Tag Archives: Christoph Waltz

No Time to Die (2021) Review

PdamFUd547ufrpAGEenRTc

No Time to Die

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash
Ana de Armas as Paloma
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

After years of delays, No Time to Die has finally arrived. It’s not only the latest James Bond movie (25th of the official movies in fact), but it’s also Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie. I have been really anticipating this movie, I really liked this version of Bond, and I was interested to see how it would conclude everything. It was a great experience, especially in the cinema, and overall I’m prepared to say that I’m satisfied with it.

NO TIME TO DIE

No Time to Die is really a movie that’s worth going into not knowing too much beforehand. The trailers and advertising avoided giving too many plot details for good reason. What’s immediately noticeable is that there’s an interesting blend of tones in this movie. It is bombastic and over the top while also being emotional. First of all, it leans into more the classic Bond aspects than the previous Craig films. The plot has massive global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, there are gadgets throughout, there are plenty of one liners, and overall everything is more over the top. This is also the funniest Bond movie of Craig’s run, with a good amount of well-executed humour which I enjoyed. At the same time there is an emotional core to the film, and it wraps up all the storylines and character journeys for this version of James Bond. If you haven’t seen the previous Craig James Bond movies and are thinking about jumping in here, I would highly recommend watching them (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre) before No Time to Die because it references events from those films. It is very much a follow on from Spectre (the movie), from Madeleine Swann, to Blofeld and Spectre (the organisation). While I’m aware not everyone will be on board with this given that plenty of people weren’t fans of the last movie, I actually thought it worked quite well. In some ways it retroactively made me like some of those aspects from Spectre a lot more. Tonally it sounds like a mess, however it somehow all comes together in the end. Without getting into spoilers, I thought the finale was ultimately emotionally satisfying, and a great sendoff to this version of James Bond. While it does embrace some of the more classic elements of Bond, it’s also a unique entry for a Bond movie. I can’t speak to any issues immediately because there was a lot to take in with this movie. There’s a lot that happens, with plenty of characters, storylines, and parts to wrap up. Speaking of which, the runtime is at around 2 hours 45 minutes long, making this by far the longest movie in the franchise. At times I could feel the length, but I was always invested in what was happening, so that was never a problem for me.

08813516-de12-45ee-9326-06c93d0b2087

This movie really felt like a real ensemble piece more so than the previous Bond movies. First and foremost is Daniel Craig, who delivers his best performance as James Bond. He gets to have a lot of fun moments, from the one liners and humour, to the action. Craig’s Bond is the most human and given the most emotions compared to the past versions of the character, and it goes all in with that in this movie. While there are world ending stakes throughout the film, there is no mistake that Bond’s story is the main focus, and Craig delivers all of this so greatly. He plays the character in a way we haven’t seen from him before, and the movie really gives him the opportunity to give a finale for Bond. Lea Seydoux is one of the only Bond girls to actually return from a previous Bond movie, here she’s reprising her role of Madeleine Swann. I liked Seydoux in Spectre but there was something missing with that character in the movie, and I didn’t quite buy the Swann/Bond romance at the end. No Time to Die however makes this relationship really work, and I thought that Seydoux was great here, getting to do a lot more. We also get returning supporting Bond players with Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and even Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, all of them reliable as always. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stravo Blofeld from Spectre, and while he’s not in the movie much, I actually liked him more in this movie, he’s great in his scenes and really leaves an impression. There are some new additions who are great in their parts too. There’s Lashana Lynch who is great as the new 007 (after James Bond had retired at the end of Spectre), and there’s also Billy Magnussen who is good in his role. Ana de Armas is a scene stealer, delivering a really fun and entertaining performance but unfortunately doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime. Nonetheless, she makes a strong impression. There’s also the new Bond villain as played by Rami Malek. He doesn’t quite reach the heights of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale or Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but I think he’s a solid enough villain for this movie, especially as he’s the biggest adversary to Craig’s Bond yet. Malek’s character is definitely over the top, as you would expect for someone named Lyutisfier Safin. He is a strong and creepy screen presence, and absolutely nails the scenes that he’s in. There’s nothing really wrong with him writing or acting-wise, however he’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve liked.

