Review


Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has settled into his hectic double life of battling crime on the streets of New York as Spider-Man, while keeping up with his everyday responsibilities as Peter Parker. Upon his graduation from high school, however, Peter finds this delicate balancing act to be too much, forcing him to reconcile his own desire to keep his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in his life, with the knowledge that he will forever be putting her life in potential jeopardy by doing so. Things become even more complicated when Peter’s old childhood friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns to our hero’s life – carrying some dangerous secrets with him. Meanwhile, down-trodden Oscorp electrician Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is accidentally transformed into the dangerous force of nature that is Electro, forcing Pete to yet again battle a science experiment-gone-wrong birthed by his dad’s old workplace. This leads Peter to learn more about his parents’ disappearance so many years ago, while starting to uncover the truth about what is going on behind closed doors at Oscorp Industries… I missed out on seeing “The Amazing Spider-Man” when it came out, somehow it felt strange with a reboot of what Sam Raimi started with Tobey Maguire. Tim Robey of The Telegraph said of the second movie, “Marc Webb’s Spider-Man sequel is overstuffed with high-voltage villains, but the sparks between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone save the day”. Richard Roeper gave the film a B+, stating that “It’s about 20 minutes too long and it’s overstuffed with too many characters and too many subplots, but there’s enough good stuff in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to warrant optimism about the next chapter of the franchise.” While Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, gave the film two stars out of five and said: “Things go wrong quickly with Amazing 2. Am I the only one who hates the word Amazing to describe a movie that isn’t? Just asking.” I reckon my opinion is that the foundation of the movie feels so much like the comic I loved and red when I was a kid and Andrew Garfield fits well into to shoes of Peter Parker/Spiderman and the same goes for Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. But, at the same time I felt throughout the movie that it was just “too” adjusted for a young audience and with that becoming “too” cartoony and losing the slightly darker feeling (even if they try to add it) in all the subplots and the crazy chaotic CGI (which is still not fully satisfying). Including too many villains, in this case The Green Goblin, Rhino and Electro is just like adding too much whipped cream on an already too sweet piece of pie. Jamie Foxx Electro is not that good and I wasn´t eagerly satisfied with what Marc Webb had done with Rhino (Paul Giamatti). While Dane DeHaan´s The Green Goblin was more of my liking. Part of the problem is that you don´t really get emotionally engaged by the characters, partly due to the script and partly because “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is actually a bit too campy in my eyes. I had hopes, but in the end I wasn´t satisfied. (3 out of 5)

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Experienced CIA agent Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), originally from Pittsburgh, works with a team to capture the Albino, lieutenant to an arms trafficker called the Wolf, as he is selling a dirty bomb to some terrorists. The Albino deduces the trap when he recognizes one of the agents, whom he kills. Renner is able to cripple the Albino by shooting him in the leg, but not capture him. Meanwhile, elite CIA assassin Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who has been personally assigned by the Director to kill the Wolf, monitors the operation and notices Renner has unknowingly seen the Wolf. Renner is nearly disabled by an extreme cough, which is diagnosed as terminal brain cancer which has spread to his lungs. He is given only a few months to live, and will not see the next Christmas. For decades he has kept his dangerous career a carefully guarded secret from his wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld), at the cost of losing them. He decides to spend his remaining time trying to fix his relationship with his estranged daughter, and if possible, his ex-wife. He returns to Paris, where he and his family live separately. He makes an awkward reconnection with Christine and Zooey, and tells Christine of his terminal illness. She allows him to reconnect with Zooey, and when she has to go out of the country on business, she is forced to let him look after Zooey. Vivi recruits him to find and kill the Wolf, in exchange for an experimental drug that could extend his life significantly. Renner reluctantly accepts, to get more time with his family… “3 Days to Kill” is directed by the man with a bloody soccer player name, McG, and co-written by the long lost Luc Besson. These two names set the bar, the standard and the general atmosphere of the movie. Meaning not really my bar or my standard. If the great Kevin Costner wouldn´t have had the lead role as Renner, this would´ve just been a tiresome, action filled, potholed, stereotypical Besson actioneer. Amber Heard´s CIA assassin Vivi Delay makes no sense at all, and everything is so sadly cartoony about her. Her clothes, her lines, the way she deliver the lines, her movements, her stance, wigs etc. What the hell is she communicating as a CIA operative? The mix between family bonding/reconciliation and serious action is not fully balanced and it just feels haphazard plus the script seems to have been written on a weekend. I think that Costner, Nielsen and Steinfeld manages to get out of this action mess with their heads high, but the overall reaction to “3 Days to Kill” is truly so so from my point of view. (3 out of 5)

