What I've been watching: Last five films

What I’ve been watching: Last five films #2

Film

Guess who’s upped her film count in a matter of days? This person. You know how you make time to clean the house or plan your weekend. Well, I’ve made time for some film watching and it reminded me that it’s something I need. I need my film time. So I carved out some time to watch some great films.

Django Unchained, you had my curiosity now you have my attention

100 movies of 2013

Django Unchained

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Quentin Tarantino films don’t come around all that often. There’s always a whole lot of fuss when they do come around. The fuss is about the same old stuff that Tarantino’s been faced with whenever any of his films come out. Violence and language. It’s not surprising that Tarantino threw a giant fit when faced with the question on doing the PR rounds for Django.

Who the fuck cares? For decades we’ve seen Tarantino’s films splattered with blood. Django’s probably one of the tamer ones. And yet, people still want to wag their finger and worry about ‘the children’.

I like my Tarantino films. Reservoir Dogs is probably my favourite. Kill Bill’s up there too. Along with Pulp Fiction. From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favourite vampire films. To the sadness of many, I don’t see the wow in Inglorious Basterds (Due for a rewatch on that one to probably change my mind.). Far from a Tarantino fan. Merely, a film fan who appreciates his films.

Django Unchained is one step to making me a QT fan. It’s got Tarantino’s finger prints all over it, but at the same time, it feels like a different Tarantino film. To me. It felt a whole lot more mature. More heart and more fun. Totally entertaining. Fantastically paced. Don’t think I can knock this one.

Christoph Waltz – where do I start? For whatever reason, he didn’t really make an impact on me in Inglorious. But everything changed here. His Dr. King Schultz was a brilliant character. Charming. Gracious. Despite being a somewhat cold-hearted killer, he was a very warm and kind character. Quite possibly my favourite character and performance in the film.

Not seen a performance quite like this from Leonardo DiCaprio before. Excellent. At times, maybe a little over the top. But, isn’t that what was needed out of him here? Now I understand the outcry over his lack of an Academy Award nomination.

I’m itching to see Django Unchained again. I think I might class Django as one of the most fun Tarantino films I’ve seen in a good long while.

Oh and Calvin Candie is taken out by a dentist? HA!

Django Unchained (Viewed: 25/01/13 | Rating: 5/5)

Check out all of the films I’ve seen this year:

100 movies: Avengers Assemble

100 movies of 2012

Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

Avengers AssembleAvengers Assemble (26/04/12)

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

I’m going to attempt to do a spoiler free mini review of this film, however, I can’t guarantee that the comments will be spoiler free, so you have been warned!

Avengers Assemble the film that a year ago, I wasn’t all that excited about. I was dreading it a little bit. But then I saw Thor. My excitement level crept up. Marginally. Followed by Captain America. The film itself didn’t really make me look forward to Avengers Assemble, but the post credits trailer did. The teaser trailers and full-blown trailers that have followed since have firmly planted me on the ‘Oh my GOD, I’m so excited!’ bandwagon. Attending the European premiere last week only made sure of the fact that I wasn’t leaving the bandwagon.

With hype levels so high, the film could have hopelessly disappointed me. Or lived up to the hype. Guess what? It completely lived up to the hype and I’m still buzzing now from it. Over 12 hours after seeing the film!

It is an epic comic book film because of all the massive characters involved. Bringing them all together and making them work, while not getting lost, was a huge ask of Joss Whedon. That was my biggest fear for the film. The characters, who are great in their standalone films, will just be watered down versions of themselves in this big team up. This couldn’t be further from the case. What was better, was the interactions between them all. Especially the ones we hadn’t seen before. I loved seeing Captain America butt heads with Iron Man. Then seeing Tony Stark and Bruce Banner as lab partners – loved it! I can’t get over how much fun I had watching all the characters interact with each other.

Did I mention this film was bloody hilarious. Not slapstick bad funny. But genuinely laugh out loud funny. And I rarely laugh out loud! This one did the trick. There are some fantastic one liners. Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson has some brilliant moments. The dialogue was sharp! I expect nothing less from Joss Whedon on that side of things. I think I rate him more as a writer than a director.

