The Clark Knight Rises

Man of Steel Review

 

Superman has had almost just as many films as Batman in his cinematic life, but has often not been as well received. The morally flawless and physically superior alien from Kansas doesn’t give for a lot of creative freedom for actors, writers or directors, no matter how you spin Superman, as an audience, we can always know what to expect.
He isn’t anything like Batman – a narcissistic sociopath that gives scope for audiences to delve into the psychology of the human mind. With Batman there’s childhood trauma, anger, guilt, an overwhelming phobia and an interesting form of discipline.

He isn’t anything like Spiderman either – an egotistical teenager that dons a latex suit only to revenge hunt for the killer of his uncle whom he regretfully feels he always unappreciated.
Both these heroes (Batman and Spiderman) can break, bleed, bruise and die. They don’t fly; they zip, swing, glide and fall.

Superman could literally destroy the human race. If he wanted to he could bring the moon down on the Earth and we would be powerless to stop him. Superman is like many other superheroes, is an orphan of sorts, his parents died on his home planet Krypton shortly after sending him to Earth to be found and raised by a loving couple in scenic America country side. Due to his races’ ability to adapt on different planets he is nothing short of a God on Earth who could give Thor the beating of a lifetime.

In nearly every other Superman film we first meet our man of steels secret identity Clark Kent, before he switches his budgie smugglers to the outside of his pants and fly’s around really fast saving everyone – in latex. But Man of Steels writers and producers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, the duo who brought us all the Dark Knight Trilogy, have gone for a different approach, the thing I think the two excel at, backstory. They aren’t paying tribute to the Superman movies of old. Bryan Singer tried that and although he came pretty close the film fell harder than Superman sucking Kryptonite. In this new take on the origin story of Earths only immortal Clark/Kal, Earthling/Kryptonian; a child of two worlds, one that made him what he is and the other that shaped him into who he is. Not an easy role to play for Cavill who’s fairly new to the world of Hollywood cinema, especially given the high expectations for the film when names like Goyer, Nolan and Snyder are cast.

The Dark Knight trilogy has been labeled humorless on several occasions, which I think is completely ridiculous given that Nolan was making a Batman film that took itself seriously, which in order to avoid awful one liners and nipples on the bat suit, it had to do. But Batman was full of characters that did one liners well it had Alfred, the Joker, Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne, Batman’s own Clark Kent. It surprised me then that Goyer and Nolan allowed for Man of Steels one liners to be so cheesy and misplaced. Cavill’s Kal-El has absolutely no memorable wisecrack as his only role models with in the film (before he himself becomes Earth’s biggest role model) give him nothing but mentoring speeches; Kevin Costner’s Jonathon Kent tells Clark to keep his pants on the inside of his trousers, or words to that effect. Whereas Russell Crowe’s Jor-El encourages his son to give Earth a chance and allow them to learn who he is, letting him ‘be an ideal to strive towards’.

Lois Lane isn’t quite what I had expected from a realistic reboot of Superman but Amy Adams does a good job of adapting the character that is even more fiery (or naïve depending on how you look at it) than even John Byrne’s version of Ms. Lane depicted in his ‘Man of Steel’ comic book mini series released in the 80’s that was no doubt one of the key texts used by Goyer. I was expecting her character to be the films release of humor but as the Internet is trying to close her paper and a genocidal alien’s landed in her city and decided to destroy Earth, we can forgive Lois from straying away from trying to find the hilarity in the situation.

With all this in mind I think its safe to say Man of Steel is taking it self very seriously, or at least trying to. I think with all the other superhero movies out at the moment, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and the rest of The Avengers, its easy to see why Man of Steel was trying very hard to stray away from the absurdity of the situation. Despite being just on the side of DC over Marvel (just), I do feel that Man of Steel falls short and all it has to offer to undo The Avengers would be spectacle. The film is huge; its opening sequence on Krypton makes you wonder why you ever thought Avatars Pandora was so wondrous.

The set pieces of Man of Steel are almost as immense as the cost of property damage and the death count that Superman must rack up in the films duration. Epic fight sequences that see Superman land heavy blows to Zod (Michael Shannon) and the rest of the ‘Zod Squad’ have us tearing through a burnt, crumbled and ruined Metropolis, that once you see the scope of its ruin makes you wonder why Superman is Super at all.

This film is brimming with Zack Snyder’s confidence and I feel that no one could have done better other than Nolan himself. Although I enjoyed it I still find it really sad that I have to say that Man of Steel is exactly what you’d expect from a Superman movie, especially from someone who made Watchmen and 300.

This film is aching for more backstory; it has the space and doesn’t even have to try for its target audience but unfortunately I feel once again the chance of Superman becoming the most relatable superhero of all time through clever story telling, has once more been sacrificed for special effects and set pieces. Man of Steel threatens to become the next superfranchise and effortlessly asserts itself as this generations Superman origin story. However, this is not the best Superman movie we have seen or are even yet to see.

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You may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.

Apologies I have once again taken a very long time to get a review out and have once again come back with a review for a film that most of you have already probably seen. 

I did this review for a unit at college which is why this one delves so much deeper into film theory’s than the others I have done. I hope you read and enjoy it anyway, I will be back a lot sooner I promise! – Feedback as ever would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

George. 

The Matrix Film Review

The Matrix is nothing less than one of the most iconic films pre 2000. The 1999 blockbuster sensation broke boundaries in both technical and symbolical aspects of film.

