Tag Archives: Ralph Fiennes

The King’s Man (2021) Review

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The King's Man

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Orlando, Duke of Oxford
Gemma Arterton as Pollyanna “Polly” Wilkins
Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin
Matthew Goode as Captain Morton
Tom Hollander as King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas
Harris Dickinson as Conrad Oxford
Daniel Brühl as Erik Jan Hanussen
Djimon Hounsou as Shola
Charles Dance as Herbert Kitchener
Director: Matthew Vaughn

One man must race against time to stop history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds as they get together to plot a war that could wipe out millions of people and destroy humanity.

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The King’s Man was the upcoming prequel to the Kingsman movies which had been repeatedly pushed back. I really like Kingsman: The Secret Service, it was a lot of fun. The sequel titled The Golden Circle was not quite as good as the first movie, but I still enjoyed it. However, a prequel might’ve been what the franchise needed, with a very different setting and completely different characters. However with every delay of the movie, I felt less confident in it. It’s finally arrived and thankfully I actually ended up enjoying it, but its not without some issues and questionable decisions.

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The King’s Man takes place a century earlier prior to the first two movies, and while I do like this new film, I still don’t think it needed to exist. It didn’t really add anything to the Kingsman lore. I will say that it doesn’t heavily rely on the viewers having watched the first two movies. You might miss some of the appeal if you haven’t watched the first movie at least though. The pacing was very inconsistent. The first third of the runtime introduces everything, so it takes a while to get going. Even then, for much of the runtime, it feels like a film made up of events and sections rather than a continuous story. It isn’t clear where everything leads to, and there’s little to no flow to it. For what its worth though, the third act is consistently fun. I found myself only a little invested in the plot. From a writing and story perspective, The King’s Man seemed to lack the energy that the other two movies did, and part of that is the setting. Also, the characters weren’t that interesting. Rasputin was fun to watch, I also liked Ralph Fiennes and even his character’s son to a degree, their relationship is given enough attention that I was willing to care about it. However, I only liked some of the other characters because of the actors, nothing about the characters with how they’re written. Even the villains outside of Rasputin aren’t as entertaining, it’s a cliched conspiracy made up of select people around the world. Its certainly different to the Bond-esque villains of the last two movies but the execution here is rather average. Obviously with this being a Kingsman movie, it is not historically accurate, but there are some moments where it does attempt at a level of accuracy to WW1, which is beyond strange. It’s like Matthew Vaughn wanted a bonkers Kingsman movie set during WW1 but he felt obliged to be somewhat accurate. I can’t tell if that’s better or worse, because tying the two together make some of the darker scenes (and those based on true events) come across as tone deaf.

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One notable problem with the movie is that the tone is just all over the place and messy. The King’s Man definitely has its light-hearted, silly and fun moments, like with Rasputin and some of the action scenes. However, a lot of the situations are on the more on the serious side of the coin. That’s largely because Matthew Vaughn anchored the setting to World War 1. There’s real people involved in the plot with Rasputin and King George, and we even see Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated in this. There’s plenty of scenes featuring a lot serious political and military talk, which was quite misguided to me. There’s even also long sequences focusing on grimy war battlefields. By focusing on the horrors of war and being somewhat accurate to the setting, it damages the movie in some ways. The thing is that Vaughn actually does some of the handle the serious stuff quite well, the battle scenes are surprisingly well done and given the right amount of weight. The problem is that they don’t fit into this movie all that well. I am one of the people who enjoys The Golden Circle, even though I know of its faults very well. Honestly though, at least the over-the-top nature makes more sense compared to the serious take here. Making it too serious might’ve been misguided, but the worst part of all is how The King’s Man jumps between the two, the tones don’t work together. Rhys Ifans hamming it up as Rasputin really contrasts with the serious tone and the large battle scenes that feel like Matthew Vaughn is trying to make his own 1917. I will say that it is worth sticking around for the mid credits scene, because its one of, if not the most, insane credits scenes I’ve ever seen. Its honestly quite perplexing that it exists, you really just have to see it for yourself.

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There is a good cast involved, though not all of them are used to their fullest potential. Ralph Fiennes is one of the best parts of the movie and he absolutely delivers in the lead role. He more than proves himself a great action star, much like Colin Firth did in the first two movies. He adds so much to his character, probably even more than he needed to. He’s fun in the action and comedy scenes, but he also brings the emotion. Harris Dickinson plays his son, he does a good job and I like the relationship that the two have. Gemma Arteton and Djimon Hounsou are decent in their parts, even if their characters aren’t that memorable or great. Tom Hollander also plays Tsar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm and King George, and is very entertaining in those parts. The most marketed villain of the movie is that of Rasputin, played by a wonderfully scene chewing Rhys Ifans. One could say that he might be doing too much, but I love how much he goes for it. It’s just a shame that we don’t get to see him as much I would’ve liked, and he is nothing more than a notable henchman. He certainly had better screen presence than the other villains, who are just surface level caricatures. The villains are a convoluted and conspiracy consisting of a group of people led by a shadowy leader called The Shephard. His goal is for the entire world to go to war. While the villain is over the top to a degree, he’s not at the level of Samuel L. Jackson or Julianne Moore from the previous movies. He is a moustache twirling madman that shouts a lot, but is still rather bland and cliched. I know that Julianne Moore’s villain in the last movie wasn’t exactly the best, but The Shephard is worse if only because of how much the film tries to hide his identity for the sake of the twist. As a result it doesn’t let you connect with the character in any way, and giving him a face and more dialogue would’ve helped the story and the character. They rely on the ultimate reveal at the end, it doesn’t even pay off and it isn’t surprising.

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Matthew Vaughn’s stylised direction is present once again, very much to the film’s benefit. His trademark brand of over-the-top hyper action is on full display here, and its where the film is at its best. It has great choreography, its very well shot, full of energy, and they are well depicted. Its not as great as some of the action from the first movie or even the second, but I did like them. The war moments are intense and well crafted, there are actually a lot of scenes that work as a serious war drama, and deliver on hard hitting emotion.

