Tag Archives: Mila Kunis

Black Swan (2010) Review

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Black Swan

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers/The Swan Queen
Mila Kunis as Lily/The Black Swan
Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy/The Gentleman
Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers/The Queen
Winona Ryder as Elizabeth “Beth” MacIntyre/The Dying Swan
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of “Swan Lake,” Nina is his first choice. She has competition in newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) however. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge.

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I liked Black Swan when I first saw it, and it definitely got all the acclaim that it deserved. I’ve already watched most of director Darren Aronofsky’s work (with the exception of The Fountain), but I wanted to have another look at some of his movies, and so I started my rewatches with Black Swan and got even more out of it this time. Aronofsky’s direction was really great and as usual Natalie Portman is fantastic.

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I won’t go into too much depth about the plot in case you still haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie yet. Darren Aronofksy really keeps this movie tight at an hour and 50 minutes long, it keeps the pace up pretty quickly and on a second viewing I really noticed it. It starts out as a movie about what an artist would do for art, and it is that throughout, but it also turns into a psychological thriller. It really goes crazy in the third act to say the least, and when the film needs to go horror, it really goes there. Looking at the plot from beginning to end, it’s so perfectly crafted and well put together.

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Everyone in the cast was outstanding, however this is really Natalie Portman’s show, giving a career best performance here. Her character’s whole thing is that as how she is now, she’s perfect for the role of the White Swan but in order to perfectly perform The Swan Queen, needs to delve deeper into darker territory to portray the Black Swan as well. Her descent and change were very convincing, and Portman works well. Her performance is essentially what drives the whole movie, as great as Aronofsky’s direction is here, Black Swan wouldn’t have worked without Portman’s excellently performance. Mila Kunis gives probably her best performance yet as a seemingly rival to Natalie Portman who seems to work as the Black Swan, which would compel Portman towards a different side. Vincent Cassel is also really great as the director of the ballet, who also pushes Portman further towards becoming more of the Black Swan. Definitely one of Cassel’s most standout performances. Barbara Hershey was also good as Portman’s obsessive mother, adding even more strangeness and uneasiness to the whole movie. Winona Ryder is in here in a smaller role as the previous Swan Queen before Portman, but she still really worked in her few scenes.

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Darren Aronofsky’s direction of Black Swan is excellent. I know it should go without saying but the actual ballet portions of the movie are showcased, choregraphed and displayed on screen very well. When it comes to the psychological horror side (especially towards the latter section of the movie), it’s effectively creeping and unnerving. The limited sections of crazy visual effects still hold up really well 9 years later. The score by Clint Mansell really works (which is to be expected of him at this point), very haunting yet beautiful, much like the whole movie.

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Black Swan is Darren Aronofsky’s best film yet, and considering some of the movies that he’s made, that’s saying a lot. His direction was great, really portraying a descent into madness well, with great acting, especially from Natalie Portman who gives an extraordinary performance here. Definitely one of the best films of 2010 and the 2010s, and worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Max Payne (2008) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Detective Max Payne
Beau Bridges as B.B. Hensley
Ludacris as Lieutenant Jim Bravura
Mila Kunis as Mona Sax
Chris O’Donnell as Jason Colvin
Nelly Furtado as Christa Balder
Kate Burton as Nicole Horne
Donal Logue as Alex Balder
Amaury Nolasco as Jack Lupino
Olga Kurylenko as Natasha Sax
Director: John Moore

After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with beautiful and deadly Russian mobster Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), Max journeys into a dark underworld to find the truth, but forces — both worldly and supernatural — align against him, determined to silence Max forever.

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I remember hearing about Max Payne when it came out, it was based on some video games and it looked like it had potential, the trailer was actually good (much better than the movie). However apparently it wasn’t very good. In terms of accuracy to the games, I’ve only played the third instalment of the game series (which I liked). As the movie is based off of the first two games I can’t say how it adapted the story, but whatever the case it’s still not a good movie. Max Payne is a pretty dull, poorly made movie, that won’t be enjoyed by people unfamiliar with the games, and I can imagine it only comes across worse for those who are.

As far as video games go, Max Payne is actually not that bad of an idea as a movie. The premise of a main character’s family being killed and him out for revenge is a simple enough story, and that could be easily adapted into a movie. Although I played the 3rd Max Payne game, I heard that this movie is based on the previous 2, so I can’t comment on how they handled the adaptation overall. Whatever the case though, whatever they were going for didn’t work as a movie on its all at all (and I heard that it really doesn’t do the games justice at all). The plot is rather dull and generic, like a run of the mill action flick. It’s just so uninteresting and you don’t care what’s going on, not with the characters, not with the story. Maybe on paper the plot isn’t terrible but they don’t make it engaging at all.

