Review: Lawless (2012)

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“It is not the violence that sets men apart, alright, it is the distance that he is prepared to go.”
– Forrest Bondurant

SYNOPSIS: Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits. – via IMDB

GRADE 9The movie was absolutely great. Truly brilliant. I know that a lot of people take issue with certain things in it, but I cannot tell you how I get when I sit down to watch Lawless. I am like a giddy child that got to pick out anything I wanted to watch. I can’t count anymore how many times I have seen this since the first time, but it gets better and better.

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The cast is absolutely phenomenal, and carried this story, and each and every one of the actors and actresses in this is excellent. Tom Hardy is amazing. We all know that I adore the man, and Lawless is no exception. The man is a master and well worth watching – always. His portrayal of Forrest Bondurant is impressive. Guy Pearce is beyond reprehensible and Rakes truly gets under your skin. I have always admired Jason Clarke, but this is where I fell in love with him – Howard is insane, loyal, jaded, cuckoo crazy. Shia LaBeouf should be commended for his role of the youngest Bondurant brother, Jack. Why? Because, as cooked as he may be in real life, he is a solid and consistent actor. I thought he and Mia Wasikowska had lovely chemistry, and they played off of each other nicely. Bertha is just too damned sweet for words. Then I have got to talk about Dane DeHaan. I am a junkie, we all know this, and his portrayal of Cricket is wonderful. He is a character we all fell in love with, whom we adore because you cannot help but like Cricket, and it is easy to understand why he is favouried. Lastly, but certainly not least, there is Jessica Chastain. Beautiful, regal, Red. The moment she stepped onto the scene the Bondurants had no idea what was going on anymore, and I love how awkward the brothers could get around her.

I love the way the film was shot, it is beautiful and engaging, and the plot progression could not have been done better – not too long, not skipped over, every part is given sufficient time to make itself comfortable and relay the epic story of the bootlegging brothers. The score is perfectly suited, and I had such a blast with the humour in the film too. There is some heavy violence, but no violence just to be nasty. It all serves a purpose. I think by this write up you can tell that I am a huge fan of this and think that this film has a lot going for it, and I would highly recommend checking it out!

Rapid Review: Life After Beth (2014)

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“There’s just like so many things that I wish I had told her.”
– Zach

SYNOPSIS: A hike alone in the woods ends tragically for Beth Slocum with a fatal snake bite. Her death leaves her parents and boyfriend Zach reeling. After the funeral, Zach tries to make friends with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum, but even they reject him, and he’s determined to figure out why. Then he sees Beth. Her parents are trying to keep her resurrection a secret, but zombie Beth provides Zach with the opportunity to do everything with her that he didn’t get to do while she was still alive. But with Beth’s increasingly erratic behavior and even more strange occurrences around town, life with the undead Beth proves to be particularly complicated for her still-living loved ones. – via IMDB

Just sharing some arb scenes from it, I liked it!

This scene… oh man!

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Just every scene with DeHaan was awesome, he was so weird.

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This one is for me… #ForScience

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DeHaan and Gubler were exceptionally amusing together.

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Zach and Beth get a second chance… though it is a little dodgy!

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Apparently the sweet things aren’t the same anymore when you’re dead…

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Undead takes fighting to a whole different level of issues to deal with…

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If you thought you had family problems before, date your now-deceased girlfriend.

