Tag Archive for 'Review'

Non-Stop: A Game Of Chess To Decide The Fate Of Innocent Lives

Non-Stop is an action-thriller movie featuring Bill Marks, (Liam Neeson) a tense, alcoholic undercover air marshal, who is assigned to be on a transatlantic flight from New York to London. Neeson sits apprehensively at take off when he receives a threatening text message saying, “A passenger is going to die every 20 minutes until $150 million is wired into a bank account. Through a flurry of twists and turns, Neeson tries to identify which passenger is sending him the menacing text messages. All the while the audience is working alongside Neeson trying to identify the criminal. He tries to piece together the clues as the body count begins to rise. What makes it all the more intense is the fact that any of the 150 passengers and crew on board could be the evil mastermind responsible for the deaths onboard.

Given its constricted setting the movie does a good job of using the airplane to build suspense and drama. You may never think it would be possible for two men to brawl in an airplane bathroom but Non-Stop proves that it indeed can be done. If you are looking for a good action-thriller movie Non-Stop is a solid choice. Is it as good as some of Liam Neeson’s previous work? No, but I would still give Non-Stop a chance. After all, at a seasoned 61 years old who knows how many more action-thriller movies Neeson will sign onto? All in all Non-Stop is a suspenseful and thrilling movie that will have you continuously pointing your finger from one passenger to the next trying to figure out who the culprit is until the final scenes.

The Book Thief will Steal Your Heart Too

The Book Thief is almost as good as a film as it is as a novel – and that is really saying something.  I  read the Book Thief in high school and it has stuck with me ever since. When I heard that a film  version was coming to theaters I was incredibly excited, and a bit nervous. Would director Brian  Percival and screenwriter Michael Petroni be able to capture the creative and bizarre voice of  Markus Zusak’s novel? Yes, as well as you could possibly hope for.

In an adaptation that I hope gets an Oscar nod, if not win, for adapted screenplay, Percival brings the  story of Liesel Meminger (Sophie Néliesse), the Book Thief, and her life in Nazi Germany. Strangely  uplifting for a story narrated by death itself, the book shows us a slice of history we don’t often see —  Germans coping with the Nazi regime and doing so with wit, grace, and heart.

Everything about this film is a masterpiece. The extraordinary acting, the fluid cinematography, the  authentic sets and costumes, and the dramatic lighting come together to produce a film that is well worth its namesake novel.

 

About Time for a Really Good Rom-Com

About_Time_Poster

Richard Curtis has done it again. About Time, out November 8, is one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time, and I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. In his newest film, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill) tells the story of Tim, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary gift – the ability to travel within his own time stream – and his search for love. It is a search that finds its answer in a girl named Mary.

I’ll admit from the above paragraph this the movie may not sound any different from the fun, but all too predictable, slew of romantic comedies recently in theaters but Curtis throws in all manner of twists and turns, lessons and fiascos. He gives us life, messy and unpredictable and shows us the beauty in it.

The movie is philosophical and irreverent, awkward and uplifting, hilarious and serious, yet still flows beautifully throughout its 123 minute runtime. One more testament – Usually, awkward humor (one variety utilized) just makes me uncomfortable. Not this time. This time, it was really, really funny.

Of course, no matter how good a script or direction are the producers are still going to need a fantastic cast and crew to make the movie worth watching and Curtis has found just that. Every single member of the cast was wonderful. Two performances was particularly delighted by were Domhnall Gleason as Tim and Lydia Wilson as his impossible to categorize sister, Kit Kat.

Give it a chance. I promise you, About Time is not your average romantic comedy, nor your average Romantic Comedy.

The Fifth Estate

Truth can not only be stranger than fiction. It can be better. The Fifth Estate is one of the most interesting, most valuable, and most suspenseful movies I have seen recently – despite knowing much of the story already.

Based largely on a book by Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl; Rush, Inglorious Bastards) about his time working with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, The Fifth Estate dramatizes the origin of the now infamous website and its leak of thousands of classified cables and war logs provided by Private Manning.

Though Assange has stated publicly that the story presented is terribly skewed against him and borderline fictitious, the film did not come off that way to me. By the end, no one in the film appeared completely innocent or completely wrong. Each party appeared to be doing what they thought best and clashing in the process.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, Sherlock) was phenomenal as Julian Assange. While I have loved his past performances, this is the first time that I did not identify his character primarily as “The Cumberbatch Character.” He adeptly shows Assange’s complex nature – neither making him appear hero or villain but simply a man with a mission and the courage of his convictions. Cumberbatch was not alone when it comes to stellar performances – the entire cast was fantastic.

