Review : 13 Hours – The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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“An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.”

So, there are two ways to view this movie. One way, is to compare the events and narrative here to what was reported on as actually having happened in Benghazi at that time period, and the events that followed. Or, you can view this simply as a movie based on a true story, but a movie at the end of the day, that was meant to entertain and be a great watching experience. Michael Bay is usually a really polarising director. People usually either love or hate his work. That being said, he definitely has a very distinctive style, that no matter what you think about it, or what the movie is about, you WILL notice and you have to take that into consideration. 13 hours, as a socio-political commentary, severely lacks a deft and subtle touch in its film making, however, as I said earlier, thats if you look at it from that perspective. The view from the other side of the tracks, is actually pretty effing awesome. It could be because Bay is constrained in that this is a human story, and human movie, and as such there is only so much he can blow up and it can only be done in certain ways, and those constraints REALLY help the action in this movie. Its fast paced when it needs to be, but it slows down to give us time to breathe also. I also don’t think since The Rock, have I seen Bay be able deliver such real and great tension. They’re even some of the signature Bay slow-mos here, but this time, they are done in a way that delivers and leaves you on the edge of your seat. At the end of the day, this is really two different movies, and what you’re going to think of this movie depends on which view point you take. Mine personally, I really enjoyed this movie for what it was, and for what was presented to me. There are some characters that are made out to be caricatures, and a few other tropes of Michael Bay, but there is good in that also, and that good is exciting and energetic and gripping and real.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

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IMB Movie Awards

Welcome to the first annual Island Movie Blogs Movie Awards. Gonna be handing out the Golden Palm Trees to the best movies of the year, and the best actors. Also just as a point of note, the movies in my selections are more or less based on the wide release films of the year. So some movies that you may think should be here may not, because of when and how they were released. Thats enough of that though, lets get on the with the gold giving out and the tearful speeches.

AND the nominees are :

Best Picture :

Ex-Machina, Mad Max – Fury Road, Straight Outta Compton, The Martian, The Big Short

Best Comedy :

Daddy’s Home, The Night Before, Spy, Pitch Perfect 2, Trainwreck

Best Genre Film :

The Avengers – Age of Ultron, Kingsman – The Secret Service, The Hateful Eight, Creed, Star Wars – The Force Awakens

Best Drama :

The Revenant, Beasts of No Nation, Black Mass, The Gift, Sicario

Best Animated :

Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie, Hotel Transylvania 2, Anomalisa, Shaun The Sheep

Best Lead Male :

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Matt Damon (The Martian), Will Smith (Concussion), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Lead Female :

Charlize Theron (Mad Max – Fury Road), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Emily Blunt (Sicario)

Best Supporting Male :

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Best Supporting Female :

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Alicia Vikander (Ex-Machina), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Rooney Mara (Carol)

Best Director :

George Miller (Mad Max – Fury Road), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Ridley Scott (The Martian), Adam Mckay (The Big Short), Ryan Coogler (Creed)

AND THE WINNERS ARE!!!!

Best Picture : Mad Max – Fury Road

Best Comedy : Spy

Best Genre Film : The Hateful Eight

Best Drama : The Revenant

Best Animted : The Peanuts Movie

Beast Lead Male : Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Best Lead Female : Charlize Theron (Mad Max – Fury Road)

Best Supporting Male : Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)

Best Supporting Female : Alicia Vikander (Ex-Machina)

Best Director : George Miller (Mad Max – Fury Road)

 

Thats it for the first ever IMB Movie Awards, hope you liked my picks and saw your favourites up there. Be sure also to comment your opinions below.

 

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Review : The Revenant

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“A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.”

30 minutes in the atlantic and young Leo is sleeping with the fishes, but by God, old Leo can take a beating. Seriously though, this movie, is more than just a movie, it is a cinematic experience. The cinematography in this movie is simply STUNNING, like absolutely breath taking. Coupled with the fact that this film was shot with only natural lighting, and you have to hand it to Iñárritu for having the balls and getting the backing to try such a thing. All the master class filming here however is truly just a vehicle for the performances here. And they are amazing. The acting across the board here is really well done but the main cast and what can I say about Leo. His performance here is an absolute tour de force, and the best of the bunch here. Just his physical acting, using mostly his face alone in parts is on another level. I’s also pretty sure, that everything that happened in this movie actually did. Everyone who died, died, and they let a bear maul the shit out of Leo. The way this movie is shot also adds so much to the grit and physicality of the scenes that make the combat here when it happens visceral and brutal to behold. This isn’t just a revenge movie however, its much more of a human story of struggle and survival. It forces you, unwillingly mostly, to feel the pain and struggle of surviving and Iñárritu forcing you to stay in the moment with his signature deliberate film making and signature long takes. All in all, The Revenant is a real experience of a movie, and a chilling tale.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

SPOILER REVIEW

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Spoiler Review : Star Wars – The Force Awakens

This is going to be my spoiler filled review, recap and discussion about Star Wars Episode 7 – The Force Awakens. As I’ve stated like three times now, this is going to be FULL of spoilers so if you’re that one person who hasn’t seen the movie yet, don’t read this, and go see the damn movie. For everyone else, lets do this.