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I enjoyed The King’s Man, I liked the performance of Ralph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans, and the action was very entertaining. However it is definitely a mess, especially with the writing and tone. Honestly I can’t tell whether this or The Golden Circle is better, I certainly feel more inclined to rewatch the latter. Matthew Vaughn would be well advised to not make a sequel to this movie and just stick to making Kingsman movies set in the present day. On top of already playing with real life material from WW1 in this movie and shouldn’t be pushing it further (that credit scene is rather daunting), its just not the right setting for this franchise.

No Time to Die (2021) Review

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No Time to Die

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash
Ana de Armas as Paloma
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

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After years of delays, No Time to Die has finally arrived. It’s not only the latest James Bond movie (25th of the official movies in fact), but it’s also Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie. I have been really anticipating this movie, I really liked this version of Bond, and I was interested to see how it would conclude everything. It was a great experience, especially in the cinema, and overall I’m prepared to say that I’m satisfied with it.

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No Time to Die is really a movie that’s worth going into not knowing too much beforehand. The trailers and advertising avoided giving too many plot details for good reason. What’s immediately noticeable is that there’s an interesting blend of tones in this movie. It is bombastic and over the top while also being emotional. First of all, it leans into more the classic Bond aspects than the previous Craig films. The plot has massive global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, there are gadgets throughout, there are plenty of one liners, and overall everything is more over the top. This is also the funniest Bond movie of Craig’s run, with a good amount of well-executed humour which I enjoyed. At the same time there is an emotional core to the film, and it wraps up all the storylines and character journeys for this version of James Bond. If you haven’t seen the previous Craig James Bond movies and are thinking about jumping in here, I would highly recommend watching them (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre) before No Time to Die because it references events from those films. It is very much a follow on from Spectre (the movie), from Madeleine Swann, to Blofeld and Spectre (the organisation). While I’m aware not everyone will be on board with this given that plenty of people weren’t fans of the last movie, I actually thought it worked quite well. In some ways it retroactively made me like some of those aspects from Spectre a lot more. Tonally it sounds like a mess, however it somehow all comes together in the end. Without getting into spoilers, I thought the finale was ultimately emotionally satisfying, and a great sendoff to this version of James Bond. While it does embrace some of the more classic elements of Bond, it’s also a unique entry for a Bond movie. I can’t speak to any issues immediately because there was a lot to take in with this movie. There’s a lot that happens, with plenty of characters, storylines, and parts to wrap up. Speaking of which, the runtime is at around 2 hours 45 minutes long, making this by far the longest movie in the franchise. At times I could feel the length, but I was always invested in what was happening, so that was never a problem for me.

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This movie really felt like a real ensemble piece more so than the previous Bond movies. First and foremost is Daniel Craig, who delivers his best performance as James Bond. He gets to have a lot of fun moments, from the one liners and humour, to the action. Craig’s Bond is the most human and given the most emotions compared to the past versions of the character, and it goes all in with that in this movie. While there are world ending stakes throughout the film, there is no mistake that Bond’s story is the main focus, and Craig delivers all of this so greatly. He plays the character in a way we haven’t seen from him before, and the movie really gives him the opportunity to give a finale for Bond. Lea Seydoux is one of the only Bond girls to actually return from a previous Bond movie, here she’s reprising her role of Madeleine Swann. I liked Seydoux in Spectre but there was something missing with that character in the movie, and I didn’t quite buy the Swann/Bond romance at the end. No Time to Die however makes this relationship really work, and I thought that Seydoux was great here, getting to do a lot more. We also get returning supporting Bond players with Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and even Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, all of them reliable as always. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stravo Blofeld from Spectre, and while he’s not in the movie much, I actually liked him more in this movie, he’s great in his scenes and really leaves an impression. There are some new additions who are great in their parts too. There’s Lashana Lynch who is great as the new 007 (after James Bond had retired at the end of Spectre), and there’s also Billy Magnussen who is good in his role. Ana de Armas is a scene stealer, delivering a really fun and entertaining performance but unfortunately doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime. Nonetheless, she makes a strong impression. There’s also the new Bond villain as played by Rami Malek. He doesn’t quite reach the heights of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale or Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but I think he’s a solid enough villain for this movie, especially as he’s the biggest adversary to Craig’s Bond yet. Malek’s character is definitely over the top, as you would expect for someone named Lyutisfier Safin. He is a strong and creepy screen presence, and absolutely nails the scenes that he’s in. There’s nothing really wrong with him writing or acting-wise, however he’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve liked.

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The newest director to helm a Bond film is Cary Fukunaga, and while I haven’t seen all of his other work, I can say that his work on Sin Nombre and Maniac is great. As expected, his direction for No Time to Die is fantastic and feels fresh and distinct in the franchise. There is this constant energy felt throughout, making even the more slower paced sections felt energised. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is great, really giving this movie a very vibrant look, and it helps that the film takes advantage of the memorable locations it takes place at. The action is truly stellar, starting with an early action set piece with Bond in a motorcycle and then in a car, and only continuing to be great from there. The action is often filmed with long takes, with particularly one of the standout action scenes involving a stairway later in the movie. All the action is great and rivals the best action sequences from Craig’s past 4 Bond films. Hans Zimmer composes the score and while it doesn’t rank amongst the best work from him or one of the best Bond soundtracks, it is solid and works well for the movie. I also think that Billie Eilish’s main song for the movie was great.

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No Time to Die ranks alongside Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite James Bond movies. It is very long and there’s a lot to take in, but I loved what I saw from my first viewing of it. Cary Fukunaga delivered a visually stunning and enthralling movie, with great action, an ensemble cast of reliable and solid performances, and a script that’s bombastic and witty yet also appropriately emotional and given enough depth. However, above all else, it served as a great finale for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and it definitely achieved what it set out to do. I’m not really sure what they will do for the next version of James Bond, from the actor to the interpretation of the character. Nonetheless, Craig remains my all-time favourite version of the character’s nearly 50 year run, and I’m happy with the sendoff they gave him with No Time to Die.

