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February 15 2015

heidigard
This was frustrating. It started out fine. Intriguing story, great actors, impressive visuals - the whole lot. Even some Lord-of-the-Flies-like social study elements that could have been used a little more. But things started to go pear-shaped the moment those monster things turned up. They so clearly were man-made which implied that whoever put these children in the maze for their entertainment wanted them rather dead than alive, but tigers or crocodiles were not enough. It had to be nightmare-monsters. Okay, so far, so dumb. But what they dished out as an "explanation" for the whole plot during the last 10 minutes was just such utter nonsense that it didn't even begin to explain why those kids had to be put through all of this. In fact, they negated themselves IMO. If a sadistic asshole with a lot of money had been behind this it would have made a lot more sense. And the worst thing: They were setting this story up for a sequel! After they discredited themselves so thoroughly, who's going to watch another movie like this?!
So, visually okay. Acting great. Also not at all boring. But the explanation for the whole mess sent the film to hell in a hand basket, as the saying goes, because it made non sense whatsoever.
Tags: film review

February 08 2015

heidigard
I’ve wanted to see Robert Downey Jr. in something a little more serious for a while because I believe he can do it. Well, here he did, and though things didn’t go down completely without his trademark humour, I do think this counts as “serious”. His performance was very good, not mind-blowing, but convincing and three-dimensional. The whole film reminded me of “August: Osage County”, which I had enjoyed (to my eternal surprise). Everybody else was great, too. I liked Billy Bob Thornton.
The movie itself could have been cut down by at least 20 minutes. It wasn’t exactly boring (quite the opposite once the plot started to thicken), but you can only spend so much time on the family drama and still keep the audiences’ attention. That said, I expected a little more tension in the psychodrama aspect of things.
Visually, this was a solid piece of work. I particularly liked the soundtrack, too. But I wouldn’t exactly call a movie like that “entertainment”, so it’s only for a one-time viewing, all things said.
Tags: film review
heidigard
I can see why Assange wasn’t in favour of this film. It doesn’t put him in a good light. Kind of like “The Social Network”, really. (It’s probably to be expected, going by the main source of the film, but I was hoping for a more balanced approach.) Benedict Cumberbatch did an adequate job, as expected, though his carefully crafted accent and inflection from the beginning of the movie seems to have slipped over the duration. I really did think that Daniel Brühl and David Thewlis were the best actors in this, though. But it doesn’t matter. Everybody was good. And I was thrilled to see Alexander Siddig here.
The script wandered a bit. I thought the virtual reality scenes were a weird attempt at moving this in a more profound, artsy direction which was unnecessary for a biopic and I could have done without them. The romance between Brühl’s character and his girlfriend was also something that got far too much screen time.
Other than that the picture ad a good, solid ring to it. The lighting was very aesthetic, but they could have put a little more effort into the sets. They started to look the same after a while.
Anyway, strange film. Not the best one that could have been made from the material, but enlightening none the less. Also, I hadn’t realised that I experienced this major leak of 2010 as a contemporary witness: I remember stumbling over the Apache attack video footage somewhere while watching TV and they only had sparse commentary and no subtitles, but my English is good enough that I understood every word and it was so shocking because it confirmed my worst expectations of how things go when Americans wage war. My mother came in, saw my face and asked me what was wrong and I just broke down in tears, trying to explain what I had just seen.
Tags: film review

February 07 2015

heidigard
woah, this was a long film. It felt like an opera: bloated and dragging. The first half hour could have been cut by about 45 minutes. All in all, this film should not have come out longer than 80 minutes by my estimation. They wasted time on story lines that were unnecessary and didn’t need further explanation, extended fight scenes and pointless slow-motion. In between the special effects there was little room for acting, which is why I don’t feel like I can properly judge what Andrew Garfield and co did here. I give them this, though: that last bit with the kid was genuinely moving. And I like Spidy’s humour, even though his cheekiness boarders on arrogance that needs to be taken down a peg or three.
Anyway, visually not nearly as impressive as Guardians of the Galaxy, which I watched yesterday, though it seemed to employ about the same amount of CGI. And they tried to pack too much into just one film. Three villains is just overdoing it.
I could rant a bit more but I’m not gonna. I have better things to do. As for re-watching: I’d rather give the Toby Maguire ones another go. They had James Franco, at least.
Tags: film review

