are a range of reactions to the Fast and Furious movies. However, from what I’ve seen, the second installment in 2 Fast and 2 Furious is often cited as the worst of the series. After rewatching it, I can definitely see why, but I still got some enjoyment out of it.
The story and characters are fairly thin, undercooked and not that memorable. Much like the other pre-Fast Five movies, the plot is focusing on racing, but it definitely takes a step towards where F&F is today with it being about the main characters taking down a drug lord. It even does some worldbuilding despite most of the characters not returning from the first movie. It lacks the sincerity of the previous film and instead leans further into the cheese and silliness. It is openly dumb and honestly benefits from that. It is wonderfully implausible especially with the action, although relatively tame compared to the later movies of the franchise. That being said, there is a very dark scene with the main villain torturing someone which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie. Beyond that, it is a fun enough buddy movie.
The leads in this are Paul Walker reprising his role as Brian O’Conner (the only returning character from the last movie), and Tyrese Gibson in his first appearance as Roman (who also became a major character in the series from 5 onwards). While Walker is functional but fairly bland, the two are entertaining on screen together, they have a more entertaining dynamic compared to Walker and Vin Diesel in the first movie. Gibson was particularly a fun addition, and is funny especially with his line deliveries. The other actors and characters including Eva Mendes and Ludacris (who makes his first appearance as Tej and would be another recurring F&F character) are also decent. The villain played by Cole Hauser was fairly forgettable and generic; the aforementioned torture scene was the only time where he felt threatening.
John Singleton’s direction of this movie isn’t great, but he at least made an entertaining enough movie. The action wasn’t spectacular and it usually contains some really bad CGI, but they are stylised and entertaining. While the set pieces in the previous movie are better constructed, 2 Fast and 2 Furious had probably more entertaining action scenes just for how over the top they are.
2 Fast 2 Furious is by far the worst in the franchise and is a step down from the first movie, but it is still pretty entertaining. For those who are familiar with the later movies, but not the pre Fast 5 films, it might be worth checking out just to see how much the movies have changed. Outside of that, it is a fun buddy movie, but isn’t particularly special.
Time: 119 Minutes Cast: Ben Affleck as Michael Jennings Uma Thurman as Rachel Porter Aaron Eckhart as James Rethrick Colm Feore as John Wolfe Peter Friedman as Attorney General Brown Paul Giamatti as Shorty Michael C. Hall as Agent Klein Director: John Woo
Michael, a reverse engineer, is pursued by the policemen on charges of murder and treason. Suffering from amnesia, he is forced to piece together his past while on the run.
For some time I did hear about Paycheck, an action movie from John Woo starring Ben Affleck. I heard it wasn’t that good, but decided to check it out because of Woo’s involvement. Despite the mixed to negative response, I am glad that I checked it out.
This is one of the rare times where John Woo directs a sci fi movie. It’s a suspenseful identity thriller and has the classic plot of a protagonist who had his memory erased and is trying to figure out what is happening. It plays somewhat like an Alfred Hitchcock film, and apparently Woo did have him as an inspiration for this. The premise is intriguing, but the execution is disappointingly just okay, not fulfilling the potential. Parts of it made me wonder whether it was directed by the wrong person, especially considering it’s based on a Phillip K. Dick story. The end result felt like a worse version of Minority Report. Even Woo’s work is a bit restrained by his standards, and that PG-13 rating doesn’t help. While it doesnt make the most of its premise, it is at least enjoyable, and works as a light and fluffy blockbuster. The plot isn’t anything special, but is interesting enough and I was engaged to see where it would go next. It keeps up a good pace, and I was entertained over the 2 hour runtime.
Ben Affleck is decent as the main character as he’s trying to figure out what he’s involved in. The rest of the cast including Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti and Aaron Eckhart are also good.
So far out of John Woo’s filmography, Paycheck felt the least like one of his movies. Still, it is directed with a lot of energy, and even some of his trademarks make it into here. It’s sleek looking, and the action scenes are well shot and entertaining to watch, even if they don’t come close to reaching the action heights of Woo’s other films.
Paycheck is not one of John Woo’s best movies by any means. It doesn’t make the most of its premise and potential, but is nonetheless a twisty, energetic and entertaining sci-fi action thriller. It’s enjoyable enough, but isn’t one that’ll stick with you.
Time: 109 Minutes Age Rating: contains violence & offensive language Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Kristanna Loken as the T-X
Claire Danes as Katherine “Kate” Brewster Director: Jonathan Mostow
A powerful cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future appears in search of a drifter. Soon, he must protect himself and his companion from a deadly robotic threat.
