Taken 2

If you loved Taken, you’ll like Taken 2, but probably not as much. Unfortunately, I didn’t really love Taken.

As soon as I heard about Taken 2, all I could think was how Hollywood are just trying to capitalise on the success of the first Taken film, but then after some thought I decided it kind of made sense. Liam Neeson’s character (Bryan Mills) had murdered eight criminals in France and no one had said anything? It only seemed right that he then would be hunted down, so in a round-a-bout kind of way, Taken 2 can be justified, right?

Anyway, after watching it I can confirm that it was just Hollywood have just milked the first Taken and should have quit whilst they were mildly successful. Taken 2 is merely a revised version of Taken, with a more promising start and a lazy finish. I think a problem with Taken 2 is that it’s certificate rating was a 12A, compared to a 15 in the first Taken. I understand that this is so it can reach a wider audience (and make more money), but it brings down the level of violence that can be shown on screen. In Taken, Liam Neeson ties a guy to a chair and electrocutes him, in Taken 2, I think someone gets a paper cut along the way. Okay, maybe not to that extent, but Taken 2 has a more tamer feel

Another problem I had with Taken 2 is that, in the first Taken, we’re already introduced to the lengths that our protagonist is willing to go to in order to protect his family (honestly, I’d just let them die). Having seen all that he can do and all that he is willing to do, Taken 2 falls into Superman trap and fails to create tension. The Superman trap is where a protagonist is built up to become so invincible and so unbeatable and in the end you’re sure nothing truly bad will happen, like Superman. This is the feeling that washed over me in Taken 2 and thus created a lack of tension. It doesn’t matter that Bryan gets fired at from point-blank range with a pistol, he’ll get out of it somehow, or that he is facing a room full of bad guys, he’ll beat them up somehow. I think the writers realised this and towards the end of the film Bryan struggled to defeat a low-level criminal after dispatching 10 of them 5 minutes ago.

Having said that, it’s a well made film, a clean film. Although I can never really believe Liam Neeson’s acting when he is happy, the acting was solid throughout. There were various parts of the film that were over the top however, it’s an action flim so it’s allowed to be a little cheesy ever now and again.

In conclusion, I thought Taken was okay, I tolerated Taken 2, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like Taken 3 if it happens in the same way. Will there be a Taken 3? It’s a very high possibility, Taken 2 made a greater profit than Taken, so why not? The Taken franchise has Taken (get it) a very similar turn in the “Hangover” franchise as being repetitive and easily predictable.
I give this film a 5 out of 10 for it’s solid acting and lack of tension

SkyFall

I did not enjoy this film.

Okay, so before you shoot me down, let me explain why I didn’t like Skyfall. It’s not because I’m just trying to be different or anything, I have actual legit reasons as to why I didn’t like Skyfall. First off I think my major issue with Skyfall is James Bond. Walking into Skyfall, I was anxious, I wanted to like James Bond, I wanted to be part of this massive fandom that adores James Bond, but I just can’t.

My problem is that there are too many moments in the film where the makers of the film have been a little lazy, too many times in the film I just had to sit back and say “because it’s James Bond”. For example, when the keys are already in a random motorbike “because it’s James Bond”, when a JCB is already switched on on a train “because it’s James Bond”. I get that that’s Bond’s thing and that films aren’t supposed to be all that realistic, but I feel that the writers relied on this too often and got lazy. A very prominent section of the film that annoyed me was how thw writers seemed to shoehorn a completely irrelevant poem in so they could play a montage of clips over the top. The character “M” at one stage reads out a poem by Alfred Tennyson almost at random.

Another major annoyance in James Bond is just how British it is, everything about it is stereotypically British. I’m pretty sure every British character says either “bloody” or “Christ”. Every single character. When you go to see Skyfall, make a note of how many times they same “bloody” or “Christ”, I’m surprised I didn’t hear words like “balderdash” or “fiddlesticks”. Although no one asked for any crumpets, one of the characters asks for a cup of “Earl’s Grey”.

I’m not sure if this is because I have a deep affection for “The Dark Knight” but did anyone else see the similarities between these two films? The villain being captured because he wanted to. Certain phrases, certain lines in the film just seemed to match up. I’m not sure if it’s me being paranoid and a huge batman fanboy, or if there is actually some truth to what I thought.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, there were some good parts to Skyfall. The whole film was generally epic, you could tell a large amount of money had gone into it and there were some nice explosions going on at some points. Some scenes were captivating and I actually stared at the screen for a while. The villain, I thought, was pretty darn good, probably one of the only redeeming qualities of Skyfall. He was smart, kind of scary and his reason for killing people was totally logical. The tragedy at the end gave me a little tinge of regret that I hadn’t watched the other Bond films and I actually connected with the characters on screen.

Although it was an “epic” film filled with lots of explosions and cool scenes, it failed to engage me and keep me interested. Many of the scenes were just too far fetched for me and although I didn’t really buy into the film whilst I was there, after review something is telling me in the back of my mind to watch more Bond films. I rate Skyfall a 5 out of 10 for it’s great villain and annoying British stereotypes.

In The Holidays

The holidays have proved very interesting for a change. Over the past two days I have been helping to film an advert for my college that will end up showing in the cinema. The actual advert won’t be seen in cinema until December 14th, but this means it’ll be shown before films such as “The Hobbit”. It’ll only be shown in local cinemas around my area (Birmingham), but I can’t wait. There was talk of there being a premiere in the cinema (although I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to work as the advert is only 30 seconds long).
Although I didn’t actually press record to film for any part of the advert, I did record part of the audio for it. It might not sound like much, but honestly I had to hold back the giggling when I was holding the boom pole I was that excited. I know it sounds like I didn’t do anything but it’s my first official step into the industry. Most of the time I was just filming behind the scenes stuff and doing little “runner” jobs (getting last minute props they needed or carrying equipment). We ran out of time to film one section of the advert and so our re-shoot is scheduled for Friday, me and the other production assistant (Her blog is here:) get to co-direct the movement for the final shot which is pretty exciting too. So I’m now basically on the same level as Ridley Scott.

Ruby Sparks

I know, I know before tonight I’d never heard of this film either, but legally or illegally I think everyone should watch this movie.
Ruby Sparks is focused around novelist Calvin (Paul Dano). Calvin received praise for writing a book 10 years ago that is considered to be a modern classic, similar to J.K Rowling’s praise. Now aged 29, Calvin is still struggling to cope with his fame, severe writing block and an extremely limited social life. Calvin finally finds inspiration and begins to write about his dream girl, Ruby Sparks, until he wakes up one morning to find her a real person. On paper it sounds like a whimsical nickelodeon film starring Selena Gomez. On screen it was a surprisingly good film.
Ruby Sparks made me think, what would it really be like to be in complete control of someone, and makes the audience question how perfect perfection really is. Our protagonist tries to create his perfect spouse, to create the perfect relationship and when it doesn’t quite go his way he tries to control it. I think the writer wanted the audience to think about how we can’t control everything in our lives, about how we can’t have these perfect relationships in our lives. The writer is commenting on how many people in society today want to have a perfect relationship a “tumblr relationship” and how it is impossible to have. How it doesn’t exist.

The actual film itself was also really good. The acting was good enough to believe, and although wasn’t top-notch it was a solid 8 out of 10 (Paul Dano’s “awkward” face is just brilliant). My favourite scene was probably the confrontation scene towards the where all the tension in the film is let off. It is performed brilliantly by both Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano. Antonio Bandaras also makes a fun and surprising appearance in this film and actually kept me entertained, unlike he usually does in his other films.
Now, although I did love this film I had a fair few gripes with it. First off, I know I said the acting was good enough to believe, some of Paul Dano’s movements were too rigid, not natural enough. Also every time he cried (which was every five minutes) he didn’t seem to cry properly, he didn’t even weep, he just pulled a face. At times his character was being stubborn and annoying and I couldn’t understand some of the decisions he made.
Another problem I had, was a very similar problem I have with a number of films. When the writer came up with the idea of Calvin being about to write anything about Ruby and it became true, a million ideas flashed into my head. Why doesn’t he write something to solve all his problems? Why doesn’t he write “Ruby understands how I want her to be” or “Ruby is a mind-reader and so we rarely fight? The child in me was shouting for Calvin to write: “Ruby has superpowers that she passes on to me”. The point is, there becomes a problem when a protagonist has unlimited power over someone or something.
It also had an ending that was open to interpretation, which is something I enjoy.
All in all this is a good watch. With not too much riding on this film, I fear that it may not have had much success at the box office. I didn’t even know this film existed until I walked into the cinema to buy my ticket. I rate Ruby Sparks 8.5 out of 10 for it’s generally good acting, clever message and open-ended ending.

Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena

So I just finished my new book “Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena” and I thought I’d share some thoughts about the book and about the next in the series. The fourth installment in the five part series is to be called “The House Of Hades” or something, which is pretty self-explanatory as it is mentioned that that is where our heroes must go at the end of MoA.

First off, the ending with Percy and Annabeth going off into Tartarus together was easily the best cliffhanger the author Rick Riordan has given us. It was a common theme throughout MoA that Percy and Annabeth wanted to spend more time together, after feeling like they’d been cheated out of their time by Hera, so this bitterly romantic ending was really nice. It’ll be interesting to see how Riordan describes Tartarus to the reader as, it is only ever been described as a hell-hole.
Another question for the fourth book is which POV it will be told from. Jason, will also have to have one because he’s Jason, son of Zeus (he’s kind of a big deal).I’d like to think Nico will have a POV as he has just been handed leadership from Percy and also is a new-ish character to the series. I’d also like to think Leo will get a POV as his point-of-view was easily the most entertaining. I’d like to see another POV from Hazel in this book, just so the  Hazel/Frank/Leo saga still has some legs and Leo still has hope.  A large amount of people are calling for a POV to be given to Reyna which is a good idea. This way we can see the Roman side of the invasion as well as getting to see a very likeable character.
So, now the book has finished, speculation of “HOH” has begun. As you may have already worked out someone will have to stay in Tartarus to close the doors of death from the other end. I think Hazel will volunteer as she feels that she is supposed to be dead anyway but I can’t see Frank just letting Hazel die.

  1. If anyone comes out of Tartarus changed it will be Annabeth. This would be a much more dramatic twist as Annabeth is the more grounded one and you’d expect Percy to go off the rails.
  2. I can’t see there being much more drama going on between Frank, Hazel and Leo unless there is some friction between Frank and Nico
  3. Of course Gaia will awaken at the end of this book. Otherwise what will they put in the last book.
  4. The Roman-Greek battle will occur. They’ll come to their senses eventually but it will definitely happen.
  5. Annabeth and Percy will be in the book. Remember Annabeth’s bag and laptop disappear in the final scene? That’s how they will communicate with the team. It’ll also be used to provide them with helpful information in their quest.

    That is my immediate review of Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena. My opinion will probably change over the next week or so, as it always does.

Looper

So, the other day I went to see Looper. If you want a short quickie review of it: It is not what you expect at all. If you expect a fast-paced time travelling film then you’re in for a shock.

Looper is marketed as an action Sci-fi time travelling bonanza. On it’s adverts it’s described as this year’s decade’s “The Matrix”. Now, I haven’t seen The Matrix, but I’ve heard it’s pretty big deal. I’ve heard it’s pretty intense and so you can forgive me going into Looper expecting some sort of deep thinking film where I leave not knowing if I’m in real life or if it’s just fantasy.

The twist in Looper is that around a third of the film is focused on a mother and son. I don’t mind that, infact it was a nice break the action (although if the action carried on I wouldn’t have minded). What I didn’t like was that how the mother and son were just shoehorned into the film. I do understand that if they had shown these characters that the film would not have hit it’s target audience of Sci-fi watchers, I just wish they could have been in there as it is a vital part of the film.
Having said that Looper is generally a good film, I a couple of problems here and there, but miniscule things that don’t take away from the film. My favourite scene in the film is either the “diner” scene showed in the trailer where Bruce Willis and Joseph Gorden-Levitt are talking. Or the scene in which Bruce Willis kills a LOT of people, just reiterating how much of a bad-ass he is. I rate Looper 9 out of 10 for it’s good storyline, especially the way they handled the time travelling (so many films make a hash of it usually) and for it’s good acting.