Review: Equilibrium (2002)

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“You exist to continue your existence. What’s the point?”
– Mary

SYNOPSIS: In a fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system. – via IMDB

I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, and I have been meaning to rewatch it for ages now as I quite enjoyed it then and wanted to see how it held up after all these years. Recently I did so and my husband joined me, as he had not seen it. Well, in short, it is still good, though there are some things that I do take issue with.

First and foremost, the story is interesting. Nothing really new, and has pieces that distinctly feel like they are in line with concept of The Matrix, and it is very heavy handed with its message at times. That being said, it is an enjoyable watch if you don’t overthink it or watch Diggs’s performance too closely, because that it probably the biggest drawback of the movie. He is terrible, and my husband had severe beef with how cheery he seemed and smiley, especially if he was supposed to be hopped up on as much Prozium as his counterparts. Also, I get that Bale started feeling, but his character fell apart so violently at times that it was impossible to suspend belief that this futuristic regime would not notice their top cleric going to pieces as he was.

I did like the revolution that was being planned to revert back to the core of what people are, and to see how books and music and little things have been banned in this future world is heavy. Granted, you might be rid of war this way, but you have also lost the core of what it means to be a human, to feel, to have free will. I did like the colours that were used, and Preston’s clothes colours demarcating who he was and what he felt ultimately were good. I do enjoy imagery like that in movies. The costume design for this was also really good, and suited the tone and style of the movie.

The action sequences were fun, too, as is expected from an action movie, and they are choreographed well. I see that this movie gets quite a bit of hate, which I don’t get. It looks pretty good and has a solid story and comes together quite well. It is flawed, yes, but then just about every movie out there is. Go in for an action film with more story than most, and you will be in for a pretty good time. Equilibrium is well worth your time I would say.

Rapid Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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The Dark Knight Rises poster

Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”
– Bane

dark knight rises bane plane

GRADE 8.5This was a brilliant way to conclude a brilliant trilogy! I know that Luke and I don’t necessarily see completely eye to eye on this one, but I still think it is really good. At least we can agree that this trilogy is a stroke of utter genius. Plus, Tom Hardy as Bane. I mean come on, like that wasn’t going to go down phenomenally. Tom Hardy was just an amazing Bane, and his role was simply flawless. Nolan again nailed that perfect mix in the villain, where you wanted to know more about him and see what he was going to do, but still held out that Batman would save the day. Christian Bale is, again, just the most perfect Bruce Wayne/Batman. Seriously. The way he embodies both the billionaire playboy and the Dark Knight? It’s awesome. However, as much as this movie got right, I am not going to pretend there weren’t flaws. The pacing was a little uneven, and there was some incredibly flawed logic thrown in here. For instance, I get that John Blake is intuitive and all, but just guessing Batman’s identity right off the bat was just too much for me, and there is also the issue with Bane knowing exactly where Applied Sciences was, though it is apparently “not on the books” anywhere, and not public knowledge. Also, I am not a fan of Anne Hathaway, and her Catwoman/Selina Kyle is someone that grows on you after multiple viewings, but is still not a character I enjoy a lot at all. Yeah, there were a few niggles, but so what? This movie is ridiculously quotable. My fiancé just doesn’t even know what to do with me… walking up staircases and he doesn’t turn on lights? “Ah, you think darkness is your ally.” Threatening someone? No sweat! “It would be extremely painful… for you.” My one colleague and I communicate a lot in Bane quotes (well, any movie quotes). It’s a problem, we know, yet we have absolutely no plans to change that. But truly now, Bane is awesome on so many levels (and so hot here – the ladies will understand this, though it was unexpected)! And there are so many quotes in this movie that beg to be used. One of my favourite things in this movie was the return of the Scarecrow. I adore Cillian Murphy and I am a big fan of his Dr Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. I was thrilled to see him given more screentime this time around as opposed to The Dark Knight. Anyway, The Dark Knight Rises is another solid outing from Nolan, is really fun even though it is flawed, and closes one of the greatest trilogies of all time off properly. Go watch these all again immediately. Go on.

PS: I just remembered now – this movie was totally worth every second of my two week self-enforced internet ban prior to its release (I hate getting things late in SA)! It still remains a running joke, and Natasha still can’t believe I underwent something like that for a movie.

