Tag Archives: Ewan McGregor

Birds of Prey (2020) Review

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Birds of Prey

Time: 109 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty, offensive language and sexual references
Cast:
Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Helena Bertinelli/Huntress
Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary
Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya
Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz
Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain
Ali Wong as Ellen Yee
Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask
Director: Cathy Yan

It’s open season on Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her back. Unprotected and on the run, Quinn faces the wrath of narcissistic crime boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), his right-hand man, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and every other thug in the city. But things soon even out for Harley when she becomes unexpected allies with three deadly women – Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez).

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Birds of Prey was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. As a fan of the DCEU (barring Justice League and Suicide Squad), I’m generally interested in seeing whatever they put out next, and indeed their latest movie looked quite promising. While Suicide Squad left quite the divided response, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in that movie was already a fan favourite the moment she appeared, so it was a given that she’d be involved in more DC projects. This movie would have Robbie’s Harley involved with creating the Birds of Prey, and with a cast that included the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor involved, it had a lot of potential, and I was looking forward to it. I had a lot of fun with Birds of Prey, and it was generally entertaining from start to finish.

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The script by Christina Hodson is really solid, and the handling of most of the characters is great. The story is told from Harley’s perspective, and that was one of the highlights of the movie. It’s a really chaotically told story, and with Harley being an unreliable narrator, it made it a lot more fun to watch. For example, it might introduce a character in the story, and then the movie would rewind back in time to explain who that character is. While that sometimes worked, some of the later occurrences started to disrupt the pacing quite a bit. The R rating is quite freeing for Birds of Prey and works for its benefit. With Suicide Squad there was feelings of it being cramped in and restricted, and it couldn’t really go as crazy or as far as it might’ve wanted to go. While Birds of Prey is generally less graphic than the Deadpool movies (outside of one particular scene), you can really tell that they had a lot more to play with here, and so didn’t have any things that had to avoid. The third act was the highlight of the movie for me. The movie could be quite messy with some of its storytelling (and I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up on a second viewing), but given the storytelling, that actually works quite well. Something I have to address is that the full title of the movie is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn). Most people won’t use the full title when talking about it, but there’s a reason why it’s given that very long title. Make no mistake, this isn’t a Birds of Prey movie, it’s first and foremost a Harley movie. WB was looking to make a Harley Quinn spinoff, but Margot Robbie also wanted her to be part of a group, in this case the Birds of Prey, so this movie is how they’re being introduced onto the big screen. For most of the movie it’s Harley’s story with appearances of the members throughout it as supporting characters, before they all come together and team up in the third act. While I understand that approach and I like the movie as it is, I certainly hope there is a follow up that’s a full on Birds of Prey movie.

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Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn, and she’s once again great, she really was born to play this character. While she was good in Suicide Squad, she’s got a lot more to work with here, and certainly benefits with no restrictions whatsoever. Again, this is her movie through and through, and Robbie excels throughout. Then there’s also the Birds of Prey themselves, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, and Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya. They don’t get quite the screentime and attention that I’d hope for, nonetheless they do a lot to make an impression on you and are great, and are excellent together. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again in future DCEU instalments, especially Black Canary. There’s also the character of Cassandra Cain who plays a big part in the plot, and I think she’s really the only character in this movie I took issue with. Now I’m not very familiar with her in the comics, but I know there she is one of the characters who assumed the role of Batgirl and is an excellent fighter. In this movie however she is a pickpocketer… and that’s it, she probably could’ve been named anything other than Cassandra Cain and she probably would’ve worked much better. It’s not a major issue, she functioned well enough in the story, and actress Ella Jay Basco played her quite well, but the changes to the character were unnecessary. The villains were also effective in Ewan McGregor as Black Mask and Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, two formidable and threatening antagonists for this story. McGregor’s Roman Sionis is one of the most memorable comic book movie villains in recent years, flamboyant, over the top, and deliciously evil, he was a blast to watch, and was the standout performance of the film after Margot Robbie.

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Cathy Yan’s direction of Birds of Prey is fantastic. This movie tells its story from Harley’s perspective, and Yan does a great job at putting you inside her head, from the narration from Robbie’s Quinn and occasional breaking of the fourth wall, to some animations on screen which work very well. It’s also a great looking movie on the whole, the use of colour particularly is great, and the grimy setting of Gotham is captured incredibly well. Stylistic wise it has some similarities to Suicide Squad, but they take it to the next level here. The action is also well directed and fun, particularly the fight scenes. Apparently the stunt people involved with the John Wick movies were brought in to beef up some of the action in Birds of Prey, and you definitely feel it. The music is also quite good, from the score by Daniel Pemberton, to the selected soundtrack.

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Birds of Prey is a bit messy and has the occasional pacing issues, but on the whole was a chaotic, stylistic, and very entertaining flick, probably the closest that we’ll get to a Quentin Tarantino inspired comic book movie. It’s visually stunning, well directed, has some good action, and features a great cast that perform excellently together. I certainly look forward to seeing Harley Quinn and the other characters again in future DCEU movies.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Retrospective Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescues Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) pursues a new threat, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine, and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

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Revenge of the Sith was already the best of the prequel trilogy, so when I was going through my rewatches of the Star Wars series, I knew I’d still like it. However I ended up loving it even more, to the point where it’s one of my favourite movies in the series, flaws and all. After the past two disappointing prequels, George Lucas handled the final film in the trilogy greatly, delivering on a satisfying conclusion and one of the highlights of the series.

Revenge of the Sith at 2 hours and 20 minutes had my attention all the way through. The dialogue is better, with some occasionally bad lines that go through, however they don’t detract too much from the movie. It’s a much darker story, and it really needed to be that, with it being the chapter of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. This movie was the first Star Wars movie to be given a PG-13/M rating, and it uses it to great effect. Revenge of the Sith starts out on a high note, with an entertaining action sequence as Anakin and Obi Wan are in fighters as they try to rescue a ‘captured’ Chancellor Palpatine. The CGI and action are good, and it gets you really into what’s going on. The rest of the rescue was great, as they encounter droids, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, and manage to land half a ship. It’s pretty much classic Star Wars.

If there was a weakest section of the movie, it would be the one where Obi Wan is hunting Grievous, not that it’s bad or anything. It’s entertaining and all, but that’s all it really is. It doesn’t really help that Grievous wasn’t that great as an antagonist. While they really only got to shine in the third acts of their respective movies, Darth Maul and Count Dooku still got to show off. As unique as an antagonist as Grievous is physically, he ends up being a mostly normal physical threat. His lightsabre fight with Obi Wan was the most disappointing part of it, with it only lasting 30 seconds and with Kenobi seemingly easily cutting off two of his hands. Nothing bad about this section necessarily, just pales in comparison to the rest of the movie.

