Tag Archives: David Wenham

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) Review

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Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some Scenes May Scare Very Young Children
Cast:
Jim Sturgess as Soren
Emily Barclay as Gylfie
Ryan Kwanten as Kludd
David Wenham as Digger
Anthony LaPaglia as Twilight
Helen Mirren as Nyra
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb/the Lyze of Kiel
Joel Edgerton as Metal Beak
Hugo Weaving as Noctus and Grimble
Adrienne DeFaria as Eglantine
Miriam Margolyes as Mrs. Plithiver
Sam Neill as Allomere
Sacha Horler as Strix Struma
Abbie Cornish as Otulissa
Richard Roxburgh as Boron
Director: Zack Snyder

A father owl’s tales of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole enthrals his son Soren, but an older son scoffs at the stories of winged warriors who fought an epic battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. Later the brothers become captives of the Pure Ones, but Soren makes a daring escape and, with the help of other young owls, seeks out the Guardians and brings them back to defend their people once again.

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This was actually the first film from Zack Snyder that I watched. It seems like an odd choice for him to direct looking back at his filmography. He’s more known for adapting comic books and graphic novels, not young adult books about animals. While it doesn’t rank among the best movies of his filmography, I thought it was pretty good.

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I actually had read the books this movie is based on some time ago, that being the Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. I don’t have a strong memory of the plot in the books, but I recall movie’s plot being roughly similar to that from the novels, however there were some major changes in story and characters. The plot of this movie is quite a simple good and evil story. With that said, it’s darker than most children’s animated movies, and that is one of its biggest strengths. It was a while since I’ve read the books, but parts of the plot and the visuals are darker than you’d usually see. The only problem I have with this is that the tone is a little all over the place, as the humour is a bit unbalanced it has one too many jokes mixed in with this epic story. This movie covers the first 6 books in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole book series, and although the books aren’t that large, there’d be quite a lot of the story to be told in one movie. If it was going to be just one movie, it would probably need to be over 2 hours long to develop the characters and story enough, as well as not feeling a little rushed. As it is, the movie is under an hour and 40 minutes long, and the pacing is a little all over the place. It does feel like the movie doesn’t quite live up to its potential story-wise Also, maybe it’s because much of the movie is more mature than I expected, but I kind of wished for slightly more complexity from the story and characters, even though I know it’s essentially a children’s animated movie. The dialogue is also a little clunky at some points. The movie did leave at a point where it could go further with sequels, but unfortunately we didn’t get any.

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The characters aren’t particularly deep and are generally fine, the heroic characters are heroic, the quirky characters are quirky, and the evil characters are evil. I wish the was more to them but they are elevated by the voice cast, with the likes of Jim Sturgess, Emily Barclay, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush and Joel Edgerton, making each of the characters stand out more and more memorable. The villain voiced by Edgerton particularly stood out and was quite effective in his scenes.

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This is the first and only animated film from Zack Snyder, and he’s done very well with his direction here. All of his movies are visually stunning, and Legend of the Guardians is no exception. It’s greatly animated, the environments, lighting and colours are outstanding, and when it particularly comes to the effects for the feathers and particularly elements like fire and water, it’s a wonder to watch. Although some had made fun of Snyder’s use of slow motion in some of his movies, it’s used absolutely perfectly here. While it definitely would’ve looked much better if it was made today, it still looks pretty good a decade later. The action involving the owls is also effective, especially some battle scenes towards the end. It’s hard to pull off making owls fighting look epic, but Snyder does it. This may be an animated movie, but you can still tell that this is one of his movies through and through. The music is generally good, except for a moment when a song played by Owl City is played, and aside from the pun with the band name, it’s really out of place and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie.

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is quite good, visually stunning, well made and enjoyable to watch. While there are some things holding back from being even better and reaching its full potential, I liked it overall, and I wished that we got to see more of these movies in this series. I’d like to see Snyder make another animated movie sometime, he certainly showed that here that he’s more than capable of it.