The first two Terminator movies are widely regarded as action sci-fi classics. However, the following movies in the series has been receiving a rather mixed reception. That being said, I like them all, and that extends to Terminator 3. Made and released over a decade after the excellent Terminator 2, Rise of the Machines is enjoyable despite its many issues.
The biggest problem of Terminator 3 is how similar it is to Terminator 2, to the point where it almost feels like a copy. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from a more advanced Terminator, and there are plenty of one liners and action scenes. It doesn’t help that much of it feels like it is on autopilot. The plot is less interesting, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s not nearly as much emotion or depth to it, despite some of the opportunities presented here. The attempts at comedy are increased, but come across as being more forced, and I think its goofier than it was intending to be; the scene in which the Terminator gets his clothes here is an example of this. While some one liners are memorable, they were more misses than hits. That being said, I was fairly entertained with the movie, helped by a tight pace. It is also elevated by a surprising third act, with the bleak ending being a standout. While I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it is at least admirable. It is a bold move for a franchise movie to end on such a nihilistic note. At the same time, you get the feeling that it could’ve been more impactful had it been handled better.
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as another Terminator sent back in time, and is solid as usual even if he’s feeling a bit tired here. One thing working against him is that he just feels like a copy of his Terminator from Terminator 2, only he’s not as good, almost like an empty shell. His characterisation isn’t as strong and doesn’t feel as human. At the same time, there are plenty of human moments where he acts like his Terminator 2 counterpart, despite not having humanising moments like he did with young John Connor. The rest of the cast aren’t as good. Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are fine as John Connor and his future wife Kate, but are forgettable. Terminator 3 is a logical and accurate continuation of where John Connor would go after stopping Judgment Day, but they don’t do much beyond the first act. Danes is also fine with what she is given but is underdeveloped despite playing a major role in the movie. Then there’s the new villain Terminator, this time it’s the T-X as played by Kristanna Loken. While the idea had potential, the execution has much to be desired. It’s a female Terminator and that’s all that’s going for her. She wasn’t menacing, she was hard to take seriously and was a step back after the Terminator villains.
Jonathan Mostow directs this, overall his work is just okay but unsurprisingly pales in comparison to James Cameron’s work on the previous movies. Much like the writing, a big part of the problem is that it just feels like a copy of Terminator 2, except not as good. It doesn’t have much of a style of its own. Its also feels on autopilot, not helped by the generic score from Marco Beltrami. That being said, the action scenes are quite entertaining. It can be a bit messy and sloppy at times, but at the very least goes all in with the bonkers action. An early chase scene involving a truck in the first act particularly shines. While there is clearly an overreliance on CGI and the effects haven’t aged well, there are still some good practical stunts.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a decent enough sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger is entertaining as usual, the action is fun, and there’s some aspects that are well done. The problem is that its just pretty much just a copy of Terminator 3, only not done as well. The only purpose of the movie seems to be the direction of its ending, and even that could’ve been handled better. Still, it’s okay if you manage expectations going into it.
Time: 91 Minutes Cast:
John Turturro as Harry
Deborah Kara Unger as Kate
Stephen McIntyre as Phil Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Harry Caine (John Turturro) is a mild-mannered mall cop whose pregnant wife is killed in the underground parking lot where he works. It seems it may have been a contract killing, and Harry becomes obsessed with finding out the details. His investigation eventually takes him to a Montana town, where reality becomes unhinged for him, and he remains disturbingly unfazed by the wintry conditions and eccentric characters. In the end, he’s not looking for revenge, just for the reason behind it all.
I knew some things about Fear X going into it. First of all, it was the first English language movie from Drive, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon director Nicolas Winding Refn, and its an experimental crime thriller starring John Turturro which flopped, causing Refn to direct two sequels to his debut film Pusher. I’ve also noticed it’s been referred to as Refn’s worst movie, so I went in cautiously optimistic. While I think it is quite possibly his worst movie, I still liked it.
