Tag Archives: 2011 movies

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jeremy Renner as William Brandt
Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Paula Patton as Jane Carter
Michael Nyqvist as Kurt Hendricks
Anil Kapoor as Brij Nath
Léa Seydoux as Sabine Moreau
Director: Brad Bird

Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by the U.S. government, while the president initiates the Ghost Protocol. Forced to go “off the grid” — left without resources or backup — Hunt must somehow clear the agency’s name and prevent another attack. Complicating matters even more, Ethan must undertake the impossible mission with a group of fellow IMF fugitives whose actual motives are suspect.

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Recently I’ve been watching the Mission Impossible movies (in reverse order) in preparation for the latest instalment (Fallout) to be released. From what I can tell, before 2011, Mission Impossible wasn’t doing so great as a series. JJ Abrams salvaged the series from extinction with 3 but it wasn’t a huge success. Despite that, Paramount Pictures were keen on developing a fourth film. It’s in 2011 when the next instalment would be created by director Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame. Ghost Protocol was a huge success when it came out and for good reason, it’s a fresh spy movie with Brad Bird’s direction playing a large part in its success. While I don’t consider it to be the best movie in the series, it’s still rather solid and memorable as both an action movie and as a Mission Impossible.

On top of being thrilling, Ghost Protocol is also really funny, you really feel the tonal difference from the other Mission Impossible movies and it really works here. The previous movies in the Mission Impossible series seemed to be mostly the Tom Cruise show, 1 and 3 had some of that but here they really work as a team throughout the entire movie. Outside of the first 30 or so minutes, the film is split in two parts, one is the Dubai segment, and the other is the climax in India. The Dubai segment is great, filled with great tension, action and suspense. What works so well is that you really feel like these characters are on their own and vulnerable. It seems that pretty much every Mission Impossible movie consists of the main characters (or Ethan Hunt at least) being hunted down, on the run and vulnerable. However Ghost Protocol really shows them as being a little vulnerable and in difficult situations. This movie goes all out with some of the gadgets, but despite how impressive some of the gadgets are, many of them don’t work perfectly, some of them don’t work at all. Even the mission reader that Ethan Hunt gets with the message starting with “Your message, should you choose to accept it” and ends with “This message will self destruct in 5 seconds” fails to successfully self destruct. Even though you know that by the end of the movie everything will be alright, Ghost Protocol is very effective with its tension. Ghost Protocol does have a slight issue, the movie really peaks at the Dubai segment. While the rest of the movie is still pretty good, it doesn’t live up to the previous act and is relatively decent but lesser in comparison. The plot can be a little convoluted at times but not enough to bring down the movie. I’m not really sure that it’s a problem but despite the movie being over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, it feels much shorter. However I feel a large part of that is due to the structure. There seems to be a location each for the last two acts, which feels very jarring compared to other movies where it takes place in multiple places.

The cast are all good, as I previously said, there wasn’t as much emphasise focussing on a team in previous movies. Now however they are developed adequately enough and get a lot to do. Tom Cruise as usual is effortlessly good as Ethan Hunt, delivering on playing the character as well as the physical stunts, absolutely fearless in the things that he does such as the Burj Khalifa tower climbing scene. Simon Pegg was introduced in Mission Impossible 3 in a smaller role, here he gets to do quite a lot more. Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner also do their parts rather well. The team all worked together very well. The villain is played by the late Michael Nyqvist, who is a really good actor. However his character wasn’t that great. His performance is good and the character does have a good setup but the problem is that aside from two scenes in the first act, he’s really just in the climax, and we aren’t given enough time with him. So by the end he ends up feeling rather flat. A supporting villain played by Lea Seydoux does much better in her role.

Until Mission Impossible: Fallout, the tradition was for each film in the series to be directed by a different person. With each Mission Impossible film you can really see each director lend their style to the film, Bird is no exception, who made his live action film debut here. His direction is a big reason why you are constantly interested and entertained throughout. The famous Burj Khalifa climbing sequence still holds up very well today, absolutely tense throughout. However Bird is also good at creating tension during the non action scenes as well. The action scenes themselves are pretty good themselves, from the fight scenes to the chase scenes. The movie does have a really good look to it. There was some explosions in the first act of the movie that looked a little fake but outside of that there wasn’t anything really distracting about the effects.