NO TIME TO DIE

The newest director to helm a Bond film is Cary Fukunaga, and while I haven’t seen all of his other work, I can say that his work on Sin Nombre and Maniac is great. As expected, his direction for No Time to Die is fantastic and feels fresh and distinct in the franchise. There is this constant energy felt throughout, making even the more slower paced sections felt energised. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is great, really giving this movie a very vibrant look, and it helps that the film takes advantage of the memorable locations it takes place at. The action is truly stellar, starting with an early action set piece with Bond in a motorcycle and then in a car, and only continuing to be great from there. The action is often filmed with long takes, with particularly one of the standout action scenes involving a stairway later in the movie. All the action is great and rivals the best action sequences from Craig’s past 4 Bond films. Hans Zimmer composes the score and while it doesn’t rank amongst the best work from him or one of the best Bond soundtracks, it is solid and works well for the movie. I also think that Billie Eilish’s main song for the movie was great.

007_WEBSITE_IMAGE_SIZE_LANDSCAPE_SafinMask

No Time to Die ranks alongside Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite James Bond movies. It is very long and there’s a lot to take in, but I loved what I saw from my first viewing of it. Cary Fukunaga delivered a visually stunning and enthralling movie, with great action, an ensemble cast of reliable and solid performances, and a script that’s bombastic and witty yet also appropriately emotional and given enough depth. However, above all else, it served as a great finale for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and it definitely achieved what it set out to do. I’m not really sure what they will do for the next version of James Bond, from the actor to the interpretation of the character. Nonetheless, Craig remains my all-time favourite version of the character’s nearly 50 year run, and I’m happy with the sendoff they gave him with No Time to Die.

Spectre (2015) Retrospective Review

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh/C
Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Ralph Fiennes as M
Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
Director: Sam Mendes

A cryptic message from the past leads James Bond (Daniel Craig) to Mexico City and Rome, where he meets the beautiful widow (Monica Bellucci) of an infamous criminal. After infiltrating a secret meeting, 007 uncovers the existence of the sinister organization SPECTRE. Needing the help of the daughter of an old nemesis, he embarks on a mission to find her. As Bond ventures toward the heart of SPECTRE, he discovers a chilling connection between himself and the enemy (Christoph Waltz) he seeks.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

In my initial Spectre review, I called it a solid James Bond film with some problems holding it back quite a bit. I still like the movie but having seeing it a couple of times since then, even more problems are apparent to me, with regard to the balance of the usual Craig Bond stuff and the classic Bond elements, the painfully underwhelming third act and way too many issues to fit into one sentence.

Since I already did a spoiler free review of Spectre, I’m going to delve into some spoilers here. With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes managed to balance a lot of the modernised Bond elements with some classic Bond elements, to deliver one of the best films in the series. With Spectre he goes further with the latter aspect, with a clear cut Bond Girl, more gadgets, a fast car filled with gadgets and a lot of the classic Bond tropes. It’s even the first of the Daniel Craig James Bond films to open with the conventional gunbarrel opening scene that almost all of the Bond films have at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the blend of the old and new didn’t quite work this time around. I actually like how Spectre tries to be a continuation of the Craig Era tone and rebooting the classic Bond villain organisation SPECTRE for this rendition of James Bond. The problem is that it also tries to homage some of the much earlier Bond films, with cartoonish humour and having action scenes that don’t challenge Bond (some Roger Moore era things unfortunately), and it really doesn’t fit together. In all the prior Daniel Craig Bond films, Bond is challenged to some degree. Despite all the personal connections that James Bond have to this story however, it feels like a typical run of the mill job for him. Nothing challenges him physically (aside from Dave Bautista), nor as a character mentally, psychologically or whatever. Spectre ties together all the previous Craig movies and while on paper I liked that idea, the way it was done really just didn’t work (I’ll go into that when I talk about Christoph Waltz and his character).

