Review : Maleficent

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“A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.”

So does anyone care about a story that follows a villain? They will when they take that villain and make her NOT a villain anymore. Maleficent takes a well known and loved story and puts a very new twist on it. One could view this movie as the re-telling of a classic story for a newer generation. Taking the once black and white story and making it one full of shades of gray and ambiguity between what is “right” and what is “wrong”. There isn’t much fault to be found here in Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of the title character. You really feel for her through her ups and down here. That is however, where the dichotomy comes in; how compelling can a story like this really be? How much can viewers connect with this once villain, now reborn as a both someone forced to the darker side, and then becoming a reluctant hero. It could be such a roller coaster for fans (especially those who love the original sleeping beauty) that fully connecting with her may be a harder sell than the folks at Disney would have expected. Visually the movie is very good, and does well to differentiate itself from the animated Disney universe, and instead establish its own identity. The young mrs Fanning does well in her roll also with her constant optimism and overall carefree joy. The action in this movie is also surprisingly well done for a rated PG film. There were some times when I wondered why Maleficent wouldn’t just use her powers to get out of a situation like she had at another point in the movie, but I guess even badass fairies (that’s what she was right?) get a scared sometimes. The character of Stefan seemed a little under developed, especially when it came to his motives. With all the focus on Maleficent and her journey as a character, Stefan gets a bit left out. If you’re a fan of the Disney universe, then you’d be right at home here. Some may have some problems with the changes made to such an iconic story, but every generation retells old stories in new ways.

Review Score : 6.5 out of 10

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Review : X-Men: Days of Future Past

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“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.”

 

Bryan Singer is back to try and steer the X-Men ship back into safe waters. Most fans of the X-Men cinematic series will agree that X-Men: First Class did a really good job at mopping up some of the damage done by X-Men: The Last Stand. Why is this important? It’s because if they DIDN’T, this amazing movie that we have before us now, would never have happened. This movie unites two great casts of mutants, hero and villain alike, into what is certainly the best movie ever made that carries the word X-Men in its title. Yes, I said it, THE BEST one ever made. The ability of this film to cram so much content in the time frame allowed while also not getting convoluted or bogged down is simple incredible. The pacing and over all story telling, do a superb job at keeping a steady and constant flow of well worked out narrative to keep you glued from start to finish. Every, and I mean every actor in this movie absolutely kills it as which ever character it is they play. Even the characters relegated to less screen time have their own genuine moments to shine. The management of the time travel is done seamlessly and just further ads to the air of impending doom that the movie casts over its audience. Its great being able to see these mutants go full out in the use of their powers, and also show us the real team work that is the strength of any X-Men team. Coming into this movie were a host of continuity problems from all the films before (looking at you X-3), and yet in one fell swoop Singer manages to wipe the slate clean and allow for a new lease on life for the entire franchise (one that we know Fox will NEVER give up). Above all this however is the shining fact that X-Men: Days of Future Past isn’t just a great comic book movie, but a really great movie on a whole, and for that X-Men I commend you greatly. Btw, don’t leave before the credits are done or you will miss the single greatest after credit scene ever put to film in any genre!

 

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Neighbors

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“A couple with a newborn baby face unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house..”

 

And by unexpected difficulties they mean a literal family versus fraternity turf war. Seth Rogen and Zac Efron go from bros to bitter enemies in mere minutes, leaving us with most of the movie for tit for tat battles and hilarity to ensue. To get it out of the way, yes this movie is funny, and I mean really funny. Even those who may consider the humor on hand to be “low brow”, funny is funny. The thing that really makes this movie what it is, is a very solid supporting cast that always hit their mark and keep the jokes constantly coming. One of the more, maybe surprising things here is the cheer quality of Rose Byrne. Most comedies that aren’t bridesmaids or something of the like relegate supporting female characters to just some added sex appeal and the occasional joke. Not in this movie. As her character of the wife and mother she really plays a secondary lead role here. It’s very refreshing that they allow her to have her Australian accent here, and that she could laugh at herself enough to do some of the scenes she had (let’s just say “you have to milk me”). On the other side, Dave Franco and the rest of the supporting fraternity cast are stop on for the most part never detract from any scene that they are in. Now this isn’t a perfect movie by any means, but it does what it does very well, and does well to avoid what it doesn’t do well. Some of the jokes can suffer from some over played subject matter, and there definitely is a very solid edge of vulgarity on display here. The overall biggest surprise here, for me at least, is just how well Rogen and Efron play off of each other. So in the end, Neighbors makes us laugh silly, but isn’t full entirely of those kind of jokes you and your buddies are going to be re-telling for years to come.

 

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : The Grand Budapest Hotel

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“The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.”

A truly great adventure we have here indeed. Wes Anderson has done it again here. The movie starts off nice and slowly to pull you into this wonderful world that he has created and once you’re in, it never lets go or lets up. The cast here is also brilliant, every actor finds a way to stand out while also blending seamlessly into the woven narrative of this Wes Anderson fairytale. Even the many superb cameos do greatly to show off each particular actor while maintaining   a cohesive whole. The pacing is as immaculate as ever here and the set pieces are done so quirkily and cute that they cant help but invite the viewer in. Now non fans of this kind of story telling will most definitely be pulled out of the experience, and not impressed by what they may consider “cheesy” or “weird” visuals. The average movie goer however, going in with an open mind and a sense of wonder will not be disappointed. The plot itself is deep and well sustained throughout the movie. The humor may not be to everyone’s liking, but it is constant and in great supply here. I myself couldn’t stop laughing, but I could also notice those times where many a viewer simply didn’t seem to want to participate in the laughs at hand. This film is labeled as a comedy, but I think it does a lot more than just attempt to make you laugh, and I mean that in a very good way. Every theme that this movie tries to touch on, it does so wonderfully. The scenes of romance, suspense, action, all of them are effortless in their progression and flow. So over all what is The Grand Budapest Hotel? An amazing movie that’s not for everyone. And even so, quality is quality.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : The Amazing Spiderman 2

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

 

When they say a slew of super villains, they’re not joking. Right there lies this movies greatest weakness, that was meant to be its greatest strength. The influx of villains into the narrative only serve really to slow some parts of the story and unnecessarily speed up the other parts. This movie could have done very well to have one or at most two well-developed villains instead of three under developed ones. Jaime Foxx’s Electro was at best a caricature of a real person (with a rather handy power-set). Dane Dehaan does a great job at Harry, but then he too gets a bit shafted when he has to suddenly transform into the green goblin, when we would have done better to get some more emotional development between himself and Andrew Garfields’ Peter Parker. Speaking of relationships, the Peter and Gwen (Emma Stone) relationship is front and center in this movie. And to be honest it’s one of the best parts of the movie. Their chemistry is real and undeniable, and it really translates amazingly well to the big screen. The scenes of him being Spiderman as well are superbly done and gorgeous, they bring back great memories of Spiderman 2 when he is in full swing. The Rhino character was honestly a total waste of Paul Giamattis’ acting caliber, another caricature reminiscent of a villain from Batman and Robin. The movie starts off and ends off well enough, but the middle slows down. It uses this time to explore the inter-character relationships well, but then wastes much of what is established. If someone had renamed this this movie “The coming of the sinister six”, they wouldn’t be far from what it appeared the powers that be at Sony were trying to create here. Is there such a need to rush to fill cinematic universes to try and catch up on the Marvel Studios properties? Coming in this movie had a lot of hype, and well deserved hype at that (I myself thought the first movie was pretty good) and that hype doesn’t help it at all. All in all this was a movie that promised much and only managed to deliver a little of what was hoped for.

 

Review Score : 5.5 out of 10

Review : Godzilla

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

 

With a tag line like that, you’d expect to have 123 minutes of none stop monster on monster fighting action, right? Well no matter what you WANT to see, Godzilla is here and you are here to find out one thing…is it any good? The short answer is yes, the real answer however is a bit more complicated. On the whole the movie is a tad off paced, the emotional heart of the movie is some what lost and the action set pieces for some people will be a tease and too far in between. Those sound like some major problems, and out of context or to the wrong viewer they are, but the movie is not without redeeming qualities. Firstly Godzilla looks AMAZING. I can’t stress how superbly done Godzilla and the MUTO creatures are done. Both their design and actual realization, as well the way they interact with their environment is simply perfectly done. Bryan Cranston brings the majority of the real emotional drive here as the character of his son played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson is mostly seen as a stoic and driven character with his mind set on saving his family. The emotional buck is passed on by Elizabeth Olsens character later on in the movie. The movie itself is shot gorgeously, with great homage being paid to monster movies of past. The film itself is a great pastiche to the entire genre. So overall does the good out weigh the bad? For the most part it does, once you can lower your expectations a little, and understand that this movie is just as much if not more about the people as it is the monsters, then you should have a good time with Godzilla. Also if you think the movie is a bit too slow for you, then take a nap until the last half hour then hold on to your damn seats because the end of this movie is simply top notched.

