Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

My cheeks are still wet from tears as I begin writing this! I’ve always been terrified and equally fascinated by the apocalypse, both in the film world and in reality. It’s a concept that is so unfathomable to me, and something that I don’t really like to think about. But this film handled the subject in a light-hearted, comedic way that pulled at the ol’ heart strings many a time throughout without being too doom and gloom. I’m not really a big fan of rom-com, but when they are done well, they soon become a favourite and easy to watch film, whilst still having a long-lasting effect.

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The film stars Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley who play Dodge and Penny, two neighbours who have rarely even set eyes on each other before the announcement of asteroid named Matilda on an unstoppable and devastating collision course with earth. We are thrown in along side the characters of Dodge and very-soon-to-be-ex-wife Linda who abruptly, and without reason, literally runs away from Dodge. And that’s not the beginning of his problems. Although in a fair amount of the films that Carell stars in his characters appear to be the underdog who gets the girl, he does also have the capacity to play these roles very seriously. I felt that the character of Dodge drew characteristics from his character of Frank in Little Miss Sunshine. He is very sweet and very serious and a likable character. I was never really much of a Kiera Knightley fan, but after seeing her in films like Atonement and A Dangerous Method, I have slowly begun to warm to her, even more so after seeing her play Penny. A review was left on LoveFilm saying that her character was ‘annoyingly kooky’ which I have to disagree with. At points her character does seem to fall flat of any real back story apart from being a weed smoker and a lover of records. But as the narrative develops and she divulges what she hopes to do before the end of the world, I really began to liken towards her. The two at first prove to be an unlikely pairing, but never at any point does the film make the two dislike the other at all. In fact, their story is a rather pleasant one to watch and take part in. This is a film with an ending that really gets you right in the soul, or at least it was for me. It couldn’t of ended in a more perfect way, in my opinion. I wouldn’t want to say too much about it, and I’ll leave it down to your imagination as to whether you think the director decided to chicken out of ending humanity or to go through with it.

The narrative itself is a very easy going one at that, with the odd character here and there to demonstrate how society would perhaps react in such a situation. But the real story is between Penny and Dodge and the importance of companionship, and arguably, finding what it really means to be human. But that’s really pushing it.

All in all, although this film doesn’t stand out as an extremely stylistic film, it does stand out as a film about humanity and is simply enjoyable! The ending is tragically beautiful and the relationship between Dodge and Penny is certainly very heartwarming. I’d definitely recommend this film for those who enjoy a simple watch that isn’t too challenging but still has substance.

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Now You See Me | In The Moment

As I feel I may have previously mentioned, there was a period of time between the Oscar season where the cinemas seemed to be running dry of any films worth seeing that weren’t just for petty thrills or to simply past the time. With some of the year’s most anticipated films on their way to or having been released (Man of Steel, World War Z, The World’s End, and most importantly…Monsters University), I really hoped that Now You See Me would have been one of them…unfortunately, it was quite the opposite.

In brief, the film is about a group of street magicians that collaborate to perform under the name of The Four Hoursemen who, with some kind of weird secret that isn’t really clear, even after its supposed to have been explained, are able to rob banks, vaults, and insurance companies of millions of dollars, without taking any for themselves. How good of them. When I first saw the trailer, I was firstly excited by seeing Jesse Eisenberg from being a huge fan of Zombieland and The Social Network, as well as Woody Harrelson, who is just a legend within his own right. With other huge players like Sir Michael Cane, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo, it was hard to see how it could go wrong. But, I’m afraid to say, such a broad range of talent was wasted on this film. Coming out of the cinema after seeing it, both my friend and I were left thinking ‘What the hell was that?’. The film’s problem is that it’s another case of being too ambitious, punching above its weight with a star studded cast, and great visual effects but faulting when it comes to the actual story line.

My main problem with the film as a whole was that it was unclear as to whose side you are supposed to be on. It could have been the magicians, thus aligning the audience with criminals (which I always find interesting in films), it could have been with Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent who were hopelessly chasing after the Horsemen’s antics, or it could of been with Morgan Freeman’s pretty much pointless character who was a TV presenter for a show that exposes con artists for who they really are. They didn’t get the balance of exposure between all of the characters to be able to make it clear who the audience were supposed to be rooting for. Talking of exposure of characters, just what even was the point of Morgan Freeman being there? It seemed like he was just cast to slap a big Morgan Freeman shaped seal of approval on the filming, to deem the film worthy of viewing. But I’m not convinced. He just seemed to turn up randomly and constantly look smug about how he knows everything about magicians and how they work and whatever, without actually seeming to do anything to try and expose the Four Horsemen…so…pointless really.