Fear X is a psychological thriller which initially appears to have a simple plot. It does have a conventional premise about someone looking for the person who killed his wife, however it is definitely not a mainstream movie. Refn takes this premise and applies his own storytelling style to it, subverting the tropes of the revenge thriller. In some ways, you could say that this is a revenge story without the revenge. I like this concept, you get a typical noir film which happens to mix surrealism and murder mystery together, and it is eerie and strange the way it is presented. In fact, many scenes of dialogue and style choices can be compared to David Lynch’s work. It is riveting, tense and unsettling throughout. The film is definitely slow and takes its time, and this will definitely turn some people off from the movie. The atmosphere isn’t strong enough to make this approach work as well as some of Refn’s other slow burners, but I liked the build up over the course of the movie. The other reason a lot of people won’t like this movie is the ambiguity, and in fact it might be too ambiguous for its own good. This is especially in the case of the ending, which really isn’t much of an ending. It leaves you feeling empty and lacks a conventional conclusion. I do admire the decision and it is bold to deliberately leave things without closure and the audience with more questions than before. I also get that it’s deliberately leaving itself to be heavily interpreted. However, I don’t think it quite sticks the landing, and I get people not liking the movie because of the ending.
The acting from everyone is pretty good but really the highlight out of all of them is John Turturro in the lead role of the mall cop who’s trying to find his wife’s killer. Turturro is pretty much a perfect fit in the lead role. He and everyone else don’t have a whole lot to say, much of the acting comes from facial expressions and emoting. However, Turturro gives a really nuanced performance and was a solid casting choice for what Refn was going for.
This is another film from Nicolas Winding Refn, and as expected his work on a technical level is great. I expect amazing visuals from his movies and Fear X is no exception. The use of colour is striking, the cinematography is immaculate and it’s shot with a style which would be more prominent in his later movies, especially when it comes to hallway scenes. The sound design is also amazing, complimenting the mood perfectly, helped by the haunting score from Brian Eno. All these elements come together to create an eerie and foreboding atmosphere throughout the entirety of the film.
I do get why Fear X bombed to a degree, it was a departure from Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous movies, and it is one of his stranger films (which is saying a lot). However it does have some strengths, I liked Refn’s different take on a revenge thriller with all its ambiguity, John Turturro gave a great performance, and it is directed and shot beautifully. At the very least, it did help Refn figure out his filmmaking voice and style. I do think it is worth watching if you liked some of NWR’s other work, but it’s probably best you do so with a good idea of what kind of movie you’re in for.
Time: 129 Minutes Age Rating: Medium level violence Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Neo, humanity’s only hope of stopping the war and saving Zion, attempts to broker peace between the machines and humans. However, he must first confront his arch nemesis, the rogue agent Smith.
I rewatched the first two Matrix movies earlier in the year in preparation for the fourth movie, The Matrix Resurrections. However I ended up just rewatching the first two movies and didn’t get around to completing the trilogy. As it was approaching the release date of the newest film, I decided to attempt to rewatch the whole trilogy again, and I’m glad I did. I’ll admit I wasn’t such a huge fan of these movies previously, even the original I thought was just decent. However in spite of my issues with it, along with it being an incredibly impactful, influential and technically impressive movie, The Matrix was a great film in itself. Even the more recent rewatch of Reloaded had me really liking it. It’s definitely messy and overstuffed but It was interesting, bold and ambitious with its ideas and I might’ve even enjoyed it more than the original. I was curious about how I would find Revolutions since I have only seen it once and I don’t remember much except that it seems to be the least liked out of the trilogy by many people. However I’m glad to say that I liked it about as much as the previous two films.
Something noteworthy about The Matrix Revolutions is that it is very much a continuation from Reloaded, in fact you could say that the two movies combined are a singular sequel to The Matrix. So try not to watch them months apart or anything. The Matrix Reloaded had a ton of exposition for the lore and the themes, way more than the first movie. Revolutions has some of this but its not nearly as overwhelming. I do appreciate the dialogue in Reloaded from my rewatch (along with grasping what people were actually talking about), but I appreciate Revolutions easing off that a bit. It’s also not as convoluted, you don’t get a scene like the infamous Architect scene from Reloaded. It does seem to lean more into action scenes than long philosophical conversations about reason and purpose. With all that being said, Revolutions can still deliver on the ideas, and its certainly not short on ambition. Reloaded could feel a little bloated at points with both the themes and action being dialled up, and could feel a little unbalanced, Revolutions on the other hand feels more focused and consistent. Something that I know people don’t like about Revolutions is that there isn’t a whole lot of time in the actual Matrix. Most of the Matrix’s screentime take place in the first third, whereas most of the movie takes place in Zion, the last human city. There’s even a very long battle in Zion against the machine which lasts well over 30 minutes. It can feel a little too long and no doubt they could’ve been shaved down those scenes a bit. However these scenes are nonetheless effective, with the action having a lot of tension and weight to them as the threat of the machines feel overwhelming and scary. Thankfully the Zion action isn’t the last action we get, as we get a final action scene taking place in the Matrix which I found very satisfying. I found the ending to be quite fitting and conclusive, and so I’m wondering how Resurrections will connect with it.
Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne are back again in their roles of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus and I think they were really good once again. Like with Reloaded, is also a lot of focus on the romance between Neo and Trinity. Their relationship was one of the worst parts of the first movie because there was virtually no chemistry between the actors, and with the writing, it just sort of comes out of nowhere in the film. However this is mitigated in Reloaded and Revolutions, and the scenes between these two are particularly great. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith continues to be a considerably scene chewing and highly enjoyable villain. Whereas in Reloaded he was a supporting villain who occasionally showed up to be a problem, here he takes on an even larger villainous role. He steals every scene he’s in and is one of the highlights of an already great film.
The Wachowskis direct this incredibly well as expected, and it’s great on a technical level. The Matrix movies all look amazing, but this is probably the best looking of the trilogy, from the scenes in the matrix to the scenes in Zion. The action scenes and set pieces are impressive, and even the CGI holds up well (at least compared to some of the CGI in Reloaded). We only get about a third of the movie in the Matrix, but those gunfights and battle scenes are nonetheless impressive. The divisive battle between the humans of Zion and the Sentinels was actually quite impressive, if a bit too long and chaotic. It’s a real spectacle from the visual effects to the scale, and the Sentinels feel more scary and unstoppable than they have ever before. The real highlight action scene for me is the climactic fight between Neo and Smith, playing out like a big anime fight. Like all the Matrix movies, it’s unapologetically over the top, and while that might be seen as ‘too much’, it only makes the movie better for me. Don Davis’s dramatic choral score is epic like in the previous movies, and really elevates the tension and scale in many of the scenes.
The Matrix Revolutions is a very divisive conclusion to the original trilogy, but one that I really liked. It may have some of the typical Matrix issues like some clunky and stiff dialogue, and some occasional messiness, but on the whole it succeeds. The themes and the direction the story go in was impressive, and the technical aspects and action are enthralling to watch. At risk of going off topic, I have to say that there is something quite refreshing watching the Matrix sequels, as the Wachowskis take the follow ups to their critically acclaimed movie in the directions they want to take them, regardless of what audiences want, and I will always appreciate when filmmakers do that. Even if they don’t 100% work, the sequels are ambitious if nothing else, and I’m glad to be one of the people who really like the sequels as much as the first movie. After being successfully ‘Matrix Pilled’ for all 3 movies, I’m looking forward to seeing how The Matrix Resurrections turns out.
Time: 138 Minutes Age Rating: contains violence & sex scenes Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Harold Perrineau as Link
Randall Duk Kim as Keymaker
Gloria Foster as The Oracle Director: Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
At the Oracle’s (Gloria Foster) behest, Neo (Keanu Reeves) attempts to rescue the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) and realises that to save Zion within 72 hours, he must confront the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis). Meanwhile, Zion prepares for war against the machines.
The Matrix sequels aren’t the most beloved of movies, but I remember being one of the people who enjoyed them. I was familiar enough with the first Matrix movie, however I hadn’t watched the sequels more than once each. So I thought I should check them out again, especially as the fourth film would be coming in 2021. Overall, I do like The Matrix Reloaded even though it definitely has a lot of very visible issues.
The Matrix Reloaded really does feel like The Wachowskis letting loose and in some ways it was nice to see them go all out on everything. However, it also resulted in the movie being quite overindulgent and bloated, and in some ways it made the movie work against itself. The script at many points was a bit unfocused, not helped by the weird pacing. While there were some interesting parts, I found much of the movie to be boring and bland at points. Reloaded couldn’t find the balance between exposition and action like the first one did, doing away with the careful structure, and replacing it with a fairly complex but messy and convoluted plot with nonsensical philosophical overtones. The film throws so much information at you, and a lot of the time, I was not able to follow what was going on. Even thinking back on it after a more recent viewing, it’s hard to remember the key plot points. The first Matrix movie had a lot of people talking and having very serious conversations about high concepts. In Reloaded, it takes things to a ridiculous extent with even more preachy philosophical stuff, and it comes across as rather forced. The dialogue driven elements of the film felt overly complex and bloated, and it really bogged down the movie when it got to these moments. The heavy handed dialogue does mostly tone down in the second half of the movie, with the exception of the infamous ‘Architect scene’. Without getting into that too much, while I understand the context of the scene and why the dialogue is written like that, it just borders on self-parody. It’s really no surprise why this scene has been parodied so much. Reloaded also has a rather unsatisfying cliffhanger ending, and although it’s the second part of a trilogy, it really feels like part 1 of 2 of a Matrix sequel (with part 2 being Matrix Revolutions). Despite everything, there were some interesting aspects. Some story aspects and interactions were interesting and I liked some of the ideas presented. I wouldn’t even say that I disliked the story. However, even as someone who doesn’t exactly love the first Matrix, that movie handles things a lot better than Reloaded.