300 (2006) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains graphic violence
Cast:
Gerard Butler as Leonidas
David Wenham as Dilios
Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
Giovanni Cimmino as Pleistarchus
Dominic West as Theron
Director: Zack Snyder

In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

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While Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead was really well received, the movie that really got him particularly noticed and put him on the map as a director to watch was 300. His visual style and direction was fantastic, and all around 300 is a very enjoyable movie. Although some of its aspects don’t hold up well over a decade later, there’s enough here to keep you really engaged and entertained.

300 is based off the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller (which I haven’t read myself). This movie is quite straightforward and simple: lead character Leonidas leads 300 Spartans against the Persian Army. Not to say that this movie is any lesser because of this, really it’s all done rather well. Despite the amount of scenes filled with screaming and exposed muscular men stabbing each other repeatedly, it’s not just a shallow and violent movie, it does have some emotion and drama behind it, so that you care about what’s going on, instead of just watching a bloodfest.

The acting generally is quite good. Gerard Butler was well suited for his role of King Leonidas. His performance of course does have some ham to it (I don’t even need to get into the “This is Sparta” bit) but it really works for the movie, and just makes it more entertaining. It’s undoubtedly a very memorable performance and it was perfect for what it needed to be. Lena Headey was also great in her screentime as Queen Gorgo. Apparently in the comic book, Gorgo only appeared in the beginning and in the movie they expanded her role much more. While she’s not in large battle scenes like Leonidas and the Spartans, she still gets to play a part in the story, and Headey of course plays it all really well. Rodrigo Santoro was a good villain, he’s quite larger than life but something about his performance works for his character (given that he believes he’s a god), and he’s really effective as a hateable character. Other supporting actors like David Wenham and Michael Fassbender also good, and get to shine in some particular moments.

Zack Snyder is known for his visual style and storytelling and watching 300 it’s no wonder that this is what really put him on the map as a director to pay attention to. It makes sense knowing that this is based off of a graphic novel, but there are many shots and sequences that look straight out of a comic book (which is something that Snyder does quite a lot). The cinematography by Larry Fong is beautiful and just stunning to look at. The action is so gratifying and really entertaining, definitely one of the most stand out and iconic aspects of the movie. I think Snyder does use slow-mo a little too much but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It was the first movie to really utilise it as a very present component of the action (outside of The Matrix), before way too many movies tried to replicate that and not doing it as well. This movie is very violent and bloody, and it’s stylised and once again made to look like it was from a comic book. I will say that parts of the movie don’t hold up, that being the green and blue screen in some scenes, which occasionally can look really fake and does take you out of the movie briefly. This movie admittedly does have some messy parts to it but the other aspects (especially on the technical side) make up for it. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates only increased the epicness and scale of the whole movie.

300 is visually stunning, entertaining and quite good all round. I wouldn’t consider it one of Zack Snyder’s best but it’s still a pretty good movie. There’s not denying that it was defining for it’s time and really inspired the way that future action movies would be directed (for better and for worse). If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d personally recommend watching it for the visuals at the very least.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Review

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Lord of the Rings The Return of the King

Time: 201 minutes (theatrical), 252 minutes (extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & fantasy horror
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Andy Serkis as Sméagol Trahald/Gollum
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the White
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn Elessar
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
David Wenham as Faramir
Karl Urban as Éomer
John Noble as Denethor
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Sean Bean as Boromir
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship divides to conquer as Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), with the help and hindrance of Gollum (Andy Serkis), continue their way to Mount Doom. The members of the fellowship in Rohan are warned of the impending attack when Pippin (Billy Boyd) cannot resist looking into Saruman’s palantir and is briefly contacted by the dark lord. Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith to help defend Gondor when the dark lord Sauron sets his sights on Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) remains with Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and the other Rohan fighters. The fate of every living creature in Middle Earth will be decided once and for all as the Quest of the Ringbearer reaches its climax.

