zondag 15 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 112: The Great Wall

Director: Zhang Yimou
Genre: Action/ Fantasy/ Adventure
Runtime: 103 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe

Description: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.
Review: “The Great Wall” is a spectacle that is a complete miss. With the great wall, they mean off course the wall in China. And here a legend is told. Fictional off course. Because the Chinese empire has been at war with a reptile species, that attacks China every 60 years, to get world dominance. Why they are there isn’t important. William Garin and Pero Tovar have been looking for black powder and stumble upon the wall. They are captured and off course it’s that time the reptiles come back.
“The Great Wall” is everything but great. The action is filled with over the top slow motion shots, the monsters are an animated mess and the characters have no depth whatsoever. Special effects are really important for a film like this, but they are really bad. It all looks super fake.
The film also misses a good build-up of the story. As viewers we are thrown into the conflict immediately and have no context. And because the characters are forgettable and we don’t care about them, this is such a disposable film. Why the hell did Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe appear in this film? A waste of talent.

Rating: 1,5/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 111: Going in Style

Director: Zach Braff
Genre: Comedy/ Crime
Runtime: 96 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, John Ortiz, Ann-Margret, Joey King, Peter Serafinowicz, Kenan Thompson

Description: Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.

Review: Joe has trouble keeping up when his bank tells him he loses his house in 30 days, when he doesn’t pay his mortgage. His friend Willie hardly sees his daughter and granddaughter, who live on the other side of the country and hides a serious kidney problem. And their friend Albert fills his days teaches music class to untalented kids. The three know each other through their work at a factory and are currently enjoying their pension. At least, they are supposed to. Because their former bosses decide to pause their pensions. Joe, Willie and Albert have had it and decide to rob a bank.
“Going in Style” is directed by actor and creator of “Garden State”, Zach Braff. He must have thought to have gold with three actors of this standard. It doesn’t even matter what you let them do. And that’s the power of this film, the comical interaction between the three main characters.
The sentimental part is kept to a minimun. “Going in Style” shows men who can be themselves, love their families. The main characters are all likeable in their own way, I don’t think this movie would have worked as well as it did, if it where three random lesser known actors. It’s Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin that make this movie. With that, there are some fun supporting roles, especially Christopher Lloyd is worth mentioning.
The part where the three men are planning their heist is the most fun. Testing their criminal capacities, trying to rob a local supermarket, it’s so hilarious. This comedy really made me laugh out loud, something most comedies nowadays can’t even do. Most people wouldn’t call “Going In Style” a great film, but it’s mostly the sympathy you have for the characters and the interaction between the three gentlemen that win you over. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in the past years. And that’s thanks to Caine, Freeman and Arkin. Highly enjoyable movie.

Rating: 4/ 5

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 110: Evita

Director: Alan Parker
Genre: Drama/ Musical
Runtime: 135 minutes
Year: 1996
Starring: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce

Description: The hit musical based on the life of Evita Duarte (Madonna), a B-picture Argentinian actress who eventually became the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón (Jonathan Pryce), and the most beloved and hated woman in Argentina.

Review: Musicals are sort of my guilty pleasures. I don’t feel guilty for loving “Singin’ in the Rain” and “La La Land”, in my opinion the two best musicals ever made and two of my all-time favorite movies. If I loved “Evita” I would feel guilty, because it’s not a very good musical. And thankfully I don’t love it.
When the film starts, it’s all over the place. Shifting in timelines, from when Evita was young to her death and back. Very confusing and messy. The songs are good, the execution of them not so great. Madonna is just not the right choice for this role, I never believed her. I think the only I liked in this film was Antonio Banderas, who sort of tells the story.
Such an interesting story and the film is based on a very successful and strong stage musical. Just as a movie, it didn’t really work.

Rating: 2/ 5

dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 109: Starter For 10

Director: Tom Vaughan
Genre: Comedy/ Romance/ Drama
Runtime: 92 minutes
Year: 2006
Starring: James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Dominic Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Corden, Charles Dance

Description: Set in 1985, working-class student Brian Jackson (McAvoy) navigates his first year at Bristol University.