Rapid Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

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The Dark Knight movie Poster

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!”
– The Joker

SYNOPSIS: Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker. – via IMDB

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GRADE 10I get the same thrill every single time I watch it, without fail. Yes, let me rave about it some more. This is truly another masterpiece from Christopher Nolan, and everything was just as it was supposed to be. The cast was fantastic (again), and Heath Ledger brought so much to the table with his performance, though it was heartrendingly his last. The day he died we really did lose one of the greats and I will always maintain this. Hans Zimmer composes us a beautiful and perfect score for this, and it only makes everything you see that much more amazing. He truly is a phenomenal composer, and adds so much to all the projects that he works on. I love that this was also not a simple plot, and it was constantly being changed up. This is the Joker, after all. Nolan gets the villain thing. Again, we know Batman must triumph, but the Joker is so mesmerizing you want to give him free reign of Gotham and just see him tear to it to the ground. The Joker thrives on chaos, no more, no less, and I think The Dark Knight captured that perfectly. The effects were also incredibly well done, and the cast all came together to give us something to chew on. Aaron Eckhart was so good as Harvey Dent, he was the White Knight of Gotham, he was someone you could back, a man of integrity and honour and nerves of steel, and his descent into the underbelly of Gotham and being thrown from his pedestal was intense and painful to watch, and you can get why he would lose his mind. The movie is infinitely quotable, and there are so many cool little things strewn throughout this (the small tidbits) that make it so great (think the Joker’s vegetable peeler between all his knives). I am still a fan of Christian Bale as Batman, he is fantastic, and he really handled the material well for the film, being torn between fighting for Gotham as well as turning himself in to stop the Joker. Bruce’s relationship with Fox is still one of those fantastic ones. I was also a fan of the brief sighting of the Scarecrow, because you all know how much I loved Cillian Murphy in that one. There is so much to rave about in this movie… the action, the script, the performances, the score, the effects, truly. It is a phenomenal watch, and remains my favourite of the bunch just because it is so chaotic, crazy and out there.

Rapid Review: Batman Begins (2005)

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Batman Begins Poster

“There is nothing to fear, but fear itself!”
– Scarecrow

SYNOPSIS: After training with his mentor, Batman begins his war on crime to free the crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption that the Scarecrow and the League of Shadows have cast upon it. – via IMDB

batmanbatman begins lighter

GRADE 9The movie was simply amazing, with great cinematography as well as a brilliant score. This is one of my favourite origin stories, if not my most favourite. I know they have been done to death, but let’s face it, not quite the way that Nolan has done it. The man is a master, and he revolutionized the way we perceived the Batman films after they were butchered by Joel Schumacher. Nolan’s casting choices were dead on. Michael Caine is a perfect Alfred and Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon is a solid, trusty character. Christian Bale is my favourite Batman because he manages to pull of both Bruce Wayne and the caped crusader, which is something a lot of actors fail to do. ore often than not in superhero movies the actor can either pull off his identity or the alter ego, but so few times are they a success at both. He is pitted against the awesome Scarecrow, and Cillian Murphy was freaking perfect here, he plays the role so well. You cannot forget about Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul because he was truly a formidable enemy to have. Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox is a character that I thoroughly enjoy. The confused love story between Bruce and Rachel is very sad, too. Never overplayed, never not there. I think that the humour that is put forth in this movie is exactly what it has to be: not enough to make it a comedy, but not so greatly lacking that there is nothing but insurmountable drama. The humour that is laced throughout this is hilarious and gets me giggling good and proper, which is fun. The plot is put together well, and manages to stand on its own, and is definitely more than your average hollow action flick. If you have not watched it, where have you been?! For those who have watched it, watch it again and again! A Christopher Nolan Batman marathon is worth it each and every time. The length of the movie was just right, with plenty time to tell us Bruce’s story as well as take us through the motions of becoming the Batman. It did not feel long or dragged out anywhere, so well done! There is so much great stuff going on for this movie, from the awesome score from Hans Zimmer, to the great performances from the cast, a fantastic story and plenty action that looked fantastic… you can’t help but love this movie!

Rapid Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

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exodus poster

“Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity.”
– Moses

SYNOPSIS: The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. – via IMDB

exodus charge

GRADE 3So you know, when the trailers came last year I thought this looked alright, like it had potential. There were some big names attached to it and all that, I was under the impression Ridley Scott could do something with it. However, when I popped it in and saw the running time, I was a little sceptical. You have to be bloody brilliant to keep me entertained with a story for that long, but you know what? This is a movie based on the book of Exodus. Shit went crazy there, so I was sure that this would be alright. Oh my gosh, was I ever mistaken! For one, I have absolutely no idea what Bible Scott read. No jokes, seriously. I mean, it must be some special secret edition or something. That movie was not very loyal, at all (last I checked, one of Moses’s big selling points was that he could move water, not wade through it). It was long, oh so very long. It felt like it was never going to end, and it wasn’t getting to the point, either, which was even worse. Let’s pretend, for instance, that this was not some biblical epic, but just some film. Crazy concept, a war between brothers, help from a higher power, some extreme violence… well, the costumes looked like crap, the film was shot badly, everyone had a grating accent, there was no character development (and yes, I said that), what the fuck was Jesse doing out in the middle of the desert again, and why did everything look cheap and icky? Not only that, the hardcore plagues we came to see? Hustled through in about fifteen minutes. The battles from the trailer? Please, they were all there, nothing new in the film really. The logic was also incredibly flawed (all those Hebrew slaves magically outfitted with horses and the ability to waltz off and train and do their thing whenever they wanted, just for starters, as well as being crushed by an ocean. It means you’re dead, especially when you are in the middle of it). Also, there was nothing particularly emotional to identify with or any reason you would root for anyone. I know, I know, it looks like I am being harsh. Honestly, I read a lot of bad reviews on this, but I was still willing to give it a chance, I really was. Sitting down and watching it was just a really painful experience, though, and I really would not recommend it to anyone. Even when trying to look at this as a story that is not from the Bible, it really just falls flat, and there were crazy deviations from the book of Exodus throughout… no. I didn’t like this, I really didn’t. Plus there were some sketchy effects. Overall, pretty sucky, Bale and all!

Sporadic Scene: Batman Begins (2005) – The Doctor Isn’t In

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Obviously I am a huge fan of Chritopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. This was just one of those priceless scenes. I thought that casting Cillian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow was absolutely ingenious – he was everything the role needed to be. However, to see the cocky doctor doused with his own fear gas and terrified beyond his wits was something to see, and his reply was just perfect.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).

Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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out of the furnace poster

“I’ve got a problem with everybody.”
– Harlan DeGroat

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is a hardworking man. He is a blue-collar worker at the local mill and lucky to have a job seeing as he lives in the economically depressed Rust Belt. His younger brother Rodney Jr (Casey Affleck) is a military man with a gambling problem and in with some criminal types but not necessarily bad people for some money. Going to settle his brother’s debt with John Petty (Willem Dafoe) one night, his whole life is changed. Going home to his girlfriend Lena Warren (Zoë Saldana) he is in an accident that is not even remotely his fault but sentenced to prison. Leaving his younger brother and dying father behind, Russell begins his incarceration.

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“Working for a living? I gave my life for this country and what’s it done for me? Huh? What’s it done for me?” – Rodney Baze Jr

While in prison, his father passes away, and Russell is wracked with even more guilt over his passing and not having been there. Upon his release, Rodney takes Russell to his father’s grave and then to their home. Russell slowly but surely starts sinking back into the old ways of his sad life, though he is upset that Lena has moved on and is now seeing police offices Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker). Rodney is not working and is finished serving his country, fighting for Petty to settle his debt. Russell discovers this one day and confronts his brother, again offering that Rodney come work at the mills and that he should not be too proud to work for a living. In a rage, Rodney goes to Petty, forcing his hand to set up a fight for him with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a disgraceful redneck with a drug and anger problem. Petty is not keen on the idea, but Rodney’s vehemence eventually gets the upper hand and he arranges.

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“Now, will you calm down. I’ll get you the money, Harlan. I’m fixin’ for a fight this week.” – John Petty

Rodney is told to throw the fight, but has a tendency to forget that policy in the heat of the moment. Petty continually warns Rodney that DeGroat is not worth screwing over, and in the ring it looks as though Rodney is set to win, and Petty has to make sure that Rodney loses, which he progresses to do. However, on the way home from the fight, DeGroat catches up to them and kills them both. Russell is informed by Barnes of the transgression, though he says Rodney may still be out there and that Russell should leave it to the police to work out. Russell and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard) set out together with a plan – justice will be exacted for Rodney. Either they will find Rodney in DeGroat’s county, or they will make him pay for what he has done.

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When your future relies on the decision you are faced with

Russell must make a decision about avenging his brother and throwing away his freedom and average, hardworking life, or he must let the police sort it out, though they have made it clear that they don’t really want to get involved with DeGroat. Will Russell be able to let DeGroat get away with the murder of his baby brother? Will Russell ever be able to live a normal life and stop suffering unreasonable hardships all the time?

