Tag Archives: Rooney Mara

The Social Network (2010) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg
Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin
Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker
Armie Hammer as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Max Minghella as Divya Narendra
Brenda Song as Christy Lee
Rashida Jones as Marylin Delpy
Rooney Mara as Erica Albright
Director: David Fincher

In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns into the global social network known as Facebook. Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever, but Zuckerberg finds that his unprecedented success leads to both personal and legal complications when he ends up on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one involving his former friend (Andrew Garfield). Based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires.”

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

A story about Facebook could easily be done poorly. It doesn’t sound very interesting on paper and even if it could be pulled off decently enough, it doesn’t seem like it could be anything better than just good. And yet The Social Network is more than just a decent movie, it is truly great and better than anyone would expect it to be. David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and the talented cast and crew made the story of Facebook riveting and fantastic, it’s even better upon a second viewing and I suspect it will only get better with further watches.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is excellent and one of the stand out best parts of the film, and that’s saying a lot. The dialogue is so well written, very sharp, memorable, riveting and fits perfectly for the moments, Sorkin is known for his exceptional dialogue and his work on Social Network is no exception. It is fantastic from the beginning, the opening scene between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) is brilliant and helps establish so many things about Mark and it sets him off on his path for the rest of the movie. It’s interesting watching all the events progress, and how things in Mark Zuckerberg’s life would lead him to make actions to take Facebook further. You wouldn’t think that a movie about Facebook would be so interesting and entertaining to watch but it really is, you are genuinely on board with everything that’s happening. It’s like we are right there watching history happen right alongside these characters. What Mark started was something small and grew into something that not even Mark was expecting. Really fantastic writing by Sorkin.

The cast all around were great in their roles. I’m fully aware that some people don’t really like Jesse Eisenberg’s acting style but he was perfect in the role of Mark Zuckerberg. The portrayal of Zuckerberg is great, it doesn’t try to make you like him, just to show what he is like. Andrew Garfield is also really great as Mark’s friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin and his performance was really overlooked, especially by the awards. A big part of the movie is their friendship and they have great chemistry together. Armie Hammer plays two people as the Winklevosses (Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss) and really does give one of his best performances here, being really convincing as two twins. Even Justin Timberlake was really good as Sean Parker, really fitting the role well. Rooney Mara is only in a couple scenes but she does well to leave an impression as Mark’s ex-girlfriend, especially in the first scene of the film. Really everyone was great.

Saying that David Fincher’s direction is great would be redundant, it’s just so stylish and well put together. You wouldn’t think that a movie about Facebook would even need to look that great. On paper, The Social Network just sounded like it needed a good script and an okay direction but Fincher’s handle really adds a lot to the movie. I don’t know where Fincher used all the visual effects in this movie, but he generally uses these in his movies to make things look better like the environment or background. One effect that you can tell was used was the effects for making two Armie Hammers, and I say this because Armie Hammer doesn’t have a twin or a clone (that we know of yet at least). Even though it’s a film from 2010, these effects still really hold up well today and look effortless. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross was excellent, and with it’s dark ambience really elevated this movie even further.

The Social Network is truly fantastic and yet another one of David Fincher’s all time best films, and that means quite a lot when it comes to him. The talented cast all give tremendous performances, Aaron Sorkin’s writing is top notch, and Fincher with his work here has made one of his best crafted films. It gets better every single time I watch it. As for all these talks about a possible Social Network sequel, as long as Fincher and Sorkin are returning for it, I’d be more than on board for it.

Mary Magdalene (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast
Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene
Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter
Tahar Rahim as Judas
Director: Garth Davis

MARY MAGDALENE is an authentic and humanistic portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. The biblical biopic tells the story of Mary (Rooney Mara), a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the hierarchies of the day, Mary defies her traditional family to join a new social movement led by the charismatic Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). She soon finds a place for herself within the movement and at the heart of a journey that will lead to Jerusalem.

Mary Magdalene was a movie I was curious about. Director Garth Davis’s previous movie Lion was pretty good but most of all, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor, all fantastic actors, were involved in the movie. It definitely had a lot of potential. At the same time, I was sceptical. The film was pushed back quite a bit (from late 2017 to March 2018) and the trailers didn’t look all that great. Also I don’t really like biblical movies. Despite everything, I gave the film a shot. Overall Mary Magdalene is fine but has a lot of issues and the story isn’t always interesting and drags from time to time. The performances from the talented cast are the best parts of the movie. Mary Magdalene isn’t great but not as bad as what has been said about it.