Mission impossible Ghost Protocol 7 years later is still a really good movie. Brad Bird has made a very entertaining and thrilling movie which still holds up very well. There maybe some minor issues but its not enough to really take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie. I still think that Rogue Nation is the best movie to date (Fallout could change that), but Ghost Protocol still holds up as being one of the highlights of the series.

Green Lantern (2011) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris
Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond
Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro
Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller
Tim Robbins as Robert Hammond
Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur/Green Lantern
Taika Waititi as Thomas Kalmaku
Director: Martin Campbell

Sworn to preserve intergalactic order, the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries. Its newest recruit, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), is the first human to join the ranks. The Green Lanterns have little regard for humans, who have thus far been unable to harness the powers of the ring each member wears. But Jordan, a gifted and cocky test pilot, may be the corps’ only hope when a new enemy called Parallax threatens the universal balance of power.

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2 years before the DCEU was started with Man of Steel, WB tried to create a DC cinematic universe with 2011’s Green Lantern. It had all the makings of a good comic book movie, you have a great cast including Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong and on top of that, its directed by Goldeneye and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell. Green Lantern however ended up being way worse than it should be, it fails to entertain or interest on any level, and just feels like wasted potential in the end.

First thing to note is that Green Lantern has a very silly tone. It feels like WB was trying to replicate the Marvel films with DC, and with the MCU running a good few year at the time of GL’s release, that could very well be what happened. It’s quite comedic and ridiculous at some points oddly. Unfortunately despite the light and almost cartoonish tone, it’s not very entertaining, not even on a so bad it’s good level. On top of it being too silly, it’s also not very interesting. Despite it being an hour and 45 minutes long, Green Lantern drags a lot. I’m not sure what happened with the script. It just feels empty, they throw a lot of lore at you but none of it really sticks, there’s nothing about the way that the film told the backstory of the Green Lanterns that made me interested in them. Honestly they sound more interesting on paper than how it’s presented in the actual movie. There is no emotional connection to what’s going on, things just happen, and you watch them happen but you don’t care about any of it. By the end it didn’t feel like much has happened. There is a lot of wasted opportunities as well, for example a big part of the film is these Green Lantern rings which allow the people who use them to create anything they can imagine, however nothing that creative even comes of that. It’s such a shame that Green Lantern really doesn’t get much right, it’s not entertaining, it’s not interesting, it’s rather empty and feels much longer than it actually is.

There is a lot of talented actors here and many of the casting decisions are great. Unfortunately they aren’t enough to elevate the film in an immense way. Ryan Reynolds to be fair is actually a great pick for Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Reynolds does his best with what he was given. He is however let down by the material given to him. The supporting actors with Blake Lively, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Taika Waititi and others are fine enough but really don’t give that great performances, it’s not on them though and they are fine enough. Mark Strong is a perfect casting choice for Sinestro but he’s not even the main villain, and he doesn’t get as much screentime as he should. I guess he was being set up to be a villain in later movies but as sequels didn’t happen he just feels wasted. He was really good in his scenes though. The actual villains were really bad. Peter Sarsgaard I’ve heard is a good actor and I don’t blame him for his performance here. In short he’s some random guy who gets a big head and powers and is over the top and goofy, terrible performance, again not putting this on Sarsgaard. He’s not even the main villain, it’s this CGI creature thing called Parallax. I’ve seen many bad comic book movie villains, from Nuclear Man, to Poison Ivy to Incubus. But I think Parallax is the worst comic book movie villain I’ve ever seen. The CGI on him was awful but also there’s absolutely nothing to the character and we don’t see too much of him anyway.

This film is directed by Martin Campbell but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching the movie. The filming of the action sequences is fine enough but it’s not that great. It doesn’t help that the CGI is so awful it’s actually unbelievable, everything from the CGI suits, to the backgrounds, Parallax and beyond, everything looks bad. The decision to have the suits be CGI was particularly poor, they even gave Ryan Reynolds a goofy CGI eye mask. Nothing feels real and I know that most of what happens can’t be created in reality but they could’ve at least made it better so that the special effects don’t constantly feel artificial and fake.

