Tag Archives: 2010 movies

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) Review

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Saw 3D

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains Torture & Sadistic Violence
Cast:
Tobin Bell as John Kramer/Jigsaw
Costas Mandylor as Mark Hoffman
Betsy Russell as Jill Tuck
Cary Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon
Sean Patrick Flanery as Bobby Dagen
Director: Kevin Greutert

As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.

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After a number of sequels whose quality was gradually descending from the heights of being good towards being mediocre, Saw VI was a refreshing entry in the Saw series and was a return to form. I was actually surprised how much I liked it as opposed to being sort of yet another Saw movie to get through. With that said, I heard nothing but bad things about Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. Even the people who are fans of the series usually say it’s by far the worst entry. I lowered my expectations as much as possible, and I think that’s partially why I kind of enjoyed this to a degree. Nonetheless, I’m not exactly sure how this movie ended up the way it did, even for the lows the series have gone in the past, it’s a little surprising that Saw 3D is this awful.

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The embarrassingly named Saw 3D: The Final Chapter tries to be so many things at once, and pretty much fails in all of them. The writing is abysmal, it is such a mess and lacks the elements that made even the weaker Saw movies somewhat work. For as goofy as the movies got, the tone was pretty dark across all of them. With the opening trap though, it establishes it as a different type of movie, feeling very goofy and campy throughout and I’m not 100% sure that it was intentional. This trap takes place in broad daylight in public and involves two guys having to fight over a girl and it’s actually worse than how I’m describing it. Not that there isn’t entertainment to be had from it, but you just can’t take it seriously. None of the story is genuinely interesting, none of the attempted twists really work, and the characters are dull. Even with Saw V, there were some aspects that were interesting. With this movie however I was just watching this as a purely camp horror film. Some of the dialogue in the movies can be bad, but this movie reaches new lows in hilariously bad lines, I sure hope that some of them  were partially intentional. This time the Jigsaw game is focusing on a character named Bobby, who lied being part of a Jigsaw game and is profiting off it for money and success, and he’s now finding himself in a real Jigsaw game. That’s fine enough and different for a Saw movie, even if it’s not as interesting compared to the last movie. It certainly had potential, but it was very mishandled in many ways. For one, the lead character is boring, but it doesn’t stop there. A massive flaw is that the movie had quite a big focus on the traps, specifically the gore, and I mean more than usual. There’s really no meaning behind the traps at this point, it just revels in extremity and the gore. With the previous movie, they tied the lead character with having to make decisions over peoples lives, like how he decided whether people got health insurance or not. You’d think that there’d be something like that for Bobby, but nothing like that happened. It’s just “here’s another gruesome trap” for you to see. With the movies it feels like there is a chance that people will get out of the traps, without that however there is no tension, and we are basically just watching gore happen. Besides, it’s already so silly that it’s hard to take any of this seriously. Additionally, by the end of the movie, the whole game doesn’t feel like it really matters to the rest of the plot.

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There’s also a police subplot, which isn’t unusual for the series, as they try to investigate and hunt down Jigsaw (in this instance Hoffman). However, it’s the worst attempt at a police or investigation subplot in the series. It’s incredibly weak and boring here, and you don’t really care for it, not helped by the very bland lead detective. Hoffman is also here after Jill Tuck tried to kill him in the last movie, and he’s hunting her down. Every so often it cuts to that storyline in between Bobby and the traps, it’s not very interesting or well handled either. Then there’s the whole Final Chapter aspect, it tries to tie up so many storylines, it really fails and feels rushed. This was meant to be 2 movies and was rushed into 1, and that’s completely unsurprising looking at the results. There are plenty of callbacks to the other Saw movies which you notice but they don’t really feel earned. As can be seen with the cast list, with Cary Elwes included, Dr Gordon is back. His return was much anticipated ever since the first movie and no mention of him in the sequels. The very first scene of the movie is a flashback cutting back to him after he escapes the room at the end of the first Saw. After that he also gets a scene in the first act and for the longest time doesn’t appear in the movie again. Eventually you learn why he’s in the movie, but even then it raises a lot of questions. The most identifiably enjoyable section of the movie has to be the last third of the movie, which is so over the top I can’t help but enjoy it. I won’t go into it too much if you want to see for yourself but the movie sort of turns into a slasher movie. When I say slasher movie I don’t mean the scary kind, I mean the incredibly silly kind where a lot of people get killed but it’s just entertaining. There’s even a scene where someone is running away, and it looks straight out of one of the movies from the Scary Movie series. There is a twist and reveal at the end of the movie (since all Saw movies have these), but it ends up creating more questions than answers. Without spoiling anything, I like the last scene plotwise and in concept, it makes a lot of sense with how they end it. However the context surrounding that reveal and scene has its own issues, requiring some explanations that we aren’t getting. Saw 3D is really lucky that it’s not the last movie in the series because this was quite a bad note to end it on.  

