Tag Archives: 2012

Argo (2012) Review

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Argo

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez
Bryan Cranston as Jack O’Donnell
Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel
John Goodman as John Chambers
Director: Ben Affleck

An exfiltration specialist (Ben Affleck) masquerades as a Hollywood producer in order to rescue six Americans who are held captive in Tehran during the US hostage crisis in Iran.

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Oscar Winning Argo received a lot of acclaim when it was released back in 2012, even winning Best Picture in 2013. As it was, I really liked it, it was a very well made historical thriller. I had seen Argo a couple of times, but that was some years ago, and I wanted to check it out again. Having seen it again, my opinion has stayed pretty much the same since the last time, great on a writing, directing and acting level.

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A large part of what made Argo work greatly was the writing by Chris Terrio, which was very strong, the dialogue is particularly well written, witty, and even surprisingly funny at points. It also balanced the tone rather well, it could have comic moments but it could easily transition to tense and thrilling moments with ease, especially in the second half. Outside of some tense sequences early on, although I was still interested, there were parts in the first act that were a little slow for me and didn’t really have me completely invested. After the first act however, it really picks up, especially once Ben Affleck’s character arrives in Iran. The second half of the movie is where it shines the most, especially with the tense third act. Argo is also tightly written, with almost all the scenes all being relevant to the main plot and doesn’t spend a lot of time on subplots (there’s just a small one with Affleck’s character and his family mainly in the first half), so there’s never a moment wasted. With that said, with so many characters in this movie, it would’ve been nice for some of them to have been developed a little more than they were here. Now there are for sure some inaccuracies in this movie, mainly to make the movie more dramatic and to raise the tension, especially when it came to the last act (and admittedly it was a little overblown at points). However, it’s pretty typical when it comes to movies like this, and it didn’t bother me too much.

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The ensemble cast are great, and they all worked together well. Ben Affleck is in the very clear lead role, and while I probably wouldn’t call it his best acting work, it’s up there and he is quite good. It’s quite a subdued and believable performance, and there’s enough depth given to his character. The supporting cast with the likes of Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, work greatly, the latter two particularly shining. Other members of the cast like Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber and Kyle Chandler also do their parts, no matter how big or small their roles are. I should also mention that although there are some A list actors headlining this movie, the use of character actors really worked effectively.

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Argo is Ben Affleck’s third directed movie, and he has definitely shown to be a capable filmmaker, and his directing talents had been improving with every film that he makes. Whereas his previous movies Gone Baby Gone and The Town took place in a single city, Argo is on a much larger scale, and Affleck pulled it off very well. The cinematography and editing are top notch, the film is great on a technical level. There are also some very tense sequences that are effective. Even the style was reminiscent of the late 70s (Argo even opening with the old Warner Bros. label), and there was clearly a lot of effort to make everything fit the aesthetics of that era to feel authentic, from the costumes, the sets, etc.

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Argo is a well made thriller, written and directed excellently, and starring an ensemble cast who work together well, and a great film overall. It’s not without its slight faults, but not enough to take away from the rest of the movie, and it is definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.

Skyfall (2012) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Judi Dench as M
Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Bérénice Lim Marlohe as Sévérine
Albert Finney as Kincade
Ben Whishaw as Q
Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
Director: Sam Mendes

When James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) latest assignment goes terribly wrong, it leads to a calamitous turn of events: Undercover agents around the world are exposed, and MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Judi Dench) to relocate the agency. With MI6 now compromised inside and out, M turns to the one man she can trust: Bond. Aided only by a field agent (Naomie Harris), Bond takes to the shadows and follows a trail to Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past who wants to settle an old score.

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After the disappointing Quantum of Solace, the next instalment of the James Bond series, Skyfall would be released in 2012, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the James Bond series, which started with Dr No. I know that in recent years there have been some backlash against it, but I loved Skyfall when I first saw it in cinemas and I still really love it now. Watching it recently I was reminded about how fantastic it is. It is without a doubt in the top 2 best James Bond films.

Skyfall takes things back to some of the classic James Bond while being a very different kind of Bond film at the same time. It is a film which takes the story very seriously but it doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of any fun at the same time. It is very much set in reality with the tone and the story and yet we do get some of the things that we would expect in a typical Bond film, we get the gadgets (even if it’s just a gun that can read Bond’s handprint and a tracking device), we get Q and Moneypenny, we get a lot of little moments like that and it fits in well with the whole story. Like with the previous two Bond films, Skyfall is another personal story but not in the way that you’d initially expect. Yes we do get some of Craig’s version of Bond’s backstory (which by the way only elevates Daniel Craig’s Bond above others even more as he’s given more of a character than other James Bonds) but that’s not the focus, it’s actually on M and her connection with Silva, the main villain. It’s actually balanced out all very well, the emotion, the nostalgia, the entertainment, everything fits in together really well.