I personally think that Green Lantern is the worst comic book movie of the 2010s thus far, though there are worse comic book movies that have been released overall. Some aspects are fine like most of the actors are well cast and do the best they can in their roles but they are ultimately let down by the writing and material given. The vast majority of the story aspects falls flat and all the potential with all these characters and the world is wasted. Not only that but it’s not even entertaining, even the technical aspects such as the CGI are astoundingly poor. Green Lantern was an unfortunate misfire and really didn’t work at all. Let’s just hope that the DCEU’s version of Green Lantern is solid (though it will likely be much better by default).

The Tree of Life (2011) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien
Sean Penn as Jack O’Brien
Hunter McCracken as young Jack
Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien
Tye Sheridan as Steve
Kari Matchett as Jack’s ex
Joanna Going as Jack’s wife
Director: Terrence Malick

In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing up as part of the O’Brien family in small-town Texas. Jack has a contentious relationship with his father (Brad Pitt), but gets along well with his beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain). As an adult, Jack (Sean Penn) struggles with his past and tries to make sense of his childhood, while also grappling with bigger existential issues.

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Tree of Life was a movie I was curious about. I wanted to see a couple of Terrence Malick movies before seeing his latest film (Song to Song), so that I could get used to his style beforehand, so I decided to start with one of his most well known movies, Tree of Life. I expected to see an unconventional, arty film which is visually beautiful, and I really wouldn’t know how to feel about it afterwards and indeed that’s the movie I ended up with. I was left polarised and confused by the end of the movie but yet I think I like the movie. It’s very difficult to describe my experience with the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easy movie to describe, I think the best way to describe all this is to tell how I felt during the movie. This movie is unconventional to say the least. The first 10 minutes focusses on Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn, during this I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. 20 minutes in, there is a 10 minute segment which pretty much featured the universe being created (there’s no better way of describing it). It focusses on random aspects, stars, meteors, nature, animals, plants, even dinosaurs at one point. I was intrigued by what I saw but didn’t know what to really think. The rest of the movie for the most part focussed on the family (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan) as time goes by. At that point, I started to oddly enough like this movie and I was interested in seeing everything progress. After the family segment, I’m not really sure what to think of the movie, I don’t even know what the ending was supposed to mean and represent. I don’t really know what this movie is about (apart from life). The movie does have a lot of monologues throughout the movie, though I didn’t find myself picking up on what they were meaning. I can see how other people would be bored of the movie, it is very slow paced. I only really started being fully engaged after 30 minutes into the movie. But yet there is something about it that I liked, I haven’t yet figured out what it is.

This movie has a lot of talented actors with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan. They are all pretty good, with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain being the stand outs as the parents of the family. Even when they aren’t saying anything, it’s easy to see how they feel in certain situations just through their expressions and reactions. Sean Penn doesn’t really get to do much, most of his limited screentime is him just walking around while Terrence Malick follows him around with a camera. With that said, this happens with every actor, a lot of the movie at times just follows the actors/characters around with them having no dialogue and not doing anything that important. I’m guessing that this is what happens with every actor in Terrence Malick movies.

One thing that all people who see this movie will say is that Tree of Life looks absolutely beautiful. Every shot is framed well and looks magnificent. Even the 10 minute ‘creation segment’ was beautiful. I couldn’t tell always what the shots of certain aspects were supposed to represent, but they looked beautiful at the very least. And plus, a lot of the time Malick manages to make the audience feel emotions through his imagery. The only thing directionwise that’s off was a scene with dinosaurs, the CGI looked incredibly fake, embarrassingly bad, and it kinda takes you out of the movie. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat was great and really added to the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easily accessible movie. There are a lot of people who really don’t like this movie and find it to be pretentious and boring and I don’t really blame them for thinking this. Tree of Life is different, it’s slow, it’s unconventional. But if you are willing to give it a shot, I recommend watching it. Just know what you are going in for. I myself am not sure about what I had watched but I liked it at a point, it’s difficult to describe why. I get the feeling that Malick’s films are meant to make people feel emotions rather than it be technically good like most movies, not conventionally anyway. I know this review hasn’t been very descriptive of the movie, but honestly that goes to show how unusual of a movie this is.