 

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Why young people won’t like Godzilla

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The 2014 reboot of the Godzilla franchise directed by Gareth Edwards (of the movie Monsters) and staring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and to a lesser extent Bryan Cranston has been out for a little while now and opinions about it are severely divided. It opened to a solid $94 million opening in the states which could only be seen as a let down because it was (after its Friday total) projected to hit the $100 million mark. Box office aside however, critical and popular opinion of the film is solidly split. On the one hand, some fans and critics have heavily criticized the film for being too long, too boring, too filled with people drama, and not enough fricking Godzilla. Equally many people LOVE this new iteration of the king of monsters, siting the beauty in the film-making, the pastiche that this movie seems to be of Godzilla and monster movies gone by.

 

As you may have guessed from the title of this post however, most of the people that don’t like the movie, are people in the younger demographic of movie goers. The real question is why? Why would young people who live in a world full of video games and everything else that makes things like Godzilla cool, why wouldn’t they like it? Well the simple answer is simply because they ARE young. Less simply however, it’s because of the instant gratification generation that we live in. In a video game where you can play as Godzilla and stomp around a city and run the entire thing into the ground, when confronted with a movie that tries to use a little subtilty and delayed gratification, they are going to be conflicted. Now don’t get me wrong, I am also a young person, and maybe its because I have a deep seated passion for film, maybe its because I have some schooling in the matter, but I don’t share the views of the average young movie goer (mostly).

 

 

 

So lets get to the movie itself. This is where we are going to see the second problem with why the youths aren’t going to like Godzilla. EXPECTATIONS. Yes, yes indeed, expectations are the root of most movie evils. Now even though the trailers for this movie only really ever hint at Godzilla, giving you the trailer versions of the money shot just barely at the end, people see a movie called Godzilla and expect to see him (or her :/) in the frame for most of the movie. To use another porn analogy (not that I’m familiar with porn of course), this movie is like a softcore porn, with a hardcore porn ending. The meat of the film if more of an idea than a character, and that is the IDEA of Godzilla as opposed to the ACTUAL Godzilla . In the movie Godzilla is seen as, or fleshed out as basically nature itself. A big bad-ass fire breathing muto killing mother nature. With that being said, we honestly see Godzilla stomp around in this movie for about 20-25 minutes of actual on screen time. So that’s 20-25 out of 123 minutes of movie. I can already here the groans of someone who hasn’t seen the movie and is reading this. Sorry.

 

 

 

Now that we know two reasons, lets look at one more. Now this is a general statement, and I know there are and will be many people who don’t fall under this generalization but I’m going to say it anyway. Young people don’t understand or appreciate the more subtly aspects of film-making. Example? Cinematography is one major example. Ask an average movie goer what their favourite scene from this or any movie is, and they will 9 times out of 10 call out the most emotional, or the grandest, or flashiest scene in the movie. And that’s FINE. But, ask them either why they really like that scene, or ask them to describe it, and what you’re going to hear is something very simple like “because it was so cool”, or “It looked great”, or something of the like. Ask them to describe it and you will hear “well the main character did some moves and such and such and this thing blew up and”, blah blah blah. What you won’t hear is, “that framing was spectacular”, “that cinematography was mind blowing”. And that is the exactly where Godzilla losses even more young fans. The film itself is filmed gorgeously, the pacing may be a little off in my opinion, but I cant knock the look. Many young people however, don’t consciously notice a lot of these factors however, and it doesn’t play into their opinions of the movie at all. Now if you were looking at a movie like The Grand Budapest Hotel, where things like scale and the atmosphere of the film are made clearly apparent to even the most simplistic of movie viewers. It cant help but be in someone’s opinion. A movie like Godzilla then is not EXPECTED to have such finer details about itself. So the average movie goer is going to be oblivious to them, much to the detriment of their movie experience.

 

 

 

I know by now you probably think, I am totally in love with this movie, and you would be wrong. I simply don’t like to simply say if a movie “good” or not. Or simply to if I “like it” or not. I have my own problems with it (look out for the full review of it), but I came out of my screening knowing that the vast majority of younger people seeing it would have some MAJOR problems, and I thought the movie at least deserved someone to try and explain what many might have thought were shortcomings. So overall why are young people not going to like the new Godzilla? It’s because as discussed above, there is a lot more going on in this movie that meets the eye, and when things like that go over the viewers head, they cant help but be disappointed. So if you haven’t seen Godzilla yet, (and this didn’t either make you not want to see it, or it spoiled it for you) go out and see it and tell me if your opinion of it is any different than it would have been before.

 

 

 

Stefan Couri.