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GRADE 7

So I know this ultimately came back with mixed reviews and all, but I liked it. A large part of the movie was based on Dane DeHaan’s performance, and he did not disappoint at all. I absolutely loved how it all came together. I really wish Matthew Gray Gubler had gotten more screen time, but just having him and DeHaan in a movie together was good enough for me. He was such a toolbag – and I totally just wanted to have him grow his hair out a little more! He got some extremely entertaining scenes though, even if he was underused. I thought the cast all did a great job with their roles, and they were terribly entertaining. Zach’s extremely mixed feelings over Beth and her return were funny – he had some serious adjustment issues. Aubrey Plaza was amusing and extremely good as Beth, and the dynamic between her and DeHaan was great. The way the story was told worked for it, too, as it was funny and humorous (for me) in a slightly darker and sillier way. Watching Zach’s plight was comical, and Maury’s reaction to Zach’s relationship with Beth as well as how he didn’t want to hush up about it all was also something that gave me giggles. Beth’s disintegration into full-fledged zombie was something to watch, it was a pretty gradual progression. I thought it was really sweet how Zach grabbed at the opportunity to do all the things with Beth he never got around to doing when she was alive, and their relationship decomposed at the same rate that she was, creating even more hardships for Zach. The Orfman family was just plain down bizarre, but it isn’t as though the Slocums were a step up, either. I loved the way the apocalypse so gradually started happening, as well as the zombie types that were featured. The smooth jazz that popped up from time to time cracked me up. Naturally, the movie has flaws, but overall I had a good time. The end is a little bit of a let down, but nothing too serious. Anyway, Life After Beth is a darkly laughable affair, a different look at the zombie romance thing that seems to be popular at the moment, and well worth the watch if you like anyone from the cast, or enjoy that slightly crooked sense of absurd comedy, even if it has moments where it gets a little slow.

Rapid Review: Chronicle (2012)

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“This is my theory though, is that it’s like a muscle. Like it’s elastic, if you stretch it too far too quick, it’ll tear. That’s why I think we’re getting stronger, you know? Cause we’re working it out. Getting buff.”
– Matt Garetty

SYNOPSIS: Whilst attending a party, three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery underground. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8Something I have been meaning to check out for ages, if not only for Dane DeHaan. Eventually I got to it though, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole thing is shot found footage style (and we all know that I am not the biggest fan) but it just worked perfectly for this, to be honest. Then there was the whole thing with the camera, but the characters addressed it so frequently, and it was explained so well, that it didn’t bug me like why is this being filmed all the time, and who is filming all the time, etc. It came together very well. I also enjoyed the performances from the actors. Dane DeHaan was absolutely brilliant, and his character was such a sad creature. I empathised with him, and just felt really awful seeing all that he was going through. Michael B Jordan is an actor that I like, he carries himself very well, and his portrayal of Steve was really good. He was actually such a chilled out guy, super popular but normal. Alex Russell played Matt very well, capturing him, though I found him to be less developed than the other two, which is odd considering the role he takes on later. The story is engaging, and the plot moves along at a relatively good pace. I was not bored ever, at any rate. Some people have complained that Chronicle was fine up until the second half, but I must say that it was pretty cool for me, too. The movie was engaging enough to keep my other half rooted to the couch after he vehemently informed me that he had to work, so that must count for something. The effects were not great, showing that the movie was made on a budget, but that did not detract for me whatsoever. The character were important, and what they did was what kept me watching, not spectacular effects or anything like that.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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“Soon everyone in this city will know how it is to live in my world. A world without power, without mercy, a world without Spider-Man.”
– Electro

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still fighting crime under his guise as Spider-Man. Graduating from high school alongside his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), his life is just setting out to begin. Peter, meanwhile, is struggling to deal with the fact that he promised Gwen’s deceased father, police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), that he would stay away from Gwen as to keep her out of danger. Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jaimie Foxx) meet Spider-Man one day when Spider-Man is out fighting crime, and develops a rather obsessive interest in Spider-Man. Dillon is an extremely socially awkward person. Peter ultimately wishes to leave Gwen and she does the breaking up, saying she cannot deal with his emotional swings concerning the promises that he has made her father.

