Have you ever seen that one movie? You know the one, it’s based on a young adult novel and it’s starring a hot young actor alongside a few veteran adults? The one where the trailer looked pretty cool but then when you saw it you realized that they had cut so much of the actually important parts of the story that the movie ended up not being very good?
Yeah I saw that movie tonight. It’s called Ender’s Game.
Nicholas Winding Refn has made a lot of movies with stood, nearly silent protagonists. His last film, drive, I loved. Valhalla Rising manages to convey a much or more about it’s mute protagonist without any dialogue from him as his previous work Bronson does with the protagonist addressing the camera directly. So how does this one fare?
You don’t need to read this. I’d like you to but there’s no need. Pacific Rim is awesome and you should go see it. I’ll tell you why but it really doesn’t matter, just go enjoy it because it’s the best big budget action movie of the summer so far, this year so far, and the most fun I’ve had at the movies in what must be years.
So, time to talk about another of my most anticipated films. I am a life long Star Trek fan. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. When I was a kid I watched The Original Series. When it debuted on TV I watched Every episode of Next Generaion, Deep Space Nine and even Voyager despite all it’s problems. Enterprise, I am of the opinion, got cancelled just when it had gotten really good. I’ve seen every movie multiple times and, perhaps most relevant to what I am about to say, I really liked JJ Abrams 2009 reboot of the franchise.
Yes, it has problems. Hell, the whole plot falls apart if you pay more than a cursory amount of attention to the details, but it has that certain extra je ne said quo is that makes me forget all this as I watch it. Despite it’s ridiculousness it sucks me in and I enjoy it every time.
Naturally I was excited for a sequel and today we got one. So how is it? It’s… well it’s something.
I feel like Baz Luhrman has the potential to be an amazing film maker. He has a strong and distinct artistic and aesthetic voice, he can get Oscar calibre performances out of the actors cast in his his films and his films are often entertaining (except for Australia, which was boring).
Luckily The Great Gatsby is one of the entertaining ones, but as with his Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge I came away thinking “that was pretty fun!” But feeling like something was missing.
Most nerds seem to grow up one of two ways: Star Wars fan or Star Trek fan. That’s not to say that a fan of one can’t be a fan of the other but if you ask people they will invariably identify one way or the other when it comes right down to it. Simon, for example, is a Star Wars fan. I am a Star Trek fan. A Trekkie, through and through.
So tomorrow, for me, is a big day: there’s a new Star Trek movie coming out. I haven’t seen it yet but I will be tomorrow at least once, and potentially twice because that’s how much of a nerd I am.
If you follow [my twitter][twit] at all you may have noticed though that while I’m excited about new Star Trek I’m also rather worried about it. People have asked me why so here are the answers.
The more I think about Iron Man the more I am of two minds on the movie. For all the reasons I previously stated the movie works, but there’s a lot of things nagging at me.
I’m going to talk about a few of those things and this is going to contain spoilers. Pretty massive spoilers actually so if you haven’t seen the movie stop reading right now. Go see it. It’s definitely a movie you should see in theatres. Once you’ve seen it come back and read this.
As a sequel not only to Iron Man and Iron Man 2 but also to The Avengers, Iron Man 3 has a lot to live up to. The Avengers changed everything, not only for the characters involved but for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well; how do you sell these characters as solo acts again?
Luckily Marvel has employed some very smart people because as it turns out Iron Man 3 follows up nicely on a everything that preceded it, is one of the strongest stand alone films produced by Marvel to date and is probably the prefect anchor for the second phase of Marvel films.
Unfortunately in reviewing this there are going to be what could be considered some very mild spoilers involved. I promise that I won’t reveal anything big and keep the rest to a minimum, but if you want to go in blind (which I recommend you do) then just know that this is a movie I absolutely recommend seeing and stop reading right now. If you want to know what I think in detail, hit the jump.
I have a lot I’d like to say about The Place Beyond the Pines but I can’t because it would spoil the plot and that would diminish your enjoyment of this great film. Yes, it’s great and you should see it. Derek Cianfrance has assembled a feature of great power and thought and you should see it.
In fact, that’s the TL;DR version of this review. It’s great. Go watch it before you read this. I’m going to avoid saying anything that would spoil the plot but there’s plenty beyond the plot to spoil and I feel you’d go into this best if you go into it blind.
So go. I’ll wait here. Last chance. Ok good.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a fantastic film about fathers and sons and they’re influence on one another and about sins and feelings that are passed from one generation to another. It follows Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling), a motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber, and Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a rookie cop who ends up involved in his case, and their relationship with their respective sons.
To say it’s a powerful film would be the understatement of the year. Gosling and Cooper as the two leads both give tremendous performances as characters under stresses they never anticipated and circumstances they’ve put themselves in.
Gosling, as with previous performances in Drive and earlier films such as The Believer seems to have mastered the art of calm, quiet rage. The rage in this case comes explicitly from his circumstance and implied self loathing rather than from an unexplored backstory.
Cooper by contrast manages to convey his characters barely covered guilt and fear with a visceral realism, and I can’t help but be reminded that he was nominated for an Oscar last year.
Both these men I am sure will win all the accolades they deserve in the next few years.
Following them is their sons, and Dane DeHaan playing Luke’s son Jason. This kid is going places. He hasn’t been in much, but between this and Chronicle the kid has some chops and I expect he’ll be one of the next big kids on the block.
The supporting cast, rounded out by Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali and Eva Mendes is pretty stellar as well. I wish Ben Mendelsohn has more to do in the film but that’s a minor quibble.
All of this is of course due largely because of Cianfrance’s directorial style. Much of the film is filmed in long single shot takes shot with unsteadied cameras. The desired effect of this –which often does not work– is to create a more intimate feeling for the film. In this case it works incredibly well, creating the feeling of being right there beside the characters as they are going through their trials.
Further, while many films will have a character (or two) explicitly state the moral or message of the film, Cianfrance elects to show instead of tell; the characters actions inform us rather than the script and i very much appreciate a film that trusts it’s audience in this way.
Cianfrane has only directed 3 features so far, and only two of those have released wide, but he can count myself as a major fan moving forward. This film is ambitious in it’s message and scope and it pulls it off on all fronts.