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Right after Saw VI having some of the better acting of the series, Saw 3D has some of the worst acting of the series. With Saw V and Saw VI, there’s been a reduced amount of Tobin Bell as John Kramer/Jigsaw, which wasn’t particular exciting considering that Bell is one of the only consistently good things about these movies. However in those movies, he appears in some significant flashbacks in the storylines, and does enough that it makes up for his lack of screentime. With that said, in Saw 3D he has way less scenes, you don’t get much of him, and in fact this has to be the least amount of screentime an actor has had while having top billing as in the movie. With that said, Bell brings his A game as usual. Not to mention, in one of his scenes involving a flashback with Bobby, his choice of disguise is just so… unbelievable that I almost recommend watching the movie just for that scene. Sean Patrick Flanery plays Bobby, the main victim in the Jigsaw game of this movie. I wouldn’t say he’s terrible considering some of the other acting in this movie, but he’s just passable. As for Bobby as a character, he’s not annoying or frustrating like Jeff from Saw III but he’s not interesting, he’s underdeveloped and the audience don’t have much reason to care about him. Just a very forgettable character and performance, and one of the weaker Saw protagonists. The main detective this time is Matt Gibson, a new character. If they kept any of the FBI agents from Saw VI alive, any of them easily could’ve fitted this role very well. Unfortunately, Hoffman killed both of them, so another cop character had to be created, who just so happens to be the worst of the main detectives. Gibson is such a boring and forgettable character, given particularly bad dialogue, and Chad Donella’s performance is honestly laughable. Costas Mandylor returns as ex detective and Jigsaw apprentice Mark Hoffman. I’m not sure that the film really knew what to do with him really for the majority of the movie. Then at a certain point towards the latter portion of the film, he becomes something of a slasher villain, and that’s where he shines. He basically just becomes the Hoffmanator, taking that voice recording scene from Saw VI where he killed 3 people in quick succession, and goes to a whole other level here. As said earlier, Cary Elwes returns as Doctor Gordon. He appears in the very first scene, he appears in a meeting of Jigsaw survivors, and without spoiling anything he does appear again. All I’ll say about his purpose in this movie is that the use of him wasn’t great. This Gordon isn’t developed enough in this movie, nor does he really have enough screentime to make him work as well as he could’ve. That’s not even to mention that the actual performance was… off. I know that a lot of people aren’t the biggest fan of his acting in the first Saw, but in the survivor meeting scene, he is just so creepy and sinister that is just so random. I’ve never heard anyone utter the term “promotional DVD” with such evilness. The acting from the people stuck in traps can be hilariously over the top that it really takes away even further from the gory traps. Really the only actor in the traps who I thought was good was the late Chester Bennington, who’s great in his 1-2 minutes of screentime.  

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Probably the biggest surprise of this movie is that Saw 3D is helmed by Kevin Greutert, the director of the very solid Saw VI. It seems so strange that someone who did some really good work on the last instalment would then produce such a below subpar movie. As it turns out however, this movie was supposed to be made in two parts with David Hackl (director of Saw V) directing. However Twisted Pictures fired Hackl at the last minute and forced Greutert to come back to direct it as 1 movie roughly 1-2 weeks before shooting began. Keep in mind that he was about to direct Paranormal Activity 2, but was made to create the last Saw movie because of a clause in his contract. So for all the many faults, I don’t blame him at all. He wasn’t able to incorporate or bring new ideas to the movie, and had to work with what he was given. That aside, this film is terrible on a technical level. First of all, the look of the movie. All the previous Saw movies had this very grimy look to it, but it has become part of the aesthetic of the franchise, and fits perfectly for the tone and vibe of the series. Saw 3D on the other hand is so brightly lit even in the trap scenes, it looks awful especially compared to the past movies. If there’s a Saw movie that could be called torture porn, it’s this one. It really tries to pack as many traps as possible, they even use a dream sequence as an excuse to add yet another trap. Not only that but they really amp up the gore, which leads me to the effects in that they were embarrassingly bad. You can tell that for all the lows of the past movies, most of the gore scenes were made with practical effects and looked somewhat realistic. Here though the gore looks really fake, both the practical and CGI effects. As for the traps themselves, they reach new heights in being over the top, even by Saw standards. At the same time, many of them were rather uninspired, unmemorable, and don’t stand out.  