X-Men: First Class (2011) Review

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X-Men First Class

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
January Jones as Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
Oliver Platt as Man In Black Suit
Kevin Bacon as Dr. Klaus Schmidt/Sebastian Shaw
Director: Matthew Vaughn

In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Despite their vastly different backgrounds — Charles grew up with a wealthy family, while Erik lost his parents at Auschwitz — the two become close friends. As the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik with other mutants join forces to save humanity. However, a situation soon tears the friends apart.

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Superhero prequels are often doomed to fail, which is why some people were a little sceptical of this movie actually being good. The fact that it had an entirely new cast and look (not to mention that it came after X Men 3 and X Men Origins Wolverine which were the lowest points of the series), didn’t help. However with Matthew Vaughn as director, he actually ended up creating one of the best X Men movies. The talented cast (many of which played already established characters) did a fantastic job and the story ties into the X Men franchise very well.

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One problem I had with the original X Men trilogy is the lack of proper characterisation, aside from a few characters like Wolverine and Rogue, there were many characters that weren’t that developed. First Class was the first X Men film that fixed that issue, sure there are characters that don’t get fully explored but most of the main characters are established well, and that’s a huge step forward when compared to the previous movies. There definitely are some inconsistencies with the plot when compared to some of the other movies (such as with the flashback in X Men 3) but I was able to overlook that.

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The casting was excellent. James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto are really in the forefront of the movie and they are terrific. You can really buy their friendship and you can tell how this would carry over into the original trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence was also great as Mystique, I know a lot of people prefer Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique but while she looked the part she wasn’t given any depth whatsoever. Lawrence gets to actually explore the character, and she did a great job. Kevin Bacon actually was good as the main villain, the way his character tied into Magneto’s past was so great. The only casting I had a little bit of a problem with was January Jones as Emma Frost, she didn’t feel very believable and felt a little fake. That was the only miscast of the movie, everyone else was great.

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The action scenes are great (no surprise there) but something felt different, Vaughn’s directed action scenes added something special. This film had some very memorable moments, the last act features many mutant battles and it is glorious to watch. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman was also really good, it feels big, grand and epic.

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X Men First Class was a lot better than what we initially thought it would be. With a very talented cast, a pretty good story and Matthew Vaughn’s direction, this movie was a solid entry in the X Men franchise. I honestly think that it’s better than any of the original trilogy, though not quite better than X-Men Days of Future Past, which I’ll review soon. I’ll just say this though, people claim that it’s X-Men Days of Future Past which brought the X-Men franchise back for good but for me it was First Class that achieved that.

Thor (2011) Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures / Marvel Studios
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment. 

© 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Thor

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
Colm Feore as Laufey:
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Idris Elba as Heimdall:
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Rene Russo as Frigga
Anthony Hopkins as Odin:
Director: Kenneth Branagh

As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne of Asgard from his aging father. However, on the day that he is to be crowned, Thor reacts with brutality when the gods’ enemies, the Frost Giants, enter the palace in violation of their treaty. As punishment, Odin banishes Thor to Earth. While Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother, plots mischief in Asgard, Thor, now stripped of his powers, faces his greatest threat.

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Some people might be able to see Iron Man and Captain America on the big screen but they couldn’t have seen how they would’ve done Thor. He is so larger than life and he’s a superhero character based in a different type of universe. However this movie introduced Thor in a pretty good way and by the time The Avengers came around, we were all onboard for seeing Thor play a part. It’s not one of the best movies in the Marvel Universe but considering that director Kenneth Branagh had to introduce Thor, it’s impressive how well he did it.

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As I said before, this film does well at introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t think that having a fish out of water tale was the best way to introduce him but the movie still worked well and was lots better than you would initially think. One thing that I noticed is that the film succeeded most when it was taking place on Asgard. When it took place on Earth it was fine but it didn’t feel as strong. I will say at least all the Earth scenes served a purpose, it wasn’t just for bad comic relief (that would be saved for Thor: The Dark World). Speaking of comic relief, there’s quite a little bit of it, particularly with Kat Dennings and although it wasn’t great it wasn’t really bad either and didn’t distract much.

