Tag Archives: Jon Favreau

Daredevil Director’s Cut (2003) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios
Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin
Colin Farrell as Bullseye
Jon Favreau as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson
Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich
David Keith as Jack Murdock
Scott Terra as Young Matt Murdock
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is Daredevil, a masked vigilante, a relentless avenger of justice. When Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) hires Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to kill Daredevil, Murdock must rely on his own senses and search out the conspirators against justice — which may include his own girlfriend, Elektra (Jennifer Garner).

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I had heard many times before that the Daredevil movie wasn’t good, it’s been known as one of the worst comic book movies of all time. However, I had been meaning to check it out, even just out of curiosity. I watched the director’s cut and it’s by no means a particularly good movie, but I can’t deny that it was really entertaining, even if it’s not in the way it was intended. It’s really silly, and the movie playing it seriously only made it even more funny and enjoyable.

I’m not entirely certain with what the director’s cut added but from scanning over the list of reported changes, the director’s cut seems to be a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. A lot of the comedy was actually funny, though I have a feeling a lot of it wasn’t intentional. It does get a little too over the top at times though, mainly the now infamous playground scene where Matt Murdock (Affleck) and Elektra (Garner) fight. That scene particularly is astounding in how goofy and ridiculous it was, easily the worst scene of the movie, and that’s saying a lot. The plot is really nothing special and is actually rather drawn out. Really it takes half the movie for the plot to really start happening. You don’t really become emotionally invested in the story or characters at all, you’re basically just here to be entertained. It uses a lot of clichés and tropes present from plenty of comic book movies from the 2000s, this is by far the most 2000s of them all. The movie may be too dumb for some people and I can get that, but for me I had a blast watching what would happen next.

Ben Affleck is Matt Murdock/Daredevil and I think he was actually a good pick for the role, playing both sides of the character well. The material wasn’t great, but he did what he could with what he had. He’s also a little consistent as a character, in one scene early on Daredevil lets someone get killed, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they didn’t act like he is a vigilante who doesn’t cross the line to kill for the remainder of the movie. Wouldn’t necessarily mind a more brutal Daredevil so long as they stuck with it all the way through. Side note but Affleck is also really convincing as a blind man, though it probably helped that he had contact lenses at certain points. Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios wasn’t really used to her fullest potential but she was fine. She really only gets a couple scenes near the end to actually do things but that’s it. Thankfully she got her own movie after this but apparently it’s significantly worse than Daredevil. They share some good chemistry despite some incredibly bad writing for their scenes together. Jon Favreau is also good as Foggy Nelsen, Murdock’s lawyer partner and friend. The villains are endlessly entertaining. Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin is perfect casting and chews up scenery whenever he’s on screen, unfortunately he’s not really given much to do and really wasn’t utilised as much as he could’ve been. Still he was fun to watch. The scene stealer however is Colin Farrell as Bullseye, completely and utterly silly and over the top. He’s not given any sort of backstory and was really just a silly comic book movie villain. Pretty much the reason that he’s particularly after Daredevil is that during an assassination, he made him miss one of his shots, and that’s a classic comic book villain motivation (even though I’m pretty sure that’s not Bullseye). Pretty much the only comic book accurate thing about this version of Bullseye is that he can catch and throw things pretty well. I probably wouldn’t call him good but he’s certainly entertaining, which at this point is the only thing that Daredevil unintentionally succeeds at.

The direction by Mark Steven Johnson wasn’t the best. The transitions between scenes are over the top with the camera zooming through the city and the like. The music choices are also so 2000s, it’s over the top and stuck with that, that it only made things so much more entertaining. The highlight was the use of Evanescence (there are two uses of them) when Elektra is practicing on some sandbags to ‘Bring me to Life’, peak 2000s comic book movie moment right there. With that said, I recall that there were some directing decisions that I liked. Some things are ripped from other comic book movies at the time, like when Matt gets hit by radioactive waste it shows what happens internally to him with effects similar to when Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and gets powers in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. I think the action was decent enough, again really over the top, but you can generally see what’s going on during them. The costumes are a mixed bag. The Daredevil suit is actually pretty decent, it’s actually on par with the red Daredevil suit for the Netflix show (way too much leather though). On the other hand I’m not sure what they were even thinking for the Bullseye costume, but it fitted the performance well, so I guess that’s a win.

Daredevil definitely isn’t a good movie, however it’s the cheese and over the top factor that makes it so fun to watch. Along with that there are some genuinely good things, like the actors despite the bad material do try, and some of them are decent here. I view this the way I view Suicide Squad, a really silly comic book movie that’s not particularly good, but has some entertaining parts to it. If you’re going to watch the movie, I do recommend the Director’s Cut, it seemed to have significantly improved the movie. However, if you want a legitimately good representation of Daredevil, it goes without saying but the Netflix series is definitely what you’re really looking for.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Zendaya as Michelle “MJ”
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
J. B. Smoove as Julius Dell
Jacob Batalon as Edward “Ned” Leeds
Martin Starr as Roger Harrington
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio
Director: Jon Watts

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of Spider-Man: Far From Home leading up to its release. I liked Homecoming, more than I thought it would, but for some reason I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be, even with the addition of Jake Gyllenhaal. Not to mention that it being the last film of Phase 3 following Endgame, it feels out of place (like how Ant Man was the last film of Phase 2 even after following after Avenges: Age of Ultron). Nonetheless, I was interested enough to watch it, and it turned out to be far better than I thought it would be. I’d say that it’s probably the best Spider-Man movie in a while.