To jump right into it, I think first we need to talk about all the comparisons made between this movie and Episode 4 – A New Hope. Yes, I do agree, the narrative does take a distinctly similar path, however, I disagree with most people on why it does and wether or not that its a good thing. I think what J.J. intentionally did here was mirror a formula that clearly worked before, but used it as a tool to launch the new direction and new cast of this new adventure. It combined just the right amount of nostalgia with the right amount of newness to create something that millions of people loved and enjoyed. That aside we can talk about some of the big plot points in this movie now. I want to start with Kylo Ren or as we know now, Ben Solo.

For the most part, Ben Solo is what we always wanted Anakin Skywalker to be in the prequels. Dark, brooding, emotional when necessary, but not to come off so much whiny as broken. His character could still go either way as the story stands, although they are going to have to move heaven and earth to really make me believe his redemption if it gets to that. I also think in his killing of Han, that Han knew exactly what he was doing when he said he’d do anything to help him, and I think the way Ben thought he’d feel after killing him (free that is) didn’t happen, and was why he seemed stuck there long enough for Chewy to bust a hole in his side.

As for the seemly new trio now, of Rey, Fin and Po, I really like all three of these characters. Po firstly I think really showed what it was to be the pilot he was billed to be, and seeing him be so confident and competent in what he did was really exciting to watch. Fin also seemed to be part of these new order of storm troopers that have the training to an actual threat which was a much welcomed sight. You could instantly feel the bromance between him and Po, and it made sense given the nature of their coming together. The undoubtedly most complex of these new characters however would have to be Rey. I’ve seen lots of people call her a “Mary-Sue”, which is a film term to mean a female character thats basically unbeatable and has everything happen for them to easy, and while I can see where that sentiment comes from, I have to disagree.

I think the way things turn out for Rey, are a result of her as yet undisclosed past and upbringing. I’m willing to bet that she has had some kind of training before and was simply made to not remember that part of her life, in an effort to keep her safe. At the end of the movie when she confronts Luke, he knows exactly who she is, the only real surprise being when she produces his and his fathers old lightsaber. I believe her and Kylo Ren are on mirrored but opposite paths, but maybe to the same end.

That leads us to Snoke, or Darth Plagueis if most of the fandom is correct. And I agree that Snoke needs to be such a character to really make it impactful that he has been around for so long, and seen so much. He’s seen first hand the power of Skywalkers and it makes sense why he wanted so badly to prevent anyone from finding or contacting Luke. He’s going to be needed now more than ever though. With the entire galaxy in probably disarray without the leadership of the senate. The first order I’m sure didn’t suffer as huge a blow as the resistance would like to think, and only a hand full of characters know enough to help save it all. Needless to say I’m very much looking forward to episode 8, but Star Wars Rogue One will do finely in the meanwhile.

Review : The Hateful Eight

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“In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.”

Watching The Hateful Eight, the eight film by Quentin Tarantino, is like sitting in a pot of water, putting it on the stove, on a low heat, and just waiting there. Sure its cold at first, but in an hour, that bitch is boiling, and you didn’t notice till you were already cooked inside. The fact that this movie almost didn’t get made, is a travesty I am glad we were able to avoid. Like all Tarantino films, The Hateful Eight at its core is really a character study, just with his usual flair for characters that seem at first more caricature than character, but peal away the layers and there is depth to them. Then to turn it up to 11, he always drops these characters into a situation or situations in which there is no easy retreat, nor any clear path to resolution. The result of those things is a lot of tension and usually a lot of pay of. Couple this all with the now infamous Tarantino dialogue, and you’re in for one hell of a ride ( like a 3 hour ride ). Shot in panavision 70 mm, which to most people just means really wide, but movie is also breath taking when it needs to be, but claustrophobic the rest of the time. All these things together make film with very limited draw back. Sure some people won’t be fans of the violence and swearing, and yes maybe there is some fat that could be trimmed of this one, but I loved every second of it.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Point Break

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“A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists. “Point Break” is inspired by the classic 1991 hit.”