Photo credit: Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studiosâ€(R)Left to right: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.â€(R)â€(R)© 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Hemsworth nails the role of Thor, I personally think that out of all of the Avengers this is the toughest role to pull off. He needed to be larger than life but yet be three dimensional at the same time. Natalie Portman is quite good and does share good chemistry with Hemsworth. Tom Hiddleston does quite well as Loki, even though he’s not as strong as in later movies he is pretty effective as a villain here. Anthony Hopkins is also great as Odin, even though you don’t see much of him in the movie, he is really believable as this character.

Odin banishes Thor

As I said previously, the best scenes of the movie are once again when in Asgard but it’s not just because it’s more interesting, everything there looks grand and exciting. This is probably why I really liked the action in this movie, everything feels on a grand scale and although there isn’t a lot of it, when it was happening it looked great. This grand style would be sadly missing from Thor: The Dark World. That style really elevated the movie and made everything much more epic. This is a little bit of a nitpick but I should mention that there were a little too many dutch angles for my taste and sometimes it got distracting but it was fine for the most part.

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Thor expanded the Marvel Universe and showed that they could go into many areas of the comic book universe. It’s not one of the best movies in the MCU but it is good and it is definitely worth watching. Even if there were some parts that could’ve been improved, I think that Kenneth Branagh did pretty well at putting Thor on the big screen and I do think that he was a good pick for this movie. Thor: The Dark World would be a decent sequel but commit as many mistakes as the previous movie.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

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Captain America

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips
Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan as Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Neal McDonough as Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan
Derek Luke as Gabe Jones
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Director: Joe Johnston

It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, but the military rejects him because of his small stature. Finally, Steve gets his chance when he is accepted into an experimental program that turns him into a supersoldier called Captain America. Joining forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America leads the fight against the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization.

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Although making a Captain America movie isn’t as big of a risk as making a Thor movie, it is still pretty hard creating a Captain America movie that takes him seriously. The 1990 film didn’t help this movie’s chances. However like Thor, Captain America is a surprisingly good entry in the Marvel universe. It’s not one of the best, but it is enjoyable, well-made and it does have an engaging story and establishes one of The Avengers’ key members.

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One of the best parts about this movie is of course the fact that it actually manages to take Captain America seriously. There are actually stages of Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America, as well as explanations for all the things that happen, for example there’s a reason Captain America decided to use a shield over other weapons. It’s not like the 1990 film where he becomes Captain America and suddenly has this design. I also thought it was a strong decision to have Captain America’s first appearance be in a World War 2 setting. It would be so easy to just have Captain America created and then rush his appearance into Modern day (again like the 1990 film) but it was a great idea to have him in this setting. A lot of the supporting characters end up playing roles in later movies so these characters aren’t just wasted being in the 1940s.

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Chris Evans is really believable as Captain America. It is so easy just to have Steve Rodgers be this generic good guy character but Evans makes this character feel believable. The supporting cast is also good, consisting of Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell (the latter of which did a particularly good job). Hugo Weaving plays the main villain Red Skull and although he is good (and better than most of the other Marvel villains) he does seem like a standard villain. I don’t know much about Red Skull but I know that he’s basically Captain America’s biggest enemy so it’s unfortunate that he’s not very interesting here.

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The action scenes of course are well filmed, I especially liked how they incorporated Captain America’s shield. I also liked the look of Captain America’s suit, it feels like a war suit than a goofy looking outfit, something that the first Avengers didn’t get right. The only thing production wise that could’ve been improved was Red Skull’s head. It looked a little goofy and even the 1990 film version looked better. An effect that’s worth mentioning is that at the beginning of the movie, Steve Rodgers looks really skinny before he goes through the experiment and I thought that the effects used to show his change was really impressive.

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Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good movie. Its sequel, The Winter Soldier, was the movie that really advanced the Marvel series but this first film did do what it set out to do: make audiences take Captain America seriously. Not only that, it had a pretty engaging and interesting story, with good acting and good action. The film could’ve been better if they improved Red Skull but for the most part Captain America: The First Avenger achieves what it set out to do.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) Review

The Ghost Rider in Columbia Pictures' GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan/Blackout
Fergus Riordan as Danny
Ciarán Hinds as Roarke/Mephistopheles
Violante Placido as Nadya
Idris Elba as Moreau
Director Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a man who made a deal with the Devil who called himself Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), is on the run trying to make sure no-one is harmed by his alter ego, The Ghost Rider. He is approached by a Monk named Moreau (Idris Elba) who tells him that he can help be him free of the Rider, but first he needs Johnny’s help to protect a boy, whom Roarke has plans for, to help him take human form.

