Tag Archives: Benicio Del Toro

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick
Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
Isabela Moner as Isabela Reyes
Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing
Catherine Keener as Cynthia Foards
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Gallo
Director: Stefano Sollima

FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) when Mexican drug cartels start to smuggle terrorists across the U.S. border. The war escalates even further when Alejandro kidnaps a top kingpin’s daughter (Isabela Moner) to deliberately increase the tensions. When the young girl is seen as collateral damage, the two men will determine her fate as they question everything that they are fighting for.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Sicario was one of the best films of 2015 and I liked it even more upon my second viewing, however I had mixed feelings about a sequel to Sicario. Although actors Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin and writer Taylor Sheridan were returning, actress Emily Blunt, director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins weren’t returning. Also, I just couldn’t see how a sequel to Sicario could be done, it seemed so much like a standalone movie that it didn’t feel like more could be done with the story. Every movie that Taylor Sheridan has written for however has turned out great, so I gave it a chance. Having seen it, I have to say that Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. Aside from the lack of Denis Villeneuve and some of the pacing at the beginning, Soldado has a compelling story and great performances, putting it close to being on par with the original Sicario.

Soldado is just as bleak and ruthless as the first movie, a particular scene in the first 10 minutes really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. This really does feel like a continuation of the first Sicario and not some very distant and barely resemblent cousin. At the same time, it’s not a cheap clone of the original. One the best parts about Soldado is that is has quite a different story to Sicario, while both movies involves cartels, the first movie is about drugs and the latest is about terrorism. Rewatching Sicario somewhat recently, I also noticed that it had a very straightforward and focussed story. Soldado on the other hand is much more complex and less conventional. It effectively shows the impact on everyone and there is very little black and white here, just a lot of grey areas. It also feels like on a much larger scale. Soldado does show off more of del Toro’s Alejandro and Brolin’s Matt (given that they get more screentime now that they are the only two main characters), which means we get a better sense of their characters. I’ve heard some say that certain parts about them, certain decisions they make, feel a little out of character for them, especially compared how ruthless they were in the first movie. First of all, its Taylor Sheridan who wrote this, so no one knows these characters better than him. Second of all, I didn’t find it that jarring, we are seeing more sides to them. They still aren’t particularly good people and they still do some horrible things to achieve their goals, its just showing more sides to them that we didn’t see before. The way that things are left at the end of the movie is pretty much set up for a sequel, so a lot of the way certain things are done here will depend on how it’ll be done in the third movie. The movie is about the length of the original Sicario, about a few minutes longer. Aside from the early moments of the film, I felt that Soldado moved noticeably faster. Not that Sicario was unbearably slow or anything (even though it was slower paced), its just I felt that Soldado was paced better. There aren’t too many problems I have with the movie. The beginning is a little slow, after the first 20 minutes however it really picks up. There also might also be one or two implausible moments most of it like the first movie is still pretty set grounded in reality, but the moments that seem a little unrealistic do stick out. The sense of dread that was so prevalent in the original Sicario is not apparent as much here, though it might just be because it’s a different type of story. Also, while I’m not sure if this is an actual problem, you do feel the lack of Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, who served in the first film as almost an audience surrogate, someone with high morals that you can root for with most of the other main characters (del Toro and Brolin) not exactly having them. So for some, Soldado might be lacking something but for this story, it worked fine enough. I’d like for her to return in the inevitable 3rd Sicario movie though. The biggest standout problem however was the ending. While the last moments of Soldado will prove to be divisive in terms of realism, I could somewhat handle it. It’s the last scene that really doesn’t work, it is so blatant sequel bait that it feels really out of place, almost like it was studio mandated and not written by Sheridan himself. Had they just removed that last scene, it could’ve been ended perfectly.

The acting is all around great, with the main two leads giving fantastic performances once again. With the main characters just being Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, they get a lot more to do than in the previous movie, and we get to see a lot more of them, del Toro’s character of Alejandro especially. Alejandro in the Sicario movies is one of Benicio’s best roles and in the sequel he’s even better. Another good performance is by Isabela Moner as the daughter of a kingpin that del Toro and Brolin kidnap in order to initiate the war between two cartels.