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Time to address the elephant in the room, the 3D in Saw 3D. It was 2010 and unfortunately the notion of adding 3D to big movies hadn’t started to die down yet, so for the last instalment, for whatever reason some people decided that the film should be shot in 3D. It being hard to take the movie seriously with the use of 3D (and even adding it in the title), the fact that they shot the movie in this way really made it worse. First of all, there are things flying at the camera all the time, mainly the gore and body parts, and without actually watching it in 3D it just looks stupid every time it has one of those moments. Second of all, all the blood in this movie is pink, no doubt it appears red for people seeing it in 3D, but here it’s just makes it even harder to take the scenes of violence seriously. There’s a moment where they use the footage from the end of Saw VI when Hoffman escapes the reverse bear trap and his cheek is ripped open, with realistic blood and gore effects. Then it follows right after that and with the new footage in Saw 3D, when he’s sewing his face back up there’s just pink blood all over his face. In terms of standout sequences, it’s just the skinhead trap and a certain sequence involving Hoffman towards the end of the movie. The only genuinely good thing on a technical level is Charlie Clouser’s score, he’s pretty reliable but unfortunately not even he can elevate many of the scenes in this movie.

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I could go on and on about Saw 3D: The Final Chapter but the short of it is that it basically fails on every level. It fails as a Saw movie because there’s no tension or really any horror (just gore), and the twists aren’t particularly good. It also fails on being a conclusion to the main 7 movie arc. Saw 3D has become unfortunately a parody of itself, and I find it particularly hard to take it seriously. The only way it doesn’t fail is that it does provide some entertainment although a lot of it is unintentional, with some of the acting, directing and writing choices being so absurd that it is quite enjoyable. As for whether or not you should watch this, if you made it through the previous 6 Saw movies, you might as well watch the final one (of the main storyline at least). Though to have the most enjoyment with this, you really have to go in with the right mindset. Lower your expectations and once you figure out what this movie is going to be early on, you might then be able to enjoy it.  

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Review

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Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Social Network (2010) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg
Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin
Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker
Armie Hammer as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Max Minghella as Divya Narendra
Brenda Song as Christy Lee
Rashida Jones as Marylin Delpy
Rooney Mara as Erica Albright
Director: David Fincher

In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns into the global social network known as Facebook. Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever, but Zuckerberg finds that his unprecedented success leads to both personal and legal complications when he ends up on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one involving his former friend (Andrew Garfield). Based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires.”

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A story about Facebook could easily be done poorly. It doesn’t sound very interesting on paper and even if it could be pulled off decently enough, it doesn’t seem like it could be anything better than just good. And yet The Social Network is more than just a decent movie, it is truly great and better than anyone would expect it to be. David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and the talented cast and crew made the story of Facebook riveting and fantastic, it’s even better upon a second viewing and I suspect it will only get better with further watches.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is excellent and one of the stand out best parts of the film, and that’s saying a lot. The dialogue is so well written, very sharp, memorable, riveting and fits perfectly for the moments, Sorkin is known for his exceptional dialogue and his work on Social Network is no exception. It is fantastic from the beginning, the opening scene between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) is brilliant and helps establish so many things about Mark and it sets him off on his path for the rest of the movie. It’s interesting watching all the events progress, and how things in Mark Zuckerberg’s life would lead him to make actions to take Facebook further. You wouldn’t think that a movie about Facebook would be so interesting and entertaining to watch but it really is, you are genuinely on board with everything that’s happening. It’s like we are right there watching history happen right alongside these characters. What Mark started was something small and grew into something that not even Mark was expecting. Really fantastic writing by Sorkin.

The cast all around were great in their roles. I’m fully aware that some people don’t really like Jesse Eisenberg’s acting style but he was perfect in the role of Mark Zuckerberg. The portrayal of Zuckerberg is great, it doesn’t try to make you like him, just to show what he is like. Andrew Garfield is also really great as Mark’s friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin and his performance was really overlooked, especially by the awards. A big part of the movie is their friendship and they have great chemistry together. Armie Hammer plays two people as the Winklevosses (Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss) and really does give one of his best performances here, being really convincing as two twins. Even Justin Timberlake was really good as Sean Parker, really fitting the role well. Rooney Mara is only in a couple scenes but she does well to leave an impression as Mark’s ex-girlfriend, especially in the first scene of the film. Really everyone was great.

Saying that David Fincher’s direction is great would be redundant, it’s just so stylish and well put together. You wouldn’t think that a movie about Facebook would even need to look that great. On paper, The Social Network just sounded like it needed a good script and an okay direction but Fincher’s handle really adds a lot to the movie. I don’t know where Fincher used all the visual effects in this movie, but he generally uses these in his movies to make things look better like the environment or background. One effect that you can tell was used was the effects for making two Armie Hammers, and I say this because Armie Hammer doesn’t have a twin or a clone (that we know of yet at least). Even though it’s a film from 2010, these effects still really hold up well today and look effortless. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross was excellent, and with it’s dark ambience really elevated this movie even further.