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I always thought that the best way to create a Ghost Rider film is to not take it too seriously and seeing as the filmmakers of this film made Crank, it should be better than the original, which was too serious. In many ways this film is better and worse than the first film. On one hand it doesn’t take itself as seriously and Nicolas Cage actually seems to be crazier but on the other, there’s painful editing and the story has plenty of plot holes. In either case, Ghost Rider 2 is still a pretty bad movie.

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This movie’s script does have even more problems than the original film. First of all there’s absolutely no character depth or development for any of the characters, not even Johnny Blaze seems that different by the end. There are a lot of plot holes, for example there’s a moment when the devil gives a henchman the power of decay (however it only decays certain things if it’s convenient). The devil then sends the henchman to get the boy back even though it would be near impossible to do without toughing and therefore decaying and killing him. Also the way the Ghost Rider acts in the first film made a little more sense than here. In his first scene, he would just stand around before he goes up to a henchman and just stares at him, doing nothing for like a minute. There’s even a strange moment when Ghost Rider urinates fire, this goes in the complete opposite direction of being boring and becomes downright stupid and borderline bizarre instead.

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Nicolas Cage is more animated than in the previous movie, which I have to say is a big improvement over the original. In the previous film he seemed to be quite bored, which was the wrong performance in this sort of film. In this film there are plenty of over the top moments that he has. There is one scene in particular where he’s interrogating someone and he’s trying to keep the ghost rider spirit from coming out and it’s definitely one of his best freak out moments. Idris Elba is trying his best to give a good performance, despite being in a pretty bad movie. Ciaran Hinds gives a decent performance as the devil, being more of the manipulator sort but it would’ve work much better in another movie. In this movie he doesn’t do anything cool or threatening, which would be the more preferable type of devil in this sort of movie. The climax of the film is him driving a car. I didn’t think I’d say this but Blackheart in the previous film put up a better fight than him, that’s a bad sign.

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I don’t remember if I liked the editing of the Crank films but Ghost Rider 2’s editing is just awful. A lot of the action is filmed being quite shaky and incomprehensible. I will give credit that Ghost Rider does look cooler and some of the action scenes are quite creative, like Ghost Rider turning a crane into a giant flaming chainsaw but it ultimately most of it is hard to get into.

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Is Ghost Rider 2 worse than the previous film? When all things are considered, yes, it’s editing and cinematography can be quite annoying and the characters aren’t interesting at all. Despite this we have Nicolas Cage being his enjoyable insane self and some of the action is quite enjoyable. If you’re going to see this film, just know exactly what you are going in, it can be fun as a guilty pleasure.

Drive (2011)

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Drive

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Nicholas Winding-Refn
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as The Driver
Carey Mulligan as Irene
Bryan Cranston as Shannon
Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose
Oscar Isaac as Standard
Christina Hendricks as Blanche
Ron Perlman as Nino

A mysterious driver (Ryan Gosling) works as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver. He helps his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband is in prison and her son Benicio and he falls in love with her. Later on Standard (Oscar Isaac), Irene’s husband is released from prison but owes people some money. The driver decides to help him out by being the getaway driver to a heist but problems occur. This is based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis.

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Drive is one of the best directed films I’ve ever seen; it has some of the best cinematography, good performances and an engaging story. Although it will be polarizing to some people and not for everyone, for me, it is a masterpiece and is one of the most memorable movies I have ever seen.

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Drive is one of those movies that you have to be careful of what you expect; on the surface it looks like The Transporter but instead of having Jason Statham in the lead role, it’s Ryan Gosling; this is not like that. Also, don’t watch the trailer; it misrepresents what the movie is like, as well as spoiling a lot the plot. Despite the film being called ‘Drive’ there aren’t as many car scenes as you’d think, when they are there however, they are some of the best a film can have; the opening scene is a good example of this. This movie’s pacing does take its time, especially the first half after the intro. The film has a lot of themes which can lead to it being analyse-worthy; there are also some symbolism, for example with the scorpion on the back of Gosling’s jacket is often related with the story of the frog and the scorpion. The whole movie for me interested me from start to finish.