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The first two entries of Lord of the Rings trilogy were really great, but it’s the conclusion with The Return of the King that’s truly outstanding, grandiose, epic and emotionally satisfying. With the performances, the writing, the direction, and some awe inspiring action, it’s a remarkable cinematic achievement and an excellent film over 17 years later.

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Like with the other Lord of the Rings movies, it’s very hard to review, they’re so ingrained in pop culture, it’s like trying to review the original Star Wars trilogy. This film successfully continues the story from the first two movies, and this one is the most engaging of the series. The first half is pretty good, but it’s the second half where it really shines, particularly the final act. I don’t have many problems with the movie, I guess it occasionally has its silly moments like the other movies, and there are some minor plot points that aren’t so clear and don’t work so well. However it doesn’t even come close to bringing down the experience. One thing that is made fun of a lot is the fact that the film has a lot of endings – the screen fades to black and continues on before fading to black again, etc. While I don’t like the fake outs, the actual endings themselves I do like, it ties up pretty much all the storylines and loose ends. The film is quite strong as its theatrical cut. However the extended cut is quite simply the definitive version of the movie, and provides so many great scenes that add a lot to the movie. An example is a certain scene with Christopher Lee’s Saruman, removing it leaves a pretty big loose end especially considering he was one of the main antagonists of the last film. While I’m not sure the movie feels butchered with the theatrical cut (I haven’t watched that version for a long time), once you see the added scenes from the extended cut, it’s hard to think of the film without it. I understand that it can be quite intimidating, instead of watching the 3 hour and 20 minute long version, watching a version that’s over 4 hours long. However, I do implore you to see the extended cuts of all 3 of the trilogies if you haven’t already, especially for Return of the King.

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The acting from its very large good cast is great as always. They’ve only improved further as the movies have progressed. The only character who got worse as the films progressed was John Rhys Davis’s Gimli. He started off alright in The Fellowship of the Rings, but unfortunately across the movies he just became goofier and goofier, and he’s worst of all in this movie. The rest of the cast on the whole with the likes of Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Bernard Hill, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, and Cate Blanchett and others also brought it to their respective roles, giving some really great performances.

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Peter Jackson’s direction was excellent as usual, but The Return of the King really is his magnum opus. Everything from the production design, makeup, sound effects, cinematography, all outstanding on a technical level. There are a number of great action sequences in this trilogy, but The Return of the King has some of the most spectacular action in the series. They are all filmed greatly but it’s of course the big battle scenes which stand out, and they work really well. The visual effects are really good, some parts aren’t so great and are a little dated, but for a movie released in 2003, they mostly hold up well. The score by Howard Shore also works excellently, and is very memorable.

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While all 3 films are top notch, I’m pretty sure that The Return of the King is my favourite movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson and the cast and crew have improved over the course of the series, culminating in a fantastic final film. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of my favourite movies, particularly the third film, and they’ll continue to stand the test of time for sure.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Review

Time: 259 Minutes (theatrical cut) or 235 minutes (extended cut)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Andy Serkis as Gollum/Sméagol
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
David Wenham as Faramir
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Brad Dourif as Gríma Wormtongue
Karl Urban as Éomer
Craig Parker as Haldir
John Leigh as Háma
Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
John Bach as Madril
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship has been broken. Boromir is dead, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) have gone to Mordor alone to destroy the One Ring, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by the Uruk-hai, and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davs) have made friends of the Rohan, a race of humans that are in the path of the upcoming war, led by its aging king, Théoden. The two towers between Mordor and Isengard, Barad-dúr and Orthanc, have united in their lust for destruction. The corrupt wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), under the power of the Dark Lord Sauron, and his assistant, Gríma Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), have created a grand Uruk-hai army bent on the destruction of Man and Middle-earth. One of the Ring’s original bearers, the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), has tracked Frodo and Sam down in search of the ring, but is captured by the Hobbits and used as a way to lead them to Mt. Doom.

