Argo (2012)

argo-image06Roze-Rating: 5 / 5 

Ben Affleck directs his third film following the successes of “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town”, and doesn’t fail to impress this time round with arguably his best piece of directorial work yet. He takes on a film based on true events which occurred in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, who were outraged by American support towards the overthrown Shah. In retaliation to the Shah’s fleeing from Iran, a crowd of Iranian revolutionaries raided the American Embassy taking the majority of the American staff hostage, but six managed to escape, taking refuge at the Canadian Ambassadors house. During this crises plans had developed from the CIA to rescue the six unknown escapee’s, only to realize that non of their idea’s were actually viable. It took CIA specialist, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to come up with the next “bad” idea which turned out to be the best of the bunch. The elaborate plan consisted of developing a fake sci-fi film during its production stage so that the six hostages and himself could portray a film crew going into Iran for a location scout. Only that pretending the film crew had entered the country with him and leaving two days later would be bigger than just a white lie.

The film consists of two tones, a comedic and dark tone. During the planning stage of the rescue, which take’s place mostly in Hollywood is the more light hearted mood, which old timer Alan Arkin plays to comedic perfection, stealing most of the laughs. It was great to see John Goodman and Arkin together, playing the experienced boys in the film industry, which really created a good contrast to all the seriousness based in Iran. Once the tones switch to the setting of Iran, there is a much more claustrophobic feeling which is perfectly captured through filming and the performances of the six escapees. I really liked how the film transitioned between these tones, making the film flow smoothly and reminding the audiences that failure remains the most likely outcome.

There was something very genuine about this film, and it had to do with the filming and attention to detail. The fact that you felt as though you were actually in the late 70s possibly watching a 70s film just entices you more. The costumes, hairstyles and props were amazing, evidently shown during the end credits as they compared pictures of the actual people they were portraying with the actors. There was also something very 70s about the filming, there was a certain grain to the picture which gave it a more classic look as opposed to a crystal clear picture. It also helped fit in the real life footage with the film footage, effectively making them both feel connected and set in the same time. This film doesn’t contain adrenaline pumping action but consists of probably the best nail biting scenes you will see in film, which is totally aided from the filming. From the close up reaction shots to the shaky camera work, it all blends together to make something ultimately heart pounding. The scenes where the escapees are together debating their fate, were also my favorite scenes, because you can sense their panic and despair.

The whole cast are amazing and each important character had something special about them. I think the six escapees stole the film in terms of their performances, because they worked together so perfectly that you believed their emotions and their panic and their diminishing hope. Each scene where they are all together exudes pure realism, which I thought was pretty unique in films of this genre. Alan Arkin and John Goodman put in the comedic aspect of the film with their comedic timing. Bryan Cranston gave it his all during the last scenes which lives as one of my favorite performances by him, and Ben Affleck, solid as always. Overall solid performances, can’t fault that.

When looking back at the film in terms of plot, the story line is actually very thin, and doesn’t contain much substance, which is just a huge testament to the importance of filming style, because without the influence of Ben Affleck and the filming crew, this film would have been very unsatisfying. Great film.

Total Recall (2012)

colin-farrell-total-recallRoze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

This film is a remake of the same titled 1990 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which achieved raving reviews. I haven’t seen the original version but from research the remake covers most of the events which take place in the original, except for a significant mars scene. The remake also focuses more on the political side of the story. It takes place at the end of the 21st century after a nuclear war had broken out affecting almost the whole earth, leaving only “The United Federation of Britain (UFB)” and “The Colony”. This nuclear outbreak prompted the governments to build a gravitational elevator which transports people from one side of the earth to the other, so that workers can be used within the UFB. One worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), is extremely unhappy with his life, despite having a loving wife, he still seeks a way to escape his lifestyle and live his dreams, motivating himself even more to visit “Rekall”; a solution for his problem. The procedure goes terribly wrong and Quaid finds himself in a world that he may regret wishing for.

This film suffers from being a remake, which explains a lot of the negativity surrounding it. If its predecessor never existed then this would be a pretty solid but regular blockbuster film, which is why I have rated it “3.5 / 5″, which could rightly be a lot different had I watched the original. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed a few aspects of the film, which I can safely assume improved upon the original, such as the special effects, action and filming.

The special effects helped create a whole new world which was quite frankly awesome to look at, it truly looked like a post apocalyptic world, with seemingly floating buildings and magnetic cars moving with no wheels. The fact that they could create the look of this fictional setting with a genuine slum tone and a coherent style was magic to my eyes. This aspect of the film, ultimately sets up the rest of the film in terms of action sequences and atmosphere.

The action was easily the best part of this film, making it a lot of fun to watch since it wasn’t your typical gun fight, fist fight or human fight. The war zones were infested with robot killers and people dressed in robot looking gear which you could instantly tell was going to be unique compared to your average blockbuster. The best scene will have to be the elevator scene, giving it a real comic sensation, where your getting main characters switching from elevator to elevator trying not to get crushed. The main cast were exceptional with their action sequences, especially Kate Beckinsale, who has proved time and time again that she can take on gritty action chick characters from her roles in “Underworld”.

Aiding the relentless action was the sharp camera work and it’s movement, which gave it a futuristic look. This was appropriate since the contraption Quain used seemed very video game like, and that’s exactly how the film felt. For instance the way the camera would quickly sway from one kill to the other and the zero gravity action scenes. It made the sequences a lot more exciting and engaging to watch.

The plot is very complex and it leaves a lot of room for an elaborate psychological game to inhabit the film and it’s characters as well as the audience. The reason for this is because I found that I was constantly second-guessing myself after a certain event would take place, and I went from one opinion to another then back again. If done correctly this would have been a pretty great film, but they were extremely safe with it. The dialogue was too literal, and you found yourself listening to a character practically explaining every single significant occurrence which affected the storyline. This made it a lot easier to understand, but it wasn’t subtle or mysterious and took away a lot of the fun that could have come with it. It also felt unrealistic as characters would spend quite awhile just explaining. A clear example of this would be at the start with Kate Beckinsale’s character, when she confronts Quiad, which didn’t make sense anyway.

A lot of potential was lost with that one little lost opportunity, but other than that better than average blockbuster Sci-Fi flick, with top quality action. Popcorn stuff.