MOVIE REVIEWS: Maleficent, Under the Skin
This is an unusual film, to say the least. Trying to completely understand the plot is pointless - the film isn’t designed like that. The direction is cold and distant, often remaining on shots longer than is comfortable. It still leaves enough room for slices of humanity to seep in, though. Scarlett Johansson is good, and I respect her for doing films like this and Her (2013), as well as blockbusters like The Avengers (2012). I applaud the vision behind this film, but it does feel like there aren’t quite enough substantial ideas to sustain it. It’s definitely not for everyone, but probably worth a watch if you know what you’re getting into.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) was one of my favourite films of phase one, so I was really looking forward to this. I gotta say, though, I was a bit disappointed. The Captain America character just felt out of place in the conspiracy thriller genre of the movie. I get that he literally is out of place, but I don’t think that juxtaposition worked that well. The whole plot feels so much bigger than Captain America himself. When the film got into character development and exploring him personally, I liked it a lot. I just didn’t find the plot all that interesting. It was a very obvious allegory to the current political climate, which is fine, but still, not that interesting. The supporting characters didn’t do much for me, either. Black Widow actually seemed to have regressed since The Avengers (2012). And the titular Winter Soldier is severely underused. Nick Fury was good, though. Now, all of this is not to say it’s a bad film. That’s not the case at all - it’s a good film. It’s well-made, looks nice, the action and effects are decent. I liked how it was a sequel to the first film, and not just another film in the franchise. It’s actually quite brave, too, with what it does with the overall story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m truly at a loss as to how this is going to affect Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. However, I think what the film was largely missing for me was fun. The preceding films are fun, which sets them apart from the gloomy comic book movies, like Man of Steel (2013). There were a couple of funny moments, but that element was largely lacking. I hate to sound so down on it, because it’s still a solid entry in the franchise. Just not one I liked as much as the others.
I loved it. Honestly, I was totally sold on it within the first two minutes. I’m a fan of Spike Jonze, and I think this is his best film yet. The screenplay is wonderful. It’s full of relatable, human moments as well as clever insights about the future and where technology is now and where it’s headed. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant, and he’s backed up by great performances from Amy Adams and Rooney Mara. And, of course, Scarlett Johansson is amazing, completely evoking a character with only a voice. The cinematography was beautiful too - I loved the colours. One of the things I really liked about the film was that it avoided falling into the cliches it easily could have. In different hands, the film could have been a horrible experience. Instead, Jonze really cares for the main character, and it shows in the lack of the movie making fun of him. I’m not sure everyone would like it, but I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch.
This was alright. It felt very much like a first film. That’s not to say it was poor in any way - Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a fine job in all areas. The story just isn’t all that interesting. It started off fun and felt like it had potential, but it just became kind of cliche in the end, even though it was trying not to be. Scarlett Johansson was good in it, but I’m not sure Julianne Moore’s character was fleshed out enough. Overall, a bit forgettable.
I wasn’t too enthused about seeing this film because the trailer made it seem like it was basically a comedy, but, while there are light and comedic moments (which I did appreciate), they don’t make up the entire film. I quite enjoyed it overall. Psycho (1960) is my favourite Alfred Hitchcock film, and I loved seeing all the scenes of them making it. I kind of wish there had been more. I liked how it opened and closed like an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Anthony Hopkins was excellent and completely disappeared into the character. The rest of the cast were fine too. The major thing I wasn’t that keen on was how it focused so much on Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife. It just wasn’t all that interesting to me. Oh well, it’s still a very solid film about a legendary filmmaker.
First off, I must say, when I became truly interested in this film was when Joss Whedon was announced as the director. I’ve been a huge fan of his for many years, and I knew he’d be the perfect person to do this. I’m still bitter that he wasn’t offered X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). I was really glad to find out that he wrote the screenplay too. I’ve enjoyed each of the preceding films, each to a different degree. In saying that, I’ve never been a big fan of any of the characters. Growing up, I wasn’t really into comics, but I did like heroes like Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men. However, bringing them all into one movie is so awesome and something I would’ve loved as a kid. And I loved this movie as an adult. It was really, really great. For the first 30 minutes or so, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It can be slightly confusing if you’re not familiar with the characters and the other films. When it really came together for me was when the Avengers literally came together. Having all these characters in one place was exciting. I loved how they all related to each other in unique ways. Their interactions were one of my favourite things about the film. There’s a lot of tension between them; they’re not the most unified of teams. I really liked that they all got their moments to shine. None of them felt superfluous. I was originally disappointed that The Hulk had been recast, but after seeing this, I’m glad he was. Mark Ruffalo was perfect and showed how miscast both Eric Bana and Edward Norton were. All the actors were great. Scarlett Johansson is hot. Sorry, I had to say it. Lots and lots of action. All of which was well-done, and exciting, and visually impressive. The final battle could’ve gone on a whole lot longer and I would’ve been fine with it. The film had a decent running time which I really liked, and, again, I could’ve done with more. The movie is full of Whedon’s trademark wit. Myself and everyone around me were laughing many times throughout. Robert Downey Jr. was made to deliver Whedon’s one-liners. It had plenty of Whedon’s touches, which pleased me immensely. What else? Oh, I don’t know, it was all fantastic. I’m sure there are many things you could criticise about it, but it’s just an amazing comic book movie. It knows what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m keen to see more movies in this series, whether the characters are separate or not.
You know, the first half of this movie wasn’t too bad. I enjoy a good utopian/dystopian story, even if it isn’t very original. However, the second half ruined everything by becoming a typical shitty Michael Bay action movie. Anything good about the storyline was just destroyed by Bay. The dialogue was hideous. The humour and one-liners made me cringe. The music was lame and predictable. The Microsoft product placement was embarrassing. The biggest reason to watch this film for me was actors like Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean and Steve Buscemi. However, they couldn’t push past the bad screenplay and direction. The plot has similarities to the book and film, Never Let Me Go (2010), except that story is executed brilliantly.
The new (and presumably final) trailer for The Avengers (2012).
It’s looking pretty good, I think. It’s so good to see what Joss Whedon can do with a huge budget. I don’t always go for blockbusters, but I’m looking forward to this one.
P365 Film #249 With this, I have now watched every Coen brothers film. I can’t say this was one of my favourites of theirs, but, as with all their films, it was really good. It’s a kind of film-noir and as well as being set in the 40s, it seems to try and emulate the films of that time too. The black and white cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. Some shots, especially with the use of shadows, were stunning. It also has a great cast giving great performances in the typically quirky Coen brothers fashion. I can’t wait for their next film!
P365 Film #249
With this, I have now watched every Coen brothers film. I can’t say this was one of my favourites of theirs, but, as with all their films, it was really good. It’s a kind of film-noir and as well as being set in the 40s, it seems to try and emulate the films of that time too. The black and white cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. Some shots, especially with the use of shadows, were stunning. It also has a great cast giving great performances in the typically quirky Coen brothers fashion. I can’t wait for their next film!