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Ryan Gosling was superb in this role; he has a very subtle performance which works best for his character. His character is mysterious and doesn’t speak that much in this movie. This is one of those performances where he is able to emote what the character is feeling even with just his eyes. Carey Mulligan is also really good in this movie and shares good chemistry with Gosling. The supporting cast was also really good like Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks who are also great. Albert Brooks is particularly good, presenting a villainous side of him that we really haven’t really seen before.

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This movie looks beautiful; the cinematography here is one of the best I’ve seen, I haven’t seen the city of L.A. filmed this well since Collateral. There aren’t many scenes of action but when they are, they are well filmed and are very tense. Also worth noting are the short bursts of sudden graphic bloody violence; it really contrasts in this movie from the calm tone it presented in the first half. It isn’t the Tarantino type of gore; it’s more of a David Cronenberg type of gore. There is also something retro about Drive, whether it would be the neon opening or the unique music. The music is also worth mentioning as it is nothing like I’ve heard before in a movie; it is an electronic pop synthesiser that somehow really fits in with this movie’s tone. The whole movie overall feels very dreamlike with the cinematography and music.

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Drive is a completely different movie than it would seem at first but it’s undeniably a masterpiece. A modern day Bullitt, it succeeds in being incredible to experience and to watch. The film’s slower pace after the intro may turn off some viewers, as well as the graphic violence, so I will say that this movie isn’t for everyone. However this is one of the best directed movies I’ve seen, and has stuck with me since I first saw it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Acts of cruelty & rape, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomvist
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger
Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger
Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode
Robin Wright as Erika Berger
Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman
Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger
Director: David Fincher

After being successfully sued for libel by a wealthy industrialist, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) leaves his magazine Millennium and accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to write the Vanger family history. What Henrik is most interested in learning however is what happened to his niece, Harriet Vanger, who he is certain was murdered by a member of his family in the summer of 1966. Mikael takes on the task and moves into a small cottage on the Vanger estate. Blomkvist eventually believes that her disappearance might have something to do with some serial killings that took place 20 years before she disappeared. He begins to decipher some of the clues Harriet has left behind and decides to get an assistant, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the woman who did the very thorough background check on him for Vanger. Together, they learn of some of the Vangers deep, violent secrets.

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I haven’t read the novels by Stieg Larsson or watched the original movies, but just from watching this movie, I should get around to looking at them sometime because of how much I loved this movie. David Fincher was the perfect director for this film, creating a chilling atmosphere and overall, a film that is always captivating and interesting with never a dull moment.

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Starting with a sleek, stylistic and dark opening animation which is accompanied with Trent Reznor and Karen O’s cover of Immigrant Song (Originally by Led Zeppelin) the film never lets up in being completely interesting. When you go into this movie, expect a dialogue driven movie, like Zodiac (another Fincher movie) but yet it is much more captivating. It is also worth knowing that this is a mystery movie that has a lot of details to take in. The film also mostly jumps between the perspectives of Lisbeth and Mikael before they meet about halfway into the movie. Despite the film being a bit long at 2 hours and 40 minutes I still was interested throughout the entire runtime. The film also concludes with a fitting ending that has me itching for the sequels.

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Rooney Mara was absolutely fantastic in this movie. From her performance alone, I can see that her character is extremely hard to portray but somehow, she pulls it off. Mara managed to really transform herself to become Lisbeth and on screen, she lives and breathes her. She has successfully managed personifies one of the most complex and interesting characters I have watched on screen. Daniel Craig is also really good here who also has great chemistry with Rooney Mara. Other actors like Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are also really good in their roles.

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David Fincher’s films always look great and this movie is no exception. The locations in Sweden are well made and the film looks downright beautiful when it takes place in winter. Incredibly, some of scenes used CGI, when all of the film looked like it was filmed with none of that. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also really good and sets the mood for the location, particularly in the snow.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proves again that David Fincher knows what he is doing behind the camera. It may not be the most pleasant film to watch but it is always eye catching with beautiful cinematography, a captivating tone and brilliant performances, mostly notable that being of Rooney Mara’s. It’s extremely hard for me to find any flaws in the movie and I’m looking forward to the sequels and I hope they get made.
9/10