Terence Young returned to direct the second Eon produced Bond film and he seems to have learned from his first entry “Dr. No”. That film itself was by no means a disaster but instead a tepid achievement that contained many characteristics that would be associated with James Bond in the future but not quite fully formed. “Dr. No” didn’t even have the character of Q to distribute to Bond his gadgets for the mission. “From Russia With Love” takes the foundations lade down by its predecessor and improves it in virtually every way. This film makes me excited to continue watching the Bond series in its entirety.
I can’t really recall a time that this has happened before. I have heard of sequels improving on the original before (“Spider-Man 2”, “Goldfinger”, even “Kill Bill Vol.2” as just a few debatable examples) but never to this degree. “The Raid: Redemption” was one of the most beloved action films to have come out in the past few years, and it took many by surprise as it was indeed a low budget foreign film that found significant success overseas. It’s no secret, I hated it, and I still do. I could see why people loved it but it wasn’t for me because people loved it for only one reason, the action. The problem was that if you weren’t a hardcore action — with an emphasis on martial arts — fan then there is almost nothing to enjoy. I can gladly say that Gareth Evans has increased his scope and made a truly stunning martial arts film, that improves on literally everything the original did. I mean it, there is not one thing worse.
What can I say? People know by this point that “The Hobbit” trilogy isn’t my cup of tea. Yeah they’re OK, but people want more than that, and they get upset when I have less to give them — which I most certainly do. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the end of the cinematic universe of Tolkien for the foreseeable future due to issues with the Tolkien estate in securing rights to Tolkien’s other works (Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R.’s son, hates these films unequivocally). I’ll say this to accommodate Hobbit lovers as well as people more akin to my taste. “The Battle of the Five Armies” is again over padded — even though it is the shortest of the six Peter Jackson films — and it still oozes CGI where it isn’t always need, even more so actually. However, it is the best of the Hobbit trilogy so if you enjoyed those, best start emptying your wallets.
Many complained of the pacing issues with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — Peter Jackson’s first part of the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings”– and I can’t say I disagree. I do not agree with the general opinion that the initial films first half was the issue, no. As far as I’m concerned as soon as Bilbo Baggins left the wonderfully well adapted version of The Shire and the film began to descend into its second half, “An Unexpected Journey” seemed to lose its way. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” seeks to resolve these issues by thrusting us right into the action, but then expects us to carry on caring until the credits roll and we are expected to empty our wallets for the next one. An unfortunate mistake.
(Note: This film is going to fill you in on previous events from the first movie. I suggest you watch the first film otherwise you’ll spend much of this one in confusion I would think. The first one is also better.)
I’m yet to watch “21 Jump Street” again since it came out and actually review it, but I’ll say that when I did see it I thought it was actually a surprise in terms of how good it was, I really enjoyed it. The fact that no one truly expected “21” to be worthwhile is made fun of in “22 Jump Street” in quite an amusing way… Along with the fact that “22” is a sequel to a teen movie, and that the headquarters has conveniently moved across the street to accommodate the numerical adjustment to the title. The point is, the movie enjoys mocking itself to no end, and it is actually pretty hilarious for movie fans and fans of comedy alike. “22 Jump Street” will make you laugh more than you might expect, but it isn’t quite as good as the previous entry beyond that.
So you’re thinking of going to see “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” are you? Well alright, that’s fine. Really it is, I’m not going to stop you. It’s not against the law to be a masochist after all is it? You aren’t really doing anything wrong hurting yourself by watching this trash, but I think that if you have any faint glimmer of the natural instinct of self preservation, then you will stop yourself right now. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and watch “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” in the vicinity of sharp objects.
As far as I’m concerned, last year wasn’t a particularly good year for animation. “Frozen” – a film I don’t dispute the quality of – somehow managed to beat Studio Ghibli’s “The Wind Rises” for the Academy award for Best Animated Feature Film. Whilst, even more inexplicably, “The Croods” and almost sacrilegiously “Despicable Me 2” were also considered for the award. The Academy Awards were six months ago now, and with the release of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” also comes a certain feeling of security, and also confidence. The film will no doubt be nominated for an Academy Award and has a very good chance of winning the award outright, and I’m happy that another of the five slots for nominations will be definitely filled with something actually worth considering, and there is still time left for more.
What a dreadful film. George Takei put it best when he said “Oh my”, believe me it’s hard not to “Oh my” once in a while during “New Moon”. “Oh my” why does that boy have his shirt off in the rain? “Oh my” why doesn’t she just listen to that pale boy from the shiny show and not become a vampire, he clearly has more experience than she does at being a vampire. “Oh My” how can a film feature so much god-awful silent staring for over two hours. How can director Chris Weitz seriously expect us to sit through this, I’m serious. I haven’t seen a movie this bad in a long while and watching it feels like trying to get comfy on a bed of nails. If you replaced “New Moon” with the ultra violence Alex had to watch in “A Clockwork Orange”, you’d reach the same end. In this way, I find “New Moon” to be quite an effective motivator.
There are some arguments about what exactly a sequel should be. Some will tell you that it’s to be the same as the first movie but with improvements made all around (because we know how often that happens) and some will say that the point is to change the formula and create something new out of previous concepts. I tend to not care as long as I get another film that is worth watching and doesn’t just reuse the formula until it’s boring. Franchises have done this time and time again and I’m sick of it. “Aliens” takes what Ridley Scott did with “Alien” and does almost exactly what it says on the tin, makes the enemy plural.
Since the original “Planet of the Apes” back in 1968, the sequels have tried to replicate it’s significance and meaning. Well, all except “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which had a bigger focus on plot and narrative than actual meaning. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is incredibly significant, far more so than the original ever was, and that is saying something. There are so many different messages within the film that I couldn’t sit here and tell you about all of them, and the likelihood is that I’ve forgotten some of them or just not even picked up on them. It’s not a film where the meaning is well hidden behind avant garde film making, that’s not to say that “Dawn” isn’t a smart and delightfully artistic film, because it is. It’s just the case that you would have to be a real troglodyte not to take anything at all away from the film. I have a lot to say, because “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is, and I believe always will be; a culturally, historically and aesthetically significant film. I do adamantly implore you to watch “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” before this as it is also very good and it would be a shame for me to spoil it in this review, which I will.