Surprisingly I was more interested in Anakin’s story, but that needed to be the case, with this whole trilogy being about him becoming Darth Vader after all. There had been much criticisms about the portrayal of The Jedi Council, and how unheroic and sometimes unlikable they are seen in the prequels. The portrayal is deliberate, and that’s even more so the case with Revenge of the Sith. The part where Palpatine tells Anakin about how the Jedi and the Sith are quite similar in the opera house scene, he really didn’t have to lie all that much. Much of the Jedi don’t exactly stick by their code, a chief example being Mace Windu trying to kill Palpatine even when he pretty much had him already beaten. Also remember back to after Anakin and Obi Wan’s conversation after the mission, where Kenobi lists the killing of Dooku among some of the successful things he did on that mission, whereas Skywalker didn’t feel like it was right and wasn’t the Jedi way, and only did it because Palpatine pushed him to do it. Anakin’s questionings of some of their dealings aren’t unfounded. The Jedi were also very paranoid and distrustful, especially when it came to Anakin. Mace making the point directly by himself that although Anakin was on the Jedi Council, he wouldn’t be a master (which turns out has never been done before), just solidified their distrust for him, aside from Obi Wan of course. A mix of these, along with fearing about Padme dying, would all lead to him on the path to the dark side.

This would all build up until Palpatine is revealed as the Sith lord behind everything, and there’s a direct confrontation. The scene where Palpatine and Windu fight is rather disappointing considering the skill and power of both, but the way Palpatine just kills the other 3 Jedi within like 5 seconds is so silly. It’s not that he’s shown to be quite powerful (that’s what we’d expect) but 2 of them practically let themselves get killed. I noticed that some people really had issues with how quickly Anakin makes the decision to join Palpatine, especially as it’s done right after he says “What have I done?”. Personally I saw this as Anakin reluctantly joining since there was no turning back after being involved with killing Mace Windu and helping Palpatine, mixed with his genuine disillusion with the Jedi Council, and of course still his desire to save Padme. I do remember when George Lucas once said that in this movie you’ll get to learn why he was given the name of Darth Vader. He must’ve forgotten to do that because it’s not explained anywhere here (unless you know that Vader in German means father), not that it really matters though, it’s a small detail.

The third act showing the fall of the Jedi order was really great. The Order 66 is indeed a fantastically handled sequence and one of the highlights of the entire series, as it cuts around to the Jedi being killed by the clones that they were fighting alongside minutes ago. You really feel the weight of everything going on in this last act. The final fights are also really good, with Obi Wan against Anakin and Yoda against the Emperor. With the former you get a bunch of large scale fight scenes in the volcanic planet of Mustafar, and the latter you get both parties using the force plenty as well as using the lightsabres. I do think they went a little overboard with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight, where the fight is so long and they two of them seem to be keep being placed in every ridiculous scenario possible, but the movie seemed to be leaning into the whole space opera thing, and on that end it mostly worked. Outside of that, the only slight problem I had with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight was that I was hoping to see was at least some attempt from the latter to bring Anakin back from the dark side at the beginning of it, given that just before he told Yoda that he can’t do it. I would’ve liked that instead of Kenobi just pretty much going in knowing that he’s already gone at this point. The moment of Padme giving birth being paralleled with Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader was pretty much perfect, and I was even fine with Vader’s freakout over hearing that Padme is dead, it would make sense. But I’m with everyone as not being such a fan of his giant “NOOOOOOOO” at the end of the scene, it was a little too much and rather silly. The rest of the ending is great and set things up well for the next movie. Side note but I never picked up till my most recent rewatch that C-3PO and R2-D2 had their memories wiped at the end of the movie, that made so much sense as to why they don’t recognise some of the other characters in the original trilogy.

Ewan McGregor is once again pitch perfect as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he gets better with every subsequent Star Wars movie he appears in. He resembles Alec Guinness even more and is completely believable in the role, he’s particularly great towards the third act. Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap for his performances as Anakin Skywalker in these prequels. Indeed, I had some problems with him in Attack of the Clones. In Revenge of the Sith there are a few lines of dialogue that aren’t all that great. However most of the writing for him works, and I don’t actually have any problems with his performance here. The dynamic between him and Obi-Wan for instance was what I wanted more of from the two of them in Attack of the Clones. You just get the first act of them during the rescue, as well as some other scenes involving the council before Kenobi leaves to go after Grievous, but they work so well. It feels so natural, none of these forced “You’re like a father to me” lines from Attack of the Clones which you don’t believe. You can also really see the conflict in Anakin, and that’s something that Christensen nailed as well. Sure, Anakin is moody again, but unlike Attack of the Clones, it doesn’t come across like some whiny teenager. Christensen’s visual acting is fantastic, while I struggled to see him as Anakin in the previous movie, here I buy it. And of course when it came to him as Vader, I really bought it. Of course he does have some pretty lame lines at times that most actors would struggle with (“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy”, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil”), but he also delivers them as best as possible.

Natalie Portman gets to do more acting-wise here in this movie, it’s a shame though that her character of Padme is just relegated to being pregnant, being worried, crying, giving birth and then dying, especially considering that she actually did some things in the plot of the other two prequels. It’s really annoying hearing that originally in the script, Padme was involved with forming the rebellion, and that would’ve been perfect for her. Given some of the things she says in the movie, it would’ve made sense, like in one scene where she seems to be doubting the war. Surprisingly the romance between Padme and Anakin actually works here. Sure you get a few bad lines between the two (“You’re so beautiful”, “Only because I’m so in love”), but you are able to stomach it, not to mention the soap opera lines seem a little deliberate, with Star Wars being a space opera after all. You can actually buy their relationship, even with the scenes with less lines. The rest of the supporting cast also do well. Ian McDiarmid is always fantastic as Emperor Palpatine, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones gradually showed Palpatine’s rise to power, but in Revenge of the Sith he’s at the centre of the story. His scenes with Anakin are great as he’s slowly bringing him towards the dark side, the highlight being the opera house scene, where he tells him the story about Darth Plagueis the wise. Now McDiarmid does go incredibly over the top at points (even more than in Return of the Jedi) and maybe he’s a little silly, but even those moments are just glorious to watch too. McDiarmid and McGregor are the MVPs of these Star Wars prequels, they’re fantastic in their roles. General Grievous was a character that was introduced in the animated Clone Wars series. He was quite a unique villain, a cyborg who had 4 arms, each wielding lightsabres more often than not. So he was known even before Revenge of the Sith came out. It’s unfortunate then that he’s rather underwhelming in the movie. Sure he can pose a bit of a threat, but his fight with Obi Wan was rather disappointing, and there’s not much to him as a character.

I think George Lucas did a great job at directing this movie. While the movie has its fair share of exposition, Lucas seemed to allow the movie to breathe and told the story visually at points. One of the biggest examples is when Anakin and Padme are seemingly looking at each other across buildings, which takes place right after Mace Windu and a few other Jedi go out to arrest Palpatine. Along with the great facial acting from both Christensen and Portman, it’s such an eerie and powerful moment, and manages to convey so much about both characters at that moment without needing a single line of dialogue. There definitely is a lot of reliance on CGI, but the visuals themselves are definitely better than Attack of the Clones. There are so many spectacular sequences that work really well, from the lightsabre fights, to the space battles, and so on. There are plenty of moments that are really over the top, especially some fight scenes, but again, this is a full on space opera, and seeing the movie as that certainly made it make sense. The worlds are also greatly designed and thought out, same with the robots, costumes, etc. John Williams has always been good at scoring Star Wars, but I’m pretty confident in saying that Revenge of the Sith is his best score for a Star Wars movie. It’s large, epic, emotional, tragic, and just fit perfectly with the whole movie.

