Tag Archives: Kate Mara

Transcendence (2014) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Will Caster
Rebecca Hall as Evelyn Caster
Paul Bettany as Max Waters
Kate Mara as Bree
Cillian Murphy as Donald Buchanan
Cole Hauser as Stevens
Morgan Freeman as Joseph Tagger
Director: Wally Pfister

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world’s foremost authority on artificial intelligence, is conducting highly controversial experiments to create a sentient machine. When extremists try to kill the doctor, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed. Will’s wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and best friend, Max (Paul Bettany), can only watch as his thirst for knowledge evolves to an omnipresent quest for power, and his loved ones soon realize that it may be impossible to stop him.

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I remember looking forward to seeing Transcendence after seeing all the trailers. It had an interesting concept, a very talented cast and was directed by Christopher Nolan’s frequent cinematographer Wally Pfister. It’s just such a shame that all the talent involved never ended up amounting to anything. Transcendence isn’t an awful movie, it has some okay parts to it, it looks good and some of the acting is okay, that’s it. On the whole, it movie is just disappointing and mediocre.

There’s a huge amount of potential with this concept. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do anything too much with it. It actually takes quite a while to get to the actual transcendence. It doesn’t help that once things get going, there’s a 2 year jump for no reason at all, after that point the movie really took a significant drop in quality. It is worth noting that despite the marketing, Transcendence isn’t a huge sci-fi thriller. That way if you end up watching the movie, you won’t be as disappointed with it. I heard this mentioned before going into it, so I wasn’t expecting the movie that was advertised, I was just going in expecting a movie and even then I was let down. It seems that it was more focused around the lead two characters played by Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall and their relationship. That’s not a problem, it’s just the relationship and characters aren’t as interesting as it should be, you’re not that invested. There isn’t much character development except for maybe Paul Bettany’s character. The movie really wasn’t as interesting as it should’ve been either. Some aspects of the movie are interesting like the actual transcendence, other aspects just feel like typical sci-fi aspects that were just thrown in. It might have its moments but Transcendence on the whole doesn’t do enough special things to warrant grinding through the whole 2 hour long movie (which feels a lot longer actually watching it).

This cast is pretty large and talented but most of them don’t really get to do anything that great. Johnny Depp is the lead character who goes through the transcendence and he wasn’t really that great, though this time I don’t think it’s on Depp. It’s not that Johnny Depp going full Jack Sparrow or anything like that. It’s that his character really doesn’t do much, even after the transcendence. He should be really interesting, compelling or something like that, but he’s just boring. Rebecca Hall has even less to do here. As I said, a lot of the movie surrounds Depp’s and Hall’s relationship but the chemistry between them wasn’t great and the relationship isn’t that compelling or interesting, so I felt ultimately nothing in their numerous scenes together. Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy are fine enough but their characters aren’t really anything, so they are pretty much just playing themselves. Kate Mara is decent enough but the only actor in this movie who actually leaves a real strong impression was Paul Bettany, he was legitimately good in his role and his performance does actually add to the movie and make it a little better.

One of the highlights of Transcendence is that it is a good looking movie, this movie is shot very well. However, it’s nothing really that different from any other sci-fi movies that we’ve seen. The problem isn’t the direction. If I saw any scene out of context by itself, I would probably find it decent, but the fact that the movie looks good isn’t enough to carry it with it’s rather flawed story, characters and script.

I will say this about Transcendence, it is one of those movies that should be remade, this concept sounds like it could be something great. I’m completely lost as to why this movie didn’t work at all. I didn’t find it to be a terrible movie but it’s also not really good either. It looks good, it has some story aspects which had potential and the acting is fine enough (though only a couple actors are used to their potential), however the end product really didn’t live up to its potential. I guess there’s not harm in checking it out if you’re curious, but don’t expect anything too great.