A lot of the things also don’t fit with the established tone of the newer movies, such as the humour. For example, early in the movie, Bond falls from a crumbling building onto a couch, which would work well in a Roger Moore Bond film but it comes across as too silly for Daniel Craig’s Bond. On another note there is also a subplot featuring Andrew Scott’s character trying to take over MI6 because he feels like it’s outdated and trying to replace agents with technology and surveillance. This plotline really falls flat, we’ve seen this happen in other movies, and we’ve seen it done better. It feels like it was pushed into Spectre just to appear somewhat relevant to today but it only just ends up slowing down the plot even more and makes things feel even more dull. I think it might’ve worked and be made more interesting if Andrew Scott’s character didn’t turn out to be a villain and this was only a red herring, however this is not the case. It feels like the movie kept cutting to this subplot because it would later be integral to the plot and it feels forced and distracts more than anything. The third act is both ridiculous yet really underwhelming and filled with a ton of problems, and considering the issues that Spectre has, that’s saying a lot. The film cuts between two things going on at the same time, James Bond with his ‘confrontation’ (in the loosest sense of the word) as well as M, Q and Moneypenny working to stop Andrew Scott, and it’s not that great. There are some implausible things like all the effort that Blofeld no doubt put into setting up things in the old destroyed MI6 building, placing pictures of Bond, Vesper, Silva, Le Chiffre, Greene, M and others throughout the place, writing on the walls and much more, which comes across as just unbelievable and funny considering the gritty tone that these movies have been having. Probably the most unrealistic and preposterous yet extremely underwhelming moment however is when James Bond shoots down a helicopter with a pistol while on a high speed boat in the complete dark, I don’t even think the previous Bond movies would attempt to do something like that and I don’t mean that as a compliment. The only thing going for the third act is that it looks good and the actors are trying, outside of that it’s borderline bad. It really brings down the movie a tremendous amount, some of the rushed things that happen come across as being really lazy, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The movie is long, about 2 hours and a half, and you really feel the length. There are some moments of drawn out nothingness happening, and a lot of the movie can feel rather uninteresting at times. It’s a shame really, because many of the scenes are actually well handled, and the movie has some ideas that had potential, but it doesn’t come togther well.

Despite a lot of faults with the characters, the cast do the best they can with what they have. Daniel Craig is once again the best James Bond yet and does try his best here. In terms of performance however, I’d have to say this is Craig’s worst performance as Bond. I don’t fully blame this on him though, as I said despite some of the personal elements in play in the story, James Bond doesn’t feel conflicted or challenged throughout the entirety of the movie. There are plenty of moments when he should be really invested in what’s going on, but Craig doesn’t really react that much to them. While this might pass for a Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan James Bond performance, it doesn’t work for Daniel Craig who spent 3 movies being a rougher and grittier Bond set in some form of reality and an actual character instead of an archetype. It certainly doesn’t help that he has no clear arc through the movie like the other Craig Bond movies, save for some vague things from his past thrown in and a meaningless therapy session, even Quantum of Solace had a solid character arc. Lea Seydoux is good as another ‘Bond Girl’, unfortunately there’s not a ton of interesting things to her character, she basically only ends up doing two things over the course of the movie (despite being established at one point as being somewhat capable), and feels like she could’ve been played by basically anyone. The romance between her and Bond does come out of nowhere and it’s not really believable, however this could go for almost all of the Bond Girls in the Bond series. It’s only made worse by the ending, which seems to imply that she’s someone special now to Bond even though nothing in the entirety of the movie indicated that to be the case (hopefully No Time to Die fleshes that aspect out a lot more). Seydoux does her best though. Monica Bellucci is another Bond girl who shows up in the first act of the movie and essentially does nothing after like 5 minutes of being on screen. She does provide some exposition but that’s it, almost like you could’ve cast anyone in the role and not try to make them a Bond girl. Maybe that should’ve been done, because it would’ve at least removed the really bad love scene between her and Craig, which came across as being really awkward and creepy. The returning Bond supporting cast do a great job. Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as the new M are all great in their roles. It is nice seeing them get to do stuff and get involved with the plot (especially Whishaw’s Q) though they did feel a little out of place in the climax.

