Saturday, 31 May 2014

Maleficent

A ruthless fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realise the child may be the only one who can restore peace. 



I grew up with Disney's old classic films but surprisingly I wasn't really excited to see this film. Robert Stromberg formerly worked as a visual effects supervisor on Avatar (2009), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and many others. For this new Disney production he's for the first time behind the camera. Maleficent is part of the classic tale Sleeping Beauty so it could be dangerous adapting it to the big screen. It must be an iconic actress to embody this iconic villain. And Angelina Jolie is the picture perfect of this character. She nailed it! I have to admit that I am disappointed by this film so far as I expected a little more of wicked and evilly things and less heart melting sequences. Beside Angelina Jolie, I feel like all the characters were ruined. From King Stefan to Aurora and the three fairies. Aurora seems very naive and "everything is beautiful and I'm pretty!" which is a bit annoying as her relationship with Maleficent is one of the most important theme of the movie. It's using Sleeping Beauty as a baseline but I'm not sure of how they justified and explained certain things. They find a way to make all sense but it's not systematically the best way.  On the plus side, we have to keep in mind that this film is mainly targeting children. That's why it has some morale whether good or bad she is. The best scene is the baptism which is very similar as the fable. There are some very good battle sequences though. They might have tried a little to hard just to focus on Maleficent. Finally, this film is visually appealing but it's not much more than a kids movie. In fact, there is not very emotional weight.


Overall, Maleficent is a magical and visually beautiful film destroying some iconic Disney characters with no major substance.        

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The X-Men send wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. 


To me it's a very welcome return to Bryan Singer as X-Men I and II were very good! He really captured the essence of the X-Men comic books which was as it's heart the mutant and humans struggle, politics and emotions of that. Bryan Singer returned this time, taking what Matthew Vaughn brought us with X-Men: First Class and linked the two world together in a perfectly satisfying and epic new film. This exciting summer blockbuster will satisfy fans of the series. Singer is clearly comfortable in this world once again bringing humour to it as well as incredible action. It's in fact great to see the X-Men fight together in a unique and interesting way. Plus, he exceeded people's expectation (unfortunately for him though, particularly in this world where expectations are always higher), pleased, surprised and shocked them with X-Men I at a time when there were no genre. X-Men II, I think, for many people is a favourite of the entire series. He managed to elevate that again with Days of Future Past. This film is not only an X-Men movie but it's also a time travel movie. Which can go both ways. It gives the writers and director the chance to do something that we're not expecting, as they could literally pull anything out of the bag. This film might be the best X-Men movie we've ever had, as Singer fixed all the mistakes made since his departure with X-Men III and Origins. It's great! However, people tend to smash those big blockbusters because of all the special effects and kids related things but this movie has on display incredible acting talent, the cast is absolutely fantastic, such as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Plus, the big stands out are Michael Fassbender and especially James McAvoy who is amazing as Professor X in far more difficult times. They have such a singular chemistry, we can feel the endless amount of back stories in place within those characters. 


Yes, there are many characters in this film which is pretty easy to mess up with. We've seen that recently, for instance in  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which handled his characters terribly. But here, every single one of these character having really awesome bad ass fight scenes and cool comic book moments, have emotional arcs as well. Undeniably the emotional core of the movie is intact from the beginning. One of the best sequences involved Evan Peters as Quicksilver, trust me as I say that he steels every moments he's on the screen. Every scenes he's in it, not a whole bunch, but still every scene is PERFECT. When he's demonstrating his powers, is actually one of the best scene I have ever seen in a comic book film in my (short) entire life. Finally, only a couple of minor issues including  on the one hand little to much silly humour, but I have to admit that it's part of the series. Sometimes humour was extremely clever throughout the movie, characters did jokes and it works. On the other hand there were to little time spent on worthy character such as Dr. Bolivar Trask. Indeed, Peter Dinklage is an amazing actor but he didn't really strike the fear and intensity that I was hoping from him, as we didn't really know what are his motivations to exterminate mutants by creating the Sentinel. The character of Bishop also disappointed me as he doesn't look like the comics in any way. X-Men: Days of Future Past represents a great conclusion as well as a fresh beginning for the next films to come. 


Overall, even if you're not an X-Men fan despite just the fantasy and spectacle, the story is so deeply human and moving that I feel like everyone has to relate to this franchise. 
As you could tell by now I'm a huge fan of Marvel universe. I loved X-Men DOFP and of course I'm really looking forward to Apocalypse, more than ever before!         

Monday, 19 May 2014

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (Season 1) Finale

The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. 