Mary Magdalene is a 2 hour movie but it feels much longer than that. The thing that really stood out to me is that the first act really dragged. Once Mary leaves her family to follow Jesus, the story picked up noticeably. After that point, the movie went in and out from being interesting to not really interesting me that much. Honestly I don’t have too much to say about the story to be honest. It has its strong moments and it has its weak moments. So overall, the actual story is a bit of a mixed bag. As for whether any of it will cause controversy (due to it being a religious movie), storywise I don’t know for sure but nothing particularly stood out to me. It had a more human take, which I think will make the movie slightly more accessible to those who aren’t really a fan of biblical movies.

The thing about Mary Magdalene that mainly had my interest was the cast and they all did a good job really. Rooney Mara was quite good as the titular character. Her performance is quite subtle yet very emotional and she as usual brings her A-game to this role. Joaquin Phoenix was also pretty good as a very different and weird version of Jesus to say the least. It’s not one of Phoenix’s best performances, he has definitely done a lot better than this, some of the time I’m not sure what he was doing. He also did mumble way too much and it was often difficult to hear what he was saying. Rooney and Joaquin shared great chemistry together and that was one of the highlights of the film. The supporting cast shouldn’t be left out of the praise, actors like Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim do well with what they have, those two in particularly were really good.

Garth Davis did a pretty good job overall directing Mary Magdalene. Much of the movie is pretty small and intimate throughout. In fact there was one moment later on which contained a wide shot of Jerusalem that was very jarring because most of the movie felt pretty small. With that said, MM does have its fair share of visually appealing moments and the locations worked quite well. Johann Johannsson also did a pretty good score, his final score, worth noting.

Mary Magdalene isn’t that great of a movie and it has a number of issues but it’s not bad by any means. It has some great performances, Garth Davis’s direction is good and it does have some genuinely good moments. But it does have its fair share of issues and can really drag. If you are a big fan of Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix give it a watch, otherwise maybe check it out if you have nothing else to watch, it’s not really one to rush out to see as soon as possible.

Song to Song (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast
Ryan Gosling as BV
Michael Fassbender as Cook
Rooney Mara as Faye
Natalie Portman as Rhonda
Cate Blanchett as Amanda
Lykke Li as Lykke
Val Kilmer as Duane
Bérénice Marlohe as Zoey
Holly Hunter as Miranda
Director: Terrence Malick

Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress (Natalie Portman) whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Song to Song was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. I admit I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know what to expect. The main attraction to me was the talented cast but even though I liked director Terrence Malick’s films Badlands and Tree of Life, I wasn’t really a fan of Knight of Cups. He has a very unconventional directional style which really makes him stand out, for better or for worse. Fortunately, I liked Song to Song, it seems that Malick had backed off from his style that he indulged in too much in Knight of Cups.

Song to Song, like most Terrence Malick films is very unconventional. It didn’t bother me as much, probably because I had recently seen Knight of Cups, which was way more arty than what we have with Song to Song. I think the reason why Song to Song worked for me more than Knight of Cups is because the main characters had personalities and characters of their own. In Knight of Cups, the supporting characters have more personality than the protagonist, and they usually only appeared in brief segments before disappearing. Here though, the main characters played by Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender have actual characters to work with. On top of that, unlike Knight of Cups, it’s not just a whole bunch of ideas thrown together, there is sort of a story (though not a very conventional or straightforward one at that). It doesn’t have much of a structure, it jumps between time periods and characters so it can be quite jarring and confusing. Despite how jarring and drawn out it could be at times, it had my attention. After a while it does tire you out, I wasn’t necessarily bored but the sequences often take a long time, it requires a lot of patience.

With Song to Song, Terrence Malick again has a great cast and fortunately this time they are actually utilised well. Apparently there was no script for this movie, so it’s a real credit to the actors for the performances that they gave. Rooney Mara is a standout, if there’s a main lead of this movie it would be her. Mara hasn’t really played this type of role before, and she is great here. Mara proves herself to be one of the best actresses working today. Ryan Gosling was also good, a lot of the main relationships that are focussed on most involve both Gosling and Mara and the two of them have really good chemistry. Michael Fassbender is also a standout in every scene he’s in, he really was a screen presence here and was great. Natalie Portman isn’t in it a lot but she is really great in the screentime she gets and made quite an impression. Other supporting actors like Cate Blanchett are also good in their screentime and make an impression. Other actors like Holly Hunter and Val Kilmer are very much just cameos in the movie and don’t really get to do much.

