Gravity (2013)

GravityRoze-Rating: 5 / 5

A group of astronauts are sent out on a seemingly routine space expedition until mayhem ensues. Mission control warns the space crew that a Russian missile strike has just destroyed a satellite causing a chain reaction of debris to head in their direction. Before they can evacuate, the debris destroys their space ship, leaving only Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski as the sole survivors.

Alfonso Cuaron returns to mainstream film making with this groundbreaking Sci-Fi thriller, avoiding fantastical space adventures and bringing us a terrifying film about the true dangers of space. As far as how factual the film is, it must be the most realistic space film we have had in a long time as we are captivated by zero-gravity and breathtaking imagery. Gravity finally brings us a film where there is no noise in space, and surprisingly it’s a hell of a lot more scarier than having your ears ravaged by loud explosions. Not having that ability of anticipating danger around you and losing that sense makes you more vulnerable than you would think. Seeing that on screen really gets your heart pumping.

Gravity has really pushed the bar for technology in film, that alone has made the film what it is, a special effects triumph. The attention to detail is commendable and would make any real life astronaut less prone to ripping their eyes out during viewing. I don’t know how they did it but I want to know very badly as you get a real sense of that zero gravity and how frustrating it would be floating around up there; cool at first but when disaster strikes, it’s less than ideal. Ultimately that’s what makes Gravity so riveting, it’s realism makes space expedition scary even if the possibilities of the events depicted are very low and that’s why we can’t take our eyes off the screen.

Beneath the engaging visuals and thrilling action sequences is quite an emotional narrative. The film explores the themes of getting through a series of bad situations and the rebirth of our protagonist Dr. Ryan Stone. With the constant orbit of debris, disaster will strike multiple times if you happen to be in the line of fire. Throughout the film we’re wondering if Stone will make it or even have the desire to carry on as we learn of her hardships on earth. There is an important scene where we see Dr. Ryan Stone curled up resembling a fetus in a womb, there on we’re given the impression that there’s an emotional growth to come.

As for performances they were brilliant with added emphasis on Sandra Bullock. Thinking about it, these role’s must be what most actors dream about. Firstly it’s a freaking space film, secondly it’s totally groundbreaking and thirdly you get to wear a space suit. By landing this role Bullock has really shown us what she’s made of, steering away from comedies and doing something a lot more thrilling. I hope she continues making films like this.

Gravity will definitely be getting some awards during award season and rightfully so as this is probably the best film I’ve seen all year. I’m a total sucker for a good thriller with awesome special effects. If you’re into sweating involuntarily throughout a film then Gravity is for you.

Prince Avalanche (2013)

paul_rudd_emile_hirsch_road_workers_prince_avalancheRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Prince Avalanche is about two guys painting lines on a country side highway just after it had been hit by a massive fire. Alvin (Paul Rudd) decides to work away from his girlfriend in order to somewhat reinvent himself and find a bit of joy in his life, tagging along is Lance (Emile Hirsch) his girlfriend’s brother. In this offbeat comedy we meet the pair as they begin their relationship and over time we see them form an unusual friendship but not without your odd feuds.

There’s no explanation about how the fire happened or how it affected the people in the area, it’s more about the growth of these two guys and their newly formed bond. They’re both at different points in their life. Alvin is well into his adulthood and is looking to cement a pure commitment with his girlfriend but moving away from her may suggest some form of unhappiness back at home. While Lance is more concerned about getting his “little man squeezed” than any serious life commitment. But I guess what they both have in common is that they long for more and haven’t really reached their optimum happiness in life. Alvin seems to be relishing life outdoors and his alone time, getting opportunities to explore what he loves and pure silence. There’s a scene where he visits a burnt down house and acts out a scenario as if he was back home with his girlfriend and you feel there was a lot of neglect there. He may have felt more alone at home than being out in the countryside by himself. Lance feels the opposite as he starts feeling lonely, missing the hectic life of Garland (funnily a small village), only thing on his mind is sex. What’s funny is that his train of thought is relatable to any man, he makes an emotional speech about not getting any and it’s probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in film this year.