As a Marvel fan I've had higher expectations for this show, especially when Marvels Studios first foray into episodic television on ABC, which was clearly designed to present more grounded stories. I have to admit that I didn't really know what to expect.  The first pilot episode directed by Joss Whedon, script penned by himself, his brother Jed and his wife Maurissa Tancharoen did an excellent job of welcoming fans and new viewers into this Avengers universe. While also introducing new agents (Ward, May, Skye, Simmons and Fitz). However, the celebration was short-lived as the early episodes get many information's. From a freshly formed team with five new characters, to producing a universe that's visually and conceptually worthy of Marvel brand, to explaining how Coulson was resurrected after dying in The Avengers and making sure to contribute to the ongoing stories of the cinematic Marvel universe. Many episodes excelled at this balancing task such as February's "T.R.A.C.K.S" in which Skye is shot and nearly dies. This episode is a near-perfect hour of television. The weight of all that responsibility didn't crushed the series at all. Then came Captain America: The Winter Soldier , the blockbuster film that - SPOILER ALERT - destroyed SHIELD, sending a shock wave through the series. Realising the true degree of difficulty that writers should have faced, since they were secretly building to this seismic shift all along is euphemistic.   


     


Nonetheless this SHIELD-HYDRA twist reinvigorated the show and revealed several subplots designed to culminate in this moment. This show has tons of effects and gadgetry, the things we've come to know and love about Marvel movies but they're doing it on a TV scale. Finally, let's turn toward the finale. I lost my mind when Garrett ripped out the guy's rib and stabbed him with it. Plus, when we talk about character's moments making the biggest impact, I immediately think of Simmons and Fitz scene, saying good-bye underwater. But the question is what will happen to Ward? They represent different voices. The first one is that Fitz still believes that he had been conditioned to be this way. But on the other hand we have yet to see what Garrett pulled him out of. Nick Fury also returned in the finale to tell Coulson to rebuild SHIELD. Marvel have plans for next films and writers have plans to intermingle with them. The end of the season answers some questions but asked a lot of new ones: Who Skye's father is? Why Raina knows him? How are they related? What is Coulson drawing on the wall? I'm pretty optimistic and excited about the idea of a Season 2, and obviously the chance to answer the questions that they leave us with in the finale. 


In short Marvels Agents of SHIELD first season is a 22-hour movie calculated extension of every Marvel outing to date.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Godzilla

The world most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. 



I knew nothing about the movie, even if I watched all of the trailers. All I could tell you back then, is that it was a new Godzilla movie which might include several other monsters in it. So I didn't really know what I was in for. This film focus a little bit more on human beings and character's back stories, It's not all about monsters and a lot more about humans. Godzilla is in it obviously, but  it's not all about him. It's about humans who have to deal with the fact that there are big walking monsters in the world. The point is that we have to feel that those monsters exist and that they are a real threat for humanity. That's why this film is working so well. However I wished they show a little bit more of Godzilla fighting scenes, not those special report news telling us that the monsters are devastating cities etc. Since it's mostly about the characters, they are pretty good. Bryan Cranston for instance is awesome in the movie. He has a couple of really emotional scenes but he's not out there that much though, which is a little bit disappointing as well. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is in the movie and he's good enough. Kind of statues as a military force, he just wants to get the job done which make sense in a way. "Let's get it done!"I can't help myself but to compare this Godzilla film with Pacific Rim which annoys me as Godzilla is so much more realistic - not that cooler though, but good nonetheless. It's directed extremely well and gives a kind of humans perspective regards to these creatures, it sold them. They're not monsters. Those creatures are animals who are trying to survive on this planet. Finally, the score by Alexandre Desplat is fantastic, I loved how it sounds.


Overall, this movie was epic and looked epic. But don't expect Pacific Rim because you will be disappointed. This film is smarter displaying a mankind view of nature. 

Grace of Monaco

The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly's crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco's Prince Rainier III and France's Général Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s.



The 67th Festival de Cannes opened with a royal fiction. It's traditional for Cannes to start with something spectacular. This film displays an homage to Princess Grace, formerly Grace Kelly. Nicole Kidman is magnificent and breathtaking in the part of this iconic figure of American Cinematography. In fact she embodied a sort of elegance through Hitchcock movies. In this film she's introduced mostly as a wife and a mother who wants to keep her career still. The director, Olivier Dahan (La Môme), had created this whole couple interactions. On the other hand Prince Rainier, starring Tim Roth, is a two faces character. With a complicated identity as he's dealing with his political and public image as well as his private family life. Plus, Grace's Royal life hasn't really turn out the way she imagined. Yet for all the movie's efforts to turn this long forgotten Côte d'Azur missile crisis, it never registers as more than a turf war - whose worst possible outcome is that a few thousand tax-dodging bourgeois might be forced to become French citizen. The script is agonisingly airless, especially  when it tries to fill into a conspirational plot involving Rainier's sister. Dahan keeps things very busy on the visual front even making sure to have a real fireworks erupting in the background of one marital argument. As Langella said once "At some point, every fairy tale must end" - only in the case of Grace of Monaco, not really soon enough. 


