Tag Archives: Mads Mikkelsen

Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (2004) Review

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Pusher 2

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Mads Mikkelsen as Tonny
Leif Sylvester as Smeden
Zlatko Burić as Milo
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Trouble follows an ex-convict (Mads Mikkelsen) as he tries to gain his father’s favor.

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Pusher was the debut film of director Nicolas Winding Refn, released back in 1996. While it’s a bit rough for sure, it was a solid movie, and hinted at the potential he would deliver on with his later movies. 8 years later, he returned to the world he created in his first movie, and directed two follows up movies, being each of them being lead by supporting characters from the first movie. The second Pusher film titled With Blood on His Hands, is a noticeable improvement over the first movie in every way, and is quite great.

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Like with the first movie, Pusher 2 feels grounded, from the dialogue, to the world itself. The classic gangster genre cliches seen in most fiction are made realistic and unglamourised in these movies. Refn makes the characters feel genuine and real, and doesn’t shy away from portraying the darker and ugly sides of them. While it carries over many of the great elements from the first Pusher, With Blood on My Hands is also a very different movie. For one, I found the story to be more interesting and compelling. The first Pusher was largely about the protagonist having to try to obtain money in a brief amount of time, pretty standard crime setup and was relatively focused on that. The plot in Pusher 2 is a little more loose and open, at its core it is a character study following our new protagonist Tonny. It does take its time, but overall is a better human drama with a much more sympathetic protagonist. It doesn’t have the intensity of the first movie, where even though you don’t care at all about the main character, you feel really anxious when he keeps getting caught in some dangerous situations. However, Pusher 2 does have this heavy atmosphere of impending doom. Additionally, it is a pretty mesmerising character study of someone who continues to make bad decisions. A large part of why it so works is because of the lead actor, which I’ll get into in a bit. As for the connections to the first movie, it just features two characters from that movie, and there are some brief references. Otherwise it is very standalone. Pusher 2 also has an ambiguous ending, and it was a perfect note to end on.

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The acting from everyone in this movie is good, but it all comes down to one actor really, Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen was good in his supporting role as Tonny from the first Pusher, however in that movie he was just a sidekick to the main character and was only in the first act of that movie. With Pusher 2, Mikkelsen gets a lot more to do, and he’s actually fantastic here. Mikkelsen’s performance is very dynamic and nuanced, and he portrays Tonny as being very human, and even sympathetic at times. He carries an implied menace and physicality, but also an intense vulnerability below the surface. You can clearly tell the character not a good person by any means, and he constantly makes bad decisions and mistakes for himself. Despite this, you are constantly wanting him to succeed, and Mikkelsen’s acting is a large reason for that.

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Looking between the first Pusher and this movie, Nicolas Winding Refn had definitely developed as a filmmaker during that period. The direction in Pusher 2 doesn’t lose its gritty and real feeling from the first movie, but the directing is undeniably more confident and clear, and much more stylish. The camerawork and cinematography are the most prominent aspect, with very strong colours and lighting, and even the overly shaky handheld shots are gone. The amount of violence in this movie is less than the violence in the first movie, but yet again Refn makes sure that its gritty and unpleasant, and isn’t stylised or glamourised, very much in line with the tone of the story. Another solid aspect that was brought over from the first movie was the good use of music (both the score and the song choices), as well as the lack of music in some scenes.

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Pusher 2: With Blood on My Hands improves on every level over the first movie, it’s a well written and compelling character study, directed greatly by Nicolas Winding Refn, and is carried by a fantastic leading performance from Mads Mikkelsen. If you liked the first Pusher then check this out, but again, it’s separate enough from the first movie that you don’t need to have seen it beforehand, you can jump right into it.

Another Round (2020) Review

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Another Round

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Mads Mikkelsen as Martin
Thomas Bo Larsen as Tommy
Lars Ranthe as Peter
Magnus Millang as Nikolaj
Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Four high school teachers (Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang) consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives.

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I heard of Another Round as being a Danish movie about drinking starring Mads Mikkelsen. I’m interested in anything that Mads Mikkelsen was in, and I heard that the movie had been screened at film festivals, with the reception being pretty positive. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but Another Round turned out to be quite a surprise, it’s great and definitely worth checking out.