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The Lord of the Rings movies are among my favourite movies of all time but reviewing them isn’t that easy. Talking about the Lord of the Rings movies is very difficult, it is so famous and well known that so much of it feels redundant talking about, and plus there is just so much that can be said about it. That can be clearly seen in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring from years ago, which is easily one of the worst reviews I ever written. Years later and after watching the Lord of the Rings movies more recently, I decided to review the rest of them the best I can. If you haven’t watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, long story short just go and watch them. The Two Towers continues on the greatness of the previous film of The Fellowship of the Ring, and it even does a lot of things better than the first film.

The film jumps between characters’ perspectives and it does it well. It mostly jumps from Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Aragon, Legolas and Gimli as well as to Merry and Pippin. Some characters and storylines are more interesting than others but all of them are done rather well. It goes even darker than the first movie and you really feel the higher stakes throughout. I generally think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is better with the extended editions, but that’s especially the case with The Two Towers and Return of the King. The extended cut is almost an hour longer but it is worth the extra footage. Sometimes I think about the scenes that were cut from the cut and I can’t imagine the movie without them. For example, one of the scenes only in the extended cut included a flashback from Faramir (David Wenham) to his brother Boromir (Sean Bean) and his father Denethor (John Noble) and it added so much his character and what is driving him to make the decisions he made. There’s much more examples like this but that’s just one of them. The third acts of each of the Lord of the Rings movies are usually the standout of each of them, and The Two Towers is no exception, with two great battles happening at the same time. As for how it adapted the original book, I haven’t read it so I don’t have much to say regarding that.

All of the surviving characters from Fellowship of the Ring are back. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are great as Frodo and Sam, they really do feel like best friends going on this journey. Wood also does a really good job at showing the conflict Frodo is experiencing having to bear the One Ring and with it changing him while they’re on their journey. Viggo Mortensen as Aragon, Orlando Bloom as Legolas and John Rhys-Davis as Gimli in their plotline are great, Mortensen particularly is perfectly cast as Aragon and brings a lot to his role. The only thing about Gimli that kind of got annoying was that after Fellowship of the Ring he gets cartoonishly silly and buffoonish. The same happens in reverse with Legolas, who is cartoonishly great at everything, to the point where he’s literally sliding down stairs on a shield while shooting orcs with arrows. It’s not movie breaking but it’s just a bit too much at times. There’s also a plotline focussing on Billy Boyd’s Pippin and Dominic Monaghan as Merry, and while it’s less interesting than the other plotlines, it is still done well enough. Both characters are seen as being comic relief, so it’s good that they get to have their part in what happened in the movie (though I guess it’s more of a credit to the book more than anything else). Ian McKellan is always great as Gandalf (even though instead of returning as Gandalf the Grey, he’s now Gandalf the White), flat out perfect in the role.

Christopher Lee as Saruman also gets more focus this time round as one of the main antagonists of the movie, ending up being more often than not the source of conflict in much of the plotlines here. Lee as usual is scene chewingly great as Saruman, having such a presence about him when he’s on screen. Other returning characters like Liv Tyler as Arwen, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel are good as always. The newer additions were also great, namely Bernard Hill as Theoden, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Karl Urban as Eomer and Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue. All of them did really good jobs of making themselves stand out amongst the cast. The stand out new character/performance though is from Andy Serkis as Gollum. Although it is motion capture and largely done through special effects, the way he moves, emotes and speaks all come from Serkis. They did such a fantastic job at making him one of the more complex characters in these movies, sympathetic in one scene and then treacherous in the next.