Of the new Avengers, I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s take on Bruce Banner. He had a bit of Eric Bana’s Bruce in him. And the best thing was, was that the Hulk had a bit of Mark Ruffalo’s face. Hulk had some great moments.

The story isn’t anything totally new. Try and bring a team of ‘misfits’ together. Earth in peril. Your average stuff. But it’s all put together so well here. Yes there are some great set pieces, but they never feel like set pieces. The film flows from beginning to end seamlessly. Sure, the film comes in at a staggering 142 minutes, but it never felt long. It never dragged.

Loved having Loki back. He’s grown in crazy, and looked like Tom Hiddleston had fun playing that. There wasn’t all that development or explanation about The Chitauri. They just seemed to be there to make the final epic battle all the more epic. Worked for me. I didn’t care too much. Spent the whole time rooting for my favourite heroes.

The score disappointed me a little. I couldn’t hear a strong theme. Though, I did recognise Captain America’s theme from his standalone film from last year, whenever Cap was on-screen doing his heroics. It sounded like Alan Silvestri was borrowing a lot of what he did for last year’s Captain America film. Sad. Was hoping for a score I could go home and be desperate to listen to over and over again.

I did end up going to see this in 3D. Why? Too impatient to wait for Friday’s ‘normal’ release. A day made all the difference apparently. I could have lived without the 3D. I still don’t think the tech’s there yet. Though, the 3D here was one of the better ones I’ve seen. Still not a fan.

Desperate to see the film again. There’s a lot going on and I just want another chance to soak it all in on the big screen!

(It looks like I’ve rambled on for a good lot longer than I thought I would. AND I was restraining myself – there’s still so much more I have to say. )
Rating: 5/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

120+ Movies: Lagging behind!

120+ Movies of 2011

I hit a dry-spell. Summer came along. I went on holiday. There is suddenly an epic amount of TV I have to watch on my list. Films just slipped away. Hopefully the next few weeks of film-age should change that.

Transformers: Dark of the MoonTransformers: Dark of the Moon (29/06/11)

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

Sometimes I think I’ve given this film a slightly higher rating than it truly deserves. It wasn’t a great film. It bordered on being a good film at the best of times. And yet I’ve given it a 4/5. Why? My childhood bias, I believe.

Dark of the Moon isn’t nearly as strong as the first film, a lot stronger than the second film but with plenty of hiccups. It’s literally a film of two halves. The first half being filled with some of the worst characters I have ever seen in a film. The second half filled with some of the best CG and most awesome robots ever seen.

Question – what on Earth did they do to Sam’s character? He’s gone from being a likeable and very relatable character in the first film to being the most annoying in the third. I just wanted him to stop complaining and whining about his poor pathetic life and just get on with things.

I have to admit – Alan Tudyk’s character, Dutch, did make me laugh. He was funny! Well, he brought some light relief.

What this Transformers film did better was focus on the robots. They’re in the title after all! But still not enough. The battle in Chicago was awesome to see. Grateful that I chose 2D over 3D. My retinas would have been dying after some of the battle sequences. It should all have been about the Transformers and less about Sam’s inability to get on with his life and the weak politics of the great US of A.

Steve Jablonsky has once again produced a very fitting score. While he did produce a theme for this film, I couldn’t help but thinking of the score from The Last Samurai, when I listen to it.

If there’s a plan to do a fourth, there’s still plenty to learn from this third film.
Rating: 4/5

PredatorsPredators (30/07/11)

A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.

I was expecting something along the lines of the original Arnie Predator when I started watching this film. I was mightily disappointed.

There was just nothing special about the film. Sure we see a slightly more evolved predator and there’s some more story given to those ugly aliens, but everything else was just blah. Nothing unexpected, nothing new. Felt like a very by the numbers film.

