Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad had a large amount of promise before it’s release but due to it being pushed back and having many scenes re-shot in the wake of the Aurora tragedy, by the time it was released the excitement was gone and we are left with a sub-par film.

Layout 1
So in my opinion Gangster Squad was a poor film. There’s no getting around that. I feel like the director knew that too and so tried to cover it up with the excessive amount of blood and brutality within the film. It just went over the top, it became too realistic. I’m sure gangsters did do that, I’m sure they went round bashing people in the eyeball with screwdrivers, but I don’t really want to see that in all it’s glory. The problem was that the brutality wasn’t really advertised, so it was a shock to see it, I feel like the whole cinema recoiled slightly the first time someone got beaten up.

Now, I love Ryan Gosling as much as the next guy, but there was a problem with him in this film. I’m not sure whether it’s just me that had this issue but there was something wrong with his voice. Gosling’s character has a voice like an angel, which would be fine if he wasn’t playing an undercover cop battling against organised crime. Over the course of the film it lowers, but at the start I found it very difficult to understand what he was saying.

On the upside, Sean Penn’s acting was amazing. His character should have been given way more monologues, or even should have been the anti-hero in this film as Josh Brolin’s character just isn’t relatable. Josh’s character makes some bad decisions in terms of his family and came off as quite a cold character. I think here lies the main reason as to why I didn’t enjoy Gangster Squad: Brolin’s character was so unrelatable to me, that I couldn’t feel too sad when things went bad for him (when his friend dies), likewise I couldn’t feel too happy when things when well for him (when the mob boss is caught).
I suppose everyone else’s acting was okay, good enough so that it wasn’t bad. Visually the film was on point, I didn’t spot anything that looked too off, it was very well polished. The car chase scene in particular was noticeably good, probably one of the better scenes in this film.

The film’s conclusion also bothers me greatly. Gosling’s character keeps mentioning that having a strategy is important. It is shown that when they don’t have a strategy, things go wrong. So why is everything resolved by the squad going in and just shooting at everyone and everything until the mob boss dies? It actually makes me angry that that was the ending. It was done just to have a massive shoot-out which, although looked cool, was completely unnecessary. I would have been much happier with a very strategic plan, well executed plan, not this royal rumble that we’re presented with.

I give this film a 5 out of 10 for it’s good car chase scene, Sean Penn’s acting and disappointing ending.

Advertisements

Django Unchained

Django Unchained was definitely the best film I’ve seen this year. Whilst that isn’t much of an achievement right now, I reckon I’ll be saying that in at least six months time.

Django-Unchained-wallpapers-1920x1200-2

The performances in Django Unchained is just one of the many reason that I enjoyed this film. The performances from Christopher Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio were just incredible. A notable performance also came from Kerry Washington. I’m not sure if it was because her character had such emotional scenes, but her performance was easily my favourite. I was captivated constantly during almost all of her screen time.

The way Django was structured was very noticeable to me and played a major role in my enjoyment of this movie. Tarantino split Django into thirds. The first third was humorous, in particular the Klu Klux Klan scene was brilliant; the second third was serious and the tension rose, this takes place in the presence of DiCaprio and culminates in the death of DiCaprio’s character, and the final third was all about retribution, focusing mainly on Django and wrapping up loose ends.

There has been some criticism on how slavery is represented in Django. Obviously a film about slavery is going to attract a large amount of discussion and some people will automatically dislike it, for whatever reason. Film director Spike Lee also had some controversial comments to make about Django film. Directed at Tarantino, Lee is quoted at saying “What does he want to be made, an honorary black man?”. This is in relation to Quentin’s over-use of the word nigger (apparently used over 100 times during the film). Now, although I agree that it was over-used I also believe it was completely contextual. That is how people spoke back then and generally how black people were referenced.

There were very few criticisms I had of Django. At one stage the film slowed down too much for it to be enjoyable and it almost broke the tension completely. We also didn’t get much backstory from the German doctor, why or how he became a bounty hunter, I felt as though the film kind of skirmishes around the Doctor’s past and motives. The luck and skill of Django towards the end is also doubtable, although I’m willing to let it slide as it was fun to watch.

In conclusion, Django is a must-watch film for any Tarantino fans and fans of good cinema in general. I give this film a 9 out of 10  for it’s superb plot, performances and lack of depth in certain areas.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 2

Coming from a former Twihard, Breaking Dawn part 2 was a disappointing conclusion to the saga.


There isn’t really one overriding reason as to why I didn’t like this film, it was more a combination of really annoying little things.
Firstly, Taylor Launter delivered a terrible performance as Jacob Black. You know when your school puts on a play and you go and have a look and it’s usually full an assortment of bad actors? It was similar to that. Everything from the delivery of his lines, to his movements was just stiff. Also Jacob and the wolfpack were essentially useless in the entire film.
Secondly, I had a major problem with the green-screening. Maybe this is where I’m being too harsh, but the green-screening looked like I’d done it myself. For all of those who aren’t aware, the use of a green screen in a film is when you need to take a character and put them on a different backdrop. It was generally over-used and in a very noticable way.
Thirdly, was the issue of the CGI. I understand that babies are very difficult to work with, that they don’t often cooperate and that their demand are quite high. But there was absolutely no need to have a CGI baby. I was genuinely angry at the baby. I felt serious anger towards it. You know, it’s not even that the CGI was used, it was just that it was so badly. There was also a small amount of CGI used again at the very end of the film which was just disgusting.
I was a little disturbed about the level of violence and sex in this film and the way inwhich it is displayed. I don’t think I’m a very conservative person or anything, but when Bella is having sex with Edward, at one stage there is a face shot of Bella. Now in this close-up, Bella is obviously having a good time, she’s having such a good time that for a small moment the screen turns a sparkling and gold. I’m not quite sure what message the director is trying to say, but exposing an 8-year-old (there was one in the showing I was in) to that kind of footage seems a little strange. The head ripping and baby burning was a little morbid and grim considering practically anyone can go and see Twilight.

Now, after all of that, Twilight had one redeeming feature, the fight scene at the end. The entire film was pretty dull, until said fight scene. It genuinely had me on the edge of my seat with my mouth wide open. If only the battle scene hadn’t been rendered utterly pointless by the following scene. Having read all of the books, this unexpected fight scene was actually quite captivating. It’s just a shame the rest of the film wasn’t as exciting.

In conclusion, Breaking Dawn part 2 was an okay end to a poor saga. Perhaps not the best in the saga, but definitely up there. I rate this film a 4.5 out of 10 for it’s poor CGI, poor acting but epic fight scene.

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.