Captive (2015) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
David Oyelowo as Brian Nichols
Kate Mara as Ashley Smith
Michael K. Williams as Detective John Chestnut
Leonor Varela as Detective Carmen Sanchez
Jessica Oyelowo as Meredith MacKenzie
Mimi Rogers as Kim Rogers
Director: Jerry Jameson

Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) becomes the subject of a citywide manhunt after breaking out of a courthouse jail and killing four people. His frantic escape brings him to the apartment of Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a single mother and recovering methamphetamine addict. Held hostage by Nichols in her own home, the scared woman looks for guidance from “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren’s best-selling, inspirational book. As she reads aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer come to a crossroad.

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Honestly, I didn’t really think Captive was going to be that good of a movie, the trailer honestly looked terrible. The main reason I decided to see it were the leads with Kate Mara and David Oyelowo. Watching Captive, I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be but its still only decent at best. The performances are impressive enough but aside from that, there isn’t many good aspects about this movie. The story isn’t very ‘captivating’, the direction for the most part just feels basic, and the film doesn’t have the emotional impact that its trying to deliver. The lead actors really made this movie at least somewhat interesting to watch.

I think I should mention first of all that this movie is based on a true story, so any clichéd moment in the film I can’t really criticise because it (likely) happened. However, they could’ve done a better job at making it feel more real. Overall the story is passable enough but the only reason that some of the scenes had me interested are because of Mara and Oyelowo, take away their performances and those scenes just really aren’t interesting at all. Those two really made this movie kind of work on some level (I’ll get to that later). One of the things that I dreaded with this movie was something in the trailer for Captive, it seems to have this incredibly ham fisted religious message. Fortunately in the actual film it doesn’t beat you over the head as much as it seems from the trailer. It’s a small aspect of the film, it doesn’t really work within the film but its distracting at worst. Honestly there’s not much to say about the story itself except that its not that interesting but Mara and Oyelowo made it somewhat work.

Kate Mara and David Oyelowo are both great and their performances were the best parts of the movie. They share great chemistry and the interactions with them were the highlights of the film. Kate’s character Ashley is recovering from a drug addiction and while that is often a cliché in a lot of movies, Mara portrayed that very well and made it feel real, I’d probably say that this is one of her best performances. There is a bit of an arc with Ashley recovering from drug addiction and attempting to meet her daughter the same day that she comes into contact with Oyelowo’s character, and while this arc isn’t great, it’s done decently enough. David Oyelowo is really good as well, he’s both incredibly intimidating but also has a human side which Oyelowo effectively conveys. I’m glad that David brought that out because to be quite honest, the redemption arc for his character Brian… wasn’t very good. We are supposed to get the feeling that Brian is changing, but I just didn’t get that. It is so messily done and they don’t clearly convey why he makes certain decisions and goes through certain changes, it feels like the people working on the film couldn’t themselves figure out why he did what he did and so they just didn’t give him reasons. That’s not necessarily on David though, he does a good job with what he has, he’s actually more effective at giving his character humanity than the writers and the director. The supporting cast are also good, with actors like Michael K. Williams involved but its Mara and Oyelowo who are the stand outs.

The direction by Jerry Jameson is fine, there’s not really a whole lot to say about it. Most of the time it feels like a TV movie, its so basic and simple and there’s not much to it. With that said, whenever the film is supposed to be tense, especially during the early scenes with Mara and Oyelowo inside Ashley’s house, it is very effective. It makes you feel claustrophobic and tense as to what Oyelowo’s character might do next.

Captive is not that great of a movie, it just manages to reach the level of passability. Mara and Oyelowo were for me the stand out parts of the movie and prevent this movie from sinking into mediocrity, aside from that, there’s not much reason to check it out. The direction is mostly simple (aside from some admittedly well done tense scenes), the emotion that the movie is going for doesn’t land, the story is average and not always investing, the character arcs aren’t always done effectively, it’s got a lot of problems. If you are curious I suggest checking it out for yourself, but outside the performances, don’t expect anything great.