One of Spectre’s most notable problems (and that’s saying a lot) is that the movie doesn’t do great with the antagonists. First of all getting the minor antagonists out of the way, we have Andrew Scott and Dave Bautsista. The moment that Andrew Scott appears on screen, you can tell that he’s going to end up being a villain. Sure, it doesn’t help that he was already known for Moriarty in Sherlock, but the worst part is that he feels really unnecessary to the plot. As I said earlier, the whole plotline was really not needed and Andrew Scott was tied to it, so he really didn’t have much to work with. Scott definitely has talent but he doesn’t get much to do except to be a generic ‘surprise’ villain. Dave Bautista is a Spectre assassin who at times tries to kill James Bond. While he won’t rank among the best James Bond henchman, out of all the Bond villains in this movie he does his job the best, he served his purpose adequately. Of course the main villain however is Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser. Everyone speculated that with the movie being called Spectre, that Waltz would be playing the head of Spectre, Ernst Stravo Blofeld, who appeared in some of the older Bond movies. There was so much denial that this was the case but it was even more predictable than the villain name reveals for Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. Having that name was so forced that they really shouldn’t have tried it, and if they really wanted to stick with that, they shouldn’t have tried to make a surprise twist. One of the many issues that Waltz has is that we don’t get enough of him, we see him once at the end of the first act, the end of the second act and then again in the third act. However, that’s not the only issue. Blofeld isn’t just the head of the Spectre organisation here, it’s revealed that he was also the adopted brother of Bond, who was involved with his father’s death and faked his own death after being jealous that his father liked James Bond. On top of that, everything that happened to Bond, Le Chiffre, Vesper’s death, Dominic Greene, Silva, M’s death, all that was planned by Blofeld… because of childish jealousy or whatever. Hearing all this, and hearing him talk about all this doesn’t make him sound crazy or psychopathic, it makes him sound petty and a little difficult to take seriously, it just sounds so ridiculous. There’s nothing more to his character, he’s not particularly interesting or entertaining and worst of all he’s forgettable. The thing is that he was supposed to be like a big deal, the ultimate villain to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, I mean they gave him the name of Blofeld, a classic Bond villain when they could’ve just kept the name of Franz Oberhauser. And so with all that hype, it really makes him work even less and fall even flatter. To his credit, Christoph Waltz does try his very best and he does add some menace to the character although he does play it like a lot of his other villain roles, really only Quentin Tarantino has manged to utilize Waltz as a villain excellently, in other villain roles he ends up playing rather cliched antagonists. On top of that, Waltz feels trapped in the role, like he’s just on autopilot through the whole thing. They keep his character alive at the end, and thankfully he gets another chance in the upcoming last Craig Bond movie.

