Tag Archives: Sandra Bullock

Speed (1994) Review

speed

Speed

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & Offensive Language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Officer Jack Traven
Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne
Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter
Joe Morton as Lieutenant Herb ‘Mac’ McMahon
Jeff Daniels as Detective Harry Temple
Director: Jan de Bont

A young police officer (Keanu Reeves) must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

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Speed is one of the most iconic and influential action movies from the 90s, with a memorable premise, great action sequences, and it was overall really good. I decided to rewatch it recently, it’s still really entertaining and it surprisingly holds up pretty well for the most part.

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The concept of the movie is fairly simple: if a bus drops its speed below 50 mph, it will explode. It works greatly in its simplicity and it’s brilliantly executed. The plot has plenty of creative ideas and situations that prevent the film from being repetitive. It might be a pretty standard plot nowadays in terms of action movies, but the high concept within Speed is sort of action movie genius, especially for the 90s. It’s engaging from its opening moments taking place in an elevator shaft, and remains tense throughout its runtime. The pacing is fierce, aside from its final 15 minutes, it’s perfectly paced. It is breathlessly energetic and intense, and there’s a lot of escalating suspense throughout, never letting you stop for a moment to catch your breath. It drags the audience from one disaster to the next, engaged in such a confined environment. The last act isn’t quite as strong as the first two acts, but it was entertaining enough. It’s definitely a 90s action flick, and with that comes all the typical cheese that similar movies have. This isn’t exactly an intellectually challenging feature, but it was never expected to be that. It fully commits to its ridiculous premise and that’s what makes it both charming and exciting. The dialogue is goofy but quotable nonetheless, and the characters are very cliché but still work well for this movie. Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense as to be expected. Physics and realism aside, the motivations of the villain are kind of shoddy and aren’t really that fleshed out for example. However it’s entertaining enough that it makes up for any problems you might have with the plot. It’s also a very rewatchable movie.

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Everyone gives the exact kind of performance you expect from them. The characters are all stereotypes but it doesn’t matter that much, and the actors are all good in their parts. The role of lead character Jack is right for Keanu Reeves, cocky and impulsive, but smart and engaging. Sandra Bullock also does very well here in her part, she and Reeves have some great on screen chemistry in this movie. Dennis Hopper plays the villain, while the character himself isn’t that great, Hopper is effectively chewing every scene he’s in. He makes the character feel crazy yet threatening and in control with all these bombs scenarios he set up.

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Jan de Bont directs this movie incredibly well. There are so many memorable action sequences, de Bont knows how to keep the tension at a high level throughout. It’s impressive how many different set pieces he’s able to pack into just one location. The opening on its own, the elevator sequence, was a great way of introducing the audience to the kind of tension they’ll be feeling for the rest of the movie. But of course it’s the majority of the movie taking place on the bus that’s so impressive, with some insane practical stunts. The editing is effectively tight, and the intense score from Mark Mancina is memorable and fits the movie well.

Speed de Jan de Bont (1994)

Speed is pure high energy action cinema at its finest, and a near pitch perfect 90s summer blockbuster. It’s not only influential and iconic for its time, even today it still entertains and thrills with a simple and over the top yet effective script and plot, likable and memorable characters and acting, and impressive direction. I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Crash (2005) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot
Don Cheadle as Det. Graham Waters
Matt Dillon as Sgt. John Ryan
Jennifer Esposito as Ria
Brendan Fraser as D.A. Rick Cabot
Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer
Ludacris as Anthony
Thandie Newton as Christine Thayer
Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz
Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen
Larenz Tate as Peter Waters
Director: Paul Haggis

Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).

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I had been meaning to do a review for Crash for a while. I remember hearing about the movie for the longest time, mainly with it being widely considered the worst pick for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and I had always wondered what about it sparked such a negative reaction outside of it beating out Brokeback Mountain. Having seen it, I can understand why it’s been receiving so much hate, and I have to say that it’s pretty well deserving of it. It’s more than that it’s just a somewhat okay movie that got more praise that it deserved, at best it’s well intended but clunky, at worst it’s horribly misguided and borderline offensive.