Its no surprise that Peter Jackson’s direction was great but I think he’s improved even more with his second film. The landscapes, locations and sets just feel all great, it all helps that almost all of it feels real. All the special effects are good as usual, what makes it so effective is that it mixes both practical and digital effects. Now given that its over 16 years old, some of the CGI don’t look completely fantastic and aren’t at the level of today’s CGI but most of it still holds up very well. Like Fellowship, everything feels like it’s on such a huge scale, and it feels somewhat authentic. As I said earlier when I was talking about Andy Serkis, I especially like what they did with Gollum with motion capture, it still looks seamless and real today. The action scenes are also well filmed and even better than those in The Fellowship of the Ring. The standout is the third act which consists of and cuts between the battle at Helm’s Deep and the Ents fighting against Isengard. Its just such a spectacle to watch and are amongst some of the best sequences of the whole trilogy. Directionwise, The Two Towers really was just a little better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Even little aspects are slightly improved, like I know it’s a minor thing to note but there aren’t as many awkward close up shots as in the first movie. Howard Shore’s score once again is just iconic and adds so much to the movie, I can’t imagine the Lord of the Rings movies without them.

The Two Towers is for me even better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Some of it as to do with preference with regard to the story and all that, not to mention the large scale sequences, especially the Helm’s Deep battle, are among some of the stand out moments in the movie series. However I also think that Peter Jackson’s direction has even improved, and would only continue to improve with Return of the King. Each Lord of the Rings movie is better than the last one, but all 3 of them are excellent.

Iron Fist Season 1 (2017) TV Review

Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist
Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing
Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum
Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum
Ramón Rodríguez as Bakuto
Sacha Dhawan as Davos
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
David Wenham as Harold Meachum
Created by: Scott Buck

When Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was 10-years old, he survived a mysterious plane crash that claimed the lives of his extremely wealthy parents. Rescued by warrior monks, Danny grew up in the of city of K’un-Lun, where he endured harsh conditions, but also trained to be a fierce warrior. Years later, Danny returns home to New York, where he wants to reconnect with his past and take his rightful place at his family’s company, which is being run by his father’s former business partner (David Wenham). Danny hopes to restore his family legacy by defeating the people who threaten it.

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Most of the Netflix Marvel shows had received great reception, with the two seasons of Daredevil, as well as the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The exception is Season 1 of Iron Fist, which has been almost universally panned. Having finally seeing it, I have to say that this first season has a lot of issues but it is a decent show overall. The acting from most of the talented cast is good, the show is reasonably entertaining and interesting enough, and I wanted to see where the plot would go. But writing-wise it does have a lot of issues, doesn’t quite live up to its potential and the action scenes are most of the time just mediocre. However they aren’t enough to make this season bad or even mediocre, just very flawed.

I’ll just get this out of the way, if you like the other shows in the Defenders’ series, or you are interested in watching the recently released The Defenders show, watch Iron Fist season 1, even if you end up disliking it, you will need to plow through it. Some of what Iron Fist has will come to play in The Defenders, so it is a good idea to watch it. The show does have a lot of writing issues, probably too many to list in one review, so I’ll just mention a few. The show is slow, particularly at the beginning. If you’ve seen Luke Cage season 1, you know that they sometimes had some filler episodes. Iron Fist kind of does that as well, it extends plotlines longer than it needed to be. The first 3 to 4 episodes are Danny Rand trying to prove that he really is Danny Rand and not an imposter, this takes way too long. After the first few episodes, the show really picked up.

The plotlines at times were hit or miss. Whenever the show focusses on The Hand (who are prominent villains in Iron Fist who return from The Defenders), I was interested in what was going on. There is a plotline about a family called the Meachums, who basically have control of Danny Rand’s company when he arrives back to New York. Most of this plotline is fine but it feels that too much time is spent with them. I really didn’t like at all the Rand corporation plotline, it was full of pointless board meetings that I really didn’t care about. Flaws aside with these plotlines, I was interested in seeing where the plot was going, and there were some moments that I really wasn’t expecting. A lot of the ideas that Iron Fist were solid enough but the show didn’t execute them particularly well. Some of the dialogue is off and occasionally silly, and some things happen in the show which are just plain random and silly. There is a particular example which involves ice cream, I’m not going to spoil what happens but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Overall the writing is one of the most disappointing parts of the show. There are some intriguing parts to it but overall it is far from being at the level of Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage.

