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Money Monster tells the story of Lee Gates (George Clooney); the charismatic host of the financial TV show; Money Monster. After Gates tells his viewers to invest in IBIS Clear Capital, the company experiences a 'glitch' in its logarithm and its stocks plummet; costing shareholders $800 million. But not everyone is satisfied with this explanation. Holding Gates responsible, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) sneaks onto the live show's set and holds Gates hostage; armed with a gun and a bomb vest strapped to Lee. He invested his entire life savings in IBIS and he wants an explanation for his loss. All broadcasted to the world on Live TV, Lee and his director Patty (Julia Roberts) must get to the bottom of the financial crisis before the gunman completes the unthinkable. Espionage, danger, and corruption ensues as everyone does their best to deal with this delicate situation before it's too late...
I know some of you will be turned off watching this movie due to the financial jargon, and while it would be beneficial to have knowledge of such jargon before you watch this movie, it isn't compulsory to still gain some enjoyment from this film. It beautifully captures the outrage of a stock market collapse combined with the delicacy and tactics of a hostage situation. However, I feel as though Clooney's natural charisma and lighthearted disposition takes away from this delicate situation a little, appearing somewhat too calm under pressure and therefore lowered the stakes. There's also a reveal about 2 thirds into the movie that decreases tension as well, but from the exterior stays the same. What works best for a movie like this is the tense ambience that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, and sometimes it went astray from this central ideal. That was where the plot lost me. But when it does have those tense sequences, boy do they do it well... There were also some moments when the plot moved a little slow. This could've been fixed.
The main cast was few but quality; George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West, and Giancarlo Esposito were among those involved. Julia Roberts was PERFECTION. By far the stand-out in this one. She had the perfect manner for someone who would have been dealing with a situation like this in a role like hers if it were to happen in 'real life'. Fantastic. The others all performed, I think, to their expected standards. Clooney, to his credit, expanded his repertoire for this role, but you can definitely see the normal Clooney shining through. I appreciate the effort by Director Foster to blend together differing genres of Comedy and Drama/ mystery. But unfortunately, unlike the unusual blend of Comedy and Horror in The Visit, it didn't work in this form. It degraded the dramatic appeal of the film which was stellar at times.
The script, soundtrack, and cinematography were all very good and contributed to that tense and dramatic ambience that audiences feed off of. With some luck there will be some award nominations- it certainly deserves a few. To improve, less focus on trying to maintain a lighthearted ambience within a very serious situation, and try to invent more fresh plot twists to invigorate the drama and keep the plot moving quickly. The movie's underlying purpose I feel was to send a message about financial decisions to the target audiences while blending it into an engaging storyline. This was successful, I walked away from this movie knowing that corruption is everywhere and that I should spend my money wisely.
To finish, I enjoyed this movie a lot. It had some fantastic elements and strengths, but the biggest thing for me as I've already stated that brings down this movie is the attempt to forcefully blend wildly contrasting genres and their moods into this film. Some characters were nonchalant while others were deadly serious. This movie needed to focus all its energy on its strength; dramatic tension.
The Conjuring 2 revisits the world of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farming) Warren- paranormal activity investigators and lecturers. They're stuck in a period when the world is throwing their incredulity of their occupation at them, and combined with a haunting premonition that Lorraine has of Ed's demise, leads them to retire from ghost investigations. Meanwhile in London, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) and her 4 children begin to experience a demonic presence communicating through daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe). Terrified and overwhelmed, the family resort to employing the help of the Warrens, who are reluctantly plunged into the dangerous world of demons and ghosts. But with no definitive evidence of the ghost's presence, the Warrens, along with friends, family, and the media begin to question just how real this threat is... Chaos, manipulation, and uncertainty ensues as the Warrens tackle their most frightening case yet...
Now, I must say I was reluctant to see this movie, because I obviously get scared by horror movies (dur) and the only sessions were at 9:40pm every night... But, I knew my audience would want it, and so I gritted my teeth, and stepped into the movie theatre. I hope you guys know the sacrifices I make for you!
But I walked out of the theatre very impressed. I don't have LOADS of horror movie experience, but what I do know is that most of them have one priority only- to scare the audience. While this was definitely present in this movie, I was pleasantly surprised at how layered and intricate the plot and characters were. Australia's own James Wan directed this movie and I must give a standing ovation for the job he did here. Bravo. I don't think I trust many other horror directors aside from him. The cinematography of this film was genius and flawlessly executed, and was probably the scariest part of the movie! The use of wide shots and a slowly panning camera back and forth from a source of horror was brilliant! And this was fantastically complimented by the set design, extensive use of props, and the eerie and enigmatic lighting. Roughly half the time something would emerge from the darkness or from behind the props, while the other half of the time, nothing would happen, but the anticipation was what scared viewers. I would not be surprised if Wan or the cinematography team were nominated for an Oscar. Look out for the scene where Janet is being interviewed by Ed Warren- the camerawork really shines there, you'll know what I mean.
