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Hanna (2011) Review

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Hanna

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Saoirse Ronan as Hanna
Eric Bana as Erik Heller
Vicky Krieps as Johanna Zadek
Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler
Tom Hollander as Isaacs
Olivia Williams as Rachel
Jason Flemyng as Sebastian
Director:  Joe Wright

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan), a 16-year-old raised to be the perfect assassin, is sent on a mission, which takes her across Europe. She is shadowed by an intelligence agent and her team.

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I only knew some things about Hanna going in. I knew it was an action thriller directed by Joe Wright and starred the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. It turned out to be pretty good, and even way better than I thought it would be.

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As far as thrillers go, it works for what it is. At hour and 51 minutes long, it keeps you generally invested. The premise is very straightforward, character motivations are clear cut, and the plot is pretty simple, but at the same time makes Hanna difficult to categorize as is, because it presents us a coming of age tale in the form of revenge. A lot of the charm from Hanna and what makes it distinct as a movie drives from the fact that it feels like a fairy tale. There are a lot of fairy tale and adventure references and imagery throughout. When you take into consideration the symbol presented by a Grimm fairy tale that Hanna reads, it also shows a perfect reflection of the sort of the person that Hanna has grown up to become. It’s not just Hanna who helps to create the metaphorical fairy tale presented as a cat and mouse thriller, Cate Blanchett comes along the way to present a wicked witch sort of figure in the story. Fairy tale tributes aside, the movie is character focussed, especially with the lead character, and is less action orientated. I found that this worked for the film. Despite the familiarity of the actual plot, it isn’t unpredictable, and I was pretty riveted with the story. Hanna becomes a distinct morality tale, it’s a fairly straightforward narrative that manages to mix this, a coming of age story, and a road movie all at once while remaining an action film at heart. It has an odd mix of tones here but strangely it works without issue, while also playing out in a subversive manner. There’s a bit of an open ending, which sort of worked but it did feel abrupt.

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Saoirse Ronan is in the lead role as Hanna, and she’s once again good as to be expected. She carries much of her movie herself and is a step above the others in this cast. Having been trained to defend herself and growing up in an isolated environment, her character goes through an arc as she goes to different places. She manages to be convincingly ruthless and dangerous, while also being naïve and innocent. It really wouldn’t have worked as well without her. She also very believable in the action scenes. The rest of the supporting cast are good. Eric Bana is good in his screentime as Hanna’s father (who also trained her), and Cate Blanchett is very effective as the scene chewing main antagonist of the film, who is hunting Hanna down over the course of the movie. Tom Hollander is also solid as an eccentric assassin also hunting Hanna.

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Joe Wright has directed this quite well, he’s a more than capable filmmaker. This is his first and currently only action movie (having been known at this point for making costume and period dramas), and he did a good job on that front. The action is snappy, crisp and fast paced, with good choreography. The action isn’t glamourised either, it’s dark and brutal while being entertaining. The score from the Chemical Brothers works quite well too. The editing, chorography and pacing all work in Wright’s favour. He doesn’t particularly do anything to reinvent the genre, but it created a bizarre and distinct mix of tones that works well.

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Hanna is worth watching for sure, from Joe Wright’s great direction, to the simple yet subversive story and the performances, particularly Saoirse Ronan in the title role. As far as action movies go it’s not special, but it’s very well made, and it’s one of the more underrated action movies from the past 10 years.

The Castle (1997) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Michael Caton as Darryl Kerrigan
Anne Tenney as Sal Kerrigan
Stephen Curry as Dale Kerrigan
Sophie Lee as Tracey Petropoulous
Eric Bana as Con Petropoulous
Anthony Simcoe as Steve Kerrigan
Wayne Hope as Wayne Kerrigan
Tiriel Mora as Dennis Denuto
Costas Kilias as Farouk
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as Lawrence Hammill QC
Director: Rob Sitch

The quirky Kerrigan family lives together in a makeshift home they built themselves — with great pride and a bizarre attention to detail — a few yards from the edge of Melbourne, Australia’s busy Tullamarine Airport. When a building inspector condemns the building and reveals that the government plans to use their land for an airport expansion, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) and his brood recruit hack attorney Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora) and prepare themselves for the fight of their lives.

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I heard about The Castle from some people, I heard that it was an Australian cult classic and that it was absolutely hilarious. So I’ve been meaning to watch it for a little while. Having finally seen it I can see why it’s so beloved. The Castle is hilarious and entertaining and has such an irresistible charm to it, it is definitely worth giving a watch for those who haven’t seen it (which given the fact that its still only a cult classic is probably most people).

