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Reminiscence (2021) Review

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Reminiscence

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, drug use & suicide
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister
Rebecca Ferguson as Mae
Thandiwe Newton as Emily “Watts” Sanders
Cliff Curtis as Cyrus Boothe
Marina de Tavira as Tamara Sylvan
Daniel Wu as Saint Joe
Director: Lisa Joy

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed as he uncovers a violent conspiracy while trying to solve the mystery behind a client (Rebecca Ferguson) who disappeared.

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I was quite curious about Reminiscence going into it, I liked how it looked from the trailers, I liked the cast involved including Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, and the director is Lisa Joy, who is one of the creators of Westworld. I was a little hesitant after seeing the less than stellar critical response, but I wanted to see it for myself. I’m definitely in the minority of people who actually liked it, despite some clear issues.

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The premise about investigating the mind is great, and the concept of being able to recall memories definitely gives the film the ability to use flashbacks in a natural way that actually works within the context of the plot. It is definitely reminiscent of other sci-fi movies, borrowing from films like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I still like what was done here. However, I think a lot of this could’ve been executed better. The pacing wasn’t the best, it takes quite a while for the plot to really progress, and some of the story is fairly predictable. I liked the story for the most part, I was on board throughout and it never really lost me. With that said, the story is definitely more interesting after a slower first half. Reminiscence is very neo noir inspired and I really liked that aspect of the film. I also really liked the world that is being built here, even if it comes with some issues in the way that Lisa Joy decided to convey it. There is a lot of exposition in this movie as it is establishing the current state of the world and the setting, especially towards the beginning. This is probably why it takes so long for the movie to get to the actual mystery at the centre of the story. While I definitely appreciate the amount of detail and context that Joy tries to give this world, it was a bit too much. A lot of the exposition comes through Hugh Jackman narrating throughout the film, something which I’ve noticed a lot of other people complaining about. I’m somewhat inclined to give this a pass simply because it is a play on hard boiled neo-noir films to a degree. However, the use of it was nonetheless overbearing and just about borders on self-parody. Not only that, but the dialogue a lot of the time is very over-melodramatic at many points. While it does feel like it doesn’t feel like it meets its potential and is a little disappointing, I wouldn’t say that the script is bad by any means.

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While much of the characters feel a little underdeveloped, the acting from the solid cast definitely elevates them. Hugh Jackman does a very good job in the lead role as expected. Everyone else does well, Rebecca Ferguson is particularly a standout, and actors like Thandiwe Newton and Cliff Curtis are also great in their parts.

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This is Lisa Joy’s directorial debut, and while there are some issues, I think it’s a good first film. First of all, this movie has some stunning cinematography, and the production design is solid. This noir inspired futuristic setting is gorgeous and fascinating to watch, at the very least on a visual level. There aren’t a ton of action scenes, but they are decent when they are there. There is a particularly creative action scene that takes place inside a collapsing building. Sometimes the CGI is a bit too noticeable but it didn’t bring me out of the movie. The score from Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi is great and really fits the tone and vibe of the film.

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Once again, I don’t think that Reminiscence really reaches the peak of its potential, and it was a little disappointing, with the script definitely being the weakest point. However, I was still invested throughout, I liked what Lisa Joy was going for, and it has some really good moments. Joy’s direction and the performances from the cast (especially Jackman and Ferguson) are also great, and elevates the overall quality of the film. At the very least I do think that it is worth checking out.

Tomb Raider (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft
Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft
Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel
Daniel Wu as Lu Ren
Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller
Director: Roar Uthaug

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer (Dominic West) who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination — a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn’t be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown.

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I was cautiously optimistic about Tomb Raider. Very few video game movies I would even be able to call okay. Even though this new version of Tomb Raider was based on the great 2013 rebooted series and starred Oscar winning Alicia Vikander, I was still sceptical. Video games movies even today struggle, Assassins Creed had stars like Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottillard and had the director of Macbeth yet it ended up being okay at best. So really I wasn’t sure how Tomb Raider was going to be, turns out however that it was actually quite decent. The plot is quite familiar and the movie overall isn’t anything special, but as an action adventure it works quite well, and it’s far better than at least nearly all video game movies that have come before it.

I played the Tomb Raider games starting from the 2013 reboot, there are some similarities to the reboot, with this story being Lara starting out on her first adventure and the tone being more darker and realistic. At the same time it’s not just the original game adapted completely, so it’s free to do it’s own story and doesn’t feel confined, which is good. Tomb Raider knows what it is, that being a fun action adventure, yet it takes itself seriously enough for you to somewhat care about what’s going on, it’s balanced out well enough. The plot is straightforward enough, it’s not needlessly complicated. That’s probably why the Tomb Raider movies are among the better video game movies, there isn’t a lot of convoluted and complicated details to shove in and its easy to fit the character and world into movie-like stories. I will say that it did drag in parts in the second act but aside from that the pacing was fine enough. Tomb Raider has kind of a predictable plot, by a third of the way into the movie, you’ll probably be able to tell where the story will go and end. However that wasn’t too much of a problem for me, it is clearly just meant to be an enjoyable action movie, nothing more. Comparing a video game movie to something like to Indiana Jones is rather unfair and ludicrous honestly. Tomb Raider does quite well with what it set out to do. The end of the movie is setting up for a sequel, there are some elements in the movie which does feel a little world-buildy but it didn’t distract too much from the main story overall, except for the very last scene which is a little too blatant. By the end though, I was satisfied enough with the movie that I’m ready to see a sequel.

Just like how the 2013 reboot differed from the older games, Lara Croft here, played by Alicia Vikander, is noticeably different from the Angelina Jolie versions of the character. She’s starting out on her first adventure, she’s vulnerable and not invincible, yet very capable, she’s very similar to the rebooted Lara Croft. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is probably the biggest takeaway from the movie. Vikander did a great job as Croft and was quite an effective screen presence, you can really buy her in her role. The fact that Vikander is doing most of her own stunts also helped. She really does get to shine in this movie, and I’m glad they utilised her well unlike some other video game movies that have great actors who are ultimately wasted. The supporting cast also do well, even though their characters aren’t handled as well as Lara. Supporting actors like Daniel Wu and Dominic West play their parts well. Walton Goggins also acted pretty well as the villain though he is let down by his character, who isn’t given too much to work with.

There is some editing and cutting problems during some of the action and fight sequences, which does bring down the movie a little bit because of how jarring it can make these sequences feel but I’ve seen way worse cases of it in other movies, and it didn’t bother me too much. Aside from that the direction of the film by Roar Uthaug is actually quite good, like the reboot of the game series it is more realistic than the previous versions of the games/movies, while being big enough that it’s quite entertaining. The CGI was a little hit or miss, at times it looks pretty impressive, at other times it can look pretty fake. The score from Junkie XL was also pretty good.

Tomb Raider is one of the best video game movies, it’s up there with Warcraft. It actually manages to be a little more than just a passable or guilty pleasure movie, and for a video game movie, that’s saying a lot. While it’s not great and it does have it’s fair share of issues, it is decent and entertaining, and I really do recommend going out to see it. I do hope it gets a sequel, it definitely has a lot of potential and with the way it set things up for a possible follow up, I could see an Alicia Vikander led Tomb Raider film franchise working. As for this first instalment in the possible franchise, fans of the rebooted series will probably like it, and I can see general audiences enjoying it for what it is. Either way, I’d say go out and give it a chance.