Henry Cavill’s MAN OF STEEL

 

MAN OF STEEL – After months and months of waiting, we were finally given the opportunity to witness yet another epic superhero film following the likes of Dark Knight, Ironman and Avengers. This time, we’re blessed to see another masterpiece looking at the life of Clark Kent aka Superman aka (in this case), the Man of Steel.

 

The film kicked off with a very engaging and detailed narrative about Superman’s super adventurous past – The film starts on the Planet Krypton, wherein Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), has just given birth to a son. She and her husband Jor-El (Russell Crowe) have birthed their son naturally, in violation of the basic laws of the planet, where babies are to be bred through genetic engineering with a planetary ‘Codex’ that imprints just what a person’s place in life is to be (leader, scientist, general, etc).

Jor-El and his wife have chosen this path, as their planet is on the brink of destruction. Harvesting their planet’s core for resources has made it unstable and it will destroy itself. After the birth of his son, Jor-El appears before the Kryptonian Leaders, pleading with them to allow him to save the planet’s Codex, and to search beyond Krypton. However, even with destruction imminent, the council will not abandon its ways.

The council is set upon by General Zod (Michael Shannon) and numerous followers, intending to take control of the planet. Though Jor-El does agree the Council’s ways are not right, he refuses to join Zod’s coup. Zod orders Jor-El to be arrested, but Jor-El escapes, and flees to an area nearby, wherein the planet’s birthing chamber resides.

Stealing the Codex from the chamber, Jor-El races back to his home, where his wife Lara has found a planet to send their baby to. Though Lara is sad at the loss of their child, Jor-El claims he will live his life in a new way: free of the limitations imposed by Kryptonians. Their son,Kal-El, will be able to choose his way in life.

As they prepare to launch the pod containing their son, Zod and his followers enter their residence, demanding that Jor-El hand over the Codex. Jor-El claims it is in the pod with his son, causing Zod to battle Jor-El, before stabbing him to death. In the fight, Lara engages the pod’s engines, and it shoots into the sky.

Angered that Jor-El and his wife have doomed the Kryptonian race with the removal of the Codex, Zod orders his followers to shoot down the pod. However, his orders are suddenly cancelled when Kryptonian security ships appear, arresting them. In the confusion, a Phantom Drive engages on the pod, rocketing the baby away in the blink of an eye.

For punishment, Zod and his followers are banished to The Phantom Zone, causing Zod to lash out that even though their planet will soon be gone, the leaders will not grant him and his followers a quick death. He also swears to Lara (who is present), that he will find her son.

Shortly after, Krypton is destroyed. Many worlds away, the pod carrying Kal-El rockets into Earth’s atmosphere, touching down near Smallville, Kansas (Source: IMDB).

 

That exquisite start set the whole mood of the film and you can easily tell that it’s going to be one of those films wherein every little detail matters and by the end of the it, you will have a full. comprehensive understanding of the movie and of the character himself. That’s probably one of the reasons why this film is exceptional – the foundations were strong hence the development of the plot all throughout the motion picture remained solid and intact.

 

Henry Cavill is the certainly the right choice for the role. Not to mention their actual physical resemblance, the rawness and the amateur-ish type of acting he delivered suited perfectly with the character he is portraying. IT didn’t felt too theatrical which is good – giving Superman, a human touch I suppose.

 

Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe provided an excellent supporting cast with Amy Adams (Lois) actually doing more in the film compared to previous Lois’ in other Superman films. Her character here is so vital that she hast, literally, become the other half of the latter part of the story. Amazing performance though from Adams which is good.

 

One little critique, I think they’ve gone a bit over the top in terms of fight scenes. It became tasteless at some point because there’s just too many things going on, too many effects, too many sound, too many movements – it distracts more than it entertains but luckily, it didn’t stayed like that for long.

 

However, I love how they made Superman, more human in this film. The emotions, the family connections, the day-to-day experiences – it gives us an idea of how he lived a human life despite being a superhuman and very rare you get that in a superhero-themed films like this.

 

Not surprised that it is reaping box office returns in every single country in the world, it is an amazing film and everyone who knows Superman will definitely like the approach given to this film. It’s like getting to know someone more despite the fact that we already know him.

 

9/10

Ben Affleck’s ARGO

 

ARGO – Few days before the 2013 Academy Awards, I believe it’s only proper to review and pay tribute to one of last year’s best films. Under the direction of the Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Ben Affleck, Argo is a movie event everyone should watch. Every scene is exciting, every character is relevant and I have never witnessed a clean/flawless direction as such since Shindler’s List.