The performances of the cast, coupled with superb direction, script, photography, editing, and music create an A-List film that never drags. Alternating between shock, compassion, humor and suspense, the film kept me always guessing and always interested.

 

The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster is a sweeping cinematic epic that tells the story of one of China’s great martial arts masters – Ip Man. The beautifully filmed piece follows Mann through several years that are a tumultuous period in his life as well as in the history of both martial arts and China. Though the story in The Grandmaster is interesting, it often becomes overwhelmed by the artistic camera work and displays of martial arts prowess and begins to drag on.

Watching history and realism mix with action was a surreal experience. I am accustomed to action movies throwing realism completely out the window, but this film (while including the extended fight scenes complete with building destruction, un-injured heroes and super-human feats) remained based in fact and history. Only one hero is injured after a fight – the one female main character. Typical, and wrong.

Despite its faults, I enjoyed the movie. It was an interesting view into the Chinese movie business, a fun history lesson, and perhaps one of the ultimate martial arts movies.

Elle S’Appelle Ruby

Ruby Sparks a quirky, bohemian, indie film from director team Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton displays a love of literature. Written by Zoe Kazan (who coincidentally plays title character Ruby Sparks) the movie follows Calvin (Paul Dano), a young writer who, at age 19 wrote a New York Times bestseller that is still widely acclaimed 10 years later. Faced with the expectations of another great literary work, Calvin is hit with writer’s block – until his therapist asks him to write a very bad story about someone liking Scotty – Calvin’s dog. Enter Ruby Sparks, Calvin’s dream girl. This short story is quickly expanded into a new novel, a romance – until Ruby walks off of the page and into Calvin’s life.

Ruby Sparks is first and foremost a love story, and a magical one. It is also a commentary on relationships and their ups and downs. It talks about family, insecurity, and life in general. Ruby Sparks is as bright, complex, and magnificent as its title character and driven by a wonderful supporting cast. Annette Benning is delightful as Calvin’s mother who has re-found herself after her first husband’s death, Antonio Banderas delights as the bohemian, furniture carving second husband, and Chris Messina contrasts nicely as Calvin’s golf-playing, businessman brother. (Though how Dano & Messina could come from the same two people makes no sense. The two look completely different!)

The challenge? Ruby is still under Calvin’s power. Can he resist the temptation to change the first thing he doesn’t like and – if not – can their relationship survive? Ruby Sparks, which opens today, is a treat well worth the admission fee.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Reviewed

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was a refugee’s story; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a war story. The film picks-up directly where Part 1 left off, replaying Voldemort’s theft of the Elder Wand from Part 1 and continuing on to Hogwarts within the first half hour. The Final Battle takes up the majority of the movie.

Films in the series have been growing progressively darker and, although this film is not as dark as the reality of such a war would be, it continues the trend as the darkest yet. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a far cry from the wonderful world we were introduced to in Sorcerer’s Stone ten years ago. Some of the deaths are quite gruesome and this film is the bloodiest of the series.

While Director David Yates, Producer David Heyman, and the rest of the Potter team took quite a few “artistic liberties” with the material, they still produced an excellent film that includes all of the key aspects of the book. Screenwriter Steve Cloves produced a script that fit amusing quips into the background of war, giving us unforgettable lines (some of them his own, some favorites from the books) and all the information we need to follow Harry’s quest. To top it off, the trio continues to give stellar performances, as do the rest of the A-list cast.

The special effects were very well done and, combined with the work of Eduardo Serra (Director of Photography), allowed for beautiful and haunting images. Occasionally, however, I felt the movie became a bit too impressed with the skill of its special effects team taking away from the story for a short period of time.

My main criticism of the film would be the lack of Ginny Weasley (played by Bonnie Wright). While she has always been sidelined to a certain extent, this film cut her out even more. In the books she is Harry’s raison d’être. He is constantly thinking about her and remembering past memories. In this movie, Ginny is given only two real scenes to show how much she cares for Harry, while he appears almost unaffected by her presence.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a well-written, well-acted, and well-put-together film that effectively sends off the Potter film series. Anyone familiar with the series will delight in this most recent escape into the magical world of Harry Potter.