The Social Network is truly fantastic and yet another one of David Fincher’s all time best films, and that means quite a lot when it comes to him. The talented cast all give tremendous performances, Aaron Sorkin’s writing is top notch, and Fincher with his work here has made one of his best crafted films. It gets better every single time I watch it. As for all these talks about a possible Social Network sequel, as long as Fincher and Sorkin are returning for it, I’d be more than on board for it.

Let Me In (2010) Review

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Let Me In

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen
Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby
Richard Jenkins as Thomas
Cara Buono as Owen’s mother
Elias Koteas as a detective
Director: Matt Reeves

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads a lonely life and is bullied by his peers at school. He happily befriends Abby (Chloe Grace-Moretz), his new helpful neighbour, without being aware that she is hiding a secret from him.

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Let Me In was a movie I was interested in watching for quite a while. I deliberately held off watching it till after I watched the original, Let the Right One In, which turned out to be quite a great movie. The remake sounds like a bad idea at first, even with it being led by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz and being directed by Matt Reeves. Not all American remakes are bad, but most of the time they don’t turn out the best, especially when it comes to remakes of foreign horror movies. Surprisingly, Let Me In is a pretty decent remake, and I liked it quite a bit, however it definitely could’ve afforded to take more risks.

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Usually American remakes of foreign movies simplify the plot, and water things down. The good news is that for the most part, Let Me In doesn’t do that. It’s pretty much the same plot just done again. That’s also the bad news however, it really doesn’t do a whole lot new outside of adjusting it to an American setting. The small changes that were added to the plot really didn’t serve the story much, including an opening which flashforwards to the middle of the film. There’s also a forced police investigation throughout the movie, and it just didn’t find it to add that much to the movie all that well. The main problem from the original with the bullies being over the top evil is also a problem here too. With all that being said, the rest of the movie is good, removing the original from it all. The pacing is good across its roughly 2 hour runtime, the story is engaging, and I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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The acting is great, and one of the highlights of the film. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz are in the main roles, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s on the level of the two leads from Let the Right One In at the very least. Their relationship and connection just felt genuine and real, and they shared great chemistry. Moretz is particularly fantastic in the role of the vampire girl, conveying so much emotion, it ranks among her best performances. The supporting performances are also good, mainly from Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas.

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Matt Reeves’s direction is really great as to be expected, he was definitely the right person to handle this remake. It’s an absolutely gorgeous looking film, and I might actually slightly prefer the cinematography in this just a bit more over the original. Reeves gave Let Me In very atmospheric, on a technical level for the most part, it’s great. There are some faults especially when it comes to the use of CGI. Minor spoilers here, but without going into too much depth, there’s an attack in both versions that happens under a bridge by Eli/Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), and it was done effectively in the original and wasn’t too silly. However, in Let Me In they added some CGI to her during scenes like this, and it just made it really goofy and over the top. There were some sequences that were done in a more over the top way in general, some of it is fine, but other times it doesn’t work so well. Let Me In is noticeably more bloody and violent than the original, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Let Me In could’ve been a lot worse, but there was definitely room for improvement. At the very least it could’ve benefited from trying something different. With that said it is still a pretty good movie, directed greatly by Matt Reeves, and acted wonderfully by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz. It is worth watching for sure, just make sure not to watch it right after watching the original or anything.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) Review

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Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some Scenes May Scare Very Young Children
Cast:
Jim Sturgess as Soren
Emily Barclay as Gylfie
Ryan Kwanten as Kludd
David Wenham as Digger
Anthony LaPaglia as Twilight
Helen Mirren as Nyra
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb/the Lyze of Kiel
Joel Edgerton as Metal Beak
Hugo Weaving as Noctus and Grimble
Adrienne DeFaria as Eglantine
Miriam Margolyes as Mrs. Plithiver
Sam Neill as Allomere
Sacha Horler as Strix Struma
Abbie Cornish as Otulissa
Richard Roxburgh as Boron
Director: Zack Snyder

A father owl’s tales of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole enthrals his son Soren, but an older son scoffs at the stories of winged warriors who fought an epic battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. Later the brothers become captives of the Pure Ones, but Soren makes a daring escape and, with the help of other young owls, seeks out the Guardians and brings them back to defend their people once again.