Most of the acting really wasn’t anything that good but it doesn’t help that every character is one dimensional. Mark Wahlberg can be good in some movies and on paper he didn’t even sound like a terrible casting choice for the title role but he feels kind of miscast here. You don’t really buy him in this role as someone who’s family is murdered and he’s out for revenge. It feels like the most boring version of Crime/Revenge Mark Wahlberg (if you’ve watched a lot of his movies I think you can tell what I’m meaning). It’s like ‘family murdered’ is the only characteristic given to Payne here, and Wahlberg doesn’t really feel believable in the role at all. Mila Kunis can be good in some movies but I really don’t buy her in her action role here, doesn’t really have much to do here. The rest of the acting is nothing impressive either, with actually the more stand out characters/actors being killed off pretty early on.

One thing that I knew going into this movie is that the director of Max Payne, John Moore, also directed A Good Day to Die Hard, and so I really wasn’t really looking forward to watching Max Payne because of that. One of the things I actually do like about Max Payne is that some of the environments are very noir-ish and snowy, I really like the aesthetic and it is by far the best part of the movie. Max Payne is a video game and so you’d can expect a lot of action – except the action actually happens an hour into the movie. While one could say that maybe they traded out the over the top action with a good mystery, the mystery wasn’t even that good. It’s a shame that much of the action when it’s on screen at times is rather incomprehensible with a lot of quick edits, and when you can tell what’s going on, it’s rather boring and like a generic and mediocre action movie . One of the highlights of the Max Payne games are the bullet time moments, where Max can slow down time to shoot enemies. The movie oddly doesn’t really take advantage of the bullet time and the one time that it does, it’s this really boring extreme slow-motion moment where he jumps backwards to shoot some guy behind him with a shotgun, bizarre moment to have that one bullet time moment. It really was a wasted opportunity. This movie is PG-13 and I didn’t really understand why. It’s a movie about a guy’s family getting murdered and the games were sort of R rated, so I don’t understand why they didn’t go all out with the violence. Apparently there is an R rated cut but it was originally planned to be PG-13 in the first place.

Max Payne isn’t even good enough as a basic action movie, it’s uninteresting, not that entertaining and all around not a good movie. Really the best part of this movie is that this it has a pretty great snowy aesthetic when it shows it. There’s actually some potential, especially with the video games its based on but its not on display here. A ton of people absolutely despise this movie but I’m not hating it. It’s a bad movie for sure, but it’s just rather dull and mediocre more than anything.

Jupiter Ascending (2015) Review

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Jupiter Ascending

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones
Channing Tatum as Caine Wise
Sean Bean as Stinger Apini
Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax
Douglas Booth as Titus Abrasax
Tuppence Middleton as Kalique Abrasax
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Famulus
Director: The Wachowskis

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under signs that predicted future greatness, but her reality as a woman consists of cleaning other people’s houses and endless bad breaks. Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to locate her, making Jupiter finally aware of the great destiny that awaits her: Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

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As directors, the Wachowskis haven’t found much success in big budget films since The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending goes down as one of their (debatably) biggest failures. Although the technical side with the special effects and soundtrack might be nice, its dialogue is bad, its story is predictable and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s times like this when I think that The Matrix was a fluke.

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The writing for this movie is all over the place and I didn’t really care about what was going on. A lot of the time it felt like the film was padding out the scenes more than it had to as there are lots of exposition scenes full of unnecessary and drawn out dialogue and it does nothing to drive the plot forward. Because of this I felt overall bored with what was going on. The film also has some weird concepts, for example Jupiter can control bees because they are genetically modified to recognise royalty. There is also a romance between Mila and Channing which was really forced, I never really bought the relationship, it comes straight out of nowhere and the film doesn’t seem to have a reason to have it. It doesn’t help that the romantic dialogue is very cheesy and terrible. There are also lots of unresolved plot holes and inconsistencies which really don’t work at all.

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Mila Kunis doesn’t seem that well suited in her role, however to be fair she doesn’t have much to work with. Jupiter isn’t given any character depth and doesn’t have an interesting personality. On top of that she doesn’t do much of anything and has to be saved so many times. She doesn’t need to shoot guns or anything but she should at least show leadership or develop by the end of the film. Channing Tatum is decent and does his best to act through his terrible make up. Sean Bean does as much as he can in this movie despite appearing for only 10 minutes. Eddie Redmayne plays the main villain and his performance is basically if you crossed an asthmatic Voldemort with Zod from Man of Steel. He whispers most of his dialogue but sometimes out of nowhere he starts screaming. He was one of the few entertaining aspects of the film for how crazy he was, however it is still a pretty bad performance from a great (and academy award winning) actor.

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Some of the designs of the aliens are fine but at times they are really distracting. It’s like the Wachowskis made these designs because they looked similar to other sci-fi designs that other better films used. The visual effects for the most part are nice to watch, even though you can tell that there’s a blue/green screens being used. The action scenes are also well filmed and they were the most entertaining parts of the film. The soundtrack is also quite good, I just wished it was used in a much better Sci-Fi movie.

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The best way to describe this film is that it’s like The Phantom Menace with better special effects. There’s a lot of exposition that they try to put in to make the film seem more epic than it really is and the action scenes are the best part of the movie. After many attempts at having a large blockbuster it’s clear that the Wachowskis should take a break from blockbusters.