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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (30)

"The Space Between Us" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 07:54 (A review of The Space Between Us)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Gardner Elliot, the first human born on Mars, travels to Earth for the first time and embarks on an adventure with Tulsa, a street-smart girl with whom he had been in contact.

Movies about Mars hardly have the best track record (in my opinion, there've been only two good ones to date: The Martian and the original Total Recall), so I was hoping this one would be an exception, but… alas, no. While still watchable, it is, first and foremost, a hackneyed teenage romance, and the story is thoroughly predictable. I even saw the twist ending coming from a mile away.

Good old Gary Oldman, God bless him, he's trying his best, but I always feel sorry for him when he gets landed with these roles that give him nothing to work with.

So yes, objectively this is a bad movie, but personally I can't muster that much hatred for it; I just think it's mediocre. It's corny, but harmless.


My rating: 55%



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"Split" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 07:49 (A review of Split)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed twenty-three distinct personalities, and they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new twenty-fourth.

I must echo everyone else's sentiments: finally, M. Night Shyamalan has pulled through and made another good movie! :D

I didn't like The Visit, but I did appreciate the fact that Shyamalan had finally figured out how to get his actors to talk like real people rather than soft-spoken, emotionless drones. That turned out to be a good indicator for what was to come. :) His actors seem more alive and energised than ever here.

James McAvoy excels in particular. Not only does he have to play several distinct personalities, but in some long, unbroken takes, he actually has to transition from one to another – and he does so seamlessly.

I know split personality is a real condition, so you could make the argument that this movie doesn't represent it properly, but I think the twist at the end makes up for all that.

So on the whole, not bad at all for the first 2017 movie I saw! :) I think it's, hands down, Shyamalan's best movie since The Sixth Sense.


My rating: 80%



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"La La Land" (2016)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 07:43 (A review of La La Land (2016))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


In Los Angeles, jazz pianist Sebastian falls for aspiring actress Mia, and they soon end up having to cope with the pressures of success.

This has to be one of the most critically lauded films of 2016, hailed as a return of the classic musicals of old. Unfortunately, what impressed everyone else so much, I felt was the film's weakest aspect. The musical sequences often involve choreographed dances that I couldn't help but feel looked very unnatural. On stage, it would look fine, but in the naturalistic setting depicted on film, it just looks out of place.

One thing that did impress me, though, was the film's use of colour. I think every colour on the spectrum is visible bright and clear in this movie, which makes a welcome change from the washed-out, monochrome colour palate I'm seeing so often.

But it was the second half that really stuck with me, where the songs become less frequent and it becomes clear that the overall theme is dreams and aspirations, particularly of being successful as a performer. It's a very profound and hard-hitting message: success in the entertainment industry is just pure luck.

So I really enjoyed this movie, but maybe not for the same reason as everyone else.


My rating: 80%



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"Mowgli's Brothers" (1976)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 06:47 (A review of Mowgli's Brothers)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


This animated short by Chuck Jones is said to be the most faithful adaptation of The Jungle Book to date, telling the first chapter of the book almost word for word. I tried reading the book in my teens, but the writing style lost me very quickly, so I decided this would be a good way to see the original story, how it started out and what Disney changed from the source material.

My favourite moment was the explanation for the term "red flower": because the animals are so terrified of fire that they don't like to use its real name.

Roddy McDowall tells the story admirably, and of course Chuck Jones' animation is brilliant.

The only thing I didn't like was the ending. I get the message it was going for, but I don't understand why Mowgli started acting the way he did.

On the whole, not my favourite version of the story, but still an entertaining and interesting experience.

(And on a side note, I have to wonder what the upcoming Jungle Book directed by Andy Serkis is going to be like, how closely it'll follow the book.)


My rating: 75%



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"Batman: Arkham Knight" (PS4)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:46 (A review of Batman: Arkham Knight Game of The Year Edition)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Aside from Jurassic World, this was probably my biggest cause for excitement this year. :) But this time, the result was far from a disappointment! :D
Each of the Arkham games brings several new gameplay mechanics to the table, and one of the most prominent additions this time is the fear takedown that allows you to quickly dispatch several enemies at once. And the gliding and grappling system is better than ever before.
This also served as my introduction to the PS4. I didn't think graphics could get any better than the PS3, but boy was I wrong! The amount of detail present here is just staggering, from raindrops on surfaces to every cop the GCPD having a name and distinct personality.
A lot of people have complained about the Batmobile sections, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand why. I found it incredibly hard to steer during chase scenes, so I ended up losing my quarry several times.
But the main thing I took from this game was the psychological nature of the story – which, sadly, I can't even talk about because it would mean getting into heavy spoilers. Let's just say Batman's greatest foe in this game is actually his own mind. There are some scenes where he goes to some truly dark places, and it's scary as fuck when he does.
All in all, I loved this game. It's a truly fantastic finale to one of the greatest trilogies of all time.

