A movie about a biblical tale will always spawn controversy, whether… MoreA movie about a biblical tale will always spawn controversy, whether you stay close to the origins of the story or take your liberties. Director Darren Aronofsky's version of Noah's tale ranks somewhere in between. You can tell that he did his homework, but it's also clear that he'll get a lot of opposition about the added fantastic elements and Noah's character development in the final act. In the end every viewer, atheist and believers alike, will have to make up their own mind about the film and the story.
From an artistic point of view there is little to complain about. Aronofsky conjures up breath-taking visuals and special effects, great cinematography and you can tell he knows how to direct actors. From Russel Crowe's great physical presence that carries the film down to the shortest roles of the child actors, Aronofsky manages to generate excellent performances by everyone, even baby face Lorman who hasn't exactly had an impressive track record of multi-dimensional roles so far.
Both the director's art house fans and the religious purists might have problems with the fantastic elements of the film that culminate in an almost Lord of the Rings-esque battle between rock Transformers and an opposing army. That scene does feel out of place in the film, despite of its flawless effects and great visuals. But the third and final act suddenly shows Aronofsky comfortable in his true element: directing actors in narrow space, telling the story of a person obsessed with their dreams (see: Black Swan, The Wrestler). Here, the film finds its dramatic footing and can rely on its actors for a pretty strong solution and surprisingly touching ending.
Of course the message of preserving nature and having respect for all beings is somewhat simplistic and naive, some might say preachy. But at least it's got its heart at the right place and in this day and age more important than ever.
Was Aronofsky torn between two point of views when creating this or did he enjoy taking the middle path? Few scenes help you decide to answer that, especially not the beautifully animated story of creation Noah tells his family, that's combining biblical texts while showing a pretty scientific depiction of the big bang and evolution. I've decided to applaud Aronofsky for this attempt, even if the result is far from flawless or particularly even. At least it's a very peculiar, odd and challenging film that doesn't rely on the easy way out and yet manages to be entertaining at any moment.
The reason the Marvel cinematic Universe manages to stay fresh,… MoreThe reason the Marvel cinematic Universe manages to stay fresh, exciting and surprising is that each hero finds his own sub genre of movies. While Cap's first adventure was a WW2-based origin story, the Russo brothers, directors of shows like Arrested Development and Community, open up an entirely new box in this collection of superhero films: the paranoia thriller.
The film ends up being really convincing in a genre most prominent in the 1970s, where people are shot through apartment walls shortly before revealing the traitor and everyone starts mistrusting anyone else. At the same time, it is still delivering over the top superhero action and funny one-liners, while the ultimate revelation is nothing less than Marvel's biggest game changer to date. Especially the TV show Agents of SHIELD, that found its footing in recent weeks, will most certainly have to react to the puzzling and breathtaking events unveiled here. It would go too far to call this film realistic, especially if you consider the way Cap takes down a jet all by himself, but the underlying message is based on current world events much more than before: don't take away my freedom in favor of a false sense of security.
The film effortlessly includes characters as antithetic as Robert Redford's excellently performed politician and the stone cold bionic assassin Winter Soldier while still flowing perfectly. The creators are also smart enough to have other hero characters enter the spotlight every now and then for their moments to shine, which is just massive fun. Some of the fast-cut shootouts feel like coming from a Michael Mann film, while the showdown is almost as huge and spectacular as the Avengers' battle of New York. This perfect balance of thriller and action sequences makes this just outstanding popcorn entertainment and raises the bar once again.
Watch out for Stan Lee's as well as a Community cameo plus a great Pulp Fiction Easter egg. There are two post credits scenes, the first goose-bump inducing one setting up Avengers: Age of Ultron next year while the other one is teasing what Cap's solo return could deal with in 2016. Keep 'em coming, Marvel. Apparently you can do no wrong.
In an unexpected turn of events, director Wes Anderson delivers his… MoreIn an unexpected turn of events, director Wes Anderson delivers his best movie since "Life Aquatic". Once again it seems as if he called and everyone he ever worked with showed up. The cast reads like a who's who of Hollywood and brings this tale to life down to the smallest roles. The big winner has to be Ralph Fiennes, who has been stuck with bad guys mostly in recent years but delivers such a wonderfully arrogant yet heart-warmingly loyal protagonist, you entirely forget Voldemort ever existed. One could say it's Anderson's first real story of crime and suspense, of course stuffed with plenty of his typical set pieces, humor and quirky characters. Things start out slow with a frame story setting up the real tale of the old hotel's former personnel. But the film gets faster, more entertaining and funnier with every minute. The result is once again full of so much detail, great performances and weirdness, it's a pleasure to behold. Of course everyone who didn't get any of his former works won't find an access to Anderson's latest either. His fans can rejoice, because this will most likely show up in their Best Of Lists.
Given the track record of movies based on toy lines, it was absolutely… MoreGiven the track record of movies based on toy lines, it was absolutely justified to be rather skeptical about the making of a Lego movie. The console games the company produced over the years have been fun though, and everyone deserves a chance, right?
Well, as it turns out the Lego Movie is much closer to the Toy Story trilogy than to G.I. Joe or Battleship, thank heavens. It's incredibly fast, it excels at being silly and extremely detailed. Of course there is plenty of humor, some of which may be over the youngest viewers heads. There is just so much to see and explore that you will definitely need more than one viewing to get it all, that's how overwhelming things are, and not just in the fun action sequences. The voice acting is great, especially the unbelievably silly crap they have Morgan Freeman say is already worth the price of admission.
The final plot twist - yes there is such a thing in an animated movie - is so logical and simple yet stunningly surprising and also shows that the movie has a huge beating heart under its brick skin. It's a love declaration to the toy line, yes, but even more so to the power of imagination, the joy of playing and the innocence of escapism.
Reading too much into a kids movie? Most certainly not. Everyone involved knew exactly what they were doing and delivered at the top of their game.
A movie for the young ones and those still young at heart.
Shakespeare would have been proud. The mix of incest, murder, betrayal… MoreShakespeare would have been proud. The mix of incest, murder, betrayal and tyranny easily could have been part of one of his dramas. In this historical Chinese piece it's portrayed in the most visually pleasing style imaginable. The palaces, clothes, props are full of details and colors. The feast for the eyes never manages to make you care for anything that's going on, sadly. The dysfunctional family's story is way too complicated and unlikable for that. There isn't even all that much action until the showdown suddenly gets a lot more epic than expected. Only the assassin attacks are really awesome. Other than that: visually pleasing but ultimately unimportant.
A film that is easy to admire for its outstanding acting and great… MoreA film that is easy to admire for its outstanding acting and great cinematography, but hard to love for its slowness and cruelty. Pretty sure its images will stick with me for a while, especially the actors' faces. The story of the protagonist's struggle for survival and the fates of people he encounters are a lot harder to digest than imagined. Sometimes the film seems to enjoy its own brutality a little too much, though. It is to get a point across but sometimes feels a bit like torture porn. That doesn't lessen the film's impact. It's most certainly memorable, incredibly well done and acted down to the smallest roles. It's a tour the force you have to experience to believe it, but it's not something you may want to revisit later again.
The adaptation of Noah Gordon's best selling book about a British boy… MoreThe adaptation of Noah Gordon's best selling book about a British boy who travels to the medieval East to learn about medicine may have its financial roots in Germany, but the look and feel of the film couldn't be more international. The settings, the camera work, production design, everything's all top notch and in Hollywood's league. Some of the visuals are strikingly beautiful and take you to a different time and place, like every good film. The film can rely on a couple of acting veterans who never disappoint like Skarsgard and Kingsley, but the leading man, newcomer Tom Payne, makes for a talented and likable protagonist. The film's ambition is nothing less than telling a story of adventure, love and drama on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia. Of course it can't entirely live up to that. Still, the effort and great work that went into this shows and make for a very entertaining film. The only complaint would have to be how ham-fisted the commentary on current religious struggles that made it into the film feel. Those aspects of the story may have a couple of very true things to say about how religion, prejudice and fear-mongering has made life more difficult for centuries, it all feels a bit forced, though. The result is still fine adventure cinema on a massive scale, worth checking out.
Ben Stiller's film is a love declaration to many things: the printed… MoreBen Stiller's film is a love declaration to many things: the printed press, photography, and of course following your dreams. Cynics will find plenty of opportunities to shred the movie to pieces but everyone with their heart at the right spot might enjoy following Walter Mitty on his unlikely adventure. The tone of the film has little to do with Stiller's louder comedies, instead it has mostly a quit, quirky sense of humor, even a few rather serious notes while sometimes giving its scenes the time to slow down and breathe. That may seem a bit boring for an audience expecting a gad every ten seconds, but it also makes the laughs that do come so much more rewarding. The cinematography delivers beautiful, unforgettable images and the hunt for the lost negative keeps you guessing up until the pretty logical yet unexpected reveal. Stiller can rely on a good cast and his own character's flaws and virtues to have the audience in his corner. The result is a a lovable, sweet and funny film that should be treasured like the memory of a very special vacation.
This Finnish Christmas tale looks better than most other films from… MoreThis Finnish Christmas tale looks better than most other films from Europe. Arthouse lovers could complain that it got Hollywoodized too much, but the wonderfully wacky story of "the original" Santa tale should please everyone with a sense for unusual horror. The mix of traditional folklore, family story and monster film just works really great together. Especially the ending is so clever you can't help but hope this is a true story.
Decent German post-apocalyptic thriller that set in a world where… MoreDecent German post-apocalyptic thriller that set in a world where temperatures have risen and even middle Europe has dried out. As a small group of survivors try to make their way to the supposedly wetter mountains they have to deal with hostile locals. The atmosphere, cinematography and acting is great, but the really convincing first half doesn't entirely go anywhere. There are moments of real tension and even horror, but once it ends you feel they could have done even more with the premise. Still, worth checking out.