Daniel Craig is again great as James Bond, both in the action scenes and the drama scenes. Bond in this film is shown to be not at the top of his game as he once was. This is especially shown in the first act and it makes for an interesting new take for Bond, who usually always at least seems like he’s on top of everything. There’s a moment in the third act where he’s particularly great and it’s one of the only times that James Bond has truly shown emotion. With Skyfall, Judi Dench as M is more focussed on than any other James Bond movie with M in it and it was actually done really well, and Dench as usual absolutely delivers. While some of Bond’s backstory is shown in Skyfall, the story is more personally tied to M and the villain. Judi Dench’s M here is given much more to do than just being James Bond’s boss. The film did a great job sending off Judi Dench as M. Javier Bardem as Silva ranks among the best of the Bond villains. He really works as not just a Bond villain but as a movie villain in itself. He shows up halfway through the movie and yet makes a memorable first impression, is a force of nature and a real presence right up until the very end. He’s damaged, deranged and yet also has an understandable motive, one that’s not looking for money or for control. Silva is one of, if not the best Bond villain. Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny (it’s been 6 years so I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that her character all that time is secretly Moneypenny) is great and she kills it in her role. I almost want a spin off movie with her character, Harris has shown herself to be great and convincing in the role. Along with Moneypenny being brought to the Craig Era Bondverse we have the introduction of Q played by Ben Whishaw, a much younger Q especially compared to all the previous versions but it really works well, and Whishaw is really good. Ralph Fiennes is also a good addition to the movie (he would eventually take over as M in the next films). Bérénice Lim Marlohe is good in her scenes but isn’t really used enough in the movie, she’s really the only cast member who isn’t used to her fullest potential in their role in the movie.

Sam Mendes was a great pick for a James Bond film, this movie is directed absolutely wonderfully. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is absolutely masterful as always, there are many shots and sequences that look absolutely beautiful. Skyfall is by far the best looking James Bond film and it might even be the best directed. The action scenes are all pretty great, they aren’t as outrageous and over the top as some other Bond films but they are really great. From the opening scene in Istanbul that has (a car chase, to a motorbike chase to a fight on top of a train), to the fiery climax, all of it is executed very well. For example, there is a fight scene taking place in a building in Shanghi and it looks absolutely wonderful with the silhouettes, the lighting and everything, one of the best directed James Bond scenes ever. I have to say, after watching Quantum of Solace not too long ago its very satisfying to watch a James Bond movie where the editing is at a level of quality where you can actually see what’s happening during action sequences. The titular song used during the opening credits by Adele was also great and really suited the movie. Speaking of music, Thomas Newman’s score for Skyfall is great, unlike some scores where it just accompanies the scenes well, it also elevated many of the scenes in Skyfall.

Skyfall is by far one of the best James Bond films, if not the best. It has a great personal story that is grounded in reality yet is fun to watch, it has one of the best Bond villains in Javier Bardem and is probably the best directed film in the series’s 50+ year run. Sam Mendes and the cast and crew did an excellent job in delivering an entertaining and emotionally satisfying experience. We can only hope that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film with No Time to Die will at least be at the level of either this or Casino Royale.

Lawless (2012) Review

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Lawless

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence
Cast:
Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant
Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant
Jessica Chastain as Maggie Beauford
Gary Oldman as Floyd Banner
Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant
Guy Pearce as Special Deputy Charley Rakes
Mia Wasikowska as Bertha Minnix
Dane DeHaan as Cricket Pate
Director: John Hillcoat

In 1931, the Bondurant brothers of Franklin County, Va., run a multipurpose backwoods establishment that hides their true business, bootlegging. Middle brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the brain of the operation; older Howard (Jason Clarke) is the brawn, and younger Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the lookout. Though the local police have taken bribes and left the brothers alone, a violent war erupts when a sadistic lawman (Guy Pearce) from Chicago arrives and tries to shut down the Bondurants’ operation.

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I remember watching Lawless a long time ago, and although I didn’t remember it being particularly great, I remember thinking it was at least pretty good. Since I was watching/re-watching other Tom Hardy movies, I thought I’d give this one another go, and my opinion of it is around the same. There’s not much that’s particularly wrong with the movie, in fact there’s a lot of good things about it, from the direction to the cast. I’m just not quite sure that I can call it great, but I still think that it is pretty good.

