I'm a freelance illustrator from Warrington, England and i'll watch just about anything bar slashers and musicals. Massive Simpsons Fan and a lover off all things animation in general
You got a question ask away.
(Agree with RT meter 78.2% of the time)
One of the characters at some point in this film says "Have you come to stroke your cock". A phrase that embodies everything this film is, self-indulgent nudity and violence with macho men screaming at the top of their lungs. Some might argue "Come on, it's a bit of fun!". While that could be said about the original '300', 'Rise Of An Empire' contains none of the visual flair or enough interesting action for me to agree.
It's evident from the beginning what was in store for me. Opening with narration and a myriad of slow motion slaughters is pretty telling. It continues the story on of '300' using the same timeline but focusing on a different part. This time we get to see 'Athens' and the invasion of the Persian army from their point of view. With 'Themistokles' (Sullivan Stapelton) taking the central character and general of the Athenian army. Which would be fine as it is, with just recounting what happens. But it unfortunately gets caught up with over-long origin stories of 'Xerxes' (Rodrigo Santoro) and 'Artemisia' (Eva Green).
For want of a better word this is a 'bro' film. It's story is that of a simple war with fantastical elements that fit fairly well. The reason why the previous film was pretty well received and reached cult status is because of its stylistic choice - and it's trimmed straight to the point story. Which is why this won't reach that status the sequel has been stripped of all style, shot as normal as possible no lighting trickery or visual interest. Another reason and is just as important is 'Gerard Butler' he had a fierce presence and growl, a believable general. 'Stapleton' does a good job with the threat bare script (that has some laughable lines) but ultimately fails to deliver any strong characteristics to the cardboard character. In fact the only one that has crafted a personality strong enough to stand out is 'Green', 'Artemisia' is a ruthless, caustic and deceptive character.
Usually with a brain-dead flick that shoots for pure carnage there's something to enjoy, something at the end of the tunnel. here however there isn't, it's early obsession with slow-mo garnered gowns from me. The constant blood spilling is tiresome and the dialogue for most of the time is severely poor. I wanted to like this film, just like the previous but I couldn't. There's stupid fun and then there's monotonously stupid.
Even though I didn't much are for the original 'film' that at least differentiated itself from the crowd. With its sequel everything is flat, dull and worse of all monotonous in everything it does. Unnecessary nudity, too much violence (even for this film) and a hero with no discernible personality. The only interesting thing in the film is stagnated thanks to everything else around her. I wouldn't even recommend this to die-hard '300' fans. If you're looking for more of what the first offered don't watch it, it'll only annoy you.
"I'm trying to hijack this plane, I'm trying to save it!".
At this point it's hardly surprising that 'Liam Neeson' has once again thrust himself into the hard-edged gritty protagonist. At the same time it's strange, after all who would have thought the man playing 'Schindler' would become the biggest action star - and at 61 to boot. Even though his most prolific venture into action-thriller isn't my cup of tea, he sure has staying power and with his newest one 'Non-Stop' he's found one for me.
He plays 'Bill Marks' an air-marshal who receives a series of threatening text messages saying - every 20 minutes someone will die. Tension is vital and it does a great job building it up, partly helped by the confines of a plane. With a scope of 200 possible suspects but still difficult to find in an enclosed space ramps things up. It's probably its greatest asset the use of the aircraft is brilliant and heightened by the shifting finger pointing of 'Bill'. It really keeps you guessing as it constantly shifts the blame and in a realistic manner that makes the discovery not to easy but not by accident either. 'Bill'gets lost in it all and shifts his blame with the slightest of new info at people he considered trustworthy and "couldn't possibly be doing it". At times this doesn't always come off but most of the time it does.
Accompanied by the lively 'Julianne Moore' as 'Jen Summers' they develop a bond - that on the face of it was probably a love interest at one point in the script. There are a lot of unknowns in the film which always helps putting in a big guest star usually blows everything. As things escalate and things are revealed it hits a high point of just before the reveal of what is going on. But then it falls flat and the reasons behind this attack are confusing and vague. It's connected with nothing mentioned in the film until that point making all the tension and guessing a disappointment. The attackers aren't arbitrary (as such) they're just totally left field and cheap. It's such a shame because prior to the end everything was excellent - I still enjoyed it just not to the extent I could have.
Neeson's best action thriller to date, a good film hampered by a poorly executed and disastrous ending. When you're a guessing game you're expecting the outcome to make sense and come from prior knowledge. Still it was definitely worth watching for the tension and guessing alone, would I watch it again?. Probably not, unless I forgot what happened. Fans of 'Neeson' will love it and may just become a fan favourite, it nearly was for me - shame about that ending.
Nazi Germany is very much overused in film, it's interesting and horrible point in history that can be sued to heighten whatever the story is. But that also comes with the possibility of cheapening the setting, using it to further a struggle can seem forceful. That was my fear with 'The Book Thief', however the base of the story does lend itself to this setting.
'Liesel'(Sophie Neliese) is adopted by 'Hans'(Geoffrey Rush) and 'Rosa'(Emily Watson) after her mother gives her up. Things escalate when 'Max'(Ben Schnetzer) a Jew who is in hiding turns up and out of Hans past he hides him. 'Liesel' shares some common ground with 'Max' and they begin to bond it comes off as natural and is probably the best thing about the film. For all its effort in the setting the story seems safe in its handling of Nazi Germany. There are films that go even further (such as the recent 'Monuments Men') and in some films cases I understand when its lightly woven in as its not eh focus. But here it's an important part you can't use the story without the setting, it wouldn't work at all.
