Tag Archives: Piper Perabo

The Prestige (2006) Review

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The Prestige

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains medium level violence
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier (The Great Danton)
Christian Bale as Alfred Borden (The Professor)
Michael Caine as John Cutter
Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough
Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden
Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla
Andy Serkis as Mr. Alley
Director: Christopher Nolan

Period thriller set in Edwardian London where two rival magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman), partners until the tragic death of an assistant during a show, feud bitterly after one of them performs the ultimate magic trick – teleportation. His rival tries desperately to uncover the secret of his routine, experimenting with dangerous new science as his quest takes him to the brink of insanity and jeopardises the lives of everyone around the pair.

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I really liked The Prestige when I first saw it, I liked the acting, it was directed well by Christopher Nolan, and it was an interesting an twisty story. However it wasn’t like one of my favourite movies from Nolan, and I sort of just liked it. Watching it again made me love it however, and now it’s now one of my favourites films from him.

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This generally goes for every movie but especially for The Prestige, it really is worth going in not knowing too much, and in this movie it’s better not knowing anything at all. There are many twists and turns, better left to experience for yourself. The movie is driven by the rivalry between the two lead characters played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and it’s really compelling and interesting to watch. It’s also such an original movie, I’ve seen movies of people rivalling each other, and I’ve seen a couple of movies about ‘magic’, but I’ve never seen a combination between the two before. It actually may be among Nolan’s most creative movies. On a first watch it’s really good, pretty intriguing throughout. Watching the movie on a second time is better however, you know the context of what really happened and notice certain hints that you didn’t pick up the first time. Also, you’re not spending time a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on and you really appreciate some of the foreshadowing and the like.

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Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play the lead characters Alfred Borden and Robert Angier respectively, and they are both fantastic in their parts. The two are constantly up against each other, and both effectively play complex and morally grey characters, with their conflict driving the story. Michael Caine is also great, giving one of his best performances from a Christopher Nolan movie, with this being his most active role in one of Nolan’s movies to date. Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall also do work well enough in supporting roles. David Bowie also appears in a few scenes as Nikola Tesla, and he’s great in his part. Additionally, Andy Serkis plays Tesla’s assistant, Serkis always brings something to every role that he’s in and his part in The Prestige is no exception.

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Christopher Nolan directed this movie excellently as expected, clearly having a more than adequate handling of the story. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is great, and the movie perfectly sets you in the time period. The scenes of ‘magic’ were noticeably presented very well. Many people have compared to Nolan’s work (mainly here) to the magicians like in The Prestige, and that’s definitely fitting, with his use of misdirection, focus and the like to trick the audience, at least on the first watch. The music by David Julyan is also pretty good and worked for the movie, but wasn’t particularly memorable on its own.

(L-R)  Hugh Jackman, Andy Serkis

The Prestige is a fantastically put together movie, intelligent, original and engaging from start to finish. Written and directed excellently by Christopher Nolan, and performed greatly by its great cast, it’s definitely worth seeing. If you’ve just watched it once, definitely find some time to watch it again.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Gerard Butler as United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning
Morgan Freeman as President Allan Trumbull
Danny Huston as Wade Jennings
Michael Landes as Sam Wilcox
Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Martin Kirby
Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Piper Perabo as Leah Banning
Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Helen Thompson
Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry
Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.

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I really liked Olympus Has Fallen, it was a throwback to R rated action movies from the 80s like Die Hard and it was entertaining for what it was. I even thought London Has Fallen was okay enough, a noticeable step down from the first movie but I found some enjoyment in it. However I wasn’t exactly really excited for the follow up with Angel Has Fallen. Along with the second movie taking a noticeable drop in quality already, the new plot was quite different from the past two movies, and I was getting Taken 3 vibes from the third instalment, and that’s never a good sign. Having watched it, I can say that it was some dumb fun for 2 hours, probably a little better than I expected it to be.

Angel Has Fallen is another over the top action flick, with a plot that you’ve seen many times before and done better. It’s a different plot from what you’d expect from a movie in this series. This time its Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning being on the run after being falsely accused of trying to kill the president. The sudden change in the type of plot seems pointless but I guess it was a better decision then just doing the past two movies set in different cities. It’s rather predictable in plot and you can get a general idea of where it’s going pretty early on. For example there’s a shadowy secret villain presented during the movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who it is just through process of elimination. Still, it isn’t too much of a problem once you’re 30 minutes into it. Something that’s interesting is that they almost took like a Skyfall sort of approach with regards to how they treat the main character (if you know what I mean), I guess that’s at least something different that they’re doing with this movie in the series but it doesn’t add up to much really. Side note but for some reason it has a mid credits scene as a joke, and I don’t know why they included it.