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Lawless isn’t a fast paced thriller by any means, it’s a slow burn gritty drama, and I personally liked it for that. There are certainly signs of greatness, it’s just that there’s just something missing from it. The story is actually rather straightforward and wasn’t anything special for a crime drama. I think it felt just a little too conventional, accessible and neatly packaged. They could’ve done a little more with the story and gone too some more interesting places, Lawless doesn’t really do anything that we haven’t seen done many times before and done better. With that being said, for what it was I was quite entertained for its 2 hour runtime, but it could’ve been a little better.

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The cast all around great and are among the best parts of Lawless, although some of the characters could’ve used some more development. This is mainly Shia LaBeouf’s movie, and he’s quite good in his role as the younger brother who isn’t quite as experienced as his older brothers. Tom Hardy is great in everything he’s in, and his performance in Lawless as the leader of the Bondurant brothers is no exception. He doesn’t say a lot (you just hear him grunting most of the time), but he has a lot of screen presence nonetheless, and was effective whenever he’s on screen. This is also probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from Jason Clarke as the oldest of the brothers. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska provide some good performances, elevating their rather underdeveloped and uninteresting roles with their acting. Gary Oldman is indeed in this movie as a notable gangster, but really they could’ve gotten any actor in the role, he’s only in a few scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Oldman owns every scene he has in the movie, but he takes up such a small portion of the film and wasn’t that central to the plot that it kind of felt like overkill having an actor of his calibre for the role. One of the performances that stood out the most from this movie was that of Guy Pearce as the villain of the film. He’s effectively creepy, slimy and unnerving in this role as a Special Deputy Marshall brought in to go after bootleggers, and especially the main characters of the story. There’s not a whole lot to the character, but Pearce from his appearance to his performance makes Charley Rakes an easy character to hate. It’s quite an over the top and almost cartoonish character and performance but it kind of works for this movie.

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Lawless was really well directed by John Hillcoat. It’s a great looking movie, and Hillcoat certainly got the period setting right at least on a technical level, with the locations, the costumes and production design. Also, when it comes to the violence (even though there isn’t a massive amount of it), it’s brutal and hard hitting.

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Lawless unfortunately doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness that it’s clearly aspiring to reach, but it’s a solid movie nonetheless. It was directed exceptionally well, and has a relatively decent story that at least kept me entertained for the runtime. Top that off with a great cast, and Lawless is a movie that’s worth a watch if you like those actors or even just decent crime dramas.

Looper (2012) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language.
Cast:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe
Bruce Willis as Old Joe
Emily Blunt as Sara
Paul Dano as Seth
Noah Segan as Kid Blue
Piper Perabo as Suzie
Jeff Daniels as Abe
Pierce Gagnon as Cid
Director: Rian Johnson

In a future society, time-travel exists, but it’s only available to those with the means to pay for it on the black market. When the mob wants to eliminate someone, it sends the target into the past, where a hit man known as a looper lies in wait to finish the job. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such hired gun, and he does his job well — until the day his bosses decide to “close the loop” and send Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) back in time to be killed.

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I remember seeing Looper years ago around about the time when it came out. It was the first movie from Rian Johnson that I saw, so I was naturally excited when he was announced as directing a Star Wars movie because of his work here (and yes, I’m still very much love how The Last Jedi turned out). Because Johnson’s latest film Knives Out is coming out soon, I thought it was a perfect time to revisit this movie. Looper still holds up pretty well. There might be a couple things that don’t work perfectly, but on the whole it’s still great.

First of all with Looper, I liked how the movie portrays the futuristic world. It’s definitely a science fiction reality, with some advanced technology, new drugs and the like. However it doesn’t have flying cars or anything like that. There’s even some people in this movie who have the ability of telekinesis, but it’s pretty small and can only really be used for levitating small objects, not a significant superpower by any means. The movie also isn’t just science-fiction, it’s also a crime movie, and through Joe’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) narration, we hear about how this criminal group operates. Rian Johnson is great at blending different ideas together and Looper is no exception, it’s quite an original movie and if you haven’t seen it and don’t know much going in, I’m pretty sure the experience will be better when you do. With any movie involving time travel, there’s going to be some holes and things that don’t quite make sense, and Looper isn’t immune to that (especially towards the end). The characters who even know vaguely about the time travel do at least acknowledge that the time travel is confusing, and I still really liked how the movie portrayed and utilised it, so I was able to look past some of the more confusing elements. While I liked the ending (even though I’m not exactly sure if it’s right), I feel like it could’ve been like a minute longer at least, it somehow felt a little abrupt.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives probably his best performance yet in the role of the main character of Joe, a hitman of sorts. Bruce Willis here really gave one of his best performances in years, he really seemed dedicated to his performance here, significant given most of his recent work has just been straight to DVD action flicks. Something they did with Gordon-Levitt is that they put makeup on him to make him seem like a younger Willis. While its effective and definitely looks a lot better than it sounds on paper, I do find it a little hard to buy that they are the same person. JGL looks like himself but slightly Bruce Willis-ish, but the with the way they act you don’t really buy that they are the same person. However you can look past that and roll with it. Emily Blunt shows up in the latter half in the movie and is very good in her role. The same is said for Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid, Blunt’s child who seemingly a lot more than he initially appears to be. Other supporting actors like Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also add quite a lot in their screentime.