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Another Round (also titled Druk in Denmark) is a dramedy that balances its comedy and drama effectively. The plot is about drinking, as you can probably tell from the title. Usually, movies that have drinking as the main focus show just the negative effects. With this movie however, it shows the positives and the negative sides, while having unique looks at serious subject matters including alcoholism, discontent lives, and marriages. It’s quite an easy to watch, the light-hearted tone through much of the film fits the movie quite well. It’s definitely entertaining and fun but also has a few emotional moments which stick with you. Along with the highs, Another Round also shows the crushingly lows of the effect of alcohol, and as they are continuing with these four teachers’ intoxication experience, we see the many downsides of how it can affect one’s life, as well as those around them. What at first starts as a experiment becomes something else entirely for the characters. It feels very honest and not in an overly sappy way, it feels genuine and nuanced. It highlights the seduction associated with drinking, and refreshingly doesn’t shy away from showing how great that feeling is. It’s a bit predictable but I was on board for the ride from beginning to end. Something else to note, the ending is one of the best endings I’ve seen from a movie this year, and is also one of the most memorable scenes I’ve seen from 2020.

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The cast are all great in their performances, but it comes down to 4 main leads in Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang as friends and teachers who are carrying out their drunken and intoxication experiment. There is such great chemistry between these 4, you really believe that they are longtime friends in their scenes together. Mads Mikkelsen is essentially the main character out of the 4, I’ve always liked him, but in Another Round, he delivers some of his best work. He gives quite a vulnerable, nuanced and versatile performance, definitely among the stand out performances from 2020.

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This is the first movie I have seen from Thomas Vinterberg, I haven’t seen his prior movies but heard that he’s a great director with films like The Hunt and Far from the Maddening Crowd which I want to check out. Having seen Another Round, I do want to watch his other movies even more, because he’s definitely a great director based off his work here. I do like how they differentiate the sober and drunk scenes with the camerawork, with the sober scenes being shot more steady, and the drunk scenes being shot more handheld. The last sequence/ending of the movie stands out, largely because of how it was filmed and the use of music.

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Another Round is a humane, warm and cathartic dramedy showing the benefits and drawbacks of alcohol, as well as being a very reflective and entertaining movie about life, friendship and day drinking. With a well written script and solid good direction, it really succeeds in its goal. Top that off with 4 great performances, especially from Mads Mikkelsen, it is great. It’s one of the best movies of the year and is worth watching for sure.

Arctic (2019) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Mads Mikkelsen as Overgård
Maria Thelma Smáradóttir as Young Woman
Tintrinai Thikhasuk as Helicopter Pilot
Director: Joe Penna

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.

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I had been meaning to watch Arctic for a while. The main reason I was interested was because of Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role, he’s one of my favourite actors. On top of that I heard that the movie was pretty good on its own. I finally got around to it and I’m glad to say that Arctic is very good on a technical and acting level, with Mikkelsen typically delivering on a great performance. Deserves a lot more attention.

While it is Mads Mikkelsen surviving in the arctic against great odds, don’t expect a non stop high tension thriller, think more like something like All is Lost with Robert Redford. It’s more of a slow burn thriller, with small victories and huge setbacks as our protagonist desperately tries to survive, but works very well as this. There might be a couple scenes of tension but that isn’t that kind of thriller. The worst things that Mikkelsen comes up against is in the second half of the movie. Mikkelsen doesn’t feel immortal at all throughout the runtime of this movie, he’s vulnerable and generally just barely manages to get by, and you don’t feel like he’s fully on top of things. There are some parts where the movie drags, even with a runtime of under an hour and 40 minutes. Part of it is because there are moments and aspects of the movie can be rather repetitive. Maybe those moments could’ve been trimmed down a bit, but otherwise the simplistic and shorter story really worked to great effect.

