Sunday, 31 May 2015

San Andreas

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

San Andreas is directed by Brad Peyton and stars Dwayne - the Rock - Johnson. This film is the next 2012, it knows exactly what it is, it's a big disaster movie. When you go see it, you pretty much know exactly what you are going to get because the trailer told you. I'm not disappointed by this movie because I didn't have much high expectations regarding the story or the characters as those kind of movies have always been a showcase for great cgi. The attempt of the film to be deeper doesn't really rise above the cgi spectacle so it sort of falls flat. For the most part the acting is good enough but feels sometimes a little bit over the top, except for Paul Giamatti who was really good. The Rock is cool, he can rescue people, fly an helicopter and drive a boat. Moreover, the script and the lines in this film, for god sakes, they are so cheesy. Writers tried to focus on characters after the cool things happened and the pace slowed down and get boring because it is just the same thing over and over again. For the characters development to work and the viewers to care about those specific characters they should have found a balance, especially in a movie that is just about destroying things. The special effects look mostly good but it's like two different people created them. 

Overall San Andreas is full of cgi spectacle, buildings falling and explosions. These people know how to operate a good disaster movie but they don't know how to write good and interesting characters.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The 100th Review: Jurassic Park

During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

Jurassic Park is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough. When I first saw this film it was the most mind blowing film I had ever experienced. On paper, the movie was made for Steven Spielberg: combining the scares of Jaws with the high tech, romance of E.T the Extra-Terrestrial , Close Encounters of the Third Kind and of course adding the challenge of creating the dinosaurs themselves. This 1993 dino-fest, has gone down in movie history as the film that cracked open the Pandora's box of cgi. This film is a true movie milestone, a real experience and it made an entire generation of children fall in love with dinosaurs. Jurassic Park changed the entire game of film making for ever, creating cgi dinosaurs that still holds up 20 years from then: good work Steven! He steped the bar so high that it's still there today. Michael Crichton who co-wrote the film with David Koepp presents his story on a fascinating and detailed note on both the possibilities and evils of modern science. Moreover, characters are all very good as each one of them have something special that make them human. Sam Neill isn't particularly close to children, Laura Dern actually has a strong female role and has a good chemistry with both Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum; who is one of those supporting characters that steals the entire show. Jeff Goldblum character is so much fun, he's smooth and smart, not this goofy guy that pops jokes every once in a while. Ian Malcolm is actually a well written character with a great brain and he seems to foreshadow what is going to happen. Plus, Richard Attenborough's character has so many layers which is very interesting. Each one of them are important and not just funny, they are likable characters who seems like real people with backgrounds and who all relate to the story. 

"Welcome to Jurassic Park" doesn't quite cover it. Spielberg did such a good job engrossing us into this world. From just a visual and technical aspect this film is near flawless. Watching this film 22 years later, there obviously some point where you can tell it's cgi but for the 95% of the film the cgi is still outstanding. The realism with which they were able to create those dinosaurs is amazing. They are all indeed a triumph of special effects artistry. Steven Spielberg created one of the most jaw-dropping scene in movie history.  The brachiosaurs Neill and Dern see for the first time are tall, majestic leaf-eaters, grazing placidly in the treetops. There is a sense of grandeur to them. Half of that is due to John Williams brilliant theme. This music is fantastic! I love it so much, I may even love it more than Star Wars. This very scene when Sam Neill stares at them, with this music, at that point everything's okay with the world. Everything's perfect. We don't make movies like this anymore. That kind of silence in a movie when a character stares at something and the music swipes you into it. I miss that awe. Nowadays most of the movies are so quick-edited, so packaged and ready to be delivered on a theatre, so an audience could sit there and not be bored. This movie takes its time to tell a story, get you to the characters, make you understand the plot and then the dinosaurs are everywhere. 

Clearly dinosaurs dominate Jurassic Park in every way. Amazingly graceful and convincing, they set a sky-high new standard for computer generated special effects. They create a triumphant illusion. You believe you have spent some time in a dino-filled world. Plus, Spielberg built up an imminent sense of threat over the first hour of the movie. In fact, Jurassic Park keeps its viewers on edge of their seats while leaving the real violence to the imagination. Besides, this film has the best jump scares ever, that I won't spoil if you didn't already see the movie  (but if you don't I beg you to), because Spielberg didn't go for the numb cliché. He knows how to create legitimate tension in his film and it's not just the tension in the last half which is so fun and impressive but the sustain wonder through the entire first half of the film. Two set pieces ares especially effective: the first one is a scene where a T-Rex mauls a car with screaming children inside, and the other one is when the children play hide and seek with two velociraptors in the park's kitchen. Everybody can stage a fight, but it takes Mr Steven Spielberg to show just how the plots and pans might go flying at the stroke of a velociraptor's tail. This scene also helps to look at the bigger picture. Who but Steven Spielberg could convince an audience that there are dinosaurs loose in a kitchen at all? 

Jurassic Park smacks everyone in the face with awe, imagination, and all the things that are the reasons why movies are made. Tastes in movies are subjective but in my opinion the answer to: why movies are made? Definitely is movies such as Jurassic Park, Star Wars or even recently Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy

Overall Steven Spielberg, the man who invented the summer event movie took Michael Crichton's book and transformed it into an awe-inspiring legendary blockbuster, using every inch of the screen he was given with cool characters, impressive cgi, wonder and danger. Jurassic Park changed entertainment at a genetic level.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

Tomorrowland is a geographical situation in Disney World but there's no proper backstory and that is exactly what's interesting, finding this unique way to tell this story that anyone could have a connection with. This film is a new branded Disney big action summer blockbuster that feels like a theme park ride with also real emotional experience. Walt Disney was a guy that believed in taking an active role in the future and he viewed it as an exciting thing, as something that have enormous challenges. The promise of Tomorrowland is that the future is what we make of it, a shining hope. This is what can happen if you don't give up, this is what we're capable of and this is what we can achieve. I was really excited to see that movie, not only because it's Disney branded but also because Brad Bird is an amazing director. I've loved his animation works such as The Incredibles or Ratatouille and his live action premiere with Ghost Protocol was fantastic as well. Once again with live action and sci-fi, he showed he completely understands what he's doing behind the camera and he's by far the aspect of this movie. Plus, sounds and visuals are such an experience. In fact, everyone's complaining about movie industry originality and the fact that we're making the same movies over and over again. Here we have not a sequel, not a movie which is part of a franchise, neither a reboot but a holly original and unique film with an extremely creative vision. Part Jules Verne, part Apple Store, Bird's vision of the future is everything you hoped you'd live long enough to see when you were a child. This film attempts to bring back optimism into style by making a strong argument against the kind of future we usually offer  to our own children and against this collective resignation about our future like "yeah we're all just passenger on this crappy bus..." But when did it change? Our vision when we were kids was so positive, what made it change? Can we make it back to this other way of thinking? 

The trailer did not really show much and in this day and age I have to respect that and stay super vague. Casey's passion is space, her father worked for NASA, she's not the most popular girl at school but she's not really an outcast either, she is a normal girl who wants to find her place in the universe and she believes that is in space but NASA system is obsolete. Casey seems very hopeful about the future. Indeed performances are all very good. Britt Robertson really manages to explore the depth of her character. There are lots of humour as well as action in this film and she does a great job with that too. Moreover, George Clooney is a great actor but he's also in our popular culture a guy who sticks his neck out for things he believes in, who means what he says and steps out in order to say it. Here he's not his usual "Ocean" playboy character as Frank is the most cynical person you could ever meet ever. We get the sense that he's an older grumpy man and once we get to know more about him we start to understand why he behaves and feels that way which makes us care a lot more about him. Plus, the whole family dynamic is turned upside down because the parents are the younger version. However, the way the villain was introduce and how they have to avoid the catastrophe did not work that much and felt a little cliché for such an original movie.

Tomorrowland has a special and cool way to unravel the plot, it didn't tell you everything out all at once. It's like bread crumbs you're following along with the characters and it made me feel like a child again learning along going on this adventure. Good feeling! The film is actually not about Tomorrowland but about the journey to Tomorrowland and it's an interesting journey, but some people might be disappointed by that. It's like a movie called Neverland but for the whole movie it deals with Peter Pan figuring out the second star to the right and straight on till morning is how you actually get there. Somehow the movie finds a way to take us on this journey with a strong point. If you look at something and keep aiming to your goal you'll be drowned by it. We all shaped what the future is we just have to change our vision and we'll be moving towards that goal, don't just accept a future you don't believe in. 

Overall, the journey to Tomorrowland was so much fun. Filled with a lot of awes and wonder, amazing design and scene constructions, great humour, original plot and good performances.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

Mad Max: Fury Road is directed by George Miller, stars Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult and is the continuation of the legendary Mad Max series - if you haven't heard of it, where have you been for the last 30 years? To be honest I haven't really enjoy any of the two and half Mad Max movies I've seen before, but it would be stupid to critic the heck out of this one just because I don't like the world created by George Miller in those movies. Fury Road is an action movie at its core, it's intense and rough. This film is insanely crazy. There's this guy that depicts perfectly the atmosphere of the movie: he's playing electric guitar on top of truck, shooting flames out of the neck of the guitar during the entire run time of the movie - until he eventually get killed of course. This film doesn't stop from the first shot to the last, hand to hand combat scenes and wide shots of chaos and destruction are very well handled. It involves emotion as well, brought mainly by Charlize Theron's character, due to her backstory. Plus I feel like she is actually the most badass of all. Her and Nicholas Hoult' characters are genuinely interesting and brings a "little bit" of humanity in this world; which is fine because we are use to root for Max who is the eternal good guy against all the crazies. Moreover, Tom Hardy as Max is pretty good, knowing that he had to fill Mel Gibson's shoes. Finally, you see some death, destruction, carnage, car explosions, more death, more destruction, more carnage and at last this craziness weirdly makes sense in this film as we are way past the precipice of madness. People clearly aren't sain anymore. 

Overall Mad Max: Fury Road is CRAZY. This film does Miller's Mad Max things with a bigger budget i-e a post-apocalyptic movie with a two hours action sequence.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Pitch Perfect 2

After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

Pitch Perfect comes back with a sequel, directed by Elizabeth Banks. Everyone is familiar with these characters by now and we all wanted to see what could happen to them after the first movie. So the good things in this acapella world aside, now we are witnessing those characters growing older and becoming real people. This film allows us to spend more time on characters that people love, to tell more of their stories and to see where these women be at three years later. While in the first one it was more about coming together, bonding and being freshmen; this film mainly deals with the notion of graduation as their in majority in their last year of college, companionship they have in college that will last forever as Bellas will always be Bellas, moving on, breaking apart, leaving the nest, staring life right in the face and going their separate ways. However they find themselves right back where they started: as underdogs of acapella. There are a lot going on this time, plot- and character -wise. Some endearing elements were taken back from the first film such as the romance between Beca and Jesse, that keep all the component in harmony as they are settled characters. Indeed they are a nice balance to the melodramatic aspect of the movie, grounded to the real stakes of this world. Yet once again Fat Amy, starring Rebel Wilson, is very charismatic. She embodies a confident woman that never thinks about her size at all. Proving that your body type doesn't determine your fate in life. Giving her a real love story with Bumper is such a good idea as she really deserves it and both actors have a great chemistry together. John Michael Higgins' character smoothly delivers his misogynic lines such as "Let's hear it from the girls too ugly to be cheerleaders!", and casual racism throughout the movie is even funnier this time around!

Moreover, new girls fit right into the dynamic of the group. They're all the same characters but pushed a little bit further, they're a little bit bigger, crazier and global. Hailee Steinfeld's character represents what Pitch Perfect has become which is that kind of bonding enthusiasm and likability. People will identify with the movie for different reasons but ultimately for the joy and happiness it spreads. Obviously men are not the targeted demographic of this movie - or basically people who don't watch Glee. Nonetheless, if you just enjoy music this film will get points with you. Musically, the songbook is far hipper with a younger song selection. Executive music producers J.Jordan and J.Michels have ensured that every performances are note-perfect and soundtrack album ready; which I have to admit rather detracts any sense of realism: it's not humanly possible to sing so in-sync spontaneously. Plus, jokes are all amazing, not one falls flat. You clearly know where the movie goes from the beginning but this film is not here for an Oscar, it's just here to be fun and show some good acapella. Finally, Banks has crafted a sequel that's edgier, sexier and best of all more female centered than the first one. Showing that women can be as funny as men, even funnier. So get over it, picthes! 

Overall Pitch Perfect 2 proved once again that acapella is not lame at all, with a nerdy and inspirational movie and with much more sophisticated layered music.