Movies can quite often get people talking, the generic chat often referring to short descriptions on how the audience found the film, whether the film is “good”, “bad” or just “alright”. Less often though, the film is described using words that have more syllables than the solitary one, such as “fantastic” or “abysmal”. Then there are the films like this one, a film that can’t really be described in one simple word, vast though the English language is, I can’t quite keep a description of this film to a single word, to do so would not only be an injustice, but also fail to describe the feel and look of the film accurately. Gun to head, if I were to have to shorten down how I feel about Gravity into some sort of headline, it would have to be “technically outstanding”. Because for me, that is the thing that really stood out with Gravity, wondering how the director, Alfonso Cuarón, managed to achieve the things that he achieved on screen.
To say that this is a good-looking film would be an absolute under statement. From the opening shot of a magnificent spacewalk, it is like the director is saying, “look what I can do!” and what he can do is truly astounding. The astonishment inevitably continues and becomes even more impressive for the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the feature when you realize that there have been no visible cuts in the action. The camera seems to effortlessly drift in and out of all of the goings on like it, itself is not at all limited by trivial things such as gravity. Suffice to say that this is a film that is best viewed at the cinema, preferably in 3D, or on the biggest TV you can manage so you can really revel in the torrent of eye candy that is pouring out of the screen at you.
Gravity is not just for people that admire good camera work, direction and special effects though, the sheer realism of the world that the film makers have created, really contributes towards the narrative of the film, it makes the audience feel the uneasiness of our main protagonist, Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, I myself was found suffering from a little vertigo while she was feeling queasy from her first space walk. At the same time I was also allowed to feel the wonder that was felt by the space loving veteran astronaut, Matt Kawalsky, played by George Clooney. Somehow the director managed to convey the feelings of the surrounding by every character and as a result the whole film makes you very empathetic, or to put it into Internet terms- you feel ALL the emotions!
As you can probably tell from the trailer or synopsis for this film the main narrative, is the story of some astronauts that are fighting for survival, but what sets Gravity apart is that those fights are fought in both the emotional and physical states. When anybody is put into that sort of high stress situation where the survival of a person is not very likely, the mind inevitably comes to a fork in the road; either choose to fight for your life, something that might seem completely futile, or, decide to give up and welcome the cold embrace of death. That is a battle that is constantly present in Gravity, the question of “what’s the point?” is ever present, after all as the script very kindly informs us at the beginning of the film- “life in space is impossible” this feature of the narrative takes the film well above the confines of your run of the mill survival thriller and makes for a compelling and relatable story.
If you can not tell by my ongoing praise with in this review, I think that Gravity is a very good film indeed, I don’t usually try to make Oscar predictions but if this doesn’t win the Oscar in 2014 for best special effects I will be very surprised and I think that it should at least be nominated for best director also.
Because of the ground-breaking nature of Gravity I can’t help but make comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey as that was also a technically astounding film set in space, the difference being, Gravity appeals to film buffs and mainstream audiences alike, also the fact that it isn’t a complete mind f**k also helps. Unlike 2001, this film isn’t out to confuse it’s audience and the final shot of the film really drives home the films title and makes for a satisfying conclusion to one of the best films I have seen this year. Recommended.
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I love a good time travel movie, out of all of sci-fi it is probably my favourite sub genre. The only thing you have got to admit though is that is has been done to death, almost to the point of the recent trends of found footage films. Refreshing then to see that Looper has taken a unique although, flawed approach to this genre.
Not flawed in the sense that this is a bad movie but in the sense that the temporal mechanics are all over the shop. I hope you will forgive my indulgence in time travel theory for a second, but I love this stuff! To my mind there are two types of causality in time travel, there is the temporal causality loop (The Terminator, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and the alternative timeline time travel (Star Trek, Back to the Future Part 2). I personally prefer the temporal causality loop and I think if this was used in Looper it would have been fantastic, and it was, kind of. The problem is that aspects of the alternative timeline method was used as well, this results in a very sketchy time travel mechanic, sort of timey wimey wibbly wobbly state of affairs. In my opinion the temporal causality loop would have been the way to go, after all the clue is in the title of the film.
Questionable story mechanics aside the main gimmick of this film was Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis and I’m sure this is what drew most people to see this film. Gordon-Levitt flawlessly impersonated Willis in every mannerism and he really does need to be recognised for character acting of the highest standard. I do have a problem, however with the make-up. In an effort to make Gordon-Levitt look like Bruce Willis, something that no other film in the history of films has ever bothered to do, they make Gordon-Levitt look like a person that has a fetish for blue contact lenses and forehead implants and frankly it is distracting. Gordon-Levitts’ acting is good enough without the make-up, and to cover up his face does him a great injustice. With so much emphasise on the makeup and the quest to make the two lead actors look like each other, you would think that a lot of effort would be made in a sequence where young Bruce Willis “slowly” morphs into old Bruce Willis, nope none what so ever, one shot we have Joseph Gordon-Levitt and in the very next shot with have Willis in a wig. In an age where we can make Richard Nixon come back to life or young Arnold Schwarzenegger appear butt naked in a film he had no part in, you would think that we could make the transition from young to old, a bit more smooth.
