23 November 2013

On DVD: The Wolverine


Sorry this is late, I had severe technical difficulties. Okay, I had one technical difficulty in that my iPad deleted my bloody blog post, and I've been huffing with technology since. Every time I sat down to write this, I got cross again and had to take a break.

ANYWAY. I'm back now and acting like a grown-up and have a review for you! Wonderful. 
The Wolverine is out now on DVD, so if you want to know if it's any good before renting, just keep reading!

Starring the lovely Hugh Jackman and directed by James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line) this is the follow-up to 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now, the 2009 effort was largely seen as a misstep, the storyline in general leaving a lot to be desired, so this film was an attempt to remedy any fan complaints. Of which there were A LOT. Does it succeed? Weeeelllll, sort of. 

Wolverine (Jackman) saves Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanochi) from the Hiroshima blast in Japan, 1945. Moving to the present day and a haunted Wolverine is found by a messenger, Yukio (Rilo Fukushima) who summons him so Yashida can repay the debt. On arriving, Yashida offers him the potential answer to his pain--a cure for his immortality. All is not as it seems though and everybody seems to be hiding a secret. A kidnap plot for Yashida's granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) is soon discovered and Wolverine is forced to help save her.

I feel like to give an in-depth criticism of any of the X-Men films it might be necessary to have more knowledge of the comic universe, so this is very much a casual viewers opinion of the film. Just a little disclaimer!

So the the best thing about the film, as with a lot of the X-Men films, is Hugh
Most handsome man ever?
Jackman. He is so brilliant as Wolverine and is obviously dedicated to the character. Wolverine in this film is haunted by the events of
X-Men: The Last Stand, where he was forced to (SPOILERS!!) kill the love of his life, Jean Grey. When I say haunted, I do mean quite literally. Jean Grey pops up alllll over the show. Which does get a little annoying because Jackman is a talented enough actor to show us his grief and guilt, we don't need time wasted on him talking to Jean about his guilt. And this is quite a long film, clocking in at over 2 hours so it isn't entirely necessary. It also makes the love story that they shoehorn in all the more difficult to take. 

The Japanese setting of the film is beautiful and is used quite wonderfully throughout. The culture is embedded in the film, through the idea of honour, how Mariko is treated by the male figures, the samurai swords (awesome) and the ninjas that rock up. It really is very well done. And the ninjas and samurai swords are really, very cool. The fight scenes are really pretty phenomenal.

Speaking of samurai's, Yukio (Fukushima) is amazing. I came away from the
It's probably love.
film with a little bit of a girl-crush on her. She is so interesting and so capable and my only problem is that they don't use enough of her. Her chemistry with Jackman is so natural and obvious so it's a shame we don't see more of it.

On the other end of the spectrum, I wasn't as fussed on Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Despite apparently being excellent at karate and having great knife skills, I think she uses them once. She is effectively thrown about by the men in her life and then has to be saved. If she has the skills, why can't she use them?! I also had problems with her forced relationship with Wolverine, they don't share the chemistry that he has with Yukio so I found it hard to believe that this was the love to cure his broken heart. 

Then comes the ending. The ending is SUCH a letdown. We're given a fairly fascinating villain in Dr.Green/Viper (Svetlanda Khodchenkova) and then she is given barely any screentime to develop and THEN someone else pops up to change the story all together. It is so disappointing, and the final fight-even for a comic book adaptation-is ridiculous. It takes away from any of the good stuff that came before and is very annoying. 

I did quite like the film, and I think Hugh Jackman is regularly the best thing in a lot of films, but the ending is a total letdown.
If you've seen the film, let me know your thoughts! Agree? Disagree? I am open for discussion!

Peace Out.
14 November 2013

In Cinemas: Gravity


I should say, before I kick off the review, this is a film entirely about my worst fear. I willingly sat through a film about my worst fear because I am INSANE. Needless to say, this was a terrifying experience for me.

SO, I saw this bad boy:

And it was, without a shadow of doubt, one of the most incredible pieces of film I have ever seen. Ever. The story follows a rookie astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and her first mission with soon to be retiring veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). What should be a routine mission goes terribly wrong after a Russian strike on a dead satellite leads to a deadly cloud of debris. Again, I don't want to give too many details because I feel like this is a film that you NEED to see. It is groundbreaking. Too often, 3D is used as a money-making scheme by Hollywood, with films converted for no need just to increase the box office takings. Here, it feels entirely necessary. For the first time since Avatar, I will say it is totally essential that you see this in 3D because this is INCREDIBLE. I know I'm using a lot of Caps Lock in this bad boy, but I feel that's the best way for you to understand just how BLOODY FANTASTIC this film is.

Visually, this is in a whole other league. Like, a league that hasn't even been invented yet. I've been a big fan of director Alfonso Cuaron for a long time, since Y Tu Mama Tambien (excellent film). Best known for one of the better Harry Potter entries, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, he steps up his remarkable abilities to a whole new level. Even if the storyline didn't grab you, the cinematography by the talented Emmanuel Lubezki and the direction would. This might be the most beautiful film I've ever seen. The opening shot is nothing short of phenomenal, a continuous 12 minute shot that captures the terrifying beauty of space and the total isolation. Watching Stone spin off endlessly into space, disappearing into the darkness is both fear-inducing and wonderful. And Cuaron makes sure that he makes the most of the 3D element. As a member of the audience, you feel like part of the environment as the objects float past your face. It's terrifying. One particular shot stands out for me, as Stone begins to cry and the tears float towards the audience. It is unbelievable. 

I could talk about the visuals for hours, but it's best we move on to the other awesome stuff. Like the actual story and the incredible cast. Like I said, I don't want to say too much about the story because it is quite a lean storyline. The film is largely about a woman who has isolated herself from the world--both physically and emotionally--fighting to bring herself back. And it is bloody tense. Even if I wasn't terrified by the vastness of space (shudder) I'd still be on the edge of my seat. You are so involved in the characters and the action, you'll leave the cinema with your muscles aching. The portrayal of the sheer determination of human survival is remarkable, and it has to be said, Sandra

Bullock is wonderful in this film. I've always held a little bit of a grudge, truth be told, that she won an Oscar for The Blind Side, because it wasn't a great film and, whilst she is lovely, it wasn't a winning performance. In this though, she is awe-inspiring. From the very first moment we meet her character, the detailing that she puts in is excellent. Whilst there isn't a great deal of character development (because let's be honest, how much development can be done with only one other actor on screen?) Bullock creates a fully formed woman to root for and to be amazed by, who finds her reason to live again.

George Clooney brings an essential bit of humour to his role as Matt Kowalski, the man who serves to remind Stone of the need for connection, and he is wonderful, but Bullock steals this film majestically. Casting wise, the likes of Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson were all attached at different points when the screenplay first got attention in 2010. The cast we got are far too perfect to even think about imagining someone else in the roles. 

I really can't praise this film enough. It is tense, terrifying, beautiful, wonderful and utterly jaw dropping. And you really should see it. If you have seen it, let me know your thoughts! Did you want to cry as much as I did?!

Peace out.
06 November 2013

In Cinemas: Thor: The Dark World


I went to the cinema and it was a glorious, hideously overpriced good time to be had by all. Before I get to the film reviewing, just a quick word on the trailers. Trailers tend to be highlight for me when I go to the cinema, weird but true. Not to mention the fact that I regularly get sucked into the black-hole that is trailer watching on YouTube. You watch one, three hours later you realise you've watched 200. So, I was excited for the trailers before the film and I was not disappointed. If you haven't seen the trailers for The Hunger Games or Gravity you are missing out on life. I'll link them here and here so you can rejoin society ;). Words can't even state how excited I am for these bad boys!

ONTO THE FILM! I saw this:

And it was pretty great! The Marvel films have become a little bit of a cinematic event now after the massive successes of Ironman and The Avengers so when a new one comes out, it's with a lot of fanfare. Tom Hiddleston has been promoting his ass off, for which I thank him. His dancing is my new favourite thing in the world. I do not thank him, however, for the raging obsession. It's taking over my life. PLS STAHP TOM.

The film itself is a pretty solid entry into the canon, it is a genuinely enjoyable, and very funny film. I don't want to say too much about it, because I really do think you should go see it, so I'll say what I liked and what I didn't like. 

Unnaturally attractive.
So the storyline itself is...a little convoluted. Maybe that's just me, maybe I was distracted by Chris Hemsworth's beautiful face and didn't pay enough attention. Basically (ha!), Malekith (Christopher Ecclestone) a dark elf, is trying to use some stuff, The Aether, to bring darkness about. Apparently he wants to go back to the state before the universe was created. Don't ask me why. Anywho, after he gets beaten the first time, The Aether is contained and Malekith runs away. But then it turns out there's this thing called the Convergence, linking the Nine Realms and creating portals which all leads to Jane Foster finding the hidden Aether and being taken by it. So then Thor has to come save her but Malekith has already sensed the awakening Aether and now he wants to destroy ALL the Nine Realms. Obviously. SO MUCH EXPLAINING. 
I understood the basics of the storyline, but Malekith (Ecclestone) really wasn't given enough time to explain and expand on his story, which was a shame because he had the potential to be really interesting. 
This is a much more action-packed film than the first. Kenneth Branagh had the tough job of creating a viable character and universe from such a difficult comic to adapt, whilst Alan Taylor gets to create a more action-centred universe, which he does with great skill. One particular realm-jumping action scene is especially impressive. As in, it's amazing.

My favourite thing about the Thor universe, has always been the family element and the central performances. Chris Hemsworth was born to play Thor, and quite willingly plays the straight man role against the more flamboyant role of
Loki played by Tom Hiddleston (love, so much). He is the necessary centre to the film that relies on his solid presence, leaving Hiddleston free to steal scenes where he pleases. Whilst Thor is the dependable hero, Loki is the mischievous, untrustworthy brother. When these guys are (finally) brought together, it's bloody brilliant. One of my problems with the film is that it focuses too heavily on the apparently epic relationship between Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) rather than the bond between the brothers. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston is so obvious that it jumps off the screen. And they're BFF'S in real life! The problem is, this makes the lack of chemistry with Portman so obvious. Whilst Natalie Portman is by no means a bad actress, she just doesn't fit in the film. In fact, the entire film slows down when the action moves to Earth or the Earth bound characters. Whilst Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Eric (Stellan Skarsgard) are very funny, they feel a little overused on occasion. The Asgard universe is so beautiful it becomes disappointing to leave and an unfortunate consequence of the excess Earth time, is that Thor's team get even less time. 

Another thing I loved about the film was the female element. Here, they weren't just damsels in distress or ornamental figures that are only used in the key moment, they are actually heroines! Sif is kick-ass and it would be great to see more of her doing that, Jane is a smart woman who can actually think for herself and Frigga is just awesome. Take note Marvel (and film industry in general), women CAN do things. Also, the cameos are top-notch. Chris O'Dowd is adorable and keep an eye out for a certain Avenger in a lol-tastic show. 

If you're seeing the film don't forget to hang about for the now-famous end credit scenes! The mid-credits scene is pretty excellent and essential, whilst the end credit scene is just cute. 
So there we go! If you've seen the film, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought! Also, if you're as much a Tom Hiddlesworth fangirl as me, we should start a club!

Peace out.


Motherhood, films, beauty, and life



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