I always liked Revenge of the Sith, but the more recent viewing of it made me love it even more, and solidified it as one of my favourite Star Wars movies. Its issues are noticeable and hurt the movie a lot, but it’s only because the rest of the movie works so well. It generally accomplished what the movie needed to do, and although the prequels were mostly disappointing, it’s a relief that the final film at least managed to stick the landing.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Retrospective Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Creator: George Lucas

Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) discover there is more than meets the eye behind an assassination attempt on Naboo Senator Padme Amidala’s (Natalie Portman) life. Meanwhile a Sith Lord orchestrates events between the forces of good and evil, all the while waiting to play the final move that will ensure him control of the galaxy.

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Despite much of the dislike for The Phantom Menace, many consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst Star Wars movie. I’ve always considered it to be the second worst, but decided to give it another go to see if that changed. After rewatching it… I came to the exact same conclusion, although like with my most recent viewing of The Phantom Menace, I liked it slightly more than the last time I saw it. It’s got some good things in there and could’ve been great, it’s just there there’s equally as many bad decisions that prevent it from reaching that level of greatness.

The writing is a mixed bag. I liked pretty much most of the plot and character decisions made, the execution however had much to be desired. The dialogue had the same problem as in The Phantom Menace, still sounding rather unnatural. However, most of the characters does feel slightly less stiff, even if it still comes across as forced at times. While it would take till Revenge of the Sith for the Star Wars series to start receiving M ratings and start being truly dark, The Phantom Menace is the only movie in the series that feels like it was actually made for kids, and not to say that it’s a bad thing inherently, but it seemed to be at the detriment of the movie on the whole. Attack of the Clones does take the plot a little more seriously, and outside of some cheesy moments (that the original trilogy had too), I liked the tone of the movie generally. The political angle definitely improved since The Phantom Menace, it’s very present but shown in small bursts and wasn’t as heavy handed. And again, it’s also interesting seeing the rise of Palpatine. The Phantom Menace in the beginning took a little while before you began to notice the awkwardness creep in, but Attack of the Clones immediately starts feeling quite off. It has a bit of a clunky start and doesn’t really pick up until the chase scene between Obi Wan and Anakin with the assassin, which in itself was a pretty thrilling and entertaining sequence.

From this point until the third act, the first two acts mainly consist of two main storylines, one for Obi Wan, and the other for Anakin and Padme. I’ll start with Obi Wan’s storyline, which is mostly good. After the assassination attempt on Padme, Kenobi investigates the assassin and discovers Kamino, Clones, and more. Not to say that there weren’t some odd moments, like when Kenobi couldn’t find anything about Kamino in the Jedi databases, he had to go to a class being run by Yoda to ask for help, and then a student had to point out the incredibly obvious that maybe someone erased that information. However, for this movie it’s pretty typical to have random and pointless moments like these, and I’m probably just nitpicking. Once Obi Wan actually gets to Kamino, it really picked up and I was generally interested in what was happening. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I actually liked the introduction and formation of clones, who would eventually become Stormtroopers. Maybe linking them to being clones of Jango Fett was a weird and unneeded choice, but it’s one I just went along with. From there it takes him all the way to Geonosis, where his and Anakin and Padme’s storylines would join up in the third act.

The other main storyline is with Anakin and Padme, and the first half of that which takes place on Naboo was easily the weakest portion of the movie. I get that it’s supposed to be building up their relationship, and I’m more than fine with that. The problem is that the writing for them is absolutely terrible. It can range from being cheesy (like that scene in the field), or just ridiculously cringe worthy (when they confess their love to each other and talk about whether or not it should happen). Had the writing here been even just as average as much of the rest of the movie, I probably would’ve liked the movie slightly more, but that portion sticks out as being really bad. Once Anakin has a nightmare about his mother and the two of them head to Tatooine, their storyline noticeable improves, even if it still has some issues. It seemed like the natural way of progressing his story, especially with Anakin’s mother being particularly quite important to him in the previous movie. I will say that I always found it weird how easy it was for Padme to overlook Anakin’s outburst about him killing the sand people. Indeed the actual outburst doesn’t come across as impactful, as a result of a mix of Christensen’s performance and the writing makes him come across as whiny and throwing a tantrum more than anything. Anakin and Padme would then make their way to Geonosis to try to rescue Obi Wan, with a pretty good action scene at the factory, however Padme doesn’t really get to do anything except to get saved by R2-D2, and I have no idea why C-3PO was in there at all.

The third act is even more of a CGI fest than The Phantom Menace was, but I can’t deny I had fun with it. It starts off with a fight at an arena with Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme, and it already was a good setup. Then it introduces the Jedi, the droid army and the clones into the mix. So much of the movie doesn’t feel real and it really doesn’t allow you to get immersed in these scenes, but after a while you do get used to it, and I started to enjoy it. One thing that does irk me particularly however was that they really made way too many CGI clones, especially when it came to actual human actors having to interact with them, it was just way too distracting and just felt rather lazy. The fight with Obi Wan and Anakin against Count Dooku was pretty decent, as well as the one between Yoda and Dooku. I know some people didn’t like the idea of Yoda having a lightsabre and fighting and all that, but I personally liked it. I also liked how the movie led the way for the Clone Wars, I really wished that there was an episode that took place during the Clone Wars as the next episode would take place at the very end of it, but I guess that’s what a lot of the expansion novels and animated shows are for.

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the younger Obi Wan Kenobi. He showed potential in The Phantom Menace but he resembled Alec Guinness even more here and has improved even more since then. Even with some of the odd lines he’s given, he absolutely sells each of them perfectly. Pretty much no complaints with him here. Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker in this movie is… a very mixed bag. There is so much here that doesn’t work. To be fair, he’s not got much to work with, from some of the terrible dialogue he’s given, to the writing in general, and to how he’s directed. People have said this many times before, but he really does come across as whiny, even when he’s supposed to be angry, and it’s hard to take these moments seriously. Not to mention the rest of the time the performance and line deliveries are rather bland. Some of the romantic moments between him and Padme come across as creepy more than anything else, and most of that comes from Christensen, from the line deliveries to some of the unnerving looks he gives her. It’s a shame that both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith keep separating him and Obi Wan, since that’s quite important. However, Revenge of the Sith would at least have shown a solid dynamic between the two, in Attack of the Clones however it wasn’t really all that convincing, outside of Kenobi being frustrated that he padawan wouldn’t do what he says and Skywalker whining about how he keeps holding him back. Then there’s that throwaway line that Anakin says about how Obi Wan is the closest thing to a father that he has, although you don’t really believe it. Christensen does get a few good acting moments, such as when he finds her mother before she dies, and then when he starts killing the Tuskin Raiders. Still, you get the idea that he could be better. Thankfully, both the writing for him and his acting certainly improved in Revenge of the Sith. Natalie Portman returns as Padme, for the most part I liked where they took her character, though I wish she got to do a little more. Much of her character is overshadowed by the romance between her and Christensen, which was handled rather badly. On paper, the idea of the romance sounds great and fitting, especially for Anakin (though this might just be from knowing what happens with them in Revenge of the Sith). The problem is that the writing for them and the dialogue between them is disastrously bad. I get that it’s been like 10 years since the two have seen each other and they’d be a little awkward, but you really don’t believe their romance at any point in the movie. It’s at best fine and at worst creepy and cringe-worthy. With that said, like their storyline, their dialogue and writing slightly improves after they leave Naboo, and becomes much more bearable.