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A man, known only as “The Counselor” (Michael Fassbender), and his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz) are about to get married. Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, cocaine is packaged in barrels and concealed in a sewage truck, driven across the border and stored at a sewage treatment plant. After the Counselor goes to Amsterdam to meet with a diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz) to purchase an expensive engagement ring for Laura, he proposes and she accepts. He has expensive tastes, driving a Bentley and wearing elegant suits. At a party thrown by Reiner (Javier Bardem) and girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz), the Counselor discusses a nightclub he and Reiner intend to run, as well as the Counselor’s interest in an upcoming drug deal, which would be his first. The Counselor meets with Westray (Brad Pitt), a business associate of Reiner’s. He hears of the deal’s four-thousand percent return rate, but Westray warns The Counselor about becoming involved in such a deal, saying that Mexican cartels are merciless. The Counselor visits then a client, a prison inmate named Ruth (Rosie Perez) who is on trial for murder. Ruth’s son is a biker and a valued cartel member known as “The Green Hornet” recently arrested for speeding. The Counselor agrees to bail him out of jail. Malkina, a ruthless criminal herself, employs “The Wireman” (Sam Spruell) to steal the drugs in the sewage truck. He does this by decapitating the biker with a wire stretched across the highway. After collecting the component that will allow the sewage truck to start, The Wireman drives to the sewage treatment plant, where he steals the truck containing the cocaine. Learning of this incident, Westray meets with The Counselor to notify him that The Green Hornet is dead and that the cocaine has been stolen, bleakly intoning The Counselor’s culpability. Westray says he is leaving town immediately and suggests The Counselor do the same. Westray explains that the cartel’s ruthlessness extends to creating “snuff films” where murder victims are filmed on camera. The Counselor makes an urgent call to Laura, arranging to meet her in another state, where he will explain. The cartel has learned that The Counselor bailed out The Green Hornet, which appears as suspect timing and fully blameworthy for the punitive purposes of the cartel… Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, calling it “not a very likable or gratifying film,” adding that “one is left with a very bleak ending and an only slightly less depressing sense of the waste of a lot of fine talent both behind and in front of the camera.” Noted critic Mark Kermode listed it as number two on his Ten Worst Films of 2013. The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan stated, “As cold, precise and soulless as the diamonds that figure briefly in its plot, The Counselor is an extremely unpleasant piece of business.” Peter Debruge of Variety criticized Cormac McCarthy’s script, saying that his “first original script is nearly all dialogue, but it’s a lousy story, ineptly constructed and rendered far too difficult to follow.” Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy together with top names like Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penélope Cruz should be worth a watch, but unfortunately “The Counselor” is hardly that. The original screenplay written by Cormac McCarthy, who gave us one of the best books I have red in “The Road”, is such a painful mess in terms of amateurish dialogue and scenes. There´s several nonsense plot turns and the characters are truly cartoony and stereotypical. I got the feeling that Scott had looked at the illustrator Hermann for inspiration, but is hardly close to the production or magnificence of the latter. Michael Fassbender is normally a great actor, but here he is flat and non engaging. You simply don´t care about him or understand his actions. Cameron Diaz is miscasted for her role and she´s hardly terrifying and mysterious, which would be the foundation of her character and the idea of making her appearance cheetah like is quite ridiculous. Her clunky way of delivering her lines scares hardly anyone. And the car masturbation scene is beyond ridiculous and I can´t believe Cormac McCarthy wrote that. Brad Pitt disappears underneath the hat of his, Penélope Cruz talent goes out the door and Javier Bardem´s Reiner is just too much. This is simply a carcass on the high plains for the wild animals to take care of. (2 and a half out of 5)

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In the 2010s, the “New Founding Fathers of America”, which took over following an economic collapse and instituted totalitarian rule, has established one night a year -called “the Purge” – in which all crime is legal and all police, fire and medical emergency services are shut down for 12 hours, from 7 pm till 7 am. However, the purge has resulted in crime and unemployment rates plummeting to 1% and a strong economy. Although it was thought to be used as an act or catharsis for the U.S. populace, in reality, it is used as a method of artificial population control, as the people living in poverty and poor areas are usually the main targets. On March 21, 2022, hours before the annual Purge commences, security system salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) returns to his home in an affluent Los Angeles suburb to prepare for holding out the night with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). The family is assured that the security system manufactured by James’s company will keep them safe. James is a top salesman of elaborate protective systems designed to provide home security each Purge night, and their neighbors attribute the size and fittings of the newly extended Sandins’ house to his success in local promotion as their system is much more sophisticated. When an intruder on the run from purgers enter the Sandin’s home during the lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary, and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide… The main problem with “The Purge” is the fact that the possibilities of the intriguing storyline is not handled in a proper manner or explored in a way I think would be far more interesting than the end result. What we get is a typical home invasion story with violence as the main attraction and what might have been a great futuristic horror story becomes just a midnight feast for the teen kids. The story is way too stereotypical, not very scary and it follows a formula no one can miss. The wasted potential of the story is the downfall of the movie which could have lead to a more original film then what James DeMonaco gives us. (2 and a half out of 5)