And that wasn't the only source of fright for viewers. It just didn't stop throughout almost the entire movie. By the end, however, it kind of lost its initial effect. Maybe I just became more acclimatised to it. And of course I have to address the biggest cliche plot convenience in all horror films- walking TOWARDS the source of the horror. Why? Just why? There was one scene however when an entire family, after being scared enough, sprinted out of their house to the neighbours next door. I thought 'that was the most sensible thing anyone has done in a horror movie'. Anyway, to the plot! I did like the spin they put on that the whole thing could be a hoax concocted by a bored girl (which was an element present in the true story of this case), and exploring that from different perspectives. It's something that the world deals with all the time- skepticism. And that element was used deftly in a plot twist that invigorated the storyline when it needed it most. For those wondering, the actual events of this case are dramatised significantly to make the finished product. I've seen the real evidence, and I'm still not convinced that any of it was real. The poignant tone at the end of the Conjuring movies is something that I both hate and like at the same time. Yes, it gives the franchise some originality, brings some themes to the table, and makes the plot more intricate, but at the end of the day, this is a HORROR MOVIE. I want to walk out of the cinema shaking, but the 'and they lived happily ever after' takes some of that away. That's where I feel a franchise like Paranormal Activity trumps The Conjuring.
The cast has familiar faces Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, with new guys Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Simon Delaney among others. Not many horror films have names you might recognise. Farmiga's and Wolfe's performances were the stand-outs in this movie, with the ensemble cast performing valiantly as well. Wilson and his character were a bit too fearless for me. I loved Wilson and Farmiga's cute chemistry. It was a nice, light element to bring to the table. Speaking of, genres included action, horror, thriller, mystery, and romance, while themes were family, unity, incredulity, and the media. The costuming and production value was done well, and special effects were fine except for the 'Crooked man' sequence (contained animation)- not sure I liked that very much...
The running time was pretty long, but it felt like a journey because of the character development and how I was engaged. The soundtrack and sound editing was effective in the way it was intelligently used, and a sequel is definitely possible- the Warrens have a fair amount of source material to draw from. You don't need to have seen the original or Annabelle to enjoy this one, but you will have a greater appreciation of it if you have.
To conclude, it could be improved through less of a happy ending- even if its just one shot at the end or the possibility of a reawakening force, and more thriller elements- in terms of the villains credibility- to really solidify the fear in the audience. But, I judge a good movie on how it stimulates emotions, and there were definitely some emotions brewing inside me!
Central Intelligence visits the world of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart)- the most-popular-guy-in-school turned accountant who is struggling to cope with the regrets he adopted since high school, especially since his reunion is coming up. But all that changes when he reunites with Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), a bullied boy he helped once during high school and who still admires Calvin. By no choice of his own, Calvin is thrown into a world of espionage and danger to help Bob save the world and stop the bad guys, all while being hunted by the CIA. But is Bob really the good guy? Hilarity ensues as friendships are tested, people are put in danger, and Calvin has the most exhilarating experience of his life as the world learns what happens when you bully someone...
Alright, raise your hand if you DON'T want to see a comedy movie starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Yeah, I didn't think so. After seeing the trailer, I couldn't wait for this movie! What a pairing! And they, of course, performed to standard with fantastic chemistry between them! Their main source of comedy was Hart's character explicitly expressing several dozen times during the movie that he does NOT want to be a part of Johnson's character's secret mission, with Johnson's character just ignoring him and getting him involved anyway. I probably don't do it justice, but they are a great comedy duo. For some, the humour will fall below par, but that's a personal preference. That's definitely the best part of the movie. You probably see most of the highlights in the trailers if you watched them, but there is still some new humour to be found. But don't be fooled, this is also a spy/mystery movie.
The audience, like Hart's character, is unsure of how much trust should be placed in Johnson's character. Is he CIA? Is he bad? Why is he wanted? And without any spoilers, evidence for both sides pop up which makes Bob Stone an enigma! This was an element that I really enjoyed. This movie had its downfalls in its plot conveniences and use of cliches. Sure, the actual storyline is original, but the formatting and style with which its executed has been done to death. And do you really expect us to believe that a small black man completely overwhelmed by the situation he is in can fight trained gunmen and handle firearms himself with his only experience being from limited observation? No. And Dwayne Johnson is a big target, he cannot dodge every bullet.