I thought with a name like Robert Rodriguez onboard they’d be something more in the film. Sadly there was not. I’d happily take Predator and Predator 2 over this one.
Rating: 2/5

Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The First Avenger (31/07/11)

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top-secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

The onslaught of summer comic book films continues. I did enjoy watching Captain America, but it just lacked that something extra that made Thor and X-Men: First Class great comic book films.

Chris Evans did a great job as Steve Rogers. He filled out the role I was expecting of Capt. America. Gave the film some heart. Good job! The villain of the piece – Red Skull… he was, well just didn’t convince. Who else does the great Captain America go up against but a Hitler-esque adversary?

Or maybe it was the whole plot of the film. The plot didn’t veer from going from A to B. There weren’t any surprises. A lot of the time I couldn’t help thinking the plot was very similar to that of GI Joe: Rise of Cobra.

I think it’s getting harder and harder for comic book films to really stand out from the crowd. There are just so many of them. Captain America does blend into the background a little bit, but as it’s part of The Avengers franchise, we’ll be seeing more of Cap. And I’m actually happy about that. I see potential, everything’s there. Just a better story.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ movies: The Big 3-0

120+ Movies of 2011

Wahey! I’m up to 30 films this year already. I do believe I’m right on track for 120+ films this year. Barring any unforeseen happenings.

RangoRango (09/03/11)

Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

It’s only March but I feel like I already know this is the animated film of the year. Fantastic animation and a great story with some unique characters. On the surface you’d think this is just your run of the mill non-Pixar animated film with animals replacing humans. Below the surface Rango’s a western with a lot of heart. I dare anyone not to fall completely in love with Rango.

I had no clue going into the film who was voicing various characters, apart from Johnny Depp as Rango. As the credits rolled on I was surprised to see such names as Alfred Molina, Timothy Olyphant, Vincent Kartheiser and Bill Nighy, among others! You wouldn’t recognise a single one from the characters they play. Which is why Rango works so well – it’s not a vehicle for a star. The actors are just simply there for their voice talent.

Talking of the credits, the post credits animation is amazing. Beautiful animation combined with stunning typography. Stands up alongside’s Buried‘s opening credits.

Just before I repeat how much I loved this film a couple of things which robbed it of a 5/5 rating from me. The score – which is a brilliant Hans Zimmer score. But when I was watching the film, all too many moments sounded like they were from a Pirates of the Caribbean score soundtrack. Listening to Rango’s soundtrack on its own, there was even more Pirates of the Caribbean than I initially thought! Though one good thing was that the score doesn’t sound overly ‘western’. Favourite track is definitely ‘We Ride, really!’.

The second thing was that the film was probably just a little bit longer. Things slow down a fair bit before the end and my mind began to wander away from what was happening onscreen.

Rango’s definitely an animated film that’s a whole lot more entertaining for the adults than it will be for the kids. Go see it!
Rating: 4/5

The CraziesThe Crazies (11/03/11)

About the inhabitants of a small Iowa town suddenly plagued by insanity and then death after a mysterious toxin contaminates their water supply.

I like a good horror film. I like a good zombie film. The Crazies was both of those with the lovely Timothy Olyphant playing a very convincing hero just trying to survive with his wife.

I’ve not seen the original, so I don’t know how it compares or how similar the storylines are. I was entertained for the duration. There weren’t any major jumps from me, but the initial scenes when the military swoops in and takes everyone into their quarantine zone was pretty harrowing. Loved the scenes in the service station/garage too.

Have a feeling with the success of The Walking Dead, reckon we won’t be seeing a decrease in zombie films any time soon.
Rating: 4/5

Lakeview TerraceLakeview Terrace (12/03/01)

An LAPD officer will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple who just moved in next door.

Am wondering what drove me to watching this film. Maybe it was the thought that perhaps it would be fairly watchable stuff with Samuel L. Jackson in it. Just like Snakes on a Plane was. Think I was ever so slightly wrong.

The main problem for me was Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson’s characters. I felt sorry for them with this crazy of a neighbour, but they were just slightly bland and marginally awful people. To me, I couldn’t feel sorry for them long enough to get into the story. Then Samuel L. Jackson was such a one-sided character, I couldn’t care that a lot of what he was doing was down to his inability to forgive what his wife did. Just a boring thriller which goes on one hour too long.
Rating: 1/5

Battle: Los AngelesBattle: Los Angeles (13/03/11)

A Marine Staff Sergeant who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders.