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Detective Lieutenant Remy McSwain (Dennis Quaid) of the New Orleans police department investigates the murder of a local mobster. His investigation leads him to suspect that fellow members of the police force may be involved. Anne Osborne (Ellen Barkin), a state district attorney, is sent to investigate alleged police corruption. After seeing firsthand some unorthodox practices by Remy, Anne accuses him of being on the take. He argues that she does not have an understanding of how the system works in New Orleans for police. Despite Osborne’s suspicious and apprehensive feelings towards him, they form a relationship. McSwain is caught accepting payoffs in an Internal Affairs sting, and Osborne has the burden of prosecuting him. With the assistance of fellow officers within the police force, the evidence is suppressed. McSwain is cleared of the charges, at which point Anne, becoming aware of such, is faced with the conflict of her personal feelings for Remy and her duty to uphold the law… Jim McBride´s “The Big Easy” has been on my list for quite some time and I must say that I was disappointed on the film after my view. In contrast to the late and great Roger Ebert who said “The Big Easy is one of the richest American films of the year. It also happens to be a great thriller. I say ‘happens,’ because I believe the plot of this movie is only an excuse for its real strength: the creation of a group of characters so interesting, so complicated and so original they make a lot of other movie people look like paint-by-number characters.” I experienced an amateurish and flat thriller with solid names such as Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Ned Beatty and John Goodman being completely out of shape and performance. Quaid’s Cajun accent is ridiculous and forced, Barkin´s angriness fools no one and Ned Beatty´s corrupt police captain is hardly believable. McBride has tried to handle this neo-noir thriller with a comic hint and it doesn’t work at all. Most actors are balancing on the verge of comedy all the time and there´s no sexual spark between Quaid and Barkin. I have no idea how “The Big Easy” has ended up being praised. If you want a gritty, sexy and violent New Orleans crime thriller see Walter Hill´s magnificent “Johnny Handsome” instead in which Ellen Barkin shows her true acting talent. (2 out of 5)

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Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed-up Hollywood actor famous for playing the superhero Birdman in blockbuster movies decades earlier. Riggan is tormented by the voice of Birdman, who mercilessly criticizes him, and he sees himself performing feats of levitation and telekinesis. Riggan hopes to reinvent his career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The play is produced by Riggan’s best friend and lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis), and also stars Riggan’s girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and first-time Broadway actress Lesley (Naomi Watts). Riggan’s daughter Sam (Emma Stone), a recovering addict, serves as his assistant. During rehearsals, a light fixture falls onto Ralph, an actor Riggan and Jake agree is terrible; Riggan tells Jake he caused the light to fall so he could replace Ralph. Through a connection with Lesley, Riggan replaces Ralph with the brilliant but volatile method actor Mike (Edward Norton), refinancing his house to fund his contract. The first previews go disastrously: Mike breaks character over the replacement of his gin with water, and attempts to rape Lesley during a sex scene. Riggan reads early press coverage and is incensed that Mike has stolen the attention, but Jake encourages him to continue. Riggan needs to find a way to keep the play together and himself as well… Aside from a few shots near the beginning and end, Birdman appears to be filmed in a single shot (The concept of shooting a feature-length film in one, continuous take was actually accomplished twelve years before Birdman’s release in the film “Russian Ark” (2002), which was shot in a single 96-minute Steadicam sequence.), an idea the director had since the film’s conception. This required an atypical production approach, with many elements of post-production needing to be considered before principal photography. As a result the script took two years to write, the cast went through several weeks of meticulous rehearsals, and during shooting takes were cut for the slightest mishaps. The film was written using a dramatic device similar to Magical Realism – Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic (often mundane) environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre (mostly during the Latin American “boom” generation, which includes Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes amongst many others), magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.It was filmed in New York City during the spring of 2013 with a budget of $16.5 million, jointly financed by New Regency and Fox Searchlight Pictures. The film premiered the following year in August where it opened the 71st Venice International Film Festival. “Birdman” was given a limited theatrical release in the United States on October 17, 2014, followed by a wide release on November 14. The film has grossed more than $86 million worldwide. It has garnered critical acclaim, with praise particularly directed to the cast’s performances, Iñárritu’s direction, editing, screenplay, and cinematography. It is widely considered to be one of the best films of 2014, and has received multiple awards and nominations. Birdman won the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Best Director for Iñárritu, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, and also receiving five additional nominations, tying it with The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most awards and nominations at the year’s ceremony. It also won the Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as Best Screenplay and Best Actor at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. Alejandro González Iñárritu is a great director with some truly fantastic films on his CV and I reckon we all raised an eyebrow when he took upon himself to do the project “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” as this is pretty far from his usual style and art form. First of all I love the camera work which depicts most of the film as one continuous take and I can only imagine how difficult that is to make that happen so it looks good and believable. The idea of having a self aware showbiz satire as the foundation is not new, but it´s how you actually handle the topic that makes it interesting. And Iñárritu puts everything in it. I have been a fan of Michael Keaton since “Beetlejuice” and I love that he gets to show his full range yet again in a movie that will propel him into the industry yet again with good roles at hand. And I reckon you can´t get away from the fact that the role is close to his own life and his stint as Batman. He is magnificent as Riggan Thomson in “Birdman” and I do think he should´ve won the Oscar for this role. I´m on your side Michael. Edward Norton is great as well together with Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis and the lovely Emma Stone. In the midst of all the black comedy and pointed fingers at what it means to be a celebrity with the good sides and the bad sides that comes with it, my personal problem with “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” is the feeling of this being an “invite only” show for the people on the inside and not for us outside of the entertainment industry. I didn´t feel invited by Iñárritu while he was dissecting all the ugly sides of the industry in his personal laboratory making the movie also feeling a bit self-important and pompous on the side. This does however not drag down the movie and the experience. (4 out of 5)

