‘Now You See Me’ Review

Some spoilers – so be warned!

Films like this are a brilliant way to pass a Sunday afternoon. Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenburg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco may not be the best film of the year, but it certainly is good fun. I think I smiled through the whole thing. There were a couple of plot holes (what happens to Michael Caine’s character? He just disappears! And Mark Ruffalo as FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes makes some conveniently bad decisions. Is there a point to the pictures on the tarot cards?), but most of the writing was really solid, with some great lines and come-backs, especially by Jesse Eisenburg’s characters, the smug J. Daniel Atlas.

I’ll admit that every time Mark Ruffalo was on screen, I half-expected the other characters to start referring to him as ‘Dr Banner’, and, when he gets really pissed-off (which is almost all of his scenes), to turn into a giant, green, rage-monster. He didn’t, of course, but you know how actors can look somewhat different when they are in different films? Well, he didn’t. Mr Ruffalo looked exactly as he does as Bruce Banner. Not that it really mattered. Perhaps I’m just too obsessed with Marvel!

Some people have commented on how some of the magic tricks (the main characters are all magicians of varying skill and speciality) are clearly CGI, but I thought that they were perhaps not possible in real-life, but certainly plausible. The film explains how most of the tricks are done – note, most and not all. The twist at the end of the film, answering the question of ‘who put the Four Horsemen together?’ is answered with a very good twist, which, I’ll admit, along with J. Daniel Atlas “I did not see that coming”. Of course, now that I know the twist, it makes a lot of things quite obvious, but still, they got me! The final line of the film is something along the lines of “Not everything has to be explained”, and indeed, in this film, it is not. But is that not what movie magic is all about? The magic? Well, this film has plenty of that.

★★★☆

PS: This is one of those films that was released in the rest of the world months ago, but it was only out in Australia this week. Annoying, but it happens quite a lot.

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The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine

I really liked this film. I thought I’d enjoy it (it is Marvel, after all), but I ended up enjoying The Wolverine even more than I thought I would. I also liked going into the cinema knowing little about what I was in for, having not seen the full version of the trailer, and having little idea of the plot, other than Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes to Asia and fights some ninjas. The only one of the X-Men films that I’ve seen is First Class (which I loved), and I’ve seen about half an hours’ worth of the first hour or so of X-Men (it was on TV the other week. I was flicking between that and At World’s End. Despite having AWE on DVD, I ended up watching that instead!). So I know a bit about the background/X-Men world, but I’m not as up with it as I am with the Avenger’s universe.

Also, it’s good to point out: Wolverine and X-Men, although Marvel, are owned by 20th Century Fox, whereas Disney has the rights to the rest of the Marvel Universe. So although there’s cross-over in the comic-books, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be a film cross-over (though I’d love to see Logan and Capt. Rogers swapping WWII stories).

The Wolverine

But back to The Wolverine.

Warning! There will now be spoilers below!

I thought that the basic storyline for The Wolverine was quite similar to that of  Iron Man 3, in that our hero (Logan/Tony Stark), is trying to recover from some pretty serious emotional/physical trauma. They have to let go of what happened, accept that it did, but now it has past. In the mean-time, some fights happen, some stuff gets blown up, and to conclude, they set things up for the future instalment of their respective franchises, be it X-Men: Days of Future Past or The Avengers: Age of Ultron (more on DoFP later).

The Wolverine

My fellow country-man Hugh Jackman was his usual buff self, spending a fair amount of the film shirtless or in just a singlet/vest, and sporting a rather Jean Valjean haircut in the opening scenes (before he is bathed and cleaned up by a couple of Japanese grannies, “I feel violated”). And I couldn’t help thinking that every time Mariko (Tao Okamoto) asked “who is Jean?”, Logan was going to break into “I’ve Jean Valjean!” Too much Les Mis for me, obviously.

There are a lot of fight scenes in this film. I think one about every 15 minutes wouldn’t be over-estimating! Logan is constantly fighting with ninjas or samurais or just general henchmen. The scene on top of the bullet-train is particularly good fun, as is the following scene, when Mariko and Logan end up hiding out in a ‘love hotel’, then getting some rather important assistance from a veterinary student. Most of the film followed the simple formula of: flashback, Jean-dream, plot development, fight scene, repeat. But heck, it was great fun.

The Wolverine

And of course, this being a Marvel film, you have to stay for the credits to get the extra scene at the end, which, in this case, was a MASSIVE set-up for DoFP. I can’t believe that after all these years, people STILL leave Marvel films before the end of the credits! Do they honestly not know that the extra scene is there? Anyway, in this scene, we see Logan at an airport. Suddenly, all the metal objects start wobbling – then bam! There’s Ian McKellen/Gandalf/Magneto behind him! But Magento wants Logan’s help. Logan’s all “F*** no.” But then we notice that everyone in the background has stopped moving, and out of the crowd wheels Patrick Steward/Charles Xavier! He tells Logan that they need his help, and he (Logan) has to help them.  Does it make me excited for DoFP? Oh yes.

★★★★

Photos from The Wolverine official website.

‘Man of Steel’ Review

Minor spoilers!

“A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.” – Warner Bros.