I would also describe this film as a mash-up of Black Hawk Down, Independence Day, a little bit of Saving Private Ryan and a dash of War of the Worlds. It wasn’t a terrible film. Very watchable stuff with some characters you can really get behind. You’ve got lose your cynicism and just watch the film. At times I had a couple of problems doing that.

Some of the battle scenes are pretty impressive. They feel as hard as they look. Though if you’ve seen Black Hawk Down and you’re anything like me, your mind won’t be able to help comparing. Black Hawk Down’s win out, hands down.

The rag-tag bunch of soldiers and the unwilling leader in Aaron Eckhardt are a fun bunch to get behind. With some deaths thrown in you do feel as though the film could swing either way. I felt a bit robbed by the end of the film. Wanting something a little more depressing and less easy. But you can’t have everything.
Rating: 3/5

SubmarineSubmarine (14/03/11)

15-year-old Oliver Tate has two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to extinguish the flame between his mother and an ex-lover who has resurfaced in her life.

Now here’s a surprising little film. Charming, funny, touching and beautifully shot. There were so many moments throughout the film where I wanted it to just stop so I could take a photo of the frame.

I wasn’t expecting it to be as funny as it was. Lots of great comedy moments in dialog as well as some great scenes. Paddy’s character’s a little bit of a caricature but not enough for it to taint the film.

It feels like a very real film. From the characters to the setting and the story. It took me a while to warm up to Jordana, but turns out she wasn’t a completely heartless girl.

Fantastic film!
Rating: 4/5

The Adjustment BureauThe Adjustment Bureau (16/03/11)

The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.

Another film listed on IMDB with a rating far too high. In my opinion.

Before I saw any trailers or posters, this sounded like a good little sci-fi film based on a Philip K. Dick story. Once I saw some footage I started to get a little more excited. Also Roger Stirling in a film! Well, of course it’s not him, but he’ll always be Roger Stirling to me. The film went a little downhill in my eyes, before I saw it, when I saw it was being touted as this year’s Inception. Sigh.

If you suspend your belief and just watch the film, it’s fairly entertaining. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt hold the screen well, they’ve got great onscreen chemistry – you really buy their relationship. It’s just he main concept of the film I had real trouble believing. The whole notion of fate and free will – that everything that was happening to the characters was planned out and no one had any free will to make their own decisions. Buying into that was hard for me.

This would probably make a good film for TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Rating: 2/5

Percy Jackson & the Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson & The Lightning Thief 18/03/11)

A teenager discovers he’s the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an ongoing battle between the gods.

I was hoping this would be one of those kids-ish films that adults would have a fun time watching. I was really wishing it was that for me, but I just got slightly bored towards the end and was wishing for the film to just finish.

It started out with promise. Nothing mind blowing, just a fun little film to watch with your typical story of a teenager learning of some great and fantastical secret leading to some great adventure.

I can’t think of anything in particular I didn’t like, just didn’t entertain as much as I wanted it to. Though I spent a large amount of time wondering where I recognised Annabeth from. It hit me like a brick wall after an hour or so – White Collar!
Rating: 2/5

The HappeningThe Happening (19/03/11)

A strange, horrible and unprecedented crisis begins in Central Park. A high school science teacher, his wife and a young girl do what they can to survive it.

Wow. What a shockingly bad film. I was fully expecting it to be bad but I was expecting so much bad in one film. I feel really bad for Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg – two actors who are capable of far better. They did the best with what they got.

There was some shocking dialog in the film. All I remember is sitting on the sofa listening to some of the lines and just wondering how in the hell those lines made it into the final script.

The message in the movie was a nice subtle message, until you get to the end and you’re punched with it in your face.

M. Night did some good stuff with The Sixth Sense and my favourite of his films – Unbreakable. Where did it all go wrong?
Rating: 1/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far: