Ender’s Game (2013) Film Review

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It’s a futuristic world where the world had been attacked by some aliens and a hero saved them. Now, for a reason that wasn’t totally clear to me, kids are recruited to fight, and it is only the cream of the crop, the best of the best, who get through, chosen by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis). Ender (Asa Butterfield) comes along and proves the be the best of the best of the best, provided he can get through training.

I didn’t really expect to like this film all that much – I thought it might be a bit earnest and really for the kids, but I really enjoyed it. I didn’t like the end all that much, but the fighting scenes were quiet cool and I really liked the way the characters developed, kids becoming really adult like.

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The Boxtrolls (2014) Film Review

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There are a group of mysterious creatures, trolls, who wear boxes, live underground, come out at night and scavenge through the small town they live beneath. And they have a boy, Fish (Dee Bradley Baker) who has ended up with them. Above the surface, a rumour has spread that they kidnap and kill children during the night, and evil Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), a lowly trashman with aspirations to join the elite of the town, vows to get rid of them all in return for a place at the cheese eating table. Then Fish meets Winnie (Elle Fanning) the daughter of one of the elite and she wants to use to him to finally get some attention from her father. Will evil destroy good and do we really care?

I loved the style of the animation, the dirty, ugly appearance of all characters and the gadgets and things involved. Yet I didn’t care for the story. I didn’t care about Fish, I didn’t like anyone else in the whole thing, I think I was supposed to like the Boxtrolls but I didn’t and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. No, that is a bit harsh. I didn’t like it, but I most definitely can see how other people would, and I did appreciate that it is not your usual, tedious, sweet kids story. A bit of grit is good.

The Boxtrolls was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature of the Year.

 

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My Week with Marilyn (2011) Film Review

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Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) starts working for Sir Lawrence Oliver (Kenneth Branagh) on his new film, which, as it happens, stars Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). But Marilyn is a troubled soul, always late, being managed by everyone around her, fed drugs and alcohol. She likes Colin and calls for him whenever she can, but is it help or romance?

It’s one of those films is based on real events, but is so romanticised. I often wonder about Marilyn and all of those troubled celebrities, usually women, who have tragic lives, but are attractive and get terrible advice from people. Those who are treated poorly by the press, who are made out to be flakey, and who end up in positions of some power that allows them to act out. The divas(and whatever is the male equivalent of diva?) who seem to have little respect for those working around them.

It’s a really lovely film. Whether or not it is a real depiction of events doesn’t matter. It’s romantic and quite beautiful and just kind of nice.

My Week with Marilyn was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Michele Williams) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Kenneth Branagh).

 

 

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The Paperboy (2012) Film Review

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This is a tough film… it starts as a film about a couple of hopefuls who are trying to get a possibly innocent criminal out of jail and turns into… well, I don’t really know what. It’s all really tricky.

Zac Efron plays Jack, a young guy in Florida in the 1960s who is dragged into a strange world after his brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) returns to town to try to expose injustices in relation to a murder conviction. The convicted is Hilary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a repulsive man from the swamps. Ward brings along his writing partner Yardley (David Oyelowo), who creates waves as he is a black man in this racist society, and Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), a racy woman who believes after corresponding with Van Wetter, that not only is he innocent, but that they are in love. Jack is in love with Charlotte in no time. And then things get really horrible. The whole story is told by the family maid, Anita (Macy Gray).

It’s interesting, and then it is creepy, and then it is a bit shocking, and then thing get a bit twisted, and then things get horrible and then more horrible and I am possibly never going to recover. And Nicole Kidman, well, generally I find her very difficult to watch these days, but she it fabulous in this. No wonder she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance.

 

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Orange County (2002) Film Review

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Shaun (Colin Hanks) is a kid who has grown up in surf heaven Orange County. His parents are divorced and his ultra rich father, Bud (John Lithgow) lives with a young gold digger and their nightmare child. The mother has remarried and her husband is in a wheelchair and out of his mind. Then there is the brother, Lance (Jack Black), who is constantly high or recovering from partying. Shaun decides he wants to go to college and become a writer, and feels like everything in his life, his surfer buddies, his family, his incompetent school (with the wonderful Chevy Chase and Lily Tomlin), everything. Oh, no, his girlfriend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) is on his side.

This is one of those films that I remember coming out and thinking it was a bit of a Porky’s or one of those other ridiculous stupid teen films. So, the other day I felt like watching a ridiculous stupid teen film and got this. And guess what? It’s not. But it’s not really good either. It’s really boring, quite predictable, and things just don’t quite gel. It’s like they have Shaun and Ashley as believable, normal characters and everyone else in the film is a parody, and it just doesn’t work. At all.

 

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Megamind (2010) Film Review

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After his world was destroyed, an alien was sent to Earth. Just like Superman. Only, not unlike Superman, there were two babies. Megamind (Will Ferrell) a blue creature who just cannot quite get it right, and Metro Man (Brad Pitt), a real Superman type. As children, Metro Man always won over Megamind, and Megamind decides, along with Minion (David Cross), he decides to be a real villain. He falls into a routine with Metro Man – he kidnaps Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey), Metro Man saves her and they go on. But one day, he kills Metro Man, and their world is turned upside down. Depressed, Megamind realises he needs a foe to continue, and he makes Titan (Jonah Hill), the hero. But nothing goes quite as expected.

It is a fun film, but it was only when I got about three-quarters of the way through when I realised that I had seen it before, so it clearly did stick in my mind. Good points? David Cross is fabulous as Minion, the strange fish companion. The character of Roxanne is being saved a lot, but there is a lot more to her. She still is the only significant female character, which is a shame. And I love that Megamind mispronounces everything.

 

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Boyhood (2014) Film Review

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Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is just your average kid, fights with his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), his single mother (Patricia Arquette)is struggling with life and studying to make a better life for themselves and his absent father (Ethan Hawke) suddenly appears. And then over the next couple of hours, we see him grow from a small child to a teenager, heading to college.

This film was taped over twelve years, using the same actors. Some people have criticised it as being just an experiment, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. What I found was that it was a long view into the ordinary lives of people. At times, it seemed far too long, but that didn’t bother me all that much. Mostly, I just really enjoyed the trip. I enjoyed the way time was represented, that before you knew it, one whole period of time was gone, that relationships developed and disappeared with little explanation. Essentially, the whole film really captured that feeling that life disappears before you know it. And I liked it.

Boyhood won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Patricia Arquette) and was nominated for Best Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Ethan Hawke), Best Achievement in Directing (Richard Linklater), Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Richard Linklater) and Best Achievement in Film Editing. It won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture –Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture (Richard Linklater) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Patricia Arquette) and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supprting Role (Ethan Hawke) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Richard Linklater). It won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), the David Lean Award for Direction (Richard Linklater), BAFTA Film Award and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke) and Best Original Screenplay (Richard Linklater).

 

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