Tag Archives: Sam Neill

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) Review

4b065bc0ee36d3e4a6545cd253a5105d[1]

Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some Scenes May Scare Very Young Children
Cast:
Jim Sturgess as Soren
Emily Barclay as Gylfie
Ryan Kwanten as Kludd
David Wenham as Digger
Anthony LaPaglia as Twilight
Helen Mirren as Nyra
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb/the Lyze of Kiel
Joel Edgerton as Metal Beak
Hugo Weaving as Noctus and Grimble
Adrienne DeFaria as Eglantine
Miriam Margolyes as Mrs. Plithiver
Sam Neill as Allomere
Sacha Horler as Strix Struma
Abbie Cornish as Otulissa
Richard Roxburgh as Boron
Director: Zack Snyder

A father owl’s tales of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole enthrals his son Soren, but an older son scoffs at the stories of winged warriors who fought an epic battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. Later the brothers become captives of the Pure Ones, but Soren makes a daring escape and, with the help of other young owls, seeks out the Guardians and brings them back to defend their people once again.

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] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

This was actually the first film from Zack Snyder that I watched. It seems like an odd choice for him to direct looking back at his filmography. He’s more known for adapting comic books and graphic novels, not young adult books about animals. While it doesn’t rank among the best movies of his filmography, I thought it was pretty good.

v1[1]

I actually had read the books this movie is based on some time ago, that being the Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. I don’t have a strong memory of the plot in the books, but I recall movie’s plot being roughly similar to that from the novels, however there were some major changes in story and characters. The plot of this movie is quite a simple good and evil story. With that said, it’s darker than most children’s animated movies, and that is one of its biggest strengths. It was a while since I’ve read the books, but parts of the plot and the visuals are darker than you’d usually see. The only problem I have with this is that the tone is a little all over the place, as the humour is a bit unbalanced it has one too many jokes mixed in with this epic story. This movie covers the first 6 books in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole book series, and although the books aren’t that large, there’d be quite a lot of the story to be told in one movie. If it was going to be just one movie, it would probably need to be over 2 hours long to develop the characters and story enough, as well as not feeling a little rushed. As it is, the movie is under an hour and 40 minutes long, and the pacing is a little all over the place. It does feel like the movie doesn’t quite live up to its potential story-wise Also, maybe it’s because much of the movie is more mature than I expected, but I kind of wished for slightly more complexity from the story and characters, even though I know it’s essentially a children’s animated movie. The dialogue is also a little clunky at some points. The movie did leave at a point where it could go further with sequels, but unfortunately we didn’t get any.

9ef2cae489a70adb020fc344c832725f20a8c0cb[1]

The characters aren’t particularly deep and are generally fine, the heroic characters are heroic, the quirky characters are quirky, and the evil characters are evil. I wish the was more to them but they are elevated by the voice cast, with the likes of Jim Sturgess, Emily Barclay, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush and Joel Edgerton, making each of the characters stand out more and more memorable. The villain voiced by Edgerton particularly stood out and was quite effective in his scenes.

2019_2_21_1b55eafd-b6d2-45a9-b245-41c48c302775_png_2000x1125[1]

This is the first and only animated film from Zack Snyder, and he’s done very well with his direction here. All of his movies are visually stunning, and Legend of the Guardians is no exception. It’s greatly animated, the environments, lighting and colours are outstanding, and when it particularly comes to the effects for the feathers and particularly elements like fire and water, it’s a wonder to watch. Although some had made fun of Snyder’s use of slow motion in some of his movies, it’s used absolutely perfectly here. While it definitely would’ve looked much better if it was made today, it still looks pretty good a decade later. The action involving the owls is also effective, especially some battle scenes towards the end. It’s hard to pull off making owls fighting look epic, but Snyder does it. This may be an animated movie, but you can still tell that this is one of his movies through and through. The music is generally good, except for a moment when a song played by Owl City is played, and aside from the pun with the band name, it’s really out of place and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie.

MV5BNTkwMjU3MDYwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTMxMDA5Mw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,761_AL_[1]

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is quite good, visually stunning, well made and enjoyable to watch. While there are some things holding back from being even better and reaching its full potential, I liked it overall, and I wished that we got to see more of these movies in this series. I’d like to see Snyder make another animated movie sometime, he certainly showed that here that he’s more than capable of it.