On the antagonist side it’s about the same level as The Phantom Menace, but maybe slightly better. Ian McDiarmid of course delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, and the movie shows his rise in power even more. This movie has Jango Fett (played by Temeura Morrison), related to Boba Fett, the fan favourite bounty hunter. To get it out of the way, Jango Fett is much better than Boba Fett, though to be honest it was never much of a competition. I never found Boba Fett to be that good in the original series, the only credible thing he did in those movies is track down Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, otherwise he just looks cool, and ends up dead in the most embarrassing way. Here you get to actually see Jango do things, holding his own against Obi Wan, killing at least one Jedi in the final act, and being killed in battle by Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). I’m not really sure why they decided to have Boba being a clone of Jango instead of just his son but whatever. The prospect of Christopher Lee as a Star Wars villain in Count Dooku sounds extremely exciting to say the least. Lee really does own the scenes he’s in but unfortunately you really only get to see him in the last third of the movie. It’s also a shame knowing that he doesn’t last very long in the next movie. Like with Darth Maul and General Grievous, Dooku is a Star Wars villain who seemed to shine more in a lot of the spin offs and shows than in the live action movies, and at least had a lot more to do.

The direction by George Lucas like with The Phantom Menace is a little mixed. The movie generally relies more on CGI than The Phantom Menace did, and it was really distracting a lot of the time, from Dexter’s Diner all the way through to the third act. After a while you just sort of accept it for what it is. There’s even some really good action, from the chase of the assassin by Obi Wan and Anakin, to Obi Wan fighting Jango Fett, to much of the third act. Even with some distractingly fake and empty CGI at times, Lucas generally creates some creative scenarios and makes the sequences at least somewhat entertaining. With all the prequels, the new worlds were always great to see, and Attack of the Clones continued this the likes of Kamino and Geonosis, and it was even nice going back to familiar places like Coruscant, Naboo and Tatooine. The designs of everything, from the costumes, to the production design, the worlds, creatures, etc, were also handled quite well. The score by John Williams is great once again, introducing even more iconic Star Wars themes. Across the Stars in particular is fantastic, and deserved to be used for a much better on screen romance than Anakin and Padme’s.

Attack of the Clones is a very flawed movie. There are plenty of problems, with the overreliance of CGI, the writing, some of the directing decisions, there are so many things that were handled disappointingly and at times badly. At the same time it has some potential, I liked most of the ideas, generally the plot was pretty good, I was invested in some parts of the story, and some of the cast and characters work (mainly Ewan McGregor as Kenobi). So while it’s disappointing and I’m not likely to revisit it often, I don’t think it’s without some merit.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) Retrospective Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala
Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks
Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Two Jedi Knights (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) set out to search for someone who can bring peace to the Force. Their search ends when they come across a young, gifted boy. But the Sith returns to stake claim to the Force.

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With The Rise of Skywalker coming in December, I decided to revisit the Star Wars movies in timeline order. When I was younger I used to watch The Phantom Menace over and over again and I liked it a lot back then. Upon revisiting the movies in the lead up to The Force Awakens however, I found it to be the worst in the series. I had a feeling that with people talking about it, as well as really noticing the fandom’s constant hatred, I decided to take a different look at it. After my rewatch I can confirm that I definitely don’t dislike it, but I don’t think it’s particularly good either. However it’s not without some decent parts (or at least it had potential).

As this is a retrospective review it’s only fitting that this movie is talking about spoilers. So obviously don’t read this or the other Star Wars retrospective reviews if you haven’t watched the movies already. The writing of The Phantom Menace is a very mixed bag, while some of the ideas are fine enough, most of the executions weren’t handled well. The story goes in and out of being interesting, more often than not however I wasn’t very engaged. A lot of the dialogue is very formal, stiff and unnatural for most of the characters. In the case of the Jedi, it works, but I’m not so sure why every other character acts like that too. Not to mention so much of the dialogue is really bland and even cheesy. Not to say that the original Star Wars trilogy was like that (a little more than a lot of Star Wars fans would like to admit), but the prequel trilogy is even more so. One thing I consistently liked about this movie and the prequels was the introduction of new worlds, as well as it expanding upon the lore and the universe. The first act starts off fine enough, but it has its issues. The Gungan parts were handled a little weirdly. Though to be fair most of it comes from the fact that Jar Jar Binks is meant to be our insight to the Gungans, and we don’t really learn a whole lot from him about them (more on that later).

There’s quite a large portion of the movie dedicated to the main characters on Tatooine, which takes up much of the second act. I’ve always found it unnecessary to re-introduce this planet, for all the new worlds that were introduced (and those were greatly appreciated), we didn’t need to come back to Tatooine. It seems like it was done to connect Anakin to Luke from the original Star Wars, but they really didn’t need to do that. It’s a bit of a nitpick but I also really didn’t see much of a point introducing C-3PO in this way as one of Anakin’s creations. He doesn’t really do anything, it’s random more than anything and feels thrown in. On the whole, this whole segment on this planet is surrounding Anakin, but he doesn’t really become the main focus point of the plot. The podracing scene is praised quite a lot from some people. While it certainly establishes Anakin’s skills as a pilot, I personally just think it’s okay, I guess it’s directed fine enough. It just never did anything for me. The Coruscant section was something I didn’t really like before watching this movie more recently. While I still have some issues with it, it does expand the Star Wars universe with something that the original trilogy didn’t have, politics and a political system. Sure it’s not particularly exciting but at least they actually tried something different, so I can’t complain too much (just a little bit). It doesn’t vibe well with the rest of the movie and it really slows to a snail’s pace, and they really could’ve handled the political talk to make it a little more engaging and less bland. The highlight of this segment was how it showed Palpatine’s rise in political power, that’s something the prequel trilogy did well over the entire prequel trilogy. In this segment we also get to see the Jedi Council, and much of how the Jedi act feels purposeful, they’re meant to be a little monotone and all that, and so I was fine with that in the grand scheme of things. I would’ve liked to have seen Jedi more involved in this movie but given the number of issues The Phantom Menace has, that’s hardly a problem even having. A much despised aspect about this movie was the introduction of midichlorians for the force. I do agree that it’s not needed, even if it was made with good intentions to expand the lore. Personally I just ignore this aspect of the plot, it doesn’t matter to me or the movie really. I don’t even recall the other prequels mentioning them.

The third act is quite good and my favourite section of the whole movie. There are multiple battles and I liked most of it, but the whole Gungan vs battle droids was not so great, though to be fair it’s mainly because a large portion of it was just showing Jar Jar’s comedy unfortunately. The rest of that battle would’ve been fine otherwise. Then there’s the ships trying to destroy the Trade Federation station and involving Anakin in the third act, but I’ll get to that later. The parts where Padme is leading an attack was pretty decent. The best part of this segment is of course the fight with Qui Gon and Obi Wan against Darth Maul. For as much as some Star Wars fans complain about some of the dance like choreography in the prequels (and there’s a truth in that), the choreography in this scene is pretty much perfect. It’s entertaining and it really works, I can’t really think of many complaints about this fight. Although this third act is the best part of the movie, it still has its own share of problems. There are 4 battles going on at once, and it can be a little much, not to mention you don’t really care much about any of them, so you’re basically just watching them because they’re entertaining.

