Monthly Archives: January 2013

2013 Film Rankings

So 2012 was a good year for cinema and my 2012 film rankings turned out pretty well with a good mix of films. I will do the same for 2013 and review my top ten at the end of the year!

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Les Misérables
  3. Gangster Squad
  4. Lincoln
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Review: Lincoln

LincolnLincoln is an American historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Speilberg starring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Accompanied by Joseph Gordon Levitt as Robert Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Spielberg has created a masterful telling of Lincolns story to abolish slavery.

The film is incredibly interesting and for people who don’t know exactly what happened with abolishing slavery then this film is something that does open your eyes. It is interesting to sit and watch the film and see how things where and in your own mind, compare them to how things are now.

Daniel Day Lewis is incredible as Lincoln and his portrayl of the president is something that has to be seen. He has everything from the voice to the walk so brilliantly done that sometimes you have to remember that he is an actor.

This is a talkie and that is it. Nothing really happens from a lot of people talking to more people about an important issue and that’s where, for me, the film lacks something. Due to it being just completely spoken, it is very boring to sit through for almost three hours. At times, it gets to the point where you just need to leave to clear your head because of all of the information you are given. I understand that this was never intended to be anything other than a talkie but it really needs something just to give it that kick.

Overall, Lincoln wont draw in massive crowds but it is interesting to sit and watch so you can get some perspective on what happened. The cast are great and without their great performances this could have been a lot worse.

* * *

Review: Django Unchained

Django_Unchained_PosterDjango Unchained is the latest film released by director Quentin Tarantino. Still on top form the director has decided to tackle the issue of slavery in his latest cinema spectacular.

Django Unchained tells the story of a freed slave who, with the help of a German bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a Mississippi plantation owner. Starring Jamie Foxx (Django), Christoph Waltz (Dr Schultz), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie) and Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), the film has received critical acclaim and has been nominated for five Academy Awards at this years ceremony.

Django Unchained is one of those films where I think you will either love it or hate it and currently, most people love it. The film is very well and done and it is a credit to Tarantino that he can produce such good cinema in an era where we still get so much rubbish cinema. This is a subject matter that not many people would want to touch but he has done it in a way that is relevant to audiences and allows people who are unaware of what happened more aware.

The cast are the best thing about this film. The acting quality is top notch and they all do such great performances. Leonardo DiCaprio stands out for me, as his transformations from arsehole to nice guy are great. His character really brings all aspects of the film together so he deserves credit for doing such a good job.

My one problem with Django is the way in which this film has been approached. Even though it is a good quality film and has pleased audiences, sometimes it felt like things where over done to simply cause a reaction. For example, the N word is used in the film a lot. Now I understand that this was down to the times and was acceptable during the setting of the film but it just seemed to be done too much and sometimes seemed to be done just to cause a reaction. The film is also too long. At almost three hours it just felt like it was going and going for no apparent reason. There were natural stopping points before it actually ended but for some reason the film kept going.

I am not a huge fan of Tarantino but I did like this film more than I thought I would. I think the story is a good story to tell but could have been done a little more sensitively. With Tarantino directing this would never be the case so what he has produced is good for its audience and is actually a very well produced film.

* * * *

Review: Gangster Squad

gangster-squad-final-posterSet in 1949 Los Angeles, a secret crew of police officers, who later become known as the Gangster Squad, work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.
Starring Sean Penn (Mickey Cohen), Josh Brolin (Sgt. John O’Mara), Ryan Gosling (Sgt. Jerry Wooters), Nick Nolte (Chief Bill Parker) and Emma Stone (Grace Faraday) the film was originally due for release in September 2012 but was pushed back due to the Aurrora cinema shootings.

The one thing I really liked about this film where some of the stylish ways in which specific scenes where filmed and presented. For example a scene set in a jail cell uses gunshots as the only source of light and looks really good on a huge cinema screen. Also a slow motion scene of a shoot out towards the end of the film gives great style to the film. It was these little things that really stood out to me as a viewer.

It should also be noted that the film gives you action from the word go and there is always something going on and something to watch. If you like action films this is a good film to keep you watching.
Sean Penn gives a good performance as Mickey Choen and the character does grate on your skin and you do want to get to the end of the film so you can witness his fall from grace. I was also impressed with Josh Brolin whose character you do feel for after the situation he is put in.

The disappointing thing with this film is that it could have been much more than what it was. The story is there, the acting talent is there but the final product is just lack luster and nothing special. In my opinion Ryan Gosling gives a 50/50 performance. At times its like he isn’t even there and he can’t be bothered. Emma Stone is also put into a strange position because in some ways she is a femme fatal but in some ways she seems to have been put on screen due to lack of female appearance. There is also no chemistry between Gosling and Stone, which makes the love interest side of things hard to watch.

Overall Gangster Squad is a good watch if you just want something to do one night. Don’t go into it expecting a retelling of history because you will get a little of that but not a lot. It is frustrating because the cast and the talent they have is good but the film just lacks something that makes it stand out as good.

* * *

Review: Les Misérables

amanda-seyfried-new-les-miserables-poster-01

This is my first review of 2013! Lets hope this is another good year for cinema!

With an all star cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Ann Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter this film adaptation of the popular stage musical has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards and 9 BAFTA awards.  After recently winning 4 Golden Globe awards at this months ceremony the film seems to have hit a chord with audiences and critics.

Based in 19th century France, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who for decades has been hunted by policeman Javet (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. He decides to take care of factory worker Fantine’s (Ann Hathaway) daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). This decision could then be one that changes their lives forever.