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I also had a petty problem with the sound levels. I’ve said before that I don’t know anything about sound engineering or anything in that line of work, and I’m sorry to get technical, but it just seemed very slack. I blame the cinema itself for not making the film louder, which obviously isn’t the film’s fault, but in addition to that, there were points where random sound effects like shoes running, or random shouts were so much louder than the atmospheric chase music that it just ended up sounding like a badly dubbed foreign movie.

To move on quickly to performance, most of the actors were okay at best. Eisenberg was his usual better-than-Michael-Cera-but-equally-awkward self but a lot cooler than his other films. Maybe because he was a magician…The most emphasis was put on Mark Ruffalo who, after deliberation, I have decided was supposed to be the main character, but the emphasis was lost a little due to the lack of his ability to convince me that he wasn’t still The Hulk. There is an interrogation scene, throughout the entirety of which I was just waiting on him to say ‘YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M ANGRY BLAHRAHLAHG’, so, I couldn’t really take him seriously from there on in. There’s also another hilarious sequence where he is chasing after Eisenberg and is running through a restaurant and is literally just shoving people out the way, shouting ‘MOVE’ and then not going in the direction of which he shoved the people out of the way to so desperately get to in the first place. He did this about four times. My friend made a point which I agree with after seeing it in that, it seemed like this film was going to be Dave Franco’s ‘big break’, giving him some of the major plot points and impressive fight sequences, but it just faulted slightly. Again, I just felt there wasn’t really enough character development, for any of the characters, to make me feel particularly attached to either one of them. Lastly, some of the extras in the film were just plain unbelievable. Now, I’ve been to magic shows, and although everyone is there and loving it, I know full well that everyone is secretly thinking ‘shit, I really hope I don’t get picked’. But everyone in the audience seemed to be well up for, shouting ‘That’s me!’ or ‘Over here!’ sassily (if that’s even a word…) when their name was called out. Very strange.

Having said all of that, I did really enjoy the look of the film, lots of sweeping camera angles that made the magicians look plain epic, and plenty of special effects that leant to the incomprehensible nature of the Horsemen’s tricks. It did lend the audience the epic atmosphere of what it would be like to attend one of their shows.

I don’t want to leave this review feeling like the only good aspect of this film was some of the performances and the visual and special effects of the film, but the more I dwelled on it after leaving the cinema, the more confused I felt about the film and what on earth I had just seen. It’s a shame because it had the potential to be a really slick and cool film, which it very nearly was, but it was just let down by its lack of attention to narrative and explanation of certain parts of the plot. If you’ve seen Clash Of The Titans, which was also directed by Louis Leterrier, then you might be able to understand some of the problems I mean, because they are quite similar in their delivery or storyline – all about the effects, yet not real substance. Having said that, it was fairly enjoyable to an extent and I can see some people enjoying it, but I guess it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Now You See Me | In The Moment

Star Trek: Into Darkness | In The Moment

Apparently, 12.30 in the morning seems to be the best times to start writing these blogs. Either way, I needed to get this one written. I was in two minds about seeing the latest Star Trek film. Half of me didn’t really give: I had never watched the TV programmes, and hadn’t seen the first one, so why would it appeal to me? The other half: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. Oh yes. I am a girl. Therefore, it is somehow default to be in love with Benny C. I blame my sister and a best friend for their (understandably) unhealthy obsession with him. Either way, I was swayed right at the last minute and was able to see it before it stopped showing at the local cinema. And boy, was that a good decision.

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It was not, I repeat, was NOT me who made this. But I’m damn glad someone did.
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As I mentioned, I am speaking as a non-trekkie fan, with no past experience or knowledge of any of the characters/story-lines, so if my opinion in anyway offends or disgusts a fan then apologies in advance.

I guess the fact that I’m not a fan makes it more impressive that I thought it was an awesome film. I absolutely loved it. I’m always a bit sceptical about sci-fi movies, something about the different life forms (which just so happen to look like humans with body paint on…convenient ey?) that I don’t mix well with. But Star Trek: Into Darkness managed to win me over. The most notable aspect of the film were the special effects. My god. They were amazing. I was sat in the cinema feeling excited every time the Starship Enterprise blasted off into space, the bass-y-ness of it coming from the speakers of the cinema was just so powerful, it really did paint a picture of the force that was needed to propel this magnificent ship at an unimaginable speed through space. The amazing battles that took place also looked incredible due to effects; never was there a moment that I thought to myself that it looked TOO fake…if that makes sense. Often with special effects, it has a certain look that just takes away the believability from it but it just didn’t have that. It was fabulous! Right at the beginning, the ship lifts off out of a foreign ocean and it was truly awe-inspiring. I also have to take my hats off to whoever designed futuristic London. I wish I could live there straight away! It isn’t too ridiculous, you can see how today’s culture still remains prominent, just everything looks more slick and stylish. Like in Robots when they get nice new body parts. Oh, you haven’t watched that movie? Oh, just me then.

