Wednesday, 16 August 2017

American Heist (2014)

Genres

Action, Crime, Thriller

Director

Sarik Andreasyan

Country

USA

Cast

Hayden Christensen, Adrien Brody, Jordana Brewster, Akon, Tory Kittles, Rachel Bilson

Storyline

James (Hayden Christensen) owes his life to his brother Frankie (Adrien Brody) after taking the rap for a crime they committed together. When Frankie asks him for help to rob a bank, he has no choice but help him. 

Opinion

As the ending credits were rolling, I was trying to figure out why on Earth they would name this film American Heist. It just didn't make any sense. It's only now, a few days later, that it's finally making sense. This is the typical Hollywood bullshit, so I guess the fact that they tricked me and many others to watch it qualifies as an American heist.

The storyline isn't particularly appealing so it didn't come as a surprise that the final result wasn't appealing either. The plot barely has something resembling development, it's incredibly boring, it doesn't have any interesting twist and it has nothing to do with a heist (unless you consider a bank robbery gone bad a heist. That's not a heist if you ask me).

Anyway, if anything, it is a melodramatic soap opera about the troubled but never dramatic relationship between two brothers, James and Frankie, 'enhanced' by one of those pathetic and pointless romantic sub-plots Hollywood doesn't seem to be able to live without and whose only purpose is to have a gorgeous woman in the film.

The characters, however, are even worse than the story. Christensen's is one of the most uninteresting characters I've seen recently and there's nothing he can do to help. He's not like the best actor ever, after all. On the other hand, there's Adrien Brody, playing Christensen's brother. He really puts some efforts into the role and that results in a fine performance from him. Unfortunately, his character is barely developed and all of his efforts to deliver an emotional and heartbreaking scene are completely vain.

The direction also leaves a lot to be desired, from the almost inexistent action that obviously fails to deliver tension, to the terrible soundtrack that makes American Heist just a little bit more ridiculous if you consider some of the tracks are from one of the members of the cast, Akon.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Imperium (2016)

Genres

Crime, Thriller

Director

Daniel Ragussis

Country

USA

Cast

Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell, Nestor Carbonell, Devin Druid, Pawel Szajda, Chris Sullivan, Burn Gorman, Seth Numrich, Jasson Finney, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, David Aranovich, Paul H Chapman

Storyline

An FBI agent (Daniel Radcliffe) goes undercover to take down a radical white supremacy terrorist group.

Opinion

I think I first read about Imperium on someone's blog, I thought it was interesting and decided to give it a chance. And it was interesting. The problem is that the execution leaves much to be desired.

Although a little clichéed, the story started off very well and it immediately grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, as it developed, it got more and more disappointing. I wasn't expecting any kind of twist because this type of stories usually doesn't have major twists, but I wasn't expecting it to be filled with plot holes and mistakes either. Or being so unconvincing - there's no way a geeky FBI agent would manage to infiltrate in a white supremacy group so easily. Or to be closed in such a poor way with a finale that doesn't seem to consider what happened earlier on.

A consistent and plausible story isn't the only thing the writers failed to deliver. The characters as well are mediocre. They have little development and depth and they come off quite bland and tedious. Not to mention the casting of Daniel Radcliffe. Not only he struggles a lot with the character because the script is a mess, but he doesn't even fit the role.

In spite of the weak script, Imperium still manages to do what it's supposed to do. Kinda. It gives an insight on (one of) the largest terrorism-related threats, the white supremacy movement (we are sadly hearing a lot about these days on the news), and it works decently as an eye opener. Still, it fails to be as powerful as other movies of the genre, like American History X. And that's frustrating because it really had potential. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Jaws (1975)

Genres

Horror, Thriller

Director

Steven Spielberg

Country

USA

Cast

Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Jonathan Filley, Ted Grossman, Chris Rebello, Jay Mello, Lee Fierro, Jeffrey Voorhees, Craig Kingsbury, Robert Nevin, Peter Benchley

Storyline

When a shark starts attacking the people on Amity Island, Cheif Police Brody (Roy Scheider) attempts to hunt it down with the help of a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a shark hunter (Robert Shaw).

Opinion

I've always avoided Jaws like the plague because I thought it was going to be another of those poorly aged movies from the 70s that are supposed to be scary and tense but actually are pretty lame and dull. Yes, I knew Spielberg is the man behind it, but he did some pretty terrible stuff in the past - 1941 - so I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. But obviously that didn't happen. Jaws is so tense and gripping, it sure deserves all the fame.

And Spielberg is the one to be thanked for that. He took a paper-thin and rather stupid story - that was my biggest concern, to be honest - and he turned it into a great story filled with tension that, in spite of its simplicity, has some nice plot twists. They are not mind-blowing, but they are surprisingly good considering the overall story.

If I have to be completely honest, the story isn't even that scary. So, once again, thank you, Steven, for making of Jaws such a scary film. It's the atmosphere he sets up and the suspense he masterfully builds towards the climax that make the film as effective as it is. I was glued to the screen and on the edge of the seat from start to finish. There were moments when I even held my breath. This is the kind of things I usually/only experience with football (soccer).

Jaws is also the ultimate proof that having the right musical score really helps in the making of a great film. I'm not only talking about the famous, iconic theme song - I knew and loved that already prior watching the film -, but the entire score. John Williams's easily is one of the most effective scores of all-time, not only in the horror/thriller genre.

At last but not least, this classic film also has some damn fine acting, which really came as a surprise considering it's a blockbuster. Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss are a real bliss to watch, especially the latter who brings so much energy and some humour as well as the marine biologist.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Blinky Bill the Movie (2015)

Genres

Animation, Adventure

Director

Deane Taylor

Country

Australia, USA

Voice Cast

Ryan Kwanten, Rufus Sewell, Toni Collette, David Wenham, Deborah Mailman, Richard Roxburgh, Robin McLeavy, Barry Otto, Barry Humphries, Tin Pang, Cam Ralph, Charlotte Rose Hamlyn, Billy Birmingham

Storyline

Billy (Ryan Kwanten), an adventurous young koala, embarks on a journey across the Australian outback to find his missing father (Richard Roxburgh). 

Opinion

We all do stupid things and watching Blinky Bill the Movie is definitely the last stupid thing I did. I let the nice(ish) animation fool me and I ended up watching a very poor film.

I have to start by saying that I've never seen the original cartoon so I wouldn't know what to expect (not much, I'm pretty sure about that), but the plot to this film and originality are two parallel lines. If you are not good with math that means they will never meet. It's basically the same story to Finding Nemo only with koalas. And this time around is the son looking for the missing father. It's also pretty simple (and yet doesn't make a lot of sense) and predictable which totally makes sense since I guess the film's targets are 2-year-old kids. 

It also lacks excitement and it's pretty forgettable and still it manages to "teach" the importance of friendship and teamwork although it's not really able to deliver the environmental message it is supposed to.

On the positive side, there is the animation. Like I said above, it's nice, very colourful and bright and the characters are well-crafted. Unfortunately, the animation isn't enough to give depth to those poorly developed and shallow characters. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Casper (1995)

Genres

Comedy, Fantasy

Director

Brad Silberling

Country

USA

Cast

Christina Ricci, Malachi Pearson, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey, Brad Garrett, John Kassir, Ben Stein, Amy Brenneman, Wesley Thompson

Storyline

A ghost therapist (Bill Pullman) is hired by a rich woman (Cathy Moriarty) to remove get some ghosts out of a house and moves there with his daughter (Christina Ricci) where she befriends Caper (Malachi Pearson), one of the ghosts populating the house. 

Opinion

I think I was ten the last time I saw Casper so it didn't come as a surprise that the only thing I remembered about it was the ugly and mischievous ghosts and the cute and friendly one. But that's good because it gave me the chance to enjoy the film a little more.

There isn't much of a story, especially in the first part, and that little that there is is pretty simple and predictable but it still is entertaining. Its greatest strength? It manages to be both moving, emotional and kind of sad, and joyful and fun at the same time. It's a heartwarming ghost story and you need to be in the mood to enjoy it.

What truly makes Casper fun is its characters, who wonderfully make up for the poor plot. The three despicable ghosts, Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso, are hilarious and with their dialogue and pranks, they will make you have a good time. Don't get me wrong, the friendly one, Casper,  is nice too (he's the one who brings some drama into the film) but he is not the one to follow if you want to have fun. But I have to say the friendship/romance he shares with the human girl is nice (and yet predictable).

The special effects are also nice - they hold up decently today - Casper easily being the best part. His facial expressions are very realistic, and the pairing with a good voice work makes him so sweet. I wasn't that happy with the other effects, especially those used with humans.

Overall, the film makes for a good time so who cares about the flaws?