The acting generally remains the same as in the previous movie, pretty generic and not all that great. Some actors are better than others, for example I enjoyed Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus (like in the first movie). However I still don’t think Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are that good in their roles of Neo and Trinity. Their performances are rather bland and stiff and while I feel like that was part of their given direction, it hinders the performance greatly. It only feels worse given that it’s the sequels and they are still acting the same. Something I didn’t buy in the first movie at all was the sudden mention of Neo and Trinity being in love with each other despite nothing prior in the movie indicating that at all. Well it’s certainly not sudden in Reloaded as the film constantly pushes this relationship and it feels really forced. There’s still no chemistry between the two leads and it’s not made any more believable here. Even the new additions to the cast don’t really bring much new to talk about. I will say that Hugo Weaving made such a big impression in the first movie as Agent Smith, that despite his fate at the end of the last movie, they found a way to bring him back and he’s entertaining whenever he’s on screen as always.
Once again, the Wachowski Sisters direct this, and props to them for pushing the boundaries even though the technology wasn’t quite there yet. The first Matrix seemed to embrace looking cool over functionality, I kind of respect that and it adds something to their aesthetic. The second movie is no exception. This movie has so many goofy moments which somehow adds to the movie’s entertainment. Neo flying for Superman for example is silly but fun. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the action scenes are generally quite good. In fact, Reloaded has some of the most memorable action scenes of the whole trilogy. It goes for more over the top action, more so than the first movie, and that is actually quite welcome. The choreography ranges from ridiculous to kind of awesome. There is a fight scene between Neo and many Agent Smiths, it was absolutely insane and only gets sillier as it progresses along, but it’s quite entertaining. There’s also a long extensive action sequence taking place on a freeway, and it’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole film, being both thrilling and entertaining. One flaw in the action scenes of the Matrix sequels however is that now that Neo is basically a superhero, it removes any tension from any action scene he’s in. Not to say that his action scenes aren’t good though, they are still fun. The CGI is impressive at times but overall, it is a bit dated for today. The 3D models can be good in one moment, and then extremely fake in another (the Neo vs Smiths fight being a strong example of this). Finally, there’s the amazing score from Don Davis, and the score is even better than the score in the first movie.
The Matrix Reloaded is a very frustrating movie. To a degree I respect the ambition and scope of it, as well as the refusal to just repeat the first movie again. This does also lead to some of its worse aspects though, with the overindulgence (especially with the writing), heavy exposition, an overly complicated plot and script and more. By the end I didn’t have a clear idea of what I watched, and not in a good way. With that said, I do enjoy the movie. Some moments and ideas were well done, and the movie is worth watching for the action alone, even if some of the effects haven’t held up well. I’ll need to rewatch The Matrix Revolutions to see if it’s that much better than Reloaded, but I’m not expecting much.
Time: 155 Minutes Age Rating: Cast:
Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-su
Yoo Ji-tae as Lee Woo-jin
Kang Hye-jung as Mi-do Director: Park Chan-wook
A man, held captive for no apparent reason for years, is given a cell phone, money and expensive clothes and released. Unless he finds out the identity of his captor, an even worse fate awaits him.
Oldboy was the first movie I saw from director Park Chan-wook and it was great, very unique and memorable. Since it had been some years since I last saw it, I decided to rewatch it, and it managed to be even better on second viewing. Fantastic on pretty much every level, it’s one of the best revenge movies ever made.
The plot follows the lead character who is abducted and held captive in an apartment prison for 15 years. He’s then suddenly released and has to find out who imprisoned him, why he was imprisoned in the first place, and why he was released. I won’t say much about the plot here, if you are a first timer to this movie, go into it knowing as little as possible. It will improve your viewing experience, especially with the twists and turns the plot takes. The writing is great and the story is gripping and fast paced. It starts out as a mystery and turns into a Shakespearean tragedy by the end, layered with clever twists that slowly unravels its mysteries. Oldboy is a revenge movie, and it really is a benchmark in the genre. There is a surprising amount of dark humour which somehow manages to fit in with the rest of the movie. Something to note is that the movie is based off a manga, and so some of the more over the top and pulpy elements of this movie work when you take that into account. Despite some of the over-the-top elements, Oldboy has been called deeply disturbing and nightmarish by many, and that’s because it is. For sure one of the most shocking tales of revenge, it’s twisted and brutal but hard to look away from. The third act is where most of the disturbing stuff comes into play. It really has a perfect finale which rides the many waves of twists and turns that came before, while also being able to end perfectly on an ambiguous note. Watching it again having previously seen how the plot goes, it made for a very different experience, and I was able to appreciate how well everything was put together when I wasn’t overwhelmed with all the revelations the film throws at you.
The acting from everyone is great, with the main trio particularly delivering some terrific performances. First of all there’s Choi Min-sik as the protagonist Oh Dae-su, who’s on his path of vengeance as he learns why he was locked up for all these years, and who’s responsible. He conveys his character excellently and goes through just about every single emotion here. There’s a moment towards the end of the movie that he absolutely sells with his incredible performance, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without him. Yoo Ji-tae plays the person responsible for Dae-su’s imprisonment, and he’s also a great presence. He’s quite mysterious for the most part of the movie, but he himself also made for an interesting character. He particularly gets to shine at the end of the movie. There’s also Kang Haye-jung as Mi-do, the love interest who plays a vital role, especially in the third act.
Oldboy is directed very well by Park Chan-wook. First of al the cinematography is stylish, enticing, and has an incredibly unique and memorable look. There’s a lot of surreal and often disturbing imagery, they are still beautifully shot. The action when present is also fantastic, with the camera used to really create a fluidity to the action. The main scene that a lot of people talk about is the one where Dae-su fights around 20-25 people with a hammer in a corridor, it’s shot in one take, the choreography is stunning, and is just all around phenomenal. The editing of the film is very early 2000s but if anything that adds to the style, and also steadily paces the narrative. The sound design is pretty much perfect, and the composed score by Cho Young-Wuk is thrilling and works incredibly well with the rest of the movie.
Oldboy is an excellent and iconic neo noir revenge film, brutal and disturbing yet beautifully crafted and directed, with a gripping story that’s very well put together, and some incredible performances. It’s definitely not an easy movie to watch, especially for first time viewers, but if you can handle it, I do think it’s worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Time: 81 Minutes Age Rating: Violence & offensive language Cast:
Colin Farrell as Stuart “Stu” Shepard
Kiefer Sutherland as The Caller
Forest Whitaker as Capt. Ed Ramey
Katie Holmes as Pamela McFadden
Radha Mitchell as Kelly Shepard Director: Joel Schumacher
Stuart Shepard (Colin Farrell), a publicist, finds his life under threat when he answers a ringing phone a phone booth. The caller (Kiefer Sutherland) tells him that he will be shot the minute he cuts the call.
I heard about Phone Booth for a while, I knew that it was a thriller directed by Joel Schumacher and was about Colin Farrell stuck in a phone booth and terrorised by a shooter on the other end of the call. I had already heard that it was pretty good, but it actually turned out to be much better than I thought it would be, and was engaging all the way to the very end.
Phone Booth is a pretty short movie at an hour and 20 minutes long, and that was the right length for this plot. It makes the most of that runtime, quickly setting up the main character, as well as the situation that he finds himself in for the rest of the movie. From the point that he gets the call from Kiefer Sutherland’s character, you are locked into the plot and the tensions only raise as it progresses. It’s all paced rather well too, never allowing for a dull moment. While I wouldn’t say that it’s nothing that any other movie has done before, it’s nonetheless a very good movie and absolutely succeeded at what it set out to do. Looking at it on the whole, it’s a very good script from Larry Cohen, and the dialogue is great, especially between Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland. I wouldn’t say that Phone Booth is a great movie, but the only significant criticism I have of it is something that happens at the end. While I’m fine with the ending, there was something implausible that happens towards its conclusion I couldn’t really buy, and up to that point I was on board with the rest of what happened. It’s a small gripe but it really does stick out.