Finn Jones is Danny Rand, who is unfortunately one of the weakest characters of the show. I can’t tell whether it’s the acting or the writing that’s the main issue, but I do know that the writing for him is severely flawed. Overall the biggest problem with Danny is that he is so inconsistent. One moment he is so determined not to kill people and the next moment he is out for revenge and planning to kill people. The other 3 Defenders, Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, all have flaws but that made their characters feels more real and worked in their favour. The problem with Danny is that it feels like he was written by many writers and they couldn’t pin down exactly what character he is. He is completely messily and by the end of the season I didn’t feel like I had a clear idea of who he was. The writing definitely doesn’t do Jones favours. I think he’s better when he’s playing just Danny Rand and he’s at his worst when Danny is trying to act like the Iron Fist. When Danny is being super serious and trying to act zen like, it comes across as being so forced and its just sort of laughable. At times he comes across as a whiny kid trying to act serious and its just sort of embarrassing. Also looking back at this season, I couldn’t really pick up on a clear character arc for Danny. To his credit, Finn Jones is doing everything he can to act in this role and does project a semblance of likability to Danny, however he can only do so much as the writing really lets him down. It’s just sad that one of the worst characters of Iron Fist is its titular character.

The supporting cast/characters fare much better than Danny Rand. One of the best characters of the show is Colleen Wing, played by Jessica Henwick. She was very likable, believable (especially in the action scenes) and she has an interesting background (no spoilers). Colleen honestly was one of the best parts of the show. While Finn Jones’s Danny Rand has a lot of issue, he and Henwick share some great chemistry. Rosario Dawson is effortlessly likable as Claire Temple, who once again pops over to this show from Daredevil like she did with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Some of the other supporting characters are the Meachums, Ward and Joy (siblings) played by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup respectively, they share very believable chemistry. Ward in particular is great, he started out as an absolutely insufferable character but he has a great arc and by the end he’s one of the best characters of the show.

This season has a few villains, and the handling of the villains was quite hit or miss. If there is a main villain, it’s Harold Meachum, played by David Wenham. While the character himself is fine, he doesn’t work as a villain for the Iron Fist. Most of the time he’s not a direct threat, more of an anti hero than an actual villain. So he is rather average when you consider him as a villain. He’s also not given enough depth. Unlike Fisk, Kilgrave or Cottonmouth in Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage respectively, Harold isn’t given some sort of reason for the things he does. Its ironic that so much attention is focussed on the Meachums, yet I don’t really feel like I know much about Harold. With that said, the character himself is fine, if severely underwritten and underdeveloped, and David Wenham fully embraced this role and gave a good and entertaining performance, better than the role deserved.

One of the biggest criticisms of the show is the fight scenes and while it isn’t really good, I have seen worse action scenes in mediocre-bad action movies. The stuntwork is not very remarkable, it is slow at times and even sort of boring. Also, it does one of those editing things where they constantly cut during fight scenes to hide bad stuntwork. The show does have its decent action moments but for the most part the action scenes weren’t that good and were one of the weaker parts of the show. Its disappointing because out of all The Defenders, you’d expect and Iron Fist show to be so great with its fighting, especially with Danny Rand. Danny should feel like a strong fighter character but the series don’t really do that good of a job in conveying that through his action sequences. Also at times the visual effects are a little weird at times, such as the flashbacks. Otherwise the direction of the episodes was overall fine I guess.