First thing to note is that I know that some people are going to hate something in the first 5 minutes, and find it to not take the consequences of Endgame seriously and playing things for laughs. I know it’s such a minor part of the movie, but I know that it’s going to be a massive flaw for some people, personally I found it funny. For the first half it is just a normal coming of age Spider-Man movie with the things that you’d expect. With that said it’s pretty solid, and surprisingly works better as a coming of age movie than Homecoming, with all the things that a high schooler would go through. It is one of the funniest movies in the MCU and most of the jokes really land. However in that first half the movie feels pretty standard MCU Spider-Man, and like it is building up to something. When a certain thing happens in the halfway point, and that’s when the movie escalates to being really good and that’s when I really liked it a lot more. One of the big criticisms about this incarnation of Spider-Man is that he’s way too reliant on Iron Man (even becoming a substitute Ben Parker figure), and I will admit I would really prefer that he wasn’t, in fact I’d prefer his solo movies to not be so tied in with the MCU and to be much more standalone. With that said, considering that Stark is dead, it seemed only natural that Parker would feel this giant pressure of living up to him in his next film appearance. I only hope that his stories going forward won’t involve Tony so much. As for Ben Parker, at this point it’s too late to randomly bring him up again, so as long as they don’t keep bringing up Stark, I think I’ll be fine with it. Both of the credits scenes are absolutely must see (and yes there are two). The first credits scene is particularly so vital that I honestly can’t believe it wasn’t placed at the end of the movie, it affects something major in the Spider-Man sequel and I can’t wait for the next movie. So even if you’re one of the rare people who watches all the MCU movies but don’t stay around for the credits, definitely make an exception here.

Tom Holland gets better as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with every film appearance, it’s been really great watching him develop over time. I’m not really into ranking film adaptations of comic book characters but Holland at this point is a borderline perfect Spider-Man. Zendaya gets a lot more to do than in the first movie, in Homecoming (when she was called Michelle) she occasionally appeared in some scenes and at the end said that her name is MJ (why they couldn’t just say that she was MJ from the beginning I don’t know). Some people really didn’t like that she was MJ, but she was really good in Far From Home, and Holland and Zendaya have great chemistry. As far as big screen MJs go, I’m really liking her. Parker’s classmates played by Jacob Batalan, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice and more also played their roles well. Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders return as Nick Fury and Maria Hill and they play their parts as good as you expect them to, though don’t expect to see a lot of them. Jon Favreau also provides some nice support as Happy Hogan, as always nice to see whenever he’s on screen. I was mixed here with the use of Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. While I know that between Homecoming and Infinity War, May has no doubt gotten used to Peter being Spider-Man, it just feels really weird to go from her very shocked reaction of the revelation in the last Spider-Man movie to her being completely on board with it. We really don’t get enough time with them, so hopefully in the next movie she gets a lot more to actually do in the plot beyond an occasional cut to her just to remind the audience that she exists. One of my most anticipated parts of the movie was Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, a well known Spider-Man character. Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors working today, so I was looking forward to how he would be in a big budget comic book movie. For a while he does come across as a bit bland, even though I knew there was a reason for it, it was a little too much. However, in the second half Gyllenhaal turns in a really great performance. I don’t really know much about Mysterio from the comics, but from what I can tell he is a really ridiculous character, so I really wondered how they would actually handle him in the movie. Somehow, they managed to adapt him to the big screen in such an comic-accurate way, yet he still works perfectly well in the movie. Vulture in Homecoming felt like a reasonably decent villain made into one of the best MCU villains by Michael Keaton’s performance. Mysterio on the other hand gets a little more focus and screentime, and Gyllenhaal elevates the character even further. So far the MCU has managed to adapt two of Spider-Man’s most ridiculous villains to the big screen in such an effective and credible way, I can’t wait to see how they handle all of his other antagonists.

Jon Watts’s direction has improved immensely since Homecoming. When it came to Holland’s Spider-Man, the action scenes outside of his action in the Avengers movies have been pretty lacklustre. Watts however made the action work very well in Far From Home, from the web slinging to all the danger and destruction that Spider-Man has to face. Every action scene is much larger than in Homecoming’s and much more memorable. Far From Home also contains the trippiest sequence in a Spider-Man movie yet, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of my favourite scenes in the entire MCU. The visual effects seem to be improved over Homecoming too, though it does have some occasionally fake looking moments, particularly in the third act. Michael Giacchino’s score was okay in Homecoming, but I think it’s also better here in Far From Home.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is really good, and I’d say is the best live action Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2. If you’re interested in the MCU, definitely don’t pass this movie up. The cast is great (particularly Holland, Zendaya and Gyllenhaal), Jon Watts’s direction is great overall, and the movie especially in the second half takes some exciting turns. The MCU incarnation of Spider-Man has been growing on me over time, but with Far From Home, I’m now completely sold on it. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this Spider-Man’s movies.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

Time: 183 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Benedict Wong as Wong
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sends a message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos (Josh Brolin) — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.