The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (who has worked on many Terrence Malick films) is great and beautiful, like with all Terrence Malick films. Malick also encapsulated the music scene in Texas quite well. Terence Malick is also known for his odd editing, there have even been actors in his films who were cut out of the final product (Christian Bale for example was originally in this movie). So I had come to accept that there would be some odd editing here, however there was a bit of a problem here that wasn’t present in Tree of Life or even Knight of Cups. A lot of the times there are no scene transitions, so it would jump from one scene to the other and it feels clunky and messy, it doesn’t even feel like a stylistic decision. It jumps in time periods and locations and even if that was intentional, the way it was done was very off putting and isn’t particularly smooth. It felt like an amateur filmmaker editing these scenes and not a fully established filmmaker.

Song to Song is not for everyone and I can understand why a lot of people don’t like it. The film did drag as it went along and the editing was quite jarring and clunky. However there were a lot of aspects that really worked, especially the cinematography and its great performances from its talented cast (Mara and Fassbender being the standouts). As someone who liked Tree of Life and didn’t really like Knight of Cups that much, I liked Song to Song. I can’t tell whether you’ll like it or not but if you are familiar with Malick’s other films, I’d say give this a chance.

A Ghost Story (2017) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Casey Affleck as C
Rooney Mara as M
Director: David Lowery

In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife (Rooney Mara).

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

A Ghost Story was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, mostly because of Rooney Mara’s involvement. David Lowery is a good director, giving us Pete’s Dragon and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which were very solid movies. He reunited with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara (who he worked with on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) to create a secret independent low budget film, which happens to be A Ghost Story. I had honestly no idea what to expect going in. After seeing it finally, I have to say that A Ghost Story is a very odd movie, I can’t really compare it to any other film I’ve ever seen. Talking about this movie is difficult, because its much more of an experience than a movie. I’m not entirely sure what I watched but I can say that I liked it a lot.

As pretentious and cliché as it sounds, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie, its an experience. This movie has a very slow pace, and despite it being under 90 minutes long it can feel very long. Some scenes can go on for a long time (sometimes nothing at all is happening) but for some reason, I was still glued to the screen. There is an infamous scene involving a pie, which will ultimately will be the tester of patience for audiences. There’s also not much dialogue, in fact most of the dialogue of the whole movie takes place closer to the middle of the movie in just one scene in one monologue. That monologue without giving anything away is really something great. This film isn’t structured like a conventional movie, it doesn’t have 3 acts. It’s just following Casey Affleck’s character (who most of the time is in ghost form). As for how I actually felt about A Ghost Story, I don’t actually know what to really say. It’s very hard to describe my thoughts and feelings from it. I definitely felt something indescribable, I wouldn’t say that I was overwhelmed by it like some of the other people who have seen it though. Oddly enough I wasn’t bored once, I was completely invested in the story that David Lower was telling. I honestly can’t say that I completely know what I think of the movie overall. I might need to watch it again at some point, maybe then I’ll really get the full effect of it. What I can say is that it is a unique movie and that I was intrigued from start to finish and watching it truly was an experience.

Even though its not the focus of the movie, we get some great performances here. Rooney Mara is unsurprisingly fantastic here, she really is one of the best actresses working today. She does so well in her small screentime. She’s so convincing as someone who is in grief, the aforementioned pie scene is an example of this, the scene partly worked so well because of Rooney’s acting (on another note, this scene is one of the best representations of grief in a movie). It’s the subtlety that she infuses into her performance, her subtle facial expressions allow you to tell what her character is thinking and feeling without having to say anything. Casey Affleck does good work here, most of the time he’s under a sheet (it really is Casey under the sheet for at least the majority of the ghost’s screentime) and not saying anything but he does very well.