The concept of the film is that the world as we know it is in fact a virtual reality and that reality itself is a dystopian shell run by AI (Artificial Intelligence). We as humans are all plugged into the virtual world – called ‘The Matrix’, living what we perceive as our ‘real’ lives’ inside of foetal tanks that stunt our growth and vegetate our minds, whilst we act essentially as a living battery pack to feed the machine world. If humanity doesn’t wake up soon and face the brutality of reality the dangerously advanced AI who have put the real world on its knees will destroy ‘Zion’, the city inhabited by all that remains of humanity.

I will admit that retrospectively The Matrix does sound like a film created by a complete technophobe or even based on a wet dream Bill Gates had many years ago! When in fact, The Matrix draws a lot of its concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy within its characters, premises and themes.
The premise itself can be linked directly with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Within this theory Plato compares uneducated people to being chained in a cave. A fire glows behind the person within the cave and they see the shadows of objects cast on a wall, but never the actual objects themselves. These people then learn only ever to see the shadows as reality and therefore do not know the true form of the objects and then become confined to this forced false perception.  The Matrix acts as the cave and the shadows on the wall are the things we interact with throughout our lives, we perceive them to be real because we are told that they are and never actually realise that our perceptions are wrong as it is beyond our understanding.

The minds behind The Matrix belong to the creative if not slightly paranoid Andy and Larry, the Wachowski Brothers. Who created something truly unique with this film that was almost like nothing ever done before, but something that has been copied infinite times since. This film fits perfectly into the action genre with its gunfights, explosions and kick ass kung fu! But uses action as an elegant sidekick to its immersive sci-fi setting that really takes the lead and drives the film, helping it appeal to not only teenagers of 15 or above but also to adults in their early 30’s who would have been fans of the previous decades sci-fi hits ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Terminator’ that The Matrix draws a lot of its stylistic ‘grungy noir’ influence from.

The characters the Wachowski’s have created are for the most part extremely believable and highly likeable (even Keanu Reeves), which does obvious wonders in submerging the audience’s minds into the ludicrous plot that, if you can keep up with, will actually make sense. I’ll go through all the main characters individually and explain how they relate to a famous film character theory developed by Vladimir Propp, predictably called ‘Propp’s Character Theory’, which states that there are usually only 7 broad character types in every film; villain, donor, helper, princess, false hero, dispatcher and of course the hero. These can often cross over within the narrative and you may find that several character types are applicable to the same character.

Neo / Thomas A. Anderson / The One (Keanu Reeves)
The Hero  

The Matrix starts with Reeves asleep at his desk being woken up by a message on his computer that has been sent into The Matrix from the real world. After a short time Neo is introduced to two of the films other vital characters, Trinity and Morpheus who I will talk about later on. When Neo learns that his life as he’d known it was nothing but a computer generated illusion he moves on quickly from the primary shock and undertakes the task given to him by Morpheus (the dispatcher) to free others from the virtual purgatory. Neo’s path to ‘enlightenment’ runs smoothly along the first 4 stages of Todorov’s theory although technically the fifth stage is not achieved until the end of the third film in the trilogy ‘Matrix Revolutions’.

As Neo embraces his role he becomes something of a Christ figure and is even given the title of ‘The One’, as they hope he is the one who will liberate the trapped human race. Throughout The Matrix several parallels can be drawn between Neo and head religious figures such as Jesus Christ, with his resurrection from the dead that establishes that he is in fact the saviour of the human race.  His ability to be both Earthly and Godly, seeing The Matrix’s code shaping everything around him, which demonstrates Neo’s ability to transcend the division between realms that are in this case, The Matrix and the dystopian real world. Neo’s name before he becomes ‘The One’ is Thomas Anderson. ‘Thomas’ was the name of the disciple who wouldn’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he’d seen proof with his own eyes, which is the same connection Neo has between believing and seeing. ‘Anderson’ directly translates to ‘son of a man’, a term that was frequently used to describe Christ in the Gospels.
 
Keanu Reeves has found his perfect role in Neo, all he has to do is look good while hitting things quickly and say the occasional cheesy line as plausibly dramatic as possible, ‘my name is Neo’ being the definite highlight. As we go on this adventure with Neo from almost the word go, it is very easy to become invested in his character and his journey that you want to see it through to the end, which most people who saw ‘The Matrix’ did, whether or not they liked the trilogy’s second instalment ‘The Matrix Reloaded’. 

Morpheus
(Lawrence Fishburne)
The Dispatcher & The Princess’ Father

Morpheus is the leader of the real world, focused on nothing but the task he was appointed by The Oracle; finding ‘The One’. Morpheus brings Neo out of the Matrix and shows him the lie of the life he’s been living, sending him on his journey ‘down the rabbit hole’ that unfolds the events of the trilogy.

Morpheus acts as a farther figure for all the crew on his ship, the Nebuchadnezzar. Throughout the entire trilogy Morpheus remains the only character driven by a greater sense of wisdom and guidance. Morpheus teaches Neo just as far as he needs to before he steps aside to let Neo proceed on his own. As is true to the stereotypical dispatcher role of Propp’s theory Morpheus never sets out to seek his own personal glory, he is made heroic in his own way through his interactions with the hero, Neo.