The performances are also very strong. Colin Farrell is the protagonist stuck in the phone booth, and he does very well on his part. His character goes through a lot emotionally during the film and Farrell really sells it incredibly well, especially in the last act. He’s front and center for the whole movie and carries much of it, however he’s not the only one who gives a great performance. Kiefer Sutherland is the voice of the caller, and while this movie is pretty good, in all honesty I’m not sure that this movie would work quite as well without him. Sutherland is truly menacing and deliciously evil in his part, his voicework really made this movie work even better. Other supporting actors work well enough, including Forest Whitaker who is decent as the police captain who is trying to handle the tense situation.
Joel Schumacher directed this movie very well, raising the tensions effectively, especially with the editing and cuts to windows and vantage points. He also helps make it feel claustrophobic, with it primarily taking place at one closed off location at the phone booth. You can tell that it’s a movie with a lower budget but it was put to some good use here. The only part of the direction I didn’t really like was the editing which feels very early 2000s to say the least, at some points there are some split screens and really I think they could’ve done without those.
Phone Booth is an engaging, claustrophobic and tense thriller, directed very well and featuring two great performances in Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland. I’d say that it’s among Joel Schumacher’s best movies for sure. If you want a brief yet very effective thriller, I highly recommend this movie, it’s rather overlooked.
Time: 131 Minutes Age Rating: Cast:
Song Kang-ho as Park Doo-man
Kim Sang-kyung as Seo Tae-yoon
Kim Roi-ha as Cho Yong-koo
Song Jae-ho as Sergeant Shin Dong-chul
Byun Hee-bong as Sergeant Koo Hee-bong Director: Bong Joon-ho
In a small Korean province in 1986, two detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.
While watching Bong Joon ho’s filmography, there was one movie I was particularly looking forward to seeing, that being Memories of Murder. It had often been compared to Zodiac (even though Memories of Murder came out 4 years earlier), and seeing as I loved that movie, I had a feeling that it would be right up my alley, given that I generally like crime thrillers That turned out to be that case. All of the acclaim was very well deserved, Memories of Murder is a truly excellent film that everyone really should see.
We’ve seen many detective stories about hunting serial killers, but not many are as well put together as Memories of Murder. At around 2 hours and 10 minutes long, it keeps you engaged from beginning to end. You really feel as locked in as much as the main characters as they desperately try to find the killer, discovering leads, reaching dead ends, and the like. The movie more character driven than you might think, as it shows the stress, disappointment, and overall impact that this seemingly endless hunt has on the detectives. This movie also has some surprisingly effective dark comedy throughout, making it somewhat entertaining to watch and not just a grimy gruel to sit through. At the same time, the murders are fittingly disturbing (while not being overly exploitive), and you constantly feel this growing sense of seemingly hopelessness, especially as it builds towards the latter portion of the movie. The climax of the movie takes quite the turn, culminating in quite the haunting ending, especially the final shot of the film. I won’t say too much for those who know nothing about the movie or the events it’s based on, but like Zodiac, Memories of Murder based on a true story, giving much of the movie even more weight.
The cast are all great in their roles, with the trio of Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung and Kim Roi-ha as the detectives particularly working very effective. Their characters are all shown to be quite different from each other (both in personalities and the way they perform their investigations), flawed and really believable. As usual, it’s Song Kang-ho who stands out the most, who delivers another great performance. Both him and Kim Sang-kyung particularly shine in some of the latter scenes of the film.
Bong Joon-ho’s direction was fantastic, this is his second movie and he’s done some absolutely fantastic work here, certainly a huge step up from his debut movie Barking Dogs Never Bite released 3 years earlier. The cinematography was also great, really placing you in the setting effectively. Some of the most stand out shots come in the last 10 minutes, and on the whole that last section is so wonderfully directed and put together. The score by Taro Iwashiro is also really effective, beautiful but melancholic and sad.
Memories of Murder is an absolute masterclass in filmmaking, an engaging and haunting crime thriller, incredibly written and directed by Bong Joon ho, and greatly performed by its cast. While I consider Parasite (another Bong film) to be slightly better, they are very close in terms of quality, and both deserve all the attention. Definitely see it as soon as possible, especially if you’re a fan of investigative crime thriller films like Zodiac.
Time: 133 Minutes Age Rating: Cast:
Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios
Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin
Colin Farrell as Bullseye
Jon Favreau as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson
Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich
David Keith as Jack Murdock
Scott Terra as Young Matt Murdock Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is Daredevil, a masked vigilante, a relentless avenger of justice. When Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) hires Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to kill Daredevil, Murdock must rely on his own senses and search out the conspirators against justice — which may include his own girlfriend, Elektra (Jennifer Garner).