There aren’t many actors in Arctic, it’s mainly just Mads Mikkelsen’s show as the unnamed protagonist, and he’s fantastic here. There isn’t much dialogue in the movie delivered by him, however he conveys so much with his actions, the way he does certain things, his little comments, and more things like that. He can also convey so much with a single look, whether it be with great highs or crushing lows. You really feel like he’s barely surviving in his current situation. While much of Arctic is good, he’s what’s really carrying the movie. Definitely among Mikkelsen’s best performances.

Arctic is very well directed by Joe Penna, this is his debut film and he did a fantastic job with it. This movie is beautifully shot, you really feel like you’re right there in the arctic, and everything that happens there feels real. As a matter of fact, Arctic was actually filmed in Iceland, it must’ve been absolutely hectic trying to film in those conditions. In the end however, it more than payed off well, and there isn’t a single moment in the film where it feels fake, it feels like you’re right there with the lead character in these situations. You really just feel alone with Mads Mikkelsen throughout, and the isolation is greatly conveyed with visuals and silence. The score by Joseph Trapanese when present is also used quite well, and enhances the scenes its played during.

Arctic is worth checking out for sure. It may be a little slow and gruelling at points, but it’s captivating, engaging and directed very well. And at the centre leading the movie is Mads Mikkelsen, who really commands your attention from start to finish, it is really worth watching for his performance alone.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.

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I always liked Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ever since its release, it was the first spin off in the Star Wars series and it had me interested in what other spin off movies they could make in the future. I don’t love it as much as I did when I first saw it, and I don’t consider it to be among the best Star Wars movies by any means. I still think it’s quite good though, and has a lot of great parts to it.

Rogue One does very well to establish itself as being very different kind of Star Wars movie, with more of a war movie feel to it. However you still feel like you’re in the Star Wars universe. I’m aware that some people found the movie a little boring. I was interested in the movie all the way through, but I will say it’s not as riveting as it could’ve been for at least the first half or so. This war movie take on a Star Wars movie certainly provided some things that we aren’t used to seeing in the series, with grey areas and darker places that weren’t explored previously (like how the methods by the Rebels weren’t always ethical). There are some callbacks to the original Star Wars, and that makes sense given that it’s a direct prequel, and for the most part it’s actually done quite well. One of the best parts was how they used the plot point from the original Star Wars with the Death Star having a conveniently large enough hole for a single blast from a fighter to explode the entire station. Now there’s an official canon reason for that being the case, with Galen Erso specifically placing that deliberate flaw in the design.

What shines most of all in the movie is the third act. From what I can tell a lot of it was changed with some reshoots, I can’t say which version would’ve been better. However I did like the third act that we got. It’s large scale, entertaining and was really well handled. It was also fitting that all the main characters died on that suicide mission, we haven’t seen the protagonists actually get killed off for good in this series and it worked for the movie. Then there’s the stand out scene of the movie, with Darth Vader mastering a bunch of Rebels at the end as they desperately try to get the Death Star plans out. I’ve seen a lot of positive responses to it, and I’ve also seen some people who don’t really like it. I can see both sides, on one hand this is Vader at his most vicious and powerful, and this is one of his stand out scenes from the entire series. At the same time, I can see how this makes it feel like another main Star Wars movie instead of the ‘grounded’ war movie it was for the rest of the movie, even with the inclusion of a lightsabre alone. I liked it but I can see why people don’t.

The use of Darth Vader was fitting enough, and so was Tarkin. The Princess Leia cameo I guess was alright, and worked as it was directly leading into the events of the original Star Wars. However there are also some weird callback decisions that are just annoying more than anything else. If you remember back to a New Hope, there were two people who attack Luke, who was then saved by Obi Wan Kenobi. Well those two people happen to bump into Jyn Erso while she and Cassian and K-2SO happen to be on Jedha, it was such a bizarre cameo to have and I have no idea why they decided to include that. Also C-3PO and R2-D2 randomly appear at the Rebel base just before the climax, for no reason at all. I guess just to remind audiences that they’re around at the time.