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“You’re Spider-Man and I love that, but I love Peter Parker more.” – Gwen Stacy

Norman Orborn (Chris Cooper) meets with his son Harry (Dane DeHaan) shortly before he dies, telling Harry that he, too, will die of the illness his father suffers as it is a genetic disease, but tells Harry he has left the entire Osborn fortune to Harry, maybe he can save himself. The two have a very strained relationship, and Harry has a lot of things he cannot forgive his father for. When Peter learns that Norman Osborn has passed away and that Harry is in town, he meets with him. The two of them click back into their rhythm easily again and spend some time together. Dillon, on the other hand, is dealing with some awful things at work, and an accident as Oscorp kills him. Dillon comes back later, but there is something wrong with him. Going into the city, his powers are amplified with the energy flow from the grid beneath the city, and Spider-Man swoops in to stop him. Spider-Man believes that Dillon is innocent and not responsible or in control of what happened to him, but Dillon’s own personal issues rapidly become a problem and he learns to the more evil and angry side.

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“We have the power now. We literally, can change the world.” – Harry Osborn

Dillon is caught and locked up at Ravenscroft Institute, where scientists are running tests on him. Harry is unaware of this, as well as the death of Dillon, and Donald Menken (Colm Feore), an Oscorp board member,  is using it to blackmail Harry at a later stage. Menken is enraged that twenty year old Harry got the Osborn empire. Harry is looking for a way to cure his illness, and contact Peter, requesting he speak to Spider-Man. Harry is convinced that Spider-Man’s blood can save him. Peter denies the request, and Harry flies into a rage when Spider-Man pays him a visit and denies him the request, too. Peter, meanwhile, is looking into his parents’ past, trying to uncover why they left him and why they were killed. Peter is struggling to let Gwen go, who is looking to move to England and study at Oxford University on a scholarship. Harry approaches Electro, the mantle Dillon has taken up after his capture, after Menken manages to successfully usurp the Osborn throne. Electro gets to kill Spider-Man, whom he believes has betrayed him, and Harry gets access to the spider research that Oscorp houses.

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“Think bigger, Max! I’m not the one you want. You want Spider-Man and I can give him to you!” – Harry Osborn

Will Electro carry out a successful attack on Spider-Man? What will happen to the friendship between Harry and Peter once Harry makes his hatred for Spider-Man clear? Will Harry regain power of Oscorp? Will Electro ever relinquish his bad ways? Will Peter learn more about his parents’ deaths? Will Gwen and Peter ever be able to work something out in their relationship?

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“Everyday I wake up knowing that no matter how many lives I protect, no matter how many people call me a hero, someone even more powerful could change everything.” – Peter Parker

A 7/10 for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I am still Team Garfield. All the way. Go vote. Andrew Garfield was again entertaining and amusing as Peter Parker, and a fantastic choice. Emma Stone was again excellent as Gwen Stacy, and I liked the fact that their relationship was more fleshed out this time. Those two have stunning chemistry! Dane DeHaan absolutely thrilled me in here, and was the big reason I was insistent on seeing it in cinema. While I was not sold on the Green Goblin completely (it just had to do with the fact that he looked a little ridiculous and all), I cannot deny that DeHaan was thrilling. I just loved seeing him on screen, and my faith was greatly rewarded (not that I expected much different). I loved the relationship between Harry and Peter, though I really wished that Webb had spent more time developing it, maybe saving the Goblin for later. I felt the villains were a little rushed here, and certainly needed a little bit more work. The Goblin popped up way too fast, and Electro definitely needed some more filling out. Neither villain resonated with me. I thought the effects to be decent, though sometimes the CGI was excessive. The humour was great, I had quite a few laughs in here, and that is always fun. Overall it was definitely entertaining, and I liked that. It was nice to see a bit more going on between Peter and his Aunt May, a lovely addition there.

