The Great Wall (2016)

the-great-wall-movie-scene

“A hybrid between a historical epic and an action fantasy, The Great Wall manages to be only a passable example of each genre, which makes it less memorable than it had the potential to be.” – Common Sense Media ★★☆☆☆

Matt Damon has earned his merits for action spectaculars with Saving Private Ryan, The Martian and the Bourne films, yet veteran Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou is an action world class master. Following Hero, House of Flying Daggers and the unforgettable 2008 Beijing Olympics ceremonies, Zhang Yimou teams up with the US for the co-production of the century, a whopping $150 million dollar project. And the result in a nut shell? It takes a white Hollywood A-List actor to save the Chinese world.

The Great Wall, a monument decorated with history, prestige and nobility, a place where the walls whisper ancient myths- and this is one of them. Matt Damon is William and Pedro Pascal is Tovar, two 12th century European mercenaries who scope the deserts of Western China looking for mysterious black powder. In the search for riches and fortune, the two best-friends push toward the Great Wall to make a deal, where they are met with a spray of arrows and an immensely organised and colourful Chinese army. Zhang keeps this swirl of colour, light and dizzying action as almost a distraction from the plot, which unfolds miraculously from a plan to escape.

The Great Wall’s action scenes exemplify a sense of fierce determination and precision, a shared responsibility that one will rarely discover in action spectaculars. Not only is the film thrillingly large scale, but it is visually euphoric, an artwork of colour and beauty amidst a prominence of computer-generated imagery. Although the film is often well-choreographed, it is very easy to be seduced by scenes of impersonal warfare and battle. But as the fighting slows down, and the characters evolve, there is little spark between our Caucasian and Chinese performers. But this is simply because The Great Wall is unlike any American blockbuster you’ve ever ever ever seen, and character development is minimally the focus in the inventive and thrilling action pieces that evolve before your very eyes.

I was born into battle.

I have little to say about The Great Wall, other than its fantastic ability to work as an action-adventure spectacular. In this, we see the triumph of the Chinese as sacrificial, determined and relentless warriors, in what can only be described as a tribute to China’s war history. But in the midst of this fierce patriotism is an entertaining blockbuster with eye-popping and breathtaking cinematography – that only follows the simplistic plotting of a Chinese myth. Watch this blockbuster on the biggest cinema screen you can find.

★★☆☆☆

Imdb – 6.3/10  Rotten Tomatoes – 36%

Advertisements

Now You See Me – Look Closer (2013)

“The closer you look, the less you see” reveals Atlas, a professional magician who specialises in misdirection. This begins an unstoppable quest to uncover unique illusions, true friendships and unpredictable misjudgments. It might seem illogical with each passing minute but this fast and risky heist film is a tremendously clever and highly unpredictable story.

A mysterious hoodie-covered individual has assembled an incredibly talented team of magicians to unleash a large stage show that takes Las Vegas by storm. The Four Horsemen are most powerful when they mess with the minds of their oblivious audiences. Unexpectedly their signature trick is robbing money on stage in full view of their audience. Both the FBI and Interpol make it their responsibility to uncover the strange schemes of the quartet and capture them before they pull of anything too big to handle.

Director Louis Leterrier has collected a charming group of actors who perform exceptionally well in combination with humor, illusions and deception. Atlas is the unofficial leader of the quartet, an annoying control freak. Jessie Eisenberg plays the role of Atlas superbly under pressure with no noticeable effort. His former magic assistant Henley, played by the stunning Isla Fisher, is a famous escape artist who easily draws in all male attention. Merritt is both a clever mentalist and a professional brain drainer. Woody Harrelson is the best match, filled with wit and mental strength required for the role. Jack used to make a living off street performing however he now stands as the fastest man in the team. Dave Franco returns to the big screen with flying colours, proving that he’s capable to pull of a massive role with wit and ingenuity.

Now You See Me is a must-watch film filled with incredible stunts and performances that will have you constantly on the edge of your seat. Now You See Me is a cinematic illusion performed with much razzle dazzle and no regard for reality. The film is only increasingly better with the addition of a well-cast ensemble including Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo. Make it a priority to watch this film, it is spectacular from start to finish and the big reveal is guaranteed to blow you away!

☆☆

Catch Me If You Can – Ingenious deception (2002)

Spielberg’s supremely amusing tale of self-invention in the land of opportunity tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenager from Rochelle, New York. Spielberg grasped that unique history and turned it into a superbly charming pursuit story precisely set in the sights and sounds of Abagnale’s 1960’s era. The film’s approach is cheerful and fun but maintains firm attention towards the dark side of characters pain and suffering.