The Dig (2021) Review

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The Dig

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Sex scenes & nudity
Cast:
Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty
Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown
Lily James as Peggy Piggott
Johnny Flynn as Rory Lomax
Ben Chaplin as Stuart Piggott
Ken Stott as Charles Phillips
Archie Barnes as Robert Pretty
Monica Dolan as May Brown
Director: Simon Stone

In the late 1930s, wealthy landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) hires amateur archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to investigate the mounds on her property in England. He and his team discover a ship from the Dark Ages while digging up a burial ground.

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I first heard about The Dig on Netflix as it was one of their movies, it was a movie about digging up something important around World War II, but I wanted to watch because of the cast which includes Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes. Having finally seen it, I can say that it’s nothing that memorable and it’s mostly just okay, but for what it is, a British period drama based on a true story, it’s made fairly well.

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The script for The Dig is rather simple and it was a typical historical film based on a true story. There’s very little surprising or astonishing, and the character beats are predictable. It’s not that nothing of significance happens in this film considering the prospect of finding something important, as well as everything that the characters go through in their own lives. However the stakes feel pretty mild, The Dig is more of an easy, contemplative and laid back experience. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a simple story from the past, and to a degree I respect that. It does cover a real-life story that is interesting mainly for history and archelogy buffs. Even though I’m not an archelogy buff and it didn’t feel like much happened in the story, I thought it was compelling enough, and it had its emotional moments. During the whole first half, I was interested with the characters, and their storylines and how they developed. Where some problems start appearing is in the second half where it loses its focus once it expands beyond the main cast of Mulligan and Fiennes, Fiennes particularly becomes a secondary character. The second half overstays its welcome and introduces some unwelcome subplots, more on that later. Something that most viewers will feel is that the movie moves a little bit slower than it needed to. It certainly felt a little too slow for me to be completely gripped with the story. Some scenes feel unnecessarily long and drag on for quite some time, and despite an hour and 52 minutes not being an extremely long runtime, it does feel a little tedious at times. It certainly isn’t helped by the occasionally dragging pacing. The subplots introduced in the second half were a bit too much, one that comes to mind instantly was a love triangle subplot involving Lily James and Johnny Flynn. It didn’t really add anything to the story, just forced melodrama. After watching the movie I looked up what happened in real life and it turns out the film does take some creative liberties and particularly changes up some key details about the characters. Without getting too into it here, these decisions actually made the movie worse despite the intentions to make things more dramatic and interesting. Unsurprisingly, that aforementioned love triangle was one of the creative liberties taken, in fact much of what happened with Lily James’s character’s story in the movie didn’t happen in real life.

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The cast will be the main draw for most people who watch The Dig, and in fairness there are some really talented actors involved. The main cast are great with Ralph Fiennes as the weathered and capable excavator, and Carey Mulligan as the main landowner whose land is being dug up. Supporting cast was good including Lily James and Johnny Flynn, even the young actor who plays Carey Mulligan’s son.

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The direction from Simon Stone is also pretty good. First of all, it has some fantastic cinematography, really capturing the English countryside’s sights with its glorious wide shots and sweeping camera movements. It even felt like a Terrence Malick movie at times. The production values are strong with the set design and costume design capturing the time period well. Finally the piano score is great, dreamy and relaxing, it really matches the tone of the movie well.

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It does feel like some potential of the Dig was wasted considering the premise and story, and it’s a pretty forgettable movie unfortunately. However for what it’s worth, I think it’s a decent movie. The cast and the directing certainly elevate it quite a lot, and I’m glad I watched it. It is a movie that I would have playing in the background more than actively watching, but it’s an okay movie, and one worth checking out if you like the cast involved or if you’re interested in historical movies.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Review

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H.
Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa
F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
Adrien Brody as Dmitri
Willem Dafoe as J. G. Jopling
Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
Edward Norton as Albert Henckels
Mathieu Amalric as Serge X
Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs
Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
Tom Wilkinson as Author
Jude Law as the Young Writer
Bill Murray as M. Ivan
Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
Director: Wes Anderson

Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge, is wrongly framed for murder at the Grand Budapest Hotel. In the process of proving his innocence, he befriends a lobby boy (Tony Revolori).

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I remember The Grand Budapest Hotel as being one of the earlier movies I saw from Wes Anderson, and it was the first movie from him I watched in the cinema. I had previously seen Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom and while I liked them when I saw them for the first time, I wasn’t really into his work that much. I remember the experience in the cinema back in 2014 watching it because I found myself surprised at just how much I loved it. A rewatch upon watching all of Wes’s movies only confirms to me that it is his best, an unbelievably delightful and charming movie that entertains from beginning to end.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel’s screenplay is again written by Wes Anderson, and I have to say that it has to be one of his most polished and complete works, if not his most. This movie is one of the select number of films which I can say I found genuinely enthralling. Wes Anderson’s strongest movies with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore had me interested generally throughout. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel had me invested from beginning to end and was endlessly entertaining. The movie feels completely original, and the story is heartfelt and endearing, features quirky and entertaining characters, and some unique and hilarious comedy. The dialogue was great, quick witted and memorable, and it’s perfectly paced across its 100 minute runtime. The plot itself is intricate but never confusing, and is also the largest scale movie from Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel really gives you a sense of adventure and escapism, while also having melancholic and darker qualities and themes that you don’t expect at first.

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Wes Anderson is known for his massive and talented ensemble cast, but this may well be his biggest cast to date, and that’s saying a lot. Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H. gives not only one of his best performances of his career, but one of the best performances from a Wes Anderson movie. He’s charismatic, his line delivery is absolutely perfect, he really does handle the dry humour perfectly and fully portrays his well written and memorable character. Tony Revolori is also one of the leads and shouldn’t be overlooked, he’s really great too and shares great on screen chemistry with Fiennes. There was quite a supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux and Owen Wilson. Everyone is great in their parts and make themselves stand out in their respective scenes, even if they are in just 1 or 2 scenes.