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This was actually the first film from Zack Snyder that I watched. It seems like an odd choice for him to direct looking back at his filmography. He’s more known for adapting comic books and graphic novels, not young adult books about animals. While it doesn’t rank among the best movies of his filmography, I thought it was pretty good.

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I actually had read the books this movie is based on some time ago, that being the Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. I don’t have a strong memory of the plot in the books, but I recall movie’s plot being roughly similar to that from the novels, however there were some major changes in story and characters. The plot of this movie is quite a simple good and evil story. With that said, it’s darker than most children’s animated movies, and that is one of its biggest strengths. It was a while since I’ve read the books, but parts of the plot and the visuals are darker than you’d usually see. The only problem I have with this is that the tone is a little all over the place, as the humour is a bit unbalanced it has one too many jokes mixed in with this epic story. This movie covers the first 6 books in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole book series, and although the books aren’t that large, there’d be quite a lot of the story to be told in one movie. If it was going to be just one movie, it would probably need to be over 2 hours long to develop the characters and story enough, as well as not feeling a little rushed. As it is, the movie is under an hour and 40 minutes long, and the pacing is a little all over the place. It does feel like the movie doesn’t quite live up to its potential story-wise Also, maybe it’s because much of the movie is more mature than I expected, but I kind of wished for slightly more complexity from the story and characters, even though I know it’s essentially a children’s animated movie. The dialogue is also a little clunky at some points. The movie did leave at a point where it could go further with sequels, but unfortunately we didn’t get any.

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The characters aren’t particularly deep and are generally fine, the heroic characters are heroic, the quirky characters are quirky, and the evil characters are evil. I wish the was more to them but they are elevated by the voice cast, with the likes of Jim Sturgess, Emily Barclay, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush and Joel Edgerton, making each of the characters stand out more and more memorable. The villain voiced by Edgerton particularly stood out and was quite effective in his scenes.

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This is the first and only animated film from Zack Snyder, and he’s done very well with his direction here. All of his movies are visually stunning, and Legend of the Guardians is no exception. It’s greatly animated, the environments, lighting and colours are outstanding, and when it particularly comes to the effects for the feathers and particularly elements like fire and water, it’s a wonder to watch. Although some had made fun of Snyder’s use of slow motion in some of his movies, it’s used absolutely perfectly here. While it definitely would’ve looked much better if it was made today, it still looks pretty good a decade later. The action involving the owls is also effective, especially some battle scenes towards the end. It’s hard to pull off making owls fighting look epic, but Snyder does it. This may be an animated movie, but you can still tell that this is one of his movies through and through. The music is generally good, except for a moment when a song played by Owl City is played, and aside from the pun with the band name, it’s really out of place and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie.

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is quite good, visually stunning, well made and enjoyable to watch. While there are some things holding back from being even better and reaching its full potential, I liked it overall, and I wished that we got to see more of these movies in this series. I’d like to see Snyder make another animated movie sometime, he certainly showed that here that he’s more than capable of it.

Black Swan (2010) Review

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Black Swan

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers/The Swan Queen
Mila Kunis as Lily/The Black Swan
Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy/The Gentleman
Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers/The Queen
Winona Ryder as Elizabeth “Beth” MacIntyre/The Dying Swan
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of “Swan Lake,” Nina is his first choice. She has competition in newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) however. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge.

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I liked Black Swan when I first saw it, and it definitely got all the acclaim that it deserved. I’ve already watched most of director Darren Aronofsky’s work (with the exception of The Fountain), but I wanted to have another look at some of his movies, and so I started my rewatches with Black Swan and got even more out of it this time. Aronofsky’s direction was really great and as usual Natalie Portman is fantastic.

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I won’t go into too much depth about the plot in case you still haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie yet. Darren Aronofksy really keeps this movie tight at an hour and 50 minutes long, it keeps the pace up pretty quickly and on a second viewing I really noticed it. It starts out as a movie about what an artist would do for art, and it is that throughout, but it also turns into a psychological thriller. It really goes crazy in the third act to say the least, and when the film needs to go horror, it really goes there. Looking at the plot from beginning to end, it’s so perfectly crafted and well put together.

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Everyone in the cast was outstanding, however this is really Natalie Portman’s show, giving a career best performance here. Her character’s whole thing is that as how she is now, she’s perfect for the role of the White Swan but in order to perfectly perform The Swan Queen, needs to delve deeper into darker territory to portray the Black Swan as well. Her descent and change were very convincing, and Portman works well. Her performance is essentially what drives the whole movie, as great as Aronofsky’s direction is here, Black Swan wouldn’t have worked without Portman’s excellently performance. Mila Kunis gives probably her best performance yet as a seemingly rival to Natalie Portman who seems to work as the Black Swan, which would compel Portman towards a different side. Vincent Cassel is also really great as the director of the ballet, who also pushes Portman further towards becoming more of the Black Swan. Definitely one of Cassel’s most standout performances. Barbara Hershey was also good as Portman’s obsessive mother, adding even more strangeness and uneasiness to the whole movie. Winona Ryder is in here in a smaller role as the previous Swan Queen before Portman, but she still really worked in her few scenes.