This film is shot in 1:33:1, so the film seemed to be in a somewhat squared frame. It somehow worked for the movie, giving it an old timely look. There are so many long unbroken takes, sometimes nothing is happening at all but for some reason I never got bored or got annoyed. There’s something so real and lonely about some of the long takes makes it so effective. The decision to have the ghost as just a figure under a bed sheet sounds incredibly silly and goofy but there’s some melancholic about it that makes it work surprisingly well. It doesn’t feel silly at all. The production design, for a low budget film ($100,000 to be precise) was actually quite good. It mostly just takes place inside this one house and it helps to convey this feeling of confinement. The transition of time was also created and edited well, making the shift in time feel seemless. The score by Daniel Hart is great, one of the best scores of the year. There’s something about David Lowery’s direction that makes the film work so well and I can’t quite pin down what it is just yet.

A Ghost Story isn’t for everyone, I can understand people who don’t really like it. It’s very slow and unconventional. As for me, although it is difficult for me to describe how I felt about the movie, upon further thought it just might be one of the best films of the year. I can see myself revisiting it and potentially appreciating it much more. I recommend seeing it but it’s not a movie that you can enjoy while having expectations, which is why I’m not telling you to expect anything. Just give it a chance, you may end up having one of the most unique and emotional experiences with a movie ever.

Una (2017) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Una Spencer
Ben Mendelsohn as Ray Brooks
Ruby Stokes as Young Una Spencer
Indira Varma as Sonia
Tara Fitzgerald as Andrea
Tobias Menzies as Mark
Riz Ahmed as Scott
Natasha Little as Yvonne
Director: Benedict Andrews

With deeply unresolved questions about her past, Una (Rooney Mara) travels to another city, turning up unannounced at Ray’s (Ben Mendelsohn) work and dredging up a decade-old experience that he thought he’d left behind.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Una was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016 (however it only really came out for the general audience in 2017). It was mainly the talent involved that had be interested, with Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, with that level of talent I was interested in seeing their performances (and I’m pretty much willing to watch anything that Rooney Mara is in). Having finally seen Una, I can say that the film is pretty decent on its own, with its direction and writing. But it’s the performances that really makes this movie worth watching.

This film feels like a play, which is fitting since it was based off a play called Blackbird by David Harrower (who also adapted the play into the screenplay for Una). This movie’s pace is very steady and with that slow pace, the movie does lose my interest at points. The film really excels in the scenes between Rooney and Ben and every single one of them are riveting (I’ll get into them later). The scenes that aren’t between them are hit or miss, most of them are fine, but some of them just weren’t as interesting as a lot of the other scenes. You also really need to know that that this is a dialogue driven movie, there’s a lot of scenes where characters would just sit or stand and just talk for a long time. As for how it portrays the paedophile aspect, I personally think it was handled well, you don’t see any of the actions on screen (thankfully) but you hear Una and Ray mention what happened, and the film doesn’t shy away from this disturbing subject matter. It was balanced suitably. Aside from the pacing and some of the less interesting scenes, one other criticism I have is that the ending is a little jarring and sudden. I have a feeling that I know what they were going for but it nonetheless felt a little unsatisfying, perhaps that was what they were intending.

The highlights of Una as I stated before are the performances. First of all we have Rooney Mara delivering one of her best performances yet with Una, and considering the performances she’s given (especially The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carol), that is saying a lot. Una is a complicavted person, when she tracks down Ray we don’t know her intentions, and that ambigiouty is shown so well by Mara. Every delivery of her lines, every expression and especially the way she conveys so many emotions through just a look, without even needing to say anything is simply excellent. It’s quite frankly a perfect performance. Just as good is Ben Mendelsohn who gives quite possibly his best performance yet. He doesn’t have an easy job, he’s playing a paedophile after all. The filmmakers and Mendelsohn present Ray as human as possible, which to be honest is the only way to really portray this character. Had this not been handled right it could’ve failed badly, but along with the way he’s presented, Ben Mendelsohn truly is incredible in this role, his performance was just as perfect as Rooney’s. The interactions between Rooney and Ben are the highlights of the movie, they shared excellent chemistry and worked off each other incredibly well. Ruby Stokes plays young Una in flashbacks and she is very good in her role, definitely deserves some praise as well. Riz Ahmed is in this movie and while he is good in his role, ultimately his role could be played by anyone.