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In the late 21st century, an interstellar war between humans (the Bilateral Terran Alliance, or BTA) and Dracs (a reptilian humanoid race) is fought. Battles are periodically fought between fighter spacecraft. During one such battle, human pilot Willis E. Davidge (Dennis Quaid) and Drac pilot Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett Jr.) engage in a dogfight which results in both crash-landing on Fyrine IV, an alien world uninhabited by intelligent life, with two moons, a breathable atmosphere, water and native fauna. After initial hostilities, the two eventually learn to cooperate to survive. They work together to build a shelter for protection against meteorite storms, a natural phenomenon that periodically strikes the planet. Over the next three years, they overcome their differences to cooperate and survive… “Enemy Mine” is a 1985 science fiction drama film directed by Wolfgang Petersen based on the story of the same name by Barry B. Longyear. The film began production in Budapest in April 1984 under the direction of Richard Loncraine, who quickly ran into “creative differences” with producer Stephen J. Friedman and executives at 20th Century Fox; the project was shut down after a week of shooting. Wolfgang Petersen then took over as director and reshot Loncraine’s scenes after moving the production to Munich. Originally budgeted at $17 million, Enemy Mine eventually cost more than $40 million after marketing costs were factored in, and was a disappointment at the box office during the 1985 holiday season, earning only $12.3 million. The president of Fox’s marketing department felt the film was an “extremely difficult movie to market”, that its story of two species evolving from enemies to friends made the science fiction picture less about the technology used to film it and more “along the lines of brotherhood.” This was epitomized by the film’s tagline: “Enemies because they were taught to be, allies because they had to be, brothers because they dared to be.” The studio pushed the film with a full marketing blitz: On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, full-page advertisements ran in 43 of the largest newspapers in the United States. Meanwhile, Fox arranged for a “network roadblock”: three 30-second television commercials ran at virtually the same prime time moment on what were then the three television networks. Still that same day, 3,500 theatrical trailers were shipped to theaters across America and 164 of the nation’s biggest shopping malls were covered with posters for the film. The campaign received some critical scorn from those in the industry. The poster, with the two leads staring at each other, was singled out for failing to convey the warmth of the story. A marketing head at another studio called it “one of the worst of the year, really terrible. There was a way to make the movie much more palatable.” Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1?2 out of 4 stars, saying it “made no compromises in its art direction, its special effects and its performances – and then compromised everything else in sight.” Janet Maslin of The New York Times referred to it as “This season’s Dune”, referring to the critically panned science fiction epic from the previous year. Variety magazine called it “an anthropomorphic view of life but touching nonetheless.” “Enemy Mine” has been on my to see list since it came out and I´m not sure why I didn´t see it then. The storyline is so very current and alive with two enemies finding the core of their humanity and realising that there´s no reason or understanding for them being enemies. With that said, the production itself suffered from problems from the start and that´s never a good sign. The special effects are good in some cases, pretty poor in other. There´s too many bad green screen moments and the general production design looks a bit wobbly. Then again in 1985 I reckon it was pretty good and moviegoer in general most have felt it looked authentic. However, the gem in the film is the bond that develops between the sworn enemies Davidge and Jeriba. Dennis Quaid is ok, but the fake beard and hair is not convincing. While Louis Gossett Jr. is simply magnificent and unrecognisable as “Jerry”. A true performance and heads up to the make up department. “Enemy Mine” is an ok sci-fi flick, but the storyline of two enemies becoming true friends is the hero (despite some Hollywood sappiness), not everything else around it. (3 out of 5)

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