The Commuter (2018) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley
Vera Farmiga as Joanna
Patrick Wilson as Det. Lt. Alex Murphy
Jonathan Banks as Walt
Sam Neill as Captain David Hawthorne
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Insurance salesman Michael (Liam Neeson) is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train.

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] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I’d been meaning to watch The Commuter for a while. It’s a Liam Neeson action movie which would be his 4th collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed him previously in action flicks Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night. The Commuter was pretty much Liam Neeson on a train so naturally I was wanting to check it out, and it was pretty much what I was expecting it to be. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s nonetheless rather entertaining and Liam Neeson is good as always.

Much of this movie is a thriller, more than an action movie really, and it keeps the tension raised throughout. It keeps the entire story contained within the train, and throughout almost all of the movie is just set inside that train. While you can sort of figure out how certain things are going to play out and the story overall is not a complete surprise, it’s not entirely predictable what’s going to happen. Throughout the 105 minute runtime, you’re entertained quite a bit. There’s not a ton to the story or to the characterisation but there didn’t need to be.

Liam Neeson is typically good in yet another action role. Neeson is no stranger to these kind of roles however his character in The Commuter is a bit different to those. His character was once a cop but now is an insurance agent. So while he as ‘a particular set of skills’, he’s not at the top of his game with them. Also he actually does seem quite vulnerable and desperate in his situation, despite all of his skills, he doesn’t ever really feel that he’s on top of everything that’s going on. Something that took me off guard was the number of other actors I recognised in the movie, mostly because we don’t actually get a lot of screentime with most of them. I mean at least Vera Farmiga had a presence throughout the movie (even if she isn’t seen a lot) and Patrick Wilson was involved in some major scenes. However some of the castings were odd, like Jonathan Banks gets a really small role that could’ve been played by anyone, and Sam Neill plays a Police Captain who’s in like 2 scenes. That’s not to say that the performances were bad or that they phoned them in, because they weren’t, they all played their roles to the best of their abilities and were pretty good. It’s just personally it was a little distracting seeing so many recognisable faces pop up only briefly in the movie.

The direction as to be expected by Jaume Collet-Serra is good. He navigates the film inside this one train very well and it really does place the movie there for like 95% of the time. There aren’t many fight scenes or really action scenes but they are generally done quite well. There is particularly one fight scene that was done all in one shot, and you can tell that it was Liam Neeson and the other actor doing their own stunts, no stunt doubles were involved, and it was just really great to watch. The movie might actually be worth watching for that scene alone. While The Commuter mostly keeps itself as a contained thriller, it does go off the rails in the third act, mainly in one incredibly over the top action scene. While the movie doesn’t use CGI for most of the movie, when it is used it’s noticeably dreadful. It’s mostly in the aforementioned sequence ‘off the rails’ segment where everything looked so incredibly fake. Thankfully it’s just that one scene which was over the top, everything else has the direction being pretty good.

The Commuter is a fun little thriller, that is directed reasonably well, is entertaining and Liam Neeson is effortlessly good here. It’s not really anything that you’ll remember weeks or even days after watching it but if you are a fun of Liam Neeson action flicks like the director’s Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night, or even Taken (the film that made Neeson an action star), this is definitely something you need to watch as soon as you can because you’ll have a blast with it.

Event Horizon (1997) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence.
Cast:
Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller
Sam Neill as Dr. William ‘Billy’ Weir
Kathleen Quinlan as Peters
Joely Richardson as Lieutenant Starck
Richard T. Jones as Cooper
Jason Isaacs as D.J.
Sean Pertwee as Smith ‘Smitty’
Jack Noseworthy as Ensign Justin
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

When the Event Horizon, a spacecraft that vanished years earlier, suddenly reappears, a team is dispatched to investigate the ship. Accompanied by the Event Horizon’s creator, William Weir (Sam Neill), the crew of the Lewis and Clark, led by Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne), begins to explore the seemingly abandoned vessel. However, it soon becomes evident that something sinister resides in its corridors, and that the horrors that befell the Event Horizon’s previous journey are still present.

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] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Event Horizon was a movie that I had been hearing about for a while, particularly for how it inspired the Dead Space video game series. It’s been referred to as Hellraiser in space and it’s also known as director Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie. Also a lot of the idea of a haunted house in space with like a portal to hell sounds like something interesting, so I was somewhat looking forward to getting around to watch it. While it doesn’t live up to its potential, I think it does work decently enough as a horror flick, and does have some genuinely good stuff to it as well. However, production problems and heavy cuts by the studio really held back the movie from being as good as it could’ve been.

There is a ton of production story explaining what happened with Event Horizon but I’ll try to limit it to the relevant things I’m talking about. Event Horizon has a lot of interesting ideas, the idea of hell being involved is chief among the best, and it wasn’t originally in the script. Phillip Eisner’s original script had alien beings as the cause of the hauntings of the ship but Anderson felt it was too much like Alien, so had a revision of the script done (by Andrew Kevin Walker uncredited) so that it was like a classic haunting movie (like The Haunting and The Shining, there’s even one scene that’s paying homage to the latter), more like a classic haunting movie instead of a monster movie, while also incorporating elements of hell in the movie. I’m thankful that this happened because it’s one of the most stand out parts of the movie. As I said, some of the ideas are pretty good, other aspects can take a little too much from other movies. There’s also some occasionally goofy dialogue and writing that doesn’t ruin the movie but definitely takes you out of it. Now I don’t know if this is the cause of it, but when Paul W.S. Anderson signed on to direct, development had to move quickly cos there was already a release date scheduled (meaning that pre production was likely rushed), so a lot of the script and other elements wasn’t worked on or revised as much as they should’ve been before filming. One thing that really needs to be mentioned is the length, Event Horizon is an hour and 30 minutes long, really quite short. It’s ironic considering that apparently the cut was way too long (even Anderson said that it was too long) and yet it ended up being the shortest length that a typical movie would be. As it is, the movie is fine enough with its length but all the cuts really meant that the story and characters wasn’t really fully realised. Maybe cutting some of the extreme gore (which I’ll get into later) might’ve been understandable and wouldn’t have affected the plot much, but a lot of the plotlines and character development was also cut. 30 minutes were cut from the movie, and I don’t believe that almost all of that was full of extreme gore. There are also attempts at building tension, but the film is cut a lot to speed up the pacing and featuring cheap jumpscares or gore and that can deflate a lot of the tension, no doubt a victim of the tight filming schedule. The ending seems to have 2 endings, and it’s like they couldn’t figure out which one to use so they just used both of them and so it’s just confusing.

The cast is limited but talented, with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones. Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee and Jack Noseworthy as the crew. They all do rather well, with Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne being the standouts. However, a lot of the aforementioned cuts to the movie really affected their characters and performances because a lot of their scenes (including scenes featuring their development and depth) were cut. Something that the Event Horizon (the haunted ship) does is that preys on the crew members’ fears, but we only get to see that with a few of the characters and it just feels like a wasted opportunity. Seeing all of the characters’ fears and having them up against them really would’ve been something great. Even the Event Horizon fear stuff aside, we don’t get to learn about these characters well enough, sometimes making some characters feel out of place and not memorable at all. The biggest example is Richard T. Jones whose character’s development and a lot of his depth was no doubt cut from the movie, and so he just comes across as really goofy and super comedic, like he should be in Jason X (aka Jason Vorhees goes to space) or something. His comedic relief does work fine enough but that’s all there is to his character. Even the characters that work better have been likely affected by the cuts, Sam Neill’s character really isn’t consistent, and even knowing the full plot its difficult to really pin down his whole deal.

This is definitely Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie and while some of the directional aspects doesn’t quite work, most of it works well. So much of the CGI is dated, particularly when it came to objects floating around in space like in the opening scene, I’m sure that the CGI back in 1997 was more impressive than what was on display here. With that, when it comes to the practical effects and sets, the movie is much better in those areas. So much of the design is very Alien and H.R. Giger inspired, maybe a little too much. Still, the practical sets are great and you really feel like you are in this haunted ship. This movie can also be extremely brutal and graphic but its mostly in brief moments, notably two. Both of these scenes actually went on for a very long time originally and were way more graphic and violent. If you look up what happened, when the movie was shown at test screenings, audiences didn’t take too kindly to the massive amount of gore (to put it mildly) so there were numerous cuts to earn an R rating so it could actually be shown in cinemas and avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. The makeup and animatronics are also very impressive, Anderson got a lot right with Event Horizon. There are times where you can definitely tell that some things were rushed, particularly the editing. Anderson apparently was only able to do one draft edit for the movie and you can kind of tell that this is the case. For example, Event Horizon at times uses some really stock sound effects, which at times actually deflates a lot of the tension that they were going for. By that I mean that an example is a fight near the end had some goofy 80s action punching sound effects, making it feel really cheesy instead of intense.

Much of Event Horizon’s faults isn’t actually because of Paul W.S. Anderson or his crew but really mostly because of Paramount Pictures, it suffers by some occasionally messy writing and most of all from the numerous edits and cuts made by the studio. It does however have some really good elements, the production design and practical effects are great, the acting is solid, and this haunted ship from hell idea is really something I dig. It was a really good decision on Paul W.S. Anderson’s part to skip directing Mortal Kombat Annihilation for this. I feel like this would be one of those few movies that would be nice to see a remake of, if not at least another movie with a similar idea explored, because we haven’t seen many other sci-fi horror movies go to that place. As for Event Horizon itself, if you like horror movies and you can stomach some occasionally extreme gore, give it a watch, it’s only 90 minutes long anyway. Even if you don’t end up watching it, I highly recommend looking into the production of this movie because it’s rather interesting.

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Review

film_rec-11

the-hunt-of-the-wilderpeople

Time: 101 minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence, coarse language, some scenes may disturb young children
Cast:
Sam Neill as Uncle Hec
Julian Dennison as Ricky
Director: Taika Waititi

A boy (Julian Dennison) and his foster father (Sam Neill) become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.

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 Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a movie I wanted to check out for a long time. Being a New Zealander, it’s impossible not to hear about this movie, but I only saw the movie recently. And I ended up loving it, this is one of the most entertaining movies of 2016 and one of the best of the year. The cast, writing, direction, editing, everything added together to make such an entertaining and overall great movie.

wilderpeople1

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is such a different film, it’s impossible to compare this film to anything else. It’s very easy to connect to and love the main characters, all the characters are very memorable. Also, this movie is hilarious. Like, I didn’t expect to find the movie this funny. The humour is a little different from most films (I can’t describe it, you’ll just have to see it for yourself), which does separate it from other comedies. Most of the jokes in the film, I found hilarious. At the same time though, this movie handled the dramatic aspects very well, you actually do care what’s going on, it’s not just a complete comedy from start to finish. One thing I will say is that there were a few times where the transition from comedy to drama or vice versa didn’t really work as well, and felt a little jarring (unless that was intentional). Aside from that, I don’t have really a lot of problems with this movie.

cxq0llaweaqgpht1

Julian Dennison was great in this movie, I hope he gets more work after this because he showed here that he’s got a lot of talent. He had excellent comedic timing and was really entertaining. Sam Neil also gives one of his best performances in a while. Both Julian Dennison and Sam Neill play off each other so well, they play completely different characters and the contrast really works. They were both hilarious but at the same time they could connect to each other very well, so it was easy to buy them as their characters. The supporting cast were also so effective and memorable. There are a whole lot of cameos in the film, which I won’t spoil for those who don’t know about them yet, I’ll just say that they really worked. The movie is full of memorable characters, and the actors played them very well.

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-trailer-julian-dennison1

Taika Waititi wasn’t just great at writing this movie, he was fantastic at the direction as well. The style of this movie is great, much of that is due to the editing, which was also perfect, and helped the movie to be more effective, especially when it came to the comedy. Also, there is a thrilling car chase scene at the end of the film which was incredible. The cinematography was fantastic, the locations used were also great and beautiful, you could really buy that they were there in the bushes. The soundtrack also, fantastic.

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-camp-broken-foot1

I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about The Hunt for the Wilderpeople after hearing so much about it for so long, but I ended up loving it. The acting was great (particularly from main leads Julian Dennison and Sam Neill), the direction from Taika Waititi was fantastic, his writing was on point, hilarious and entertaining from start to finish, just everything fell nicely into place. Check the film out when you can, it’s a very different movie from most, and it’s really one of the best films of the year.