This film is the directional debut of Benedict Andrews, he is a theatre director and you can really see that, not just in the way the dialogue is presented but the way the film is edited and directed. This film doesn’t have a flashy direction but that’s good, it doesn’t take away from the focus on the actors. Una is also shot very well, I don’t have any issues with the cinematography. The soundtrack, while not that spectacular does give a lot of the scenes an eerie vibe. In fact a lot of the scenes have an eerie, haunting vibe, from the music, to the camera shots, to the editing, and that helped to make many of the scenes tense, even when nothing is happening.

Una is pretty well written and directed well but really the best reason to see Una is for the performances. Both Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn given some of their best performances to date and are absolutely phenomenal. If you can handle the lurid subject matter, I recommend giving Una a watch. I’m not quite sure if I would call it a great movie but it has a lot of great aspects to it, especially the excellent acting.

Pan (2015) Review

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Levi Miller as Peter Pan
Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard
Garrett Hedlund as James Hook
Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily
Adeel Akhtar as Sam “Smee” Smiegel
Nonso Anozie as Bishop
Amanda Seyfried as Mary
Kathy Burke as Mother Barnabas
Lewis MacDougall as Nibs
Jack Charles as Chief Great Little Panther
Cara Delevingne as the Mermaids
Director: Joe Wright

Living a bleak existance at a London orphanage, 12 year old Peter (Levi Miller) finds himself whisked away to the fantastical world of Neverland. Adventure awaits as he meets new friend James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). They must band together to save Neverland from the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Along the way the rebellious and mischievious boy discovers his true destiny, becoming the hero forever known as Peter Pan.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Pan looked like it had a lot of potential, so I was a little disappointed when it was ‘panned’ by most people, because I was really curious to check it out. After seeing this much hated movie, I have to say that it is… okay. I’m not going to act like it’s a great movie, I’m not even sure I’d consider it good. It has many questionable aspects of it. But at the same time it has some things that I like with a couple of the actors, the action and the general feel, I didn’t really feel bored throughout. It’s a passable movie.

The story for Pan is not very good. This movie tries to force in a prophecy story for Peter Pan and it is completely unnecessary for it to do this (and its completely cliché). You’ve seen this story before and you’ve seen it done better. Also this film just has some random moments, such as the infamous moments when people start singing “Smells Like Teen’s Spirit” and “Blitzkreig Bop”. I’m guessing that director Joe Wright wanted to be unique by blending modern elements into this story but it just felt incredibly out of place. This movie is basically the first instalment of a trilogy for the origin story for Peter Pan. Unfortunately because this movie flopped and was panned, the sequels were cancelled, so looking at the ending of this movie now is like looking at the last scenes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But even in this movie, there are some elements that didn’t work that well. For example, at no point does Hook feel like he could become the villain Captain Hook in the future. There’s never a dark edge to him. Despite this and countless other issues with the movie, it was still watchable, if annoying at times with the constant amount of times they didn’t do things right. I was reasonably entertained throughout, I wasn’t really bored at any point. So at least if you are just wanting an above average family action fantasy film that’s entertaining enough, you’ve got that with Pan.

Levi Miller is playing Peter Pan and he is trying his best here but I have a feeling he wasn’t given enough direction, he was okay overall. The reason to see this movie is Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, he absolutely steals the show, chewing up scenery in every single scene he’s in. Jackman is effortlessly entertaining in this movie and was used to his fullest potential (in that he was effective as a fun, over the top villain)/ A controversial casting decision was Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily (I didn’t have an opinion on it since this is the first time I’ve seen Tiger Lily in anything). All I will say is that Rooney Mara was good in this movie, probably one of the best performances in this movie alongside Jackman. Her choreography in her action scenes was also great. I will say that she did feel kind of out of place, she still acted well in her role. If there’s a negative acting wise I will say that it’s Garrett Hedlund as Hook. Hedlund is a fine actor but he’s not good here, he is kinda over the top in the annoying kind of way, and as I said earlier there were no hints of villanouy in him, so it’s hard to buy him becoming Peter Pan’s adversary in the future. Oh and Cara Delevingne shows up in a 1 minute cameo as twin mermaids, which was kind of pointless.

The direction of Pan was a bit of a mixed bag overall. A lot of the style and world of Neverland I liked, some of it was hit or miss though. The visual effects are very poor, it looks incredibly fake and embarrassing, especially when it comes to the green screen. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. Aside from that, the action itself was filmed well, with the fight scenes being quite entertaining. The score I will say is great, if only it was used in a much better movie.