With Soldado, you really feel the lack of Denis Villeneuve. However, when I say this I don’t mean to badmouth the direction of this movie, Stefano Sollima’s handling of Soldado is actually quite good, and there isn’t particularly anything about it that I could consider to be flawed. It doesn’t look as good as the Roger Deakins filmed Sicario, but Soldado still looks pretty good, with the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski being quite effective and good looking. Despite the trailers making the movie out to be much more ‘action packed’, the level of ‘action’ is about the same level as with Sicario. As with the original, these sequences aren’t really action scenes, they are bursts of thrilling, tense and grim violence that don’t actually last for very long that are heavily set in reality, you don’t watch them for entertainment. Sicario composer Johann Johansson sadly passed away earlier this year, so for Soldado we have Hildur Guðnadóttir as the composer (who also worked on the first Sicario as a cello soloist). The score is a little different to the original film’s but it is similar in tone and is quite effective.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is actually one of my favourite movies of the year, with its performances and the complex story by Taylor Sheridan being the highlights. How it compares to the original remains to be seen as I’ll probably need to give it a rewatch before I can say, but they are closer in quality than I thought they would be. I’m on board for a third and final Sicario film, Sheridan clearly is moving this story and these characters in a particular direction and I’d love to see what he has planned.

Sicario (2015) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Emily Blunt as Kate Macer
Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick
Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
Victor Garber as Dave Jennings
Jon Bernthal as Ted
Daniel Kaluuya as Reggie Wayne
Director: Denis Villeneuve

After rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession, idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) receives a top assignment. Recruited by mysterious government official Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), Kate joins a task force for the escalating war against drugs. Led by the intense and shadowy Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), the team travels back-and-forth across the U.S.-Mexican border, using one cartel boss (Bernardo Saracino) to flush out a bigger one (Julio Cesar Cedillo).

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Denis Villeuneve already started becoming one of my favourite directors ever since I saw Prisoners for the first time, and when I saw Sicario for the first time, he solidified himself as one of the best directors working today. Once again, he showcased his incredible talents behind the camera. Sicario is a dark and gripping thriller, made even better by the excellent direction and acting. Watching it again only made me appreciate this film even more.

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This is Taylor Sheridan’s first script and for a writing debut, he did a great job here. He would go on to write for great films like Hell or High Water, Wind River and soon the hopefully good Sicario sequel. This movie did very well in establishing a very dark tone and feels really based in reality. It feels appropriately unpleasant and uneasy throughout, really making Juarez feel like a threatening and dangerous place that our characters are inside and in danger. From beginning to end, you never feel that these characters are completely safe. Understand that while this movie does have some thrilling sequences and is about the cartel, it’s not an action filled movie. It takes its time with its pacing and plot. And with that I can see some people feeling that the scenes are a little too long, but I didn’t experience any of these problems, at least on my second viewing. The movie does end up shifting in perspective from Emily Blunt to Benicio del Toro in the last act. It wasn’t necessarily a bad decision, it’s just that it was a little jarring all of a sudden a change in protagonists after we got used to Emily Blunt following for about an hour and a half. This movie is 2 hours long, having seen it twice I would’ve liked it to be slightly longer, but it’s not like a major problem or anything. Otherwise it’s a rather suiting runtime.

The acting was all around great. Emily Blunt is great in here as the lead, this is probably her best performance to date (at least from what I’ve seen from her). She was really the audience surrogate (maybe a little too much), but she still works well enough as a character. You can see her character change over time as she witnesses more things over the course of the movies. She’s very much wanting to do things by the book and that is conflicted by certain aspects. While the character potentially could’ve been improved, Emily Blunt does elevate the character with her performance. Josh Brolin was really good here, exerting a lot of charm while hiding a lot of his true intentions, very memorable performance. However we don’t really get to find out too much about him as a character. A standout however was Benicio del Toro, he plays an intriguing character due to his backstory being shrouded in secrecy until it’s revealed later on. Del Toro also gives quite an effective performance as his character of Alejandro. Daniel Kaluuya was also really good in his role, getting to stand out amongst the rest of the cast. Other actors like Victor Garber and Jon Bernthal added to the movie as well.

Denis Villeneuve’s direction is once again fantastic, he handled the whole film very well. Elevating the film even more is the cinematography by Roger Deakins, which unsurprisingly is phenomenal once again. He portrays Juarez as being a very dangerous place and displays it well. The action sequences are also fantastically shot and feel grounded in reality. There are lots of tense scenes that are effective, Villeneuve places you right in the middle of these situations. One of the examples of said scenes was a border crossing scene in the first half of the movie. The soundtrack from Johann Johannsson was also excellent, ominous and haunting. The whole movie really does a great job at making you feel uncomfortable and unsettled.