Just like all the major characters of The Matrix Morpheus’ name does hold significance to his role in the film. The name Morpheus was taken from the Greek God of dreams, who name translates to ‘he who forms’. The God Morpheus has the ability to change his own shape and manipulate the form of reality, as well as the power to capture other people’s minds with dreams and fantasies. His most significant power in relation to The Matrix is his power to wake people up, as Morpheus wakes Neo from the world of illusions.

Fishburne plays Morpheus brilliantly; making him my favourite character in the trilogy – by far. His performance is just as monumental as his character, the coolest cinematic Jesus any director has ever created (sorry Mel Gibson). When you watch Fishburne on screen you may fool yourself into thinking his role was easy to pull off, but I think its only thanks to Fishburne’s epic on screen presence and awesome line delivery that we can bring ourselves to spend time with a character that has the more ridiculous dialogue than any other.

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss)
The Princess & The Helper

Trinity was freed from The Matrix by Morpheus, just like Neo and is now one of Morpheus’ best infiltrators of The Matrix. Trinity is not characteristically stereotypical of Propp’s princess role yet she fits due to her being Neo’s love interest.  It’s hard to go into detail about Trinity’s role within The Matrix Trilogy without giving a lot of plot away but I can say that she is a consistently loyal and willing to the cause, following Neo and Morpheus into all kinds of situations regardless of whether or not it may lead to her death. She is by no stretch of the imagination the helpless victim who’s only hope is to be saved by the hero, she can look after herself and this is the main reason why she breaks so far away from Propp’s character theory’s stereotypical princess.             

‘Trinity’ in Christian theology represents the unity of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (Father, Son and Holy Ghost – Morpheus, Neo and The Oracle).

Moss is charismatic, clever and sexy (if you’re into that kind of thing), she accompanies Neo’s character well, although I never found her performance particularly convincing. I can never quite put my finger on why but I do think it’s heavily down to the extremely wooden, implausible scene in which she confesses her love for our dying hero. As I mentioned earlier Trinity is an unconventional ‘Princess’ both charismatically and stylistically, she isn’t your typical ‘Hollywood hottie’ – I’m not saying this remotely detracts from her performance yet am merely commenting on her being marketable to a niche teenage target audience, when conventionally modern day action for example, ‘Transformers’ would have someone like Megan Fox to attract their 15 – 35 target audience.

Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving)
The Villain

Agent Smith, like all other agents is a computer program whose purpose is to serve within The Matrix. When programs  (people) die in The Matrix they are deleted because they have fulfilled their purpose. The second fight with Neo in The Matrix causes Smith’s program to corrupt leading him to evolve his own characteristics and a sense of purpose turning him to an even more dangerous nemesis.

Smith blurs the line between man and machine; although ultimately humans come out on top (in true Todorov style) his ability to control his own program with such deadly conviction suggests that victory was never a certainty for humans, and that machines have more influence and potential than it might seem, even if not now, in the future.

 

In this role Hugo Weaving is playing, well, Hugo Weaving, a man who only has to talk at a camera with one of the coolest voices in cinema to make his performance memorable. There are scenes where he is intimidating, psychotic, cool and calm yet always dangerous. Then there are those where you cant help but wonder whether or not something important has been said, or whether or not Weaving has just made a series of interesting noises. The interactions between Agent Smith and the films other characters are in all honesty, very well executed. His fight scenes are the best in the film and his dialogue is just as ‘out there’ as Morpheus’.  

 

The Oracle (Gloria Foster)
The Donor & False Hero

 

Just like Morpheus, the Oracle is a figure of wisdom and guidance that helps Neo understand his mission and purpose. The scope of the Oracle’s power is never quite clear. Sometimes she appears to be able to read into the future, near and far. Others, she seems to lead characters down a path of false promises that can lead you as a viewer to think that she may be hiding some darker secrets. Her prophecies suggest that Neo and the other characters have no free will or control over their lives. As the trilogy progresses we see her role evolve and begin to question whether or not she truly knows anything about the future, or if she is simply just a good judge of character. Regardless of her true abilities she is the one who gives Neo insight into his future, leading him on a sacrificial path to save Morpheus. This is The Matrix’s twist on Propp’s donor role; The Oracle gives Neo ‘magical’ knowledge instead of an object with which to complete his quest. This knowledge is the key to the path that helps Neo overcome his self-doubt and become The One.
The Oracle can also been attributed to being the trilogy’s ‘false hero’. At the start of the third film ‘Matrix Revolutions’ Agent Smith comes to take ‘the eyes of The Oracle’ – the program that gives The Oracle her power, installed in her computer program DNA. The Oracle, having the power she has, already knows this is going to happen and yet does nothing to stop her impending doom, despite the fact she is fully aware of the repercussions Smith’s success will have on Neo being victorious on his mission to free mankind from their digital prison.

 

The Oracle in The Matrix is simply an adaptation of the mythical Oracle at Delphi, who according to legend once declared Socrates the wisest man in the land. Socrates response to this statement was that if he was wise, it was only because he knew nothing. Neo too is aware of his own ignorance and the inscription above the door to the Oracle’s kitchen in The Matrix reads, “Know Thyself”, which suggests that self-knowledge is extremely important.
The Oracle in The Matrix Trilogy is depicted as a motherly figure for all of the potential saviours of mankind. Whereas The Oracle from ancient Greek mythology would sit over a chasm in a three pronged seat, inhaling vapours from Earth that were believed to be the breath of Apollo, in The Matrix the Oracle sits on a simple three-legged stool in her ordinary apartment and breathes in the smell of home made cookies baking in the oven, all symbols created to remove her overt power in The Matrix and reinforce her motherly, protective nature.