There is a large cast of characters. While the actors generally do well, the characters are hit or miss, and they are generally underdeveloped unfortunately. Felicity Jones is quite good as Jyn Erso, the lead character in the story, and other actors with the likes of Diego Luna, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk also do well. Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen don’t really get to do as much out of the main Rogue One cast. Mads Mikkelsen played a small but critical role as Jyn’s father, who created the Death Star. He did very well in his screentime. There’s also the addition of Grand Moff Tarkin, who was critical in the original Star Wars, so you can see why they wanted to place him in this movie. I liked his addition, you felt his presence yet he wasn’t overbearing or overused. The recreation of original actor’s Peter Cushing’s appearance however was rather mixed. Although the Cushing voice impression is great, the CGI goes from looking good to looking like a decent video game character, not terrible but in a live action movie with real actors definitely seeming off. Of the cast, the actor I liked the most was Ben Mendelsohn as the main antagonist of the film, Orson Krennic, the director of the Death Star. Although he was quite a different type of Star Wars villain, a big part of why he worked was Mendelsohn’s performance, he’s been playing a lot of antagonists recently but Krennic is definitely one of his best.

I thought that Gareth Edwards’ direction worked very well for the film. The war-movie feel worked so well and it all feels gritty and dirty throughout, as it should’ve. It’s also such a great looking movie, with some really great visuals and very well directed action sequences, the highlights of course being in the final act. I like the music by Michael Giaachino as well, it fit the movie very well, and even gets to shine at certain points. That new Imperial theme in particular is great, creating an alternate theme to one of the most iconic tracks of all time is intimidating for sure, but he managed to create a newer and separate theme which really worked for this film.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story still holds up pretty well a few years later. The direction by Gareth Edwards was great, the cast do quite well in their roles, and it was overall a unique and different entry that we hadn’t seen in the series before this point. It has its annoyances for sure, mostly some lack of characterisation, and parts of the plot could’ve been a little more interesting, but it’s still good on the whole.

Polar (2019) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Cast:
Mads Mikkelsen as Duncan Vizla
Vanessa Hudgens as Camille
Katheryn Winnick as Vivian
Matt Lucas as Mr. Blut
Director: Jonas Åkerlund

The world’s top assassin, Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen), aka The Black Kaiser, is settling into retirement when his former employer marks him as a liability to the firm. Against his will, he finds himself back in the game going head-to-head with an army of younger, faster, ruthless killers who will stop at nothing to have him silenced.

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Polar was a movie that I heard about and was somewhat looking forward to watch. The idea of seeing Mads Mikkelsen as a John Wick like hitman was something that was right up my alley. Outside of that, I really wasn’t expecting much from the movie, I just wanted to have a fun time watching Mads Mikkelsen kill a bunch of people. After hearing that the movie wasn’t very good, I was hoping for it to be average or even guilty pleasure material, but unfortunately it’s not even close to either of those. It’s really been a long time since I’ve hated watching a movie, and I didn’t think it would be Polar of all movies.

Polar is actually based on a webcomic series, one that I’m not familiar with. It’s been a while where I’ve watched a movie where it was incredibly difficult to find a place to start in describing how literally everything about it was awful. The plot itself is pretty straightforward, Mads Mikkelsen is an assassin, the employer has him marked to be killed, Mads kills everyone. Yet Polar somehow manages to be so drawn out, with not much happening over the course of the movie and the plot handled so poorly. The film definitely didn’t start off well, with a overly stylised scene where some assassins kill off Johnny Knoxville. If you wanted to really get a good idea at how bad the movie is, go onto Netflix and watch that first scene. Much of the plot and dialogue was very amateur, it constantly felt like it was written by people who legitimately felt that what they wrote was very cool and edgy, it’s painful. They try to make the dialogue seem smart, funny and witty, and it comes across as being cringe. This film is 2 hours long, and while that doesn’t sound too long, it takes a really long time for this movie to pick up. Mads does kill some people in the first 30 minutes, however in terms of the main plot, it takes over an hour for him to get involved with the actual plot with him being directly up against hitmen being sent after him. After that one scene of violence, for a while he’s just spending time with Vanessa Hudgens’s character. Honestly had her plotline been the main focus of the movie it would’ve been better, instead it’s around for the first half and then just disappears until the end. In that time there’s also a subplot of the younger hitmen tracking down Mads and it was insufferable and repetitive, they violently beat up some people for information and then kill them, and for some reason they keep showing these scenes because for some reason they thought that these moments are hilarious or something. It’s impossible to care about the plot and characters. Even with all the time spent with Mads Mikkelsen doing nothing for the majority for the first hour, the only reason you’re somewhat along on the ride with him is because of the actor, not the actual character. The character is very flat honestly, with not a lot to him. It even tries to incorporate a twist at the end and you just don’t care, you just want it to end.