Sicario was another great film by Denis Villeneuve, delivering one of the best films of 2015. Sicario upon its release only solidified Villeneuve as a director to really pay attention to. I’m not sure how the sequel, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, will end up being but with Taylor Sheridan, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin returning, I’m confident that it’ll be something good.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
Benicio del Toro as DJ
Director: Rian Johnson

Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

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Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I loved The Force Awakens and with Rian Johnson attached to direct the sequel I was looking forward to where the story would progress. The Last Jedi has what you would typically expect in a good Star Wars movie, great characters and top notch visual effects and action sequences. But it managed to do something that recent Star Wars movies haven’t been able to do: surprise me. It went in directions I didn’t expect. After thinking upon it for a while, The Last Jedi just might be one of the all time best Star Wars movies.

First thing I want to say is to make sure you don’t see any spoilers, I saw none of them before going in and I was surprised by many of the things that happened. For that reason, I can’t go into too much depth about why this movie is great. The story is darker and bleaker than The Force Awakens, yes it is still quite fun, it has very effective humour and it does have its good dose of adorable creatures in the form of Porgs, which are these little penguin hamster creatures (and surprisingly they are actually cute and not annoying). It’s very much still Star Wars. But at the same time it feels like its something different, most people in charge of this film wouldn’t go in this direction with its story and characters. If you felt that The Force Awakens plays it way too safe, I can see you liking The Last Jedi more. I can see this film dividing some audience members with regard to some of the decisions that the story takes but for me, I loved these decisions. I know I’m being very vague when talking about the plot but that’s because in order to do that I would have to go in depth and I just can’t, not in a non-spoiler review at least. As for whether some of these risky decisions should have been made at all, I think that a lot of it will depend on how the story is resolved in episode 9. This movie is 150 minutes long, making it the longest Star Wars movie to date. For the most part it earns its long runtime, and I say for the most part because there is a section which takes place on a planet with Boyega’s Finn and Marie Tran’s Rose that feels rather unnecessary. Outside of that I think most of the plot is great.

The returning cast is great, Daisy Ridley continues to impress as Rey, John Boyega is great as Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe gets a lot more to do here. Regardless of what you think about the character of Snoke, there’s no denying that Andy Serkis acted so well, this time we see Snoke in his non-holographic form and Serkis is so fantastic in his scenes. Carrie Fisher is as usual great as Leia and yes, she does have her chance to shine in certain moments. Carrie Fisher will be sorely missed. We also get some newcomers. Kelly Marie Tran is really good and likable in her role, if I can understand correctly this is the first real film that she’s been in and she does such a great job here. Laura Dern is also quite good in her role. If there’s a weak link, it’s Benicio del Toro’s character, Benicio is quite good in the role but the character feels like he could be played by anyone and wasn’t that memorable and didn’t feel that necessary. If I was to pinpoint the two stand outs of the whole film, I’d say that it’s Mark Hamill and Adam Driver. Mark Hamill is fantastic as Luke Skywalker, Luke has clearly been through a lot and has changed as a result from Kylo’s turn to the darkside and the guilt that he feels for it. He’s less hopeful and he’s not quite what you’d expect him to be but you can tell it’s still Luke, not just a grumpy old Mark Hamill. Not only is this the best Hamill has been as Luke Skywalker, it is also the best he’s ever been in a live action film. With regard to some of the polarising decisions of the film, many of them surround him, that’s all I’ll say. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was one of the highlights of The Force Awakens and he was a highlight once again here. He’s even more conflicted and unstable now due him killing his father in episode 7 (if you haven’t watched The Force Awakens you really shouldn’t be reading this review by the way) and watching his journey was intriguing. Kylo Ren is almost at Darth Vader’s level in terms of Star Wars villains. Really everyone is great here, and they all get to have at least one moment to shine.

Rian Johnson directed this film excellently. The visual effects are incredible, there wasn’t a moment that stood out to me as being out of place in terms of CGI. The cinematography… I’m just going to say it, out of all the Star Wars films, The Last Jedi has the best cinematography. There are countless beautifully shot sequences, all of them fantastic. All the action sequences are great and I’d consider most of them to be amongst the best in the Star Wars series. It succeeded so well at making these sequences feel incredibly tense. The only sequence that felt out of place was the one I mentioned earlier with Finn and Rose, and even then that’s more to do with tone and how unnecessary it felt. The score by John Williams was also great, while his score for The Force Awakens was fine, it was below the quality of most of the other Star Wars scores. Here with the Last Jedi it’s absolutely great and it adds so much to the scenes.

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi wasn’t what I was expecting, along with being fun and entertaining, it is much more, it makes decisions that will divide its audience and for it to be this risky, I have to give Rian Johnson a lot of props. The story was so different from what I was expecting and without giving anything away, I loved it. I personally loved almost everything in this movie, all but one or two aspects. I’m going to say this now, The Last Jedi is in my top 2 favourite Star Wars movies. This movie is already dividing some audiences, even those who liked it have some aspect that they aren’t entirely sure about. So I say this, avoid all spoilers and just go into the movie with no expectations, even if some of the decisions are different, just be willing enough to go with it. And don’t try to predict where the story is going, because you won’t. I couldn’t be happier with this film and I’m now waiting with anticipation and nervousness to see whether Episode 9 will deliver a solid conclusion to the new Star Wars trilogy.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Review

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Guardians of the Glaxy

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
John C. Reilly as Corpsman Rhomann Dey
Glenn Close as Nova Prime Irani Rael
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Director: James Gunn

Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan (Lee Pace), a powerful villain. To evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with four disparate misfits: gun-toting Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), treelike-humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel), enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and vengeance-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). But when he discovers the orb’s true power and the cosmic threat it poses, Quill must rally his ragtag group to save the universe.

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Guardians of the Galaxy was another risk on Marvel’s part. Not only did it take part in a part of the Marvel universe that most people don’t know, but it also had characters that no one had heard about. Plus it initially looked plain silly, 5 people band together to form a team, one of them is a giant talking tree and another is a talking racoon. This was the movie that convinced me that Marvel can do no wrong. It is riddiculusly fun, has great characters and it’s just pure entertaining.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..L to R: Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) & Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)..Ph: Jay Maidment..?Marvel 2014

The plot is very standard, everyone is after an object, and the main characters are trying to keep it from the villain. The story plot isn’t really anything special, the best elements come from the execution. The only flaw in Guardians of the Galaxy aside from the villain is that I wasn’t totally invested in the story, but then again this isn’t that type of superhero movie. The characters are really likable, which really helps us get into them and the film needs that seeing as how this film doesn’t just have 1 or 2 new characters, but 5 new characters. This film knows how ridiculous the ideas are and the best part about it is that it embraces it. This is also the funniest movie in the Marvel Universe. All of the characters have their funny moments and play off each other very well.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy are, from left, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord/Peter Quill, Vin Diesal as Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, and Zoe Saldana as Gamora. (Marvel/MCT)

All the actors are really good and as I said earlier, they play off each other well. Chris Pratt was fantastic as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana is great (playing another alien), Vin Diesel worked as a tree who can only say three words (I am Groot) and wrestler Dave Bautista makes his big onscreen debut as a guy who takes everything literally (you know what I mean if you’ve watched the movie). Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon could make or break this movie, thankfully it’s the former and he steals every scene he’s in. Lee Pace’s Ronan isn’t very interesting as a villain, which is really the film’s greatest problem. I do think that the actor has more to work with and is decent, much better than Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. It’s really just the writing that let him down. We get a couple of scenes of Josh Brolin as Thanos and while we don’t get a lot of him in it, I’m liking what I’m seeing and I’m looking forward to see him as the main villain in the Avengers Infinity Wars movies.

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The action scenes are fantastic. It was much more Star Wars/Star Trek type action than the usual Marvel superhero movie action. Everything is also on such a big scale, there are many locations that the 5 main characters travel to and all of them look great. The soundtrack was also good, it has a lot of classic music which surprisingly worked in with many of the scenes and some of them were even action scenes.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..L to R: Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was the movie that proved to me that Marvel can do no wrong. It had likable actors, great action, brilliant writing and it was overall fun. With a sequel coming in 2017, I am very excited to see the Guardians of the Galaxy returning to the big screen.

2016 Oscar Predictions

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, movie awards really don’t matter. There are plenty of movies that should win but don’t, some of them don’t even get nominated, and there are some movies that don’t really deserve to win, but win anyway. So no matter what happens during the awards ceremony, it doesn’t really matter. But still, it’s fun to predict what movies will win and at the same time state what you think should win. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to give my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards. I have watched most of the films in the major categories but occasionally there’s a movie like The Hateful Eight which I can’t or just haven’t seen, so just keep that in mind.

* – Haven’t seen yet

BEST PICTURE

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The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room*
Spotlight

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Carol

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Best Director

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Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room*
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Will Win – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Should Win – George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Todd Haynes – Carol

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years*
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win – Brie Larson, Room
Should Win – Cate Blanchett, Carol
Should’ve Been Nominated – Rooney Mara, Carol (instead of being nominated for supporting)

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should’ve Been Nominated – Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight*
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win – Rooney Mara, Carol

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room*

Will Win – The Big Short
Should Win – The Big Short
Should’ve Been Nominated – Steve Jobs

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina*
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton*

Will Win – Spotlight
Should Win – Spotlight
Should’ve Been Nominated – The Hateful Eight*

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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Anomalisa*
Boy and the World*
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie*
When Marnie Was There*

Will Win – Inside Out
Should Win – Inside Out

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Will Win – The Hateful Eight
Should Win – The Hateful Eight
Should’ve Been Nominated – Mad Max: Fury Road – Junkie XL

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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Carol
The Hateful Eight*
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

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Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared*
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST FILM EDITING

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The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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So what are your thoughts, what do you think will win, what do you think should win and what do you think should’ve been nominated? Comment below and let me know your predictions for 2016.

Sin City (2005)

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Sin City

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Cast:
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Clive Owen as Dwight
Bruce Willis as Hartigan
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy
Brittany Murphy as Shellie
Elijah Wood as Kevin

Three tales of crime adapted from Frank Miller’s popular comics which focuses around Marv (Mickey Rourke), a muscular brute who’s looking for the person responsible for the death of his true love, Goldie; Dwight (Clive Owen), a man fed up with Sin City’s corrupt law enforcement who takes the law into his own hands after a mistake and Hartigan (Bruce Willis), a cop who risks his life to protect a girl (Jessica Alba) from a deformed pedophile.

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This is the only comic book movie that has been translated from the graphic novel to the big screen. As someone who read the graphic novels (in preparation for my viewing of the movie) I am blown away at what Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller managed to do with this movie. Robert Rodriguez was the perfect director for this movie, managing to create an film adaptation that every Sin City fan will enjoy.

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The first thing you need to know about this film is that it does have an unusual structure. It mostly focuses on three stories and it shows one story at a time but isn’t necessarily placed in chronological order; chronologically they are happening around the same time. Some of the characters like Marv aren’t just in one story, and may make an appearance in another. All of the dialogue and some of the pictures drawn in the graphic novel are in the film. In many ways, this is the first movie based on a source material that didn’t really need to be adapted; it was just put on film. It was like they scanned the pages of the graphic novels onto the big screen. There is also a guest director appearance from Quentin Tarantino, directing a great scene between Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro.

The actors in this movie successfully embody the characters they play. Sin City has a huge cast; with actors like Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro and many others. Like I said earlier, the dialogue from the characters in the graphic novels are the dialogue here, and each actor delivers the lines just as I imagine the characters would. Everyone here is good and all of the actors seem to be the characters, just as if they have been taken from the comics.

Hartigan

One of the best things and stand outs about Sin City is its style. The graphic novels have a black and white “noir” look about it. Not everything is black and white, sometimes some things in the movie actually have colour, such as a red dress or golden hair. The violence in this movie is also stylized – most of the blood seen is white and only in some cases is red. This stylistic approach to a comic book adaptation is a first of its kind. This film can have a lot of engrossing investing moments, especially with some scenes where there isn’t dialogue and it allows viewers to take in the giant scale of the locations. This also means the action is filmed very well, and this fact isn’t surprising as this comes from action director Robert Rodriguez. The score mostly composed by Robert Rodriguez is also great and really adds to the atmosphere.

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Anyone who has read the graphic novels will be very satisfied with this movie. This is my favourite movie by Robert Rodriguez and it is hard imagining him outdoing this movie with the upcoming sequel: Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For but I’m still excited to see what he brings to it. As for this movie, the style, the performances, and just the tone and mood make it great. I don’t know if people who haven’t read the comics will like it as much due to the different structure but in my opinion, this film is one of the best comic book ‘adaptations’ that I’ve seen.