The first thing about this film is how good the main body of the cast is. Hugh Jackman really does deserve the praise and accolation he is getting for his portrayal of Jean Valjean. You can see in his transformations from scruffy prisoner to smart mayor that he really is putting his heart and soul into this role. Ann Hathaway, even though on screen for about 15 minutes is also great and gives an emotion and heart wrenching performance as Fantine.
If you haven’t seen the musical (which I haven’t) the story is pretty easy to follow and understand and for it’s almost three-hour length the story is played out to the best of its casts abilities.

Now, I did say the main body of cast where great and that is because one of two cast members let the production down. It is clear that Russell Crowe cant sing and it is made even clearer when he is singing next to Hugh Jackman. When this happens it makes some of the scenes they have together weak. Amanda Seyfried is someone who is trying to hard and sometimes it sounds like she is screeching and not singing and during most of her performances it became hard to listen to her.

In all honesty I don’t think this production is great. It is good but not great. The first hour is probably the best part of the film and after that things start to drag and feel long. I think this film wont appeal to a wide audience because of they way it has been produced. When I went to watch the film, the audience was mainly older people who all clapped at the end and said they loved it. The film and the cast do deserve the praise they are getting because it is a well-produced final product but I think it may be played out a lot better on stage.

* * *

Top 10 of 2012

2012 was a great year for cinema with a number of great films being released one after another. This blog post will give you my top 10 of 2012 but before I get into that here are some honourable mentions that are just missing out The Hobbit (11), The Watch (12) Skyfall (14) and Lawless (17) are all films that where great to watch and where genuinely enjoyable but all had small downfalls which placed them outside of my top 10.

All together I saw 38 films at the cinema and have compiled my top 10 of 2012.

10 – The Cabin In The Woods
This was one of the films that surprised me the most this year. I went in expecting a cheesy teen horror film and came out completely blow away by what I was given.  Joss Whedon turned horror on its head for this film and it payed off extremely well.

9 – The Hunger Games
As a fan of The Hunger Games books I was particularly looking forward to this adaption and seeing how it would be played out on screen. The casting is superb and each actor fits his or her role perfectly. Jennifer Lawrence is great and should be closely watched in 2013. My only criticism is of some things being missed out of the book that may be needed for the following two films. I imagine that The Hunger Games will become a great trilogy and follow in the footsteps of fandoms like Harry Potter and Twilight.

8 – 21 Jump Street
This is the only straight comedy film that appears in my top 10 and I don’t know if that says something about comedy films this past year or if it just says something about this particular film.

21 Jump Street is funny from the offset and doesn’t disappoint at all. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are great as the buddy cops and deliver great comedy performances. It wont surprise me if there is a sequel to this film in the works and all I can hope for is that it is as good as this one.

7 – Silver Linings Playbook
Based on the novel by the same name, Silver Linings Playbooks was a great film to start brining the 2012 film season to a close. The story is interesting, the performances all round are great and its general presentation on screen is great. The films success is probably down to the performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper who just consistently deliver on screen. Both are nominated at the Golden Globes (best actor and best actress) and in my opinion Jennifer Lawrence should walk away with that award.

6 – Argo
I bloody loved Argo and I could probably but it somewhere in my top 5 if I sat around and played with this list more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I don’t think the trailer does it must justice because this film is tense, dramatic, funny, serious, true, honest and much more. Ben Affleck did a great job of giving the audience so much emotion to feel and did a blooming good job with it all. As an actor in the film and the director of a film he really did this true story justice. I really do think Argo deserves its Golden Globe nominations and certainly does deserve Oscar nominations.

5 – Looper
As a big fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it is no surprise that this film is in my top 10. I had been looking forward to this film for a long time before its release and loved it when it came out. Gordon-Levitt does a great job of playing a younger version of Bruce Willis and from what I’ve heard he prepared a lot to get that just right. The story is interesting and is a great spin on classic time travel tales. The film fits its genre perfectly and never tries to be something it isn’t.

4 – The Amazing Spiderman
This has been in my top 3 for a long time but after a last minute re-think it has moved. This re-boot of the original Spiderman film trilogy is pretty much the same story we have already been told. New audiences can go in and watch this one without needing prior knowledge and old audiences can go in and watch a new take on an old story without being disappointed. I do prefer Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spiderman and I think he has the youthful look to carry on these films without looking too old. Rhys Ifans as Dr Connors is great and is the best part of this film for me.

3 – The Descendents
This was one of the first films that I saw in 2012 and I still love it now at the start of 2013. It is an incredibly well presented story about family struggles and life when something hits you out of the blue. George Clooney is loveable as Matt King and you really do feel for him and feel his emotions. Shailene Woodley is also great as oldest daughter Alex King and her and Clooney have a great relationship that many people could probably relate it. It is such a touching drama story that will more than likely pull at many peoples heart strings.

2 – Avengers Assemble
I really really enjoyed this film! After seeing all of the separate films I was interested to see how they could bring everyone together without certain people being overshadowed but they did it really well. Each character gets their own time to shine and when they all come together it is magic. The action is great, the comedy is great and the onscreen chemistry is great. Everything is just great about this film and if you like superhero films then you will love this. It has everything that you want from a superhero film and doesn’t disappoint.

1 – The Dark Knight Rises
There was no doubt that this would be my top film of the year. Christopher Nolan never fails to deliver great cinema and he certainly didn’t fail this time. The conclusion to his Batman series is fantastic and has everything you could want.  Tom Hardy as Bane is brilliant and his performance was spine chilling in places. He really made Bane a great villain of Nolan’s series. Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman don’t fail to deliver great performances. Joseph Gordon Levitt brings heart to the film as John Blake and everything combined makes you laugh, cry, gasp and sit on the edge of your seat. It is a great film and it is annoying that it has been over looked by the Golden Globes and the Oscars really shouldn’t over look it. The Dark Knight Rises is an incredible film made by someone who clearly loves cinema.