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Wes Anderson’s direction is phenomenal, even when compared to all his past work. His style is instantly recognisable once the movie begins. The cinematography is beautiful and vibrant. It is said with some movies that every shot could be framed as a painting, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those movies. The changing of the aspect ratios was also effective, moving to 4:3 for most of the film. The production design and costume design were outstanding too. The score by Alexandre Desplat is unique and amazing, and it really fits perfectly with the rest of the movie.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enthralling and delightful adventure, perfectly written and directed by Wes Anderson, and features an outstanding ensemble of great performances. It’s like he took everything great from his past movies and put it all in here with this one. Having gone through his entire filmography, I can say with confidence that this may well be his magnum opus. It is also firmly one of my favourite movies, especially from the 2010s. It’s an essential watch for sure, and also a great place to start with Wes Anderson if you haven’t seen any of his movies before.

Spectre (2015) Retrospective Review

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh/C
Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Ralph Fiennes as M
Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
Director: Sam Mendes

A cryptic message from the past leads James Bond (Daniel Craig) to Mexico City and Rome, where he meets the beautiful widow (Monica Bellucci) of an infamous criminal. After infiltrating a secret meeting, 007 uncovers the existence of the sinister organization SPECTRE. Needing the help of the daughter of an old nemesis, he embarks on a mission to find her. As Bond ventures toward the heart of SPECTRE, he discovers a chilling connection between himself and the enemy (Christoph Waltz) he seeks.

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In my initial Spectre review, I called it a solid James Bond film with some problems holding it back quite a bit. I still like the movie but having seeing it a couple of times since then, even more problems are apparent to me, with regard to the balance of the usual Craig Bond stuff and the classic Bond elements, the painfully underwhelming third act and way too many issues to fit into one sentence.

Since I already did a spoiler free review of Spectre, I’m going to delve into some spoilers here. With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes managed to balance a lot of the modernised Bond elements with some classic Bond elements, to deliver one of the best films in the series. With Spectre he goes further with the latter aspect, with a clear cut Bond Girl, more gadgets, a fast car filled with gadgets and a lot of the classic Bond tropes. It’s even the first of the Daniel Craig James Bond films to open with the conventional gunbarrel opening scene that almost all of the Bond films have at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the blend of the old and new didn’t quite work this time around. I actually like how Spectre tries to be a continuation of the Craig Era tone and rebooting the classic Bond villain organisation SPECTRE for this rendition of James Bond. The problem is that it also tries to homage some of the much earlier Bond films, with cartoonish humour and having action scenes that don’t challenge Bond (some Roger Moore era things unfortunately), and it really doesn’t fit together. In all the prior Daniel Craig Bond films, Bond is challenged to some degree. Despite all the personal connections that James Bond have to this story however, it feels like a typical run of the mill job for him. Nothing challenges him physically (aside from Dave Bautista), nor as a character mentally, psychologically or whatever. Spectre ties together all the previous Craig movies and while on paper I liked that idea, the way it was done really just didn’t work (I’ll go into that when I talk about Christoph Waltz and his character).

A lot of the things also don’t fit with the established tone of the newer movies, such as the humour. For example, early in the movie, Bond falls from a crumbling building onto a couch, which would work well in a Roger Moore Bond film but it comes across as too silly for Daniel Craig’s Bond. On another note there is also a subplot featuring Andrew Scott’s character trying to take over MI6 because he feels like it’s outdated and trying to replace agents with technology and surveillance. This plotline really falls flat, we’ve seen this happen in other movies, and we’ve seen it done better. It feels like it was pushed into Spectre just to appear somewhat relevant to today but it only just ends up slowing down the plot even more and makes things feel even more dull. I think it might’ve worked and be made more interesting if Andrew Scott’s character didn’t turn out to be a villain and this was only a red herring, however this is not the case. It feels like the movie kept cutting to this subplot because it would later be integral to the plot and it feels forced and distracts more than anything. The third act is both ridiculous yet really underwhelming and filled with a ton of problems, and considering the issues that Spectre has, that’s saying a lot. The film cuts between two things going on at the same time, James Bond with his ‘confrontation’ (in the loosest sense of the word) as well as M, Q and Moneypenny working to stop Andrew Scott, and it’s not that great. There are some implausible things like all the effort that Blofeld no doubt put into setting up things in the old destroyed MI6 building, placing pictures of Bond, Vesper, Silva, Le Chiffre, Greene, M and others throughout the place, writing on the walls and much more, which comes across as just unbelievable and funny considering the gritty tone that these movies have been having. Probably the most unrealistic and preposterous yet extremely underwhelming moment however is when James Bond shoots down a helicopter with a pistol while on a high speed boat in the complete dark, I don’t even think the previous Bond movies would attempt to do something like that and I don’t mean that as a compliment. The only thing going for the third act is that it looks good and the actors are trying, outside of that it’s borderline bad. It really brings down the movie a tremendous amount, some of the rushed things that happen come across as being really lazy, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The movie is long, about 2 hours and a half, and you really feel the length. There are some moments of drawn out nothingness happening, and a lot of the movie can feel rather uninteresting at times. It’s a shame really, because many of the scenes are actually well handled, and the movie has some ideas that had potential, but it doesn’t come togther well.

Despite a lot of faults with the characters, the cast do the best they can with what they have. Daniel Craig is once again the best James Bond yet and does try his best here. In terms of performance however, I’d have to say this is Craig’s worst performance as Bond. I don’t fully blame this on him though, as I said despite some of the personal elements in play in the story, James Bond doesn’t feel conflicted or challenged throughout the entirety of the movie. There are plenty of moments when he should be really invested in what’s going on, but Craig doesn’t really react that much to them. While this might pass for a Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan James Bond performance, it doesn’t work for Daniel Craig who spent 3 movies being a rougher and grittier Bond set in some form of reality and an actual character instead of an archetype. It certainly doesn’t help that he has no clear arc through the movie like the other Craig Bond movies, save for some vague things from his past thrown in and a meaningless therapy session, even Quantum of Solace had a solid character arc. Lea Seydoux is good as another ‘Bond Girl’, unfortunately there’s not a ton of interesting things to her character, she basically only ends up doing two things over the course of the movie (despite being established at one point as being somewhat capable), and feels like she could’ve been played by basically anyone. The romance between her and Bond does come out of nowhere and it’s not really believable, however this could go for almost all of the Bond Girls in the Bond series. It’s only made worse by the ending, which seems to imply that she’s someone special now to Bond even though nothing in the entirety of the movie indicated that to be the case (hopefully No Time to Die fleshes that aspect out a lot more). Seydoux does her best though. Monica Bellucci is another Bond girl who shows up in the first act of the movie and essentially does nothing after like 5 minutes of being on screen. She does provide some exposition but that’s it, almost like you could’ve cast anyone in the role and not try to make them a Bond girl. Maybe that should’ve been done, because it would’ve at least removed the really bad love scene between her and Craig, which came across as being really awkward and creepy. The returning Bond supporting cast do a great job. Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as the new M are all great in their roles. It is nice seeing them get to do stuff and get involved with the plot (especially Whishaw’s Q) though they did feel a little out of place in the climax.

