Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Looper (2012)

looper
Image rights belong to Endgame Entertainment, DMG Entertainment, TriStar Pictures and FilmDistrict

Looper – Film Review

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano

Director: Rian Johnson

Synopsis: Joe (JGL) is a Looper, someone who’s hired to take out people who are sent back in time by the criminal underworld, but runs into some trouble when he’s tasked with taking out his older self.

Review: Time travel movies can be a risky endeavour, as the Doctor himself will probably tell you, the timelines can get very messy and the plot can get very confusing, which might make the viewer’s brain start to hurt. Fortunately, there’s no need to worry about your brain melting here as writer and director Rian Johnson delivers a very sharp screenplay and a very riveting and thought provoking story in equal measure.

In this time twisting tale, upon the invention of time travel, it is almost instantaneously outlawed, meaning only criminals use it to dispose of people to wipe them off the map.  This is done courtesy of Loopers who do the deed once the person is zapped back in time, and then destroy their bodies, erasing them from existence. When the contract of a Looper expires, their older self is sent back to their younger self, which then”closes their loop.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce Willis

Yet for Joe, things go a bit awry as he’s faced with his older self, and he can’t bring himself to kill himself, and as a result, a hunting game begins. The screenplay by Johnson is tremendous, it delves deep into this futuristic world and the plot hooks you in, and goes in some very interesting directions that you might not expect. There are elements from other time travel movies for sure (Terminator 1), but the film certainly holds its own as a remarkable piece of science fiction storytelling.

In another collaboration with Johnson following 2005’s Brick, Joseph Gordon Levitt is terrific as the younger version of the film’s main character Joe. He has that cold and ruthless trait about his personality that helps him in this crazy job that he does. Similarly Bruce Willis is also first class in his role as the Older Joe. He’s a man who clearly believes with age comes experience, and watching these two on screen together, is insanely gripping and mental to watch. The make up to make JGL look like a young Bruce Willis is tremendously well done, to the point where you actually believe that he IS a young Bruce Willis. The arrival of Emily Blunt’s character on screen ensures the plot takes a very interesting turn, and she too gives a wounded, yet powerful performance.

However, despite all the interesting timey wimey time travel elements to the story, there’s plenty of fist flying and guns blazing to get the pulses racing. The story is paced for the most part very well, although there are moments where it does lull for a little bit, but never for any substantial period of time. The film looks incredible as well, the world of 2044 although we haven’t seen it yet (unless you’re reading this in 2044!) looks very detailed and futuristic. What’s more the action scenes looking crisp and are edited supremely well with superb cinematography. If Looper is the film that ensured that Star Wars: Episode VIII was put into the hands of Rian Johnson, then you have to say, Bravo! As it means the next instalment in a galaxy far, far away is in very capable hands.

A very unique and creative story with some superb writing, directing and acting especially from JGL and Willis, ensured that Johnson is a director to keep a firm eye on. 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Walk (2015)

the walk
Image rights belong to TriStar Productions, ImageMovers, LStar Capital, TriStar Pictures

The Walk – Film Review

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Synopsis: An account of the story of high wire artist Philippe Petit and his incredible and very dangerous mission to hang a high wire between the two towers of the World Trade Centre, and walk on it.

Review: For many people,  images of the old Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre will sadly be forever associated with the terrible events of September 11th 2001. And while the images of the atrocities of that day may never be vanquished from people’s minds, one must not forget that the buildings, whilst still under construction were at the centre of what has since been called “the artistic crime of the century,” when an insane French high wire artist strung a wire between the two buildings and walked on it, a distance of a whole 1,387 feet between man and a terrifying fall to the ground below.

The subject of this daring and somewhat mad story has already been the subject of James Marsh’s Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire. When asked why the awful events of 9/11 are not mentioned in his documentary Marsh said that the act by Petit was: “incredibly beautiful” and that it “would be unfair and wrong to infect his story with any mention, discussion or imagery of the Towers being destroyed.” With this film it is clear Zemeckis is going for a similar effect, it is almost a love letter to the buildings, to remember the Towers for what they were, and of course to retell the tale of Petit’s stunning feat. The big selling point of Zemeckis’s tale however, is to put the audience on that wire, to put you in his shoes when he took those first steps, and it does this with great effect.

The process to get to that point goes back to Petit’s days as a street performer in France,with Petit narrating the story atop the Statue of Liberty, and when he sees a picture of the towers, he has his Eureka! moment and sets about on his mission to walk on a wire between the buildings.  Along the way he recruits a number of people, most notably his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) and Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), the latter of whom helps him hone his craft as high wire artist. The pace of this first half of the movie is somewhat slow and overly long at times, but the interest is not lost. It is when we arrive in the Big Apple that the real planning begins, and the film turns into an exciting heist film, although nothing gets taken, except quite possibly the audience’s breath. The towers have been beautifully recreated by Zemeckis and his team, and when the mission to string the wire between the buildings is being carried out, it carries a lot of suspense with it, as the mission could have easily been over before it began.

Joseph Gordon Levitt certainly brings his usual charisma and charm to the role of Petit, except if you’re a man who has a mission to walk between two of the tallest buildings in the world, you’re going to have something of an ego, and unfortunately he does carry this ego, and at times, he can be an extremely obnoxious t**t, even when talking to his girlfriend who is doing everything she can to help him carry out his dream, and also to his team of assembled contributors. For the most part, JGL has the French accent on point, but there are times when it falters a little bit. Nevertheless, the story remains engaging and when we get to the act itself, it is truly majestic, incredible to behold and incredibly suspenseful although for the viewer who has a fear of heights, it might make it uncomfortable viewing.

With the most subtle of gestures it is clear that the film and filmmakers pay great respect to those who lost their lives during horrific events of 9/11, and indeed the film was dedicated to those who died that day. With that in mind, the film serves a reminder to the watching viewer, as the tagline reminds us” every dream begins with a single step,” and your dreams are obtainable also, even if they are as wacky and downright dangerous as Petit’s was.

With a somewhat slow opening, a film like this could easily dragged down to mediocrity, but JGL’s performance is of a solid standard, and with Zemeckis’s expert direction, the walk itself is truly spectacular to watch, particularly in IMAX 3D. 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Lincoln (2012)

Image is property of Walt Disney, Dreamworks, Reliance Entertainment and the Kennedy/Marshall Company

Lincoln – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Straithairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader

Director: Steven Spielberg

Synopsis: With the American Civil War raging on, President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln attempts to bring peace to the country and also seeks to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, despite opposition within his own party.

Review: A very real and powerful account of arguably the greatest president that the United States of America has ever had. This film brings us the final months of the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Within it he must fight his battle to end the Civil War and bring about the emancipation of the slavery. The war must have reached its conclusion before the amendment goes through and a failure to achieve these goals would have had dire consequences for the USA.

The collaboration of Spielberg along with Producers Kathy Kennedy and Tony Kushner gives us the battle and ultimate achievement of Abraham Lincoln, the successful passing of the emancipation of slavery. An initial plan developed by Kushner proposed the film focused on Lincoln’s political life as a whole. Yet Spielberg chose instead to focus in on the final two months of Lincoln’s presidency. The film brilliantly depicts the difficult path that lay before Lincoln in getting the amendment passed and how the brilliant Lincoln dealt with these obstacles. His great speeches and political charisma are on show in abundance, and his determination to pass through the legislation that made Lincoln one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.

In spite of the fact that the main role was initially offered to Liam Neeson while the film was in early development, Daniel Day Lewis in the role was quite simply President Lincoln personified. His accent and look was absolutely excellent. When Lincoln spoke, the whole room stopped whatever what they were doing and they listened to a great man speak.  His stories and speeches were wonderful to listen to.  Equally impressive in his supporting role was Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens. An argumentative Republican Congressman and strongly believes in the equality of all and vehemently backs the passage of the amendment. Sally Field is also superb in the role of the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.  All three were fully deserving of Oscar nominations and Day Lewis scooped the award for Best Actor, becoming the first man to win this award on three occasions. The rest of the supporting cast were all excellent in their roles.