Rian Johnson has really progressed as a filmmaker, going from a smaller gritty noire set at a high school, to a bright Wes Anderson-esque conmen comedy, to Looper, a science-fiction crime movie. Visually it looked great. I mentioned earlier how I liked the portrayal of the future, and that extends to the direction. The locations for the most part look very similar to places to today and was rather gritty in parts, but with some futuristic touches. The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson was also very effective.

Looper is an original science-fiction crime movie, very well written and directed by Rian Johnson, and the cast were good, particularly Gordon-Levitt, Willis and Blunt. Despite some of the issues I had with some aspects of the plot which didn’t quite work, I think it’s really great. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

V/H/S (2012) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains horror, violence, sex scenes and offensive language.
Cast:

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•Calvin Reeder as Gary
•Lane Hughes as Zak
•Kentucker Audley as Rox
•Adam Wingard as Brad
•Frank Stack as Old Man
•Sarah Byrne as Abbey
•Melissa Boatright as Tabitha
•Simon Barrett as Steve
•Andrew Droz Palermo as Fifth Thug

Amateur Night
•Hannah Fierman as Lily
•Mike Donlan as Shane
•Joe Sykes as Patrick
•Drew Sawyer as Clint
•Jas Sams as Lisa
•Cuthbert Wallace as Toothbrush

Second Honeymoon
•Joe Swanberg as Sam
•Sophia Takal as Stephanie
•Kate Lyn Sheil as Girl

Tuesday the 17th
•Norma C. Quinones as Wendy
•Drew Moerlein as Joey Brenner
•Jeannine Yoder as Samantha
•Jason Yachanin as Spider
•Bryce Burke as The Glitch

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger

•Helen Rogers (actress) as Emily
•Daniel Kaufman as James
•Liz Harvey as The New Girl
•Corrie Fitzpatrick as Girl Alien
•Isaiah Hillman as Boy Alien
•Taliyah Hillman as Little Girl Alien

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•Chad Villella as Chad
•Matt Bettinelli-Olpin as Matt
•Tyler Gillett as Tyler
•Paul Natonek as Paul
•Nicole Erb as The Girl
•John Walcutt as Cult Leader
•Eric Curtis as Roommate

Director: Adam Wingard (Tape 56), David Bruckner (Amateur Night), Ti West (Second Honeymoon), Glenn McQuaid (Tuesday the 17th), Joe Swanberg (The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger), Radio Silence (10/31/98)

Hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a remote house, a ragtag band of crooks finds a dead body, old TVs and a lot of cryptic footage.

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This idea sounded dead on arrival, simply because found footage movies have been done to death, nearly all of them nowadays are just retreads of previous better versions, and are just cash grabs. However, this movie is a bit surprising, as it has a lot of variety and is almost experimental. I wouldn’t really call it a great movie overall, a lot of it is hit or miss but it is better than most of the found footage films in recent years.

This movie ties everything together with a main plot of thieves breaking into a house and seeing these tapes. However, you don’t really end up caring that much about this plotline. It doesn’t help that these characters are horrible, uninteresting and unlikable. By the end I didn’t really get why this story was supposedly tying the other tapes together. The best segment was the first tape titled Amateur Night. It also has a clever way of having the camera, with it being in the protagonist’s glasses. On top of that, there seemed to be an actual reason for most of the characters to be unlikable, and it pays off in a great way. The payoff on the whole is great and it does have legitimately intense moments. The 2nd tape, Second Honeymoon was one of the weakest segments, basically it follows a couple. Aside from the ending, there’s nothing that memorable about the segment. The other segments at least had some sense of uneasiness before the payoff, this segment only had one scene before this payoff, and it just isn’t at the level as the others. This movie aside from a couple scenes didn’t have much reason to have the camera. Tuesday the 17th follows a group of friends going to the forest. It had some good aspects to it, it was rather creative with the payoff but the characters were insufferable. The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger is a bit different from the others but once you see everything, it works well. It’s done through skype calls between two people and while I wouldn’t say that its scary, it was well done. The last clip is 10/31/98, which involves a group of friends on Halloween going into an ‘odd’ house. While it was fun, it wasn’t really a great segment.