All of these characters are mature variations of stereotypical archetypes that you find in fairly tales and folklore’s, the kinds of stories from which Propp devised his character theory. This was done intentionally to help The Matrix’s predominantly teenage target audience understand the films complex concept and plot. The Matrix isn’t the kind of action film that relies solely on action pact sequences and unrealistically explosive environments to make ticket or DVD sales, these unique religious or mythological twists on traditional characters help carry the film forward and really show off the creative ability of the Wachowski brothers.

That said, there is of course still a lot of stunning action sequences that have become extremely iconic since the films release. The ground-breaking ‘bullet time’ photography, that used a set of still cameras to produce an orbiting viewpoint of action frozen in time, became the most famous action sequence of the film and unveiled the endless possibilities digital action films could have when made with true ingenuity.  

If I was to sum up The Matrix in one word I think I would pick the word, ‘genius’. You really have to see it to believe it… because in the wise words of the films own gun slinging guru Morpheus, “no-one can explain The Matrix to you – you have to see it for yourself”. Wise words, wise words. 

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We’re off to see the Wizard, but he hasn’t quite got there yet.

Another review of a child friendly film, something more recent than anything I usually do though so hopefully this review might reach some of you before you see the actual film! I saw this film in IMAX 3D so bare that in mind when reading and please don’t bother telling me it completely changed the film in the hope that I’d be naive enough to believe you, just because you enjoyed seeing Mila Kunis on a massive screen (although I did too) doesn’t mean the IMAX version is worth the damage it does to your bank balance!


Oz the Great and Powerful Film Review

Oz the Great and Powerful is the prequel that nobody asked for, it’s all about how Oz got its famous wonderful wizard. The question of how this happened has never crossed my and as far as I’m aware, anybody else’s mind. But despite this Oz the Great and Powerful does have a lot to offer in terms of a family friendly fantasy film.

It opens (in black-and-white, obviously) in an early 1900’s Kansas, where a cheap fairground magician (James Franco) is attempting to fool the locals with his charm, showmanship and interesting outfit. His fraudulent nature is predictably rumbled and he frantically escapes in his hot-air-balloon that is whisked away by a cyclone somewhere over the rainbow, to the famous and fantastical Land of Oz. A world that returns to the cinema screens nearly seventy-three years after it’s first appearance in 1939. The Technicolor wonderland is one of the few settings along with Avatar’s ‘Pandora’, that I think justifies such heavy use of CGI and 3D.

After Franco crash lands he is greeted by a good witch, (Mila Kunis) who believes he is the prophesized sorcerer sent to save Oz from her wicked cousin (Micelle Williams). But it might instead actually be, just maybe, Mila’s sister (Rachel Weisz) who doesn’t only love to dress in a menacing tone of green but also has a very strong British accent, and we all know how Disney loves to represent the Brits after we thrashed the Nazi’s in the Second World War, damn you Walt!

The film runs with a very light and well-judged humor throughout, but does leave you questioning what the morals of the film actually were, if there were any at all. I don’t think the film would be as loved as it is without Franco’s loveable on screen personality and would perhaps leave people wondering why the wizard was ever considered so wonderful. It is really unfortunate that Franco’s character arc turns more into a sloppy circle where he ends up roundabout where he was to begin with, just with more money, a monkey and an extremely attractive girlfriend who is actually capable of doing magic.

As I mentioned earlier the visuals of this film are astounding! The CGI creates a real vast, dynamic landscape that helps embellish the story like the bright and colorful beauty it wants to be. Although I appreciate the skill it takes to create CGI as good looking as this I have to say I was slightly annoyed to see nothing that looked as though it had been physically constructed. I am by no means a huge fan of the original Wizard of Oz but as an aspiring filmmaker can fully appreciate the ingenuity it took to make the original and just as was the case with the Star Wars prequels, was sad to see a lack of traditional camera and editorial tricks and techniques that could have been used but weren’t due to the ease of manipulating the colors blue and green.

Despite this being a digital replication of Oz from 1939 it is as I said still believable that we have returned to the same place. The recreation does have a few minor tweaks and many references that I’ll let you look out for yourself. One of my favorite changes is that this prequel only features half the music of the original, which is only a good thing as I don’t think I could resist shouting ‘SHUT UP MEG’ anymore than I already have to through out Kunis’ screen time.

Overall I would say if you enjoyed the original don’t worry, there is still pleasure to be had from Oz the Great and Powerful, just don’t expect to be as impressed with it as you might have been had this film been made perhaps fifty or more years ago. As far as prequels go I’d say this was a good one given the time gap, but I don’t think it’s a prequel that will have a prequel-sequel, but this is Disney and given the recent news regarding Star Wars I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave it a go anyway! Although they should be careful, I can’t see JJ Abrams pulling them out of another money making nostalgic mess.

As I always put at the end of these things, thank you so much for reading! Especially to you repeat readers who keep coming back and suggesting films for me to do, I’ve had more views than I ever anticipated and that truly means a lot. So if you keep the ball rolling I promise I will too! Please follow and share my blog and do not be afraid to tell me what you think! I’m also on Twitter @georgecearl and Facebook which I will only share with you if you follow me through this or Twitter and aren’t a weirdo!