ALL of the performances were amazing. I’m not a big fan of Chris Pine, but he really did own this role. Or maybe his piercing blue eyes are just making me say that…And Zachary Quinto. Now, I’ve been a fan of Quinto since the days when Heroes was actually good. Sylar is possibly my favourite villain. Apart from Bane…BUT I found his role as Spock absolutely hilarious. From what I can tell of the snippets of previous Spocks, he really did deliver his blunt, informative nature so endearingly, it’s hard not to love him. And, damn, that eyebrow and ear combination is just fabulous. For some reason, I forgot that Simon Pegg was in the recent Star Treks and it was a more than pleasant surprise to see him. I adore Simon Pegg, and he was just the right amount of British familiarity and comic relief to give the film a decent amount of variety. And the last performance that, of course, I can’t leave out is Benedict Cumberbatch. What. A. Badass. His speciality of crushing heads like this mornings fried eggs was so chilling. (My sister likes to come up to me and squeeze my head and it makes me feel sick. Now, I run the risk of her doing it even more because the love of her life does it. Damn you, Benny C.) He obviously has a thing about long, black coats, which I can’t blame him for. It’s enough to make Neo jealous (yes, Neo, not Neyo.) 

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‘Just relax, and let me pierce your soul with my eyes’ Chris Pine
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As for the story, I thought it was captivating enough. There were a few points in the film where I was just like ‘Nah, I’m pretty sure ALL of the characters should’ve died then.’ but was also quite happy that they didn’t. Otherwise, it would be an extremely short lived film and this review would be a lot different. I was somewhat confused by the advertising because I thought that the majority of the film would be Benedict’s character, Khan tearing shit up on Earth and destroying things left, right and center. But, quite fortunately for the inhabitants of Earth, he tears shit up an incomprehensible amount of miles away. The only downside to the story is, at points, there are pointless inbetween bits, plus a shameful scantily clad shot of Alice Eve which…really was just there for eyecandy. She was good every other time though. Just…that was so pointless, it was painful. Apart from it made Kirk look like an ogling man slut.

So, to conclude. The film was so much more awesome than I thought it would be when I walked into the cinema. The look of it is awesome, the delivery of the characters are awesome and the special effects feel like they could literally blow you away. You should go an see this whilst there is still time left, to at least experience it; it will not be the same on DVD. And if you are a Benedict fan, then this film is a given. Lots of Benedict being a bad ass, and he even sheds a tear. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to deliberate whether it’s worth becoming a trekkie or not.

Until next time!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhz4A5BCMAA – trailer.

Star Trek: Into Darkness | In The Moment

Night and Fog | In The Moment

IN THE MOMENT – Not a review, but my immediate thoughts after watching a film.
Upon reflection, I feel like I have to raise awareness of a documentary that we watched today. I, myself, am not a huge documentary fan, for I rarely watch them, especially if they are films. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that they are good, or interesting, I personally just don’t watch them that often. However, I do understand the power that they can have on the audience, and especially after today, I am more so aware of this.
Today, we watched a half hour french documentary called Night and Fog, which is a documentary made up of stock footage and photographs of the tragedy that is the holocaust, narrated by Jean Sayrol – a survivor of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. It documents the process from the designing of the shelters to questioning ‘who is responsible?’ for this travesty. And that’s exactly the question that needs to be raised. Was it the guards who worked at the camps? Was it just Hitler? Was it the Jewish, just for being of that race and religion? It makes me feel sick. It hasn’t even been 100 years since the Second World War and in no way should the holocaust be an issue simply swept under the carpet. So, though it was gruelling, I am thankful for this film, because people do need to spare a moment to remember the hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands of lives that were unnecessarily lost due to the treatment in the concentration camps. It leaves you with the scary concept that this could happen again. No-one at the time knew that this was going to happen. And as Saylon says in the narration, there could be guards hidden amongst us as we walk around today.
Now, I am going to link you to the three parts that I found on Youtube (French but with English subtitles) and I, of course, am not going to force anybody to watch it. Some parts are pretty graphic in terms of exposing dead bodies, and even if you think you know a fair amount of what happened in the concentration camps, this film will still surprise you with some of the horrors that went on behind the barbed wire and the lengths that these, quite frankly, psychopaths’ prejudice allowed them to go. So, I guess this is a warning; viewer discretion is advised. But I do recommend it, because it is ‘interesting’, in a morbid way, but at the same time, terrifically sad. Night and Fog is an example of a documentary that aims to truly move its audience, provokes challenging thoughts, and disturbs in an aim to teach.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8qTFuMcDLs – Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9frXX1qOqSY – Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oA4OBuaWYY – Part 3
The quality isn’t the best, but it’s good enough to read the subtitles, and to understand what’s being shown to you.

Night and Fog | In The Moment