The acting is incredibly hit or miss. Some were fine, others were awful, though I have a feeling that a lot of that has to do with the writing. Most the characters are incredibly annoying or unlikable. There are some good performances in here though. In Amateur Night Hannah Fierman is great in her role, without giving too much away she does well at being socially awkward, creepy but yet manages to infuse sympathy into her performance. And in The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She was Younger, the two lead actors (Helen Rogers and Daniel Kaufman) were really good in their roles.

As for the direction, each of the 6 segments has its own director, all of them are at least okay, the direction of the clips weren’t really the source of my problems with some of them. As I said, some of the found footage aspects made sense within the story, but for others, not so much.

VHS is a bit of a mixed bag honestly. Most of the characters are horrible, the plots follow a lot of clichés and most of them aren’t all that great. However, if you are a fan of horror and you are curious enough, I’d suggest giving it a watch. It’s not all great but it is a little fun. It’s at least good enough for me to willing give the sequel a try, maybe it might be better overall.

Dredd (2012) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson
Lena Headey as Ma-Ma (Madeline Madrigal)
Wood Harris as Kay
Director: Pete Travis

Mega City One is a vast, violent metropolis where felons rule the streets. The only law lies with cops called “judges,” who act as judge, jury and executioner, and Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the city’s most feared. One day, Dredd is partnered with Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities. A report of a terrible crime sends Dredd and Cassandra to a dangerous area controlled by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a drug lord who will stop at nothing to protect her empire.

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Dredd had a lot of potential to fail. There had been a Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone in the mid 90s, which while enjoyable as a guilty pleasure, isn’t very good. Dredd was a surprise to many including myself, it had all the elements of a very solid action flick fun time, and from what I can tell its an accurate representation of Judge Dredd. One of the most underrated action movies in recent years.

This movie is very straightforward, it’s just our main characters going from room to room while hoards of enemies hunt for them. Now I’m not a Judge Dredd comics fan but I could tell that the original Judge Dredd was more of a Sylvester Stallone action flick than an actual Judge Dredd movie. Dredd is truly a Judge Dredd film. The world is really nicely realised, it is a grim and dark world, the R rating really helped the movie go deeper into it. I was entertained throughout, from the set up at the beginning to when the film actually kicks off, which is when our protagonists are actually facing endless amounts of people trying to kill them and it doesn’t let up. There isn’t anything wrong about the film that I could pinpoint, it has great protagonists, a threatening antagonist and an interesting world, everything that Dredd needed.

Karl Urban is Judge Dredd, that’s all I can really say. He is ruthless, badass and unrelenting, and no, at no point do you see him without his mask. This movie really isn’t a character study or anything like that, so don’t expect a lot of character depth with his version of Judge Dredd, but it worked very well for the movie as it was a straightforward action movie. Olivia Thirlby is also really good as a rookie judge with Dredd, who does have psychic powers, those two worked together well as our main characters. Lena Headey makes for a great villain, ruthless, sinister and brutal, she stole every scene she was in. Also the way she plays the role and reacted to certain situations made her have such a strong screen presence.

Dredd surprisingly only has a 30-45 million dollar budget, making it a much smaller film than you’d expect. However that budget was used well because this film is directly greatly. The action is great, it is very violent and pretty much how I would imagine a Judge Dredd film would be. This film also involves slow-mo, and they find a way to make slow-mo actually make sense, as there is a drug literally called slow-mo that slows down the brain of whoever takes it and it was portrayed so well on screen. The R-rating is not always necessary but sometimes it is really needed to fully make the movie they want. This is one of those cases. The film is brutal and dark, definitely far from the Stallone cheesefest from the 90s, and I loved it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dredd, the actors were great in their roles, the action is good. This film isn’t revolutionary, I don’t think I’d consider it one of the best action films of the 2010s, but for what it was trying to be it succeeded very well. I have no idea if they are making a Dredd sequel but I’d love to see one, I wanna see more of the world that they portrayed.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard
Emma Stone as Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stacy
Denis Leary as Captain George Stacy
Martin Sheen as Benjamin Parker
Sally Field as “Aunt” May Parker
Irrfan Khan as Dr. Rajit Ratha
Director: Marc Webb

Abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt and uncle, teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), AKA Spider-Man, is trying to sort out who he is and exactly what his feelings are for his first crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Peter finds a mysterious briefcase that was his father’s, he pursues a quest to solve his parents’ disappearance. His search takes him to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), setting him on a collision course with Connors’ alter ego, the Lizard.