One of the best parts about The Castle of course is that it is hilarious. It’s also not the type or style of comedy that you would usually see, which is always refreshing. I’ll just say that if you live in Australia (or even New Zealand like me) I think you might get something out of it even more than people who don’t. So yes, this movie is uniquely funny but at the same time you are rooting for our main characters, so you actually do care about what’s going on. There is some aspect about this movie that just works and I can’t explain what it is, there is a vibe surrounding this movie and its main characters that really elevates it from just being a typical quirky comedy. It’s easier to understand by seeing it than having it be explained to you. The Castle is short and sweet at an hour and 25 minutes long and that was the right length, it is long enough and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I honestly can’t think of any issues this movie has, for what it is it is great.

The characters are hilarious and memorable and the cast were really great in their roles, especially the Kerrigan family played by Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Sophie Lee, Anthony Simcoe and Wayne Hope. The stand out is the lead character played by Caton, who is the father in the family. These characters are simple and aren’t exactly that smart but they are likable and they have a charm to them, you’ll know what I mean when you watch it. They do a good job at making you laugh at them but still care and root for them. Other actors like Tiriel Mora, Charles Tingwell and Eric Bana (who makes his acting debut here) are really good as well and usually get a chance to shine. Everyone in the cast does their part.

Rob Stich’s direction isn’t anything outstanding but it was at the level that it needed to be. You really feel like this is a small movie (and it is, being only $750,000 Australian) but it really didn’t need to be anything special. The editing, direction and style really added to the comedy at times, especially with the use of the narration.

Having finally seen it, I can now see why The Castle is an Australian cult classic. On top of it being hilarious, it has some sort of vibe to it that instantly makes everyone enjoy it, I can’t explain it. Honestly I think it’s something you need to watch for yourself. It is a smaller movie and it may be a little difficult finding copies of it but I think it’s worth checking out whenever you can, you won’t regret it.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage
Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere
Aidan Gillen as Sir William “Goosefat Bill”
Jude Law as Vortigern
Eric Bana as Uther Pendragon
Director: Guy Ritchie

After the murder of his father, young Arthur’s power-hungry uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) seizes control of the crown. Robbed of his birthright, he grows up the hard way in the back alleys of the city, not knowing who he truly is. When fate leads him to pull the Excalibur sword from stone, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) embraces his true destiny to become a legendary fighter and leader.

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I wasn’t sure if I was looking forward to King Arthur. It has a great cast, and most importantly is directed by Guy Ritchie, a filmmaker I like quite a bit due to his unique and fast paced style. But nothing much about the movie really interested me from the trailers, it looked like an okay-ish fantasy movie. I know that a lot of people really didn’t like King Arthur (it’s the first box office bomb of 2017) but I was glad I decided to see it. The acting was good, the way the story was told was effective but Ritchie’s great direction really was the standout. It won’t be known as one of the all time greatest fantasy movies but it is still a good one.

Now this story is very familiar and very much like a typical fantasy story (minus the direction and interpretation by Ritchie), but it’s not the same King Arthur story that you’re used to seeing. Don’t go into it expecting the usual representations of King Arthur. I was just going in expecting a fantasy movie by Guy Ritchie with the main character titled Arthur and I was very entertained and invested throughout. This story is full on magic and fantasy, and it was entertaining to see how this movie approached it. This film does overall move at a pretty fast pace and it didn’t ever bore me. As Guy Ritchie wrote this movie, he does have a particular style and I really liked it. The dialogue was entertained and the humour was well implemented in the movie.

Charlie Hunnam is great here as Arthur, very likable, entertaining and believable. I haven’t seen him in much (just Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak) but this is his most entertaining performance yet. Definitely the strongest character in the whole movie. Jude Law plays and a very hateable villain and did a very good job at it, fully embracing his role. This movie has a wide range of talented actors with Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen and many others. All of them are used pretty effectively and share great chemistry with each other, their characters weren’t quite as 3 dimensional as they could’ve been but they were still very enjoyable to watch. The only actors who were a little out of place were Katie McGrath (as she’s on screen for a total of only 1 minute) and a random cameo of David Beckham (I have no idea why he was here), especially as he appears in such a pivotal scene for Arthur.

