Tag Archives: Vera Farmiga

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Review

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The Conjuring 3 The Devil Made Me Do It

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror & cruelty
Cast:
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Ruairi O’Connor as Arne Cheyenne Johnson
Sarah Catherine Hook as Debbie Glatzel
Julian Hilliard as David Glatzel
John Noble as Father Kastner
Director: Michael Chaves

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) take on one of the most sensational cases of their careers after a cop stumbles upon a dazed and bloodied young man walking down the road. Accused of murder, the suspect claims demonic possession as his defense, forcing the Warrens into a supernatural inquiry unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

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I was a bit sceptical about The Conjuring 3 going into it, mainly because James Wan, who directed the previous 2 films, wasn’t returning to helm it. However, I am a fan of the first two movies, so I was still interested in checking it out. While it’s definitely not as strong as the Wan directed Conjuring films, it was better than I was expecting and it was quite good.

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One way that The Conjuring 3 especially works is by being different from the other movies with regards to the type of story, while fitting in nicely with the rest of the series. It’s not a haunted house yarn like the past two movies, and goes for a more mystery angle that involves a lot of investigation as the lead characters try to figure out the possession. I’m not that scared by the movies, so I don’t mind the different approach, even though it is still very much a horror movie with jump scares. The first two acts are pretty good and entertaining. The movie starts off well with a great and memorable opening scene, which gets you hooked from the beginning. After that point we have two storylines that go in different directions, one following the murder suspect, and the other following Ed and Lorraine Warren. I was quite intrigued to see where the story played out. There were some issues with the writing. I wish more things were fleshed out, for example having a Satanist being the one behind everything is an interesting idea (instead of it just being yet another demon), though their motivations aren’t explored really. While I wasn’t expecting anything super deep, I was just hoping for something more. The third acts of the Conjuring movies are the least scary sections of those movies and The Conjuring 3 is no exception. A lot of over the top in your face supernatural stuff happens, and it also cuts between two storylines which sort of takes you out of it. I didn’t mind it though, the climax was entertaining and I was satisfied with the resolution, even though it felt a little rushed.

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The characters and acting are the stronger parts of these movies, and The Conjuring 3 is no exception. One of the best aspects of these movies is Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their performances are great, and they share such believable chemistry. They really are some of the most compelling protagonists in modern horror movies. Their relationship is in the forefront once again, and much of the investment in the story comes from us being invested with these characters and everything that’s happening with them. The rest of the cast are great too, including Ruairi O’Connor as the possessed murder suspect at the centre of the film, and John Noble as a haunted ex-priest.

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As mentioned previously, James Wan didn’t direct this movie, and while his absence is felt to a degree, director Michael Chaves does quite well at helming it. It is well shot (some of them felt signature to Wan), and it does well at setting itself in the time period of the early 1980s. There are some jumpscares that were predictable and not that scary, but it does well at building up an fairly strong horror atmosphere. The creatures, dead bodies and other similar entities look incredible, with some phenomenal visual and practical effects.

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As said previously, The Conjuring 3 isn’t quite as good as the previous two movies. However I was invested in the story and characters, and was interested to see how it all played out, paired with some solid directing and really good acting, especially with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the compelling and likable lead characters. If you liked any of the previous Conjuring movies, I think the third movie is worth a watch at the very least.

The Conjuring (2013) Review

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The Conjuring

Time: 102 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror & content that may disturb
Cast:
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron
Ron Livingston as Roger Perron
Director: James Wan

The Perron family moves into a farmhouse where they experience paranormal phenomena. They consult demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), to help them get rid of the evil entity haunting them.

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The creation of The Conjuring universe was unexpected, with three movies from the main Conjuring series, and three spin offs and one of those spinoffs (Annabelle) getting a prequel and sequel of its own. Looking back on the first movie released in 2013 however, it is still a really good horror movie that works really well. It doesn’t revolutionise the genre or anything, but it succeeds effectively at what it seeks out to do.

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The Conjuring is a traditional haunted house horror movie, and a well-crafted one at that. One of the reasons it works so well is that it invests quite a lot of time into the characters, both the main family and the Warrens. It does take the story and characters seriously and doesn’t treat them as throwaway typical horror movie characters. I will say I wasn’t as invested in the actual story as much I would’ve liked to have been and the movie isn’t exactly unpredictable, but I was still interested to see how it would play out. Additionally, the story has a tense buildup, and its pacing is measured and deliberate, instead of just rushing into the horror and the scares. This helps to build a strong atmosphere, which is at its peak in the final act. The film being set in the 70s gives it sort of a unique feeling that would’ve been missing had it just been set in modern day. There’s also the aspect that this movie is supposedly based on true events, whether or not you believe it to be true it does give it a unique feel to the story.

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The acting is all great from everyone. The leads are Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens and they do very well on their parts. They were very believable and sold their performances. The family at the centre of it all played their parts too, especially the mother played by Lily Taylor. Even the child actors do very well as their respective characters.

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James Wan has already established himself as a great director of horror, with Saw and the first two Insidious movies, and The Conjuring and its sequel are no exception. The camerawork is greatly carried out and played a key role in creating the haunted and unsettling feeling throughout the movie. As previously mentioned, the movie also benefited quite a lot from being set in the 70s, the production design really does well at portraying this time period, especially in this particular haunted house. While there are some jumpscares (as to be expected from this movie), it’s not the main source of scares in the movie. Also whenever the jumpscares do happen, they actually feel earned and not cheap, and it helps that the movie had been building up a lot of tension beforehand. Additionally, the movie actually lacks any gore or digital effects, which was refreshing to see from a horror movie, its just all scares. The use of sound also played a part in the scares working as well as they did, and the score from Joseph Bishara also worked to its favour.

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The Conjuring is a well made horror movie that works on pretty much all fronts. The characters are well written and portrayed by the actors greatly, the story is genuinely suspenseful, and James Wan directs it very well. If you like horror and you haven’t watched it yet, it’s definitely a movie to check out.

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Strong supernatural horror
Cast:
Mckenna Grace as Judy Warren
Madison Iseman as Mary Ellen
Katie Sarife as Daniela Rios
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Director: Gary Dauberman

Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target–the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy (McKenna Grace), and her friends (Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife).

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I was curious to watch Annabelle Comes Home, as someone who likes most of the Conjuring-verse movies, I just missed it at the cinemas (there’s also The Curse of La Llorona that I missed, which I didn’t even know was a Conjuring-verse movie). Although I heard that the first Annabelle wasn’t that good, I liked Annabelle Creation quite a bit, and hearing that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were returning to play their Conjuring characters had me interested to say the least. The actual movie isn’t really anything special, but I had some fun with it.

Timeline wise, Annabelle Comes Home takes place a year after the first Conjuring. With that said, it’s not really a Conjuring movie, in that the Warrens only appear for a few scenes in the movie and a few other characters are the focus of the story. The plot is that Annabelle is let out and the plot goes just exactly how you expect it to. The movie is thankfully not too long at an hour and 46 minutes long. However, it takes half of the movie for Annabelle to start wrecking havoc, so it takes a while for the plot to really kick in. It’s a generally standard horror movie, but I went along with where the plot was going and didn’t have too many complaints outside of the familiarity. Usually the thing about horror movies is that it has multiple fake out endings, but when the climax ended, it oddly felt like it needed to be longer, almost like it was a little rushed. For those interested, there are some links to the rest of the Conjuring-verse, but I won’t get into it here.

One of the things that had my most excited for this movie was the fact that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson would be reprising their roles of Lorraine and Ed Warren. Unfortunately as I said earlier, they are basically cameos in the movie, seen mainly at the beginning and the end of the movie, so if you’re expecting to see a lot of them, you’re going to be disappointed. Whenever they’re on screen however, they’re working at their A game as if they are in a Conjuring movie, and their scenes are among the best parts of the movie. Of the main characters, Mckenna Grace is the standout as the Warrens’ daughter, she was really good here. There’s also the babysitter played by Madison Iseman, and her friend played by Katie Sarife, both of them aren’t that great but they’re fine. The movie does have some typical horror movie dumb decisions being made, particularly by one character. You might’ve seen this from the trailer but Sarife’s character essentially causes the events of Annabelle Comes Home to happen in the first place. To the movie’s credit however, they do at least try to explain them with a backstory for her.

Annabelle Comes Home didn’t even come close to being scary, and usually you can predict when or where a jumpscare is going to happen. However Gary Dauberman has directed it quite well, pretty good for his debut movie, it’s very well shot. The movie is set inside the house of the Warrens and that was a simple but effective setting for the movie. While most of the movie looks good, and there are some great horror imagery (although not particularly scary), there are a couple points when the movie uses some CGI. Without saying what it’s used for, sometimes it came across as being really goofy, and was hard to take seriously.

Annabelle Comes Home is a pretty typical horror movie with not many (if any) surprises, probably one of the weaker movies in the Conjuring-verse (but better than The Nun). However it’s directed pretty well, and it’s entertaining for what it is. If you like most of the other movies in the series, I’d say that it’s worth watching.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell
Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell
Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell
Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
Charles Dance as Colonel Alan Jonah
Thomas Middleditch as Dr. Sam Coleman
Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster
O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Jackson Barnes
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Zhang Ziyi as Dr. Ilene Chen and Dr. Ling Chen
Director: Michael Dougherty

Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. I liked the first Godzilla, even with some of its minor problems it wasn’t enough to take away from the overall experience, and I don’t think it’s appreciated as much as it should be. With the trailers showing off it having more monsters and some stunning visuals, I was looking forward to it. I have heard that some reviews from people have been fairly mixed, however I personally really liked it.

King of the Monsters is the sequel to the first Godzilla in 2014, however both films are completely different from each other. One of the criticisms of that first movie was the focus on the human characters, and that it spent too much time with them. I’m aware that when it comes to monster movies human beings aren’t really the highlight, and unless they are all played by Bryan Cranston, will generally feel like standard characters. However, I still think that humans should have a part in the story. The humans still have a presence in the movie, and while it’s not the strongest part of the movie, I still liked their storyline. On another note, I like how Monarch as an organisation plays a big part in the movie. They’re like SHIELD from Marvel except its involved with large monsters. The tone is not as dark as the first movie, it is more campier, contains more humour and is about what you would expect from a typical blockbuster. Some people hated that Godzilla didn’t have much screentime in the 2014 movie. With King of the Monsters however, Godzilla gets more screentime, and especially the newer monsters. I am not familiar with the Godzilla series but it seemed to have double downed with the classic monsters, so I think people who are long time fans of Godzilla will appreciate all that. Storywise the movie is alright, it falls into many of the typical blockbuster tropes but you’ve come to expect that at this point. It’s also worth staying around to watch the credits, as well as the post credits scene, as they hint in the potential next direction for the series.

As I said earlier, the human characters aren’t anything special, but the cast all do a good job in their roles. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown are the leads, and while they aren’t delivering the best performances of their careers or anything, they do more than commendable jobs here. Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn are the only returning characters from the first Godzilla and all play their parts well. Watanabe has been a highlight in this series and he also has some great moments in this movie. Charles Dance’s character is a bit underdeveloped and doesn’t have a lot to him outside of being a minor human villain, still Dance plays him well.

I’m not familiar with director Michael Dougherty’s work outside of Krampus, but his work on Godzilla was good. This is a visually stunning movie, much more colourful than the 2014 film. The visual effects and CGI are phenomenal, it really is worth seeing on the big screen. Like in the previous movie, the monsters are showcased really well. You see a bunch of them, on top of Godzilla, other monsters like Mothra, Dhidorah and others are shown well, very powerful and threatening. The third act is one of the most enthralling third acts in a blockbuster in recent years that I’ve seen, everything is on an even larger scale. If you thought the destruction in the first movie was big, you aren’t prepared for what King of the Monsters does has in store for you. I’ll just say that I’m not sure how they’ll top this with Godzilla vs Kong, it’s practically impossible. The score by Bear McCreary is also great and was perfect for the movie.

It seems like people will be split on King of the Monsters. If you loved the serious and bleak take on Godzilla with the 2014 movie, you might be missing a lot of what you loved in that. However, if that movie you found didn’t have enough Godzilla and monsters content, King of the Monsters seems like it’s right up your alley. Personally, I feel like both movies exceeded well at the types of movies they were going for. Again, I’m not sure how they’ll be able to pull off Godzilla vs Kong at this point but I’m still there for 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.

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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.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Review

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The Conjuring 2

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence and Horror Scenes
Cast:
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Frances O’Connor as Peggy Hodgson
Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson
Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse
Franka Potente as Anita Gregory
Director: James Wan

HolIn 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter (Madison Wolfe) starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next target of the malicious spirits.

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Horror sequels are most of the time failures, which was why I initially wasn’t pleased when I heard that they announced a sequel to The Conjuring, one of the best horror films in recent memory. The only reason that I gave this film a chance to begin with is the fact that James Wan was returning. After seeing this movie however, I can say that this movie is fantastic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the original but I do think that this sequel is superior. Wan’s direction, as well as all the other elements really does come together to make it one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a while.

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What separates this movie from many other horror movies is that it doesn’t just feel like just another horror movie. This film is long for a horror movie, about 2 hours and 15 minutes and gives enough time for characters to be developed, and builds up the suspense. This film also feels a lot more grounded, the characters feel like real people, the way that they interact with one another feels genuine, it doesn’t 100% focus on only delivering scares, characters are established and developed very well. It’s worth noting that unlike a lot of horror movie characters, we actually care about them here. Even though many of the things that happen in the movie has happened many times in other horror films, it’s the executions of them that makes this movie so great.

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The performances are excellent from everyone, all of them played their roles spectacularly. One thing that surprised me was the amount of focus on the family, the actors who play them are great, even the child actors are absolutely fantastic and work very well. One of the standouts was Madison Wolfe, who had a lot to handle as she plays a girl who is in more direct contact with this evil spirit, if she failed in her role, this movie would probably fail but she was excellent. Once again, these characters aren’t just generic movie characters, they actually felt real, so these actors had a huge advantage because of that.

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James Wan directed horror movies fantastically and he does the same with Conjuring 2. The cinematography was breathtaking (especially when long takes were used) and the sound design was so effective. The lighting was also absolutely on point. All of these elements helped the scenes feel more immersive, especially during the suspense scenes. And yes, there are jumpscares but they are done correctly, you do see what the characters see and it is real when the scare actually happens, it’s not fake or just a loud noise to give a cheap scare.

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The Conjuring 2 is one of the best horror movies in recent years. Everything from the acting from its talented cast as well as its well written story is done greatly but James Wan’s direction absolutely deserves a lot of credit, this movie proves that he’s one of the best horror directors out of there. I’m actually on board on a Conjuring 3 happening, just as long as Wan is returning. If we get more horror movies like this, I think we’ll see a resurgence in horror. One can only dream though.

The Departed (2006)

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The Departed

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan
Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan
Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello
Mark Wahlberg as Dignam
Martin Sheen as Queenan
Ray Winstone as Mr French
Vera Farmiga as Madolyn
Alec Baldwin as Ellerby
Director: Martin Scorsese

In South Boston, the state police force is waging war on Irish American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). While Billy quickly gains Costello’s confidence, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police as an informer for the syndicate is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there’s a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy-and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself. Each police officer gives his best effort trying to disclose the identity of the other “rat.”

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Martin Scorsese is no stranger to crime movies as well as not being a stranger to making great engaging movies. The Departed is wonderfully made, excellently edited, has great performances and has an interesting story. All of these things are what I ask for in a movie, which The Departed successfully delivers here.

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Despite the fact that this movie is actually a remake of a Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, I won’t compare it because I haven’t watched it. The movie takes many twists and turns and does a good job at showing the events unfold. The plot can be quite complicated so it does require your full attention when watching. The film is filled with that same energy that Scorsese had in films like Goodfellas and Casino. There is always something going on to interest the viewer. The film is long at about 2 hours and a half, so it needs to have an engaging story in order to interest the viewers. Fortunately, it does that and so much more, providing many plot twists that keeps the audience guessing what will happen next.

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The acting was really good from everyone they fill their roles perfectly. Both DiCaprio and Damon were really good here as they played characters that were the opposite sides of the spectrum of the other. Their performances were emotionally complex, which made the story more complex than the usual good guy and bad guy type. Jack Nicholson is incredible as Frank Costello who is the mob boss, who is a very sinister and dangerous character. Costello is an unpredictable character and Nicholson channels James Cagney’s performance in White Heat to create a personification of evil. Mark Wahlberg is also fantastic in this movie as Sergeant Dignam; despite him not having many scenes as some of the rest of the cast he delivers some of the best lines and steals the scenes he was in. The characters are well defined and we really feel like we know them, which are done well by the actors.

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The setting of Boston and the atmosphere were captured so well. During the film we often we get shots of many locations of Boston. The music was also good and comes from both from the score by Howard Shore and from existing songs, both which fit the moments they are put it, especially the use of The Dropkick Murphy’s’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” during the opening credits.

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Smartly written with many complex plots and with great acting, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed delivers as great crime drama. It is one of his best movies and is one of the best crime drama movies I have ever seen. It’s gripping, it’s entertaining, it’s overall a great movie. Check it out when you can.