Monday, October 31, 2011

The Three Musketeers

Year: 2011
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Cast: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz
Before I begin my review……
                It’s insane how many times The Three Musketeers can be remade and the characters can be featured in different films, and they can still be a huge box office draw.
                I did a quick search and The Three Musketeers have been made into nearly 30 films in at least four different languages including English, Spanish and Danish. Disney have, of course, had a go at it, as has Japanese anime. The characters of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan also appear in such films as 1998’s The Man In The Iron Mask. 
                The words The Three Musketeers are known to everyone, whether you have seen the films are not. They still capture the heart of adventure lovers from every generation.
                I guess The Three Musketeers is like many other remade adventure/ action movies these days. Film makers want to remake them as when they watch the original, they think to themselves “Imagine what we could do with thus film with all the film techniques we have available to us these days”.
                The 2011 version is definitely an example of “Hey! Look what we can do now!”
                2011 seemed about time to make another The Three Musketeers, so why not? Just don’t expect too much different from other films of the same name as far as the story goes, visually except so much more!         
                Young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) is the son of a once Musketeer and travels from country France to Paris to become one himself. When he arrives, he finds that the three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) are not quite as popular and heroic as he once thought. However, when Lord Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) visits from England, he and Athos’ once love, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) scheme to steal a diamond necklace from Queen Anne (Juno Temple). The Musketeers embark on an adventure to England to claim back what belongs to France.
                The Three Musketeers is one of those adventure films with plenty of corn cheese to it. It is very unrealistic with fights in air ships, fighting on top of English and French landmarks and blowing these landmarks to pieces. But hey, true story adventures were never this fun, right?
                Everything is very over the top, there is backing music to accompany every situation, even if it makes everything just seem all the more ridiculous. The graphics and special effects are very good and enhanced by 3D. However, some special effects visuals don’t look quite as realistic they could be.
                The musical score is very good and the sword fighting scenes are impressively choreographed. 
                Logan Lerman does well as the young D’Artagnan and Macfadyen, Stevenson and Evans are all very good as the Musketeers. Lerman, Macfadyen and Stevenson do very well with each of their characters and you know the true self of each of them. Evans lacks a tad in this area as you don’t really know where his character fits in personality wise with the others.
                Christoph Waltz is, as always, at home in the role of the villain. Not quite as evil as his previous roles of late, but still convincing as the Cardinal. Orlando Bloom impresses as Buckingham. Bloom isn’t known for playing the villainous roles, but he is completely convincing here and actually very entertaining to watch.
                Milla Jovovich is perhaps the most over-emphasised character. Absolutely everything about her character is completely overdone. Every facial expression and line she says just has a little too much in it.
                The Three Musketeers is this time around just as entertaining as the previous versions. Nowhere near the best version and not really very memorable, but entertaining enough.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Contagion (2011)