Till next time,

George.

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Humanity is just nasty and there’s no silver lining.

‘The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday’s my favorite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy’.

 

Silver Linings Playbook Film Review

Just like my review of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ I have NOT read the book of this film and so am reviewing the film on its own cinematic merit and not as a comparison of its literary brother.

 

Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Pat and his journey of self-improvement after spending eight months in psychiatric care for brutally assaulting his wife’s lover. Ex teacher Pat (played convincingly by Bradley Cooper) is allowed release under the conditions of co-operation with his parents and his several restraining orders. Pat’s mental instability keeps him convinced that there is still a chance to save his marriage, he believes he has a better chance of doing this with help from his new, equally damaged friend, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).

 

The trailers I saw for this film got me hoping that it would deliver an insight into the mind and lifestyle of someone suffering from a psychological breakdown. Silver Linings Playbook seems to lack the nerve it takes to go into detail on such a sensitive subject matter, I wouldn’t for one second put that down to the film being poorly written, I think it was done simply so the film could be shown to a wider audience and there for enjoyed by more people. As in a lot of films the plots best bits are conventionally at the beginning, middle and end, but that doesn’t make it un-enjoyable to watch. The film as a whole is extremely likeable, watchable and even worth a second watch depending on what kind of film you’re into.

 

Jennifer Lawrence’s play the role of Tiffany, a disturbed young widow of a local police officer, now in torment with boundary and social issues that have resulted in her being fired from her job after sleeping with one too many coworkers. Tiffany gets quite a name for herself around the neighborhood but doesn’t seem to care, and in a vague attempt for redemption enters herself into a community dance competition in aid of a police charity. Unfortunately for Tiffany the dance is a pair only competition and so she needs to find a partner, you can see where this is going.

 

She eventually asks for the help of her new friend Pat who I mentioned earlier. Cooper shows how Pat is relentlessly optimistic and delusional with his obsession of proving to everybody that he has got his life back together and is ready to be the perfect husband to win his wife back. What the film does very well is make it painfully obvious that Pat is still sick, and is living with someone who, by nature and nurture, has transferred to Pat his own problems – namely, Pat Senior (Robert De Niro). Pat Senior is a borderline gambling addict running a bookie sideline due to losing his proper job, who also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. But when Pat meets Tiffany, his best friends wife’s (who really doesn’t like him) sister, they quickly become strange kindred spirits and Tiffany offers to take a secret letter to Pat’s wife (sidestepping the consequences of breaking the rules of a restraining order) in return for him being her partner in the upcoming dance competition (predictably). 

Although Coopers performance has been slated by a lot of other actors, reviewers and critics, I actually found myself enjoying it for its very human and organic feel that came across to me as believable throughout most of the film. 
Cooper manages to create real comic value with his obsession with learned optimism, his “silver lining” search for the good side of his tragic situation, which, as everyone but him can see, can so easily turn into a bull in a china shop rage.

 

Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a film about mental illness or society, or anything you might have been hoping for. The films main focus is predictably romance, but the more the romance plays out the less fun the film is and the promise built up for funny scenes between the two main and dynamic characters goes fairly sharply out of the window. Because of this in film genre transition we can predict how the plot will play out, but just incase you’ve NEVER seen a film before I wont spoil the end for you.

 

The soundtrack and camera work are both notably brilliant and I truly believe they are one of the main reasons you’d give this film a second watch if not for my favorite scene in which Pat expresses his views on the end of Ernest Hemmingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’, that contrasts completely with the hopes he has for his own stories ending.

Overall I would say if you have time to watch this film then you won’t regret it, you just might not make time for yourself to give it a second go.

 

As I always say, ANY feedback on these reviews would be much appreciated! Feel free to agree, disagree, compliment or abuse me on the points that I’ve made about this film or any of the others! Thanks for reading, should have another one up soon all being well! – Leave a comment on any post, Facebook me or tweet me with any requests for film reviews you would like to see me do!

 

Many thanks,

 

George.

 

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I saw this tree and thought it was a dragon, then it was a tree again and it just lied to me

I watched this film today upon a friends recommendation, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to getting to round to seeing it, but I had intended to try and read the book first. As I’m still engrossed in the ‘Game of Thrones’ series I haven’t had the time to get round to that and I couldn’t wait to see the film any longer! – So please bare in mind when you read this that I am reviewing the film on its own cinematic merit, not as an adaptation as I have not read the book!

Feedback would be fantastic, from people who have seen the film and read the book! 

Thanks,

George. 

Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

This films protagonist is 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an aspiring writer who starts of as a bit of a closed book. When Charlie arrives at high school on his first day he is shy and friendless and becomes understandably concerned that he will spend every day of high school feeling this way (all 1385 days to be exact).

A short while into High School, Charlie meets Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), step siblings so alike yet so unique both characters are a pleasure to meet. Sensing a kindred spirit, they invite Charlie to his first house party, and he instantly fits right into their odd social circle they call ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’.

Like many recent films about teenage countercultures this films time period is never made explicit. But from the style of dress, the soundtrack (which is brilliant) and the many makings of mix tapes I think it’s safe to assume that this must be set in the late eighties or early nineties. Despite their avid appreciation of all things unique, from Rocky Horror nights to foreign films the group still has a lot to learn; when ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie comes on the radio, Charlie, Patrick and Sam marvel at this magnificent piece of music that captures the moment (which I won’t spoil) perfectly. 