This is definitely one of my favourite films of the year, it has everything I like, weirdly lovable characters, offbeat humour, coming of age essence, brilliantly filmed settings and a great score. It may not appeal to mainstream audiences but if given the chance, the characters and tone of the film may just win a few viewers over. I like how on the surface it seems like such a simple film but dig deeper and it’s actually quite a charming story about growth and coming to terms with what happiness really is between two characters and their odd friendship dynamics. The final act probably holds one of my favourite scenes this year, filled with catharsis using booze and great music, simple yet freeing.

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch both step outside their comfort zones playing characters we rarely see them cast as. Rudd takes on a more serious character while Hirsch is the funny one. Definitely solid performances. Lance Le Gualt, the truck driver also puts in quite a charismatic performance. The film only has four characters and from the start we are told that four people lost their lives in the fires that hit the countryside. So are they ghost’s? one of them definitely is, but I guess we can interpret it in any way we feel right.

Hopefully this film doesn’t go unnoticed, it won’t win any major awards but it deserves some form of recognition, starting with views. I’m not familiar with David Gordan Green’s earlier work except his mainstream comedies but if these are the type of films he produces, I’ll definitely be giving his films a look.

Mud (2013)

Mud-Movie-2013-Matthew-McConaughey-Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Two boy’s, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), venture to an Island in the Mississippi where they find a boat stuck in a tree. Excited by the prospect of finding something they can have for themselves, they soon realize that a man has been living in it. His name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey), he recruits the boys to gather food and complete tasks for him as he reveals his predicament. Ellis sympathizes with him and soon enough a strong bond is created.

The film revolves around the theme of love as we see Ellis try to understand it in both harsh and warm ways. Mud has been in love with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) since childhood but he doesn’t see that love being shared back, yet he continues to pursue her. Similar to Eliss’s mother towards his father but that love has deteriorated over time. This make’s Eliss’s father cynical towards women and their affection, telling Ellis “you can’t trust women, they’ll never love you back”, Ellis fail’s to believe him as he continues to help Mud, mislead to think that Juniper’s love is shared back. From this point we know that Ellis is a strong believer in love, he is 14, on his way to adulthood but naive towards the heartache love can cause. His heart is strong which is why he is not afraid of helping people.

This film exposes love in many shapes and sizes. We have Neckbone and his uncle who takes care of him like a father, you may not get a large glimpse of it but they share unconditional love. The head of the crime family attempting to avenge the murder of his son, they go about expressing their love differently, and in the end we wonder if it was all worth it. Mud is a coming of age film about love and letting go, accepting what won’t work and getting back up and trying again just as Neckbone’s uncle says “if you get your heart broke, don’t walk around with a shit look on your face, get back in there and get your tip wet”. In terms of coming of age films this is the most unique one I’ve seen as it explores its themes using an uncommon plot. The narrative is compelling which makes us root for the characters and feel strong emotions for them even if they aren’t all good guys.

What I liked about it is that it’s not melodramatic or sappy, it doesn’t try its hardest to make us bawl our eyes out, it tell’s the story as honestly as possible with great performances and southern settings. We truly care for the characters and I think that’s what makes this film so masterful, we can relate and genuinely connect with the story. This is totally down to precision writing and execution on screen, of course it couldn’t have been achieved without the actors.

Matthew McConaughey has once again come up with a great performance. He’s reviving his career like a total boss, coming out with consecutive wins of films. He proves this with his raw grit and ability to dig deep to play these roles making his way to being one of the best actors today. In the process he’s getting rid of his hot bod reputation even if we do see him with his shirt off. Young stars Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland also kill it with their performances and should be looking at big futures as we get a great sense of their friendship on screen.

Mud is a respectable addition to the list of great coming of age films and hopefully will get some recognition during award season. A must watch for 2013.

