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The Martian Review

The Martian is an epic sci-fi adventure by the legend that is director Ridley Scott.  He tries to not only show the capabilities of human kind, how far we can go, our instinct for survival but also the capabilities of science and what it allows us to achieve.

The film revolves around a single character, Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon and just like any other movie revolving around an individual, its success is very much built on the actor’s performance.  Luckily it’s an incredible performance by Damon, probably not one for the Oscar, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fantastic way he embodied a NASA scientist on Mars. Even though the focus is on Damon’s character, there is still another part of the movie, which has a great supporting cast adding even more charisma to the storytelling.

The Martian tries to stay away from the dramatic side of things, for the most part.  There is less focus on how Watney reacts and more on how other people react with his efforts and struggles.   Should the movie have shown a bit more on the dramatic side of things it might have been an instant classic and Damon would have a shot at an Oscar but that is not what the movie is about.  Borrowing something that Neil  deGrasse Tyson said about the movie “Science, not human emotion drives the plot’s humor, interpersonal relations, tension and suspense”.

One of the most important aspects of the film, is its jaw dropping cinematography, simply amazing work to capture the essence of the story and the backdrop that is set on.  Ridley Scott is back to his best, with this incredible adventure which ticks all the boxes.  It’s funny, intense and most importantly inspiring.  It might not bring anything new to the movie world, but in terms of influencing people with some great storytelling it definitely will.

8/10

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. review

An American spy, a Russian spy, lots of action, a bit of comedy, a few twists and tons of charisma and style added by Guy Ritchie’s directing.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a very good movie, it starts off with a common premise, categorizing it in the spy genre, which has been very popular in the past few months, with films like Kingsman and Mission Impossible, however it manages to be authentic and unique by distinguishing itself with its peculiar tone, character dynamics, great music score and 60s backdrop.

Henry Cavill steals the show in his role as Napoleon Solo, he gives a remarkable performance showing impeccable drawing power and pulling off the charming agent persona as well as anyone. Armie Hammer is also good as the Russian spy but it’s Alicia Vikander who has another great appearance and seems to be on the up with a couple of very good performances on the bounce.

The plot is definitely the weak part of the film.  It doesn’t have anything particular to offer in terms of dramatic development or mind-blowing twists, which keep you awake for days.  It is rather simplistic and remains more light-hearted instead of exploring darker themes. Even though we’ve come to expect more from Guy Ritchie’s scripts, he chooses to leave more room to work his magic in the director’s chair in this one.  He imposes his style as always, and it’s a joy to watch, as he captures the essence of the 1960s and allows his “agents” to show their on-screen magnetism.

A decent, kind of throwback to the 1960s spy movies with the Guy Ritchie stamp and a wee bit weak story.

7.5/10

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Review

There is a reason this is one of the longest running franchises in the movie industry.  Instead of diminishing returns in terms of quality with each sequel, Mission Impossible gets better every time (MI: 2 is the obvious exception here).  So how does Rogue Nation fare in the grand scheme of things?

Firstly the one thing that fans of Mission Impossible want to see and is rightly a big part of the movie, is Tom Cruise doing crazy stunts and being involved in action packed scenes.  Just like the audience, Cruise himself seems to have grew into the character of Ethan Hunt and he portrays him to perfection in all possible kind of scenes, drama, comedy or action filled, he simply is Ethan Hunt.  Rebecca Ferguson is a great asset for the movie, she is excellent throughout and she also has a great chemistry with Tom Cruise.  Moreover it was great to see Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames as Benji and Luther respectively return.

The action sequences as we’ve come to expect from the MI series are top notch, they are as good as any and it’s great to see that they are still committed in creating spectacular scenes that get the viewer at the edge of their sit.  There is however one criticism to make, the shaky cam and cutting from one angle to another during hand to hand combat scenes, leaves you imagining the fighting instead of depicting it.

On a final negative note, the story unravels in a very straightforward and not very uncommon way, making it easy to predict, especially for those that have watched the previous movies on repeat.  Of course returning to something familiar is good for fans but to a slightly lesser degree.  The plot isn’t as sharp as it should be and having experienced 4 Mission Impossible movies beforehand, Rogue Nation makes it easy to catch on the usual twists and tricks of the IMF.

6.5/10

Jurassic World Review

We have waited so long for a sequel to our beloved franchise. It has been in the making for so many years I’ve lost count. There have been so many scripts and so much playing around with what might and what will be, that if I am being honest I went into this movie excited yet grounded, as I didn’t expect more than a half decent film, and that would have been enough.

Half way through the movie I found myself bored out of my mind, thinking to myself this is so bad. There was nothing interesting nor engaging just a regular day in a theme park, and after a long wait of what we all knew was coming, we did get a gripping final arc lasting almost 30 minutes. Is that enough? No.
Let’s get into it:

Firstly the good. Bryce Dallas Howard is amazing, although her character starts off a bit emotionless, she grows as the story unfolds. She gives a scintillating, diverse performance and she does the best job imaginable to carry all the pieces of the movie. Chris Pratt is really good as well, he oozes coolness and personality and he pulls the role off better than most could. However starting off in the shadow of Dr. Alan Grant (main character portrayed by Sam Neil in the original) his character doesn’t have what it takes to overcome it, he is missing the gravitas that made his counterpart so awesome.

