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

"Ant-Man" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:36 (A review of Ant-Man)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I was distinctly underwhelmed by the two Marvel movies last year, but between this and Avengers: Age of Ultron, now they're winning me over again. :)
This is the first heist thriller among the Marvel movies, and it's a fantastically entertaining one. The characters are likable, the action scenes are thrilling, and it's genuinely funny when it needs to be.
I especially love the scene where Scott actually suggests calling the Avengers first, and Hank's reason for not wanting to involve them does make sense: he built his tech to keep it out of Tony Stark's hands.
Also, this is probably the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when we've seen two generations of heroes bearing the same name, since the original Ant-Man is passing the torch to the new one and acting as his mentor.
The villain is pretty boring, but aside from that, I really enjoyed this movie and am glad a Marvel movie is one highlight of the year once again.

My rating: 85%


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"Song of the Sea" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:35 (A review of Song of the Sea)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This was originally released in 2014, but hasn't hit cinemas on my shores until now. And let me tell you, if I had seen it last year, it would have easily ended up in my top five favourites of the year. :)
It's about Ben and Saoirse, a young brother and sister, who go on an adventure to free the faeries and save the spirit world.
This is a fairytale and fully commits itself to that sensibility: everything about it feels timeless and reminds me very much of old-school Disney.
The art style is among the most unique I've ever seen: it's literally like a storybook come to life, which again perfectly fits the fairytale-like nature of the story.
The movie also makes the clever choice of having several of the human characters have doppelgangers among the fantastical ones. You can have fun reading into that and coming up with interpretations as to why.
On top of that, Saoirse is just frigging adorable! :) I don't know what it is; I just have a soft spot for mute characters.
The movie as a whole envelops you in its fantastical atmosphere flawlessly, and ultimately makes for a surreal and poignant experience.

My rating: 85%


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"Inside Out" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:34 (A review of Inside Out (2015))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Like so many other movies, this opened in the UK several weeks after its US release, so I tried to avoid all the reviews I could in the meantime. But now I can finally confirm that the basic consensus was right: Pixar is back! :D
Not only is it a fantastically clever look at psychology and the confusion and conflicting emotions that come with growing up (you could probably talk about that for hours), but it also works really well as a straightforward epic quest-type adventure, in that our two main characters have a clearly defined goal: to get home before the world for which they're responsible completely crumbles.
It's endlessly fun, exciting, funny when it needs to be, and even delivers some moments that very nearly made me cry – I can't remember the last time that happened!
It's a truly marvellous film. I still think Kingsman: The Secret Service might be my favourite movie of the year so far, but it's got some serious competition now. :)

My rating: 90%


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"Terminator Genisys" (2015)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2015 09:33 (A review of Terminator Genisys)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I'm just going to say it upfront: I loved it. Far from the pinnacle of the franchise (I mean, let's face it: you're never going to top the first two movies), but I think this one is at least a more worthy follow-up than the third and fourth movies, and definitely worth more than 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I'm not sure how much was spoiled in other trailers, but the ones I saw advertised an alternate timeline where Sarah Connor was a survivalist right from the start; that alone got me intrigued. :) In that respect, Kyle Reese sort of becomes the spokesman for the audience: John Connor has told him how history is supposed to go, so we end up being just as confused as he is. And I was thoroughly invested in the opening action sequences because of how relentlessly insurmountable a challenge it seemed.
Will this become this year's Amazing Spider-Man 2, where I love it at first but then find its naysayers bring up some really good points? I don't know. But, for the time being at least, my opinion is that this latest instalment comes closer to doing its franchise justice than any other movie since the second one. It makes up in story and ideas for anything it lacks in character development, and I had such fun while watching it that I can easily name it one of my top three favourite movies of the year so far.

My rating: 85%


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"Watership Down" (Richard Adams)

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 June 2015 05:57 (A review of Watership Down (Puffin Books))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Ever since I was a child, Watership Down has always been one of my all-time favourite movies. I'm so familiar with it that, when I finally got round to reading the original novel, it was a real treat because it was like experiencing the same story in a new way. For the most part, the film actually follows the book relatively closely, so as I was reading it, I was constantly recognising certain scenes and visualising them quite easily.
I don't know if I'd go so far as to say the book is better than the film, but it is much more detailed and does answer a few questions I had with it. For example, in the film, I always wondered how Holly was able to wander all the way to Efrafa, escape and still come across our heroes before they reached the down. In the book, the timing makes a lot more sense: he catches up with them at the down, and only afterwards do they send him to Efrafa as a diplomat.
It also explains Woundwort's motivation for running such a totalitarian society: his main concern is to stay hidden from humans.
But one thing the book doesn't have is quite possibly my favourite film soundtrack ever! :) And I also feel that, while of course the book is still very dark, the film got the nightmarish atmosphere down much better.
On the whole, it's still one of my favourite narratives ever, be it in book or movie form.