One of Spectre’s most notable problems (and that’s saying a lot) is that the movie doesn’t do great with the antagonists. First of all getting the minor antagonists out of the way, we have Andrew Scott and Dave Bautsista. The moment that Andrew Scott appears on screen, you can tell that he’s going to end up being a villain. Sure, it doesn’t help that he was already known for Moriarty in Sherlock, but the worst part is that he feels really unnecessary to the plot. As I said earlier, the whole plotline was really not needed and Andrew Scott was tied to it, so he really didn’t have much to work with. Scott definitely has talent but he doesn’t get much to do except to be a generic ‘surprise’ villain. Dave Bautista is a Spectre assassin who at times tries to kill James Bond. While he won’t rank among the best James Bond henchman, out of all the Bond villains in this movie he does his job the best, he served his purpose adequately. Of course the main villain however is Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser. Everyone speculated that with the movie being called Spectre, that Waltz would be playing the head of Spectre, Ernst Stravo Blofeld, who appeared in some of the older Bond movies. There was so much denial that this was the case but it was even more predictable than the villain name reveals for Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. Having that name was so forced that they really shouldn’t have tried it, and if they really wanted to stick with that, they shouldn’t have tried to make a surprise twist. One of the many issues that Waltz has is that we don’t get enough of him, we see him once at the end of the first act, the end of the second act and then again in the third act. However, that’s not the only issue. Blofeld isn’t just the head of the Spectre organisation here, it’s revealed that he was also the adopted brother of Bond, who was involved with his father’s death and faked his own death after being jealous that his father liked James Bond. On top of that, everything that happened to Bond, Le Chiffre, Vesper’s death, Dominic Greene, Silva, M’s death, all that was planned by Blofeld… because of childish jealousy or whatever. Hearing all this, and hearing him talk about all this doesn’t make him sound crazy or psychopathic, it makes him sound petty and a little difficult to take seriously, it just sounds so ridiculous. There’s nothing more to his character, he’s not particularly interesting or entertaining and worst of all he’s forgettable. The thing is that he was supposed to be like a big deal, the ultimate villain to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, I mean they gave him the name of Blofeld, a classic Bond villain when they could’ve just kept the name of Franz Oberhauser. And so with all that hype, it really makes him work even less and fall even flatter. To his credit, Christoph Waltz does try his very best and he does add some menace to the character although he does play it like a lot of his other villain roles, really only Quentin Tarantino has manged to utilize Waltz as a villain excellently, in other villain roles he ends up playing rather cliched antagonists. On top of that, Waltz feels trapped in the role, like he’s just on autopilot through the whole thing. They keep his character alive at the end, and thankfully he gets another chance in the upcoming last Craig Bond movie.

Sam Mendes does a pretty good job at directing Spectre, though there are some elements in the technical aspects which hold the movie back (along with the story). The cinematography this time is by Hoyte van Hoyte, who has done the cinematography for such films as Dunkirk, Interstellar and Her, films that were shot truly fantastically. Spectre’s cinematography is still very good but some elements don’t work as well. For example most of the colour pallet is fine except whenever the film does to places like Mexico and Tangier, because it’s suddenly like they put a brown filter over everything. A lot of the action sequences are entertaining and fun, some of them are rather underwhelming. Yes, sometimes we have Bond in a plane chasing a bunch of cars in the snow, crashing through some houses, but as I said before, you don’t ever feel like he’s in a position where he could fail, he always seems on top of things. Fortunately with the editing, unlike Quantum of Solace, you can see what’s going on, but at least Quantum of Solace had some intensity and energy in all of their action scenes. There are a number of examples of the lack of intensity on Spectre’s action scenes, one is Bond’s escape from the Spectre base by simply shooting 3 people, shooting some pipes and the base just blowing up (escaping in less than a minute, really making the Spectre organisation look incompetent), as well as the aforementioned ridiculed shooting down of a helicopter with a peashooter scene. Despite a lot of the problems, it does have some genuinely greatly directed sequences. One for example is the opening sequence, which features a long tracking shot following James Bond through Mexico during the Day of the Dead parade and a fight inside a spinning helicopter, great way to open the movie. Also the fight scene on the train between Bond and Bautistia is good and probably has the most intensity of the action scenes in the movie. The music by Thomas Newman (returning to compose the score after Skyfall) is good but it is a little too similar to Skyfall’s, it actually makes things feel really jarring. Speaking of music, Sam Smith’s song “The Writing on the Wall” played in the opening credits have proved itself polarising to some. It’s not like a normal Bond song but I didn’t mind it personally. I also didn’t mind the opening credits scene.

I still like Spectre to a degree but it is filled with so many problems that brings it down a large amount. Whereas you can see why Quantum of Solace had its issues with the writer’s strike and an incomplete script, I just don’t know what happened with Spectre. Aside from some scenes that were actually really good, much of Spectre is just a slog and is consistently underwhelming, seemingly ranging from being quite good to flat average. Spectre can’t balance the older and newer aspects of Bond, it lacks a lot of the intensity from the prior movies, the story is generally a mixed bag and ends with a very disappointing third act. We can only hope that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film takes the lessons learned from the best and worst of his films to create a great movie.