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Darren Aronofsky’s direction of Black Swan is excellent. I know it should go without saying but the actual ballet portions of the movie are showcased, choregraphed and displayed on screen very well. When it comes to the psychological horror side (especially towards the latter section of the movie), it’s effectively creeping and unnerving. The limited sections of crazy visual effects still hold up really well 9 years later. The score by Clint Mansell really works (which is to be expected of him at this point), very haunting yet beautiful, much like the whole movie.

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Black Swan is Darren Aronofsky’s best film yet, and considering some of the movies that he’s made, that’s saying a lot. His direction was great, really portraying a descent into madness well, with great acting, especially from Natalie Portman who gives an extraordinary performance here. Definitely one of the best films of 2010 and the 2010s, and worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Incendies (2010) Review

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Incendies

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence and content that may disturb
Cast:
Lubna Azabal as Nawal Marwan
Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin as Jeanne Marwan
Maxim Gaudette as Simon Marwan
Rémy Girard as Jean Lebel
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Nawal (Lubna Azabal), a dying Middle Eastern woman living in Montreal, leaves separate letters to her twin children to be read once she passes away. Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) is to deliver hers to the father the twins never knew, and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) is to give his to the brother they never knew they had. The siblings travel to the Middle East separately, where they each experience acts of brutality, uncover a startling family history, and have revelations about themselves.

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Incendies was the last of Denis Villeneuve’s films that I had got around to watching. I had caught up on his other movies, all the way to his first with August 32nd on Earth. This is his last non-English language movie before he started making movies that most people know of now with Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and beyond. I’ve heard some great things about Incendies, mostly that it’s a really impactful film. I can confirm that it is indeed fantastic, and that it’s among Villeneuve’s best.

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Incendies is a mystery movie, with a plot containing a number of twists and turns, and so I’d say that that it is really best going into it knowing not much beyond that, so I’ll keep my description of it reasonably vague. The plot of Incendies is essentially about twins about looking for their father that’s still alive and looking for the brother they never knew they had, at the request of their dying mother. It’s split in two storylines, with the twins going to certain places that the mother had once been, as well as the flashbacks of the mother. It’s a very closed in and intimate movie and you are absolutely locked in from start to finish. Although it is generally great, as the movie progresses further on and comes together at the end, it’s something quite excellent. This movie can get very bleak, even by Denis Villeneuve’s standards, and certain revelations later on are quite ‘impactful’ (an understatement really). I guess if you wanted nit-picked a little, you could say that the movie does really rely on a lot of coincidences, but I guess that’s kind of the point, it didn’t bother me too much.

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While the cast isn’t particularly known and isn’t particularly large, the acting is great from everyone. The twins played by Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette do well in their roles. These characters don’t have a lot to them and you don’t really get to learn much about them (outside of one initially being more willing than the other to do deliver on their mother’s final request), however that works fine enough, because Incendies is essentially the story of the mother, not the children. Really, it’s Lubna Azabal’s movie as Nawal, and she carries the movie excellently. The story goes to some very emotional levels, and Azabal more than delivered on her part.

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Denis Villeneuve’s direction is fantastic as usual. It’s a stunning looking movie, Andre Turpin’s cinematography is outstanding, and there are so many memorable and emotionally impactful images that are burned into your memory. Much of the movie is actually rather quiet and subtle, but it all just made everything feel all the more real and raw.

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Incendies is a devastating and unforgettable film, it’s truly remarkable. It’s constantly engaging, greatly acted, and an effective emotional punch when it needs to be. Denis Villeneuve has done such fantastic work here, and this ranks among his best movies, which is saying a lot considering some of the other films he’s made. Although it’s not an easy watch by any means, I’d say to definitely check this movie out, especially if you like Villeneuve’s other movies.

Kick-Ass (2010) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains graphic violence, drug use and offensive language
Cast:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass
Mark Strong as Frank D’Amico
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D’Amico/Red Mist
Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl
Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready/Big Daddy
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero — despite a complete lack of special powers. Dave dons a costume, dubs himself “Kick-Ass,” and gets to work fighting crime. He joins forces with the father/daughter vigilante team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz), then befriends another fledgling crime-fighter called Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), but a scheming mobster (mark Strong) soon puts their alliance to the test.