Sam Mendes does a pretty good job at directing Spectre, though there are some elements in the technical aspects which hold the movie back (along with the story). The cinematography this time is by Hoyte van Hoyte, who has done the cinematography for such films as Dunkirk, Interstellar and Her, films that were shot truly fantastically. Spectre’s cinematography is still very good but some elements don’t work as well. For example most of the colour pallet is fine except whenever the film does to places like Mexico and Tangier, because it’s suddenly like they put a brown filter over everything. A lot of the action sequences are entertaining and fun, some of them are rather underwhelming. Yes, sometimes we have Bond in a plane chasing a bunch of cars in the snow, crashing through some houses, but as I said before, you don’t ever feel like he’s in a position where he could fail, he always seems on top of things. Fortunately with the editing, unlike Quantum of Solace, you can see what’s going on, but at least Quantum of Solace had some intensity and energy in all of their action scenes. There are a number of examples of the lack of intensity on Spectre’s action scenes, one is Bond’s escape from the Spectre base by simply shooting 3 people, shooting some pipes and the base just blowing up (escaping in less than a minute, really making the Spectre organisation look incompetent), as well as the aforementioned ridiculed shooting down of a helicopter with a peashooter scene. Despite a lot of the problems, it does have some genuinely greatly directed sequences. One for example is the opening sequence, which features a long tracking shot following James Bond through Mexico during the Day of the Dead parade and a fight inside a spinning helicopter, great way to open the movie. Also the fight scene on the train between Bond and Bautistia is good and probably has the most intensity of the action scenes in the movie. The music by Thomas Newman (returning to compose the score after Skyfall) is good but it is a little too similar to Skyfall’s, it actually makes things feel really jarring. Speaking of music, Sam Smith’s song “The Writing on the Wall” played in the opening credits have proved itself polarising to some. It’s not like a normal Bond song but I didn’t mind it personally. I also didn’t mind the opening credits scene.

I still like Spectre to a degree but it is filled with so many problems that brings it down a large amount. Whereas you can see why Quantum of Solace had its issues with the writer’s strike and an incomplete script, I just don’t know what happened with Spectre. Aside from some scenes that were actually really good, much of Spectre is just a slog and is consistently underwhelming, seemingly ranging from being quite good to flat average. Spectre can’t balance the older and newer aspects of Bond, it lacks a lot of the intensity from the prior movies, the story is generally a mixed bag and ends with a very disappointing third act. We can only hope that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film takes the lessons learned from the best and worst of his films to create a great movie.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Aldo “The Apache” Raine
Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus/Emmanuelle Mimieux
Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa
Eli Roth as Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz
Michael Fassbender as Archie Hicox
Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark
Daniel Brühl as Private First Class Fredrick Zoller
Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz
Director: Quentin Tarantino

In World War 2, a group of American soldiers led by LT. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is sent into Nazi occupied France to kill as many Nazis as possible. A plan is made to kill high ranking German officers at a movie theatre. That movie theatre belongs to Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish refugee who witnessed the deaths of her family by Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). When she finds that every major Nazi officer is attending for a premiere, she hatches a plan of her own.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Inglourious Basterds is widely considered one of the best films from Quentin Tarantino, and for good reason. The acting, direction but most of all the writing makes this such a unique, different and entertaining movie, which has gotten better every time I’ve watched it. One of his most complete movies and definitely one of his top tier movies, if not his all time best.

It’s no surprise that Quentin Tarantino’s writing is fantastic, in its 2 hour and 20 minute runtime it doesn’t miss a beat. From start to finish the film is riveting, a good example of one of these scenes, happens to be one of the best scenes, which is at the very beginning; it was a very tense and it’s a credit to the actors and Tarantino. One thing that is different from his other movies is the way it is structured; the film is broken up into chapters, focussing on particular characters. It’s only in the final chapter where both the Basterds, Hans Landa and Shosanna are in the same chapter. As usual the dialogue is fantastic, and while Tarantino could be considered self-indulgent with some of the dialogue in this movies, here all of it feels just right. Another difference is the use of 4 multiple languages throughout the movie, which was definitely a different turn from Tarantino and made things interesting. The final act of this movie is exhilarating and very entertaining in one bloodbath of a finale.

Tarantino gets the best out of everyone who stars in his movies and Inglourious Basterds is no exception. Brad Pitt is hilarious in this movie, especially with his very overplayed accent. Other actors like Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and Daniel Bruhl, all have great moments in this movie and contribute to the movie immensely. There are however two standouts among the cast. The performance that steals the show of course is by Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa. Waltz is magnetic when he’s on screen, that aforementioned opening scene establishes him as an absolute screen presence. Melanie Laurent is often overlooked in this movie but she’s really fantastic here, definitely deserving of much more praise.