Elysium (2013)

Elysium-2

Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Niell Blomkamp returns with his second directorial and written feature film continuing on with the science-fiction genre he is so fond of. Elysium is set in the year of 2154, where the world has become vastly overpopulated and the overall economic condition has diminished. The poor are left to live on earth while the rich are free to live on Elysium, an artificial planet just off earth. Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is our protagonist, committed to leaving the criminal lifestyle he once had. Holding a solid job at Armadyne Corp, he is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation forcing him back with his old criminal pals in order to live. Only way to do that is to break into Elysium.

There’s one thing that Elysium will give you and that is an eyegasm. The overall design for this film is amazing, you feel as if your in an apocalyptic world on earth with its shanty town aesthetics and Elysium truly looks like a vista of vivid green vegetation, still lakes and luxury houses. You can tell the design team had a great time during the production of the film. from the start I had an impression that it couldn’t go wrong since it looked so great and sci-fi is typically fun. But for such a profound topic of high classes taking extreme measures just to get away from the poor, it was nothing more than a mash up of Minority Report and District 9. The premise was interesting but it was executed with a cliched plot and storyline.

Elysium is a shallow sibling to District 9, it has the perfect visuals but a weak script. For a sci-fi action film this will satisfy a lot of audiences looking for a fun flick. It has the action, love interest and a showdown fight, it kind of plays like a video game in that respect. In terms of the story that’s all that can be said about it, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The protagonist has a few days to live, in order to live he needs to get somewhere with a cure, along the way there are people out to kill him but once realizing the bigger picture of the results of his predicament, Spock comes to mind, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

In honesty I enjoyed the action. There are a few cool gadgets used making the scenes a lot more interesting, and in the end gave it that extra bit of appeal. Although there are a few off putting aspects such as the facial reconstruction scene, the machine claims that a mans brain is still somewhat functioning despite a grenade explosion to the face. It’s unrealistic but the scene itself is pretty cool so I can let that go. What I can’t let go is Jodie Foster’s accent. That has to go down as probably the worst accent ever in film. It was as if she couldn’t decide how she wanted her character to talk as her accent was inconsistent throughout the whole film. She sounds like a hybrid of American, English and South African combined, it’s annoying but totally amusing.

As for performances Matt Damon does his thing, it was good seeing him in an action role again bringing back my desires for a Jason Bourne return (needs to happen). Alice Braga is growing on me as she’s now starred in three pretty decent futristic/post-apocalyptic films in Repo-Men, I Am Legend and now Elysium. She has a knack for these roles and fits them. Despite Jodie Foster’s crappy accent, her intimidating aura is weirdly sexy which is quite an achievement at 51 and still looking great. Lastly Sharlto Copley puts in another great performance for Niell Blomkamp. I’m really hoping to see more from him in the near future as he’s simply awesome, he plays the creepy card just as well as the badass card.

Carlito’s Way (1993)

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Micro Review

Rating: 5 / 5

There’s a lot right with this film, and it shows that you don’t need explosions and relentless action to make a film good. I don’t know why people would compare this to scarface, despite its familiar themes, yes it is about a man trying to change his life around, but I feel that the modernized and improved film making makes this a lot more thrilling especially the train station scene, which will stand as one of my favourite scenes in film. The storyline is great and ultimately leads to the message that loyalty can make you a good person inside but in the gangster world it doesn’t mean jack, cause they’re all in it to get rich and survive (Like they say there’s no honour amongst thieves). Despite Carlito’s constant reminders that times of loyalty have changed, it’s too late before he realises that the person he can really trust with his life is the woman he loves. You can tell where the Grand Theft Auto games get their inspiration from, cause this film cry’s out Tommy Vercetti, and just the way the characters carry themselves out and Sean Penn’s character is hauntingly familiar. Saying that, the character development of David Kleinfeld is so intense, showing a man being slowly corrupted from the paranoia the gangster lifestyle brings. Easily one of the best genuine gangster films around.

Paul Walker: The Binge

Paul Walker

Paul Walker (1973 – 2013)

“I live by ‘Go big or go home.’ That’s with everything. It’s like either commit and go for it or don’t do it at all. I apply that to everything. I apply that to relationships, I apply that to like sports, I apply that to everything. That’s what I live by. That’s how I like it.”