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Avengers: Endgame was not only one of my most anticipated movies of 2019, it was also one of the most anticipated movies of all time. It’s the conclusion of an 11 year long story arc and it had a lot it needed to pay off on. Infinity War surprised me with how much they pulled off considering all the hype, however I said back then that whether or not it’ll hold up will depend on the follow up, Endgame. It could easily just reverse the impact that Infinity War had, making so much of that movie feel inconsequential. However, Endgame not only makes some of the other MCU movies better, it is by far the best movie in the MCU to date, and a more than satisfying conclusion to the main MCU storyline.

There are a lot of surprises in Endgame, so I will keep my description of the movie very vague. It’s been said that the trailer footage would only show the first 15 minutes of the movie, and for the most part that is true, it does not go at all how you think it would be in the first half hour alone, and the marketing managed to hide a lot of the movie. The movie is 3 hours long and personally I was actually invested in the characters and story from start to finish. I also thought the pacing was actually really good, Infinity War’s pacing doesn’t give you a chance to breathe, for better or for worse. Endgame on the other hand takes its time with its story (it definitely helps that it doesn’t have to focus on as many characters all in one movie), but isn’t too slow either. Make no mistake, while there definitely are big action sequences, it takes its time with its story and characters. It’s surprisingly one of the most character driven MCU movies, with most of the major characters going through their own arcs, in fact there wasn’t any clear weak link with the characters. You also really feel the incredibly high stakes throughout. Most of the MCU movies feel like no major character is going to die or that there are going to be major repercussions, but with Endgame you are on edge the entire time. The first hour is very sombre, the pacing is going to not work for some but I still loved it. I might have a different opinion the next time I see it, but I felt like every scene was necessary and really did a good job at humanising our main characters, in some cases much more than previous MCU appearances have done. If you found the first act to be too slow, the second hour is when the movie really picks up. Yes, there is a lot of fanservice, but with it being the last movie, a lot of these moments are earned, and I really had fun with all of them. As this is a MCU movie you can expect quite a bit of comedy thrown in and most of it works in Endgame, not taking away too much from the seriousness of the situations. There are multiple story bits that might not entirely make sense and you can really nitpick certain plot details if you want to, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll just have to roll with. I know that some people will be taking issues with the ‘plot holes’ but personally I didn’t have too many issues with it.

The third hour is also one of the all time best comic book movie third acts. All I will say is that if you remembered how great Thor’s entrance in the Wakanda battle in Infinity War was, there are plenty of even better moments in Endgame. The third act and movie ends some characters’ story arcs, while leaving others for expansion, and it was all done very well. Yes, you do need to see all the other movies in order to get the full experience, however that’s what makes the MCU stand apart from other cinematic universes. Not many cinematic universes have over 10 films all building and tying into each other, let alone 22 of them. It even ties together little elements from other MCU movies, even making some of the previous movies even better. It may not be the last MCU movie, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon, however this really does feel like the conclusion to the main story arc, and you could easily stop watching the series here and be perfectly satisfied with how it ends. Since we are talking about endings, no, there aren’t any credits scenes. Nonetheless I do recommend sticking around for the credits of the cast before leaving at the very least.

The cast all bring their A game to their roles, most of whom give the best performances as their characters. First, with the main trio, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, giving possibly their best outings as their characters (certainly in the case of Downey and Evans), you really see how far each character has come from their first film appearance. Downey’s Tony Stark is particularly a standout from the case, it’s not really a surprise but he is truly great here. I was wondering what was going to happen with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Pretty much everyone agrees that he was the weakest link in Infinity War, and I was very disappointed by his use in that film as most of the time he just felt like the butt of many jokes. Thankfully I can say that he is back to being really good in Endgame. It wasn’t quite what I initially expected and it will be initially jarring for some people but I really liked what they did with his character and was a logical enough next step for the character. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner also give their best performances as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. One of the big surprises was Paul Rudd as Ant Man, he was one of the most natural players from the main group, especially with the humour but also with the emotion, he fit in so well into the group of Avengers. Don Cheadle’s War Machine is a character that’s always good in the movies he appears in but he’s often sidelined, here though he gets to play a significant part in one of the plotlines and they really gave him a lot to do. Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), who is the last of the Guardians of the Galaxy, also works well in the group, as does surprisingly Karen Gillan’s Nebula. With the exception of her villainous role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, in her previous appearances she’s only been defined by her relationship with Thanos, and has come across as a bit weak as a character. In Endgame she’s given a lot more to her character and they develop her quite a bit. The newest addition to the MCU, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is also here. Despite having a significant role, she’s actually not in the movie as much as you’d think she is. Still she does good in the scenes that she’s in. One of my worries about her is that she’d overshadow the rest of the Avengers and be the simple solution to Endgame since she’s significantly more powerful that them, thankfully the focus is still on the main Avengers while she gets to have her OP moments. As for Josh Brolin’s Thanos, unlike Infinity War it’s not really his movie so you don’t get as much of him, but he’s still just as powerful and menacing whenever he’s on screen, and once again the performance and visual effects are just as good. There is a take on a major character which I know is going to divide some people (I won’t say who it is, when you watch you’ll know who it is pretty quickly). All I can say without revealing too much is that it was played a little too much for comedy at certain points (however I get the feeling that my audience misinterpreted certain serious moments as being comedic instead), but his story arc still worked well enough for his character and I overall liked the direction they went in.

Infinity War was really well put together by The Russo Brothers and Endgame is no exception, everything feels like they’re on such a large and epic scale. The visual effects in Infinity War were stunning, but Endgame takes it to a whole other level. I’ll have to watch it again but I don’t remember any glaringly bad CGI moments like most comic book movies occasionally have. While there aren’t as many action sequences as you’d think there’d be, they are really great. The third act particularly is truly spectacular. The score by Alan Silvestri (who has now done ¾ of the scores for the Avengers movies) is really good as to be expected and elevated the movie even more.

Avengers: Endgame is an emotionally satisfying conclusion of a conclusion 22 films and 11 years in the making. The cast and characters all do fantastic work, with everyone’s story arcs executed in a very satisfying way, it’s a large scale epic yet character driven at the same time, it’s astounding that they managed to pull it off this well. It is legitimately one of the best comic book movies made, and I don’t say that too often. I feel like with so much in this movie, I’ll need to watch it again so I can fully process it fully. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers this long and not watched it yet, go into the movie knowing next to nothing. I’d be surprised if Endgame is still not one of my favourites of the year by the time 2019 is over.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo
Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett
Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra
Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian
Thandie Newton as Val Beckett
Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos
Erin Kellyman appears as Enfys Nest
Jon Favreau as Rio Durant
Director: Ron Howard

Young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) finds adventure when he joins a gang of galactic smugglers, including a 196-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), the crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Solo meets Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission — the Millennium Falcon.

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I was cautiously optimistic about Solo: A Star Wars Story. I’m a fan of Star Wars, I like all but 2 in the entire series and I’m open to some new ideas. However, a Han Solo movie felt very unnecessary. Not helping was the fact that the original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were fired and were replaced by Ron Howard due to ‘creative differences’. Howard then reshot around 70% of the movie. I went into the movie expecting it to be decent at least, and Solo actually surprised me quite a bit, it was very entertaining. It has a great cast that does well in their roles, a story that worked and was unique, separating itself from the other films in the series despite some faults and Ron Howard’s great direction.

A lot of people have been saying that we don’t really need a Han Solo movie, and even after watching the movie I don’t have the feeling that we really needed a Han Solo movie. But I was nonetheless entertained by what we got. Something that separates Solo from the rest of the Star Wars movies is that it expands the borders of the universe beyond that of the Skywalker Saga(s). It focusses more on the underworld side to Star Wars which is something that we don’t really get to see in live action until now. So in that sense it is expanding the Star Wars universe, so whether or not you like the movie, I do think that this is something worth praising. Another thing that separates Solo from the rest of the Star Wars movies is that it doesn’t feel like a lot is at stake, and I mean that in a good way. The stakes in other Star Wars movies are on such a large scale, with planets being destroyed, rebellions struggling to survive against empires, etc., so it felt refreshing to have a more personal story for a Star Wars movie. On the whole the movie is quite fun and has quite a lot of heart to it. No it’s not as risky as The Last Jedi and so it won’t irritate fans for doing something different (it’ll just irritate fans in other was like every Star Wars film after the 1977 original). Some of the things that establish what we know about Han are here. Things which include Han meeting Chewbacca and Lando, getting the Millennium Falcon and more are here. Some of them worked, others… felt kind of forced and didn’t quite work, in particularly how Han gets the name of Solo. There are rumours about there being sequels and I can confirm that Solo: A Star Wars Story does seem to set up for sequels in the way some things are left at the end of the movie. I wouldn’t mind there are sequels honestly, as long as it can bring something fresh and new to the table. I want to see where certain plotlines are going in, Han’s story as he becomes the character we all know and love and explore different areas of the Star Wars universe. There is one moment of fanservice near the end which I liked but it is rather out of place, and unless they follow up on it in another movie it’s going to be completely pointless. Also, for anyone who only knows Star Wars from the movies, they are probably going to find this moment extremely confusing. You will all know what it is when you watch the movie. Solo is about 2 hours and 15 minutes long and at times you can really feel the runtime. The first act I liked but it is a bit of a rocky start, with it being rather slow to begin with. I still really enjoyed the movie from start to finish but really the pacing is only perfect from the point that the film introduces Lando.

I guess one of the first questions that people have is whether the lead actor exceptionally portrayed the titular character, and the answer is yes. Alden Ehrenreich really works as a young Han Solo, he’s not trying to do a Harrison Ford impression but you can see little bits of Ford in his performance. This really is Han Solo as he is starting out, here he is naïve, and he has a good heart (or at least that aspect is shown more prominently here than in his prior appearances by Harrison Ford). By the end he has changed a little but isn’t quite the Han Solo we first saw in A New Hope, in that sense I feel like there’s more story to be told with this young Han (and I’m completely open to it now). The rest of the talented actors are great as well. Donald Glover was a perfect choice for a younger Lando Calrissian. We don’t actually get to see him as much as you’d think but he is great in his scenes. Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson were really good in their roles and are welcome additions to the Star Wars universe. Another stand out performance is that of Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Chewbacca in Solo gets to do much more than any of the 6 other Star Wars movies he’s been in. The film shows how him and Han meet and becomes essentiely partners, and you can believe the friendship, despite one of them not speaking a comprehensible language. Other standouts include Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Lando’s droid named L3-37 and a character named Enfys Nest. Some of the other actors like Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany don’t really get to do as much in their roles but they are good in their scenes.