(Source: Moviefone) When militants seize control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the height of the Iranian Revolution, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) creates a fake Hollywood film production in order to rescue a group of American diplomats who have sought refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. As the six members of the embassy staff remain behind closed doors, armed militants conduct thorough searches of local homes, and kill anyone suspected of harboring the Americans. Realizing that it’s only a matter of time before the six are identified and taken hostage, Mendez offers a unique – yet potentially dangerous – solution: posing as a Canadian film producer, he will enter into Tehran under the precipice of scouting locations for an upcoming science fiction opus, gather up the refugees, pass them off as his crew at the airport, and fly out of Iran right under the militants’ noses. Shortly after touching down in Iran, however, Mendez contends with a few unexpected developments that threaten to erode the bond of trust he needs to establish with the refugees, and expose his deception. Meanwhile, even if they do manage to make it as far as the airport, government bureaucracy threatens to leave them hopelessly stranded in their most desperate hour. Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Bryan Cranston co-star.

Apart from Affleck’s outstanding direction and acting as well, Alan Arkin is one of the film’s greatest asset hence his countless nominations as Best Supporting Actor. The screenplay was brilliant too – it is consistent, fluid and very honest, In movies like this, you need an honest storytelling, something that the audience can absorb there and then. The instantaneous connection between the story and the viewers needs to be established after the first 5 minutes and Argo certainly did that.

The rest of the technical elements were perfectly balanced and complemented really well. This is a clear attestation of how excellent Ben Affleck is as a director. Still shocked as to why the Oscars didn’t bother nominating him and chose to have David Russell instead – I mean Argo is far better than Silver Linings Playbook (with all due respect to Harvey Weinstein).

If you want to be amazed and be entertained by a serious type of film, Argo is the one. I would definitely watch it again and will forever be one of the best cinematic creations of all time,.

 

10/10

Jessica Chastain’s ZERO DARK THIRTY

ZERO DARK THIRTY – Tagged as the greatest manhunt for years, capturing Osama Bin Laden is more than a quest for the world’s most dangerous man – it is the humanity’s battle for peace, freedom and life. From the award-winning tandem of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal (creators of The Hurt Locker) comes this dramatic feat detailing the hunt for Bin Laden. This ground-breaking motion picture stars Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain alongside a stellar and brilliant ensemble including Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke and Joel Edgerton.

(Source: Fandango) Oscar nominee Chastain portrays the role of Maya, the intelligence expert who dedicated a decade of her life to tracking down the world’s most wanted terrorist. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the CIA began interrogating suspected Al Qaeda agents across the globe in a bid to locate the elusive bin Laden. Upon arriving at a CIA black site and witnessing the brutal interrogation tactics firsthand, driven operative Maya aids her unpredictable colleague Dan (Clarke) in gathering the intelligence that will help bring their target to justice. Over the course of the next decade, numerous false leads and dead ends make the search seem more futile than ever. Meanwhile, numerous suicide bombings across the Middle East and Europe hint that Al Qaeda won’t go down without a fight. Then, just when it seems as if the trail of clues has finally dried up, an old piece of evidence leads Maya to a suspect who may work directly for the man charged with planning the worst act of terrorism ever committed on American soil.

It is controversial and Kathryn Bigelow is known for that. It is brave and Kathryn Bigelow is known for that too. It is ambitious and Kathryn Bigelow is one as well. This genius movie is all about Bigelow and her undying desire to present the public the true drama behind these political/social/military crises we are facing. She is courageous and thank God for directors like her who are bold and brave enough to step into this grey but vital genre. One of the strongest points of the film is Chastain’s brilliant performance. It is, without a doubt, the best dramatic performance by an actress this season and she certainly proved herself as the toughest Oscar contender for 2013. We see Maya in this film and not Chastain – we saw the truth and she managed to give us the real thing. Effortless acting empowered by outstanding screenplay as well.

The latter part of the movie is definitely the most exciting and breathtaking moment but the whole film is spectacular in general. It transports us to their journey which is very enticing. The rest of the technical elements were spot on as usual.

It would have been the best movie of the Oscars this year if not for Argo’s growing popularity. Zero Dark Thirty is in-depth, meaningful, engaging and a powerhouse drama you shouldn’t miss!

9/10

Hugh Jackman’s LES MISERABLES

Les Misérables Movie Poster

LES MISERABLES – If there is one musical film that the whole world is waiting for, it is, with no doubt, the Les Miserables. I’m sure a lot will agree with me if I say that this film is one of the biggest, the grandest, the most spectacular events to grace the silver screen in the last decade. I have always loved the story of LesMiserables. The journey of every character especially Jean Valjean is astonishingly brilliant. The book by Victor Hugo is a treasure that you will keep forever and with delight and utmost pride, I’m thrilled to say that this movie version is as equally stunning.