Quentin Tarantino effortlessly directs this movie with his style and infuses it with a lot of energy. Tarantino really helps to set the film in the 1940s, from the production design to the costumes, all of it was done well with great detail and it really paid off. Helping this is the music picked for it, even when some of the songs that are used in a much later time period (including Cat People by David Bowie), they fit perfectly in the scenes they are placed in.

Inglourious Basterds has gotten better every single time that I’ve seen it. The performances from its large and talented cast (especially from Melanie Laurent and Christoph Waltz) were great, and of course the writing and direction is at the core of what made it work so well. Though we are still a little while away from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, at this point in time I’d say that Inglourious Basterds may well be Tarantino’s best film yet. Definitely watch it if you haven’t seen it already.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Rosa Salazar as Alita
Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido
Mahershala Ali as Vector
Keean Johnson as Hugo
Jennifer Connelly as Chiren
Ed Skrein as Zapan
Jackie Earle Haley as Grewishka
Director: Robert Rodriguez

Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Walt), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Alita: Battle Angel is a movie I had been hearing about for a while, mainly about how it was based on an manga and the lead actress had motion capture to make her eyes bigger to make her look like the lead character from the source material. Aside from that I really didn’t look too much into the movie. As it started to get close to its release date however, I started to pay attention to it, and I was starting to look forward to it. It has a cast involving Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, James Cameron is producing it, Robert Rodriguez is directing it and at the very least, it looked very visually entertaining. Alita: Battle Angel was better than I thought it would be. It suffers from some problems (mainly the sequel baiting) but on the whole I liked it.

Alita is based on a manga series that I haven’t read but I’ve heard it has a following. I was really wrapped up with this story and the world that it existed in. There is a lot of worldbuilding and for the most part I really liked it. One of the biggest things to note is that this is clearly setting up for future movies and you can feel that throughout the entirety of the movie. For the first two acts it feels like it’s the first half of a movie, I was still on board with what was going on, it’s just that it feels like we should’ve progressed much further in the overall story than we did. With that said, compared to some other movies that try to do a ton of worldbuilding in their first movie, Alita actually does it alright. There is some exposition that just flew completely past me and I didn’t process everything that was set up, however I was able to follow the main story. It also does some sequel baiting and is really relying on the assumption that it will receive some sequels to continue the rest of the story. With that it feels like it’s restraining itself to have this movie cover up to a certain point in the story because other movies would cover later portions of the plot. With that it does make me think that it should’ve been longer, it’s surprisingly only 2 hours long.

Rosa Salazar was perfect in the titular role of the cyborg Alita. You immediately like her when she first appears and she just has such an on screen presence, convincing in both her innocence and in how capable and dangerous she is. She goes through some development over the course of the movie and she was one of the strongest parts of the movie. The rest of the cast is also good. Christoph Waltz is well suited in his role as the scientist who puts Alita back together (best performance I’ve seen from him in a while) and Jennifer Connelly is also good in her role. Mahershala Ali is one of the best actors working right now and here he gets to chew the scenery as one of the villains, it’s not one of his best performances by any means but he plays his role well despite not getting much to do here. The cybernetic villains really get to show off more, with both Ed Skrein and Jackie Earle Haley working well as formidable adversaries for Alita in motion captured roles. The weakest link in the cast was Keean Johnson, but I don’t think it’s necessarily him that’s the problem, it’s more his character and the whole romantic subplot with Alita. Sequel baiting aside, that romantic subplot was the weakest part of the movie, it follows very familiar beats and isn’t entirely convincing, it just feel really forced. I’ve seen it done worse in other movies, it’s just that it really sticks out in this movie when everything else is really good. Thankfully certain reveals at least give his character more to work with than just being the love interest. There are also surprisingly brief appearances from some known actors in the movie. I looked up the cast list after watching and there were some names that I recognised, which was even more surprising since I didn’t notice them in their roles in the movie. Some of them appear in a couple scenes at most. A couple are full on cameos and don’t appear for more than 10 seconds, one of them was quite jarring and was in the middle of the movie. The other was at the end of the movie, in a key role who is clearly going to be heavily involved with the future movies (if they are going to happen). The cameo is also from an underrated but recognisable actor and if the sequels do get made, I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