The cast includes Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul, Ryan Hansen, and Tim Griffin. Some impressive comedic stars here, but make no mistake, its the Hart-Johnson duo that's front and centre here, and as I've already said, their relationship is great! The other characters are barely more than extras and they weren't at all memorable. The themes include friendship, karma, revenge, trauma, and sacrifice among others. The special effects could be mediocre at times, but I was kept engaged through the balanced blend of comedy, action, adventure, and the intriguing characters. The atmosphere fluctuated along with Johnson's character's tone- serious to weirdly excited and cavalier. I'm not sure how much I liked this, but it only widened the demographics of this movie so that more people can enjoy it.
Director Marshall Thurber has had plenty of experience with Comedy films- through the likes of Dodgeball and We're the Millers, he delivers up to standard. You can trust this guy's credibility. To improve however, he could've strayed from the cliches and poor plot conveniences, and maybe varied the humour a little more. Did I mention this whole storyline was finished within a day?
To conclude, this movie did well as a buddy cop movie. It definitely isn't the best movie I've ever seen, but the combination of humour and action will engage. It's another guilty pleasure movie and so the rewatchability level is HIGH.
*Stick around during the credits for a look at the Blooper Reel*
See more reviews like this at chrisbreviews.blogspot.com
Finding Dory is set 1 year after the events of Finding Nemo, and our familiar fish faces Nemo (Hayden Rolence), father Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres)- the blue tang with short-term memory loss- have settled into normal life at the reef. Dory's memory is infuriating everyone, including herself- and she's struggling to find a role in sea life. But one day, she regains some memories of her family and is determined to find them. But she knows she can't do it alone. Accompanied by Nemo and-reluctantly- Marlin, she must once again make her way across the ocean navigated only by sporadic memories of her childhood to find her parents. But it won't be easy. Along the way she encounters old friends, new creatures, and no shortage of obstacles between her and being reunited with her family. But is this journey futile, or just too impossible?
13 years. 13 years we have been waiting for this movie. And may I just applaud Pixar on such a smart way of making money. Now you've got all the people who were kids when they saw Nemo, all the parents who saw it with them, all the current kids who can see this one, and all the current parents, plus all the others who are just interested in the movie. That's a lot more of an audience than you would normally get for the average children's film. Pixar have released amazing films that are fantastic in giving you the feels and providing quality animated movies. They have received an impressive 30 nominations and 11 wins at the Academy Awards, but they haven't faired so well in two out of three sequels they've made. This combination of reputations gave me both excitement and weariness going into this movie. The trailers didn't look so good as well. The verdict?...SUCCESS!! Thank God! Pixar is back on track!
This film was the definition of 'a rollercoaster of emotions'. Fear, sadness, desperation, admiration, happiness, laughter, ecstasy, hysteria, and tears (of both happiness and sadness) could be seen by the people sitting next to me in the theatre. That is what I believe composes a quality film. The plot was well-designed and crafted- even if in their journey they go around in circles a little bit- and wastes no time getting underway in the beginning. There is a bit of back and forth between flashbacks and reality, which got annoying after a while, and those emotions I was talking about before were not sustained consistently throughout the movie. They existed in small pockets, especially so nearer to the climax(es) of this movie. This could easily be a source of boredom. And then there's Dory herself. You either love her or hate her. When the movie started, Dory was doing her whole 'sorry, I forgot' routine every 5 seconds and I groaned thinking; 'is this really going to be the whole movie?' but luckily it's not, but it's definitely there. Just enough so that you accept that its a character trait, not an annoyance. And one last thing about plot conveniences, HOW DOES NOBODY SEE THIS OCTOPUS CLEARLY MOVING INFRONT OF YOU??? (more of him in a second...)
The cast has a lot of familiar faces- especially if you've seen Modern Family- including old faces Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Andrew Stanton and Bob Peterson among others meeting new faces Ed O'Neil, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Sloane Murray, Idris Elba, and Dominic West. All the voicing was excellent, with DeGeneres demonstrating more of an emotional range. We got to see some solid character development from all our characters, but I would've liked to see some more depth from Hank the octopus- who was one of my favourite new additions- as cruel as he is stealthy- able to hide in plain sight and pull off some daring escapes without being seen due to his dexterity and ability to camouflage, however, I loved all the new additions!!
Themes include family, belonging, uniqueness, friendship, and loyalty. As usual, there's plenty of morals here for the kids to live by. The animation was up to its great standard, and the cinematography was fantastic, along with Stanton and McLane's directing. In terms of engagement, my attention was lost sometimes, but most of the time, I was thoroughly engaged by the storyline, characters, blending of genres and spectacular animation. The ending, however, I felt was a little too long. Poignant, but tedious. No cliches here either, another unique Pixar film. The tone was simultaneously emotional yet lighthearted due to the way the proceedings occur. I expect some Oscar nominations from this movie.