While it is in no doubt that this film is very well done, there is a tremendous amount of talking throughout. While this dialogue is very interesting and offers great insight into a fascinating piece of history, it can at times feel a little tedious. For Americans, this film would be of great importance to them as it represents one of the most important chapters in their history. For non-Americans, it may not appeal to them as much. Nevertheless Spielberg has produced another personal and wonderfully directed film that was acted perfectly. It ensured Daniel Day Lewis made Academy Award History and reminded everyone of the reason why Abraham Lincoln is revered as one of, if not the greatest president that the United States has ever had.

Day-Lewis is on incredible form as Lincoln, and Spielberg is also on superb form as he delivers a very compelling account of a very important era in the history of the United States.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures
Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: The third and final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has been declared public enemy number 1 by Gotham City. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne has become a social recluse. However, he is forced to return as the Batman and protect Gotham City as a new threat emerges in the form of the ruthless mercenary Bane who seeks to render Gotham City to ashes.

Review: The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that firmly put the Batman franchise back on the map of superhero films. At the end of the preceding chapter, we saw how the peace that was established in Gotham was based on a lie, the lie of Harvey Dent. In the introduction of the film, after an enthralling plane heist scene, it shows in great depth that the actions of the Joker have had a deep and lasting impact on the people of Gotham as the people are still dealing with the aftermath of the destruction that was unleashed on the people of Gotham. While they are still on the recovery path, the fearless Bane, played by Tom Hardy, arrives in the city to carry out what the Joker did not, destroy Gotham. One of the main people that the Joker really left his mark on is Batman himself as we see how much he has just completely withdrawn into his shell in the years since. He lost a lot of physical strength in the eight years in between the two films and it sets the scene perfectly for the arrival of Bane as he is in his prime physical condition.

As with previous two chapters of this trilogy, the story of this film is really engrossing. Initially the citizens of Gotham are living on this false sense that peace had been achieved and that all the crime and corruption in Gotham had been eradicated with the Joker’s capture. Yet, Bane takes his chance with both hands to blow this façade apart and he does this ruthlessly and takes out anyone who dares to stand in his way. Hardy is magnificent in this role and in my opinion is the best villain of the trilogy. He has the intellect of the Joker, but a considerable physical advantage that made him a formidable opponent to Batman. His voice, although hard to understand at times, is another factor that makes him a frightening force to be reckoned with. As the majority of his face is covered by his mask, he has to use his eyes to convey his emotion and he does this brilliantly. The film’s action goes up another gear from the previous film as Bane threatens to torture the citizens of Gotham and completely tear the city apart, and it is up to a weakened Batman to come to Gotham’s rescue once more. This film boasts the best action scenes of the entire trilogy.

All of the returning cast again shine in their roles. Special mention must go to Michael Caine who arguably delivers his best performance of the trilogy. The new members of the cast also deliver great performances. Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard both deliver wonderful female performances as Selina Kyle (AKA Catwoman) and Miranda Tate respectively. Hathaway was seductive and brilliantly cunning at the same time, and she excelled as Catwoman. Similarly, Cotillard was equally strong in her leading role as the very intelligent businesswoman Miranda Tate. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also gives a strong performance as the smart and determined policeman John Blake.

The Dark Knight Rises was the film we deserved and the one that we needed to wrap up this magnificent trilogy. Every member of the cast, as with the first two films, played their roles out to absolute perfection. The action scenes are again pulsating to watch and with superb acting by everyone involved, along with the perfect villain, The Dark Knight Rises was one of the best films of 2012 and is the best film of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in my opinion. In a year that produced some extraordinary films and performances, The Dark Knight Rises was a little unlucky not to pick up at least one Oscar nomination. However it remains one of 2012’s best films. I take my hat off to Christopher Nolan for giving us three individual masterpieces that combine to form one of the best film trilogies of the 21st century.

The third chapter in a trilogy, and one that this time closes the trilogy in just about a perfect way with an emotional story, more great action and an absolutely brilliant villain in Bane.

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