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I remembered watching Kick-Ass years ago, from what I remember it really was a fun watch. Since it’s been a while, I decided to rewatch it and see how I thought about it now. It was even more entertaining than I remembered, everything from the cast, writing and the direction just worked really well. For what it was, it was great.

Kick-Ass is based off the comic of the same name by Mark Millar (not the first time that Matthew Vaughn would make movies based on Millar’s material). The script by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn sort of takes the piss out of superhero movies, but not to the point of obnoxious parody like how it seemed on paper. As someone who likes a lot of comic book movies, it was really funny and entertaining to watch. It is for sure dark and twisted, I mean this is the movie where a little girl stabs and slices people up in very violent ways. It is very darkly comedic, and as someone who likes a lot of dark comedy, it was really a movie that worked for me. You really can’t take this movie too seriously, with that said it does have some really serious and dark moments so that it’s not a full on cartoonish parody of a movie. The pacing was really good, at under 2 hours long it doesn’t give you a chance to be bored. I guess the movie isn’t quite perfect. The whole romantic subplot between Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave and Lyndsy Fonseca’s Katie, with Katie believing Dave to be gay and all that, it was kind of dumb. For the most part though, I had endless fun with the movie.

The cast all do a good job in their roles. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is perfect as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass. He was really good and convincing as a nerd trying to be a superhero but really out of his depth. The scene stealers of the movie were Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy and Chloe Grace-Moretz as Hit Girl. Nicolas Cage back in 2010 gave one of his best performances in a while with this movie. And of course, Chloe Grace-Moretz is great in her breakout role as Hit Girl, a profane and violent vigilante which generated controversy given that the role was performed by a 12 year old. She was really great and was the standout of the cast of characters in this movie (even though she wasn’t the main focus). It may be a bit too late now, but she could carry her own standalone movie. Mark Strong plays the main villain of Kick Ass as a mobster. Strong has played a lot of villains (even up to 2010) but here it seemed to be a much more comedic take on a villain, he really has fun here. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also works pretty well as the son of Mark Strong.

Matthew Vaughn’s direction is all around really great and works with this material. Vaughn seems very familiar with the Kick-Ass comics (and comic book movies in general), it’s very stylish and the editing was perfect. The action scenes are genuinely filmed really well, it’s very violent, bloody and gratifying. This movie really isn’t for the squeamish or easily offended. The soundtrack was all really good, from the music choices, to the score from Henry Jackman and John Murphy, making the action scenes even better. The uses of CGI can be a little iffy at times but it can be overlooked easily.

Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is darkly comedic, entertaining, the cast was really good, directed well, and as an almost parody of superhero movies, it’s really good. If you’re a big fan of comic book and superhero movies, this is definitely a movie that you need to check out, because it’s probably right up your alley. As for Kick-Ass 2, I remember liking it much more than most people, however it doesn’t even come close to what Vaughn did with the original movie.

The King’s Speech (2010) Review

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The King's Speech

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language
Cast:
Colin Firth as King George VI
Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII
Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill
Derek Jacobi as Cosmo Gordon Lang
Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue
Michael Gambon as King George V
Director: Tom Hooper

King George VI (Colin Firth) tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and makes himself worthy enough to lead his country through World War II.

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Despite being an Oscar winning film, The King’s Speech has been given quite the bad rap, ironically it’s because of that. It earned many of the Oscars, including Best Picture, over so many other movies like The Social Network, Inception and Black Swan. Many weren’t happy that this was the movie that won over those films. While I understand many of these reactions, The King’s Speech on its own is pretty good.

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To keep it simple and straightforward, I’ll treat this movie outside of the fact that it won Best Picture, or mention The Social Network, Inception or Black Swan for the duration of this review, which is something that reviews of this movie nowadays can’t stop doing. The King’s Speech is a historical biopic, and the summary of the movie looked pretty boring at first, but thankfully it has a pretty good script. Now part the story is more than likely fictionalised and isn’t completely true, but that’s pretty typical of movies like this, and I don’t think that the inaccuracies would be particularly egregious. This movie is more focussed on George’s speech impediment and him trying to work through it with his speech therapist, rather than the royal family and his role in it, and that is actually to its own benefit. It does have its particularly ‘Oscar moments’, mainly towards the last act, but didn’t take away too much from the rest of the movie. The story plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to, but it had enough going on and enough energy to keep me reasonably interested for the duration of the runtime.