Review: The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)

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“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.”
– Robin Van Der Zee

Passing through Altamount, New York, motorcycle stuntman for traveling act for state fairs Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) gets visited by his ex-lover, Romina (Eva Mendes). He returns a year later to discover from her mother Malena (Olga Merediz) that he is the father of a young boy. Intent on being in his son’s life, Luke quits the fair and meets Robin Van Der Zee (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a job at his auto repair shop. Luke is not making the money he needs to provide for Romina, her mother and her son, and she is not willing to leave her new man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali). This sparks unrest, and Luke gets desperate. In his desperation, he is roped in to Robin’s plans to rob banks to make money quickly, and the two team up to make a small fortune. However, an altercation with Kofi leads to Luke getting locked up and later bailed out, and Robin calls for an end to their bank robbing ways. This is simply not good enough for Luke, who will do it on his own then.

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“I’m still his father, I can give him stuff. I got this for him, just give it to him. Tell him it’s from me.” – Luke

Naturally, there was no way that that was going to go down well, and in the escape, Luke is killed by Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) just after telling Romina to never tell their son about him. A new chapter begins in which Avery is the hero in the story, but soon things go awry. Friends in the police force, corrupt cops Scotty (Gabe Fazio) and Peter Deluca (Ray Liotta) take Avery to the house of Romina, where they harass her and later steal the money that Luke left for his son. Avery is wracked with guilt, and attempts to report the abuse that was rained down upon Romina and her family to his commanding officer. This does not make matters better, naturally, and Avery goes from being the city hero to the most hated man in the precinct. Turning to his father, Al (Harris Yulin), Avery manages to get incriminating evidence which he uses to secure his position as the assistant district attorney.

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“I joined the police force because I wanted to work alongside the brave men and women who know that some problems can’t be solved by talking.” – Avery Cross

Fifteen years after the debacle that was Luke’s death and the launchpad for Avery’s career, Avery’s father passes. His ex-wife, Jannifer (Rose Byrne) tells him that his son, AJ (Emory Cohen), insists that he wishes to stay with his father. Avery is in the midst of campaigning for the position of Attorney General, but finally relents. Starting school AJ meets up with Jason (Dane DeHaan). Together the boys have their own family issues, but become friends for a short while after smoking some pot together. However, after buying some ecstasy, the two are arrested by police. Avery is furious with his son, but shocked to discover at the police station that his son was with Jason, the son of Luke Glanton. He gets the charges squashed a bit and demands that AJ no longer see Jason. Boys will be boys, though soon each boy’s lives begin to crack and crumble. AJ, the rebel with the successful father, wishes to walk over everyone and be hero worshipped. Jason demands to know more about his family, though no one is willing to give him answers.

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“I know you don’t have time to deal with this stuff right now…” – AJ Cross

Slowly but surely each boy digs their way further into things that were better left unsaid and undone. Will AJ continue to bend Jason to his will? Will Avery ever be able to admit that what he did to Luke was wrong, and that he rode through that accident to success? Will Jason ever learn more about his father, discover his secrets, dig around more and understand things that were always denied him? How will all these characters come together, and how will they impact one another. One mishap years ago seems to resonate through the past and into the present and future.

This film scores a well-founded 8/10 for The Place Beyond The Pines. I really enjoyed how you could see the three distinct “chapters” of this movie, so to speak, and it has a pretty decent cast. It was interesting to see how Luke was always going to be an outlaw, regular just wasn’t ever going to work for him. It is sad to see how he goes from wanting any and everything to do with his child to not existing in his child’s eye. Bradley Cooper was great as a regular cop who went in and had his whole life changed around because his nerves were shot. How he maneuvered his way into higher office than he was was excellent, though it was rough to see a good cop become just another one of those crappy corrupt men. The divine intervention that brought the sons together was interesting, too. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the camera work for the movie, and everything was well shot and looked stunning. The movie feels a lot longer than it is, and not because it is not a good flick or boring, just due to the sheer amount of story that they manage to squeeze into their time frame. Dane DeHaan had another excellent performance, and I truly feel that he is a vastly underrated actor who deserves a lot more recognition. Not a bad watch at all, I was pleasantly surprised, seeing as I had no idea what to expect after Luke was killed. Not bad.