Robert Rodriguez directed Alita really well, it is really worth seeing in the cinema because it’s a stunning looking movie, Bill Pope really shot this really well. Any time there’s an action scene, it’s fantastic, it’s fast, it’s brutal, and these scenes are among the best moments of the film. Battle Angel can also be surprisingly violent despite it’s PG-13/M rating, there are decapitations and limbs being sliced off and it’s very effective and I loved watching that. Alita does seem to have the upper hand in each situation she’s in (at least in this movie) however it’s directed in such a way that you still feel quite a bit of tension as the people she’s up against seem incredibly dangerous. The visual effects are really good as to be expected but the practical sets and effects are also worth praising, they really have designed this world very well and put a lot of thought into it. Much of the designs are creative and exaggerated which fit this world that they created. As for the motion capture on Rosa Salazar for Alita, it actually works pretty well, you get used to the design very quickly. The score by Tom Holkenborg/Junkie XL is among one of his best, fitting the movie very well and particularly shines during the action scenes.

Alita: Battle Angel is a visually stunning, entertaining and all around solid cyberpunk movie, led by a fantastic performance by Rosa Salazar. I really do think it’s worth seeing, especially in the cinema. Even if you don’t like the story, it’s worth seeing for the visuals alone. I really hope we get to see the sequels, there’s a lot that they set up here and there’s a lot of potential for this series to be truly great.

Spectre (2015) Review

AR-151109468[1]

Spectre

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh
Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Ralph Fiennes as M
Director: Sam Mendes

A cryptic message from James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Spectre has been one of my most anticipated movies of the year, with Skyfall director Sam Mendes returning to deliver another Bond film. However, Spectre has been getting some pretty mixed reviews. I’ve watched the film and I can say that it is good and is worth seeing but it has some problems. The action and production value is great, as well as the performances, however there are quite a lot of problems in the script, it’s not as investing as the previous films and it doesn’t feel complete. With that said, it’s still a good movie and it’s still worth watching.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.

Story wise this movie works but it does have some problems. Without diving too deep into spoilers, Spectre has ties to the previous Bond films, a lot of it is quite personal to Bond but I felt that it didn’t impact him as much as it should have. One of the notable things about this movie is the fact that tonally, it moved away from more of the character driven Bond films like Skyfall and moved onto the more classic Bond films. I felt that it worked for the movie and it’s nice to see a change of tone but I do think it would’ve been better to have a mix between the two tones. I felt that this movie was a little too predictable, there are two twists involving the villains that I saw coming from a mile away. The biggest issue that this film has was actually the way it dealt with its villains, which I’ll get to later. Also the climax felt a little underwhelming and rushed, it didn’t feel complete and it needed something extra to make it stand out. The plot had me interested but I wasn’t as invested as I should have been. Overall the story is decent enough but it could’ve been done better.

james-bond-spectre-official-teaser-0[1]

Daniel Craig as always is a great James Bond. I also liked Lea Seydoux as the Bond girl, she shared good chemistry with Craig. It was nice to see some of the classic Bond team do stuff like Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomi Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Wishaw as Q. Christoph Waltz is good in the movie as the villain but I don’t think the film handled him as well as they should have. First of all we only see him in like 5 scenes and he didn’t feel as big of a threat as he should, especially when you find out how significant he is. One villain that I felt was handled better was Dave Bautista, who acted like the Jaws character, appearing every so often to cause problems for Bond.

cxhris[1]