 

The group’s trials and tribulations ring absolutely true, Charlie’s unrequited love for Sam is especially depicted with cruel precision. This is both thanks to Chbosky’s script and the casting department. The symbiosis of these two faculties gives the film the superb young cast that makes it as great and believable as it is. The gang is made up of textured individuals that come together to be even more fun and flamboyant. What’s most apparent is that none of these characters are archetypes. For example, Patrick, Charlie’s gay best friend is not remotely clichéd, he has an explosive charisma that’s so adaptable on screen it’s easy to see that Miller has a bright future ahead of him.

And he’s not the only one, it was apparent from the age of eleven that Emma Watson was set for stardom but I honestly never thought it possible to see her like this. This is the first major role she’s been in since the Goliath that was Harry Potter let her out of its grip. She plays Sam very well and occasionally it’s hard to remember that she played an uptight bookworm in eight films for ten years. There are a few particular scenes where she’s wearing a lot less than a Hogwarts uniform and could scarcely hide a snitch. At first its uncomfortable to watch (especially for those who’s childhood was made by the release of the first Harry Potter film), but when she’s obviously lost herself in the role, you don’t want to remember Hermione Granger because your so happy to finally meet Emma Watson. Although her American accent does seem to shake a little bit on particular lines, she overall does a fantastic job. I know when she left the UK for Hollywood we were all sad to see her go, but if her repertoire continues to grow this way I will happily force anyone to acknowledge that this was the right thing for her to do as a professional actress.

 

Last but not least I should definitely mention the inspiring performance given by Logan Lerman; who as I’ve previously mentioned stars as the films main character, Charlie. This is Lerman’s first serious leading role – and what a first role to have! Charlie is an endearing and naïve loner, coping with the harsh reality of love, the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he can feel he belongs. The role sounds generic but when the film takes you into the deeper layers of Charlie’s intricate feelings you can soon appreciate that the role can’t have been easy to cast or play, yet Logan makes it look so natural you could believe he was born to do it.
Charlie’s hesitant smile and Playmobil hair give him a familiar feel that we were introduced to when Michael Cera made his first big screen appearance in ‘Superbad’ – 2007. Since Superbad, Cera has gone on to play ‘Evan’ time and time again, but as ‘Paulie Bleaker’ (Juno – 2007), ‘Nick’ (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – 2008), ‘Nick Twisp’ (Youth in Revolt – 2009) and ‘Scott Pilgrim’ (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).  I’m not saying some of these aren’t great films, but Cera never managed to do in one of these five films, what Lerman has done in one.

 

Incidental characters are just as noteworthy: Charlie’s English teacher (Paul Rudd) is no dead poet, he is a down-to-earth, grey-jacketed inspiration in the way that some teachers sometimes are, and when he delivers the films moral (“we accept the love we think we deserve”) it doesn’t feel like one. The films moral is interestingly not its theme, this is delivered by Charlie himself when he says, “I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out, how could that be?” – This juxtaposition of feelings that Charlie shares with the audience is what we feel throughout the film whether we know it or not. In every situation, in every pivotal scene the viewer is made to feel both happy and sad, without being told why and whether or not we’re meant to. – This complete disregard of film convention is not uncomfortable, but clever and I think is the biggest contribution to the films overall impact.

Coming of age stories make us reflect on our lives and think about the importance of what’s to come. It’s a powerful and delicately crafted intoxicant that Chbosky and his cast handle with care. Teenage wallflowers, past and present alike, will feel the tingles and stings of recognition, and pure pleasure. 

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I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?

I’ve never reviewed a film like this before, I was trying my best to stay away from doing anything remotely Disney related but I haven’t posted anything in a while, I had to watch this film because of a college project and at the end of the day, it is Tim Burton!

So here you go, would love to hear feedback as always, thanks for all your support so far!

George.


Alice In Wonderland Film Review
 

Lewis Carroll; the author of the original story ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ has been credited to be one of the most prestigious authors of all time when it comes to engaging literary audiences of all ages. Just like Tim Burton; the director of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ has been, with the eclectic films he’s made over the many years of his outstanding and established career.

So Burton directing a story written by Carroll had no chance of not being a cinematic sensation. Combining the respective artists visions and a lot of Burton’s own visual interpretations, this film is an adventure where your imagination cannot possibly hope to ‘find its feet’ from the moment you fall down the rabbit hole.

Although the films plot within ‘Wonderland’ does stay fairly true to Carroll’s story the theme of the film is more mature. The script written by Linda Woolverton (known for her screenwriting on films like Beauty And The Beast and The Lion King) brings out a different theme that’s new to Wonderland but frankly, old and dated to cinematic story telling as a whole. It’s all about a girl’s journey into womanhood, growing up, becoming an individual and the old cliché ‘finding your destiny’.
However, the plots predictability and lack of curve balls surprisingly doesn’t harm the film too badly overall. The most varied group of cinematic revolutionaries ease Alice’s story along with humor and shock, from Jonny Depp’s schizophrenic ‘Hatter’ and Alan Rickman’s hookah-smoking ‘Blue Caterpillar’ to the mischievous illusionist Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) this group of strange and wonderful creatures that introduce themselves throughout the film make the Fellowship Of The Ring look like old news.