February 06 2015

heidigard
Okay movie, I suppose. I was expecting something a little different, for example I kept wondering who these "Guardians" were supposed to be since the movie seemed to be about exactly one smart-mouthed guy who made a lot of annoyed enemies very quickly. The picture took a while to pull together properly.
Anyway, good acting. I only recognised Lee Pace because he did some typical head move in the beginning and I didn't notice who Karen Gillan was at all. I was a bit disappointed they only painted Zoe Saldana green. That seemed a bit cheap. (also, those pink people looked like they had a chronic case of carbon monoxide-poisoning. Very unhealthy skin tone to have.) I didn't find that the voice-acting and what we actually saw of the character on screen fit together for Rocket.
The script was okay. I'm puzzled by how well they avoided making this into a Star Wars / Star Trek / Green Lantern / HHGTTG / ... parody rip-off. That was a job well done! Furthermore, while there weren't nearly as many jokes in there as I expected (I only laughed a handful of times), the dialogue wasn't cheesy and there were a few moments towards the end that genuinely brought tears to my eyes. The character development was also pretty comprehensive, which is a feat for such a film.
The CGI was quite awesome. They put a lot of money into this and it paid off. Rocket was cute. Groot seemed a bit smooth but I liked his eyes. I'm also glad, though, to see that for some things they have returned to relying on make-up and prosthetics. All in all a well-made film by any and all modern standards. The only thing that really, really bothered me and dragged down the comedy aspect of it all was the horrific and sometimes pretty graphic violence. I was not expecting that and I'd rather had it another way.
The score was good, too, and the soundtrack a stroke of genius. It was half the fun, I'd even say.
Anyway, not going among my favourite films, but worthwhile and certainly worth a second look.
Tags: film review

January 24 2015

heidigard
Good film! Dramatic and gripping with fantastic, three-dimensional characters and awesome visuals. I nearly didn’t recognise Mark Strong, but his mannerisms and the cadence of his voice (though with a heavy accent) gave him away. Antonio Banderas was a bit distracting, but oh well! Their lead actor was well-chosen too! Some eye candy and a decent performance on top of it.
Despite the runtime this movie didn’t feel long. It was properly filled and there clearly went some serious money into it: epic battles, lots of extras, camels and horses, on location shoots.... Yet more eye candy right there! The only thing that could have used a little work was the script. Especially the first half hour or so were terribly generic and flat. After that it turned out okay.
There also were a few bewildering instances of erratic editing that did not fit in with the rest of this otherwise visually stunning motion picture.  On top of that it had one of James Horner's best soundtracks since Avatar. Good to watch once or twice in any case.
PS: I also sort of liked the way Islam was portrayed here. Like this it makes much more sense. Sadly we only ever see the madmen and fanatics around here...
Tags: film review

January 18 2015

heidigard
This was an excellent film. Very different from what I expected, but great none the less. In all honestly, I don’t have the words right now to describe this properly. I love Simon Pegg. He deserves to do some serious acting apart from comedy. Furthermore, I’m discovering that his films all have a distinct and painful element of drama in them. Humour is only a by-product cropping up here and there in an unobtrusive manner.
The plot was unpredictable. It had clearly undergone a lot of compression. But it was still great as a movie. It reminded me of a similar book I’ve read, but it was 100 times better executed. I’m not sure if this film was as profound and deep as it feels right now – I’ll have to sleep over it – but it was incredibly touching and moving nonetheless. Also, while not exactly telling me anything new, it confirmed some of the things I’ve discovered for myself.
Visually, it was also stunningly well-done: I loved the photographed quality of the pictures, the natural lighting, the animations woven into it… Just an absolute pleasure to watch! Well done, camera crew and Co!
Anyway, I suppose I’m at a point in my life where I needed to see this kind of film and could enjoy it. But I’m still going to recommend it to all of you, too!
Tags: film review

January 17 2015

heidigard
Woah, this was an incredibly disturbing film! What made it all the more horrible was how firmly it was rooted in reality. I can’t quite say what it was an allegory of but it clearly has some deeper meaning, too, as all Arthouse movies do. Some self-discovery things.
Scarlett Johansson was unbelievably brave here. Her performance with improvising all her dialogue and driving around in that van is Oscar-worthy. Great work! Also, huge kudos to the editor and whoever’s responsible for the overall look of the film. They achieved exactly what they wanted, I think: the dissociated, cold view point of this alien woman in counter part to the terrible things that happen… Just bone-chilling. And that soundtrack! It all just had a very distinct, uncomfortable feel to it.
I only wish I hadn’t known about how they made this film (using so many real people off the street) because it distracted me from what was happening on screen with thoughts about how those people might have felt after it was revealed to them that they were in some kind of grotesque hidden camera thing. But then again: kudos also to those guys to go ahead with things after they were informed. I’m not sure I’d have done that. But then again, who wouldn’t want to be in a movie with Scarlett Johansson, even if it meant walking around naked.
So: I never knew there was such a thing as Arthouse horror, but apparently there is. This might give you nightmares. Watch at your own risk.
Tags: film review

January 16 2015

heidigard
This would probably have been great as a shortfilm. Or even as a slightly-supernatural superpower-movie if you cut out the pseudo-scientific babble. The acting was decent enough (though Scarlett Johansson does “cool” way better than “bondie”), but I hate that they made Morgan Freeman utter these brain-dead monologues. What also annoyed me to no end was the tireless repetition of ancient clichés like “We only use a tiny portion of our brains.” “Dolphins are more intelligent than humans.” etc. We use all of our brains. Just not at the same time, but we do. Get over it already! Furthermore, using more of your brain (even if it were possible to use STILL more) would never make you physically stronger. The brain is said to be like a muscle, yes, but not THAT kind of muscle. And it won’t make you telekinetic either. Or able to Imperius people. Or read the universe or whatever. What nonsense! I would have been able to suspend my disbelief, no problem, if they hadn't harped on about how this was research and science. Gah! The worst thing was how they negated the whole intelligence-and-brain thing: no sensible woman would walk around in stilettos. They are impractical, dangerous, ruin your knees, hips and spine and your whole body is not made for walking like that. So: major *facepalm*. (Oh, and I wonder how a molar ended up in that glass if she just sipped the drink. Also, with all the things she can do I wonder why Lucy and the cop have to stop and wait at a red light, of all things. That makes no sense whatsoever. And what the hell did she need the scientific experts for? She could have given herself an IV if that’s all she needed.)
So, you see, this has me pretty worked up. It was visually pleasing. They had very nice effects, a great, if lengthy, car chase through Paris, Scarlett Johansson on fire and a lot of other cool stuff and really nice CGI. All they would have needed to do to make this a decent film was cut out the scientific nonsense. *sigh* But like this I’m forced the say the Bradley Cooper one is better.
Tags: film review

January 11 2015

heidigard
Wow, what a dumb movie! It started out fine, but after an hour everything just got boring and frustrating. My most important finding to take away from this: they don’t have emergency breaks on trains in Hawaii. That train with the lost boy could have been stopped a number of times: It could have been stopped from leaving the station and the boy returned to his parents right away. It could have been stopped from getting any closer to the monster or the gun fire. It could have been stopped before falling off the bridge. Instead, everybody panicked. Also, it’s disquieting to see that in times of crisis Americans take the fate of the world into their hands, and their hands only, no questions asked, and then leave it to amateurs and horrifically non-qualified personnel to neutralise it any way they see fit. That’s like putting a 5-year-old in charge of a aorta valve repair. I hate movies that are THIS dumb. They pack busses full of children for evacuation and then they trap them on the bridge by building a police car road block just to generate action sequences. This was just so frustrating. Also, jumping out of a plane from 33k ft without covering ALL exposed skin? Omg, you are going to have frost bite to remind you of your stupidity for the rest of your life. Finally, if you drop a nuke in San Francisco I’m pretty certain the death toll is going to be a lot higher than 100 000.
Anyway, good actors and some pretty amazing CGI-work wasted on a script that is beyond saving. Visually, this was impressive, but only the brain-dead and people who like “Transformers” may find this entertaining for any stretch of time.
A real pity since I loved the old vintage Godzilla movies as a kid.
Tags: film review

January 01 2015

heidigard
Well, I have been warned that this was no good but it actually wasn’t half-bad! Good characters, a gripping and not-too-predictable plot combined with a few good visuals made this a nice movie for the evening. To my great delight I just discovered that Kodi Smit-McPhee was in this (he was just so, so brilliant in "The Road") and I was thrilled to see Gary Oldman in this (though his character was not somebody I’d easily emphasise with) and Andy Serkis did a great job with Caesar again (all the other ape-actors did too, for that matter). What I disliked a bit was that they wallowed too much in their excellent computer visuals, meaning shots of the apes took up too much unnecessary screen time. The animations covered a wide range quality-wise: most chimps looked too sleek and moved to smoothly to be natural. Also, their facial expressions looked unnatural a lot of the time, far too human. But the Orang Utan, on the other hand, was simply breath-taking. He was the only ape that really seemed 100% real.
Anyway, the script had a few annoying flaws (like the idea that apes could ride on horses: This could never work as their centre of gravity is much too high) I’m not going to go into here, but also some moving moments. All in all, decent entertainment, if a little too much on the violent side for my taste.
Tags: film review