Crash is one of those award movies where a bunch of characters’ plotlines are all mixed together and crossover at different points. While there are some coincidences that I bought, other moments felt so ludicrous that it was hard to take things seriously (and the rest of the movie didn’t help that much). Most of the plotlines weren’t that particularly interesting, and the ones that were tended to be because the acting was great or something along those lines. Crash is very questionable in how it takes on racism, it’s very blatant and has no subtlety at all. Now it isn’t required to be subtle, but when it handles the topic poorly, the ham fisted feel to it make it feel worse. People don’t act like normal people, if they’re not stereotypes, they’re random characters meant to deliver a message through random character changes. I’ll use Sandra Bullock’s ‘arc’ as an example, she nearly gets robbed, which leads to her being racist against her caretakers, then she falls down some stairs, then the caretakers help her, leading to her not being racist (not even kidding, that’s her role in this movie). There are some admittedly pretty good individual scenes. For example, there’s a payoff scene between Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton which when seen out of context is great. However, in the context of the film, it just feels gross (more on that later). Some of the plotlines have very mixed messages. I guess they are at least tried to be fair with their treatment of people by ethnicities, so they’re showing good and bad people in each ethnicities, except for Asian people for whatever reason, they aren’t particularly portrayed very well here to say the least. Crash is also very questionable in some of its plotlines and decisions. There are way too many plotlines and characters to recall, but one of which is about the racist traffic cop played by Matt Dillon, and I can’t convey how poor some of these messages are without revealing things, if you don’t want to know about it before watching the movie, then skip ahead to the next paragraph. Long story short, Dillon pulls over a couple (Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard, and molests Newton’s character. A few scenes later he responds to a car crash, and it happens to be Newton’s character, and he saves her from the car before it explodes, which I guess is supposed to be him redeeming himself by actually doing his job. Make of that how you will.

Crash has an unbelievably large and talented cast, with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, William Ficthner and many others all involved. The cast is by far the best part of the movie, most of whom deliver decent performances. The problem is that many of the characters don’t feel like real people, some of them being cartoonish, others being rather unlikable. Matt Dillon for example is pretty good in his role but it’s hard to think highly of his performance considering how the movie treats him, going from one end of the spectrum to the other, with very little time to actually show his ‘change’.

The direction by Paul Haggis is fine, nothing special. It’s shot well, edited well, the music was fine enough, there’s not much to really say about that honestly.

I found this movie personally really bad on its own, but even if you don’t compare it to Brokeback Mountain, I’m not sure how it got nominated for anything. There are a few scenes that are pretty good and some of the actors are able to give some good performances but that’s it. None of the characters feel like real people, the attempts of taking on racism is misguided at best, offensive at worst, and the end result is just. I won’t say not to watch it, I know that some people still like Crash, and you might end up liking it. Check it out for yourself and make up your own mind on it.

 

Ocean’s 8 (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean
Cate Blanchett as Lou Miller
Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger
Mindy Kaling as Amita
Sarah Paulson as Tammy
Awkwafina as Constance
Rihanna as Nine Ball
Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Weil
Richard Armitage as Claude Becker
James Corden as John Frazier
Director: Gary Ross

Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting — that’s how long Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has been devising the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it’s going to take — a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett). Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), street con Constance (Awkwafina), suburban mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). Their target — a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million.

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I was a little sceptical about Ocean’s Eight. It had a lot of potential, with it being a spinoff of the famous Ocean’s series directed by Steven Soderbergh and having a huge and talented cast including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway. At the same time the advertising for the movie made it look just okay and I was unfortunately not as excited for the movie as I feel I should be considering all the talent involved. Nonetheless I was curious enough to check it out and I’m glad I did. Ocean’s Eight was actually quite a bit of fun with the cast and was yet another reasonably well done heist movie. It does have some faults but its easy to overlook most of them.

I watched the Ocean’s trilogy many years ago and I don’t have the best memory of it but I do remember liking it. Ocean’s Eight does similar things that other heist movies have done (like the original Ocean’s trilogy), it has a similar structure, and it has some similar sequences like the team recruiting montages and the twist montages where it reveals everything that happened. It doesn’t really do anything new but it does everything rather well. The first two acts do have moments where it drags and you aren’t as entertained or interested but it does pick up again within a few scenes later. Generally however, it is entertaining, and I was consistently entertained in the 3rd act.

