Everest (2015) Film Review


Based on the wonderful book Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, Everest tells of the tragic story of one season where several expeditions fell into tragedy. It follows two of the main adventure tourist groups who work together to reach the mount despite having to compete with a variety of other groups. Then they are hit by some disastrous weather and many of the climbers die.

It had been several years since I read the book, so I couldn’t quite remember the fates of the various different characters. None-the-less, I knew bad things were going to happen, and this did not make things any less tense. Plus, the cinematography is spectacular – I am aware that it is a combination of computer graphics and real shots, but it was just stunning. Oh, and the variety of different actors with their fabulous New Zealand accents – I loved that bit!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Film Review


A large amount of the world’s population has been wiped out by the virus created in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes have created a society in the hills by the dam. But when humans arrive, ten years since they last had contact with the apes, both humans and apes feel threatened.

It is most certainly an extremely stunning film, with fabulous effects that worked extremely well in 3D. I’m not sure if it is just me, but I really love a good, big story with some awesome betrayal. Can the two species find a way to live together, or will the betrayal of each side mean the end? And while the story is satisfactorily ended for this chapter, it is way open for another film in a few more years. I hope. With lots of cool battle scenes.

One further note: I think there is nothing quite so cool as seeing Maurice the Orangutan riding a horse.

White House Down (2013) Film Review


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.

Lawless (2012) Film Review


The Bondurant brothers are bootleggers working in rural Virginia, managing stills in the hills and running spirits into towns. Legend is that the brothers are indestructible, which seems likely during several of the particularly violent and gory scenes in this exceptionally violent and gory film. Things are going well for the Bondurant brothers, with young Jack (Shia LaBeouf) finally stepping up into the business. Then there is a new lawman in town – the ever-creepy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) and things getting rapidly worse.

I am currently addicted to Boardwalk Empire and have been enjoying the Ken Burns documentary on the prohibition that’s been playing on SBS. It was great to see the other side of the prohibition, especially tied in with aspects of the depression. But it wasn’t the plot that made the film for me. It was the characters. In many ways, Jack was the weak link of the characters. I didn’t want him to get cocky. He spent his life not living up to his brothers, and I just wanted him to do what he needed to and not be an idiot. But, without him being an idiot, it would have been a different story. It just seemed a bit clichéd to have one character’s arrogance bring down the whole story. The annoyingness of Jack was by far outweighed by the other marvelous characters, most notably for me, Charlie Rakes. Guy Pearce looks incredibly creepy in this role, with his shaved parting and his foppish suits, but it was the coldness behind his camp behaviour that made him the evil character that he was. In direct contrast was Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Forrest Bondurant. Straight talking, when he talked. A man with no airs, no graces and certainly no bullshit. Yet he was the criminal that the audience sided with and loved.

Lawless looks into a time in the world where people were struggling and the line between legal and moral was blurred.  It’s a great yarn. Enjoy it.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) FIlm Review


Osama Bin Laden was a bad guy; the terrorist leader who was behind the September 11 attacks on the US. He then became the face of the war on terror. He was hiding in a compound in Pakistan that was raided by US Marines and he was killed. Zero Dark Thirty is the story of how this came about.

As with most films based on reality, it’s hard to judge what is strictly fact and what has been changed for dramatic effect. It doesn’t shy away from some of the ugly truths of the war – the detention and torture of suspected terrorists, including waterboarding. It’s certainly not an easy film to watch; although, I was expecting worse. I went into the film with memories of director Katherine Bigalow’s previous, Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker. That film almost killed me. There was a tension that had me on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth and waiting for something awful to happen. In Zero Dark Thirty, awful things happened, but I didn’t really have the same emotional connection to it. It’s a strong film; long, but it didn’t drag for me. It actually felt to me like a weaker version of Homeland, the television show.

It’s probably a shame that this has come out in the same year as Argo, which I think has taken a similar type of story but told it in a much stronger way.

Jessica Chastain has been nominated for a Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar, won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated for a BAFTA for Leading Actress

Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg have been nominated for an Oscar for Editing and were nominated for a BAFTA for Editing

Zero Dark Thirty has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Film, a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Film

Paul N.J. Ottosson has been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Editing

Mark Boal has been nominated for an Oscar for Writing (Original Screenplay), a Golden Globe for Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay

Kathryn Bigelow was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Director