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5 years after Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy concluded with Spider-Man 3, Sony decided to reboot the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man. This series (if you call 2 movies a series) has been receiving a lot of mixed reactions. I personally find The Amazing Spider-Man to be an underrated film. It has a great story, really good acting and really solid direction from Marc Webb. The only thing holding this movie back is the villain but aside from that, that’s it. I honestly don’t get why this movie is criticised so much.

This movie does tell the origin of Spider-Man and it is similar but different from the first movie. This film does have some usual moments with Peter being bitten by a spider, getting his powers, his uncle being shot and Peter becoming Spider-Man. The original Spider-Man seemed to present the story like a comic book whereas The Amazing Spider-Man does it more like a movie. Personally I liked how it told its story here. I also like how it showed Peter discovering his powers, there’s quite a lot of time dedicated to this. The pacing is pretty steady, never too fast, never too slow. On top of that, it does have more going on than in the original Spider-Man but it’s still quite easy to follow. From start to finish I was riveted and entertained by the film. Although it doesn’t feel like it, there are some scenes missing, which really hold the film back from being the best it possibly can in one aspect (I’ll get into it later). But asides from that aspect, I don’t have that many complaints about The Amazing Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield is the 2nd actor to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man and this is a very different interpretation from Tobey Maguire’s. While a lot of people didn’t like that this version of Spider-Man was a lot more edgy, I liked that. Maguire’s version, as much as I love it, doesn’t exactly work for our time nowadays. Andrew’s however fits perfectly in the 2010s. He’s a genius with a bit of a quirky, eccentric and fast paced demeanour. And the thing is that I can perfectly see a character like that dressing up like a spider and fighting crime. While I personally Andrew’s Spider-Man more, obviously there are plenty of others who prefer Tobey’s, I guess it depends on what you prefer to see in Spider-Man. Honestly the only negative thing that I’ll say about Garfield’s Spider-Man here is that he is clearly too old for the role, he does not look like a teenager in high school at all and that can be very distracting at times. But that’s really it. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, who’s the love interest of the movie, but honestly just saying the love interest would be a disservice to her character. She is a well done character on her own, she’s not just a superhero’s girlfriend who’s only existence is to be saved. But on top of that, Garfield and Stone have excellent chemistry, it is very believable (though a big part of that is probably that they were both dating at the time, so the chemistry would be easy for them). Honestly its one of the best relationships in a comic book movie(s) (with this and Amazing Spider-Man 2). The supporting cast was also quite good with Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan and many others, most of them get a good chance to shine.

The villain is Curt Connors/The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. I have mixed feelings on him. Ifans is well cast in the role and he is good when he’s on screen, he does the best he possibly can. Connors is given a lot of good setup, with him knowing Peter’s father, and his desire to get a cure which would fix his physical impairment (a missing arm), I’d even say that the setup is perfect. However the payoff with him becoming The Lizard is just slightly above average. After the first transformation, The Lizard becomes a rather generic villain who becomes motivated to do his plan…. Because he feels like it. He’s not bad and he does have some good moments, but he definitely felt very weak. However its worth noting that he had many of his scenes removed, and these scenes at the very least made him stronger as a character. And these scenes could’ve easily been put into the film. But Sony does what Sony often does, and cut these scenes out. Watch the movie and directly afterwards watch the deleted scenes, you’ll be shocked at what they cut out.

The Amazing Spider-Man series does make use of the advanced technology. The action scenes are fast and intense, everything that I think most of us would want to see in a modern day Spider-Man movie. The CGI doesn’t look fake at any point (except for maybe the Lizard, and even then it’s more an issue with the design). It is a nice looking movie, especially when Spider-Man is in action, seeing him swing around really is something great. While it’s an unpopular opinion to have, I really dig the Spider-Man suit in this movie. It seems like the type of costume that this version of Peter Parker would wear and use as Spider-Man. It’s a very unique look and I would’ve loved to have seen that suit return for the sequel. The music by James Horner was really great.

The Amazing Spider-Man is honestly quite an underrated superhero movie. It has most of the elements of a great superhero movie, with a well written and acted superhero lead, a riveting and entertaining story and great action. The only problem I can find with it is the villain, and even then he’s not horrible, he’s just okay and feels weak in comparison to a lot of the other elements. Come to think of it, The Amazing Spider-Man is probably the second best Spider-Man, only behind Spider-Man 2 (very unpopular opinion, I know). But it’s honestly not that far off. Marc Webb has done a great job with Spider-Man.