My rating: 85%


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"BioShock" (PS3)

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 June 2015 05:53 (A review of BioShock)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I was invested from the very start; they establish right off the bat just how savage Rapture is, so I imagined the character thinking, "What have I got myself into?"
But the long-term goal turns from simply getting yourself to safety to taking down the tyrannical overlord pretty quickly, before I really had a chance to take everything in, which made the whole middle section seem kind of unfocused. It doesn't help any that the game keeps throwing more obstacles in your way before you can complete your objective; those smaller goals kept making me lose track of what the ultimate objective was. Luckily, that aspect lessened as the game progressed, and that's when it perked up again for me.
My absolute favourite aspect was the game's back-story and the conflict that brought Rapture to the state it's in now, which I do feel is far more interesting than the game itself.
Still, the twist involving your character's origin is a really good one. And that line, "A man chooses, a slave obeys," is going to stick with me till the day I die.
So on the whole, I enjoyed this game. I don't think it's going to become one of my all-time favourites or anything, but it was a fun sit with an inspired back-story to cherish.

My rating: 75%


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"'71" (2014)

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 June 2015 05:51 (A review of '71)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Superficially, this movie is a nail-biting thriller. The way it presents an atmosphere of ever-present danger is nothing short of perfect. I wasn't clear on the reason behind it all, though; you really need to know the history beforehand going into this movie. Wanting to shoot British soldiers on sight is one thing, but this group of Nationalists goes so far as to hunt him down: like, "We can't let him get away!" …Why? I guess what I'm saying is that, rather than conveying the historical situation to me effectively, it came across more as a simple manhunt story with the Northern Ireland conflict as a mere backdrop – albeit a really well executed one. I have to mention my favourite scene, though (spoiler alert here). It's when the bomb accidentally goes off in the pub. I love that scene not just because it's all done in one take and the soundtrack perfectly conveys the dazed and confused state our main character is in, but because, in the blink of an eye, the guy's back to square one.

My rating: 70%


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"The Mask of Zorro" (1998)

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 June 2015 05:48 (A review of The Mask of Zorro (1998))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This was exactly what I expected from hearing Doug Walker talk about it in several of his videos. It's a tightly written, solid, fun action movie that works in the same way as Indiana Jones before it: it has dark undercurrents, but doesn't take itself seriously and has a lot of fun with its concept. Aside from the gleeful action scenes, the characters are what really hold it all together: they're presented and built up so well that you're fully invested in seeing where the story takes them. I especially love the scene where Love tests Murrieta's disguise to the extreme. Good stuff.

My rating: 75%


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"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014)

Posted : 3 years, 1 month ago on 19 June 2015 10:43 (A review of The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

If you missed my reviews of the first two movies, I should point out that yes, I have deliberately held off on it until now. I didn't go to see any of the Hobbit movies in the cinema because I was so vehemently against the idea of splitting the book into three films that I refused to support the notion; I didn't want to vote yes with my wallet.
Just to recap, I thought the first movie was a surprisingly good start to a trilogy I had very little faith in, but the second one was more uneven and definitely inferior.

It's difficult to manage a movie that's almost entirely one long battle sequence, but I think this movie pulled it off pretty well. It's sort of the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 of this trilogy in that regard, in that it strikes a perfect balance between intense battle scenes and legitimate drama. That means every part of the battle feels important. The face-off with the Necromancer, the fight between Legolas and Bolg, and the final duel between Thorin and Azog were all riveting. So, I actually think all the added storylines that seemed ill-advised at first ultimately paid off, because the stakes were made perfectly clear and they culminated in a spectacular fashion. This is probably the most exciting instalment of the trilogy, and my personal favourite.

My rating: 75%

So, to conclude, on the whole, I liked this trilogy. They took a terrible idea (splitting the one book into three films) and actually pulled it off. It rarely, if ever, felt like it was dragging; there was actually enough content to sustain the extended length. So, you're free to have your own opinion, but in mine, these movies are certainly not a patch on Lord of the Rings but still pretty good.


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"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013)

Posted : 3 years, 1 month ago on 19 June 2015 10:39 (A review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

If you missed my review of the first movie, I should point out that yes, I have deliberately held off on it until now. I didn't go to see any of the Hobbit movies in the cinema because I was so vehemently against the idea of splitting the book into three films that I refused to support the notion; I didn't want to vote yes with my wallet.
Just to recap, I thought the first movie was a surprisingly good start to a trilogy I had very little faith in.

In keeping with its predecessor, some of the adaptation choices work really well, particularly expanding the Bard character's role in the story so he doesn't seem like a deus ex machina. On the other hand, I have the same complaint everyone does: the love story between Tauriel and Kili was completely unnecessary. Kili was already becoming one of my favourite characters from the first movie; he didn't need a cross-species love triangle storyline to make him stand out. On top of that, the fight scenes get a little too choreographed at times, as the characters often easily dodge attacks from behind that they couldn't possibly have seen coming. Smaug himself was just plain awesome, though. :) Overall, this is definitely far inferior to the first movie – not bad, but a mixed bag.

My rating: 60%


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