Iron Fist Season 1 was better than I thought it would be. I can kind of see why some people took issues with this season, there is definitely a lot of problems, the 3 main issues being the writing, Danny Rand and the action scenes. However I think it has received way too much criticism than it deserves. The show was interesting enough and had enough good performances and plot points to keep me intrigued enough to finish the show. With the showrunner of season 1 being replaced for season 2, perhaps Iron Fist’s next solo season will be much better. But as for season 1, it is so far the worst season of the Marvel Netflix shows.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Javier Bardem as Captain Armando Salazar
Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner
Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Golshifteh Farahani as Shansa
David Wenham as Scarfield
Stephen Graham as Scrum
Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa
Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it, he must forge an uneasy alliance with a brilliant and beautiful astronomer (Kaya Scodelario) and a headstrong young man in the British navy (Brenton Thwaites).

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I really didn’t know what to expect going into this movie. I don’t have strong memories of the previous Pirates of the Caribbean movies but I do remember liking the first three and finding the fourth to be mediocre. I wasn’t really looking forward to the fifth instalment, it’s been 6 years since the last film and it seemed tired, forced and it felt like an unnecessary cash grab. Also the marketing wasn’t that spectacular. The only thing that looked somewhat interesting was Javier Bardem as a villain. But out of morbid curiosity I decided to check out the fifth instalment, and to my surprise this movie ended up being better than I expected. I was for the most part entertained throughout, with all the elements of an above average action movie. It’s still got its fair share of flaws however.

movie felt long, which is odd considering that this movie is around 2 hours 10 minutes long, making it the shortest Pirates of the Caribbean movie to date. After a couple of great opening scenes, the first act is quite slow. The segment where the main three characters (played by Depp, Thwaites and Scodelario) are stuck on land early in the movie really drags. It was also at the first action scene with Jack Sparrow that I noticed an immediate problem (and not just Jack Sparrow/Johnny Depp himself), the comedy was rather weak. In fact all things considering, this might actually be the least funniest Pirates movie, it tries so hard to be funny but it just ends up feeling kind of awkward. However the underlining and the main problem with the movie is that it is a little hard to care about what is going on. The only character I had sort of any interest in was Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), he was the best character in the entire movie. Salazar (Javier Bardem) was an effective, entertaining and creepy villain but has simplistic and typical motivations, Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) are okay but their motivations and characteristics are rather bland and uninteresting. And Jack Sparrow is handled the worst out of the main characters, he’s only involved with the story because Salazar is after him and he’s sort of forced into pairing up with Henry and Carina but aside from that, it feels like he doesn’t belong in the movie. Jack doesn’t have any sort of arc or story in this movie, it feels like he was written as a supporting character but put in the role as the main character. So why do I like this movie despite all it’s problems? Maybe its because its been many years since I’ve seen the previous Pirates movies so I just saw this instalment as an simple action adventure movie, the story is minimal and simplistic, same with the character motivations, but it’s enough to keep the movie rolling and it was enough for me to be reasonably entertained by it. This movie does seem to tie up everything with many of the characters in the franchise (no spoilers), almost as if it’s the last film in the series, and while it should’ve been a better conclusion, I’d be fine if this really is the last Pirates movie. With that said, it does have an questionable end credits scene…

I have mixed feelings on Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in this movie, this is the worst I’ve ever seen Jack Sparrow in a Pirates movie. In the first act he was just completely drunk, completely unfunny and unlikable and that’s it. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny Depp was just being drunk during these scenes. Over time he did get better, occasionally displaying hints of the Jack Sparrow we all know and love. But he still feels like a caricature of what Jack Sparrow really is, though I’m not even sure that it’s Depp’s fault. Brenton Thwaites plays Will Turner’s son and Kaya Scodelario plays a character named Carina, those two are the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann replacements in this movie. The problem with them wasn’t their acting, they certainly tried as hard as they could to be great and they definitely have a lot of talent, but their characters weren’t that interesting. They do have motivations which are passable but that’s sort of it, these characters are written quite blandly. Javier Bardem was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He’s creepy, entertaining and completely chewing the scenery and he does really go over the top especially with his character being dead but I felt that it worked for the movie. However there’s not much to his character, just another villain wanting revenge against the main character, I like his backstory but aside from that there’s not much to him. Another one of my favourite parts was Geoffrey Rush who reprises his role as Barbossa. Unlike all the other characters, Barbossa had some sort of a story arc and it’s done quite well. I didn’t really have any problems with him. David Wenham is here as a British Royal Naval officer who comes into conflict with the main characters but is ultimately wasted, it’s almost laughable how useless and pointless his character is. There were also cameos from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, which were nice to see. Oh, and Paul McCartney shows up in this movie for a brief moment, for some reason. It was a rather random cameo.

