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.

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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.

The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

emmanuel-truth-about-fishes02Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

Moving in across the street is single mother Linda (Jessica Biel) possessing a striking resemblance to Emanuel’s (Kaya Scodelario) dead mother. Emanuel blames herself for her mothers death at childbirth, she feels she has nothing to offer in this world. Uncharacteristically offering to babysit for her new neighbor opens up a relationship she has longed for ever since she was born. An obsession evolves as she can relate to her neighbors pain even if she lives a lie.

The Truth About Emanuel is a beautifully constructed film exploring human relationships in such a down to earth way. We are introduced to a 17 year old girl, Emanuel, claiming to have murdered her mother. She mentions this during an opening monologue where she later explains is from childbirth. She is guilt-ridden, convinced that she was never meant to belong in this world. Her obscured views on life and reality makes her cynical about her future and to an extent people. An important quote from Emanuel is when she claims “reality is overrated”, her feelings concerning her place in the world makes her absent of ambition, she lives in her own distorted reality. I find her character extremely real as teenagers at some point will feel lost, unsure of what lies ahead and where their choices will take them. Emanuel may be damaged but she has the personality of the average teen. She’s intelligent and extremely witty as we see her countlessly crack smart ass responses to people, she has an identity but no coherent outlet to express herself with.

Ultimately for a good thirty minutes of the film we are exposed to an Emanuel that is on the edge, she feels no one understands her and no one will. I like how the film progresses through her daily routine a number of times, driving home how little she allows herself to live at her age. The film really starts going when Linda moves in with her baby daughter across the street, Emanuel instantly feels a connection with her as we later realize she looks very similar to her mother. A relationship soon develops and we come to learn that there is more to that connection than we thought, it’s chilling but Emanuel’s understanding of Linda’s pain is compelling.

Performances from Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel were pretty solid. I felt Kaya Scodelario was perfect for this role, her face is so gentle and has this believable innocence that you rarely find. I knew she had something special when I first saw her on Skins and not because she was hawt (She’s older than me so not creepy). After seeing her in this I now have to see what she has to offer in her future films because this performance was perfect and surprisingly her accent to. Biel was business as usual, solid playing her role to an eerie believability,

Some parts of the film were shot beautifully typically involving montages and water. We see moments where water floods Emanuel’s surroundings to symbolize what I think is her rebirth, inner purity and subconscious as she develops a mother-daughter relationship with Linda which she has longed for since birth, it later illustrates a much self fulfilled meaning. Another great addition to the film is the soundtrack, it fits perfectly aiding the tone of the story.

It may be a film that proves to be unpopular as it lacks melodramatic moments and a generic tone but it just wouldn’t have been real if it went out to be these things. It’s a story about how human connection and relationships can help you as there are always people out that can relate to your problems and the only way to help oneself is to accept reality and make your own destiny. That was my take on it anyways.

The Iceman (2013)

180755.2 Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Based on true events, The Iceman explores the life of infamous contract killer Richard Kuklinski. The film spans from his time as small time pornography dubber to mob hit-man. To his family he is in the currency exchange business seemingly living a normal life but once too many kills gain the interest of the media he is inevitably arrested for over 100 murders.

The Iceman is intensely dark and gritty with the help of a powerful performance by Michael Shannon who independently makes this a must watch. There’s great performances everywhere within this film as we’re given a star cast to indulge in. Winona Ryder (haaaawt) is solid as Kuklinski’s wife, a crucial character within the hit-man’s world as she is the basis of the only human emotion Kuklinski feels. Ray Liotta is mob boss Roy Dameo, feeling quite at home having countless gangster experience on the screen. Chris Evans is perfect as Kuklinkski’s accomplice, he’s deeply dark but slick as he has no problem with what he does. Nice seeing Evans out of the Marvel universe and getting into these scary roles. Probably one of the most surprising performances comes from former Friends star David Schwimmer. Throughout the film I kept thinking I recognized his face but couldn’t put a name to it. Hidden behind a distasteful hair do and mustache he plays Dameo’s right hand man Josh Rosenthal. He’s like a son to Dameo but sloppy antics and a lack of integrity leave the mob boss a hard decision to make.

Stealing the show is of course Michael Shannon who puts it all on the screen. He’s dark, gritty and slightly misunderstood. I felt he played the character terrifyingly well and it could possibly be one of the best performances of the year. He gave Kaklinski a humanistic side as opposed to the emotionless person we see at the start. He’s molded by his disturbing childhood which gives him this ignition of anger whenever he is provoked. The difference between his jailed brother and him is that he has the ability to control it when necessary. Despite his ability to kill with no remorse he has a strong moral code of not harming women or children which doesn’t necessarily put him in the category of serial killer as he does feel something towards people. Having a violent childhood makes him somewhat cynical towards god, shown through a scene where he gives a man time to pray before he is killed, mocking the idea that god could possibly come down and stop him.

Despite a great performance by Shannon, it felt like the script was lacking character depth. We’re given a character that is compelling, he kills because he’s good at it and feels very little for the people he kills. But he cares dearly for his family just like anyone else. There’s no in depth exploration of who the Iceman really is. We are given small nit-picks of his personality and values, and it can be interpreted differently depending on how you see him. It just felt like an opportunity missed for a brilliant character piece. Ultimately it’s more of a gangster thriller than a thorough look into the Iceman.

The cinematography fit’s perfectly with the intended tone of the film, it’s dark, colourless and stylish. The combination of cinematography and music makes most of the film intense and relentless.

A scene that I love the most is when Kaklinski continuously bangs his head against an elevator wall while repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, it show’s how little that means in the gangster business but also gives him a vulnerability that we don’t see for the first half of the film.

Monsters University (2013)

Monsters-University-3D-Movie-WallpaperRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

This prequel of Pixar classic Monsters Inc follows the path of Mike Wazowski and Sully to their future scaring careers. They weren’t always the best of friends as we see their first impressions of each other were not the best. Their feud eventually kicks them out of scaring school leaving them with one option of getting back in. Reluctantly teaming up with a group of outcasts in order to win a scaring competition is their only hope of getting back on their path to their dream careers.

The premise may be overdone but taking a trip down memory lane makes this nostalgic fun (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it). They made a smart move in making this a prequel as Monsters Inc had ended so well. Seeing the likes of Mike, Sully, Randall and even Roz brought back a lot of memories from the first film but also made for an enticing watch as curiosity gets the better of us. We want to know how relationships were formed and developed even if it is a kids movie.

It was nice seeing the Monsters universe in HD, giving the characters a lot more texture and realism. The overall visuals are a delight to look as it is vivid in colour making their youth seem like such a bright time and yes kids will love it.

As with most Pixar movies this was a pleasant watch with your generic story line but a less predictable ending. I find in most animated kids films nowadays, the formula for story lines have been done countless times so they change the ending making it seem predictable then BAM not so predictable after all. It’s smart as it make’s the adults who may have been reluctantly dragged to the cinema feel like they haven’t wasted an hour and a half of their life.

It’s a charming film but I think it lacked the charisma of older Mike Wazowski, cause that guy was a joy to watch. The young up tight Wazowski was too… up tight for my liking. There were a few funny moments but not as many as there should have been. Other than that it was a pretty nice kids flick, definitely worth watching if Monsters Inc found a place in your heart.

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

kick-ass-2-justice-foreverRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

Three years on following the success of Kick-Ass, we are reunited with superheroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Growing bored of living in the real world Dave Lizewski decides to suit up again and train with Hit-Girl hoping to become a legitimate superhero. Still mourning over the death of his gangster father, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) obsesses over the fantasy of killing Kick-Ass. After accidentally killing his mother D’Amico reinvents himself as the “Mother-Fucker” swearing to avenge his fathers death.

The first Kick-Ass was a huge success because it was such a new concept to the superhero genre. It’s a parody to how the like’s of Batman, Hawkeye and Black Widow would fair in the real world if they suddenly decided to get up and become a superhero. It was fresh, funny and stylish. The action was bad-ass and the violence shocking which made it a comic-book movie classic.

When I heard there was going to be a Kick-Ass two I was quite excited but was pretty sure it couldn’t improve on the first because all that freshness and shock value would be gone. That may have been the case but it indeed improved in some ways, compared to the first film.

I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the film as it seemed really out of place, it turned into this mean girls slash watchmen hybrid as we saw Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl go through their own journey’s; Hit-Girl to puberty and Kick-Ass to adulthood. It was entertaining but felt off as jokes were limited and not well executed. I felt comedic timing and editing probably had something to do with that as I was aware of the jokes but they didn’t come out as well as they could. For example a scene where The Motherfucker robs a store and an old man is told to get on the ground, he struggles as his arthritis kicks in forcing him to go down very slowly. I only noticed it second time round as the camera was panned back. Luckily the second half of the film did not disappoint as it was a lot funnier and provided loads of action.

The bar was set pretty high for action sequences after the first film which is why I was happy to see that the crunching punches and hits remained present. Overall the sequences were well choreographed and thought out as we were given some slick moves and executions to feast our eyes on. It was good that they really strived for original action sequences as it only pumps us up even more, although it was missing the stylish edge that made the first film ultimately pretty to look at. Little things that the camera did in first that it didn’t do in the second.

New additions to the cast meant new superheros and super villains, some of them were awesome and some felt like they shouldn’t be there. Jim Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, ex mafia con man who starts a superhero team in the name of Justice Forever. He may not be as funny as we hoped him to be but he sure plays the part well. As for the rest of the team we have Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Battle Guy (Clarke Duke), Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Insect Man (Robert Emms) and two parents who are looking for their missing child. They make for entertaining additions to the cast except I didn’t see the need for the parents, they didn’t really offer anything comedically and seemed to get in the way. Overall the group of super villains were much more badass, but again they weren’t all utilized making some of them seem out of place.

Kick-Ass 2 may take awhile to get going but the last acts are worth waiting for as they are adrenaline filled scenes of epicness. Not as coherent as the first as it knew what it wanted to be, a violent parody to the superhero genre. Kick-Ass 2 takes on a more serious tone which continues on from the D’Amico vs Kick-Ass saga. Definitely worth the watch.