The last thing I expected to see on the news on a Sunday afternoon was the death of Fast & Furious star Paul Walker. I’m not usually a guy to get emotional about celebrity deaths but this was different. Getting news that the star of a film franchise, that I’ve watched countless times, died got to me a little as I sat back in silence for a few minutes. He intrigued me as an actor but I’ve put back watching his movies for quite a while now. There’s no lying that he may not have been the best actor during his earlier years but as the Fast & Furious movies progressed he seemed to grow drastically and matured into a solid actor. As a tribute to his career and the famous film franchise he has left behind, I shall finally watch his films!


Running
Scared (Roze-Rating: 4 / 5)

And I thought Fast 6 was relentless. In this gangster flick we see Paul Walker caught in the middle of a series of fuck ups. It may not attempt to do anything emotionally substantial but what it does do is provide us with almost two hours of cussing, blood and commotion. It may not sound appealing but to anyone who likes the combination of gratuitous violence and gangster warfare then this may be the perfect film to curl up with your girlfriend to, providing she’s into that. Paul Walker puts it all out there with probably his best performance in film, he shouts “fuck” numerous times, lays in his own blood and even drives his car recklessly (for any fast and furious fans), the whole package right there. What this film does do in substance is show us that the world is a messed up place filled with sick people, for every good deed could lead to a bad one, who can we trust really? Its style may annoy you as the editing is fast paced but it may just intrigue you as it did me, hitting home that chaotic tone you get from start till finish. You may not remember it for long but when someone asks you “do you know any fucked up films which will make me cynical of the world but make me laugh at it at the same time?” then Running Scared will come to mind.


Eight Below – (Roze-Rating: 4 / 5)

When we see a movie associated with Disney we already know a few things about the film, it’s going to be inspiring, emotional and cute. Those assumptions were true for this film. It wasn’t cute in a sickly way; I mean would you look at those dogs. Paul Walker is a guide for a base located in Antarctica which involves taking care of eight sled dogs who ultimately become stars of the film as well. What I like about this film is that it’s as much of a survival story of eight dogs as it is a sad story of loss and loyalty for Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker). This film proves that dogs surprisingly can act, they may not be aware of it but as a group they illustrated many human emotions. Their survival story is just as good as any as they show loyalty to each other and grief when tragedy hits. At the end of the day there wasn’t much to the rescue not like the first third of the film where we’re exposed to the extreme conditions of Antarctica and just how unforgiving the barren land is. It’s the fact that Shepard is determined to attempt a rescue because he feels he owes that to the dogs. Even animals can create that bond with humans. It’s quite a heartwarming story of friendship, loyalty and persistence for both man and his best friend.


Takers – (Roze-Rating: 2.5 / 5)

Walker stars alongside an ensemble cast in this cops and robbers thriller. With the likes of Paul Walker, Idris Elba, T.I., Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Michael Eely as the robbers and Matt Dillon as your over working cop, it sure is a star studded cast for the audience to enjoy. Takers is a completely by the books film as they take the most clichéd formula from the heist genre. It had so much promise at the start but fizzled out into a film with no heart. The problem is that it’s too ambitious for its own good but too scared to take risks, as we see reused idea’s from other films living up to its name “Takers”. We have an Ocean’s 11 team (who have the same taste in personal vehicles as the modern Italian job crew), a divorced cop (hasn’t taken the memo and still works too hard), a matrix dive and a Mexican standoff; hardly original. What this film says to me is that they had a concept then wrote a script as fast as they could because what started off so well ended up being so bad. The opening scenes are brilliant as we are taken through what seems like a standard heist for this crew, they’re smart about their entrance, collected during their robbery and slick with their exit; more of that please. Then we get to learn more about the characters, we see them draped in the best suits money can buy obviously addicted to their materialism which is probably what got them into the heist game in the first place. when Dillon gets close to the team’s next heist, that’s where things get interesting, the goose chase is engaging but its final act isn’t. We’re hit with slow mo sequences dubbed with dramatic music, what’s meant to be emotional isn’t. There’s no good reason for what’s happening therefore nothing comes of it. At least it holds a few positives like the opening heist and Brown’s on foot chase, filmed terribly mind you but it was exciting none the less. Unfortunately films aren’t viewed for its potential but for the execution and sadly it wasn’t executed well enough.