Prometheus (2012) Review

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
Idris Elba as Janek
Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway
Sean Harris as Fifield
Rafe Spall as Millburn
Director: Ridley Scott

The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.

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Prometheus is one of the most unfairly disliked movies of the 2010s. The highly anticipated Alien prequel (with director Ridley Scott returning) was met with some very mixed opinions. Some loved it, others were immensely disappointed with what they got. While there are some writing issues and it would’ve benefited from being longer, most of the film is actually great. It’s has a very intriguing and suspenseful story, and does tie into Alien quite well, despite leaving some unanswered questions. Prometheus is very underrated, and it will hopefully be better looked upon in the future.

False expectations likely played a large part in this movie being unfairly judged. This is not a direct prequel to Alien, you won’t see the Xenomorphs attacking people or anything like in the classic Alien movies, you really need to know all this going in, or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment (like plenty of people already had). It has a lot more depth and is also its own thing, with religious themes that it explores and more. You also need to know that it doesn’t answer all the questions that this film asks. It’s possible that Scott wanted to expand his prequel story over multiple movies, which is why many things aren’t addressed. But I did find this movie very engaging and suspenseful. I was interested throughout, I wasn’t ever bored. It added new levels of history to the Alienverse and learning more and more about it was absolutely investing. That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have any issues. Prometheus infamously have many cases of characters just making some really dumb decisions, two in particular (one involves people running away from a large falling object and the other involving a newly discovered alien life). The characters aren’t really that interesting (they really weren’t the high point of the movie), the best characters were Noomi Rapace’s Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s David. The biggest problem however is the length of the movie, 2 hours and 4 minutes. It really feels like this movie should’ve been longer than it actually ended up being. I did see some deleted scenes of the movie and some of them did really work for the movie. I’m not suggesting that this movie was unfairly cut down or had editing issues, I just feel like it should’ve been longer, so that this movie would be able to go even deeper.

There are two highlight performances. One is Noomi Rapace, she’s the lead of the movie, a lot more history and depth have been given to her character compared to many of the other characters, and on top of that Rapace did a great job in her role. The other highlight performance is Michael Fassbender as an android named David, who basically steals the show. He is just so convincing and unsettling, you can’t tell what his intentions are. Definitely one of Fassbender’s more underrated performances. As I said earlier, most of the characters aren’t that interesting, everyone else other than Rapace and Fassbender didn’t leave much of an impression. I guess the only other performance which is really memorable is Idris Elba, but that’s because of his effortless charisma, which elevated his role in the movie. Other actors like Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green were fine but they really didn’t stand out much, mostly due to their boring and uninteresting characterisation.

The direction by Ridley Scott is absolutely fantastic here (unsurprisingly). The visuals are beautiful, the CGI is great and is implemented well in the movie. The designs of all the locations, ships and creatures are so well put together. Also when Ridley Scott directs horror and suspense here, he does it so well. There are many cases of this but the biggest example involves a surgery, if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about. Directionwise this movie is pretty much perfect.

Prometheus is not a perfect movie. There are some issues in the writing and characterisation, and it would’ve much benefited with a longer running time. But it is definitely worth a watch, and doesn’t deserve all the hate its been receiving. It has a story which is interesting, suspenseful, creepy, and very engaging. And it was nice seeing some of the connections with the first Alien (even if it doesn’t address everything, yet at least) With Alien Covenant coming out very soon, I’m expecting a Prometheus sequel, just with slightly more Xenomorph content than we get here. And I’m completely fine with that.

The Avengers (2012) Review

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The Avengers

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Joss Wheddon

When Thor’s evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury’s “dream team” are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

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This is the first combining of a superhero team on the big screen. Everything could have gone wrong, nothing like this has ever been done before. Yet with Joss Whedon’s direction The Avengers have now successfully been integrated and just seeing all these characters on screen at the same time is a real joy to watch. Although it’s by no means a perfect movie, its pros more than make up for the cons and is for me one of the most enjoyable movies to watch.

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Joss Whedon is great at writing dialogue and The Avengers is no exception. The dialogue is very well written, there is a lot of great back and forth between the characters. Even though a lot of people love this movie more than Age of Ultron I will say the plot isn’t particularly strong. It’s thinly strung together and its fine but I think that people that disliked Age of Ultron’s plot forgot that the original didn’t have a great plot. It does the job fine but it wasn’t as well done as it could have been. However it does give convincing reasons why all the superheroes work together. The main reason to watch the movie is to see all these superheroes together. The entire third act is nonstop action and is by far the best part of the movie, seeing all of these superheroes in action was a joy to watch.