Skyfall (2012) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Judi Dench as M
Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Bérénice Lim Marlohe as Sévérine
Albert Finney as Kincade
Ben Whishaw as Q
Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
Director: Sam Mendes

When James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) latest assignment goes terribly wrong, it leads to a calamitous turn of events: Undercover agents around the world are exposed, and MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Judi Dench) to relocate the agency. With MI6 now compromised inside and out, M turns to the one man she can trust: Bond. Aided only by a field agent (Naomie Harris), Bond takes to the shadows and follows a trail to Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past who wants to settle an old score.

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After the disappointing Quantum of Solace, the next instalment of the James Bond series, Skyfall would be released in 2012, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the James Bond series, which started with Dr No. I know that in recent years there have been some backlash against it, but I loved Skyfall when I first saw it in cinemas and I still really love it now. Watching it recently I was reminded about how fantastic it is. It is without a doubt in the top 2 best James Bond films.

Skyfall takes things back to some of the classic James Bond while being a very different kind of Bond film at the same time. It is a film which takes the story very seriously but it doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of any fun at the same time. It is very much set in reality with the tone and the story and yet we do get some of the things that we would expect in a typical Bond film, we get the gadgets (even if it’s just a gun that can read Bond’s handprint and a tracking device), we get Q and Moneypenny, we get a lot of little moments like that and it fits in well with the whole story. Like with the previous two Bond films, Skyfall is another personal story but not in the way that you’d initially expect. Yes we do get some of Craig’s version of Bond’s backstory (which by the way only elevates Daniel Craig’s Bond above others even more as he’s given more of a character than other James Bonds) but that’s not the focus, it’s actually on M and her connection with Silva, the main villain. It’s actually balanced out all very well, the emotion, the nostalgia, the entertainment, everything fits in together really well.

Daniel Craig is again great as James Bond, both in the action scenes and the drama scenes. Bond in this film is shown to be not at the top of his game as he once was. This is especially shown in the first act and it makes for an interesting new take for Bond, who usually always at least seems like he’s on top of everything. There’s a moment in the third act where he’s particularly great and it’s one of the only times that James Bond has truly shown emotion. With Skyfall, Judi Dench as M is more focussed on than any other James Bond movie with M in it and it was actually done really well, and Dench as usual absolutely delivers. While some of Bond’s backstory is shown in Skyfall, the story is more personally tied to M and the villain. Judi Dench’s M here is given much more to do than just being James Bond’s boss. The film did a great job sending off Judi Dench as M. Javier Bardem as Silva ranks among the best of the Bond villains. He really works as not just a Bond villain but as a movie villain in itself. He shows up halfway through the movie and yet makes a memorable first impression, is a force of nature and a real presence right up until the very end. He’s damaged, deranged and yet also has an understandable motive, one that’s not looking for money or for control. Silva is one of, if not the best Bond villain. Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny (it’s been 6 years so I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that her character all that time is secretly Moneypenny) is great and she kills it in her role. I almost want a spin off movie with her character, Harris has shown herself to be great and convincing in the role. Along with Moneypenny being brought to the Craig Era Bondverse we have the introduction of Q played by Ben Whishaw, a much younger Q especially compared to all the previous versions but it really works well, and Whishaw is really good. Ralph Fiennes is also a good addition to the movie (he would eventually take over as M in the next films). Bérénice Lim Marlohe is good in her scenes but isn’t really used enough in the movie, she’s really the only cast member who isn’t used to her fullest potential in their role in the movie.

Sam Mendes was a great pick for a James Bond film, this movie is directed absolutely wonderfully. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is absolutely masterful as always, there are many shots and sequences that look absolutely beautiful. Skyfall is by far the best looking James Bond film and it might even be the best directed. The action scenes are all pretty great, they aren’t as outrageous and over the top as some other Bond films but they are really great. From the opening scene in Istanbul that has (a car chase, to a motorbike chase to a fight on top of a train), to the fiery climax, all of it is executed very well. For example, there is a fight scene taking place in a building in Shanghi and it looks absolutely wonderful with the silhouettes, the lighting and everything, one of the best directed James Bond scenes ever. I have to say, after watching Quantum of Solace not too long ago its very satisfying to watch a James Bond movie where the editing is at a level of quality where you can actually see what’s happening during action sequences. The titular song used during the opening credits by Adele was also great and really suited the movie. Speaking of music, Thomas Newman’s score for Skyfall is great, unlike some scores where it just accompanies the scenes well, it also elevated many of the scenes in Skyfall.

Skyfall is by far one of the best James Bond films, if not the best. It has a great personal story that is grounded in reality yet is fun to watch, it has one of the best Bond villains in Javier Bardem and is probably the best directed film in the series’s 50+ year run. Sam Mendes and the cast and crew did an excellent job in delivering an entertaining and emotionally satisfying experience. We can only hope that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film with No Time to Die will at least be at the level of either this or Casino Royale.

Official Secrets (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Keira Knightley as Katharine Gun
Matt Smith as Martin Bright
Matthew Goode as Peter Beaumont
Rhys Ifans as Ed Vulliamy
Adam Bakri as Yasar Gun
Indira Varma as Shami Chakrabarti
Ralph Fiennes as Ben Emmerson
Director: Gavin Hood

One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on U.N. Security Council members to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press.

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Although there wasn’t a lot of widespread attention given towards Official Secrets, I had been hearing a small amount of positive buzz for it. The premise certainly sounded intriguing, as was the cast assembled for it, so I was interested in checking it out for sure. Having finally seen it, I can confirm that Official Secrets is really good, a tightly directed political thriller, and I don’t know why it’s not receiving much more attention. Worth watching for sure.

Admittedly, Official Secrets starts off a little slow to begin with. It even takes a while for the information to leak and then be published in the story. From that point onwards however, the movie really picked up from being pretty good, to really good. It shows the perspectives of Katharine Gun, who leaked the information, as well as the journalists who break the news. As someone who never knew about this story, it was very interesting and most of all informative watching all of it unfold on screen. It is maddening watching this at times as you see what happened, as it should be given that this really happened in real life, and the story is told as honestly as possible. It’s quite easy for big budget political thrillers about real life stories like this to make up things about what happened just for dramatic purposes. However from what I can tell, it stays as true to the real life story as it possibly can. In the second half it becomes really tense, but it never overplays it, it feels very grounded in reality. Now it is definitely more informative than entertaining, while it’s not one of the most gruelling watches or anything, it’s not exactly fun to watch. But as that type of political thriller, it really succeeds well.