I had heard many times before that the Daredevil movie wasn’t good, it’s been known as one of the worst comic book movies of all time. However, I had been meaning to check it out, even just out of curiosity. I watched the director’s cut and it’s by no means a particularly good movie, but I can’t deny that it was really entertaining, even if it’s not in the way it was intended. It’s really silly, and the movie playing it seriously only made it even more funny and enjoyable.
I’m not entirely certain with what the director’s cut added but from scanning over the list of reported changes, the director’s cut seems to be a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. A lot of the comedy was actually funny, though I have a feeling a lot of it wasn’t intentional. It does get a little too over the top at times though, mainly the now infamous playground scene where Matt Murdock (Affleck) and Elektra (Garner) fight. That scene particularly is astounding in how goofy and ridiculous it was, easily the worst scene of the movie, and that’s saying a lot. The plot is really nothing special and is actually rather drawn out. Really it takes half the movie for the plot to really start happening. You don’t really become emotionally invested in the story or characters at all, you’re basically just here to be entertained. It uses a lot of clichés and tropes present from plenty of comic book movies from the 2000s, this is by far the most 2000s of them all. The movie may be too dumb for some people and I can get that, but for me I had a blast watching what would happen next.
Ben Affleck is Matt Murdock/Daredevil and I think he was actually a good pick for the role, playing both sides of the character well. The material wasn’t great, but he did what he could with what he had. He’s also a little consistent as a character, in one scene early on Daredevil lets someone get killed, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they didn’t act like he is a vigilante who doesn’t cross the line to kill for the remainder of the movie. Wouldn’t necessarily mind a more brutal Daredevil so long as they stuck with it all the way through. Side note but Affleck is also really convincing as a blind man, though it probably helped that he had contact lenses at certain points. Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios wasn’t really used to her fullest potential but she was fine. She really only gets a couple scenes near the end to actually do things but that’s it. Thankfully she got her own movie after this but apparently it’s significantly worse than Daredevil. They share some good chemistry despite some incredibly bad writing for their scenes together. Jon Favreau is also good as Foggy Nelsen, Murdock’s lawyer partner and friend. The villains are endlessly entertaining. Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin is perfect casting and chews up scenery whenever he’s on screen, unfortunately he’s not really given much to do and really wasn’t utilised as much as he could’ve been. Still he was fun to watch. The scene stealer however is Colin Farrell as Bullseye, completely and utterly silly and over the top. He’s not given any sort of backstory and was really just a silly comic book movie villain. Pretty much the reason that he’s particularly after Daredevil is that during an assassination, he made him miss one of his shots, and that’s a classic comic book villain motivation (even though I’m pretty sure that’s not Bullseye). Pretty much the only comic book accurate thing about this version of Bullseye is that he can catch and throw things pretty well. I probably wouldn’t call him good but he’s certainly entertaining, which at this point is the only thing that Daredevil unintentionally succeeds at.
The direction by Mark Steven Johnson wasn’t the best. The transitions between scenes are over the top with the camera zooming through the city and the like. The music choices are also so 2000s, it’s over the top and stuck with that, that it only made things so much more entertaining. The highlight was the use of Evanescence (there are two uses of them) when Elektra is practicing on some sandbags to ‘Bring me to Life’, peak 2000s comic book movie moment right there. With that said, I recall that there were some directing decisions that I liked. Some things are ripped from other comic book movies at the time, like when Matt gets hit by radioactive waste it shows what happens internally to him with effects similar to when Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and gets powers in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. I think the action was decent enough, again really over the top, but you can generally see what’s going on during them. The costumes are a mixed bag. The Daredevil suit is actually pretty decent, it’s actually on par with the red Daredevil suit for the Netflix show (way too much leather though). On the other hand I’m not sure what they were even thinking for the Bullseye costume, but it fitted the performance well, so I guess that’s a win.
Daredevil definitely isn’t a good movie, however it’s the cheese and over the top factor that makes it so fun to watch. Along with that there are some genuinely good things, like the actors despite the bad material do try, and some of them are decent here. I view this the way I view Suicide Squad, a really silly comic book movie that’s not particularly good, but has some entertaining parts to it. If you’re going to watch the movie, I do recommend the Director’s Cut, it seemed to have significantly improved the movie. However, if you want a legitimately good representation of Daredevil, it goes without saying but the Netflix series is definitely what you’re really looking for.