As great the acting and story is, the stand out part of this movie is of course Guy Ritchie’s direction. This is the most Guy Ritchie that a Guy Ritchie film has been since Snatch. I was worried about how his style would be used here but I found it did work, its so unlike a King Arthur movie to have and Ritchie fully embraced that style and so I enjoyed it a lot. The fast paced editing is used really well. At times it does move a little too fast so it is easy to miss some of the details but that goes for most Guy Ritchie movies. If you don’t like his style, you probably won’t like King Arthur. I know some people really didn’t like that his style was used in a King Arthur movie, but I liked that, not just because I like the style, but it gave something new to a King Arthur story, it’s not just a typical fantasy story that we’ve seen so many times. At times it does sort of tonally feel inconsistent, one moment might be very comedic and have one of the Guy Ritchie montages, and in the next moment might be a fantasy action sequence or a very serious dramatic scene. Most of the CGI is used really effectively and made for some really entertaining action sequences. A standout is the soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton, it could be grand and epic but it could also fit perfectly with Ritchie’s wacky style and montages.

King Arthur is not a perfect movie but I do think that it’s worth a watch, nowhere near deserves the hate its getting or being a box office bomb. With the actors, the entertaining story but most of all, Guy Ritchie’s direction, I was consistently entertained by this movie. I honestly recommend going out and seeing King Arthur, give it a chance (as long as you know what you’re going in for). If you aren’t a big fan of Guy Ritchie’s style however, you probably won’t be a fan.

Star Trek (2009)

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Star Trek

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pine as Kirk
Zachary Quinto as Spock
Zoe Saldana as Uhura
Karl Urban as Bones
John Cho as Sulu
Anton Yelchin as Chekov
Bruce Greenwood as Pike
Eric Bana as Nero
Director: J.J. Abrams

On the day of James Kirk’s birth, his father dies on his ship in a last stand against a mysterious alien time-travelling vessel. Twenty-five years later, Kirk (Chris Pine) has grown into a young troublemaker. Challenged by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to realize his potential in Starfleet, he comes to annoy instructors like young Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto). Suddenly, there is an emergency at Vulcan and the newly commissioned USS Enterprise is crewed with promising cadets like Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and even Kirk himself, thanks to Leonard McCoy’s (Karl Urban) medical trickery. Together, this crew will have an adventure in the final frontier where the old legend is altered forever as a new version of it begins.

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Making reboots and remakes are often quite risky, they may be great or they may fail in incredible degrees; to sum up whether it succeeded or not, I’ll say that whenever I think of good reboots I think of Batman Begins and Star Trek. With an engrossing world, great performances and entertaining action scenes, it is one of my favourite Sci-Fi action movies.

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Star Trek is always entertaining from the opening credits to end credits. I’ll be honest, before watching this movie I never watched any form of Star Trek media, this was my first Star Trek movie; a good thing about this movie is that you don’t have to be a fan of Star Trek to enjoy it; you can quickly pick up what the world is like and doesn’t rely on prior knowledge to understand what’s going on. The dialogue between the characters is written incredibly well and is well suited to the characters that the actors played.

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The actors do a really good and respectable job portraying these famous and beloved characters. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are particularly great in their roles. After seeing Chris Pine play Kirk, I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role; he was like a good new generation version of William Shatner. Zachary Quinto was as great as Spock in all of his scenes and I could really buy him as being a half human and half Vulcan. I also particularly like the contrast between the Kirk and Spock and these two actors did great jobs at showing their differing personalites. Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg and Bruce Greenwood were also really good in their roles. Eric Bana played the villain and I thought did a pretty good job, he wasn’t anything special but I thought that he managed it quite well. There is also an appearance from a (Original) Star Trek cast member that I won’t spoil, should you be one of the few who hasn’t watched this movie yet. The actors are all very aware of the characters that they are playing and they delivered the well written dialogue well.

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I loved the special effects in this movie; everything is on such a large scale. One thing that is often talked about with this movie is the lens flares; Abrams often uses it in his movies but I felt like it worked for Star Trek. The action scenes are filmed spectacularly, particularly when it involved the Enterprise. The soundtrack by Michael Giacchino also added a lot to the movie.

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Star Trek is a great movie for fans of Star Trek and people new to that universe. J.J. Abrams did a great job with this movie as well as its sequel (Star Trek Into Darkness) and hopefully more sequels. These two movies give me great hope for Star Wars Episode 7 to be a great movie. Check out Star Trek when you can if you haven’t seen it already, it is a fun and exciting experience.