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Posts Tagged ‘Gravity’

We have spent a lot of the 21st century gazing at the stars, or at least CGI versions of them.  The century started with the second and third movies in the Star Wars prequels trilogy, Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005).  A series of films that are constantly being revaluated, I’m not sure if they are officially good or bad at the moment.  Star Trek ran out of steam, with the last movie from the Next Generation Crew Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) not being very good.  But then in J. J. Abrams came along and with the help of some wibbily wobbly timey wimey stuff (if I may quote a TV series in an article about movies) created a new timeline to retell the story of the original crew of the enterprise.  The first film Star Trek (2009) was excellent, the second Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), then Abrams jumped ship and the third film Star Trek Beyond (2016) directed by Justin Lin was a partial return to form.  There may be a fourth film in the series eventually, it keeps getting pushed back or going into turnaround.  There may also be a further film in the universe that by Quentin Tarantino, that is looking less and less likely. Star Trek Wars

The reason J. J. Abrams jumped (space)ship, was to go and work for the enemy, Star Wars.  The director of the first and final movies in a new trilogy, a third and final trilogy to bring the Skywalker saga to an end.  The films came about after Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Film (for a staggering amount of money).  All three films have their fans and detractors in a hugely polarized and quite amusing social media battle among a certain type of fanboy.  For me, the middle film, The Last Jedi (2017) written and directed  by Rian Johnson is the best (and the most controversial).  The Force Awakens (2015) is the safest of the three, but good fun and it introduces some great characters, and brings back some old favourites.  The Rise of Skywalker (2019) is certainly the weakest but is still good fun and gets to a satisfying end (except for that certain group of fanboys).  Along the way, we also got two Star Wars Anthology films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) tells the story of the events leading up to the origonal 1977 film, and for me is the best film outside the original trilogy.  The flipside to that, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) is totally unnecessary origin story of fan favourite Han Solo.  it isn’t terrible, just pointless.The end of the Skywalker sagaNot satisfied with just Star Wars, Disney went to space with their other big acquired property: Marvel.  They started in 2014 when they took a less well know Marvel property Guardians of the Galaxy and had a smash hit with a more, fun and comic take on the superhero genre.  a sequel Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017) followed.  To be fair parts of The Avengers movies were also set in space, and Thor is from another planet.  It wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Taika Waititi’s brilliant but bonkers take on the character that you would call it a space adventure.  After a decade, and about 20 movies Disney finally gave a woman a leading role in a Marvel movie.  While a lot of the movie is based on earth, Captain Marvel (2019) is an intergalactic character, as is Marvels big bad Thanos.  All the characters of the MCU came together to fight an intergalactic battle with the big purple one in Avengers Infinity War (2018) and the biggest film of all time (if you don’t adjust for inflation) Avengers Endgame 2019.  That brings us nicely onto Avatar (2009), with an even higher boxoffice if you adjust for inflation.  James Cameron’s first movie since 1997 when he made a little film about a shipwreck.  As you would expect from Cameron, it made great advances in effects and technology, especially in 3D.  I am not a fan.  As yet he hasn’t made another film yet, but understand he is filming about 100 sequels back to back with the first due for release in about two years. Marvel goes to spaceDC’s ventures into space were less successful.  The Green Lantern (2011) about a group of intergalactic supper powered policemen was rubbish.  Man of Steel (2013) was a reboot of a 1970’s movie about a man called Kal-El who is sent to earth as a baby before his home planet is destroyed.  He ends up fighting against bodies from his home world.  It isn’t bad, but not as good as the 1978, and 1980 movies, and like those movies, all subsequent sequels are terrible. DC and AliensRidley Scott decided that we were all wrong, the most interesting thing about his Movie Alien (1979), and James Cameron’s sequel to it Aliens (1987), wasn’t the Xenomorph, or Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.  It wasn’t the brilliant world building of the story where corporations are more powerful than countries.  