Review: “Starter For 10” is based on a novel by David Nichols, one of my favorite authors. The film is set in the 80s, but it really looks like it was actually made in that era. Everything breaths 80s.
No special effects, no fancy camera positions, no tricks. This film’s strengths are in the nostalgic atmosphere, talented and strong actors and a well-directed script. Okay, sometimes it’s a bit cheesy and predictable. But it’s such a fun film.
I really love James Mcavoy in this coming-of-age story. As am 80s baby and hopeless romantic, “Starter For 10” is a win!

Rating: 3,5/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 108: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Director: Burr Steers
Genre: Action/ Horror/ Romance
Runtime: 108 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Lena Heady, Charles Dance, Matt Smith, Bella Heathcote, Suki Waterhouse

Description: Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.

Review: “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is exactly what the title wants you to believe it is. Jane Austen’s good old tale “Pride and Prejudice”, but then with added zombies. 19th century women fighting off zombies.
A mash-up film like this can be extraordinary fun because of the contrasts between the two genres. And those moments, where the film mixes the genres and becomes half a parody and half something completely new, is where “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is the strongest. Where the film tries to stick with the original romance novel, the film loses its power. Because we already know it and seen it.
For a film of this genre, it focuses too much on the original story, instead of the elements that make this story so special. We simply needed to have more of the zombies. Off course it’s also fun to see the moments from the original Austen novel, but we have other movies for that. It gets fun when the Bennet sister pull out weapons from their dresses and fight the undead.
Overall it’s a strange mix, although very entertaining. When the zombie element of the story had an overhand, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” would have been much better. Still not a bad movie, but there was such potential.

Rating: 3/ 5

donderdag 5 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 107: Carrie

Director: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Drama/ Horror
Runtime: 100 minutes
Year: 2013
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Ansel Elgort, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde

Description: A shy girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), outcasted by her peers and sheltered by her religious mother (Julianne Moore), unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

Review: Hollywood has taken many of Stephen King’s novels as their inspiration. One of the bigger ones is “Carrie”, directed by Brian De Palma. It’s actually one of the few horror movies that got recognition from the Academy. It’s a pretty big job to top De Palma’s film. In 2013, Kimberly Peirce gave it a try, with this remake.
Peirce is known for “Boys Don’t Cry”. Her version of “Carrie” had to be a different take on King’s story. But Peirce doesn’t really succeed, because it’s nothing new and we’ve seen most of it before.
It follows the original pretty well, but also the horror genre in general. Like many horror remakes, “Carrie” doesn’t really focus on building the tension. There is more room for Carrie to experiment with her powers.
Chloë Grace Moretz, who plays Carrie, does manage to convince us. But Julianne Moore overshadows her, as Carrie’s extremely religious mother.
Sadly enough Kimberly Peirce wasn’t capable of finding new angles to present the film from. Bullying and social media are so topical, she could have turned “Carrie” into a contemporary horror film. Much further than a YouTube video, with no consequences, it doesn’t really go. We didn’t really need this remake.

Rating: 2,5/ 5

Top 5 Thursday: Movies I Watched For My Challenge (September 2017)

This was a good month, because I saw a bunch of fantastic films. Here are my five favorites.

5. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
A super funny and harsh action comedy. I loved Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, apart and together. They make a great duo. And that scene with the nuns alone is reason enought to see it again.


4. Hidden Figures
A very inspiring story, about three black women making a change while working at Nasa. Based on a true story, rooting for women!!


3. It
Since I hate clowns, this was a big deal for me. The old "It" movie doesn't scare me anymore, but this is one of the scariest films I've seen. And also one of the best horror movies of the past years.


2. Brimstone
I'm a little proud to be Dutch now, because it was made by a Dutch director and has Dutch roots. It took him about 8 years to finish it and it was worth the wait.


1. Sing Street
I loved, loved, loved "Sing Street". The 80s time period, the 80s music, the characters, the story. It's so good. And I didn't even know about this film. One of the best films of 2016.


They Almost Made the Top 5: Life