“Marvel's The Avengers” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) join forces in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” opening in theaters on May 4, 2012. The Joss Whedon–directed action-adventure is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and also stars Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

All the actors do play each other really well and they have great writing to support them as well. The film establishes clear differences between characters, especially between Steve Rodgers and Tony Stark. Mark Ruffalo replaces Edward Norton as the Hulk and he did as well as Norton, he probably worked better as an Avenger Hulk than Norton, which is probably why the recasting happened in the first place. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and he is having a lot of fun in the role. The one character that felt a little weak was Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Renner does well in the movie it’s just that the film doesn’t really go much into detail in who he is (Age of Ultron fixed that though).

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The special effects and action scenes are as usual great. Many of the fights are great, from Thor vs Iron Man, to Hulk vs Thor and of course the final battle scene in New York, which is one of the best action climaxes in any superhero movie. The costumes for all the characters as usual look good, except for Captain America. His look in The First Avenger (and The Winter Soldier) looked great, but his new outfit here looked a little ridiculous and it was a little hard to take him seriously, even if it looked more accurate to the comic book.

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The Avengers isn’t a perfect movie. The reason why Age of Ultron wasn’t received as well was because it wasn’t as much of a surprise the second time round, and audiences could pick up on the issues more. The Avengers’ plot isn’t particularly strong and not all of the characters are fully developed yet (Hawkeye) but even if it’s not a perfect movie, it’s still one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever watched. It’s one of those movies I can watch again and again and never get tired of. This film should at the very least be commended for actually putting 6 superheroes on the screen at the same time and made it work. We’ll have to see if DC can do that with the Justice League.

The Hunger Games (2012) Review

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The Hunger Games

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
Lenny Kravitz as Cinna
Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow
Director: Gary Ross

Set in a future North America known as “Panem”, the Capitol selects a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the twelve outlying districts to compete in the annual “Hunger Games”, a televised fight-to-the-death. The film is centred on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) – a 16-year-old girl from District 12, who volunteers for her 12-year-old sister, Prim, when Prim’s name is chosen – and Katniss’s fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), with whom she has some rather dramatic history. Katniss is then rushed to the Capitol, where she undergoes intense training before being thrust into the arena to fight to become the victor of the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games.

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The Hunger Games is a decent movie and is much better than some of the other young adult book adaptations. However I do think that it is a little overrated. Although the acting is good and the writing is decent, the story wasn’t always engrossing and the action scenes are filmed shakily. Catching Fire greatly improved over the first film but The Hunger Games is still by no means a bad movie. It’s still worth watching if you haven’t seen it already but I don’t think it’s as great as others had said it was.

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I wasn’t completely sucked into the story but it was easy to follow and I was interested in what was going on. The movie was well balanced, with its character developing moments and the action. I also should probably give The Hunger Games credit for having a much darker tone than most young adult book movies. One problem I had with the movie that I wasn’t entirely attached to these characters (except for Katniss), so when certain things happened to them, (for example when certain people died) I didn’t really feel anything for them. I also didn’t really buy the forced love subplot between Katniss and Peeta, it comes out of nowhere, but that’s just a minor flaw of the movie.

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Jennifer Lawrence is great as Katniss, and is by far the most interesting character in the whole movie, which is funny when you consider the fact that Katniss really isn’t an interesting character. All of this comes from Lawrence’s performance, she makes her character interesting and believable. The rest of the cast like Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson do quite well in their roles but I didn’t really remember them as much as Jennifer Lawrence. A problem I had was that some of the other children in the Hunger Games were just one dimensional and generically evil, but I think that’s more of a fault in the writing.

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The action of the film is the worst element of the film and it’s not because it’s poorly set up or anything because I like a lot of the ideas that they had. It’s all to do with the cinematography. It is so shaky and can get very annoying and incomprehensible. The cinematography of the rest of the scenes does look quite good. While I do take issue with the cinematography during the action scenes, the areas do look quite nice and authentic.

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The Hunger Games is a decent film which spawned a lot of other young adult adaptations, some of them better than others. This film doesn’t always succeed, its story wasn’t always interesting and the action scenes are at times incomprehensible. Despite its flaws, I still say it’s still worth watching if you haven’t seen it before. However Catching Fire improved upon this movie and fixed a lot of the issues that this film had, resulting in a great and much better movie.