Fast Five – (Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5)

It definitely takes a different angle of the franchise, remolding it into a full on heist film. Fast Five is a lot louder, thrilling and action packed compared to its predecessors making it possibly the best of the series;  just as it was about to become boring. Despite the relentless action, I felt it became too much in the end. Ultimately all I can remember is loads of music and not much dialogue. Sometimes it’s good, but in this case, whenever there was dialogue it was incredibly cheesy and cliché, which didn’t give the action justice. Even though it was let down in that aspect of the film, the cast were still solid as usual exuding badassery. Seeing members from previous films teaming up was awesome to see, definitely a lot of fun.


Into The Blue – (Roze-Rating: 3 / 5)

Into The Blue takes us into the unknown where mistakes are unforgiving but if treated with respect can be hugely rewarding. With a large interest in marine biology, Walker tackles another one of his passion projects on the big screen. Filled with under water sequences and breathtaking scenery it’s definitely not an ugly movie especially when Jessica Alba is in the shot. It may not be your typical treasure hunter film as it doesn’t capture adventure like your classic Indiana Jones films but it does take you to the bottom of the sea where most of us have never been and that alone is engaging enough. If you’re like me and have a fear of sharks and think drowning is the worst possible way to die then you’ll be holding your breathe involuntary throughout this film as the underwater scenes immerse you into their world. That alone makes this a film worth watching for a Saturday night at home. It has a decent plot, decent cast and decent antagonists, it’s not the best film but it’s not the worst. We’re given likeable characters to root for which is enough as the script is quite thin, I guess what it misses is more excitement when their out of the water but then again hunting for treasure is repetitive and in reality isn’t as exciting as it may seem.


Varsity Blues – (Roze-Rating: 4 / 5)

If you want a slice of America then you can definitely find it here. This film screams USA! USA! USA!, because nothing is more American than football! Varsity Blues is clichéd, cheesy and tastefully rude as we’re given an insight to your average football town and their team the West Canaan Coyotes. It may not have the most original characters but it doesn’t fail to pump you up when intended and I don’t even know anything about American football, I’ll be honest I don’t even like it, but what I do respect is that it sure can make a nail biting film. This film is like a combination of Dazed & Confused and The Longest Yard (only other American Football film I’ve seen) as it captures both the antics on and off the field. In Varsity Blues case the antics off the field are a hell of a lot more enjoyable than being abused by their old school coach on it. What I like about the film is that the football players aren’t your stereotypical jocks, they get over the top treatment but they aren’t complete jackass’s, in fact they’re extremely likeable and worth rooting for. It’s a film about the pressure put on varsity players, their treated as kings and put on a pedestal. They end up becoming misguided and when football is taken away from them, they don’t know what’s next. I’ve always been aware of the sporting culture in America and I think it’s great but at high school level, a kids gotta’ have fun and this film captures a bit of that message. Only to schools with shitty coaches that is. Paul Walker doesn’t have the main role but it’s a film he can be proud of playing the eventually injured quarter back star. 

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron-Man-3Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

(Spoilers)

The third installment of the Iron-Man series directed by Shane Black gives us a vulnerable Tony Stark post Avengers. Still hung up on the New York attacks not too long ago, Stark suffers from anxiety attacks and insomnia. His obsession with the Iron Man suits hits new heights as he restlessly tinkers left with an excess of suits. Creating fear in the eyes of the American public is newly established villain The Mandarin, who has bombed countless locations with the aim of exposing America’s corruption. His next bomb puts Happy Hogan former Stark bodyguard into hospital. Rashly giving away his home address to the media and ultimately The Mandarin, Stark may have just created new demons.

What I like about the Iron Man series so far is that in each film Tony Stark grows as a person. We see him develop as the films pass which ultimately keeps him interesting and engaging as a character. No doubt he is probably the most popular Avengers character so far just because he fails to get boring. In the first film we see him experience a traumatic kidnapping which opens his eyes to the business he’s in. It pushes him to change his moral values and his business ethics in order to prevent world violence. Creating the Iron Man helps him make up for years of bad business but also to protect him from the villains he has. Iron Man 2 exposes an over confident Stark, he feels immortal to danger and is ignorant to the thought of others greater than him. He’s invented an even bigger rock star persona which leads him to alcoholism. The pain beneath that hard exterior. Once realizing that there are people with special abilities just as powerful as Iron Man he is brought back down to reality. To become a respectable hero he must put others in front of himself, which is concluded in The Avengers film.

In this third installment Tony Stark is in the process of having a fresh start but first he must overcome his anxiety. The alien attack has affected Stark more than you would expect as living in a world which he once knew is now absolute. He learns that the suit doesn’t define him but he defines the suit. It takes a while but his revelation helps rid of the anxiety and tackle his demons head on. Shane Black freshens up the Iron Man series with a much more engaging sequel where Stark is glorified and not the suit. The action is better and so is the comedy.

I think the prospect of having The Mandarin in this film was a huge turn on for all the fan boys out there since he is one of Iron Man’s main enemies. He is also one of the more interesting ones. In the comics he gets hold of these alien rings which he spends most of his early years trying to master. He eventually figures them out and is able to use each ring for different things, for example ice blasts, fire blasts, mind manipulation, electromagnetic rays, disintegration beam, black light, etc. Cool things like that. From the trailer, personally I was freaking excited at the idea of this villain, and I had no knowledge of him at all. He had a menacing voice, genuine look to him and he was being played by Ben Kingsley. I’ll be honest I didn’t do too much research into the villain before going in which is why when we see that Ben Kingsley is actually just a decoy for Guy Pearce’s character I wasn’t too disappointed since for most of the film we just see him sit and talk. He looked cool but we don’t see him do anything impressive. Of course this wouldn’t have been a good thing for any fanboys. For me it was quite a shock but also hilarious. After researching his abilities I think it’s a villain wasted but it didn’t harm the film in any way.

Guy Pearce is always a joy to watch on screen, he’s especially slick, coy and menacing as Aldrich Killian. He is of course the demon Stark makes 13 odd years ago when he ditches him at the roof of a hotel. Killian reinvents himself into successful business man at AIM. He invests into a human regrowth program called Extremis which is anything but stable. As a villain, he’s nothing new, we’ve all seen these pompous, well dressed villains on the screen before, which is another reason why decoying The Mandarin was a miss. But then again he does breath fire.

The lead up to the big boss showdown was great, we see Tony use his wits and mechanical brain to save the day with little help from the suits. Of course they come in handy at the end. What I thought the past films lacked was a good Iron Man vs Villain showdown. This film had a great build up, some good sequences but at the end of the day Iron Man didn’t have the last punch. It just felt off and annoyed me a little that Pepper was the one that ultimately finished Killian off. I mean I can get over it but I just didn’t see the appeal and any reason for it. We go to Iron Man films to see Iron Man beat the shit out of the villains not Pepper. Also when Killian reveals him self as the Mandarin, we don’t really believe in it. It’s not the awesome reveal that I think it intended to be.

For an action film this is definitely a must watch. The sequences may not be anything groundbreaking but they definitely get out hearts racing. From the destructive attack on Tony’s home to the Airplane explosion. Definitely the best action film you will see this year. We get to see heaps of different suits that Stark has made during his anxiety period, their utilized in new ways and have new tech which makes for entertaining sequences when they are on the screen.

One thing that I wont forget from this film is its great theme tune. Past marvel films really lack a good theme song or one that fits. Once the credits hit the screen and that tune started playing, it really gave Iron Man films a comic book film identity.

Overall for a comic book film its incredibly solid and rewatchable having seen it four times now. It has purpose, clear character growth, logical action sequences and enough destruction for us to be pleased with. It’s a great addition to the Iron Man series and would be an exceptional last.