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The acting in this movie is amongst the best part of the movie, if not the main reason to see it. Colin Firth is really great as King George VI, and it’s not just a baity or showy performance like it could’ve been. Firth’s stutter could’ve easily been a gimmick or have been a caricature of people with stammers, but he and the film pulls it off perfectly, and he makes it feel genuine. As good as the rest of the cast and movie is, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without Colin Firth’s outstanding performance at the centre of it. Geoffrey Rush is also good as the speech therapist that George sees to help with his stutter. Firth and Rush are great together on screen, and their interactions are ultimately the driving force of the movie. Other supporting actors like Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce also play their roles as well.

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Tom Hooper directed this reasonably well, and on a technical level is pretty solid. It’s well shot, the score by Alexandre Desplat is pretty good, and the production and costume designs reflect the time period and location appropriately. However it’s very clear that this wasn’t going to be the highlight of the movie, and so I didn’t pay it that much attention.

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I wouldn’t say that The King’s Speech is great, but it is a pretty good movie for what it is. It is definitely better than how it sounds at first, but not enough to make it that memorable. However it’s a solid enough movie, with some great acting, particularly a career best performance from Colin Firth. I do think that it is worth watching, just make sure to not going into it seeing it as a Best Picture winner or anything like that.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) Review

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Resident Evil Afterlife

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Ali Larter as Claire Redfield
Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield
Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker
Boris Kodjoe as Luther West
Kim Coates as Bennett Sinclair
Sergio Peris-Mencheta as Angel Ortiz
Kacey Clarke as Crystal Waters
Spencer Locke as K-Mart
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

In a world overrun with the walking dead, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her battle against Umbrella Corp., rounding up survivors along the way. Joined by an old friend, Alice and her group set out for a rumored safe haven in Los Angeles. Instead of sanctuary, they find the city overrun with zombies, and a trap about to spring.

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After three Resident Evil movies, the director of the first movie Paul W.S. Anderson returns to the series to deliver on the fourth entry. While Afterlife is enjoyable, with some generally good action, it’s certainly the least interesting of the series. It comes with the expected flaws, and there’s not really much of a plot. With that said, I still enjoyed Afterlife quite a bit for what it is.

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There’s really nothing to say about the plot, even less so than the previous movies. It’s actually a pretty straightforward movie, and it really just feels like a bunch of action scenes connected by a thinly drawn plot. While I get that many of the other movies are like that too, they did a much better job at hiding it than here. The horror aspect was most present in the first Resident Evil movie, the other movies following that had less horror, but it was still a noticeable part of the movies. With Afterlife however, the horror aspect was sort of in the background, it is first and foremost an action movie, that happens to have some horror in it.

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Milla Jovovich returns in her role of Alice, and once again does pretty well, especially in the action. Ali Larter also returns as Claire Redfield and is also pretty good. Those two are the highlights of the cast, the rest range from bad to being fine. Wentworth Miller is also included in this movie as Chris Redfield, and he was alright. Albert Wesker has been recast from Extinction (the previous Resient Evil movie), this time being played by Shawn Roberts, and he gets more presence and screentime in the movie as the main antagonist this time round. Now again I hadn’t played the Resident Evil games that have him in them, but from the vague knowledge I have of him, he’s blonde guy with sunglasses who has superpowers, is like super enhanced and can fight very well. That’s pretty much how he is in this movie, and nothing more, a pretty generic, if passable villain.

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This is Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the Resident Evil movie series since the first movie, and while I wouldn’t quite say it’s a triumphant return, he still does some good things with his direction. Visually, this movie actually looks really good. The opening credits scene starts off the movie on a very high note, and even the first action sequence is pretty enjoyable to watch. The Resident Evil movies ever since Apocalypse have been action based, but they really made a big lean on the action in this movie. The first action scene starts off with a bunch of Milla Jovovich clones, as I said, it is very entertaining, but I think that’s where the movie might’ve peaked. There are also a lot of slow motion in the action, and while that could be fun to watch at points, it could get a little cartoonish and silly. There’s particularly a scene involving a big undead person with a giant axe, which while it was stunning to look at, bordered on parody with the amount of slow motion used, as without it the scene would’ve been only like a minute long. This movie was definitely filmed in 3D, with all the things flying at the camera, but it’s not the worst case of that type of movie I’ve seen. The CGI is pretty average, hasn’t aged well from 2010. Tomandandy provides the score, and it certainly made the movie much better, especially when it came to the action scenes.

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Resident Evil Afterlife isn’t one of the better movies in the series but isn’t the worst either. It’s essentially a bunch of action scenes strung together by a vague plot. It has some enjoyable aspects to it for sure, a couple of the actors are good, and many of the action scenes are entertaining and stunning to watch, even if they’re a little too over the top for their own good. If you don’t like the other Resident Evil movies, you definitely won’t like this one. But if you made it this far in the series, you might as well check out Afterlife too.