Pan is not really that good as a movie but it’s not really bad either. The CGI was very bad, the story wasn’t particularly interesting or special. However I liked Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and the action scenes (minus the effects), I wasn’t that bored throughout, it was passable, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained during it. I say check it out if you’re interested but don’t expect anything great.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and sexual themes.
Cast:
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger
Rooney Mara as Nancy Holbrook
Kyle Gallner as Quentin Smith
Katie Cassidy as Kris Fowles
Thomas Dekker as Jesse Braun
Kellan Lutz as Dean Russell
Director: Samuel Bayer

Teenagers Nancy (Rooney Mara), Quentin (Kyle Gallner), Kris (Katie Cassidy), Jesse (Thomas Dekker) and Dean (Kellan Lutz) are all neighbourhood friends who begin having the same dream of a horribly disfigured man who wears a tattered sweater and a glove made of knives. The man, Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), terrorizes them in their dreams, and the only escape is to wake up. But when one of their number dies violently, the friends realise that what happens in the dream world is real, and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Horror remakes most of the time are just not good at all. One of the examples often given is the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I don’t dislike it as much as other people, I still don’t consider it to be a good remake at all. There are elements that I think are okay, with the acting and certain elements of the direction. But with the uninteresting story, boring characters, lack of any effective scares and excessive of obnoxious jump scares, it is still not enough to elevate it from it being a bad movie.

One of the worst elements about this movie is that it really isn’t that scary, I’ll go into more depth later on about the direction but I’ll just say that constantly having jump scares doesn’t make your movie scary, it actually does the opposite. Along with this movie not being scary, it’s also not that interesting. It’s just hard to care about what’s going on, the characters are so boring, there aren’t many unique elements that could interest me. It generally follows the same story as the original movie, with some minor changes which still aren’t enough to justify it existing. It’s mostly just a retread of the original movie, just done poorly. The only element that is different and new is a plot point which involves insomniacs sometimes dreaming when they are awake, which could’ve lead to some creative scares. However that was just wasted potential, as it’s just used for pointless jumpscares. One controversial element of the remake was the handling of Freddy. Slight spoiler alert but while the first movie had Freddy as more of a child killer, this remake version had him more like a pedophile. Many people said that with this version it’s hard to find Freddy to be likable, though I’m not sure how they’d find the original child killer version to be likable either. However I will say that the pedophile aspect really wasn’t that necessary, the portrayal of Freddy was going to be dark but they didn’t really need to have that element play a role in the movie.

It’s an near impossible job to take on such an iconic role, but Jackie Earle Haley did work pretty well in his version of Freddy Krueger. Gone are the darkly humorous moments from the previous Freddy, this Freddy is dark, creepy and monstrous (which viewers may or may not like). While it didn’t really change my view on this movie immensely, I do appreciate the effort to try something different (however I wish they did a whole lot more changes of the movie as a whole). The supporting cast was fine overall, nothing special but at the same time nothing terrible. They had barely anything to work with so it’s remarkable that the performances weren’t bad. Rooney Mara is in the lead role of Nancy, and she does seem to be playing a different Nancy from the original movie. While an excellent actress, you can still feel the lack of quality in the writing she was given. Her character is written so incredibly boring but Mara does enough to deliver a performance that is at the very least okay. I’ll just say that she is better in the second half more than the first half, probably because then she’s given a lot more to work with.

The direction is such a mixed bag. Some of the shots and cinematography actually are beautiful, the locations whether that be in a boiler room or a snowy location, etc, it looks gorgeous, and like what Nightmare on Elm Street would look like if it was filmed in more recent times. But then again, Max Payne was a beautiful looking movie and it was still a bad movie. Despite the positive aspects, there are some bad aspects as well. This movie does try to call back to the original by imitating certain shots, but it doesn’t feel like they were trying to tribute the movie, it just felt forced. I’m not really sure what to feel about Freddy’s look, the costume is all fine but the fake just looks goofy, fortunately Jackie Earle Haley’s performance is good enough to override it. The worst part of the direction however is when it tries to do its scares. This movie has countless jumpscares, none of them actually end up being scary however. And to make matters worse, many of the scares were just fake (scares with no actual danger), and after being hammered with so many dud scares, the viewing experience becomes even more frustrating. The kill scenes are violent bloody but they aren’t really affecting or that memorable.