Frank Abagnale Jr. was only 16 when he became one of the 1960’s most legendary con artists. The film opens with his home life; everything seems perfect for the teenager, whose parents are seemingly madly in love. But everything changes when Frank Sr. is investigated by the IRS and his dear mother files for divorce only to wed one of her husband’s closest friends. In hope of avoiding the confusion Frank Jr. runs away and begins a three year crime spree in which he successfully impersonates an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and several other professions, and tricks various establishments out of $2.5 million before he is caught and condemned to serve 12 years in prison.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the young Abagnale with an effortless charm, and we never fail to forget that his character is still a teenager distressed for approval from his father. Tom Hanks is also fantastic as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The guy is passionate, ambitious and strongly devoted to his profession. Christopher Walken is great as Frank’s father. You really believe the genuine bond between the two characters. Martin Sheen appears as the impending father-in-law for Frank and his reactions to Frank’s giant stories are priceless. Jennifer Garner draws one of the biggest laughs in the movie when she tries to fraud the con man.

Steven Spielberg is a leading storyteller who has a delightful sense of visual design. Though very visually appealing and entertaining, Catch Me If You Can establishes a cheap grace because the soft ending to the movie seems to excuse Frank’s adolescent behavior. The movie, therefore, values love, compassion and sympathy above repentance and responsibility.

Forrest Gump – The Story of a Lifetime (1994)

Forrest Gump is a film heart-breaker of eccentric wit and startling beauty. Gump’s story is an extraordinary virtual-reality tour of the late twentieth century American history. Vietnam, integration, Watergate and other significant events illustrate from the perspective of Hanks’ lovable slow-witted character as he finds himself entangled in situations he can’t seem to understand. The combined everlasting love, dedication, persistence and joy in this film is both refreshing and captivating.

Forrest Gump is gifted with a low IQ and a pure soul, which leads him into a delightfully childlike atmosphere even as he matures. He leads a very charmed life and follows a straight path throughout the world, ever true to the informal advice of his mother. As he grows up he encounters a miraculous incident that eliminates the need for him to have braces on his legs, a childhood girlfriend who constantly remains faithful to him, surviving Vietnam with high awards, and in general, a tendency to transform everything that happens to him into good.

Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a simple Alabama soul who serves his country with dignity and perseverance. Tom Hanks plays the role with a smooth Southern intonation and Evangelic sincerity. Gump is the typical simpleton, his only main characteristic is the passive virtue infused in him by his mama. Overall the performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, between a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.

The film effectively follows Forrest on a tour of recent American history. The director, Robert Zemeckis has experience with special effects, previously incorporated in his other feature films such as Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Zemeckis uses computerized visual effects to place Gump in historic situations with real people. Gump teaches Elvis to swivel his hips, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, speaks at an anti-war rally in Washington, features on the Dick Cavett show with infamous John Lennon and serves with honour in Vietnam.

Forrest Gump is a beautiful illustration of hope and inspires me constantly to strive above and beyond the expectations. Gump is a new male role model, a nice boy with a loving attitude, complete honesty and genuine kindness, which everyone knows is hard to find. The film has many meaningful quotes and inspirational events, for instance my personal favourite; ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re going to get’.

Romantics Anonymous ~ An Odd Twist On True Love (2012)

Romantics Anonymous is a bittersweet tale of true love between two pathologically shy chocolate makers. I was pleasantly surprised by the genuine affection and charming humor displayed from the quirky characters throughout the film. Award winning director Jean-Pierre Améris plays with terrifying emotions, misfits and good old-fashioned romance to create this perky retake on everlasting love.

Angélique, a saucy-eyed beauty with a halo of curls, is a gifted chocolatier who is so meek that the merest compliment makes her faint. To build up her confidence she regularly attends 12-step meetings for people who struggle with anxiety disorders. Her male counterpart, Jean-René, is the middle-aged owner of a chocolate shop drowning in debt. Jean-René is afraid to answer his telephone, listens to encouraging tapes at night and regularly visits a therapist. The desirous pair meets when he hires Angélique as a sales representative. The pair embark on a series of failed dates, misread signals and anxiety attacks.

The acting quality is superb. Isabelle Carré is perfect as the wide-eyed Angélique, determined to overcome her insecurities. Benoît Poelvoorde is a refreshing twist on prince charming, a creative character who reveals his charming flaws throughout the film.

