Friday 6 April 2012

Wraith of the Titans Review:

Two years after the anticlimactic and underwhelming Clash of the Titans reached blockbuster success we have the inevitable sequel Wraith of the Titans, with a new director and promises that this film would correct the numerous issues present in the first film. Whilst it is clear that an effort was made to do so, Wrath of the Titans still fails to achieve greatness and instead descends into mediocrity alongside the first instalment.

The action in Wrath of the Titans is acceptably fast and frenetic and at times even manages to be spectacular. It however also suffers from a severe overuse of quick cuts which often left what was occurring on screen confusing and disorienting. There however are a handful of lengthy action shoots that manage to linger long enough to draw undue attention themselves but aren't so short as to disorientate and it is in these moments that the action shines and can be spectacular. Such moments however are few and far between and fail to elevate the action beyond what is expected from such a film which leaves Wraith largely relying on its story which despite some promise is ultimately unsatisfying and barely present.

At its core Wrath of the Titans is obviously a father and son story with this being paralleled in several relationships. However the reason for this focus is not present and what could have made for an interesting framework as fathers, sons and brother where caught in an epic batlle is instead barely present as the film moves at such a quick pace which doesn't allow for what is occurring on screen to resonate beyond a superficial wow level. This is further accentuated by mediocre acting (save a few campy yet undebiably fun performances from veterans such as Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy and Ralph Fiennes) and comedy that breaks up the mediocrity of the story despite more often then not falling flat as a result of bieng overly preditable and ultimatly just another flavor of dull.  I can't help but find this to be unfortunate as had more time been spent developing the already existing framework and had the epic struglle between fathers, sons and brothers been more developed we could have had an interesting film that didn't rely solely on its visuals to entertain. Hence just as was the case with the series first entry Wrath of the Titans biggest flaw could be seen to be its inability to create a plight or characters you cared for. Wrath of the Titans also shares another massive weakness that was present in Clash of the Titans and ends on an anticlimactic note with the final battle ending just as it felt like the action was getting interesting.

In spite of all the issues present Wraith of the Titans isn't horrible by any means, rather it is nothing more then a passable action film that is unable to prove itself a notable improvement on the series similarly underwhelming yet still competent first entry.  Hence Wrath of the Titans does not come recommended.

-  Gabi

Monday 26 March 2012

Tron Review:

“The Original Classic”

As proclaimed in large capitalised text on the blu-ray cover, Tron is indeed a classic that was no doubt not fully appreciated upon release, but more on that soon.

Tron stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn a young enthusiastic programmer who worked extensively to create some of the most popular video games released. Unfortunately his work is stolen from him by Ed Dillinger (David Warner) who then uses these stolen games to propel him to the head of the company whilst Kevin Flynn is simply removed from the picture and left to scrape what money he can through his arcade. In spite of this Flynn remains determined to clear his name and return to his rightful place and so starts Tron which sees Kevin enter a computer world by accident which is populated by users which essentially are virtually representations of people in the form of programs.

As previously mentioned Tron does not seem to have been appreciated on release however nearly thirty years later and I imagine it has become more appreciated as some of the ideas and concepts present have become a reality. The most obvious of which being ones second 'life' in the computer world which is indisputably occurring with such wildly popular websites as facebook and twitter. Whilst it is true that many ideas are more hinted at rather then fully explored they remain none the less astonishingly present for a film that was made before terms like bit or program where common knowledge.

The acting throughout much like the film is fittingly campy and Jeff Bridges enthusiasm practically oozes of the screen and provides for a particularly fun performance that helps mask the films several shortcomings. The other actors are for the most part just as impressive and give this film a heart it so could easily have not had and saves the film from being nothing more then what today still remains a visual splendour.

Some may argue that the computer generated imagery (CGI) of Tron hasn't aged well, but to do so would to not understand the film makers intent. It is true in Tron Legacy the film-makers wanted the world to look real, however in the original Tron they wanted the world they created to look digital which they successfully created and realised, often with more standard techniques although a heavy amount of CGI is none the less present which is particularly impressive given that Tron is thirty years old at the time of this review.