Solo is a fast and exciting movie and Ron Howard’s direction really added something to it. It’s a great looking movie as well, the cinematography by Bradford Young truly blew me away. I was surprised at how beautiful many of the shots were. The CGI was also great, at least on the first viewing there weren’t any out of place/really fake looking CGI. The action scenes are all well directed and are very memorable. The way the camera moves and the smooth direction overall were really effective, whether it be a gun battle, a ship chase or a car chase. An example is a train sequence early in the film which is fast paced, thrilling and exciting. It’s already known that most of the film is Howard’s but as for how much of the film is Lord and Miller’s, I couldn’t really tell, it’s not blatantly obvious as some with other movies with multiple directors. There are probably some moments of humour and dialogue that could possibly be their’s but otherwise nothing stood out on a first viewing. Honestly as bad as the situation was and as much as I hate this happening over creative differences, I am glad that Ron Howard directed it in the end as he did a fantastic job with Solo, and I hope that there he returns to direct the sequels, should they be a thing.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is by no means one of the best Star Wars movies but it is a good one. It’s an exciting sci-fi adventure with Ron Howard’s great direction and the talented actors, and it managed to be a pretty good movie surrounding Han Solo. I would say to give it a chance at least, you may very well end up being surprised by what you see. At the same time I will say to keep your expectations in check, the movie does have some issues, mostly with certain aspects of the story but on the whole, Solo is actually quite good and one of the best surprises of 2018.

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Zendaya as Michelle
Donald Glover as Aaron Davis
Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Director: Jon Watts

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns home to live with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine — distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.

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I will be honest, I really wasn’t that hyped for Spider-Man Homecoming in the lead up to its release. I knew I would see it no matter how it turned out, and it didn’t look bad by any means. But it didn’t really grab my attention like it should’ve. I guess it must’ve been some mediocre marketing because this movie was a lot better than I thought it would be. It was entertaining, the plot is good, the action is good, the villain is great, everything about it is pretty good. It is one of the better films in the MCU.

This is the first Spider-Man film to be based entirely in High School. Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man had that but that wasn’t really focused on like Homecoming does, so this made this film feel more refreshing. This movie is very entertaining. For the first half of the movie it does feel like a enjoyable movie, I never really got bored. However I will admit, I wasn’t really loving it. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises to be had, it is at times familiar in terms of tone and plot to some other MCU films, not that its necessarily a bad thing. The second half was better to me, this film handles the dramatic side of the plot surprisingly well. This movie does have a lot of humour and it hits very well, there aren’t many jokes that disrupt the tone or fall flat. It’s nice to see a MCU movie which is more grounded and less world affecting, by that I mean that Spider-Man isn’t trying to save the world or anything like that. Homecoming is a more personal story, which is nice to see. Despite this movie being the first Spider-Man film set in the MCU and having like Tony Stark in it, it’s still very much grounded and works as its own story. With that said, this movie does set up for future movies. Some of the setups were okay, others were really distracting. There is a reveal in the third act which felt out of place and completely unnecessary. I know a lot of changes really bothered some die hard Spider-Man fans, with the exception of that one reveal (which just felt like unnecessary fanservice) I didn’t have any issues with the changes. There are two end credits scenes, the first was interesting and has me interested in what the Homecoming sequel will be like, the second was quite funny.

Tom Holland is a very different Spider-Man to both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, which is good, it’s important for each interpretation of a character to be unique and different from previous incarnations. This Spider-Man is young (15 years old), he’s smart, he’s full of energy and he loves being Spider-Man. But to just say that he’s great because he’s ‘fun’ would be a disservice to the movie and Holland. Tom is also great in the emotional scenes as well, and you can really understand how he feels. He really wants to become an Avenger like Tony Stark and that story arc was done very well. The supporting actors were good as well. Jacob Batalon is very entertaining as Ned, Peter’s best friend, Zendaya was also a fun character as Michelle. Other supporting actors like Jon Favreau and Marisa Tomei were also really good. A concern of mine was Robert Downey Jr.’s role in the movie. Fortunately Tony Stark is used very sparingly and it makes a lot of sense that he’s in this movie and worked well for Peter’s arc. He’s not in the movie too much to overshadow Peter but is in it enough that he is important. Another concern I had was Michael Keaton as the Vulture, the villain of the film. The MCU has a reputation of having mostly just okay villains, with only a few genuinely great villains. While Vulture looked great in the trailers, I couldn’t help but think that Keaton would be wasted. That’s not the case here, Vulture is one of the best villains in the entire MCU series. A lot of time he isn’t wearing the Vulture costume, its just him and Keaton did a great job at portraying that. In fact his best scene was without the costume, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to. Along with feeling like a threat, Vulture is quite a human villain. Without spoiling anything, Vulture has some understandable motives and you can totally see why he does what he does. Vulture is definitely one of the MCU villains yet. There are some other minor villains in the movie and while not great, they were good in their roles. There are some actors who are in Homecoming, potentially to set them up for future movies, examples are with Michael Mando and Donald Glover. They were fine in their moments onscreen but they felt out of place as they really don’t do much in the movie.

The action was really good and it was very entertaining. Some of the scenes at times were shot at night however, and at times it was hard to tell what is going on. The CGI for the most part looked good but at times did look a little fake especially with the Spider-Man costume (he still looked better than he did in Civil War) but most of it is fine. The soundtrack by Michael Giaachino aside from the opening credits and Vulture’s theme was passable but forgettable.

Spider-Man Homecoming was really good. I really liked the new take they had on Spider-Man, I loved the villain, it is entertaining overall and I had a blast with it. It is definitely one of the better Spider-Man movies and also one of the better films in the MCU. I am now on board with seeing future Spider-Man films in the MCU.

The Jungle Book (2016) Review

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The Jungle Book

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains Violence & Scary Scenes
Cast:
Bill Murray as Baloo (Voice)
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera (Voice)
Idris Elba as Shere Khan (Voice)
Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha (Voice)
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa (Voice)
Giancarlo Esposito as Akela (Voice)
Christopher Walken as King Louie (Voice)
Neel Sethi as Mowgli
Director: Jon Favreau

Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

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The Jungle Book was on my most anticipated movies of 2016. Although I was getting a little sick of Disney doing live action remakes of their old films (Cinderella, Maleficent, etc), this movie intrigued me enough with director Jon Favreau and the talented voice cast with actors like Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Idris Elba involved. After seeing The Jungle Book I can say that I am starting to have more confidence in Live Action Disney movies. From the acting/voice acting, to the special effects and great direction by Jon Favreau, this is definitely a movie you should check out when you get a chance.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the animated original, so I can’t say whether it’s faithful or not. I do recall that there are a couple changes based on my limited knowledge of the animation. The plot was pretty good, and I could follow the movie quite well, I just don’t think there’s much to talk about it. There are only two moments of singing. The first was “Bear Necessities”, which fitted in quite well. The other was with Christopher Walken’s monkey character, which did feel a little out of place. Still, it was nice to hear Christopher Walken sing a Jungle Book song. One thing that some people have noted is that it’s a little scary for kids. I’ll agree that for very young kids, it is scary, with Shere Khan and the dark imagery. But it’s not going to scar them for life, like some are making it out to be.

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The only actor appearing physically in this movie is Neel Sethi, he doesn’t have an easy job, as he had to interact with characters that he couldn’t see. After seeing this movie, all I can say that he is going places, he was absolutely remarkable and personifies everything that makes Mowgli. This movie has a huge and talented voice cast with actors including Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito. There are a couple standouts, one is Bill Murray as Baloo, who was hilarious, perfect choice. Another is Idris Elba as Shere Khan. With just his voice, he manages to convey so much menace, and surpasses the original’s version.

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The movie is very well directed by Jon Favreau. The effects needed to be applied in the right way because it needed to blend well with Neel Sethi, a human actor, it could easily turn into the Star Wars prequels where human actors are clearly surrounded by CG characters. Fortunately, Favreau handles this with ease. The special effects are also notably great, it almost doesn’t for one moment feel fake. It’s not only the effects that are great though, the visuals are beautiful whether it be of day, night, fire or rain, all of the weather conditions and lighting are expressed on screen excellently.

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The Jungle Book is filled with great effects, impressive work from its actor and voice actors and good visual storytelling from Jon Favreau. This movie made me confident that Legend of Tarzan could be good, in fact, The Jungle Book has proven to me that these live action Disney movies can be great. I’ve heard that there’s a sequel being planned and while I don’t think it’s necessary, I wouldn’t mind if it happened. The Jungle Book is definitely worth checking out when you get a chance.

Iron Man 3 (2013) Review

IRON MAN 3, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, 2013. ph: Zade Rosenthal/??Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Iron Man 3

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle as Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes/Iron Patriot
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen
Stephanie Szostak as Brandt
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
Director: Shane Black

Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), now, is more dependent on the suits that give him his Iron Man persona — so much so that every aspect of his life is affected, including his relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). After a malevolent enemy known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) reduces his personal world to rubble, Tony must rely solely on instinct and ingenuity to avenge his losses and protect the people he loves.

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Iron Man 3 was the start of Marvel’s phase 2 and while most people would say that Iron Man 3 is better than Iron Man 2, there were still some criticisms of it. Iron Man 3 was a pretty divisive movie upon its release, I’m one of the people who really liked it. It still has its flaws but I still enjoy it. Iron Man 3 has even better action, good acting, a good plot and it’s entertaining. I think the majority of the criticism was because of a certain aspect of the plot, which while understandable, doesn’t drag down the movie in any way.

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Iron Man 3 didn’t really play a big part in the universe, when all things are considered, Iron Man 2 is more relevant than Iron Man 3. However the story is better, instead of multiple plotlines that don’t always move well together it has a pretty controlled story that it follows and all the plotlines are interwoven together much better. Also the writing from Shane Black was good and you definitely tell. This movie is both the darkest and the funniest of the Iron Man movies and it works. Not all the aspects of the movie are great though. There’s a decision that Tony makes early on which is quite possibly the dumbest decision that he’s made, and that’s a lot considering the fact that he created Ultron later on. There is also a plot twist which will annoy some comic book fans that I won’t spoil for those who don’t know. While I can understand why people would be upset with it, it didn’t bother me a lot because it was well done in the context of the story.

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Robert Downey Jr is great, it’s almost pointless talking about how great he is, he is Iron Man. This movie reminded me of Dark Knight Rises, in that there was much more Tony Stark than Iron Man and I think it really payed off in the end. The supporting actors also did good work. Don Cheadle was even better here than he was in Iron Man 2, Gwyneth Paltrow was also good here. Guy Pearce was great in his role, Ben Kingsley is good in his role, Rebecca Hall is a good actress and does fine in this movie but her character was sort of underdeveloped and so she didn’t have a lot to work with.

"Marvel's Iron Man 3" Iron Patriot Ph: Zade Rosenthal © 2012 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2012 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action scenes here are even better than the previous Iron Man movies. Tony Stark’s suits are quite different and now he can control them without even being in them, which leads to lots of entertaining opportunities which the film takes advantage of. While the third acts of the previous films have disappointed, the third act in Iron Man 3 is great and is definitely better than in the previous films.

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Iron Man 3 is a pretty good movie but I don’t know if I can call it a great movie. The acting is good, the action is good, the writing is better than the previous film and I was entertained all the way through. Sometimes there are some flaws like some convenient writing and the massive change in the comic books. The only great Iron Man movie that’s been released has been the first one, but in my opinion all of them are good.

Iron Man 2 (2010) Review

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Iron Man 2

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff
Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Jon Favreau

With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from all sides to share his technology with the military. He is reluctant to divulge the secrets of his armoured suit, fearing the information will fall into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) by his side, Tony must forge new alliances and confront a powerful new enemy.

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Iron Man 2 has been given the reputation of being one of the weakest Marvel movies, if not the weakest Marvel movie but it’s by no means a bad movie. It still has good action and some of the subplots are interesting. The biggest problems is that there are too many subplots in this movie and a lot of them don’t really tie together, and overall not much comes from this movie and it feels unnecessary. Still, if that’s as bad as a Marvel movie gets, I think that’s a great sign.

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This film felt like an expansion pack for Iron Man, there is some interesting things like Rhodes becoming War Machine, a subplot involving Tony’s arc reactor which is slowly killing him as well as some more SHIELD information including as the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. The problem is that there are too many plotlines, all of these plotlines feel separate and for the most part they aren’t really that interwoven well together. I do feel like Iron Man 2 could’ve been much more relevant to the Marvel universe. There are plot points in Iron Man 2 that makes it worth watching for continuity with The Avengers and other Iron Man appearances after that, aside from those couple plot points however, the film didn’t feel like it needs to happen. The story still isn’t bad, it’s just not as strong or as interesting as other Marvel movies, it is a little messy.

RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2010. MOVIE TITLE: Iron Man 2. STUDIO: Paramount Pictures. PLOT: Billionaire Tony Stark must contend with deadly issues involving the government, his own friends, as well as new enemies due to his superhero alter ego Iron Man. PICTURED: SCARLETT JOHANSSON as Natasha Romanoff

Robert Downey Jr is once again really good, he really is Iron Man and was as good here as he was in the previous movie. As I said in my Iron Man review, Don Cheadle replaced Terrance Howard as Rhodes and he does a much better job. It was also nice seeing him become War Machine, which was one of the better elements of the film. Mickey Rourke is the main villain of the film and although that sounds like a great idea as Rourke can have a good screen presence, the film doesn’t use him effectively. There are really only two times when he poses a threat to Iron Man and the rest of the time he’s just doing some other nonthreatening stuff. Justin Hammer is not a very interesting character but Sam Rockwell really made the role and seemed to be having a whole lot of fun. Scarlett Johansson is decent as Black Widow here, if a little underdeveloped but as later film appearances went on, she does get much better, stronger and much more interesting as a character.

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The action scenes are once again really good, like in the previous film. The only real issue that I might have with the action scenes here is that there aren’t that many of them. I also do feel like the final fight with Mickey Rourke was a little underwhelming, like in the previous movie with Jeff Bridges, only this time it was even shorter and less entertaining.

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Iron Man 2 is one of the worst movies in the MCU series but it isn’t bad by any means. It’s got some good acting, some good action scenes and its nice watching all these plotlines unfold. But at the same time there’s too many subplots that don’t tie in well together, a lot of the payoffs aren’t very satisfying and there wasn’t much purpose for this movie to really exist. However I still think it’s worth watching, it just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.

Iron Man (2008) Review

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Iron Man

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane
Shaun Toub as Yinsen
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Director: Jon Favreau

A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armoured suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.

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Iron Man was in development for a while and a lot of people didn’t know what to expect. It was based on a lesser known comic book character and starred Robert Downey Jr in the lead role, who was in the middle of a comeback after his personal problems. This was the movie that started off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and relaunched Robert Downey Jr’s career. Iron Man is definitely in the top 5 best Marvel movies for me, it had great action, excellent acting and quite an impressive story.