You should probably watch Finding Nemo to get some context of the characters, but it isn't a necessity. They make some references to the original which is good for nostalgic purposes. To improve, sustain the emotive scenes and engaging qualities over the entire film for better engagement, and the running time probably could've been cut down.
In conclusion, while this film wasn't as good as Finding Nemo, it was a worthy successor to the childhood classic, and will be known as a childhood classic for generations to come. Another worthy addition to Pixar's impressive collection. Bravo, Pixar. See more reviews at chrisbreviews.blogspot.com
Now You See Me 2 revisits the world of the Four Horsemen- comprising of Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and Lula (Lizzy Caplan)- the magician 'Robin Hoods'. But after a show goes wrong, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is exposed to be a double agent for the Horsemen, and the group flee into unknown circumstances. They are captured by rich tech genius Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) and forced to steal an ingenious piece of computer software. The Horsemen find themselves out of their comfort zones as they realise that their new enemy is always one step ahead. Together, they must use their skills and deception to turn the tables and expose Walter as the criminal he truly is. Old enemies resurface, betrayals are made, revenge is served, and emotional bonds are formed and broken as the Horsemen struggle with who to trust and how to stay alive...
The Now You See Me franchise, I must admit, is a guilty pleasure of mine. It may not be of the best quality but I'm a sucker for magic and layered, genius plans that constantly keep you guessing, so these films are perfect for me. But in this movie, that whole concept goes out the window. Yes, in some parts there are layered plans and you don't know who has the upper hand, but for the most part the Horsemen are fish out of water, and while it was refreshing at times, that is where this film was worse than the original. They tried to deliver some plot twists to keep it exciting and unexpected, but my two reactions to these were either 'meh, I could see that happening' or 'oh, ok' and then I just rolled with it. None of the plot twists really made me do a double take- a pretty poor replication of the fantastic twists in the first film, and there was one or two that took away from the movie's events, like- they were on their side the whole time? Really? My favourite sequence by far in this movie though involved a card. Just one card. If you've seen the movie you'll know what I'm talking about, but until then, keep an eye out for that card sequence. It was AWESOME!!! Even though some of it was a little fake, I still enjoyed it immensely!
The cast and characters! VERY interesting! While I love most of the big names in these movies, many argue that it is oversaturated, and that may be true, but it didn't bother me aside from the fact that they tried to give everyone their own portion of screen time, even if they didn't need it. The returning cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and David Warshofsky with new faces Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, and Sanaa Lathan among other secondary characters. You might notice the absence of Isla Fisher who appeared in the first one as Henley Reeves- the original female horseman. Well, she's pregnant so they made up some mediocre excuse for her character's absence and replaced her with the much more annoying Caplan. There was one character though which was just UNNECESSARY AND I'M ANGRY AT WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THE IDEA; Merritt McKinney's 'identical twin' (also played by Harrelson). He was outrageously irritating. Waste of screen time and my time. Not integral to the plot, could've easily been cut out. Everybody else performed to their expected standard, and I really liked Radcliffe as the villain! It's good to see he's breaking out of that 'Harry Potter' cage. They also tried to create a love story between Franco's and Caplan's characters- but this was very much forced and underdeveloped.
The tone of this movie was something else I really liked; it was a lot more brutal and gritty this time round. Every character has their own motivation for the actions they take and the antagonists of this movie are out for blood. The stakes have risen. In the first movie, the Horsemen were evading capture, now they are evading death! At times, it gets really intense and even scary! That was an element that overcame the original for me. Themes addressed in this movie was family, trust, revenge, love, betrayal, and death.
Now, for there to be lots of magic tricks in this movie (which were impressive), there needed to be some good special effects for the tricks which weren't so convincing and organic, and sometimes that sadly fell below par. Another sequel is reportedly in the works- no release date yet, but I personally don't think it's necessary. But if you've got a good storyline... you've done well so far, so why not? The soundtrack was pretty much renewed from the first one (which was pretty perfect), but could be perceived as a little lazy. It perfectly captures the wonder and enigma of a magic trick and is always a good tune to walk away from a successful heist with. You should probably have a good idea of the first one to be able to fully enjoy this movie, but enjoyment can still be found with no knowledge of previous instalments.
To improve, some character development of these characters and their relationships would be nice, and get rid of the unnecessary auxiliary characters who don't have much of a role (i.e. the FBI, and random twin). Maybe work on the ending not being an 'and they lived happily ever after' moment? And I also didn't like the style with which the logic behind the tricks were revealed this time round. That could be more natural.
To finish, this film wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be and I really had a good time! While it's not a high quality film, it's very entertaining and likes to keep you guessing, which made up a lot of slack in my final rating. I would strongly recommend this movie.