Year: 2011
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard
Before I begin my review………
Contagion is not a movie for hypochondriacs or those who are obsessive compulsive.
If you think you are sick all the time and are constantly worried that you are going to catch something somehow, Contagion will only fuel the fire.
I don’t consider myself a hypochondriac or obsessive compulsive, but this movie had the ability to make me paranoid. When Kate Winslet’s character, Dr Erin Mears said “The average person touches their face 3000 times a day”, I immediately became aware of how many times I touched my face or whenever someone around me did.
One of the first signs of the virus in the film is the presence of a cough. There were some coughers in the cinema, and my heart skipped a beat every time I heard one of them.
I suppose these reactions I had to the film are just an indication of how realistic Contagion is. It is now a few hours since I saw the film and the more time elapses, the more disturbing I find it. The dislodging of your emotions in a film is always a sign of a good film. You may enjoy the film or not, but the fact is that if a film makes you feel a way you weren’t feeling when you walked in the cinema, then it is doing something right.
Contagion is Steven Soderbergh back to his best.
Soderbergh rejuvenates his ability to unsettle his audience while they are completely unaware as they are completely taken by his brilliant film-making skills.
Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a business trip to Hong Kong with what she thinks is a bad case of the flu combined with jet lag. It is clearly not, as Beth and her young son both collapse into seizures and die within a few days. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon) is determined to find out what happened to his wife. The virus spreads rapidly around the globe and with millions affected and scientists cannot find a cure quick enough.
Although Contagion can be considered a suspense film, the film goes deeper than just being a race against the disease. Contagion is a scary dose of the mortality of humans and how society acts when faced with their mortality.  The realism in the film is incredible. Soderbergh’s direction makes you feel like you are right there when everything happens.
However, Contagion does lack something which a suspense film normally excels at, pace.  The first half of the film is the perfect pace, while the second half completely slows down and makes it feel longer than its 106 minutes. Yet this is Soderbergh taking time to show the stages society goes through and what the virus does to each of the characters emotionally.  This period of the film does come across as a time where not much is really happening, but look deeper to see what Contagion is really trying to tell you.
The musical score is fantastic and completely suits the atmosphere of the film. The beginning sequence of the film is the perfect way to begin the film and heightens your curiousity and interest straight away.
There is not one actor who puts in a bad performance in Contagion. Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne are perfect in their roles, but these three actors seem to be a rare breed of actor who can clearly just not give a bad performance.
Jude Law is also a real stand out with a role which is very different to his usual role. His character of Alan Krumwiede is very interesting. He plays the part well of the “journalist” who completely takes advantage of the situation, or so it seems.
Matt Damon is probably the only lead actor who you feel could have given more in his role. He isn’t quite as grief stricken as he should be considering his wife and stepson have just died. The relationship with his daughter, Jory played by newcomer, Anna Jacoby-Heron, doesn’t seem at all realistic. However, Jacoby-Heron is one to watch out for.
Contagion may not be a film for those who are worried about their mortality and health and will unsettle you, but there is no denying that it is very well made and a piece of art.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Lion King 3D- Absolutely timeless

The Lion King 3D
Year: 1994
Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Cast: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg
In My Own Words
I was in my last year at primary school when The Lion King was first released back in 1994. When that infamous first note of “Circle Of Life”, memories from that year of my life came flooding back to me. I felt like I was that eleven year old watching the classic Disney film for the first time.
The good news for Disney fans, is that today Disney announced that they will also be releasing The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Finding Nemo also in 3D in the future! Hooray! One of the great things about when I was younger was that Disney would re-release their old films to the cinemas. I remember seeing such films as 101 Dalmatians, Fox And The Hound, Lady And The Tramp and Snow White And The Seven Dwarves at the cinemas as re-releases. I can’t remember when exactly this stopped, but it is something I missed. There is always something magic about seeing Disney classics on the big screen. So exciting times are ahead!
These are my own words and here is my review.
Seventeen years after it was first seen in cinemas, The Lion King appears again. This time in the ever present 3D.
The honest truth is The Lion King is really a beautiful movie that all ages can enjoy. Whether Disney has re-released it in 3D or not, it still would have pulled in the same audience numbers which it has. The 3D is just an excuse for Disney to re-release The Lion King, when in all truth they really didn’t need an excuse.
The Lion King is all about lion cub Simba (with the voice talents of once Home Improvement star Jonathan Taylor Thomas as young Simba and Matthew Broderick as older Simba), who “just can’t wait to be king”. When his evil uncle, Scar (Jeremy Irons) plots to kill his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Simba so he can take the crown for himself, Simba escapes into a life of exile unable to face his guilt. He lives a carefree and problem free life until his childhood lion cub friend, Nala (Moira Kelly) shows up and Simba is forced to face his past.
Disney do as much with the 3D as they possibly can with this film that was made when 3D was only something you experienced when you went to a theme park. It doesn’t make a big difference to the film, but when you notice the 3D it is impressive. However, it doesn’t enhance or add to the film. The graphics and colours are gorgeous in themselves of the African landscape and don’t need any help from 3D.
The Lion King charms as it always has. The music by Hans Zimmer is a strong point with songs which have been sung now for well over a decade.
Disney has an amazing ability to take a story of talking lions fighting over who is the king of the pride which does sound pretty silly when you say it like that, and make it into a film which does seem corny or silly in any way. It’s a movie children love, but adults also love. It’s a movie which those who were children when it first came out, remain loyal fans to throughout their lives. They grow up, but their love for The Lion King and other such Disney films remain a constant in their lives.
Absolutely timeless.