I have seen a lot of superhero films (by a lot, I mean pretty much all that have been released in the last five or so years), so when reviewing a film like Man of Steel, it’s up against some pretty tough competition. Generally, I’m more of a Marvel fan than DC, and Man of Steel isn’t going to go changing my views on that. It is a good film, but as far as superhero movies go, nothing overly special.

One thing I found this film to be lacking was any real emotion. I didn’t find that there were any big tear-jerker type scenes (think Loki’s “Letting Go” scene in Thor, when Peter Parker turns away Gwen near the end of The Amazing Spiderman or when Charles Xavier gets shot in X-Men: First Class). I did like the flashback scenes with young-Clark, showing how he struggled with being different whilst growing up, and also how he struggled to fit into society when he was grown.

Russell Crowe as Clark Kent’s biological dad Jor-El was the stand-out performer in this film. New-comer Henry Cavill looks and plays the role of Clark Kent extremely well, and you’d never guess that he was a Brit! Also, he is quite nice to look at 😉

There have been a lot of comments about the use of special effects almost taking away from the storyline, particularly in the final half-hour or so of this film. I’ll admit, there are a lot of special effects, but I found them placed throughout the film, so wasn’t worried about the huge amount at the end. The only thing that did bug me about the end of the film was the scale of the destruction. It was a bit too over-the-top for me really. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but it was almost like how I imagine London or one of the big cities in Germany would have looked if every bomb that hit them in WWII had hit within 24 hours. The scale of destruction was a bit too far-fetched. Despite that, the SFX are very well done.

The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer was good and suited the film perfectly, as all soundtracks by the great Mr Zimmer do. Clark Kent’s Superman suit is beautifully made, and looks a lot more grown-up that in other incarnations. Also, that red cape is amazing.

I probably will watch this film again when it’s out of DVD, but won’t be rushing to see it again.

★★★☆

Have you seen Man of Steel? What are your thoughts?

Photos from Hero Complex.

‘Monsters University’ Film Review

Minor spoilers!

Monsters University, or ‘MU’ as it’s referred to in the film itself, is, if nothing else, a lot of fun. It’s the prequel to Monsters Inc, the fantastic Pixar film from 2001, that we still have somewhere on video, and that my brothers and I watched over and over as kids. MU isn’t as much of an instant classic as Monsters Inc was, but it’s still good.

The story follows the young Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and how he meets and ultimately becomes friends with (and later the ultimate Scream Team with) Sulley (John Goodman).Mike and Sulley meet at MU, and from the moment they meet, cannot stand each other, but end up in Oozma Kapa (OK), the lowest of the fraternity houses. Along with their fellow OK brothers, they must compete in and win the Scare Games at the MU in order to get into the Scare Major at the University.

We are also see more of the background of Randal (Steve Buscemi). Other favourites making cameo appearances from Roz, Yeti and a number of the Scare Floor team that we see more of in Monsters Inc.

MU is just easy to watch, with it’s bright colours and simple, harmless storyline. There are a large number of references to things that will happen and that we see again in Monsters Inc, which are good fun to spot out. Nothing really intellectual, no real animation break-throughs, but a fun couple of hours out.

★★★

PS: It comes with the short animated film The Blue Umbrella, a sweet little film about inanimate objects coming alive in the big city when it begins to rain, and how they help the Blue Umbrella find his love, the Red Umbrella. I didn’t know this was going to be at the start of MU, and it’s certainly different to see this sort of thing, but perhaps we need more of it at the cinema.

The Great Gatsby Review

This film has received quite mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. However, I’ve got no idea what it was actually about. I haven’t read the book, which I will now add to my list of books to read, so perhaps that’s why. I know that things happened in the film, and I understand the storyline, but, what was it actually about?? I don’t know.

The acting was passable. Leonardo DiCaprio was definitely the stand-out cast member. Poor man looked like he just needed a hug, really. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy was a bit  – insipid? Completely lacking strength of character? Perhaps Daisy is supposed to be like that. Tobey Maguire was good as Nick Carroway, though I couldn’t help thinking of Mary Poppins saying “Close your mouth, please, Michael. We are not a codfish.” Joel Edgerton made a good bully.

The technical aspects of the film I thought were quite good, especially the costumes, beautiful Art-Deco sets and scenery, and the score. I though how the music was edited was wonderfully done. I know that’s a feature of the Baz Luhrmann films to have the modern music, and I really believe the made it work. Also, props to whichever company did the credits. I saw the film in 2D, but on the big screen, they still looked pretty amazing.

One thing that annoyed me in regard to the costumes was that no one dressed for dinner. Perhaps someone can fill me in here, but, at that time in England, everyone was still dressing for dinner, and you would definitely NOT show up to an evening party in a boater hat. Was it that much more casual in the States, or was this aspect just ignored? So yes, I liked the costumes, especially in the party scenes; I’m just not sure how historically correct they all were.  Daisy’s headband at the party was brilliant, and my favourite accessory. My favourite costume was Jordan’s black party dress.

Overall, I would recommend this film, even if just to see what all the hype is about. Enjoy the parties, Gatsby’s fantastical house, the flappers, the fireworks, the drink, but no need to think too much. And don’t ask questions either. The character’s do enough of that. If you still don’t get it (as I don’t), probably just read the book to see if that makes things any clearer (as I will).

(Picture belongs to Warner Bros).