The movie doesn’t particularly do a good job at establishing a singular main character or a focus. Not that they can’t focus on multiple main characters or anything, but it definitely would’ve helped to have at least one major character that you could latch onto, but there’s none to be found here. It’s not Qui Gon, we don’t get to learn about him much, nor is it Obi Wan, we spend even less time with him. Padme’s not really the focus of the story, and it’s a whole third of the way into the movie before you even see Anakin. There’s really no emotional connection to be had with any of the characters, at least in this movie. Thankfully despite some problems, the next two movies focussed on the main characters a little more. Most of the characters feels very stiff, but some of the actors break out of their shell at points. Liam Neeson is believable enough as a Jedi, and Ewan McGregor even from just this movie has vibes of a much younger Obi Wan Kenobi. McGregor also worked a lot better due to the fact that he had two additional movies to develop and showcase his character. In that respect, I do feel like Liam Neeson should’ve been the main character, because we didn’t really learn much about him outside of some brief snippets, and then he just dies at the end. Natalie Portman is also victim to the bland monotone acting that much of the cast has fallen to, the direction really doesn’t take advantage of her great talent sadly. However she is trying, and I do actually like the character quite a bit and she does actually get to do things in this movie. I do find it a little weird that the Jedi couldn’t somehow figure out that she had a decoy, given that they have the force and all that, but that might just be a nitpick.

Jake Lloyd plays the young Anakin Skywalker in this movie. In a previous review I might’ve been a little too critical of him. Honestly the problems I have are not to do with the performance. Ignoring the fact that he’s meant to be a younger Anakin/Darth Vader, Lloyd plays the rest of the role as well as possible given the material. His last scenes with Anakin’s mother I actually thought were well acted. However there are some problems with the character. He’s brought in as a side character a third of the way through, he’s shown to be significant as potentially the one destined to bring balance to the force, there’s parts about him being very powerful with the force and him being a great pilot but that’s it. He almost feels tacked on like a subplot then rather a significant driving part of the movie. Considering that the reason the prequels exist was to show the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, it was a little weird that in the first movie they didn’t even put him in one of the leading roles. It doesn’t help that towards the end he ends up blowing up the Trade Federation station at the end by accident instead of purposefully. They already established him as a great pilot with podracing back on Tatooine. Even if they were to have him get stuck in the ship flying towards the station, everything he does after the autopilot is switched off is one Jar Jar moment after the other, where he accidentally manages to save the day, and it would’ve been the perfect moment to prove how capable he is. As for the idea of him being just created by the force, I don’t mind that. Jar Jar Binks is… not really all that bad. George Lucas seemed to find him to be hilarious since he’s placed in so many of the scenes, but unfortunately there’s really nothing that he does that’s genuinely funny. I lost how many times Jar Jar would say “How wude!”, to absolutely no laughs whatsoever. I don’t like him and he’s still slightly annoying but not insufferable, I’ve seen countless worse comic relief characters in other movies. If anything the most disappointing part of him is that they don’t really do anything with him as a character. He’s essentially meant to be our insight into the Gungans, but they do basically nothing with that, nor do they give him any form of character outside of being clumsy. Even if you wanted to make him a slapstick character for 80% of the time, a little bit of character would be nice. He’s distracting more than anything, but hardly among the worst parts of the movie.

The Trade Federation villains like Nute Gunray I’ve always found to be rather uninspired and underwhelming. I’m not expecting every Star Wars movie villain to be at the level of Darth Vader or anything, but I’d like to feel more about them than just “what was the point of them?”. They are after all aside from Darth Maul at the end the ultimate antagonists of the entire movie. I’ve always found the battle droids to be rather unimpressive as physical enemies to the main characters. As much as the Stormtroopers are made fun of because of their terrible aim, they had their moments. Aside from having some large droids, I don’t remember them being particularly threatening at any point in these movies outside of the very large scale battle scenes later on. Ian McDiarmid always delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, The Phantom Menace establishes him very well in this time period and he absolutely nails all of his scenes. Pretty much everything involving The Emperor in the prequel trilogy was great. We also have Ray Park as Darth Maul who everyone likes, even people who hate The Phantom Menace still highly praised him. He became so popular in fact that he was resurrected in spin off Star Wars stories and media, and even cameoed in Solo. I do wish he was in the movie more and we don’t get any sort of idea of his personality or character and he doesn’t get many lines, but what we get from him is great. He’s got a great and dangerous presence about him, and he’s shown to be quite the adversary in the third act.

George Lucas’s direction is a bit of a mixed bag. With the prequel trilogy, Lucas put an even higher emphasis on CGI, unfortunately the CGI hasn’t really held up all that well. Some moments are okay, some aren’t so much. Most of the practical effects and sets are good, there was actually a lot more practical effects used in this movie than I remember there being. The only parts which distract are the Trade Federation aliens, they just look so lifeless from their blinking to the lip movement. And since we are talking about CGI and aliens, we should probably address Yoda, even if he’s a very small part of the movie. Initially The Phantom Menace had Yoda done through puppeteering, and that sounds good on paper, but something must’ve gone wrong because he looked freakish and creepy. In the updated versions of this movie they replaced him with a CGI Yoda like with what they’ve now done with episodes 2 and 3, and honestly I think it’s better than what it was before. With that said, something seems really off about it, the animation really doesn’t fit the voice at all and it can look quite out of place. CGI not always being great aside, generally the action in The Phantom Menace is filmed well. John Williams’s score across the first 6 movies have remained iconic, no matter how much the prequels are hated. Tracks like Duel of the Fates stick out at as some of the most standout songs from the franchise.

The Phantom Menace is still a mixed bag, but I guess at least I like it more than the last time I saw it. I think there’s a lot here to like, I like some of the expansions of the Star Wars lore and worlds, even if not all of it works I appreciate the efforts. There are also some parts like the third act that I legitimately think are good. However, there are just so many missteps and mistakes made here that really hold the movie back from being as good as it could’ve been. I’m not mad at the movie at all, just disappointed, and I’m unlikely to revisit it that much. Still the worst Star Wars movie, but more average than actually bad.

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Dan Torrance
Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat
Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone
Cliff Curtis as Billy Freeman
Carl Lumbly as Dick Hallorann
Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy
Emily Alyn Lind as Snakebite Andi
Bruce Greenwood as Dr. John Dalton
Director: Mike Flanagan

Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.” Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.

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Doctor Sleep was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020, however the filming of it seemed to have gone so well that the release date was moved up to 2019. Mike Flanagan has been proving himself as a really solid horror director with movies like Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and with Gerald’s Game he showed himself at being great at adapting Stephen King’s work (which is now being praised as one of the best Stephen King movies). So, he was definitely a person who could at least handle the challenging task. On top of that, Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson would be part of the cast, and they’re very talented actors cast in some very prominent roles in this movie. So even though The Shining sequel on paper seemed like it would be a disaster, the talent behind it and the fact that it would be based off one of King’s books at least showed that it had potential. Doctor Sleep actually manages to surpass expectations and is one of my favourite movies so far this year.