Mads Mikkelsen was the main reason I was even somewhat curious about this movie. Even if the movie he’s in isn’t good and he isn’t given much to work with, he always manages to make himself comes across as somewhat credible in every movie that he’s in. Polar is no exception. With that said, the character really has really nothing going for him outside of just being really being good at killing people. 10 minutes into this movie and Mads Mikkelsen accidentally kills a dog, definitely a weird decision. I have no idea how Mikkelsen agreed to this movie with this script in the first place. With the supporting cast on the other hand, they were a little hit or miss. Vanessa Hudgens and Katheryn Winnick were actually alright in their roles, they clearly weren’t given much to work with but they clearly did the best that they could, credit to them. However, I’m not kidding when I saw that literally every other character is incredibly obnoxious and terrible. Matt Lucas was so an over the top cartoon of a villain, not threatening in the slightest and it was just insufferable when it cut to scenes with him, especially when we didn’t really need to see him. As previously mentioned, the younger hitman characters were really annoying to watch, they really just come across as a bunch of jackasses and are really annoying.

The direction of Polar just reeks of trying way too hard. It’s pretty clear that the movie is based on a comic because it tries so hard to be stylish, which really just made the movie even more unbearable. It’s particularly the editing that’s really annoying. So many of the cuts make many parts of the movie feel frustratingly fast paced and much of the movie felt really choppy. The transitions between scenes are cheap and jarringly annoying, quite often it does that extremely cheap slideshow swipe transition effect for a lot of the connections between scenes. When a new character is introduced, they legit have this Suicide Squad esque character introduction page where it freezes the frame and flashes their name, except it’s done worse here. There’s a scene when Mads is actually teaching something to kids and like every line he says it would cut to a flashback of him brutally killing someone in a way that is somewhat relevant to what he said to be ‘ironic’ and ‘hilarious’. An example being him being asked if people in Turkey eat turkey, Mikkelsen responds with “chicken on a skewer”, and surely enough it cuts to him stabbing someone in a head with a chicken skewer. That brings me to the gratuitous violence, sex and nudity. Movie violence really doesn’t get to me most of the time. Even when moments from Irreversible did get to me, it felt like it was there for a reason and it didn’t feel gratuitous, it was deliberately meant to be hard to watch. What does deeply bother me however is when movie violence can feel gratuitous and on screen just for the sake of putting it on screen. From the multiple amounts of pointless assassins’ torture, interrogation and murder of people, to an especially graphic murder sequence in the second half, it feels like that the filmmakers really liked putting it on screen, and it’s not even like Tarantino violence where it could be entertaining. As for the sex… I’m not exaggerating when I saw that the level of over sexualisation and misogyny in this movie is off the charts, it really does shamelessly sexualize women a ton and has all these random sex scenes that serve no purpose to the movie at all. There is literally a character who’s job it is seems to be to take her clothes off and show off her body. All this unnecessary content just makes the whole movie feel repulsive more than anything. Gratuitous violence aside, you’re probably wondering how the action is. Outside of two sequences in the first 70 minutes, it’s really only the last 40 minutes where we get to see Mads go full John Wick mode. The action itself is very hit or miss, there’s not a ton of them. The fight scenes seemed choreographed well, even if the editing and cuts don’t showcase that very well. Even some of the action scenes with great setups are very brief, so you don’t really get to enjoy them much. In terms of parts of the direction that I thought were alright, I guess the locations were good and the overall cinematography of the movie was also pretty good when everything’s not saturated.