The Nightmare on Elm Street remake isn’t complete garbage. There are elements of the direction I liked, I liked Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger and the rest of the cast are okay (at the very least, they are considerably better than acting in most bad horror remakes). Despite this, its not enough to make it a good movie. The remake fails to deliver any effective scares and adding on an uninteresting story, sitting through it almost feels like a chore. However I will give them this, it’s still better than Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

The Discovery (2017) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Isla
Jason Segel as Will Harbor
Jesse Plemons as Toby Harbor
Riley Keough as Lacey
Robert Redford as Thomas Harbor
Director: Charlie McDowell

In the near future, due to a breakthrough scientific discovery by Dr. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), there is now definitive proof of an afterlife. While countless people have chosen suicide to reset their existence, others try to decide what it all means. Among them is Dr. Harbor’s son Will (Jason Segal), who has arrived at his father’s isolated compound with a mysterious young woman named Isla (Rooney Mara). There, they discover the strange acolytes who help Dr. Harbor with his experiments.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The Discovery was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. With its talented cast, its very intriguing premise and trailer, it looked like an interesting and unique movie at the very least. After finally watched this movie, I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. The acting, direction and most of the story was great. There were a couple of aspects which didn’t work well but it’s not enough to affect the overall viewing experience in a major way.

The premise about the aftermath after the discovery of the afterlife is very interesting, and I was invested throughout the entire running time. I never felt bored or confused in the movie (I was however confused at the end but I’ll get to that later). Each twist and turn only increased my curiosity in what direction the film was going in next. For the most part this movie works very well. That’s not to say that everything was as good as it could’ve been. The film does rely on a lot of exposition and while I liked it, I felt like there was too much of it. And then there is the ending… I’m still not sure what I think about it. The ending does add yet another twist to the numerous other twists in the movie. It is such a big twist; however the film doesn’t really allow much time for this twist to play out before the movie ends. The twist itself is one that I’m a little confused about, and I wasn’t sure about what the ending meant. Overall, I guess I sort of liked the ending but I do think it should’ve been handled better.

The acting in this movie is great overall but Rooney Mara delivered the most stand out performance out of everyone. Rooney played her role incredibly well, she also had a lot of humorous moments and lines. Her character was the one I was most interested in throughout. She and Jason Segal played off each other and had great chemistry. Segal was pretty good, however he did feel like a weak link, I’m not sure why it feels that way. Possibly slightly miscast, but he wasn’t bad. Robert Redford is always great, and does have quite a presence here. Other actors like Jason Plemons and Riley Keough were good but they were underused.

The direction and cinematography were great, this film is visually beautiful, both in regard to the way that the film was shot as well as the locations chosen. This film also has this almost eerie feel to it, which is helped by it’s score. I don’t know why but this really made me even more invested and interested in the movie.

The Discovery is very intriguing and interesting throughout. The acting was great (especially from Rooney Mara), the direction by Charlie McDowell is really good, and the story was really riveting. There are some problems I have with the movie, especially with the way they handled the ending but what it gets right, it gets right so well. I definitely recommend giving it a view, it’s now on Netflix. Not everyone loves this movie, but it might just surprise you.

Lion (2016) Review

 

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Sunny Pawar as younger Saroo Brierley
Dev Patel as older Saroo Brierley
Rooney Mara as Lucy
Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley
David Wenham as John Brierley
Director: Garth Davis

Five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo (Dev Patel) sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Lion was a film that I was curious about. I actually saw the 60 minutes article about the real life story this movie was based on and I just knew it would be turned into a movie. Surely enough, that happened with Lion and I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. And it did not disappoint. Lion is a good movie, the acting was great by everyone, the direction was also good but most of all the story is compelling, Lion is definitely worth checking out.

This movie’s first half is of Young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) in India and the second half is of Adult Saroo (Dev Patel) in Australia. While most movies would cut between the past and the present, it decides to tell it’s story chronologically, while the second half has some additional flashbacks. This makes it easier to get a better idea of what Saroo’s feeling in the second half when he’s trying to find his family. It’s very easy to get caught up in the story, I never felt bored watching this movie. The first half of the movie was great. It heavily relies on actor Sunny Pawar and while I’ll get into more detail about him later, I’ll just say that he’s the reason that the first half works so well. It does feel a little jarring when the story witches to the second half. The tone, pace and feel did seem to noticeably change. The second half is still good, it just didn’t feel quite as strong as the first half, though honestly I’m not quite sure what it is. With that said, and the ending is really satisfying, and paid off well.