Before the journey into Wonderland, a very weak framing device introduces the film – Alice flees her own surprise engagement party when she is told she must wed an irritating aristocrat (with bowel problems) – this part of the story doesn’t feel like it flows at all and the whole thing feels uncomfortably forced. Fortunately things promptly perk up with the first appearance of Michael Sheen’s ‘White Rabbit’. After thoughtlessly following ‘White Rabbit’ down the rabbit hole and experiencing the consequences of eating and drinking questionable looking potions and cakes, the audience and Alice are introduced to some of the most memorable oddballs in literature. Not all the characters from the story make an appearance, sadly ‘Mock Turtle’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’, ‘The Walrus’ and ‘The Carpenter’ are all missing, but not always necessarily missed.

As is typical of a post 1999 Tim Burton film Helena Bonham Carter and Jonny Depp both have a big part to play! Carter’s dictatorial ‘Red Queen’ is shocking and fun; her comically enlarged head atop her diminutive body makes you smirk every time you see her in full. Depp’s costume is as eccentric as always, with a bright orange wig, huge yellow-green cat’s eyes and a gap tooth smile he looks almost unrecognizable until he begins to act, adding in Depp’s identifiable and inescapable charm, he subliminally manipulates the audience into seeing him as more of a romantic hero than a lunatic.

The rest of the cast is surprisingly almost all British! The voice cast includes Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman who I have already mentioned, Barbra Windsor an agitated Dormouse, Sir Christopher Lee the ‘Jabberwocky’, Timothy Spall as loyal royal bloodhound ‘Bayard’ and Matt Lucas digitally doubled into the chatterbox twin Tweedles, Dum and Dee. Why all these British names were cast into such a Hollywood blockbuster that isn’t Harry Potter I can’t confirm. I’d like to think that it is a casting ‘tip of the hat’ towards Carroll, the original British mastermind behind the immersive Wonderland, that has been visited over nineteen times in cinematic form, four times in comic book publishing’s and countless times in the theatre.

This film was shot in 2D and was later reworked to be able to be shown in 3D as well. I have to admit I didn’t go to see this film at the cinema at all, I’ve just finished watching it at home on a DVD for a college project I’m about to undertake, about an hour ago before I started writing this review. So if like me, you didn’t see it at the cinema and are unsure whether or not you want to see it at all I will simply say this as a short verdict that doesn’t reiterate everything I have already said – This film is well worth a watch if you like Tim Burton’s films and or especially ones featuring Jonny Depp, if you do watch it, which you should I recommend you try and do so on a HD or Blu Ray copy so that you can truly appreciate the films remarkable CGI and special effects, as well as the imagination behind the original story Lewis Carroll wanted told.

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The Facebook Mov… I mean, The Social Network!

Although it may seem that this blog is a reviewing tribute to the works of the genius that is Director David Fincher, it really isn’t. Although it could be at this rate I will admit!

The Social Network Film Review

When production for this film started I actually thought it was half a bad joke, a Facebook film? Really?! I thought it would be a feature length advert for this generations social networking giant that has doubtlessly dwarfed its predecessor ‘Myspace’. When only a few details about the film were released however I was confident that this thankfully wouldn’t be the case. As soon as Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake were confirmed to have been casted  in a David Fincher film I thought that this could really pull it off. And it really, really did.

This film cleverly tells the origin story of ‘Facebook’ and how it grew from a few hundred users exclusive to Harvard in 2003 to a global, half a billion user web sensation by 2010, the year of this films release. It gives a few facts about the then-Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg (played very convincingly by Jesse Eisenberg)  and how he made billions using an idea, a formula, a friend and an amazing ability to piss everyone off.

This film is not afraid to express the ways in which people use and abuse Facebook and social networking media. Characters frequently represent different aspects of our narcissistic society, the way people reshape who they are for Facebook in the hope of being friended by other Facebook users with the exact same idea, or maybe by a few users who aren’t completely lying about who they are or what they’re really like. It’s extremely smart, like most Fincher films this isn’t exactly one you can sit back and watch lightly, it does take a bit of concentration and investment for you to follow the non linear way the story is told.
I think its also fair to mention you need an at least average IQ to be able to appreciate the humour in this film. This isn’t just because of the intellectual wise cracks or the fast way in which Eisenberg can articulate a sentence, its again down to the non linear story and the fast edit sequences that take place during the films many arguments and legal battles – to which there are many.

The film has a fantastic opener that introduces Mark to the audience in a campus bar, where he is gradually driving his girlfriend insane. This is a fantastic sequence as it’s really not obvious that the pair are actually a couple until well, she breaks up with him! His obsession with getting into one of Harvard’s elite “final clubs” seems to distract his mind from breaking down into an emotional wreck, in fact if he didn’t go on to abuse her over a blog calling her a ‘flat chested bitch’ I would have said he was not remotely bothered. Being dumped seems to fester on Mark over the night and with beer in hand and flat mates sat closely he hacks into all photo files of female Harvard undergraduates and sets up a website ‘FaceMash’ that makes you choose between one of two girls based on who you find more attractive. From vented anger caused by social rejection, a social network is born.

FaceMash is such a hit the Harvard servers are overloaded with users and by the next day everyone is talking about Mark, FaceMash and his ex girlfriends padded bras. Zuckerberg’s overnight, drunken internet success grabs the attention of the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer) or the ‘Winklevi’ as Mark calls them. They ask Mark to help them build an exclusive Harvard computer-dating service and end up suing him for a share in Facebook that they claim was a rip off of their idea.