The action scenes were nice to watch, with them being quite over the top and were very entertaining. However there really wasn’t much tension in these sequences because we don’t care about the characters or their motivations. The climax itself is fine but was oddly enough brief and a little underwhelming. The CGI for the most part worked well, even the CGI on the dead people were done well. However at times it did have some occasional moments when there was CGI overload and some aspects looked a little fake. The soundtrack by Geoff Zanelli was really good, it really added to the film, especially with Salazar’s theme.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was better than I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I just saw the movie as a simple dumb action flick, so I could look past many of the issues: it has simple characters, a revenge driven, scene chewing villain, over the top action, it was just an over the top action movie. On top of that, there are no other blockbusters about Pirates, so it is rather refreshing to see one in cinemas. There are many flaws, obviously, but this movie has just enough good parts about it to be entertaining.

Lion (2016) Review

 

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Sunny Pawar as younger Saroo Brierley
Dev Patel as older Saroo Brierley
Rooney Mara as Lucy
Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley
David Wenham as John Brierley
Director: Garth Davis

Five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo (Dev Patel) sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

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Lion was a film that I was curious about. I actually saw the 60 minutes article about the real life story this movie was based on and I just knew it would be turned into a movie. Surely enough, that happened with Lion and I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. And it did not disappoint. Lion is a good movie, the acting was great by everyone, the direction was also good but most of all the story is compelling, Lion is definitely worth checking out.

This movie’s first half is of Young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) in India and the second half is of Adult Saroo (Dev Patel) in Australia. While most movies would cut between the past and the present, it decides to tell it’s story chronologically, while the second half has some additional flashbacks. This makes it easier to get a better idea of what Saroo’s feeling in the second half when he’s trying to find his family. It’s very easy to get caught up in the story, I never felt bored watching this movie. The first half of the movie was great. It heavily relies on actor Sunny Pawar and while I’ll get into more detail about him later, I’ll just say that he’s the reason that the first half works so well. It does feel a little jarring when the story witches to the second half. The tone, pace and feel did seem to noticeably change. The second half is still good, it just didn’t feel quite as strong as the first half, though honestly I’m not quite sure what it is. With that said, and the ending is really satisfying, and paid off well.

Newcomer actor Sunny Pawar did amazing work as Young Saroo. This is a kid actor, and Lion is also the first movie he’s been involved in. And we all know that kid actors nowadays are hit or miss. Very impressive performance, he was the stand out in the movie. He’s basically the main star, as the entire first half focusses on him. Most of the time he’s not saying anything, so his reactions and the way he acts has to carry the movie. Dev Patel was also great as adult Saroo. It was a little jarring with the shift to Dev after the first half, but nonetheless he did a good job and it was very easy to buy him in this role. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman also did great work in supporting roles, they definitely added a lot to this movie as well.

Lion was overall a well directed movie by director Garth Davis. This is the first film I’ve seen from him and I can tell from Lion that he’s a solid director. The cinematography is beautiful and the locations also showcased well, whether that be in India or Australia. The music by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka was also good. Generally though, Lion’s highlight wasn’t it’s direction, it’s the story that’s really the highlight.

Lion lived up to expectations with its great acting, solid direction and also a compelling and powerful story. While the switch between the first two halves is a bit of a jarring and the second half of the story isn’t quite as strong as the first half, I still really liked this movie. Lion was a great movie and it’s really worth checking out when you can.