He decided the derelict alien ship, and how the Aliens got there was more important.  He then gave us two extremely average films, Prometheus (2012), and Alien Covenant (2017).  There are some excellent characters that aren’t used very well, and some who don’t know how to run to the side.  almost realLets not be too tough on Ridley Scott, he has given us an excellent movie in the genre, The Martian (2015).  The story of a man left behind on Mars.  This is part of a crop of Sci-Fi movies that feel more realistic and closer to where we are now than Star Wars or Star Trek.  The pick of these for me was Gravity (2013).  A film so spectacular in IMAX 3D (the only good 3D experience I have had) that I have not re-watched it again, it just won’t be the same on TV.  Other films in this sub genre could include Christopher Nolan’s excellent Interstellar (2014), Danny Boyle’s underrated Sunshine (2007), Claire Denis bleak but brilliant High Life (2018), and James Gray’s disappointing Ad Astra (2019).   A film doesn’t have to be fiction, or particularly outlandish to be compelling, providing it is told well, and there are two such examples from the last two years: Damien Chazelle’s telling of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong in the film First Man (2018), and the documentary on the same subject: Apollo 11 (2019).  The latter is breathtaking look at the mission using stunning NASA images, no talking heads, or voiceover. smerfs monkeys aliens and the sunI wouldn’t include Passengers (2016) in the list of realist sci-fi movies, as it is too glossy and Sci-Fi, it is however worth seeing for the interesting plot, that is more disturbing the more you think about it.  Part of the premise of the film is people in hypersleep on their way to a distant planet.  Obviously something always goes wrong in these movies.  Others worth watching are: Pandorum (2009) a film that takes these ideas, and gives them a horror and survival adventure spin.  Pitch Black (2000) is an even better take on the horror space adventure, possibly the best and most original since the first two Alien films.  It’s sequel The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), was terrible, but the third film Riddick (2013) isn’t bad, although its attempt to recreate the original are a little forced.  Life (2017) has the almost real world setting, a fictionalised version of The International Space Station, it rapidly turns into Alien when an alien life form gets loose.  It isn’t Alien, but it isn’t bad. Horror in spaceThe man who gave us The Fifth Element (1997) Luc Besson, was back this century, with another bold and bonkers tale: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).  The film had mixed reviews, as Besson’s work often does, I liked it.  The title is a little misleading and under serves one of its characters, based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline; Laureline is the more interesting character and probably has a larger part in the story than Valérian.  That asside, it is bright and bold and like nothing else, except maybe The Fifth Element!a mix of fact and fantasy (1)Saving the best for last.  When I went to see Joss Whedon’s Serenity (2005), I had not seen (or even heard of) Firefly, I have since watched the whole (short) series more than once.  The movie is nothing short of a masterpiece.  It works whether you have seen the TV show or not.  It is all the more impressive, as it was Whedon’s feature debut as a director.  The budget was less than $40million or about a quarter of Revenge of the Sith that came out the same year.  This doesn’t show, as the film looks amazing, largely thanks to clever photography and practice sets/effects over CGI.  Ticking every box for a space adventure, and a western, the film is fun, and often very funny, but there is a far deeper message about society, about right and wrong, but it is far more nuanced than anything you will get from Disney or Star Wars, it isn’t black and white, or light and dark, The Alliance is not The Empire!SerenityI have probably missed lots, but these are the ones that spring to mind.  I pleased to say the genre is in good health at the movies, and on TV, but that will have to be an entire article in itself. 

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Dom 5As the award season hots up, its time for the third annual groovers awards. All awards are chosen by me and the criteria for eligibility is decided by me. Most of the awards are self explanatory: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay (original or adapted), Best Foreign Language Film. The Best Looking Movie is just as it sounds, the movie that looks best, a combination of design and photography. The Fandango Award; Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. The Fandango award goes to a writer, director of star for a debut or breakthrough movie.