Despite things like time travel paradox and bad makeup this still manages to be a great film. What Looper lacks for the pedantic nitpicking side of my brain it makes up for with beautiful cinematography and production design. Looper certainly portrays one of the most believable futures that I have ever seen on film, with everything looking so high tech and modern but at the same time lived in, and worn down, such as hover bikes that just won’t start. The cinematography portrays vast vistas of cityscapes and contrasting farmland, lending another dimension of realism (just because it is the future doesn’t mean that the countryside suddenly disappears).
As previously mentioned the acting in Looper is outstanding especially from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Emily Blunt plays her part as a hardened mother who lives on a solitary farm quite well. Special mention has to go to Pierce Gagnon, who plays one of the most terrifying characters I have seen in a good few years, he is only a boy but he has such an intimidating look and way about him that you have absolutely no problem believing him as a villain.
Looper may have flaws, but its virtues far out shadow what is wrong with the film, this film looks great, it has a stellar cast that are at the top of there game and most importantly the film feels original and for me that is one of the most important things in cinema today.
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Ted probably isn’t the place to come for good honest family entertainment or pretentious Woody Allen-esque introspection. Instead, Seth MacFarlane delivers everything you would expect from him, but what American television won’t allow him to do in a roller-coaster of lewd humour, pop-culture references and killer lines that are so close to being totally offensive you wonder how the hell he gets away with his brand of humour.
The opening, narrated by Patrick Stewart, kicks off the movie, making sure that your eyebrows are set to raised, your jaw is ready to drop and your belly is prepared for a good amount of laughter. The story starts with a friendless and shy, eight year-old Johnny, who, wishes his toy bear Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) into existence one stormy night, creating a loyal buddy for himself in the process.
MacFarlane then spins us quickly through 25 years, in a terrific, E. T.-referencing montage, before dumping us back on the couch, where Mark Wahlberg’s thirty-something Johnny (now just ‘John’) and his cynical bear friend are found smoking bongs and indulging their love of Flash Gordon. Both of them have grown up, but neither of them have, really, if you know what I mean; a fact that frustrates John’s high-achieving girlfriend (Mila Kunis), who urges her man to dream beyond his next beer.
This film, it should be stressed, is not Family Guy: The Movie. There’s plenty of DNA in common with MacFarlane’s brilliant animation, few could miss the similarities between Ted and Peter Griffin, not even Ted, or the fact that half the cast of Family Guy appears within the film. But those who have missed the wonder that is Family Guy are still well catered for by some sharp writing and a winning comic performance by Wahlberg. He delivers the kind of loose charm and comic timing that Adam Sandler used to have, and, in one tongue-twisting race through trailer-trash first names, flaunts all the verbal dexterity of Busta Rymes.
I could go this whole review without mentioning it as it is such common place in film these days, but, major kudos should go to the film’s FX boffins. Utilising Avatar-grade technology, they’ve created a wholly believable central character who gives you no doubts that he came from a shelf in a toy shop. If Monsters, Inc. made fur fly in an animation, Ted brings incredible detail and emotion to a live-action environment, and I believe the comparison to Pixar is whole heartedly deserved.
Of course there are flaws, although Seth MacFarlane is a well seasoned voice actor and has plenty of experience with in the “business” it would have been quite a feat if his first feature came out perfect. The odd American pop culture reference joke whizzes straight over the head of a British audience and the climax sacrifices laughs for a compulsory chase sequence and predictability full to the brim with sentimentality. But the sheer quality of this production makes, those potentially huge problems into tiny little niggles that are not really noticeable.
As a fan of Macfarlane’s, Ted is all that I hoped it to be, yes it does follow a story arc that we have all seen before, but it is that very fact that gives it the ability to surprise, yes it is a little off balance but it is also extremely fun to watch. If you are a fan of Macfarlane, you will love this, if you are not, you may just be one once you have seen Ted. Recommended.
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You have got to admit it, a Romantic Comedy set during a time of an imminent apocalypse is an interesting concept and perhaps one of the best mediums to explore the human condition. What we have in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a wonderfully sweet story about two people that are brought together by the circumstances of the end of days.
For such a bleak subject matter the film feels surprisingly light hearted and almost optimistic. Keira Knightly plays no small part in this with her sunny English charm and keep calm and carry on attitude. Steve Carrel plays his part as the straight man as well as ever. I think Carrel is one of the best straight men when he wants to be, second only to Jason Bateman.
The script is superb taking very little time with the set up of an asteroid hitting earth and getting straight on with some surprisingly dark comedy, but even when bodies are flying past the windows as people jump to their deaths rather than face their impending doom, the tone of the film is still kept pretty light. The script explores Carrels' characters quiet insecurities and humble misery with such a light breezy touch it all seems extremely endearing.
The cinematography is also light and sunny and breezy it seems very much like the town in The Truman Show, or Pleasantville after the residents become colourful. This really does act to give you a sense of optimism, a sense that the annihilation that the characters face isn’t really that real, that something will happen at the last minute to save every ones lives. Whether that does happen or not is not for me to say as I do try and keep these reviews as spoiler free as possible.
What is interesting to me is that all other disaster movies (not that this is a disaster movie, it is just a movie with an impending disaster) spend all of their time trying to portray to the viewer how utterly hopeless the situation is, where as this film doesn’t even bother, the focus is all on life and how wonderful it is, if you just let it be.
This is one of those humble films that don’t really go anywhere at all, but you don’t really care because you are just happy to be along for the ride. The characters make this film and it is just so utterly sweet that it doesn’t even occur to you that you have just wasted one hundred minutes of your life by watching it.
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