The cinematography by Gérard Simon has the palette of a chocolate box; it’s a combination of dark hues and silver highlights that make the real-world location of hotels, factories and streets look like a studio fantasy – rich and beautiful. The films upbeat sense of potential seems earned and its style, seductive.

Romantics Anonymous is an artistic romance with outstanding production, creative cinematography and brilliant actors. Romance blossoms in an unusual way and the unique humour is ironically amusing. If you embrace Romantics Anonymous for what it is, you are sure to enjoy the film, particularly if you admire French romantic comedies.

The Sapphires – Soulful Inspirations (2012)

Australian director Wayne Blair’s recent film based on the hit stage musical, The Sapphires, is a warm, big-hearted crowd pleaser. A powerful combination of perky music, appealing performances and an enlightening story delivers this film festival favourite; virtually impossible to resist. This film is a good old-fashioned romantic musical comedy that is both emotionally and harmoniously spotless.

Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is about three cheeky yet talented Aboriginal sisters and their cousin living their dream of performing on stage. The film originates in Australia 1968 precisely during the harsh Vietnam War. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia travel into town to audition in a local talent competition where Dave Lovelace, a scruffy keyboard player, recognizes their talent and takes them on a whirlwind of challenges and incredible opportunities. Follow the journey of four ambitious singers and discover the meaning of love, friendship and hope all over again.

Tony Briggs, son of one of the original sapphires, creates the screenplay in collaboration with Goalpost pictures. The movie’s finger-snapping appeal comes from R&B and rock ‘n’ roll tunes that offer an arousing yet astonishing soundtrack to the disturbing Vietnam war. The Sapphires wear decorated outfits of the era and move with stylized choreography of original sixties girl groups.

The central performances of all the actors have their pleasures but the film’s irresistible on-screen chemistry comes in the form of Irish actor Chris O’Dowd. The ‘Bridesmaids’ co-star plays scruffy talent scout and manager Dave Lovelace, who introduces the women to soul music. He’s joined by authentic soul sisters Jessica Mauboy, the pop sensation who steals the show with her sumptuous lead vocals and the constantly oppressed yet talented Deborah Mailman. Funky singers Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens are the most dominant and feminine members of the group.

The Sapphires is more than just a cute musical comedy, although if you make it through this film with dancing and singing along then you have a heart made of stone! Between all the amazing singing and performing the film explores some real history and the struggle for respect and rights that Aboriginal people went through during this period, as well as the unsettling reality of life in the war zone. The Sapphires sing their R&B hearts out, wow the servicemen and discover the meaning of family, friendship and war.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Love and Misfits (2012)

Writer and director Stephen Chbosky has recently created a spectacular screen adaptation of his own notorious novel. The Perks of Being A Wallflower moves through the terrifying emotions of adolescence, misfits and the importance of accepting yourself. Expect a unique journey through realism and exceptional attention to detail and discover the most dramatic and inspiring film of the year.

Logan Lerman plays Charlie, an ordinary American teenager commencing his first year of high school. He’s psychologically preparing himself for a tough year, considering his best friend is no longer present, his older sister doesn’t care about anyone and he hasn’t got the most outgoing of personalities. Luckily, Charlie is saved from eternal loneliness by two outgoing seniors, Patrick and Sam, who introduce him to a new, more mature, world of music, books and theatre. It’s only a matter of time before the three and some additional friends create a safe place to be different and embark on a journey of deep feelings, pain and broken perspectives.

Perks of Being A Wallflower is a distinctive film with realistic cinematography and admirable visual techniques. While entertaining and light-hearted, this film also touches on a number of darker themes. The film contains a few references to inspirational American books and artists as well as being directed by a fantastic soundtrack.

Logan Lerman showcases his talents and maturity as a leading actor with the confused and agitated Charlie. Starring alongside Logan is Emma Watson, the versatile and sophisticated Sam who delivers her role with sincerity and humility. Ezra Miller is the third addition to the trio and does well as the gay, eccentric and likeable Patrick. With three youthful and talented actors in the lead roles being accompanied by a number of recognisable faces such as Paul Rudd and Kate Walsh The Perks of Being A Wallflower easily becomes a favourite for teens going through high school.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a unique romance for anyone who likes an entertaining yet meaningful film about high school drama. Stephen Chbosky delivers a wonderfully clever and humourous film that might not be as iconic as the best-selling book but its insights into the lives of teenagers remain as effective as they were ten years ago. The perfect actors, cinematography and content; be pleasantly surprised by the masterpiece that is Perks of A Wallflower.