A 7.5/10 for Out of the Furnace. I was hooked from the get-go. The film boasts a pretty solid cast and they all bring brilliant performances to the table and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Woody Harrelson but wow he was so reprehensible in this one. Christian Bale delivered a great performance of the hardworking and very caring brother. It was great to see Casey Affleck again, and he played the little military man gone wrong very well. I was not particularly sold on Forest Whitaker in here, either his skills or his character, it just didn’t work completely. I enjoyed the plot of this film as well as the progression. I loved the camera work and effects; it looked so great, like washed out. The soundtrack worked perfectly, and the pace was so good for what it was. The conclusion of the film had me at the edge of my seat, not because it was unexpected, but because it was pretty moving. The film’s pace is slow and deliberate and worked perfectly for this film. This is a film not everyone, definitely nothing new or revolutionary and goodness knows it has its flaws, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it, if not for the performances alone.

Recently impressive films

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This time I have compiled a list of movies that have impressed me as of late, unlike the previous list of disappointments from last week. These are not reviews, just what I felt about the films.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I did not just add The Dark Knight Rises to this list because I vastly enjoyed the last two installments offered by Christopher Nolan into a monstrosity of a film conglomerate, but because he again brought so much to the table with this installment, and I was not disappointed. I did not fear as so many did to be let down, as Nolan is truly an awe-inspiring director. Again, he had the villain/hero ratio down perfectly. As much as you want Batman to succeed, so you want to see what Bane has up his sleeve, and what shall become of Gotham should a hero not rise?

I was completely blown away with the manner in which Tom Hardy brought Bane to life on screen for the world to see. I have to give him immense credit for how, although the majority of his face is obscured for the duration of the movie, you felt every emotion he had to offer. I also appreciate how Christopher Nolan gave Bane existence that was closer to what it should have been (albeit not his entirely correct back story), but he was no longer Ivy’s bitch.

The overall story was immensely engrossing, and entertaining. A stellar cast that works so tightly and seamlessly you get drawn in altogether. I thoroughly enjoyed having the Scarecrow featured in this film as judge, jury and executioner, but I saw that a lot of the audience that did not know the Batman story or the past movie characters too well, totally missed this little gem.

I feel that this was a tremendous way to close what I feel was one of the best film trilogies since The Lord of the Rings. It was excellent. It drew all the subplots together, concluded Bruce Wayne’s story so well, and gave the audience what it wanted. I personally felt no bitterness about the finale of this three part story, I only felt slightly saddened that this was the end. I mean, this is how you bring a superhero to life, after all. This was the most successful rendition I have ever seen of bringing a comic to screen. Christian Bale is Batman, there is no denying that, but I am glad the Christopher Nolan had the good sense to end it on his own terms, instead of it dragging out and having it fall apart at the seams.

50/50 (2011)

Then there was 50/50. I really feel this movie should have gotten far more acclaim than it actually did.

50/50 is a story about a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) of 27 being diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer, with a survival chance of only 50%. The movie takes us through the understanding of the life of a cancer patient, the friendships that are developed, the effect that cancer has on friends and families as well as how the process of cancer works. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I could laugh, get angry, get sad, get hopeful, feel despondency, and so I highly recommend this movie to be watched.

The humour was excellent, looking at dealing with things in life in a different manner, how people react to certain social events and how people sometimes use the most flawed reasoning. The film greatly balanced the humour and more somber side of the movie, having the mix perfectly right. You never get the feeling of mockery, scorn or ridicule off of this movie, and it is that that makes it work. It is heartfelt, and warming. This is not what I anticipated when I got ready for this movie, at all. I was slightly worried I would take offence of something like cancer being made fun of. That was definitely not the case.

The Hunger Games (2012)

Then.. The Hunger Games. I have mentioned in a previous blog that I was astounded that they conveyed a first person narrative so effectively to screen. The cast was strong and solid, and I think having Suzanne Collins on board for the screenplay must have made an insanely large positive contribution to the film.

I enjoyed how you could follow the story, and get wrapped up in it. The betrayal, anger and suffering of the people was brought predominantly well to the screen, and it was mesmerizing to watch. The cast was amazing, slipping into the roles ever so easily. I still find Katniss difficult to identify with at the best of times for varying reasons (not so much from this movie as from the books, however). Do not chalk this up as a children’s film and move on, as it really is so much more that that. It bears the story of hope and rising up against a regime of unfairness and oppression, and is truly worth the watch.

I am holding out for Catching Fire, which is due next year. I am sure that if they can keep the next two movies in the same line as The Hunger Games, they will have a remarkable trilogy. So let us hope for the best and see where this goes. 🙂

Are there any films that you can recommend that I see?