Best Movie: StokerStoker

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for GravityAlfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for Blue JasmineCate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers ClubMatthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight Richard Linklater Julie Delpy Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight

Best Foreign Language Film: The Broken Circle BreakdownThe Broken Circle Breakdown

Best Looking Movie: GravityGRAVITY

Fandango Award:  The award goes to Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In Fear. Although his debut movie, Jeremy Lovering has been directing for TV for 20 years. Although this is rising star Alice Englert third movie, it was actually shot before the other two. Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In FearA special mention to Dustin Hoffman who at the age of 75 and after more than 50 years in the business decided to turn his hand to directing with Quartet but he didn’t win.Dom 5

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As previously reported I am struggling to come up with a top ten movies of 2013. The problem, there are four 2012 films that didn’t get a UK release until 2013 that are in contention. There are also half dozen big 2013 movies that haven’t been released here yet. Therefore I am forgoing my top ten in favour of a top five (sort of).

  1. Stoker (dir. Chan-wook Park): Its no secret that Oldboy is one of my all-time favourite movies, it therefore comes as no surprise that I have been eagerly anticipating the English language debut of its director, Chan-wook Park. It isn’t Oldboy but I was far from disappointed. Sumptuous and beautiful to look at and suitably weird and unnerving.stoker
  2. Before Midnight (dir. Richard Linklater): Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are back for part three of Richard Linklater’s “before” series. Nine years after the events in Paris and the magic is still there. It’s basically more of the same as we saw in the first two movies. In other words it is sensational.Before Midnight
  3. Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuarón): Generally I hate 3D but once in a while it works, once in a very long while, it really, really works, this is that film. To call it stunning is an understatement. My one reservation, it just won’t be the same on TV as it was in IMAX 3D.GRAVITY
  4. Captain Phillips (dir. Paul Greengrass): Pauld Greengrass lends his signature style and flair to the true story of Somali pirates. Full of visual style and unbelievable tension, Greengrass’ direction is sublime and Tom Hanks gives the performance of his career.Tom Hanks
  5. Rush (dir. Ron Howard): Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are excellent as James Hunt and Niki Lauda in this true story of their rivalry particularly during the 1976 F1 season. But ultimately it is a story about people not about racing and like the Documentary Senna (2010) it should still hold the interest of audiences who are not racing fans.Rush

Also recommended:

Nebraska
Prisoners
Mud
The EastNebraska Prisoners Mud The East

The best of 2012 released in 2013 in the UK:

Zero Dark Thirty 
Cloud Atlas 
Django Unchained 
Amour Zero Dark Thirty Cloud Atlas Django Unchained Amour

Look out for my redux list later in the year once I have seen all 2013 movies.

Ryan at The Matinee has compiled a list of other bloggers best of lists HERE

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the secret life of walter mittygravityNEBRASKAHBT2-fs-140204.DNGall is lostID_D47_17954.dngSAVING MR BANKSHow I Live NowOldboyEnders Game

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If you take a look at the top ten grossing movies of the year so far there are seven sequels (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, Oz The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness) and a reboot (Man of Steel). World War Z (based on a book) will probably be knocked out of the top ten by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smug leaving Gravity as the only original property to bother the top ten. Do audiences only go in large numbers to see sequels of franchise movies or do studios only commit large amounts of money to existing properties that a ready made audience? The $825million taken by Christopher Nolan’s Inception proved that a totally original movie could make money, however it would probably never been given the green light if not for the $1billion The Dark Knight took. As cinema prices creep up and audiences become ever more selective, studios become more cautious making it a self fulfilling prophesy relegating most original ideas to smaller films. With this in mind, here are my top five original movies of the year. Original movies, not a sequel, prequel, remake, re-imagining or reboot. Also, not based on a book, comic book or true story.