The movie (based on the novel) contained multiple conflicts and subplots. The major conflict threaded through the whole narrative is between Jean Valjean played by Hugh Jackman and Javert, which was brilliantly portrayed by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe. Valjean has served his time and earned release from prison, but it is release with a yellow passport-meaning everywhere he goes, everyone from employers to landlords will know that he has a tarnished past. This makes him suspect even when he is innocent of any wrong doing. Javert sees the law as an answer for everything, and no exception should be made regardless of how small the crime (ref: bestnotes.com).

The situation is complicated when Valjean takes upon himself the care of Cosette, as he feels responsible for the death of her mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway). With Cosette, Valjean learns to love and the bitterness of the years of injustice melt away. He thinks of himself as a convict and makes no excuses; his only reason for hiding and avoiding Javert is to protect Cosette and his fatherly relationship with her.

A very beautiful, dynamic, rich story and of course it was made even better with the outstanding performances of the ensemble chosen to give life to these iconic characters. Let me start with Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron-Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter, who, despite how small their characters were in this motion picture, they were able to give justice to the roles given to them and brought life to the characters they are representing (Cosette and the Thenardiers). Bonham-Carter, in particular, was fantastic and I couldn’t think of anybody else to play that part as brilliant as she did it.

Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Aaron Tveit (Enjolras) and Samantha Barks (Eponine) were the film’s ultimate revelations. Despite acting next to the Hollywood giants, these three actors were able to effortlessly deliver what was expected from their respective characters. Redmayne and Tveit’s scenes together were amazing and Barks rendition of ‘On My Own’ can’t be better than that, it was fluid, emotional and beautiful.

Last but not the least, the three main pillars of the film; Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine). They are the magnificent three and they all had their glorious moments in the movie. Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ scene is one of the most memorable, captivating and excellent parts – that scene alone is enough to give Hathaway an Oscars victory. Director, Tom Hooper, magnificently captured the magic in that particular moment making it truly iconic and special. Russell Crowe is perhaps the most underrated of all considering how great he was as Javert. I love his ‘One Day More’ bit and he certainly possessed and gracefully exhibited the power required by the character. Jackman, on the other hand, is a genius. I really wish he could snatch the Oscar statuette from Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) because what he did in this film was just unbelievable.

The idea of singing live and on the set is a risk. It was great and it worked at certain scenes especially the solo ones with Hathaway, Jackman and Barks. However, it wasn’t as good in certain instances especially the opening part. The production design is, without a shadow of a doubt, exceptional. The same goes with the musical scoring and art direction.

As somebody who is passionate about musical productions like Les Miserables, it makes me feel proud to watch this film. Not only that it spreads the magic of the musicals but also highlights the importance of music and sound in our lives. The power of music to convey true emotions and it’s impact on our day to day encounters.

The story is about second chances and forgiveness. It is about measuring someone’s worth not because of his past but because of the goodness in his heart, Giving life to the empowering story of Les Miserables through this movie is a very good way of imparting these real messages of life, love and survival to the people of today. I definitely recommend this film and would certainly watch it over and over again.

9.5/10

Suraj Sharma’s LIFE OF PI

 

LIFE OF PI – Ang Lee is the genius behind Brokeback Mountain, a cinematic milestone that bravely tackled the a very sensitive topic. Completely opposite from that film, Lee came back and conquered Hollywood once again with his epic tale of survival, Life of Pi. Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi tells a magical story centering on Pi Patel, the son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger whom he referred to as Richard Parker, all fighting for their lives.

 

What an incredible situation to be in! I mean, seriously, it’s an adventure of a lifetime!

 

This film is like Tom Hanks’ Cast Away but has more production value in it. The visuals and cinematography are amazing and these are the areas that certainly made this masterpiece stood out amongst its contemporaries. The clever use of digital arts and computer graphics gave the rather long/extended/boring plot some magic and excitement. The tiger is amazing!!! It captured everyone’s attention and at some point, it felt like it was the main character of the film. Its inclusion in the movie was certainly the best idea as it managed to lift the whole picture from being a tedious narrative to watch. Suraj Sharma’s performance was incredible too – he definitely gave justice to the role though I still think Dev Patel would have been a wiser choice. Rafe Spall was good too – his reactions to the whole storytelling scenes were brilliant giving it a very realistic finish.

