Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Year of Release: 2011
Director: David Yates
Stars:Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Ruper Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Felton, Helen McCrory, Jason Isaacs, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Mark Williams, Miriam Margoyles, Gemma Jones, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins, Clemence Poesy, Katie Leung, Kelly MacDonald, Matthew Lewis
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:
The final installment in the Harry Potter series comes to an end, with the final confrontation of Harry Potter and his nemesis, Voldemort. Following the events from the previous film, Harry, Hermione and Ron, desperately try to find the objects that can kill their opponent, who amassed a formidable force, in the hopes of destroying Harry and all his allies. Harry and his friends, find themselves at the school where all began, Hogwarts, and there the final battle takes place, with Harry having to find within himself the strength to overcome his obstacles and protect those he loves the most.
David Yates continues with this film what he started in the previous one - there is a sense of impending doom and closure as the story comes to an end. The action and special effects dazzle, as does the beautiful cinematography from Eduardo Serra, but the film again lacks that sense of bewilderment and true magic, that was never truly captured (look at "The Wizard of Oz" and how with so little was conveyed so much). Ralph Fiennes creates a truly menacing character, but most of the actors are also fantastic, namely Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith. This is a film that thankfully ends a saga that would otherwise become tiresome and fatiguing. A film worth checking out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beginners

Movie Name: Beginners
Year of Release: 2010
Director: Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos, China Savers
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Synopsis:
Mike Mills is a film director who has made his name as a graphic designer, artist and director of music videos. His feature film debut "Thumbsucker" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to good reviews and had a great cast which included the talents of Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio. His second feature "Beginners", is an autobiographical story and has resulted in a profoundly beautiful and delicate film.
The film follows the story of Oliver, a young man whose father passed away quite recently. Oliver informs us that his father was married to his mother for over 40 years, and that after she passed away, he came out and announced he was gay. He was 75 and had decided to live his life to the fullest and according to his true wishes. Sadly a terminal illness cut his life short. We witness the way Oliver deals with his loss and how upon meeting Anna, his love life changes (as does his sense of happiness).
The film is a delicate mapping of the life of two main characters, namely Hal the father and Oliver the son. Both men were born in completely different times and experienced life very differently, however there is a strong undercurrent of love which unites them both. It's a film that is joyous in the celebration of love between parents and sons and between romantic partners. It shows how people's defenses prevent them from experiencing things fully, which ends up being the big issue in Oliver's life. The film is beautifully edited and shot and has fantastic performances from Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent. A true gem worth watching!

Green Lantern

Movie Name: Green Lantern
Year of Release: 2011
Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Jon Tenney, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clark Duncan, Clancy Brown
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Synopsis:
Martin Campbell, a director mostly known for big action films, is back with his first adaptation of a comic book character. Following his most well known films such as "Casino Royale", "GoldenEye" and "The Mask of Zorro", Campbell has decided to tackle one of the most iconic characters of the DC Comics universe. The film follows the story of young and irresponsible Hal Jordan, an air force pilot, who carries and battles a past traumatic family issue that haunts him. Hal is chosen by an intergalactic force to become one of them, a carrier of an emerald ring, that gives huge power to whomever uses it. Hal's first opponent, becomes also one of the deadliest - an entity that uses fear as it's main power source. It's up to Hal to vanquish his own fears and risk everything to save his planet and the woman he loves.
The character of the Green Lantern has existed in the DC Universe since 1940 and has amassed so many different stories and a huge following. The transition into films was only natural, and Warner Brothers has invested tremendously in the film. The problem with the film lies with it's cliche ridden screenplay and the complete wooden performances from some of it's key performers. The film is filled with stunning special effects, however making the story a mix of "Top Gun" & "Karate Kid", adds absolutely nothing in terms of character development. The "rebel" who doesn't conform, who dislikes responsibilities, has been played infinitely. Good actors as Ryan Reynolds and the wonderful Peter Sarsgaard are completely wasted. The romantic component goes absolutely nowhere, since Blake Lively manages to give the worst performance of the film and ruins what could have been a spark of life in a story bogged down by cliches. A sadly missed opportunity!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Year of Release: 2011
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ken Jeong, Glenn Morshower
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

Synopsis:
Michael Bay is back to the franchise he originated in 2007, with "Transformers", which was a huge hit throughout the world. The new film is more of the same, with more action and special effects dominating a screenplay that is cliche ridden. The film follows young Sam Witwicky, who is currently trying to find a job in Washington D.C. His friends, the Autobots are involved in secret operations and Sam resents being forgotten by everyone. Thanks to a clever strategy from the Decepticons, an important artifact is recovered from the Moon, which endangers the entire safety of the Planet. It's up to Sam and his allies to save everyone.
The "Transformers" franchise has been one of the more successful (financially) of the last few years. As usual with Michael Bay directing, the screenplay is the least important thing of the entire production - each of his films is always about mass destructions and an overload of special effects that saturates each frame presented on screen. The screenplay from Ehren Kruger, who became famous after adapting "The Ring" films, is filled with cliches, from the stoic main characters, to the supporting comic reliefs and of course, the love interest. Michael Bay films everything as if though it's part of an extra-long videoclip, where the editing is quick, the characters are thin and the soundtrack is loud. Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, both fantastically gifted actors, create forgettable characters, but in a film populated with them, it's not entirely unsurprising. A film easily forgettable.