My rating: 95%


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"All-Star Superman" (Grant Morrison)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:44 (A review of All Star Superman)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I'd been told this series really gets Superman, so I was eager to check it out as my introduction to Superman comics. Ultimately, though, I think it was quite the wrong choice.
Maybe it's because I'm not an avid comic reader, but the overall story just seemed really disjointed to me. Each issue has an entirely different subject matter, but with an overarching theme of Superman tying up all loose ends before he dies.
The first three issues did show promise, especially with everything involving Lois Lane, but after that I found it just lapsed into tedium, constantly bringing up plot elements without any introduction and acting like we were supposed to be familiar with them already. Right off the bat, when Quintum and his team were introduced, I wondered, "Who are these guys?"
I've heard that it's meant to serve as an homage to the Silver Age of Comics, but still telling a serious story about mortality in that style. Okay, fair enough, but I didn't read any of those comics, so the reference is lost on me.
My favourite issue is the ninth one, which introduces two Kryptonians who view humans as mere insects. Superman's humanity is really put on display here, as he has to defend the planet he calls home.
I just don't think this is very friendly to new readers. The dialogue and story structure are too erratic, and at the end it had me wondering, "What the fuck did I just read?"

My rating: 50%


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"Southpaw" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:40 (A review of Southpaw)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Boxer Billy Hope's life goes into a downward spiral when his wife Maureen is killed, forcing him to turn to a trainer to get his life back on track and be granted custody of his daughter once again.
This is a standard sports movie in many respects; the script itself doesn't bring anything staggeringly new to the table. But there's one thing that holds it all together. Billy's daughter, Leila, is one of the best child characters I've ever seen. She doesn't fall into any of the normal child stereotypes; they put real effort into giving her a personality that seems genuine and plausible. I fucking love this girl! :) I love how smart she is, and how resentful but still innocent and down-to-earth she is – like I said, she feels real. For me, she's what makes the movie, and the whole reason I wanted to see Billy pull through. The only disappointment is that I wish the movie was about her instead.
But the film does also have a couple of standout moments on the tradecraft front. Maureen's death scene is one of the best I can think of, in that the time it takes seems pretty realistic. And the camera work and editing when Billy is in the hospital captures his dazed state of mind flawlessly.
So, on the whole, it's a pretty simple premise that's realised with enough unique touches that I ended up fully invested, gladly along for the ride.

My rating: 75%


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"The Gift" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:39 (A review of The Gift (2015))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The trailer really undersold this one, making it seem like a predictable obsessive old acquaintance story, while hinting at a dark history with the family. What I ended up getting was slightly more interesting than that, but I'm not sure how much I can say without spoiling it. Let's just say there's no clearly defined good guy or bad guy by the end; they're both psychotic in their own way.
I'd definitely recommend it if you want something that's a bit more morally ambiguous, not to mention a movie that keeps playing with your expectations. In that respect, it's not a bad directorial debut for Joel Edgerton. :)
I commend it for managing to stick in my head, but for now at least, I can say it pleasantly surprised me but didn't blow me away.

My rating: 75%


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"Fantastic Four" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:39 (A review of Fantastic Four)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Maybe it's just because its overwhelmingly bad press softened the blow for me, but I didn't find this nearly as bad as I was expecting. It's bad, don't get me wrong, but not horrendous. I just found it more dull than anything else.
The characters are all flat as pancakes, and even the climactic battle seems distinctly lacking in grandeur. I have to admit the humorous banter in the first half is legitimately funny (so, unlike Man of Steel, it's at least making an effort to be light-hearted), but I don't think those jokes add anything to the characters in the long run.
I also wish they wouldn't have called it simply Fantastic Four because, from what I've heard, it seems to have more in common with the Ultimate Universe versions of these characters than the ones most people are familiar with.
And, when Doctor Doom finally shows up in full form, he looks ridiculous – I just couldn't take his face seriously! And his penchant for head explosions is a horrifying and drastic tonal shift.
So, far from being the one good screen iteration this iconic team deserved, in the end it just tarnishes their reputation even more.

My rating: 35%


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"Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:37 (A review of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This is the first Mission: Impossible movie I've seen on the big screen, and it's not a bad one to earn that distinction. :)
This time around, an elite rogue organisation called the Syndicate has infiltrated the IMF, forcing them to disband and integrate into the CIA, so Ethan and his team have to stop the Syndicate without drawing the attention of their superiors.
This instalment is pretty much more of the same. In fact, it borrows heavily from the first and fourth movies, in that Ethan is a fugitive suspected of treason, and has to operate with minimal access to resources. And to be honest, by now the formula of these movies is starting to get a bit tired. But that doesn't make the movie any less entertaining in its own right.
The highlight, once again, is the heist in the middle of the movie (which, without spoiling anything, comes closer to failure than ever before) and the big chase sequence that follows. But the climax is pretty cool too. In particular, it's probably the first time I've ever seen a knife fight, not just in this series but in any action movie.
So overall, this is a pretty good instalment in the series. Not as good as one and four, but close.

My rating: 70%


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