First of all, I think we need to talk about the obvious, the fact that Doctor Sleep is sort of a sequel to The Shining. A lot of people will be expecting it to be just that, a Shining sequel. However, it’s a completely different movie and plays completely differently, it’s definitely standalone and its own thing. The movie is lengthy at 2 hours and a half long, and for quite a large part of the movie it’s quite slow and that may lose some people. For the first 40 minutes it’s spending time with Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor), showing him in his adult life decades after the events of The Shining. I really do appreciate that they didn’t just try to jump to the horror scenes and have a fast moving plot, they actually took the time to establish him in his current state. I know that a lot of people will be bugged by this, but I wouldn’t wish for this bit to be cut down at all. Once it starts bringing in the antagonists of The True Knot into the forefront, that’s when the movie really starts to pick up. Generally though, Doctor Sleep takes its time telling its story, and I really appreciated that. I noticed that there was a lot of concern is that it’s just riding the coattails of The Shining, and that’s definitely not the case. While there are characters from that first movie/book that appear and are mentioned, it generally stays as its own thing. It’s really only the last 30 minutes where it goes to the Overlook Hotel, so there’s 2 whole hours of the movie having to stand on its own first. I know some people may be bugged by these scenes but I personally liked the callbacks, it doesn’t quite go overboard as they could’ve. Now I guess you could watch Doctor Sleep without watching The Shining and be completely fine with it all, but the last 30 minutes aren’t going to mean that much to you if you don’t. As for accuracies to the book, I haven’t looked into it too deeply, but I did hear that the movie stays mostly true to it until the last act.

The cast are all great in their roles. Ewan McGregor is solid as Danny Torrance, who was traumatised for decades after the events of The Shining and becoming an alcoholic like his father Jack. The first 40 minutes of the movie is dedicated to following him and showing what happened with him before the plot kicks in, and McGregor’s performance is a big part of why it works so well. Danny’s recovery arc is also handled very well throughout the plot, especially in the third act. Kyliegh Curran was really impressive as Abra, a girl who is very powerful with the Shining ability that Danny and the main villains of the movie take notice of. She also gets to show herself as being very powerful with her abilities and Curran was very convincing in these scenes. There are also the antagonists who work very well within the movie, they are called The True Knot, who are a group of people who torture and kill people with the Shine so that they can feed off it and live for a very long time. It’s led by Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, who nearly steals the movie and I can see her becoming an iconic horror villain with some time. Ferguson plays Rose and she’s absolutely captivating whenever she’s on screen. The rest of the True Knot with the likes of Zahn McClamon and Emily Alyn Lind aren’t quite given the same level of attention or depth but are also given some distinct personalities and characteristics. Something that is effective is that the movie bothers to actually make them human and show their perspective on things. It makes them feel more real and not just one dimensional villains who do bad things because the plot demands it. Other supporting actors work well, like Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, and more. I won’t get into too much about what his role is or what happened with him in the story, but Jacob Tremblay is in a small portion of the movie, yet managed to be a standout with his performance being a large part of the reason why his scene worked so well.

Mike Flanagan by now is more than familiar with the horror genre at this point, and once again he does a great job at directing. It’s stunning to look at and the visuals are great and creative, I wasn’t prepared for how some of the scenes would play out. There’s particularly a very trippy sequence maybe halfway into the movie involving Rose the Hat, and it was one of the highlights of the movie for sure. While I guess there are scenes of horror, I didn’t necessarily feel this was a horror movie all the way through, though I was fine with that. There’s surely no obnoxiously handled jumpscare here, so that’s a win. With all that being said, by far the most horrific scene in the movie was the one involving Jacob Tremblay, you’ll know what I mean when you see it. Even if you wanted to make just an adaptation of Doctor Sleep only keeping in mind what happened in The Shining book, there’s no way that you can just ignore Kubrick’s version, it’s become so incredibly iconic at this point. This movie tributes The Shining quite a lot in how it’s directed, especially in the way a lot of it is shot even before the plot gets to the Overlook Hotel. Personally I feel these moments are earned. The only aspect that really bugged me are when they flat out have flashbacks to scenes from the original movie but recreate them with different actors and all that. They were really distracting and honestly just weren’t needed, anyone who saw The Shining or even vaguely knows about it already knows about many of the iconic scenes and didn’t serve the movie in any way. With that said, it only happened a couple times thankfully. It plays a small part in the movie, but the Overlook hotel was recreated well, pretty much as close to the Kubrick movie as possible.

Doctor Sleep is a solid follow up to the original Shining, while managing to really stand on its own. Mike Flanagan’s direction was excellent, the cast were great (especially McGregor, Curran and Ferguson), it’s captivating and character driven, and although the movie is lengthy, it really utilises that longer runtime well. Considering the massive task they had and all the things they had to get right, I think they really pulled it off.

Christopher Robin (2018) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin
Hayley Atwell as Evelyn Robin
Bronte Carmichael as Madeline Robin
Jim Cummings as: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
Brad Garrett as Eeyore
Director: Marc Forster

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) – now a family man living in London – receives a surprise visit from his old childhood pal, Winnie the Pooh. With Christopher’s help, Pooh embarks on a journey to find his friends – Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. Once reunited, the lovable bear and the gang travel to the big city to help Christopher rediscover the joy of life.

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I’ve been meaning to watch Christopher Robin for a little while. I don’t think I grew up with Winnie the Pooh but I was still somewhat similar familiar with it, and with it starring Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell, I was somewhat curious about it. Christopher Robin is a pretty good and heartwarming family movie, even if it doesn’t start off as great as it could’ve.

Christopher Robin isn’t just a jolly Winnie the Pooh live action movie featuring an adult Christopher Robin, or at the very least it doesn’t start off like that. At the very beginning it’s very melancholic and reflective, way too overly so. It starts with Christopher Robin saying goodbye to his Winnie the Pooh friends, then it shows him growing up as an adult and then for some reason it shows him in war, it was a really weird tone to start with, considering later on it doesn’t maintain that tone. With it starting out with that sombre tone it felt like the movie was going to be depressing by the end. I was really wondering where it was really going, and not in the good way. Where it picked up was when Christopher meets with Pooh and even more so when he comes back to his childhood home and meets his other old friends. There is quite a notable amount of light hearted humour (even if it doesn’t appear so at first), most of it coming from the Winnie the Pooh characters, and it really worked. I guess the story is not that unpredictable, the setup of the story is very familiar to some other family movies, where the father is always busy with his job and doesn’t spend much time with their child. We’ve seen this plot many times before and you can probably tell what happens in the rest of the movie just from that description. However it still works alright for this movie and its not too big of a deal that it’s nothing that new.

Ewan McGregor is good as an older Christopher Robin, as I said this portrayal of Christopher has been done with lead characters in these kinds of stories many times before and is nothing special but McGregor is still good in the role. Hayley Atwell plays Christopher’s wife and while she doesn’t get a lot to work with, she does the best with what she has and added to the movie. Christopher’s daughter played by Bronte Carmichael was also pretty good. All the portrayals of the Winnie the Pooh characters here seem quite representative of the characters from the original source material (at least from what I remember).

Marc Forster is a pretty good director, and his work on Christopher Robin is pretty good as well. The animation and designs of Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the rest of the characters worked really well, with them looking like teddy bears and toys. Aside from them there doesn’t appear to be much other visual effects. It’s a pretty low key and grounded movie throughout.

Christopher Robin is well acted and solidly directed and all around pretty good. It doesn’t start off the best, with it being way too melancholic but once we get to meet the Winnie the Pooh characters again, it really picks up and it gets to be the light hearted movie it is. It’s nothing innovative but I’d say that it’s worth checking out if it sounds interesting to you.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains offensive language and sexual references
Cast:
Nicole Kidman as Satine
Ewan McGregor as Christian
Jim Broadbent as Harold Zidler
Richard Roxburgh as The Duke of Monroth
John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Director: Baz Luhrmann

A celebration of love and creative inspiration takes place in the infamous, gaudy and glamorous Parisian nightclub, at the cusp of the 20th century. A young poet (Ewan McGregor), who is plunged into the heady world of Moulin Rouge, begins a passionate affair with the club’s most notorious and beautiful star (Nicole Kidman).

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I was very sceptical about Moulin Rouge before watching it, although I liked Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby, I really didn’t like his Romeo and Juliet. It didn’t help that Moulin Rouge seemed to have a lot of elements that I hated in 90’s Romeo and Juliet. Nonetheless I finally watch Moulin Rouge (I didn’t want to judge it without actually watching it) … and it took me a few viewings attempts to do finish watching it. While there are some good things in Moulin Rouge, for the most part it just really annoyed me and I personally don’t understand all the acclaim.

I didn’t care for any of the characters or the story. The movie is surrounding love, however in this movie, everything about love just feels really shallow and doesn’t really have much depth. It just pretty much boils down to “love is good because it’s good and people who don’t like love are bad because they are bad”. I wish I was exaggerating. I can’t say which act is best because it all goes in and out of quality, one moment it’s obnoxious, then there’s something that has potential or is even legitimately good, then it goes back to being annoying again. The movie tries to be funny and quirky at a lot of points and it’s irritating when they do this, it took me 5-10 minutes for me to regret trying to watch Moulin Rouge. A lot of the characters are annoying as well, on top of them being over the top and cartoonish, there really isn’t much to them. They also have a tendency to make stupid decisions for no reason at all, particularly Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s characters. I wasn’t heavily interested in the story throughout, there were times where I was partially entertained by some sequences but I didn’t really care what happened. So when you’re supposed to feel something at certain points, I really felt nothing at all. Of course I know that there are lots of people who had completely different experiences to me, a lot of people love Moulin Rouge, this is just I felt when I was watching it.

I’m very mixed on the acting. Ewan McGregor at times is good, the problem is that I found his character annoying, and at other times I found him unlikable. McGregor to his credit, does manage to elevate his role slightly and he does have some legitimately good moments. Nicole Kidman isn’t so lucky, not only is the character annoying, she has to act completely ridiculous and it’s just embarrassing to watch. There’s particularly a scene with her, McGregor and Richard Roxburgh, it’s their first scene together and it’s just the most embarrassing thing ever. Though really she’s ridiculous throughout. Kidman does try her best. I don’t put this against her acting ability, she’s definitely a very talented actress, it’s really the character, the direction and all the material that she was given that was the problem. In terms of acting, the best was Jim Broadbent, he was legitimately entertaining and I liked it when he was on screen. The villain is played Richard Roxburgh and he is incredibly over the top, and unfortunately not in a good way. The big problem is that we are supposed to take him somewhat seriously at the same time and I couldn’t take him seriously at all.

Baz Lurhmann’s direction is also a very mixed bag for me. There are some good parts to it, for example the sets are great and all well put together, the problem is that the editing a lot of the time doesn’t allow us to appreciate these sets. There is so much cutting during some sequences that is incredibly jarring and obnoxious. There are also some sequences which are legitimately good, even great, one in particular being El Tango De Roxanne. But there are still some parts to most of the direction that really frustrated me. The style and over the top nature was really irritating to me and was for me the most frustrating part of the movie. At the same time I am fully aware that people actually like this style and that’s part of the reason they love it so much, but for me, the erratic cutting, editing and camera movements were obnoxious and only made the whole experience worse. As for the songs, none of them are original, some of the songs are fine, others are not so much. It didn’t blow me away, save for maybe one or two songs.

Moulin Rouge definitely has some praiseworthy elements but it is overshadowed by the more flawed elements that distract from the better elements. It’s really the style, direction and story that brings this movie down, which on top of leaving no positive impact on me, also just ended up being straight up irritating at times. Despite my dislike of the film, I do recommend that people go out and see Moulin Rouge for themselves, I can’t tell who is going to love or hate it. I have noticed that some people who hate musicals really liked it. As someone who despite not being a massive fan of musicals but enjoys a lot of them, I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge, and I really wished I could see what everyone else sees in it.

T2: Trainspotting (2017) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use, sex scenes & content that may disturb.
Cast
Ewan McGregor as Mark “Rent Boy” Renton
Ewen Bremner as Daniel “Spud” Murphy
Jonny Lee Miller as Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson
Robert Carlyle as Francis “Franco” Begbie
Kevin McKidd as Tommy MacKenzie
Kyle Fitzpatrick as Fergus
Elek Kish as Dozo
Bradley Welsh as Mr Doyle
Kelly Macdonald as Diane Coulston
Anjela Nedyalkova as Veronika Kovach
Director: Danny Boyle

First there was an opportunity, then there was a betrayal. Twenty years later, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place that he can ever call home. There waiting for him are old buddies Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, love, fear, regret, self-destruction and mortal danger are also all lined up and ready to welcome him.

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I only recently saw the original Trainspotting, it was definitely a unique movie, especially with its style and direction. 21 years later, director Danny Boyle and the cast from the original returned to deliver a sequel with these returning characters. A lot of sequels decades in the making don’t live up to the hype, it didn’t seem necessary to create a sequel, Trainspotting of all films definitely didn’t need a sequel. However, T2: Trainspotting was really pulled off well and now I’m glad they actually decided to go ahead with a sequel. Everyone returns to deliver a worthy sequel that is at the very least at the level of the original.

The issue that this film could face is that it could end up being a total departure or just a repeat and rehash of the original. Fortunately that’s not what happened here, it is new enough while still feeling like a Trainspotting movie. It really does feel like a continuation of the Trainspotting story, it definitely helped that John Dodge, the writer of the original film wrote the sequel as well. The film deals with addiction and other themes in a different way than the original. It doesn’t focus as much as drugs as the original, the issues that these characters are going through are more existential and a lot different. It handles everything overall in a more darker and mature way. You won’t see sequences that are absolutely bonkers like the toilet scene in the original. However, it is still full of that crazy energy from the original, just used in a different way. It is also very funny but its also very emotional too, it really balances everything out all things considering. I don’t really have many issues with the film to be honest.

The characters from the original film, Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie return, with Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle reprising their respective roles. They feel just like their characters, just 20 years older and they continue to share incredible chemistry. Most of the characters haven’t changed, Renton is the only one who has made a significant change since the end of the original film. We do also get to see more insight into their characters and their lives, the treatment of the characters was quite good. As I said previously, everyone is great here, but if there was a standout I’d say it is Spud, who has a surprisingly emotional story in T2. A new character is Anjela Nedyalkova as Veronika, Sick Boy’s girlfriend. She does a really great job in her scenes, having great chemistry with Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner. She also does very well at standing out amongst the four main characters, she definitely needs to be in more movies.

Danny Boyle returns to direct the sequel and really he’s the only person who should’ve directed a Trainspotting sequel. Boyle was once again great, he’s clearly evolved with his filmmaking style. He has combined his new filmmaking style with the style that he used back in 1996 with the original Trainspotting. You don’t get crazy visuals like the original with sequences like the toilet and the baby and others, not necessarily a bad thing, in fact the visual style is great for the story. The style is perfect, with the camerawork, editing and the framing being excellently done. It still has an erratic feeling to it that fits perfectly. The soundtrack in the original Trainspotting was great and that’s the same for the sequel, it fitted the movie and scenes so incredibly well.

The sequel to Trainspotting was the best it possibly could’ve been with its great script, the returning cast and Danny Boyle’s excellent direction. While they are at similar levels of quality, I personally liked Trainspotting 2 slightly more than the original. The best thing I can say is that it’s a perfect continuation of the story. If you liked the original film, I recommend at least checking out the sequel. Even if you might not consider it as good as the original, it’s still very close to be as good as the original. T2: Trainspotting was surprisingly great and one of my favourite films of the year.

Mortdecai (2015) Review

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Mortdecai

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Sexual References and Offensive Language
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Charlie Mortdecai
Ewan McGregor as Inspector Alistair Martland
Gwyneth Paltrow as Johanna Mortdecai
Paul Bettany as Jock Strapp
Jonny Pasvolsky as Emil Strago
Olivia Munn as Georgina Krampf
Jeff Goldblum as Milton Krampf
Director: David Koepp

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumoured to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

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Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp as an eccentric character that looks nothing like Johnny Depp. Sound familiar? That’s because that’s what he’s been doing for the past decade, and as you probably predicted, this film is another failure and another nail into the coffin of Johnny Depp’s career. Mortdecai tries to be a funny and witty crime comedy but fails at it big time. This film does have a few funny moments and it is well directed but for the most part it fails as a comedy, it fails as a mystery and it overall fails as a movie.

The plot is a bit of a mystery and the problem is that it is so hard to follow. By the time I got to the halfway point, I honestly stopped caring about what was going on. After seeing the movie I honestly have a hard time remembering a lot of this movie, it was so forgettable. Also despite this movie being a comedy, it’s not very funny. The movie has many running jokes and most of them aren’t funny in the slightest (the most prominent one being about Mortdecai’s moustache for some reason). This movie does have a few funny moments, but the problem is that for one, there aren’t many of them and two, it reuses the jokes over and over again and aren’t funny the second time around. It fails to be smart, it fails to be funny and it fails to be riveting in the slightest. This movie pretty much fails at everything it sets out to do, except with a few good jokes.

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Johnny Depp was pretty much playing the British Jack Sparrow, only less likable and less funny. I think it’s a mixture between the acting and the character but at a point I actually started to feel annoyed at Mortdecai, there’s nothing likable about him, he’s not funny, he’s not smart, his voice was annoying and it’s we’ve seen this from Depp before so many times. Other stars like Ewan McGregor and Gwyenth Paltrow are wasted in this movie, but they are overall fine in their roles. Paul Bettany was probably the best part of the movie, he has the best lines and the funniest moments.

This movie is well directed, I can give the movie that. It does look good but unfortunately the movie isn’t really focussed on visuals, more on the writing and ‘comedy’ and since the movie fails at both it almost feels irrelevant to mention. No one going into Mortdecai is going to remember the look of the movie, I’m just trying to find as many positive things as possible, there is so few of them.

This movie is another low point in Johnny Depp’s career. While the film is directed well and there are some funny moments, for the most part it is an unfunny, uninteresting mess. I heard that Black Mass is Johnny Depp’s comeback, I want to see it and I hope it’s good because Johnny Depp has been playing slight variations of the same character for years. However Johnny Depp isn’t the main issue with Mortdecai, even without him the movie is still very flawed. It’s not like Jupiter Ascending where there are some enjoyably bad moments, Mortdecai is just boring and worst of all forgettable and I really don’t recommend that you watch it. It will be 110 Minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Review

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Star Wars Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: George Lucas

It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from General Grievous, the commander of the droid armies, but Grievous escapes. Suspicions are raised within the Jedi Council concerning Chancellor Palpatine, with whom Anakin has formed a bond. Asked to spy on the chancellor, and full of bitterness toward the Jedi Council, Anakin embraces the Dark Side.

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Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars prequel that I can call in good conscious good. Everything has improved over the previous prequels like the acting, writing, dialogue, special effects, overall everything, along with adopting a much darker tone. It doesn’t get everything right, sometimes the dialogue doesn’t always work and Anakin’s turn to Darth Vader could’ve been done better but I do think that the pros outweigh the cons.

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The most notable difference between this film and the previous prequels was the darker tone, this is to date the darkest Star Wars movie and this really helped the movie. It also helps that this is the story that we wanted to see in the prequels, Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader. I do think that was the weakest element in this movie. It isn’t terribly done but I’ll just say without diving into spoilers it could’ve been done better. Occasionally this film does suffer from some stiff dialogue and some bad lines but for the most part the dialogue works. The story is actually great and it actually delivers. It’s not always executed in the best way (like Anakin turning into Darth Vader) but I do think that it works for the most part, probably because it is the story that we actually wanted to see.

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The acting has improved from everyone. Ewan McGregor like in Attack of the Clones is a great Obi Wan Kenobi. Hayden Christensen also has a lot more material to work with, I said in the past how he at least does well visually acting, he gets a lot more opportunities to do that here. Even Natalie Portman has improved, in fact I felt that there was actual chemistry between her and Christensen and their scenes (for the most part) were well done. Ian McDiarmid is also great as the Emperor, he’s the one shining point in all the prequels. At times he can be a little too over the top in this movie but even that’s fun to watch. Everyone else, even Samuel L. Jackson who I thought looked bored in the previous films, actually seemed like real characters here. All of the cast at some point have to deliver some bad dialogue but the actors still seem credible.

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The action scenes have improved immensely. The CGI has changed from Playstation 2 graphics to fantastic looking CGI, I still do think that there is too much of it used but at least it’s good CGI. Occasionally there are some scenes with noticeable CGI backgrounds but that’s it. The lightsabre fights are also greatly improved and exciting, even though at times it feels choreographed. It’s almost pointless bringing up John Williams’ score, because once again it is great.

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Revenge of the Sith isn’t a perfect movie but it’s a great improvement over the past 2 movies and at sometimes takes the series into a great direction. Despite the prequels not being up to par with how Star Wars movies should be, I do think that Revenge of the Sith deserves some credit for its qualities. Looking back at the prequels, I do think that all of them have some elements that added to the Star Wars world, so even though they are disappointing, none of them are not without their positives.