The dinosaurs, which is after all what the movie is about, are just spectacular. Nonetheless they are not involved in the way they ode to be, roaming the park on their own, as they should if we are going to see some jaw dropping scenes. They are shackled, both by the script and literally in the movie.
The narrative is weak, the way it develops becomes clear early on. There are no surprises and the film doesn’t pretend to be something that is not. It tries to stay true to the formula of kids in danger but there doesn’t seem to be any need or place for them. It is just unnecessary and probably could do better without them.

Now to the more technical stuff. The score was the one thing I was most excited about in this movie, John Williams’ soundtrack is one my all-time favorites, embodying everything the Jurassic Park world resembles and it’s still the best part of the film and no disrespect to Michael Giacchinio who is a great composer but the new soundtrack is below par. I do have sympathy for him though, as it is the definition of a tough act to follow. Furthermore there are some great practical effects used in the movie and some amazing CGI. Nevertheless with over-reliance on the CGI, there are times where it doesn’t look too realistic, both from VFX perspective and the actors looking a bit out of place near them.

To conclude, one cannot skip this movie no matter how mediocre it is. With a feeling of nostalgia kicking in when the music theme begins to play, fans of the franchise should probably take the trip to the Island as there seem to be more sequels coming soon. Do not expect the same magic we experienced in the first movie, dinosaurs are still fascinating but ideas are running a bit dry.

6.5/10

Kung Fury – Review

The poster says it all really, a short film which consists of everything that is associated with the 80s, killer soundtrack, invincible action hero, unbelievable plot and the most preposterous villain.kung-fury-poster-600x851-600x851

Kung Fury is anything but a serious film, it’s not even an attempt of one, it is however very good comedy and entertainment, making fun of everything action movies in the 80s stood for, it captures the essence of that era and provides a brilliant parody.  All that is impossible becomes possible by bending the rules, is the narrative of the film.  Very smart in the way it goes about it, with exaggeration at its core but without overdoing it and breaking the bounds of what is acceptable.

The soundtrack is fantastic, just by listening to it, you are immediately reminded of those movies that the short is all about.  Together with the actual film, it takes you back to that time.  And that song “True Survivor” during the credits by David Hasselhoff, wraps up everything perfectly, might even leave you with a feeling of nostalgia by the end as well.

One thing is certain though, you will find yourself ticking off movies and video games that had similar action sequences, plots, characters, or any other aspect you can think of.

Here it is if you want to watch:

Tomorrowland-Review

Tomorrowland is more than just the name of the movie, it’s an idea, that epitomizes Disney and which a few people set out to pass on to the world through the medium of film-making.  Director Brad Bird (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles, Ratatouille), is at the forefront of this project and once again manages to leave the audience gasping for air by taking us on a magical ride, beautifully filmed and visually stunning throughout.  However the music score is a bit of let-down, it’s not by any means awful but it’s reminiscence of animated films or kids’ movies rather than that of a movie of epic proportions.

George Clooney and Britt Robertson have a very good chemistry on screen and their energetic and dynamic performances are infectious.  Nevertheless it is young Raffey Cassidy who steals the show with her charming portrayal of a peculiar character, called Athena.

Tomorrowland is first and foremost innovative, it’s a story filled with humor and excitement.  It’s something we haven’t experienced 10 times already, and the ideas that it brings to the table hold up very strong, well at least until the last 30 minutes of the movie when that plot gets derailed.  The ending is a bit forced and doesn’t suit the rest of the film.  The people at the helm get so caught up in delivering one message to the world loud and clear, that they throw everything that was good, out the window, and leave it exposed to gaping plot holes and unanswered questions.

Disney delivers another grand journey and even though the destination is mediocre, it’s an enjoyable ride.

7/10

Mad Max: Fury Road-Review

It’s madness throughout. The movie is one single, never ending action sequence, from start to finish, one simply cannot take a break from this breath-taking spectacle. If you thought you were in for a ride, you were right, but it’s probably a bigger and more intense ride than you expected. There is not much in the way of story depth, character development or dialogue, after all there is no time for that nonsense, the images on the screen do all the talking by themselves.

Amazing and spectacular are the words best suited to describe the filming, editing and soundtrack of this two hour enthralling ride. One can only admire the work that was put into it. It’s so masterfully created, that the results are stunning.

George Miller is back at the helm of the Mad Max “revisit” as he calls it, (it can be thought as a reboot or sort of sequel, it all depends on opinion) directing Mad Max for the fourth time in as many movies in the franchise. A character who has to be his greatest creation, set in a dystopian Australia where civilization has collapsed, and all that is left is a desert ruled by crazy Wastelander gangs that are almost as mad as Max himself.

The story, (some might argue that it doesn’t exist) is linear with no real depth, there is no getting to know the characters, no acting masterclass nor is there an introduction to the scenery either. However that doesn’t matter at all since the brush strokes by Miller are supremely executed, the way he brings the most lifeless desert to life on the screen, is to die for. All you can do is try not blink because you will most likely miss something exploding or destructing. Just enjoy the ride through the ruins of civilization.

I can spend a lot of time singing the praises for the production of the movie, probably as long as you will be wondering how they managed to film all those brilliant action scenes, but I would rather go on to recommend it to anyone that enjoys a well-made action film, some might even call it an Action masterpiece, I will leave that for you to decide.

8.5/10