Newcomer actor Sunny Pawar did amazing work as Young Saroo. This is a kid actor, and Lion is also the first movie he’s been involved in. And we all know that kid actors nowadays are hit or miss. Very impressive performance, he was the stand out in the movie. He’s basically the main star, as the entire first half focusses on him. Most of the time he’s not saying anything, so his reactions and the way he acts has to carry the movie. Dev Patel was also great as adult Saroo. It was a little jarring with the shift to Dev after the first half, but nonetheless he did a good job and it was very easy to buy him in this role. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman also did great work in supporting roles, they definitely added a lot to this movie as well.

Lion was overall a well directed movie by director Garth Davis. This is the first film I’ve seen from him and I can tell from Lion that he’s a solid director. The cinematography is beautiful and the locations also showcased well, whether that be in India or Australia. The music by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka was also good. Generally though, Lion’s highlight wasn’t it’s direction, it’s the story that’s really the highlight.

Lion lived up to expectations with its great acting, solid direction and also a compelling and powerful story. While the switch between the first two halves is a bit of a jarring and the second half of the story isn’t quite as strong as the first half, I still really liked this movie. Lion was a great movie and it’s really worth checking out when you can.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) Review

08.24_film_kubo[1]

Kubo and the Two Strings

Time: 101 minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & scary scenes
Cast:
Art Parkinson as Kubo
Charlize Theron as Monkey
Matthew McConaughey as Beetle
Ralph Fiennes as Raiden the Moon King
Rooney Mara as the Sisters
George Takei as Hosato
Director: Travis Knight

Young Kubo’s (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to unlock a secret legacy. Armed with a magical instrument, Kubo must battle the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

This is a movie that interested me ever since I heard about it, mostly because of the voice acting cast with Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara and Ralph Fiennes involved. Also this film is made by Laika Entertainment, a stopmotion animation studio who’s made quite a few animated movies. Admittedly before this movie the only other film by Laika that I’ve seen was The Box Trolls, which I liked quite a bit. But I know that they are generally well liked with films like Coraline. After seeing Kubo and The Two Strings, I have to say that this is not only my favourite animated movie of the year so far, it is also one of my favourite movies of the whole year. Everything from the story to the animation is so well done. I hope we get more animated films like these.

Kubo-and-the-Two-Strings-final-trailer-image[1]

I found myself invested in the story from start to finish. All things considered, this film is darker and more mature than most animated movies, both in regards to visuals and some of the things that happen during the story. The film is also willing to slow down for some great character and story moments. This is something that I wished more animated films did, be more willing to be a little more different and challenging for children. I do think that children will enjoy Kubo (even if the film might be a little too scary or slow for them) but adults will enjoy it much more.

AR-160819808[2]

The characters for the most part were also written well and were quite memorable. Kubo was a likable and relatable protagonist. The show stealers for me though, were Monkey (Charlize Theron), Beetle (Matthew McConaughey). I guess if we are talking about weak links in regards to characters, it’s the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), the main villain of the film. He’s not written badly but he doesn’t have enough screentime and felt a little weak. He’s fine overall though. I thought the other villain(s), The Sisters (Rooney Mara), Kubo’s aunts who are sent after Kubo were much more effective and memorable, they were also showstealers in the film and I loved watching them when they were on screen.

1500w[1]

If you know Laika, you know that they use a lot of stopmotion animation. I don’t know how it compares to most of their other films as I’ve only seen The Box Trolls but I thought the animation for this movie was absolutely fantastic. This movie is beautiful from start to finish, the environment and locations were great, they really blended CGI and practical work well. The costume designs and actually the designs for everything was fantastic. It’s a very well designed movie overall.

maxresdefault[1]

Kubo and the Two Strings is absolutely fantastic and is one of the best films of the year. From the beautiful animation, to the well written and memorable characters (which is helped by the brilliant voice actors) to a great story, this movie was great at pretty much every level. It also goes further than most children’s animated films, both tonally and structurally. Go out and see this movie as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed.