Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

edge of tomorrow
All Image Rights belong to Warner Bros, Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, Viz Productions

Edge of Tomorrow – Film Review

Cast:  Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Dragomir Mrsic, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Franz Drameh, Kick Gurry, Tony Way, Noah Carter

Director: Doug Liman

Synopsis: Lieutenant William Cage is an untrained soldier forced against his will to join in a battle fighting against deadly alien foes. But when he dies in combat, he mysteriously awakens, reliving his penultimate day over and over again…

Review: Many movies often borrow elements from movies gone by . They also might borrow from other entertainment forms, and take them in interesting new directions. For instance, if you take the time loop element of movies such as Groundhog Day,  the Normandy beach landings as depicted in Saving Private Ryan, and elements from the popular video game franchise Halo. When these things are merged together, the end product is this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

Adapted from the anime novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Humanity is at war with an alien race and the troops are being rallied in England to prepare for an attack on the enemy foe. Enter William Cage (Tom Cruise), a top General in the US army who is more into talking than fighting. He ultimately is forced onto the front line to help repel the alien forces. Yet after seemingly meeting his maker, he finds himself waking up, relieving the same day again and again.  As the film’s tagline goes” Live. Die Repeat.” and this happens many times. This premise may sound familiar, but with Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Mr and Mrs Smith) on the director’s chair, what we have an innovative and refreshing perspective on this similar premise.

For three decades, Tom Cruise has given us exciting action movies such as the Mission Impossible series. And yet again, he gives another enthralling performance as we see his character really progress from quite frankly a complete wimp who barely knows how to fight, to a fearless warrior determined to wipe out the foe whilst using his impressive tech suit.  Despite being 52 years of age, the man can still give a solid action performance. As he falls each time, he learns something new and uses this knowledge to his benefit. The key piece in this science fiction puzzle however is Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). Her character has gone through something similar to Cage and he must utilise her knowledge to help win the war.  The two leading actors have great chemistry on screen as she is the one who helps train him into the soldier that he needs to become. Blunt gives an exceptional performance  and demonstrates that you can have a strong female protagonist who does not need a man to stand up and make herself count. In many respects in this film it is vice versa, he is the one who needs her to stand up and make himself count.

Liman himself stated that the scenes with the character repeatedly dying and respawning were  an intentional comparison to video games. The fight scenes are fun to watch, particularly with Cruise running in his tech suit and taking down the bad guys. While the fighting does come across as almost too video game like at times, it is intriguing and there is plenty of action here to get the heart pumping. In particular the final showdown against the aliens is fantastic to watch. The continuous loop element of the movie could be tedious and dull. Yet it works to great effect as each time Cage bites the bullet, there is something new and energising that is brought to the plot, and it effectively moves the plot forward.

With elements of video games and time loops and time travel from past movies all blended together, along with a revitalising and exciting story that keeps you entertained from the word go. The final result is a film you will (hopefully) enjoy and watch many times.

Watch. Enjoy. Repeat 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

winter-soldier-poster
Image is property of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Film Review 

Cast:  Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

Synopsis: Taking place after the events of the Avengers, Steve Rogers continues to struggle to adapt to the modern world, and find his place in society. However, his allegiance to S.H.I.EL.D is called into question amid the rise of an adversary known only as the “Winter Soldier”

Review: Phase Two of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is now in full swing and with the second solo film featuring our favourite starred and striped hero, as he struggles to adapt to an era in which he knows nothing about. All the while he is working for an organisation that is holding some sinister secrets. All in all, what we have is one of the best Marvel films ever made and by far the best Marvel film of Phase Two of their cinematic Universe.

The film is set in Modern USA after the events of The Avengers with Cap living his life whilst working for S.H.I.EL.D.  It is soon realised that S.H.I.EL.D has some conflicting ideas to what he stands for, and of course this creates friction between Rogers and his employer. He is the patriotic, do it for your country superhero, but S.H.I.EL.D is not on the same wavelength as he is. This conflicting ideologies causes Rogers to question who he really works for, in doing so it adds real depth to the character of Captain America. While all this is happening, a new enemy appears and begins to cause some destruction. The ruthless Winter Soldier is out on a mission, to eradicate Captain America. The Winter Soldier was a terrific, deadly foe played brilliantly by someone who you may recognise, and ranks as one of the best villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, second only to the God of Mischief Loki.

winter soldier

Chris Evans was again superb in the role of Captain America, the character had almost unprecedented depth and he was awesome in the action scenes once more. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow was likewise superb. This is her biggest role in a Marvel film to date, and she gave an excellent performance.  Similarly, Samuel L Jackson gives his best performance in the role of Nick Fury.  There are a number of excellent newcomers also. Anthony Mackie as “Falcon” was an excellent addition to the case and provided some great moments in the film.  Likewise with Robert Redford playing S.H.I.E.L.D boss Alexander Pierce.

Along with some great characters, new and old, the film has some incredible action sequences. The first action scene at the start of the film was intense and enthralling, but as the film progresses they only get better. The scenes with the Winter Soldier are particularly thrilling, especially when he faces off against Captain America. Cap’s shield remains one of the coolest weapons in the Marvel universe.

By now, it is evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all interwoven at this point, and this is particularly true. there are many expansions on what went on in the first Captain America film that are touched upon in this film. Thus you should ideally have seen the first film before going into watch this instalment as a lot of of the plot points will make much more sense, and the film will be much more enjoyable.

Nevertheless: Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a superb film and a definite step up from The First Avenger. There were improvements in every respect from villian, to action, to character development. It is the best stand alone film from Marvel since the first Iron Man film. It does not quite eclipse The Avengers, but  it sets the story up perfectly for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel fans should rejoice as it is currently ruling the Superhero genre of films.  DC’s untitled Batman VS Superman film is still two years away, and if this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a success, there may be no stopping the Marvel Cinematic Universe from world domination, of the superhero genre of films.

A terrific story with some outstanding performances from Evans and Johansson, this is the MCU’s best movie so far, without a question of a doubt.

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Posted in Film Feature

Oscars 2014: Predictions

oscars

Hollywood’s biggest night is finally here once more. Tuxedos have been chosed, bow ties will be being tied. Dresses will have been chosen and make up will be put on. Hollywood royalty will be out in force and a select few will be clutching a golden statue once the ceremony is over.

It has certainly been an interesting year for films. We have seen con artists, abduction by Somali Pirates, one man’s fight against slavery which latest for more than 12 years, a terrifying adventure in space and one man setting up a club to help people suffering from illness. Lots of great performances from some great actors and some great directing. Some excellent music, but who is going to be the winners?  I will be making my predictions below.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

The Mexican has swept the board throughout this awards season and it’s easy to see why. His film was a visual masterpiece and one that was mesmerising to watch. Although I would like to see Steve McQueen win the award, I feel that Cuaron will take it home.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof          

Although I am hoping that Chiwetel Ejiofor takes this award home for his work in 12 Years A Slave I predict that it will be Matthew McConaughey who will win. He has transformed his career in recent years and this film in which he plays an AIDS sufferer, he gives a mesmerising performance worthy of an Oscar

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis

It will be a major surprise if Cate Blanchett is not the one holding the statute come the end of the night. She has swept the board right throughout this awards season and although I have not seen her performance, critics alike have almost unanimously given her high praise

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club as Rayon

Again, I would hope to see Michael Fassbender for his sublime work in 12 Years A Slave, I think that Jared Leto will scoop the Oscar. His performance, playing a transgender woman, was something extraordinary. He looked convincing in the role and the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman should be the winner.  That being said I would love to see Barkhad Abdi take the prize as he gave a brilliant debut performance as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld

This race seems to be a two way battle between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o for American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave. Both performances were fantastic and are Oscar worthy. Yet I have a sneaky suspicion that it will be Lawrence who claims her second Oscar from only her third nomination despite only being 23 years of age.

 Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Her – Spike Jonze

The concept of a man who has a relationship with a computer may seem bizarre, but Spike Jonze pulled it off with a wonderful story with another top notch performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I think Her will take the award

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

The story of Solomon Northup was one that was hard hitting but one that is very memorable and this film reminded the world of the true horrors of slavery and I think they will take this award home.

 Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho

The latest  Disney film is a strong favourite to win this year’s animated feature award. It is looking set to cross the $1billion mark and it would be a surprise if it was not victorious come the end of the night.

I won’t lie when I say that I have not seen any of the films in the following categories so these guesses are wild stabs in the dark:

Best Foreign Language Film: The Hunt (Denmark) in Danish – Thomas Vinterberg

Best Documentary – Feature: The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen

 Best Documentary – Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarkeand Nicholas Reed

 Best Live Action Short Film: Helium – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson

Best Animated Short Film: Feral – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden

Best Original Score: Gravity – Steven Price

The score for Gravity was wonderful and added to each scene in a terrific way. It added to the enjoyment of the film and I think it will be the winner.

Best Original Song: Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – U2

“Let it Go” by Frozen is a strong favourite but U2’s hit from the Mandela biopic was a wonderful piece of music that I am predicting to win the award.

Best Sound Editing: Gravity – Glenn Freemantle

There is no sound in space, and this film captured the terror and anticipation of the film’s events brilliantly through sound. As the debris was wreaking havoc there was no noise, it was all silent.

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro

Best Cinematography: Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

The shots that were on show in this film were first class. It made the audience feel like they were actually in outer space and I think it will take this Oscar

Best Production Design: Gravity – Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwinand Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

The effort that must have been required to turn Jared Leto into a stickly feminine transgender must have been tremendous and I think it will win.

Best Costume Design: American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson

Best Film Editing: Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Best Visual Effects: Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould

The visual effects on show here was simply out of this world (pun absolutley intended) and I think it’s no contest that Gravity will win this award

AND LAST NOT LEAST:

The Award for Best Picture

In what has been another great year for films, these are the lucky nine films that are up for the biggest award:

American Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon

Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca

Dallas Buyers Club – Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter

Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman

Her – Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, and Vincent Landay

Nebraska – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa

Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, and Tracey Seaward

12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner,Steve McQueen, and Anthony Katagas

I think the winner will be: 12 Years A Slave 

Steve McQueen’s film was a harrowing and brilliant tale of one man’s fight aganst the injustice of his imprisonment and sale into slavery. It was brilliantly told, well acted and all rund was perfectly executed. It is incredible to think that prior to this film, few had the knowledge of what Solomon Northup went through and thanks to this film, we all have this knowledge and this man’s struggle should never ever be forgotten.