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One of the risks that this movie took is that it wasn’t based on a well-known superhero like Batman, Superman, Spiderman or Wolverine. Iron Man was an unknown character, or was at least an unknown character for the casual superhero film fan at the time. This film is an origin story for Iron Man and it was really set up well, it did actually give real reasons for Tony Stark to become Iron Man. Even though we know it is a movie, it made all this technology feel like all this is possible in some point in the future, which is something rare to see in a superhero film. The only weak point was the last act. I still enjoyed it and it isn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t as strong as the last two acts. For example when it came to that final act, Jeff Bridges turns from a decent villain to an over the top cliché villain, which was a little disappointing, seeing as how he was set up well. This movie actually knew that it was going to eventually lead to The Avengers, as evident by the post credit scene, which to this date is one of the best post credit scenes in a movie.

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Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man, he absolutely owns this role. He’s a lot of fun to watch but he also does convey the inner feelings of Tony Stark. Without him this movie would still be fine but it would not be as great as it is, he really made this movie. I also liked Gwyneth Paltrow in this movie, she and Downey Jr played off really well off each other and have good chemistry with each other. A lot of people thought that Terrence Howard was miscast and although he does a fine job, it doesn’t feel like he’s the best person suited to it, especially when compared to the recasting with Don Cheadle. I thought that Jeff Bridges made for a decent villain, even though he wasn’t fully developed he is a lot better than most of the villains in the MCU.

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The action scenes looked great, all of the action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies look great. The CGI also really worked for the film, and the best part is that it looked like Iron Man was really there doing all these things and it doesn’t once look fake. The action also had a lot of grit to it and really helped it look like it could actually happen in the future.

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Iron Man is one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s impressive considering that it was the film that started everything off for The Avengers. The story, the action and the acting especially from its main lead makes it truly a great movie. Its last act may not be very strong but the movie is worth watching for its first two acts alone. It’s worth noting that 2008 was also the year that The Dark Knight was released, that year established that great comic book movies were no longer the exception, they were now the norm.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Review

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The Wolf of Wall Street
Time: 180 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Drug use, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort
Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff
Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia
Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna
Kyle Chandler as Patrick Denham
Rob Reiner as Max Belfort
Jon Bernthal as Brad Bodnick
Jon Favreau as Manny Riskin
Jean Dujardin as Jean-Jacques Saurel
Director: Martin Scorsese

Based on a true story, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) teamed with his partner Donny Azoff (Jonah Hill) in the early 1990s and started the brokerage firm Stratford-Oakmont. Their company’s status quickly grows in the trading community and Wall Street. As their status grows, so do the amount of substances they abuse, and so do their lies which would overall result in their downfall.

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Martin Scorsese is one of my favourite directors of all time, and when I heard of his new movie The Wolf of Wall Street I was eagerly anticipating it. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I can say that it didn’t disappoint, I absolutely loved it. Under Martin Scorsese’s direction, the film excels in everything, from the excellent acting from everyone to Terrence Winter’s brilliant dark comedic script which overall results in an overall unforgettable ride.

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At 3 hours this is Scorsese’s longest movie but it never lets up in being entertaining. The film has a very similar feel to Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino, such as the narration by Jordan Belfort which makes you feel like you are on a ride with him through his many adventures. This movie is also very funny, whether it be people tripping out on drugs or having parties in the office. Martin Scorsese hasn’t done comedies before but he really did a great job with portraying Terrence Winter’s dark comedy. This movie isn’t for everyone though. There is a lot of sex in this movie. If you are going see this movie with someone, make sure you really know if you’ll be comfortable seeing it with them because so far this is the most amount of sex I’ve seen in a movie. There is also a thought that these people are being glorified and their actions condoned. That isn’t the case, it shows them living glorious lifestyles but the final act shows their downfall. Also, these characters are never really portrayed as being likable, in fact they are quite reprehensible. I like that about this movie, it never sanitises anything, and Scorsese knows how to creates movies around reprehensible characters.

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Leonardo DiCaprio is outstanding in this movie, in fact I think that this might is his best performance of his career. Jordan Belfort in this movie goes from many emotions which enables DiCaprio to portray his (literal and figurative) highs and lows. A shining example of his great performance is a scene where dated Quaaludes Lemmons have an effect on him. Also brilliant is Jonah Hill, in probably his best performance to date. Matthew McConaughey is only in a couple scenes in the movie but he absolutely steals those scenes. There is also a breakthrough performance by Margot Robbie, as Belfort’s second wife who’s really great in the time that she’s on screen. Everyone else like Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, etc. nail their parts as well, there is no actor who’s out of place in this movie.

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This is a Martin Scorsese movie so as you can expect, the cinematography is top notch. The editing was also great, being fast based and quite a lot like Goodfellas and Casino, along with narration throughout the entire movie which really gives an insight in Belfort’s inner thoughts. The soundtrack is also very well picked, with music from artists like Billy Joel to Devo.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is a brilliant movie and I personally think that it is one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films to date. I will say that the movie is not for everyone, with the sex, drugs and the less than likable characters. However for those who are able to go in with an open mind, it is a brilliant film that is enthralling from start to finish. It’s in my opinion the best movie released in 2013 and one of my new favourite movies.