Overall the resulting film is like a 104 minutes long Chanel ad editing with Instagram filters.          

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sabotage

A very free adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers
Dealing with members of an elite DEA team, who find themselves being taken down one by one after they attempt to rob a drug cartel safe house (opening scene)



The trailer was a successful series of action sequences in which we could almost smell gun's powder. I was eager to see more about the meeting between Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington, as they both were part of the Terminator saga. Sabotage is directed by David Ayer: director of End of watch and screenwriter of Training Day. This movie has everything of a strong action movie. Soon after this moment of excitement, I actually realised that it was co-written by Skip Woods, unfortunately largely known for X-Men Origins and A Good Day to Die Hard (when you watch it). I'm not that sensitive type of person who is terrified by violence, who's shocked by it. But this movie IS VIOLENT! The problem is not the presence of violence itself but the concept which is kind of glorified in the film. In fact lots of innocent/civilians are killed, scenes where these deaths almost happened like video games, where you can go around and smash up society. They intended to display a realist violence by exaggerating it. It clearly didn't work. Some violence doesn't need to be shown and is not justify in certain scenes, even though their showing people who try to do the right thing. Moving on to characters. Even the good guys are not likable at all, which can be explained by some lack of character's back stories. Except for Arnold's and Olivia Williams' characters who have even a shred of integrity. Lizzy, starring Mireille Enos, is the most repulsive character I've seen in a very long time. I really loved Arnold Schwarzenegger, he delivers one of his best acting performance recently (post governor term). He doesn't just walk around smoking his cigar saying funny lines, which he does, but he has also a very dark part. Once you figured out what is happening is the film, it doesn't make any sense. There is a large portion in the middle where the investigation is going on, where nothing happens, and it's almost boring. Finally,  Sabotage is the most violent film I saw lately. Violence is taken very seriously, lots of body explosions, etc. Moreover, they're trying to sell some sort of realism with Ayer tough way of filming and just adding an over the top grotesque violence to it. 


Overall, the story doesn't make sense nor the action scenes. But there is an extreme plus to this movie and that is Arnold Schwazernegger.      

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

In this sequel Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of super villains against him, impacting on his life.   



To be honest with you, I've never been such a huge fan of Spider-Man and least of all of the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. Still I have to admit that this franchise is touching a lot of people, especially kids though. With this film Marvel genuinely want us to forget the first one. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is so tonally different, it feels like a new franchise! This film is trying to connect a little bit more with people hopes, fears and dreams, as we're all going through the same experiences in our own way I guess. Andrew Garfield is doing pretty well in the Spider-Man suit and also as Peter Parker (except we can tell that he's much more older than a 19 years old guy), in his attitudes and witty talk. He's evolving as Spider-Man in a great Universe, some slow-motion is well used. It's not overused at the point we feel like it's copying lots of other films. Coming along with the massively good score of Hans Zimmer. Jamie Foxx becomes Electro, who, in my point of view is really cool, we can see through his skin, he looks unique and original. Electro is one of the "three" villains on this movie. At first I thought that this movie will be crowded as hell for three villains, despite the two and almost half hour running of the film, which is long enough. However, it's not really all about villains. The story lines are too crowded.  On the one hand, most of the film was about Peter and Gwen relationship (will they? won't they? are they? are they not?). He's Spider-Man though, I can perfectly understand that he's got a sort of complicated love life, but it could have been condensed. On the other hand Peter and Harry Osborne friendship is efficiently presented. But I'd like to see a little bit more of Harry's personality as we could tell how it's gonna end, frictions, and Harry becoming the Green Goblin. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is also resolving a part of the "Mysterious Parents" problem of Peter, which was not at all in the first film. They have a back story but unfortunately if you're a comic-book fan you'll be disappointed as it's a little different at some point. It's another story line which makes this film crowded. So, it's not really the villains. FOCUS! The "third" villains, starring Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich, is on screen for practically 3 to 4 minutes and he's basically setting up for the next thing they want to do with the other movie. I guess this film is trying to be too many things at once: it's trying to be a romantic comedy, trying to be a giant blockbuster, an action movie, and a drama. As well as the characters: Aunt May is trying to be a nurse, Gwen is trying to apply in Oxford/schooling while Peter is trying to deal with his parents mystery, his relationship with Gwen, with Harry, and his super hero lifestyle. 


Overall The amazing Spider-Man 2 is looking super great, it's fun and exciting. But it's definitely not following a natural flaws of events. 

(And btw the uncredited scene is just a marketing ploy which kind of piss me off.)