Gerard Butler once again does pretty well as Mike Banning, he’s got a handle on this character as his go to action role. Seeing as how this is the third time he’s played him and he’s probably going to reprise his role multiple times, it’s working out for him. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman here, he doesn’t even get much to do, despite being the president this time, he’s out of commission for most of the runtime. Nick Nolte plays Butler’s father and he was a standout in the movie whenever he was on screen. Danny Huston makes for a decent villain, his character is pretty one note and nothing special at all, but Huston elevates the role just a bit with his performance. Side note, no, Aaron Eckhart’s character who was the president in the previous two movies doesn’t appear here or isn’t even acknowledged, not a big deal but it was a little weird not having even a mention of him.

The direction by Ric Roman Waugh was fine for a standard action movie. The action is pretty standard but still entertaining. It’s nothing special and the action scenarios aren’t as extravagant as the previous movies, but on the other hand it’s didn’t fall into feeling a little lazy like London Has Fallen did at some point. Some of the CGI was pretty bad at times and could be a little distracting (mainly an early scene involving drones), but I’ve seen much worse.

Angel Has Fallen was what I expected, familiar, generic and pretty silly, but still entertaining enough for what it is. If you liked the other movies in the series then check it out for sure, you’ll no doubt have some fun with it. Otherwise you’re probably not going to get anything out of the third movie. If you haven’t watched the other movies and you’re still interested in it, you can jump right into this with no problem. Recently it was announced that there would be more movies in the Mike Banning/Has Fallen series. While I’m not overly enthusiastic by that proposition, I don’t mind it, they provide some brief entertainment for what they are.

Looper (2012) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language.
Cast:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe
Bruce Willis as Old Joe
Emily Blunt as Sara
Paul Dano as Seth
Noah Segan as Kid Blue
Piper Perabo as Suzie
Jeff Daniels as Abe
Pierce Gagnon as Cid
Director: Rian Johnson

In a future society, time-travel exists, but it’s only available to those with the means to pay for it on the black market. When the mob wants to eliminate someone, it sends the target into the past, where a hit man known as a looper lies in wait to finish the job. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such hired gun, and he does his job well — until the day his bosses decide to “close the loop” and send Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) back in time to be killed.

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I remember seeing Looper years ago around about the time when it came out. It was the first movie from Rian Johnson that I saw, so I was naturally excited when he was announced as directing a Star Wars movie because of his work here (and yes, I’m still very much love how The Last Jedi turned out). Because Johnson’s latest film Knives Out is coming out soon, I thought it was a perfect time to revisit this movie. Looper still holds up pretty well. There might be a couple things that don’t work perfectly, but on the whole it’s still great.

First of all with Looper, I liked how the movie portrays the futuristic world. It’s definitely a science fiction reality, with some advanced technology, new drugs and the like. However it doesn’t have flying cars or anything like that. There’s even some people in this movie who have the ability of telekinesis, but it’s pretty small and can only really be used for levitating small objects, not a significant superpower by any means. The movie also isn’t just science-fiction, it’s also a crime movie, and through Joe’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) narration, we hear about how this criminal group operates. Rian Johnson is great at blending different ideas together and Looper is no exception, it’s quite an original movie and if you haven’t seen it and don’t know much going in, I’m pretty sure the experience will be better when you do. With any movie involving time travel, there’s going to be some holes and things that don’t quite make sense, and Looper isn’t immune to that (especially towards the end). The characters who even know vaguely about the time travel do at least acknowledge that the time travel is confusing, and I still really liked how the movie portrayed and utilised it, so I was able to look past some of the more confusing elements. While I liked the ending (even though I’m not exactly sure if it’s right), I feel like it could’ve been like a minute longer at least, it somehow felt a little abrupt.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives probably his best performance yet in the role of the main character of Joe, a hitman of sorts. Bruce Willis here really gave one of his best performances in years, he really seemed dedicated to his performance here, significant given most of his recent work has just been straight to DVD action flicks. Something they did with Gordon-Levitt is that they put makeup on him to make him seem like a younger Willis. While its effective and definitely looks a lot better than it sounds on paper, I do find it a little hard to buy that they are the same person. JGL looks like himself but slightly Bruce Willis-ish, but the with the way they act you don’t really buy that they are the same person. However you can look past that and roll with it. Emily Blunt shows up in the latter half in the movie and is very good in her role. The same is said for Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid, Blunt’s child who seemingly a lot more than he initially appears to be. Other supporting actors like Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also add quite a lot in their screentime.

Rian Johnson has really progressed as a filmmaker, going from a smaller gritty noire set at a high school, to a bright Wes Anderson-esque conmen comedy, to Looper, a science-fiction crime movie. Visually it looked great. I mentioned earlier how I liked the portrayal of the future, and that extends to the direction. The locations for the most part look very similar to places to today and was rather gritty in parts, but with some futuristic touches. The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson was also very effective.

Looper is an original science-fiction crime movie, very well written and directed by Rian Johnson, and the cast were good, particularly Gordon-Levitt, Willis and Blunt. Despite some of the issues I had with some aspects of the plot which didn’t quite work, I think it’s really great. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.