Although I’m not completely familiar with Netflix’s entire lineup of original films, Polar seems like it ranks amongst their worst. Polar is like a bunch of edgelords tried to mix together John Wick, Crank, Punisher: War Zone and Shoot Em Up and thought that having a bunch of violence and sex would make up for a lacklustre story (spoiler alert, it doesn’t). You know that the movie is bad when each of those aforementioned movies (even Crank) come out with far more class and credibility. What makes this so painful is the fact that I wanted this movie to be great or even just fun, I love the idea of Mads Mikkelsen as a John Wick like assassin, and the movie isn’t just sub par, it is shockingly awful, far worse than I thought it would be. Aside from Mikkelsen, Hudgens and Winnick giving some okay performances, moments of good cinematography and occasionally okay action, it really isn’t good at all. I really wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year, this is my least favourite movie of 2019.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

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Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

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Rogue One was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. With a very talented cast, a really good director with Gareth Edwards (yes, I really like 2014’s Godzilla) this film looked like it was going to be amazing. Plus, it’s Star Wars, and I loved what Disney has done with The Force Awakens, so I was confident in how Rogue One would turn out. I have to say, Rogue One really surprised me. I loved the tone, the direction, the acting, the story, the connections to Episode 4, I loved everything about this movie. I knew I would love this movie, but I didn’t know that I would love it this much, it’s actually kind of a surprise.

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First of all, it needs to be said that this is a very different kind of Star Wars movie. Even the opening credits crawl in the previous Star Wars films is missing here. This film is noticeably more gritty and feels more real than the other Star Wars movies, many people die, the stakes are high, this is a very serious film. There are moral ambigiouties when it comes to certain aspects of the Star Wars universe and characters. For example, the Resistance aren’t perfectly clean and good, some morally ambiguous choices and decisions are made, a lot of it being through Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor. This film also gave an insight into the inner workings of the Empire (through Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic), which was also really interesting to watch. Rogue One was overall such a different Star Wars movie. Also without spoiling anything, this film links up to Episode 4 in more ways than you would think, there are so many references and Easter Eggs that Star Wars fans such as myself will love. However at the same time it does work as a standalone, it balances both aspects exceptionally And the third act…. the third act is quite simply perfect, I won’t give too much away but everything in the third act works for the movie and is just incredible. Even though this film is dark and gritty, it is still entertaining, the humour was well utilized and used appropriately, and the movie is still fun to watch, this movie is well balanced out. With flaws, I’d say maybe the pacing of the first act could’ve been done better, and I feel like some of the characters could’ve been a little more developed but the characters work very well, so it’s not a major issue for me. Everything else was excellent.

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Everyone does a great job in the movie. Felicity Jones is really good as the main lead, she was believable and was a likable protagonist for us to follow. Diego Luna was fantastic, he really conveyed an insight into the rebellion, definitely a strong point in the movie. Other actors of the cast include Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen, all of them are great in their roles and really leave impressions. There were particularly 2 showstealers however, one of them was Alan Tudyk who played K-2SO, a former Imperial droid now on the side of the Revels. He was so entertaining to watch, he was hilarious and he stole every scene he was in, and from the sounds of things he’s already becoming a fan favourite (and rightfully so). The other showstealer was Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous and ambitious Director Krennic, who was in charge of creating the Death Star. Mendelsohn is such a talented actor, and he is fantastic in his role. There is also a third character who I want to add in this list but it might be a spoiler, so I won’t say who it is. But if you watch the movie, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Mads Mikkelsen and Forrest Whitaker are both incredible actors and although they aren’t in the movie a lot, they are great in their roles and the scenes they are in. They left very strong impressions on me, especially Mads Mikkelsen. Though I do think they should’ve been in a little more scenes. As for Darth Vader, there’s not a lot of him in this movie, so don’t go into this movie expecting Rebels vs Darth Vader. However he does make a very strong impression, particularly in one scene, which I have to say is one of the best Darth Vader scenes of all time. That’s all I’m going to say.