 

It is not the best of Ang Lee but still it is a movie he can absolutely be so proud of. The visuals alone are spectacular and it gave the film some life into it. The movie version is quite disappointing compared to the actual novel so I suggest stick to one medium if you’re planning to look at both in order to avoid comparisons/questions, etc. Having said that, it is still a strong contender for 2012’s Oscars Best Picture award.

 

The film’s greatest asset though is the values it imparts to the audience. It’s about fighting, surviving and winning in the end – winning in a sense that you were able to survive whatever battle you went on. It gives us hope and it opens our eyes to certain realities of life that are often unseen and unconquered.

 

7.5/10

Hilary Swank’s NEW YEAR’S EVE

 

NEW YEAR’S EVE – When it comes to an all-star ensemble coming together in a film dedicated to a certain ocassion, Love Actually is the first thing that comes into our minds. This British masterpiece, however, has been challenged twice by the Americans. First, through Valentine’s Day which boasts a strong cast headed by Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher and then last year via New Year’s Eve which is, by far, the best all-star film I’ve seen to date. The stellar line-up includes Academy award winners Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro and Halle Berry. Also in this magnificent conglomeration of showbiz royalties are Jessica Biel, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeifer, Lea Michelle and the ever so gorgeous SJP – Sarah Jessica Parker. The list goes on but the impact and brilliance of this picture doesn’t stop there. There’s more to it!

 

The most common problem with films like this is that the story suffers and gets drowned by these big names squeezing in to one motion picture. In Love Actually, only 2 stories really stood out and were given a clear and concise opportunity to tell its essence. In Valentine’s Day, only 1 managed to create a proper story. However, in New Year’s Eve all stories are concrete, detailed and were presented beautifully. There is a good mixture of characters which makes the whole storyline dynamic and very entertaining. The screenplay, as always, is a crucial element in a film and NYE didn’t disappoint – clever lines, realistic approach and that Hilary Swank speech scene was heartwarming. If I am to choose the Top 3 stories in this movie, I’ll pick the Times Square setting (Hilary Swank), mother-daughter/NYE love (SJP, Josh Duhamel and Abigail Breslin) and the Resolutions pairing of Zac Efron and Michelle Pfiefer. These got rich plots which can be extended to a full-length movie. I cannot fault the acting as well. Everyone in this film delivered, even the ones with the smallest roles gave their very best – they all shine!

 

Top 10 performances:

1. Sarah Jessica Parker

2. Hilary Swank

3.Jessica Biel

4. Zac Efron

5. Josh Duhamel

6. Halle Berry

7. Lea Michelle

8. Katherine Heigl

9. Sofia Vergara

10. Michelle Pfeifer

 

Will I watch it again? MOST CERTAINLY, YES! I’ve seen it like 4 times already and everytime I see it, I keep on getting amazed as to how great this film is. Not only that it treats us by showcasing a lot of Hollywood celebrities but also it sends a very important message. It’s about love, it’s about the various faces of love, it’s about the sacrifices we’re willing to make in the name of love, it’s about the pains and joys of loving. The film is very light and yet meaningful. It’s for everyone and this type of film is something that can bring not only entertainment but also happiness to all who will watch it.

 

10/10

Tom Hanks’ EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE

 

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE – One of the 9 Oscar Best Picture nominees this year, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a poignant family drama tackling a strong father-son relationship and a fantastic journey of a boy suffering from Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.

 

It’s a well-written film – very very detailed and I love how every scene offers something different and how each moment is special and showcases the characters in it. It’s difficult to fault this film as it embraces reality, exposes honesty and promotes a lot of family values. The acting was superb – incredible performances particularly from the lead stars, Thomas Horne, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Tom Hanks was amazing as usual – very believable, the delivery of his dialogues is powerful and with conviction. Sandra was equally brilliant – those dramatic scenes – she nailed them perfectly! Thomas was indeed a revelation. He played his part effortlessly and with such on-screen charisma – truly remarkable! The entire ensemble was outstanding. Max Von Sydow was great in his character as Thomas’ mute grandfather – his eyes, his facial expressions – their scenes together are some of the bests in this picture. The gracious and glorious Viola Davis was incredible again. No matter how small the role is, this woman knows how to deliver and never fail to amuse us. The film’s unpredictable plot is its biggest asset alongside the magnificent acting. The musical scoring and editing were commendable too.

 

It’s a cinematic gem – a movie treasure that we will remember in years to come. Its very underrated – I love how the Academy recognized it as, in my opinion, it is one of the best dramatic films ever made. I’m sure the book version is better but this film is a gift – full of hope, full of life’s precious lessons that we need to bear in mind and live with. It makes me feel privileged to have seen such a powerful and meaningful masterpiece.

 

9/10