On a technical level, I think that this film is the same level as Skyfall. The cinematography is gorgeous as expected, the opening shot of the movie is incredible, it’s a 2 minute long tracking shot and it’s actually worth watching the movie, even just for that scene. Skyfall composer Thomas Newman’s score also was quite good and added to this film quite a bit. Although I was initially unsure about how I felt about Sam Smith’s bond song “Writing on the Wall” I’m starting to like it.

daniel-craig-as-james-bond-on-the-set-of-spectre[1]

Spectre is not one of the best Bond films but it is still a good one. I feel like there’s room for Daniel Craig to do one more film before he passes the role onto someone else, it definitely felt like it, when considering how the film ends (not spoiling anything). Casino Royale and Skyfall set the standard of Bond films so high so when this film doesn’t match that level, it’s going to be looked down upon. It’s still better than Quantum of Solace but it still feels a little disappointing, although it’s still a good movie, just not great.

Django Unchained (2012)

django-unchained-photo-e1358454650135[1]

Django Unchained

Time: 165 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Jamie Foxx as Django
Christoph Waltz as Dr King Schultz
Leonardo Dicaprio as Calvin Candie
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda von Shaft
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen
Director: Quentin Tarantino

In 1858 a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) is freed by Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter and former dentist. Schultz offers that in exchange for Django’s help to find the men he is looking for, he’ll help him rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from a plantation in Mississippi.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Quentin Tarantino brings his brilliant writing to this movie. Many of his movies have western influences like Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs, so it is only fitting that he finally managed to make a proper western. The dialogue of this movie is very entertaining but still has range- as many of his movies have. One example of Tarantino’s great writing in this movie involves white hoods – it’s funnier than it sounds here and is hands down one of the best scenes in the whole movie. Another entertaining thing that he brings to most of his movies is the violence. Non-Tarantino fans may not like it but if you are a Tarantino fan, chances are you are entertained by every bloody moment. The violence is deliberately made over the top, at times it can be very funny, which the majority of Tarantino violence is. Not every moment is fun though, there are scenes with slaves which can be unpleasant to the average viewer, for example there is a scene where two slaves are forced to fight to the death. These scenes are about in the middle of the movie and don’t happen very often but it is worth mentioning. Because this film deals with slavery this is probably Tarantino’s most controversial movie but I feel that it was necessary to reference it, not just shying away from lurid subject matters. If there is one thing that Quentin Tarantino never does is shy away from anything.

Django-Nero[1]

Jamie Foxx was great in this movie, it’s cool seeing Django change from a timid slave to a badass gunslinger and you can really see his development as a character. Christoph Waltz is back in a Tarantino film again and shows all his talents here as someone who knows a lot about bounty hunting. Another person that should be mentioned is Leonardo Dicaprio, he plays a plantation owner that later plays a big part in the movie. Dicaprio is a great actor but for some reason this didn’t seem like his type of role: he however absolutely kills it as his character and really shows that he has the range to portray both good characters and absolute vile characters as well (as shown in this movie). The best scene with his character involves a broken glass, that whole scene to me really personifies his character. Also Samuel L. Jackson was perfect in this movie. He plays a house slave to Dicaprio’s character. He was entertaining and really convincing in his role. Kerry Washington isn’t in the movie as much as the previously mentioned cast but does well in her role when she’s on screen. If there is one thing that’s in every Tarantino movie apart from excellent writing, it’s the fact he can get the best out of the cast that he has. Every one of these actors gets to have their chance to shine.

Calvin-Candie-Django-1[1]

This movie also looked really good. This film being a western is set in many places. Another thing that Quentin Tarantino can do is pick the right music for every moment. Like Inglorious Basterds it’s not set in modern times but he still manages to pick the right music. At some point there is a rap song and somehow, it just fitted with the moment.

e0bf36005996545ca1e6645a7ee76241499199c5046f577cdf8537f9[1]

This is another Quentin Tarantino movie that manages to entertain and surprise. Almost all of his movies leave me with a great amount of satisfaction, he really gives you your money’s worth. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, and it’s overall highly satisfying.