The talented cast all do a great job and are among the highlights of Official Secrets. The main lead is that of Keira Knightley, who gives one of her best performances of her career as Katharine Gun, she’s very believable in her role. However it’s not just her who works, the movie also has Matt Smith and Matthew Goode as journalists, Ralph Fiennes as Katharine’s new lawyer, Adam Bakri as Katharine’s husband, and others like Rhys Ifans and Conleth Hall. All of them play their roles believably, and they really added to the movie.

Gavin Hood directs this very well, it’s a great looking movie and it’s been put together solidly. As I previously said, the scenes of tension are quite effective, without being too overbearing and overblown. It’s all directed at the right level required for the story really, keeping your interest and attention without trying to make it flashy or pretty for the audience.

Official Secrets is one of the most overlooked movies of the year, and it really should be seen by more people. It’s directed and written well, the cast are great, particularly Keira Knightley, and it’s an important story that needs to be known and seen. Watch it for the performances at the very least. Definitely don’t miss it, and see it as soon as you can.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Supernatural themes & violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter series. With it being the 8th film in the series and with a huge fanbase behind it (both from the book and the movie), there was a lot of hype behind it, thankfully it really delivered. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fantastic and emotionally satisfying ending to the series.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a somewhat easy task, outside of the Gringotts Bank scene, most of the movie is one big final battle. But it still had the task of bringing everything together to deliver a fantastic conclusion, and I think it was effective in how they did that. It took just about all of the main plot points and characters and concluded them in a conclusive and satisfying way. As all Harry Potter films are like, things are different from the books. Some things like the final fight between Harry and Voldemort, I didn’t mind even though I know it was criticised from being different from the book. The book didn’t have much of a fight and was mostly a long conversation, so this version works better for a movie (though I agree that it would’ve been nice if there was more dialogue between the two). However the way it ends for Voldemort was a little underwhelming and cliché, and there should’ve been more of a transition between that scene and the next scene. There are some changes that I don’t think were great, like what happened with the Elder Wand at the end of the film. However there wasn’t really anything too much that ruined the experience. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest of the Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it was the right length. It is long enough but it also gets to the point and main points of the story.

All the cast did a great job and served their purpose well. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are all great again, and all get to do major things in the movie. Like in Part 1, a lot of the supporting characters are pushed to the back and there’s so many of them but they all do great. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and more all do fantastic in their roles here. We also get to see the full character of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. He’s not in a ton of scenes but he is fantastic in them and deliver on some of the best scenes of the movie. Ralph Fiennes is once again great as Voldemort, still throwing himself into a rather pure evil role, but playing it so convincingly and with so much menace that it kind of works. He’s a little over the top at some points, particularly in one scene in the third act before the final confrontation, but I can’t see Voldemort being portrayed any better than how Fiennes did it.

The direction by David Yates is once again great. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the most action in the series, we see a lot of wizard battles and destruction and it’s all handled really well. The visual effects are outstanding and still 7 years later look pretty good. The action scenes are entertaining and you can feel the weight behind everything that happens. Alexandre Desplat did a great score for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and I’m glad to see him do the score for Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well, elevating so much of the movie over what it already is.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers on what it is supposed to. It’s entertaining, emotionally satisfying and brings the series to a close in the best way possible. It’s biggest flaws are the ending of one of the scenes in the third act and some of the differences between the book and the movie, and the latter is an issue with every single movie in the series, which only speaks to how fantastic of a movie it is.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Griphook
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
John Hurt as Garrick Ollivander
Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Director: David Yates

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.

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I’m aware that Deathly Hallows Part 1 gets a bit of a bad rap but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s a part 1 of a story, and is really seen as just setup for the second half. However this might be one of the best films in the long running series. Director David Yates once again does a great job, he takes advantage of having the story in two parts, utilising it well, adding some character development to the main characters. It does drag a bit especially in the second act but most of it really works.

The movie is quite dark, definitely the darkest of the movie series (though it doesn’t have as many depressing moments like in Half-Blood Prince) and you really feel the stakes throughout. There are little spots of brightness, just enough so that the movie isn’t overwhelmingly dark but not too much that you forget what’s at stake in the wizarding world. Splitting the books up into two really was a wise decision, it’s not the longest book in the series but it is a very big story and a whole lot happens, and so the more screentime given to the story, the better. It also allows David Yates and everyone else working on the movie to take their time with telling the story, you couldn’t do the entire Deathly Hallows book in one 4 hour long movie, and if one was to do that it wouldn’t be as good as what they have done here. Splitting the movie into two parts also gives more time to these characters and we get to know them a lot more and see them go through a lot of change. Deathly Hallows Part 1 really does feel like a Part 1 of a story and a setup for a big climax, however it’s not like other YA movies that have their last book split into two parts, it doesn’t feel like it’s padding out time. Yes, the second act does drag a little bit, especially when they are in the forest and not really doing anything, but it doesn’t drag too much, and as I said these moments are often used for character moments. The third act is done really well, very dark and tense and ending it on a pretty good note that sets it up for the last instalment in the franchise. Again, book changes are apparent, most of them don’t bother me. The movie does a good job at simplifying some of the things that happen and cutting out some of the unnecessary bits. With that said, Deathly Hallows Part 1 does have the singularly most obnoxious book to movie change, it’s to do with how Wormtail (Timothy Spall) is dealt with at the end, if you’ve read the books you know exactly what I’m talking about. Had they changed it to how the book did it, it would’ve taken up a minute at most and would’ve been a very dark and impactful scene. However they instead used that moment as a joke. It’s not movie-breaking but it’s nonetheless really irksome. Also a tad glaring is a bit involving a mirror, in the books its established in Order of the Phoenix, but here in the movie it just comes out of nowhere with no explanation for what it is and how it got there.