As I previously mentioned Tron is a classic but it is not without its flaws, but when a film is as overwhelmingly good and interesting as it is in this case, the minor issues are easy to forgive.

Highly Recommended.

-  Gabi

Saturday 17 March 2012

What I have been watching recently:

Having not seen any films recently that I hadn't already viewed numerous time I decided I would post some reviews for films I have recently seen, although they are not necessarily the most recent films.  As expected as these are films I have watched numerous times I am rather positive regarding them.

Bright Star:
Bright Star is a slow paced love story which features several strong performances which were unfairly snubbed at the Oscars in 2009.  Most notable is Paul Schneider as Mr Brown and Abbie Cornish in the role of Fanny Brawne.  Fans of John Keats and poetry in general will likely enjoy the film more than those with no interest in such things, however even those who can’t stand poetry will still see a beautifully shot, emotionally engaging and satisfying film that few recent films (especially period drams) have been able to compare favourably to.  Highly recommended.

As one of the many legions of Cameron fans who waited for Avatar with baited breath it is fair to say my opinion is biased.  However it is just as impressive that I, and countless others who had been waiting years for Avatar where in no way disappointed with the film as it easily surpassed the expectations that had been in development for years.  Most obviously Avatar is a beautiful film to watch, both the world and the cinematography being absolutely stunning to look at.  The story more importantly is extremely well told with excellent acting.  Some may complain about the simple story told, but I personally have no qualms about a simple story, what matters to me is how well it is told and the emotional attachment that is created, and Avatar excels in both areas.  Hence Avatar comes with my highest recommendation.

Crazy Heart:
Crazy Heart is a film about a once famous washed up and alcoholic country singer.  Whilst Crazy Heart in many ways follows a predictable path, it none the less is a joy to watch.  This is no doubt helped by several strong performance, including the Oscar winning role of Jake Blake which may be Jeff Bridges’ best role thus far.  Sadly Crazy Heart feels as if it only half ends (no doubt a result of the director having filmed and wanted to including an extended end to the film, but not being allowed).  It none the less is an emotionally strong film despite its flawed ending.  Highly recommended.

-  Gabi

Wednesday 22 February 2012

À bout de souffle (Breathless) Review:

À bout de souffle (english name: Breathless) is the first feature film by Jean-Luc Godard and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I had never before seen his first feature film Breathless, which seems to be so often remembered as one of the 'best' films of French New Wave cinema.

Breathless follows Michel Poiccard a character who at first is seemingly a sociopath and early in the film murders a policeman for very little reason. The film quickly cuts to Paris where we see Michel steeling money, cars and anything else he desires. His aim is ultimately to escape and go to Rome with an American named Patricia Franchini, a person whom he had meet only a few weeks earlier and throughout the film the love Michel and Patricia have for one another is highlited and put into question.

In spite of all of Michel's wreckless and at times ciolent behaviour Breathless reamains a story about love, youth and the felling of bieng infallible when in love. It is of course not as simple as that as Breathless not only features several strong performances but also features characters who all have there own unique desires and motivations which throughout the film blurs just how true the two leads love is (and is a questions the characters ask themselves throughout).

In spite of all this to me what is most intriguing is that contradictory to Michel's frequent sociopathic behaviour he genuinly seems to care and love Patricia which becomes more evident throughout the films proceddings. The point and purpose of which i'm sure could be debated endlessly, as is the case with many of themes and ideas present in the film.  But suffice to say there is more to the story then is in most films, especially those that are love stories.

Whilst Breathless is inescapably stylish and no doubt groundbreaking there are numerous jump cuts present (whereby the shoot cuts from one angle to another angle that is extremely similar). Whilst i'm sure many will detest the suggestion, but I personally felt that such cuts destracted from the scenes they where present in and have been left puzzled by the purpose of their inclusion.

Breathless is a film that many will view differently but ultimately is a film that I intend to revisist soon and left me breathless (pardon the pun).

Highly recommended.

-  Gabi

Monday 20 February 2012

Sleeping Beauty (2011) Review:

Sleeping Beauty is a film by Julia Leigh which follows Lucy, a student who struggles to afford her rent, has a strong relationship of sorts with a suicidal alcoholic and undertakes in prostitution. One may think at first that Lucy is struggling, however it becomes clear that Lucy thrives on her self destructive behaviour and her situation seems to be largely a result of her own doing.

Lucy answers an advertisement for work that ultimately sees her working as a 'sleeping beauty', whereby she is drugged and left in a room asleep which is then rented out to (older) men who can do as they please, except have sex. Oddly Lucy never shows interest in being involved for the money, rather her motives are entirely unclear and this is one of the many area whereby Sleeping Beauty in my eys stumbles. In spite of how strong Emily Browning's performance is as Lucy, there is a lack of any depth to the character as motivations are never explored and Lucy is devoid of any personality. Likewise the supposed theme 'present' regarding the desires of men is never explored, rather the film fells comfortable with simply pointing out that men have some questionable 'desires' and never takes it any further.

Sleeping Beauty however is meticulousness shoot and is generally gorgeous to look at, however the editing is often heavy handed and is with far to many unnecessary scenes that ultimately lead no where (much like the film) Sleeping Beauty ultimately fells directionless and without purpose. This is unfortunate as I can't help but fell that with a more focused narrative, more depth to the characters present and and actual exploration of the themes present and what that may mean (rather then a simply statement that men have questionable desires) and we could have had a truly unique and interesting film. Sadly as it is Sleeping Beauty is a film that is undeniably unique, but devoid of anything of interest or anything I could describe as entertaining.

My recommendation, stay far away.

- Gabi

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Hugo Review:

Many film lovers have had times when they have strayed from there love for film.  Reasons for which are varied but in many instances they are drawn back to film and there love for film is reignited.  That is what Hugo has done for me, it has reignited my love for film and reminded me why I love films both past and present.

Hugo is the story of a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris.  Hugo spends his days ensuring that the clocks continue to work at the station.  He however is haunted by overwhelming loneliness and as events unfold the extent of his search for an escape from his loneliness becomes more evident.  Similar such struggles are present in numerous characters.  Hugo is a film largely about the search for meaning, kinship, purpose and how people lives overlap and in-tangle themselves.  However unlike its advertising Hugo is in no way a fantasy film, rather it is more of a love letter of Scorsese's about films and the power they can hold.

Hugo is beautifully shoot and Howard Shore's score is enchanting.  Likewise performances are simply astounding from both the more veteran actors/actresses (Ben KingsleyEmily Mortimer) and the up and coming actors/actresses (Asa Buterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz).  The story is emotionally touching and the finale whilst predictable is not in any way diminished as a result.  Hugo is a film that works on many levels and unlike the majority of current 3D films, Hugo actually successfully uses the 3D not only to awe the viewer from a visual perspective, but also to help tell and enhance the story.

Hugo is a film that works on many levels and to me fells like a slightly different take on Cinema Paradiso.  Not only that but Hugo might just be Martin Scorsese's masterpiece.  Hence Hugo comes with my absolute highest recommendation.

-  Gabi

Tuesday 14 February 2012

And so it begins...

Having previously run a blog dedicated to films that I went on permanent hiatus for quite some time I had sadly abandoned writing about films for far to long.  However after much contemplation I have decided to restart and reopen under a new name and with a new purpose.  On my previous site I focused more on the technical side of films (in particular the quality of blu-ray transfers) and went on a hiatus that ultimately lead to me closing the site.  The reasons for which where varied but the most notable reason was that I felt that I had almost got lost in said technical 'jargon' and was missing out on discussing my true passion, the films themselves.  Hence in my new blog I hope to focus on my true passion.  I currently have no schedule in mind and at least for the time being shall be posting in an ad-hoc manner, though I do hope to have two postings every week.  In any case I hope all fellow film lovers enjoy what is to come.

- Gabi