Stoker: In the year that the remake of Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece Oldboy limped onto cinema screens Stoker proved to be Park’s best film since Oldboy. The original screenplay was written by actor Wentworth Miller. A weird, beautiful and sublime blend of melodrama, psychological thriller and coming of age drama. Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)stoker

Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s space adventure about a pair of astronauts trying to find a way home after a collision in space is a truly stunning film and the first film that should be seen in 3D preferably IMAX 3D. Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)GRAVITY

Prisoners: Great acting from ensemble cast and stunning photography from Roger Deakins combine with taught direction French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve making his English-language debut elevate this from a genre movie with an overt subtext to a really good film. Budget: $46,000,000 (estimated)Prisoners

The East: An original story of the murky world of private intelligence firms and an environmental anarchist collective. Written by director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. It is notable for great acting and its dark melancholic tone. Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)The East

Pacific Rim: To call Guillermo del Toro’s monsters vs. robot movie original would be a stretch as it appears to be based on every other monster movie/comic book to have gone before it, however it isn’t directly based on any other previously produced work. It makes the list ads it is just great fun, pure and simple. Budget: $190,000,000 (estimated)PACIFIC RIM

Mud – the continuing renascence of Matthew McConaughey.
The Counsellor – Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay is far better than has been reported
About Time – Charming and funny time travel comedy from Richard Curtis.
Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett, deserves an Oscar.
Elysium – Neill Blomkamp’s Sci-Fi action drama lacks subtlety but is still good

Check back at the end of the month to see how many of these movies make my top ten of the year.

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This months contenders include a comic book sequel, a young adult adaptation sequel and acouple of original movies, but which is the movie of the month?

Thor: The Dark World: Thor and co restored order to the nine realms but the peace doesn’t last long. A race of Dark Elves are on the hunt for a MacGuffin that could bring the end of the world(s). Thor is on hand to save the day but not without the help of his treacherous brother Loki. Following the Iron Man blueprint, it is well balanced and paced with just enough humour. A fun movie that does what it is intended to do, makes me want to watch the next Marvel Movie.Thor The Dark World

Philomena: True story of a woman’s search for her son who was taken from her fifty years earlier when she was sent to a convent/forced labour laundry. Billed as a serious Steve Coogan movie, but it is actually very funny in places. Coogan and Judi Dench are both fantastic and play off each other really well making a film you just can’t help liking.Philomena

Gravity: After a collision in space astronauts George Clooney and Sandra Bullock have to try and find a way home. Generally I hate 3D but once in a will it works, once in a very long while, it really, really works, this is that film. To call it stunning is an understatement. My one reservation, it just won’t be the same on TV as it was in IMAX 3D.GRAVITY

In Fear: Ultra low budget British horror thriller about a couple who get lost in rural Ireland. There isn’t anything particularly original about the plot and there aren’t many scary moments but there is a real sense of dread and fantastic building tension. The real reason the movie works so well is the fantastic and believable performances from the young cast.in-fear Alice Englert

The Counsellor: Crime thriller directed by Ridley Scott, from Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay. The Counsellor of the title gets mixed up in drug trafficking and his seemingly perfect lifestyle enders a downward spiral. A sumptuous looking movie with a subtle plot and a fantastic performance from Michael Fassbender.  I can understand the negative reviews, they just happen to be wrong!The Counselor

Flu: Korean disaster thriller about a mystery virus that envelopes Bundang (a suburb of Seoul). The film doesn’t know if it wants to be a by the numbers disaster movie a or a satire on human nature. The comedy aspect of the movie doesn’t really work but the rest of it does. Not as hard hitting as Contagion but worth seeing.Flu

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: A year after the events of The Hunger Games and revolution is in the air. A new variation on The Hunger Games is devised to try and quash the thoughts of rebellion. Like the first movie, every character is perfectly cast. Bigger bolder and in some ways better than the first film despite weaker source material.The Hunger Games Catching Fire

The Movie of the Month is: Gravity; see it in IMAX 3D if you can.Gravity-poster

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