The acting once again was great. The dynamic between Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) was great and they give some of the best performances of their characters in the series. Since the movie is just them focussing on hunting down the Horcruxes we get to see them very prominently throughout the movie; we see them come together and get into conflicts as they struggle to complete this seemingly impossible task. A lot of the side characters are pushed to the background (because of how many they are and the fact that most of the movie is just focussed on the main 3) but they all do great, whether that be Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange or Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. One casting decision which wasn’t that great was Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. Ifans is a good actor but he feels a little too over the top, even if he’s only in a couple scenes. Also while it’s a decent casting decision, Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour (the new Minister of Magic) is really only in a couple scenes here (having about the same screentime as in the book). He was introduced in the Half-Blood Prince book and they should have done the same as with the movie (this is more of a criticism with Half Blood Prince than Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Direction by David Yates really works once again for the Harry Potter movies. The cinematography is a little brighter than in Half-Blood Prince so you can actually easily see anything, however is dark enough that it fits with the tone of the story. The production design, CGI and other technical aspects are greatly handled as well. There is a storytelling scene close to the third act that is done really well with the visual style and animation. One scene that had some issues with its direction was a chase scene in the forest scene, it was really shaky and it was hard to see what was going on. I know I brought it up in other Harry Potter reviews but it is absolutely jarring how different the time period is, because some of the locations are rather modern looking at times. Not a huge problem but definitely something that stands out. The score for the movie is done by Alexandre Desplat this time and it was truly fantastic, adding a lot to the movie.

I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. It is quite bleak at times, and drags in some moments but ultimately it does achieve what it sets out to do, and makes for one of the best movies in the Harry Potter series. The story being in two parts may not be something that a lot of people like, but I think that overall ended up improving the films.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and fantasy horror.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.

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After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next film in the series would have yet another different director, that being David Yates, who would of course go on to direct all the future Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Order of the Phoenix does suffer by having a lot of cuts to the story and not having enough of the story from the book, but the movie is nonetheless very solid and rather underrated (at least to me). It’s has some truly great moments, and it does successfully pull off adapting the longest book into one of the shortest movies.

Tonally, this film does feel brighter than the past two movies but it does signify that some things are in the process of changing in the world. Now I hadn’t read Order in the Phoenix for a long time but it’s well known that it’s the longest book in the series, and so there’s no doubt a ton of things that were cut, and you can really feel it watching the movie. It does have one of the problems that Goblet of Fire has, that being that some story points, character depth and development is seemingly not in the movie, and it would’ve really improved this film. There are also some parts which are only shown briefly which it would’ve been nice to go into a little more. The biggest example is that Harry training Dumbledore’s Army is like shown in 2 montages, they are effective in the movie and get the point across, but nonetheless it would’ve been nice to explore it a little more. With that said, the movie does have some effective scenes, an example being the scenes between Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), which are among the best scenes of the film. Compared to most of the Harry Potter movies, it’s not as long, so another 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) might’ve added to the story a bit. Order of the Phoenix would’ve always had this problem as a movie though, with it being the longest story in the book series, really the only way to encapsulate the stories from the books is to make it a tv series, so credit to the directors is due for trying their best. Thankfully though, unlike Goblet of Fire, the movie doesn’t extend or add a bunch of pointless things to the movie (or at the very least I didn’t notice it). The opening moments of Order of the Phoenix is a little clunky, with it being quite possibly having the worst opening scenes of the movies. The Dursleys are more the top than usual, the dementors had a jarring downgrade in design, it introduces characters that don’t get any development whatsoever, and is just really rushed. After the first 15-20 minutes, things improve from there though. The movie is just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, making it the second shortest of the Harry Potter movies and while I did wish it was a little longer so that we could’ve gotten more of the plot and characters, it never felt overlong and the pace was always consistent (even if it did at times rush through some things).

Acting is quite good all around. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are great and all get to do stuff in the movie. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is particularly great, delivering his strongest performance in the series up to this point, Harry goes through some character development so Radcliffe gets a lot to do here. The returning cast are great as well. Gary Oldman is once again fantastic as Sirius Black, he and Radcliffe share some great scenes together. Though some characters like Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) are a little underutilised, they are still good in their roles. Michael Gambon with Order of the Phoenix starts to really fully settle into the role of Dumbledore, still different from Richard Harris’s but works nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes as usual is great as Voldemort, he’s not in the movie a lot (mostly just in the third act) but he’s a constant screen presence from start to finish, even when he’s not on screen. There are some good additions to the movie, I liked the casting choices, but some got to do more than others. Out of all the scene stealers in this movie, the most prominent one is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, the character was even more hated than Voldemort and Staunton absolutely kills this role, bringing this loathed character to the big screen. She’s essentially the main villain for most of the movie, she is such a big screen presence and invokes such a response from audiences. Pretty much everything about her character in this movie they nailed. Also a new great addition was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who throws herself completely into her insane role. You mostly just see her in the third act, but she makes a great impression.

Director David Yates takes over as the next Harry Potter director, and he was a good pick. So much so that he was given pretty much the rest of the Harry Potter movies and the entirety of the Fantastic Beasts series to direct. The movie does have a good look to it, the production design, the visuals and the whole look of the world is really good. You do get to see quite a lot more magic in this story and it was done really well. This is the first Harry Potter movie where we really get to see Wizard Duels in all of their glory, and it was shown very well. The third act particularly has a ton of magic and battles (Dumbledore vs Voldemort was especially a highlight) and it’s really great to see. One minor thing that stands out is the look of the Dementors early in the movie, who look like skeletons with a bit of cloth and aren’t as effective as the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban and look rather goofy instead. Granted they are on screen for less than a minute. The score by Nicholas Hooper is also pretty good.

Order of the Phoenix starts off quite clunky but it really does improve over time and is overall a solid Harry Potter movie. It’s biggest issue is that it is missing some things from the book that would’ve improved the plot had they been included them. With that said, it’s also got a lot of great things, with wizard duels, not feeling overlong and having some really great scenes. I also feel like with Order of the Phoenix, the series got the right setup, tone and portrayal of the world right, which is probably why Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates to direct all the Harry Potter/Wizarding World movies.