There are moments where it momentarily removes the shackles and shows some of the tyranny of the time period - with the beatings and in a different sense the book burning. The majority of the film follows 'Liesel' as she develops these friendships and ultimately loses each of them in some manor. She develops a love of books along side everything - it's not really at the front of things. Her reading and descriptions of the day outside keep 'Max' going while he recovers. but with all the different things going, 'Hans' her school 'Rudy' I couldn't help thinking a TV series would have been more in-line here. All these things are interesting on the surface but the film never really sticks any of them out long enough.
There a smorgasbord of talent on show 'Rush', 'Watson', 'Neliese' everyone is giving it their all and spending time with these characters is interesting on its own but there is only so much this can do. The streets being paved with Nazi flags appears to make us sure we know where we are and the severity of the place. Yet other than one scene that seems to all but fade into background noise, something I found odd hammering home where we are then letting it go (better served to place it throughout rather than top heavy).
'The Book Thief' for all its efforts of a great cast, interesting starting point and serious setting never commits with any of them. It watches like a light version afraid to show more of the Nazi's agenda would take away from it - when it would add to the situation. Momentarily giving glimpses of different situations but never following through with any of them. It's 2hr 10 minute length may be a tad too much for some as well. There are worse ways of spending your cinema money but there are also better. For those who don't want the weight and full force that the setting should have - a breezy decent version.
'Woody Grant' (Bruce Dern) is an old unhappy and rather empty man. He doesn't have much, his entire family see him as a reliability and joke - and his friends no better. So when the opportunity comes that he may have won $1 million dollars - he is adamant its real and he's going to get. Even when he's told time and time again its a scam, it's something he wants/must believe.
At the start of the film it paints him as a stubborn drunk - a man that isn't a particularly good dad or husband. But as things go on and 'David Grant' (Will Forte) begins to really get to know his dad, we learn this guy has had a hard life. And that's what the film is about a man looking for something to shout about and to feel good. All he wants is a truck and an air compressor. He was in the Korean war, possibly forced into his marriage and forever pleasing others while they screw him over. Granted not all this is shown outright as most is in the past but its clear from the actions of his family - loving wife despite her mean disposition.
Much like 'Inside Llewyn Davis' this is a film about a real person in a crappy life (granted in a different form). It's a simple story at heart but with a complex edge to it. Partly thanks to a stunningly quiet and thoughtful performance from 'Dern' and the wonderful original script. Both a beautiful film set in black and White an ugly one thanks to desolate towns that look ready for a tumbleweed to roll through. It has the perfect balance that removing the colour helps as well as putting more emphasis on Woody as a persona and his state of mind.
Not only is it poignant and nice to look at its down right hilarious. 'June Squibb' who plays 'Kate', Woody's is on fine form with nearly every word out of her mouth getting a laugh. She delivers things with a quick blunt way elevated by the tone of her voice. Not only her but Woody himself, his friends the two creepy nephews. It's largely surprising how funny this film is and its not as if there are large gaps where it takes a break. The best thing is how its able to balance all its plates at once, and with such success. There are moments of pure shock, poignant and hilarity in one.
'The Descendants' was a great film and I doubted 'Alexander Payne' could better that effort but he has and by some distance. A thoughtful, sad, hilarious and happy film that has joined the huge list of mesmerizing films of 2013. Its cinematography, its cast the script everything is carefully selected and perfectly so. I expected to like it but not love it, not just one of the year but it'll be one to add to my all time greats.
With war stories such as this one there comes a degree of responsibility. Not just the people involved but the events themselves. Something like this that tackles an important historical event deserves more care than most. And something that's only recently been widely regarded makes it more so. That's not say I object to liberties twisting a few thing is fine as long as the core of what happens and these characters, men stay intact.
Now I'm guessing you're thinking I'm going to rip this a new one what with the above paragraph, but for the most part I actually enjoyed it. While the film from what little I know doesn't tell the whole story, it takes a decent go at it. There are plenty of problems with it, mostly down to the tone and how it all feels like the 'light' version of events. Bumping up the age rating would have allowed for a better and more detailed look. 'The Monuments Men' are tasked with finding and rescuing art that 'Hitler' stole during world war II. There's 3 or 4 Americans a Frenchman and an Englishman. At this point its hardly surprising Hollywood outnumbers everyone with their own kind, its to be expected to a degree.
That doesn't matter so much as the telling of the story - but for a group of art lovers there's next to none mention of art in an form. Don't get me wrong the best aspect of the film is the banter between these witty and grumpy old men - but art scholars not talking about art?. There are some interesting moments but none seem to gel or appear to be from the same film. It doesn't know what it wants to be, parts suggest a heist film, others a road trip. Glancing over the serious nature of the subject and the war is something I don't understand. Authenticity is key, the settings were fine, the costumes were fine, the story was fine. But fine shouldn't be what its aiming for, it needed an extra push.
'Clooney' delivers his first slight miss-fire as a director with this (and yep I'm using it again) 'light' version of events. Getting as many to see it, as its important is great but at the cost of the truth and the real characters isn't the way to go. However, the back and forth between this excellent cast, the acting and getting even a small glimpse at this event is worth watching.