As previously mentioned, Ocean’s Eight has a great cast, with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway and more and they play their roles well. Some give better performances than others, and they aren’t giving some of the best performances of their careers but they are good here. They have great chemistry and play off each other really well. The two standouts for me though were Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, they really were highlights of the film. The weakest performance of the movie was James Corden, he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime and he’s not bad, not even annoying or anything. But he is very distracting and feels miscast in the role, he plays it like he’s James Corden and not a character.

Gary Ross directs this movie well enough but you do feel the lack of Steven Soderbergh. It does have some stylistic moments and it’s fine and all but it’s missing something. I’m not saying that Steven Soderbergh himself needed to be directing this movie, and Ross’s direction isn’t bad but I think Ocean’s Eight would’ve benefited from better direction.

Ocean’s Eight was a lot of fun. Even if you haven’t watched the original Ocean’s trilogy, that won’t negatively affect your experience of the movie. The cast was great and it was entertaining watching them come together to pull off a heist. It does have some issues but it’s not enough to take away from the overall experience. I do hope that we get at least a couple more movies with these characters, it definitely has potential.

Gravity (2013)

GRAVITY

Gravity

Time: 91 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone
George Clooney as Matt Kowalski
Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission is with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who is in charge of the Shuttle Explorer’s STS-157 mission to repair the Hubble Telescope before retiring. After a while, Houston control aborts the mission warning that a Russian missile hit a satellite, causing a chain reaction and now there is a storm of debris coming upon them. This results in Stone and Kowalski losing communication with Mission Control and leaves them completely alone – tethered to nothing and spiralling out into the blackness.

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The movie has a simple premise but it’s the execution of the movie that’s most impressive. The pacing is set right for the movie it’s trying to be. One of the first things you need to know before going into this movie is know that despite it being a thriller, it has many moments where the movie slows down. I’ve heard of many other people who have watched this movie and walking out feeling disappointed saying that it was boring. Don’t expect an action movie, it has thrills but also has many slower moments.

Film Review Gravity

Sandra Bullock is great in this movie. Over time you do learn some things about her character in some of the slower parts. The whole movie follows her journey to safety so if she wasn’t good, the movie wouldn’t work as well. She was convincing as someone stuck in space which is unique in a special effects movie. George Clooney isn’t in the movie as much and you don’t get to learn as much about his character but he was also good in the movie.

Sandra Bullock

The camera work was mind-blowing. There are very few cuts in the movie, the first cut only happened after like 10 minutes. That first shot is started from a distance at Earth, then after a while the camera zooms in on the satellite being repaired. By the time the first cut happened, I felt like I was in space. In most CGI movies there are usually at least one scene that you can tell are CGI, this movie never had any of those moments. The special effects are the most believable effects I have seen in a while. The movie looks absolutely beautiful. Gravity is best experienced in IMAX 3D, it’s very rare for me to come across a movie that I can say that about. I haven’t experienced the 2D version so I don’t know how both versions stack up against each other. Some people might say this film is just special effects and nothing else, but real time and effort has been put into this movie to make it feel like it’s in space.

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The soundtrack composed by Steven Price is perfect for this movie. It goes from wondrous and thoughtful to incredibly loud and intense, in fact it’s the soundtrack that makes the chaotic scenes even more intense than they already are. The sound effects work for the movie; for example, when things are getting torn apart in space, there is barely any audio. Even less chaotic moments such as a drill unscrewing a bolt sound exactly if you are in space.

Gravity is a visual masterpiece; it is a movie that you can only experience. I watched this a few times and I still enjoy it but there may be others who find that the magic of this movie can only be experienced once. This is the best portrayal of space I’ve ever seen in a movie. I don’t know how accurate the movie is of portraying life in space but it looks very realistic at least to me. The special effects paired with the soundtrack, Bullock, Clooney and the cinematography help to make one of the best thrill rides in a while.