The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Film Review

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is back as Spider-Man, cleaning up his city but trying to have a relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) with a guilty conscience to her dead father. Then there is Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) a normal guy who gets superpowers and misunderstands those around him, and there’re a whole heap of other stuff happening.

It’s another fun movie, which has a lot of character, a whole heap of running and chasing and big explosions and quite frankly, it doesn’t stand out a lot from other super hero films, except to say it was heaps of fun. Will there be more? I don’t really care. If there is, I’ll probably enjoy it. But I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting.

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014) Film Review

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After their adventures in the previous instalment, Dale (Charlie Day), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Nick (Jason Bateman) decide to go into business for themselves with the Shower Buddy a kind of car wash for your shower. When Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine) cause them to become hugely in debt, they devise a ridiculous kidnapping and extortion plan which they attempt, but give up when things don’t go to plan. Unfortunately for them, Rex has decided that it is a far better plan and blackmails them into going through with it – with him as a partner. And it gets ridiculous.

I just had a look at what I thought about he first film – I felt that it wasn’t enough story for a full film, but it was ok. Perhaps that is why I liked this one more – perhaps it had more plot, or something. At any rate, I did quite enjoy this one, with all of it’s filthy humour, and it was good to get a few callback characters like Dean ‘MF’ Jones (Jamie Foxx), Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) and Dr Julia Harris, D.D.S. (Jennifer Aniston).

White House Down (2013) Film Review

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What happens when you get a father who is deeply patriotic and is put into a situation where he needs to make a choice to save either his daughter or the President? Well, if it’s an action film with Channing Tatum, it involves a dirty white singlet, a lot of shooting and explosions and ultimate victory for the good guys. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, given it is a Hollywood blockbuster action film).

So, Cale (Channing Tatum) is a divorced ex-solider with a really awesome daughter, Emily (Joey King) who is obsessed with everything politics and related to The White House. He has applied for a position as part of the protection detail of President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) and takes Emily to the White House for the interview. However, his interviewer, Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who he went to school with, rejects him for the position, as he is unreliable and hotheaded. But then things go crazy; the White House is taken over by terrorists and no one knows who to trust. Cale is in a position to try to rescue Sawyer, but then he needs to get to his daughter, and things are getting crazy.

This is a good action flick with all the stuff you want and need, some decent twists, a top cast and even a few unexpected bits. You want fun action stuff? Get this.

Valentine’s Day (2010) Film Review

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What happens when you get a whole bunch of stars together to tell a whole bunch of stories? Valentine’s Day. And much as I expected to dislike it, being very Hollywood and corny… I loved it. I loved the romance, I loved the slightly unexpected twists (and that many of the twists were not that unexpected), it was just great.

I’m not going to try to recount the plots – there were just so many intertwining. All you need to know is that in LA on this particular Valentine’s Day, heaps of people interact. Some get together, some don’t, some break up, some rekindle their love. It’s gentle and fun and has a huge cast. If you get sick of the stories, you can spend some time trying to name everyone in the film. This is a great film to know for playing 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

 

 

Ray (2004) Film Review

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Ray Charles was a huge success over many, many years in the music industry. He overcame poverty, blindness, racism and many years of drug addiction to gain and maintain his success. The film Ray covers his early years through to his time in rehab.

The film is structured with a variety of flashbacks and dreams where Ray is given advice from his mother on how to life a good and true life. At times, I found the flashbacks to be clunky and quite intrusive on the story. There is so much in the story, it could have easily just run chronologically  and been equally as engaging. Some filmmakers seem to think that they need to have twists or disjointed time to get the story across. Sometimes, they do, but sometimes it is really not needed. The life of Charles is quite interesting and inspirational, although I felt that the film ended just as we saw him overcoming his drug problems and I would have liked to see more of this. Than again, it was a very long film and so it probably just needed to end.

Ray won Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Jamie Foxx) and was nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Motion Picture of the Year.

Django Unchained (2012) Film Review

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The return of Quentin Tarantino. Good. I’ve always been a fan, despite having reached an age and sensitivity where I need to close my eyes during the most violent scenes and some of the hilarious dialogue makes me cringe. Thank goodness there’s a lot more to it.

Django Unchained sees Christopher Waltz (who played the massively evil Nazi in Inglourious Basterds) playing Dr King Schultz, a bounty hunter who travels America killing criminals for the reward. He finds himself hunting three brothers who he can not identify, and requires the services of Django, a slave in chains being marched across the country. Django previously worked on a plantation where these brothers were overseers, and Schultz enlists him to assist him to recognise that dispatch them. Eventually, the two men pair up to find Djano’s wife and return her to his arms. Things get bloody in the way that only Tarantino can manage.

I did enjoy this film, although I found that there were several times when it really seemed too long and I needed a break. However, the performances were so strong that I was caught up in the paths of the characters. Yes, at times they seem a bit too smart for their own good, but they have to be. And yes, those who are evil are totally and unquestionably evil. But that makes revenge so much more sweet.

I think Django Unchained is the type of film you need to enjoy for what it is – ultra violent, quite funny, very clever and with an awesome soundtrack. Like much of Tarantino’s work.

Robert Richardson has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography

Django Unchained has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture

Wylie Stateman has been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Editing and a BAFTA for Sound

Quentin Tarantino has been nominated for an Oscar for Writing (Original Screenplay), a Golden Globe for Best Director. He won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay (Motion Picture). He was nominated for a BAFTA for Original Screenplay.

Django Unchained was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Leonardo Dicaprio was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a  Motion Picture

Christopher Waltz won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actor.

Fred Raskin has been nominated for a BAFTA for Editing

The Soloist (2009) – Film Review

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Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jnr) a columnist for the Los Angeles Times comes across a schizophrenic homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) who plays beautiful violin music. Writing about him touches the hearts of his readers, and Lopez wants to find ways to help Nathaniel to improve his life, regardless of whether Nathaniel wants or needs this assistance.

It’s based on a true story which can sometimes make for fairly twee films, but this one worked for me. Possibly it is in part my delight at watching Robert Downie Jnr, who is definitely one of my favourite actors, but it is also a well structured film which shows great empathy for both Ayers and Lopez. I found the scenes depicting Ayers during some of the bad times of his schizophrenia were a bit heavy-handed, but this did set up his emotional state for later in the film.

It seems that every film I’ve watched recently is long, and like many of them, I think it could have been cut down a bit. It takes a really, really special film to hold my attention for two hours, and whilst I enjoyed this film, it ain’t two-hours-long-special.