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Gareth Edward’s direction of the film is excellent. As to be expected, the special effects are fantastic, I didn’t have an issue at any point with them. The action is entertaining, well shot and directed and is incredibly riveting, especially in the third act. This movie really feels gritty and real, and much of it is due to the direction and also the production design. The locations were beautiful, and the scenes were shot beautifully. Also, I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that a certain special effect was used in this movie that blew me away, it makes me wonder how this will be used in movies in the future. The soundtrack was a bit of a concern for me before watching the movie, as Michael Giacchino had 4 and a half weeks to compose the music after the original composer Alexandre Desplat dropped out. The soundtrack here is pretty good, not really memorable but it worked well for the film. It doesn’t try to imitate John Williams’s scores, instead it goes in its own direction, which I think was the best decision.

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Rogue One surpassed my expectations, and that’s saying a lot considering the fact that I had very high expectations for this movie. The characters were great, the acting was very impressive, the movie was entertaining overall and the story was very captivating and never let up. Aside from some more characterisation needed and that the first act’s pacing needing work, I don’t have many problems with this movie. However I do think that in some ways I think that if you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll love this more than people who aren’t such huge fans of the series, due to how much this film connects to episode 4. You won’t get the full experience unless you have seen the Star Wars movies before, however I think it still works as a standalone film. Now after seeing Rogue One, I can’t wait to see the Han Solo movie and I am looking forward to seeing more Star Wars Anthology films.

Doctor Strange (2016) Review

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Time: 115 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo
Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer
Benedict Wong as Wong
Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West
Benjamin Bratt as Jonathan Pangborn
Scott Adkins as Lucian
Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius
Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One
Director: Scott Derrickson

Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Doctor Strange, and it was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. As it was a MCU movie, I expected to like it but didn’t know what I would get, the MCU was exploring new territory, magic. And this movie intrigued me the more footage I saw. I have to say, after seeing this movie, Doctor Strange truly surprised me. From its well written and character driven story, the great acting from its stellar cast and of course, it’s spectacular special effects, Doctor Strange is both a fun time and also a really good movie in itself, as well as one of my favourite Marvel movies, and that’s saying a lot.

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I could sell the film on the effects alone but the great thing is, I don’t have to. This film is so well written, it isn’t just a fun time, the characters are for the most part well established and have their own ideologies and identities. This is also one of the best MCU films in terms of its protagonist’s arc, the best since Iron Man. A lot of the other solo MCU films (like Captain America, Thor and Ant Man) had good protagonists but Doctor Strange’s arc is done incredibly well in comparison. At the beginning, Strange is arrogant and a little unlikable and over the course of the film you can see him change over time as he goes through his journey. This arc made Doctor Strange one of the best MCU characters yet (at least for me). Throughout the film, I thought it was well structured, the first act established Strange and took its time with it, which really helped his character arc. The second act brought Kaecillius (the main villain of the film) into the mix and I enjoyed the third act quite a bit. There is an aspect in the last act that I thought could’ve been done better but I can’t really say what it is because it is sort of a spoiler. It’s not major, it involved the final fight, I still liked the sequence though. In terms of the humour, most of it is done well, it’s not bad, constantly overdone or detracted from the seriousness of the situations, but I think they should’ve cut down a little bit of it, there was a little too much of it. I think I should mention that there are two credits scenes, without spoiling anything, I have to say that I loved both of them, and made me even more excited for the future MCU films.

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Even though I thought the characters were for the most part well written, the actors really elevated their characters with their performances. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly suited as the titular character. Before anybody asks, no, he wasn’t playing Sherlock Holmes with magic, or just doing an impersonation of Tony Stark. He was and embodied his own special character, as I said, he goes through a huge character arc throughout the film. Now he’s one of my favourite MCU characters. Chiwetel Ejiofor is pretty good in this film (just know that his Karl Mordo is quite different from the comics), I do wish that he had more interactions with Cumberbatch but I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in future movies. Tilda Swinton is really great as The Ancient One, the mystical figure who teaches Strange, I kinda wanted to see more of her though. The MCU has a bad reputation of having weak villains, which is why I was worried when Mads Mikkelsen was cast as the villain, and I am a fan of Mads Mikkelsen. So, is he wasted? Yes… and no. Mads is great in his role, and his character is written well enough, given slightly more depth than most MCU villains, you can truly tell that he believes he’s doing the right thing for the world. At the same time though, he really should’ve been in the movie more, given a little more development and his backstory should’ve been explored more. I guess they wanted to focus more on Strange’s story. Rachel McAdams is pretty much the girlfriend character but she managed to rise above it and did give quite a good performance, her character just should’ve been written better.

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The special effects are truly great, the action is very creative, with buildings turning all over the place, time going into reverse, it’s very… different. I know a lot of people will be saying that this movie rips off Inception, but even if that’s the case, I’m honestly fine with it, Inception is great. The magic is also a nice edition and done so well, it’s fun to watch all these characters use it. I must stress that if you are going to see this movie, go see it in 3D, its an absolute necessity. I will say that at times it runs into the case with “too much effects on screen at the same time” like what happened with the Star Wars Prequels (though not to that extreme). The score by Michael Giacchino is something different from a usual MCU score, it worked for the movie, even if it’s not very memorable in hindsight.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE..L to R: Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)..Photo Credit: Film Frame ..©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

I absolutely loved Doctor Strange. It’s not just a fun movie with great action and spectacular effects, it’s backed up by a well written story, a well developed main character, great acting from it’s very talented cast (which at times elevated the material they worked with), everything that a good comic book movie needs. Looking at things, this is currently my 5th favourite film of the MCU, and I didn’t expect that. I highly recommend seeing Doctor Strange, it’s a great time.

Casino Royale (2006)

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Casino Royale

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Judi Dench as M
Director: Martin Campbell

Promoted to 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on his first mission where he must face Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker to the world’s terrorists. Le Chiffre set up a poker game a Montenegro to receive a large sum of money. The head of M16, M (Judi Dench) sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to attend this game and stop Le Chiffre from winning.

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To me Casino Royale is the Batman Begins of James Bond. It took the series in a more realistic direction and ultimately, the best direction it could go in. Casino Royale reboots the franchise with its new tone, a new Bond and a fresh start. This is one of, if not the best James Bond movie made.

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It has been argued by some die hard James Bond fans that this movie didn’t feel like a James Bond movie. It should be known that Casino Royale is the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, in many ways this is a prequel to previous and later Bond movies being released. There aren’t any gadgets being used in this movie as much as previous Bond films did. Also a good thing to know is that you don’t have to have watched any of the previous Bond films to love this one, as the formula of the film is different from previous James Bond movies. Fans of the other Bond movies need to keep in mind that this is really the first James Bond; there were no gadgets, there were no one liners; this is Bond, before he really was Bond. The story’s pacing is done right, it isn’t the same as other Bond films but it was done well and was structured out well.

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This movie’s tone was grittier than previous movies so it required an actor who could portray James Bond’s new characterisation; Craig does that here and also manages to have a naturalistic feeling as him. Each actor who has played Bond has their own take on him and in Casino Royale, he is a much more ruthless and cold-blooded character than how some of the other actors portrayed him. Daniel Craig’s performance is one that I can buy as being realistic. The supporting cast was also great especially Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s main antagonist, Le Chiffre. He was a Bond villain that managed to feel grounded in reality instead of being like some of the over-the-top villains in the franchise, as well as having a realistic motive unlike some others (like Hugo Drax from Moonraker). Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd who is a love interest to James Bond and shares great chemistry with Craig. In my opinion, her character is one of the best bond girls as she managed to actually make an impact on Bond, unlike many of the others the James would later come across (that were in the previous movies). Judi Dench returns for the 5th time as M and also stole the scenes that she was in.

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The action in this movie is filmed well; it helps that this movie is under the direction of Martin Campbell, the man behind Goldeneye which was another great Bond Movie. The stunt work is also really good, especially a scene earlier in the film when Bond is in Madagascar. Casino Royale takes place in many locations and the cinematography is done very well in those many locations. The soundtrack also is very Bond-esque and gets the mood set up at the right moments.

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Casino Royale and Skyfall are my two favourite James Bond movies. I still don’t know what I prefer but either way, because of Casino Royale, the series introduced a tone that I liked more than some of the other films had. I’m glad that the Bond franchise is going in this direction. With a new type of Bond, a story that is really good and action scenes that are really entertaining, Casino Royale gave me what I wanted in a good Bond film and overall, a good film.