Morgan (2016) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Kate Mara as Lee Weathers
Anya Taylor-Joy as Morgan
Toby Jones as Dr. Simon Ziegler
Rose Leslie as Dr. Amy Menser
Boyd Holbrook as Skip Vronsky
Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Lui Cheng
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Kathy Grieff
Paul Giamatti as Dr. Alan Shapiro
Director: Luke Scott

Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a bioengineered child who began walking and talking after one month of existence, exceeding the wildest expectations of her creators. When Morgan attacks one of her handlers, a corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) visits the remote, top-secret facility where she’s kept to assess the risks of keeping her alive. When the girl breaks free and starts running amok, the staff members find themselves in a dangerous lockdown with an unpredictable and violent synthetic human.

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Morgan was a movie that I was curious about, mostly with the cast involved with Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, Toby Jones and many others, it looked like it had a lot of potential. However, as well know, potential doesn’t always guarantee greatness and that was certainly the case here. Morgan really wasn’t all that great, but I don’t think its as bad as some people have made it out to be. It is rather underwhelming however.

This movie didn’t really capture my interest, it moves at a slow pace. It’s also predictable for at least the very least the first two acts, anything you’d expect to happen does happen. We’ve seen so many movies about humanity creating life and that life becoming dangerous, and Morgan doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. This movie had so much opportunities to do something different. It would’ve been nice to see something unique, at least the very least for the third act. Changing up the direction of the climax or going in depth with the questions that the film raises would’ve been better. However the third act here is a typical sci-fi thriller ‘outbreak’ sequence that we’ve seen so many times before. I also found it difficult to care about what was going on, its hard to really care about any of the characters because they weren’t really that fully fleshed out or developed. There is a twist that happens, even though I wasn’t really expecting it, the overall effect was deflated because I wasn’t invested in the characters or story at all.

As I said, the cast involved is great, but most of the actors really don’t get used to their fullest potential. Kate Mara is the lead character and she does a commendable job here, the problem is that her character is just so uninteresting and poorly characterised. Her character really needed to be something more interesting and layered, its unfortunate that the lead character seems to have the least characterisation out of all the main characters. Most of the cast with Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook and others are good but aren’t utilized to their fullest potential. Paul Giamatti’s inclusion in the film was pretty much pointless, he was fine in his scenes but he was used so little it’s a wonder why they even bothered. There was really two actresses who stood out to me, one was Rose Leslie, who managed to add something to her performance that most of the cast wasn’t able to. And the other was Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character of Morgan. She manages to convey both a childlike innocence as well as dangerous instability. Those two had a believable relationship because of Taylor-Joy’s and Leslie’s chemistry.

I liked most of the direction from Luke Scott. This film generally has a good look, it is very well shot and it really makes you feel enclosed in this environment and facility. With that said, there are a couple of fight scenes and they are cut and edited so poorly, I mean this is borderline Taken 3 editing.

Morgan is a disappointment considering all the things it had going for it. The movie doesn’t really do anything that you haven’t seen before with this type of plot, its hard to care about anything that’s going on and it really doesn’t live up to any of its potential. The performances (especially from Anya Taylor-Joy and Rose Leslie) and some of the direction is good enough for me to consider this to be a somewhat okay movie. But this movie could’ve and should’ve been so much better than it actually turned out to be.

The Martian (2015) Review

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The Martian

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Mark Watney
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis
Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose
Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders
Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez
Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen
Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck
Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor
Director: Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

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I was interested in The Martian ever since I heard about it, mostly because of the cast, director and the praise about the book which I haven’t read. When it comes to director Ridley Scott, even though I liked Prometheus, most of his recent work hasn’t been that good (The Counsellor). The Martian is a return to form for him and it’s one of the best films of 2015. The Martian has excellent special effects, an interesting story and great acting from Matt Damon and the rest of the cast. After everything I’ve seen here, I want to check out the book.

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The film jumps between Mark Watney, the people on earth and Watney’s old crew who are now on a different mission. All of these stories I thought were well done but the most interesting and overall best one out of all of them is of course is the one involving Mark. One thing I liked about this movie is that it could’ve just been dark, gloomy and depressing but it’s actually kind of a funny movie. It also helps that Mark is quite a likable character, and we are on board with him as he tries to survive all of this. Also the fact that he is a competent character helped, which separated this movie from a lot of the other stranded survivor movies. I also don’t know if this film is scientifically accurate in the things that Mark does to stay alive but the film does make it all feel real, which is one of the highest praises I can give to a science fiction movie.

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Matt Damon is fantastic in this movie. In this sort of movie you need a lead actor who can hold so much of the story on his own and Damon does that and much more. Also like I said before, his character is very likable and it works to the film’s advantage as we are with him pretty much through the entire film. The supporting cast which consists of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean and others add quite a lot to this movie. Every actor gets their chance to shine but it’s really Matt Damon’s show here.

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The special effects are excellent, The Martian overall is a beautiful looking movie. A lot of the environments on Mars looked so real. I might even go so far as to say that it was actually worth watching this movie in 3D, which is such a rare thing for me to do. The 3D really captured what it would be like to be on Mars, and of course it’s mainly to the credit of the movie but the 3D should really be mentioned as well.

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The Martian is definitely worth watching and is a return to form for Ridley Scott. I haven’t read the book that it was based on but after this movie, now I really want to. Matt Damon, the rest of the cast and Ridley Scott have made a really great Sci-Fi movie that I want to revisit. The Martian is definitely one of the best movies of the year and is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Fantastic Four (2015) Review

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Fantastic Four (2015)

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch
Kate Mara as Susan “Sue” Storm/The Invisible Woman
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing
Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom/Doctor Doom
Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm
Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Harvey Allen
Director: Josh Trank

Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Kate Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom (Toby Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.

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Ever since its release, Fant4stic has received worldwide criticism, making only half of its budget back and having a 10% on rotten Tomatoes, there’s also been news of Fox interfering with the movie during filming. I will say that I don’t hate this movie but I don’t think it’s good either. It is an interesting take on the Fantastic Four with great actors and good ideas. However it is let down by a slow pace, obvious reshoots and a horrendous final act.

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This movie is a different take on the Fantastic Four, it aims to be much darker, grittier and more of a Science Fiction film, with elements of horror which I can give credit for. The main problem of the movie is that there is not much of the four doing anything in this movie, it takes a long time before they even get their powers. The film feels like it’s trying to build its world but forgets to be its own movie. The best two scenes of the movie is when they are on Planet Zero and when they discover their powers, it actually seemed like Sci-Fi horror. The second act doesn’t have much going on, and feels extended for no reason. The final act though is one of the worst climaxes I’ve seen in any movie. Doom pretty much returns to earth to destroy it (because why not?) and despite how powerful Doom is made out to be, the final fight with him (which is also their only fight) is about 5 minutes long (even though he has the ability to kill people just by looking at them). It breaks the slow tone that the rest of the film was going for and feels rushed, probably a reshoot as well.

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The acting was decent but it’s pretty clear that these actors are underused and don’t have much to work with. The worst part was that Marvel’s first family didn’t really feel like a family, most of them only bond in the first act, and then are reunited to fight Doom. Toby Kebbell was wasted as Doom, he was decent in the first act but he’s only the villain in the last act of the movie and was completely underdeveloped. I couldn’t even tell it Kebbell was playing Doom in those latter scenes.

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The special effects are fine for the most part but there are many times where it’s quite obvious that green screen was used, especially when in ‘Planet Zero’. I also think that The Thing’s design was much better than the 2005 version but again, the CGI at times looks fake. There are many scenes where it’s pretty obvious that there have been reshoots, whether it be Kate Mara occasionally wearing a fake wig or Miles Teller having disappearing and reappearing facial hair.

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Fant4stic has many flaws but it’s not the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. The acting was decent, there was some good ideas but a lot of it was wasted and did nothing with it. It culminated in the worst final act of a superhero movie that I’ve seen and the movie is overall a massive disappointment. It is worse than the 2005 Fantastic Four because it least had the four acting like a team and the tone fitted much better. I’ll have to see Rise of the Silver Surfer to see if it’s the worst Fantastic Four but in any case, Fant4stic was a let-down, I’ve still seen worse from 2015 though.