December 23 2014

heidigard
First off, I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, which may have been the reason why this turned out more or less alright in the end, all things considered. For one, the runtime was far shorter than I anticipated, leading to a movie which flew by far faster than its predecessors. I hesitate to say it didn’t drag, but if it did, it was only for moments (e.g. Kate-from-Lost staring dejectedly at the sky in slowmo in the beginning). But whoever wrote that script had only the faintest hint of an idea as to what they where doing, which led to insultingly generic, sloppily-written and frankly ridiculous dialogue (in fact, the only truly good lines where those directly lifted from Tolkien, like Thorin's farewell speech to Bilbo, which rang with true pathos) and a host of quite obviously unintentionally funny scenes (example: Legolas and the Supermario Brick Run. Literally the whole auditorium erupted into spontaneous belly laughter!). There were a lot of mistakes (geography. Hello?! Enjoy a comfortable daytrip to Gundabad, just at the boarders of Angmar and spontaneously invite your cousin from the Iron Mountains to join you for afternoon tea?) and annoying alterations in the set-ups which I’m not going to elaborate on further but which are obvious to any fan of the book, as well as some ridiculous plot additions (don’t even get me started about Kate-from-Lost and Kili, but may I point out the giant moon worms from Dune? Or the pterodactyls which we got instead of the warg army?)

The best actor by far was Martin Freeman. His Bilbo has developed simply beautifully doing theses movies and it’s a crying shame he had so little screen time in this, especially since he’s the main character after whom the film is named and his were the only truly decent scenes here (some outright brilliant like the acorn-scene or the one where he surrenders the Stone). Most other actors ranged from decent (Lee Pace was even reaching towards outstanding) to flat (Ian McKellen’s performance was solid, but kind of lifeless, possibly due to the writing). No one, however, was dreadful, which is a relief.

Anyway, the visuals were interesting because I felt you could clearly see the difference between the camera crews: One of them had an especially good lighting crew and camera man which produced some truly stunning, beautiful vistas. The whole backlit-sunset thing also led to some nice shots, but was sadly done to death. Furthermore, Smaug once again did justice to his name and was simply magnificent: huge and so, so scary. Production budget well-spent, there! Sadly, the epic armies have become too standard by now to score any more points. Any computer game can do that nowadays.

Towards the end they even shoved in some nice nature shots of New Zealand, ending in a bewildering woodland goodbye between Bilbo and Gandalf with some truly mysterious dialogue (if you watched it, you know what I mean). Other than that, we mostly took a trip through New Zealands most breath-taking green-screen studios. Hooray!

Plus-points for the soundtrack, though: Howard Shore pulled his shit together here and almost made it through with the barest hints at his LotR-score, which lead to decent music. Also, Billy Boyd (!!!!) sung the end credit song! You know, the guy who was so unsure about singing in LotR 3. He’s really developed. Lovely piece of work, this.

Anyway, I’m probably going to sit through this one more time, just to be sure I got it all, but this lacked the wit of the first movie and any pathos is could have had was destroyed by lovelessly thrown-together death scenes (at least three of them had the potential to become real tear-jerkers, given a bit more time and better editing!) and the afore mentioned ridiculous dialogue. There was also some serious potential to make this a psycho-drama or at least work in some elements, but all this did was try and check those boxes for the sake of completeness. This was just half-baked on all fronts. It seems they couldn’t decide on what to do with all the possible direction this could take and since they couldn't make a comedy AND a psycho-drama AND a deep movie about philosophical themes AND a thriller AND an adventure movie AND an (inter-racial) double romance, the only thing they got more or less right was the action.

All in all, there were only about 10 minutes of material I could think of off the top of my head that should have been edited out outright, which is a vast improvement over the first two movies. Man, I can’t wait for the fan-made compressed version!

But despite everything, I’m a little sad to see this era end. The last Tolkien movie! And despite everything: thanks, P.J!
Tags: film review

November 08 2014

heidigard

October 26 2014

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October 18 2014

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October 01 2014

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September 26 2014

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September 25 2014

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September 24 2014

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