As fat as movies go, Point Break is very much in that more un-special range, mediocre if you will. It already starts at the disadvantage of being a remake of what many consider to be a bit of a cult classic in the original Point Break by Kathryn Bigelow in 1991. That movie was, and feels just a lot fresher than this current incarnation. That lack of freshness is really what undoes this movie ultimately. It does have some redeeming qualities however, namely, all of the action stunt work. The jumps and dives and falls and spills and all that stuff is very well done and very well shot to give you the best feeling for the pace, excitement and danger of it all. The two leads here also do decent enough job, but they don’t always come off as charismatic as they should be, or even sometimes just not fully formed from an emotional side which would help ground the characters a lot more. The Point Break remake goes down in the books as another lack lustre attempt to get a second life, for a film that never really died.

Review Score : 5 out of 10

Top 10 Movies of 2015 (Wide Release)

Here we are again, another year gone, another top 10 list. As with last years list, this one is only for Wide Released movies, released in the year 2015. That means some of those Oscar contenders won’t be on here, as they were only released in limited theatres in 2015 and then more widely in 2016, or stayed throughout. This year I also decided to create my own awards for the past year, look out for that post coming soon! And without further ado, my list of the Top 10 films of 2015 (Wide Release) :

10 : The Big Short

The Big Short ended up being one of the last big splashes in movies of 2015. It boasts a stellar cast, and some great material that could have really easily alienated the audience, but found mostly clever ways to help get the point across without always having to really dumb it down. A great look at how such a true story could be told in an entertaining way.

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9 : Inside Out

One of the best concepts for an animated movie or movie in general to come out in a few years was 2015’s Inside Out. It finds great and inventive ways to display the complex views its try to tackle. It sometimes lost its way to me at points, but the rest of the movie is much to strong to let those keep it back.

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8 : The Peanuts Movie

Even with the brilliance and almost adultness of Inside Out, 2015 also brought us one of the purest and most true to form adaptations of any property ever, in The Peanuts Movie. An amazing showcase of animation and the right mix of old school, but being able to bring it all into the present time.

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7: Avengers – The Age of Ultron

The Avengers Age of Ultron, is probably the most maligned superhero film  of 2015, that really doesn’t deserve it. It gets savaged in comparisons to the first Avengers movie, which just happens to be one of the best super hero movies of all time. Living up to which, was going to be damn near impossible. This is however, still a great action and super hero movie with the amazing cast we know and love in some amazing action set pieces and some of the best Marvel movie villains to date.

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6 : Beasts of No Nation

Hard hitting, brutal, unapologetic, honest and even revolting are all words that describe the narrative and story telling of Beasts of No Nation. Its hard to really describe this movie, without really getting into the story here but know as good as this movie is, it is not for everyone. Amazing acting and a real juxtaposition of the evils of man framed against the beautiful cinematography of the movie and the environment it’s set in.

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5 : Kingsman – The Secret Service

In a year filled with Spy movies, the undisputed champion, is Kingsman – The Secret Service. A fast paced, non stop, action adventure comedy romp that never stops moving and never stops entertaining. Adapted for the screen from its comic book origins and done perfectly to create and maintain its own universe of heroes and villains. Its hard to find a more fun movie of 2015.

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4 : The Martian

The triumphant return of Ridley Scott is still not the biggest thing about this movie. Even the fact that most of the science in this movie stand ups to real world science, the biggest thing about this movie, is Matt Damon. Even in such a well put together cast, he simply shines out like the diamond in the rough, that was already a shiny diamond and carries this movie even though he doesn’t really have to.

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3 : Straight Outta Compton

A movie that came out of the gates for 2015 totally on fire was Straight Outta Compton. Straight Outta Compton was a brilliant take and representation of the story of probably the most famous rap group of all time, NWA. It showcases some amazing casting and acting by all present, with the great use of the already amazing songs of the group. The movie does have a weaker third act than the firs two, but what a first two.

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2 : Ex-Machina

Ex-Machina, when all is said and done, is probably the movie that made me simply think the most of all the films I’ve seen in 2015. It had a simple basically 3 person cast, and a premise that could be described as simply : What makes something or someone human? Those three actors do however happen to all be amazing ones that keep pushing this character exploration further and further forward with suspense and intrigue.

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So before the number one movie of 2015, I want to put in an honourable mention, of a movie that I probably enjoyed the most of 2015 but I didn’t put on this list in an attempt to keep my bias from crediting that movie above others, and yes, that movie is Star Wars – The Force Awakens. Just wanted to put this in here for anyone wondering, and it would have gone at number 2.

1 : Mad Max – Fury Road

The big daddy of them all for 2015 however, is Mad Max – Fury Road. A successor to the previous trilogy and a pure pastiche to the idea of action movies with a heart and soul, Mad Max takes us on a journey we probably couldn’t have imagined it would, thats both familiar and re-imagined for a new times with the deftest of touches in it’s acting, direction, compositions and EVERYTHING else about it. Mad Max – Fury Road was in many ways the perfect movie, and the certainly the best of 2015.

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