Mark Zuckerberg has stated that not all the events of the film are accurate or even close the truth but when you’re watching it, it’s really hard to care. It could be complete fiction but that doesn’t remotely detract from the brilliant story and genius script, it isn’t called ‘The Facebook Movie’, its just a movie about Facebook, caricaturing but by no means glamourising real events that actually took place. What happens to the characters did happen in real life but its just the way that they happen that changes, as the film has multiple points of view however it is hard to choose which of the characters you’d rather add as friend by the end.

The film comes down as hard on you as it does with its own characters, it doesn’t shy away from emotional complexity. Eisenberg’s performance fantastically portrays how alienation and loneliness actually fuel Zuckerberg’s ambition. Eisenberg also lets the audience see the flaws in Mark as a person when he leaves his old best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), original financier and business manager of Facebook behind for Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Timberlake and Garfield both give amazing performances to match the standard of Eisenberg’s, the three together in a scene is just magic but I’ll let you see that for yourself!

This film is truly fantastic and I believe people will watch this in generations to come, even when Facebook is a thing of the past. I bet the next film about a social network phenomenon will start with the creator watching his or her copy of this film whilst sat ‘Facebooking’ about the fact they’re watching it, as we all tend to do!

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I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about this…

Fight Club Film Review

 

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything

An office employee and soap salesman build a global organisation to challenge the suppressive nature of modern consumerism.

Norton – who’s characters name is not mentioned until the climax of the film – plays a seemingly everyday and average young man who’s materialistic love for all things Ikea cant cover up for his feeling of alienation. In between his constant business flights Norton attends support groups for people with terminal illnesses, although he suffers from no such thing. These support groups become a safe haven for Norton’s character, his ability to let go and talk openly to people worse off than himself help him deal with his own pains and sufferings caused by insomnia.

For just over a month Norton has been living happily with his support group routines when we are introduced to the second and arguably most pivotal character of the entire film, Marla Singer, played by Helena Bonham Carter. Norton knows instantly that like him she is a ‘tourist’ to these support groups. He begins to obsess over her and once again finds himself unable to sleep.  Norton confronts Carter and they agree to divide the group visits equally so as to avoid facing each other.

One day on a business flight Norton meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charming iconoclast who sells soap. Tyler is the antithesis of Norton, as he is not affected by the ‘trap ins’ of the materialistic world. He believes that true gain and serenity come in the form of physical and mental clarity. He has accepted his insignificance in the world and has no desire to fit in with everybody else.

Not long after they meet the pair are living in the same ramshackle mansion and have caused a revolution among the local male population by creating the club of the title. Men from all walks of life come to join in the man-on-man battering’s, and before long Tyler and Norton have created something of an army.

Surprisingly these nightly ‘Fight Club’ gatherings form only part of the enticing story that encompasses America’s obsession with consumerism, a Pitt/Carter/Norton ‘Great Gatsby’ style love triangle and the role of friendship, trust and self-belief in the modern world. Most of the plots twists and turns are extremely clever and unexpected, even if you have read the original book written by Chuck Palahniuk in 1996 you will not see this coming! It will slap you in the face with startling shocks of revulsion and dark humour, which I wont go into too much to avoid spoiling the end and allow you the pleasure of living it all yourself.

Although the ending has already been ruined for some by the printed plot breakdowns and parodies, the film is still well worth watching, even if you’ve read the book. Few book to movie adaptations work as well as ‘Fight Club’. They are both incredible, yet significantly different in plot. But there is none of that… ‘oh but they changed it’. The film is noteworthy in a standalone right and I think that works better for both the book and the film; separately they compliment each other and get across different parts of Palahniuk’s overall message.

David Fincher has refused to conform to the rules of modern day cinema. He adds in effects that are rarely used by other filmmakers and so are highly noticeable to an audience. He shakes the camera, downplays lighting and even distresses the fabric of the film itself, adding scratches so deep that sprocket holes appear on screen. He uses rapid location jumping, chaotic fight sequences and an unpredictable multi-strand story to launch you through the film with little or no idea of the next scene, let alone the conclusion.

Fight Club has already become a massively influential film for a greater audience than I think was ever anticipated. The cinematic portrayal of Tyler Durden started a revolution among men worldwide, which has been credited in the additional after word published by Palahniuk after the films release. In it he lists the repercussions Tyler’s creation had, like legal name changes, political graffiti, clothing lines and the creation of several Fight Clubs in America that were shut down upon discovery.

It’s rare that these kinds of things spawn from a single film but it just goes to show that Fight Club represents more than a good story. It characterizes people’s hidden beliefs and is not afraid to tell you how it is.

It’s an incredible counterculture film that grabs your attention from the word go. It shakes and shocks you for two and a half hours before throwing you back in your seat. I highly recommend this film; don’t go another decade without seeing it.

Impressed with Word Press

Short Intro! My name is George I’m 19 and live in Leeds.

Although I haven’t remotely got to grips with any of the customisation, finding anyone I actually know and I haven’t managed to find any blogs I’d dedicate to following or find anyone who’d follow me but I am actually enjoying looking round some of the topics related to things I enjoy such as, the world of Apple products, films, art and music.

This blog will be a bit about each of those things as I’m a dedicated Apple user, amateur musician, artist and most importantly at the moment an aspiring film maker with an interest leaning more towards the editorial side of the cinematic world!

I promise to be as interesting as I possibly can be!

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