Pet projects: Why they go wrong


Pet projects: Why they go wrong

5 Interesting and Slightly Quirky Filmmakers

Critics and audiences cannot stop talking about noir-thriller and Oscar-hungry art-piece Nocturnal Animals. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this twisty-turny thriller guaranteed to create conversations lasting long after the credits have rolled. The movie’s performances from Adams, Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (of all people…) are second to none. However, credit goes to writer-director Tom Ford for creating a living, breathing slice of psychological-horror as american as apple pie and July 4th. Ford was the high-end fashion designer turned acclaimed filmmaker. You have to take out a second mortgage to afford even one piece of attire!

Conquering fashion and filmmaking, he now has a fearsome reputation. The man has more money and power than a large chunk of the world’s population. It’s not simply that he is extremely rich, ambitious and good-looking…it is that he actively tries to develop new and exciting projects. Admirably, he wants to break down barriers and create as many original works as possible. I looked up a slew of underrated filmmakers soon to reach extraordinary levels of coverage.

5. Gareth Edwards – Godzilla, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

godzilla-gareth-edwards-bryan-cranston-set-photo.jpgGareth Edwards burst onto the scene with sci-fi-thinkpiece Monsters back in 2010. The British filmmaker shot to the top of the most-wanted list in the early 2010s. His next film defined his style and vision. 2014’s Godzilla was a mixed bag of unique but frustrating choices. The movie (spoiler) loses points for killing off Walter White in favour of Kick-Ass. The elephant in the room cannot be ignored – the titular creature appears in 10 minutes out of 2 hours. Citing Bruce the Shark’s involvement in Jaws, the filmmaker wanted us to wait with anticipation. Sadly for him, audience members felt the distinctive sting of blue balls throughout the run-time. When announced as the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, film fans voiced concern. However, Edwards’ intentional pacing and hyper-serious tone suited the story. Focusing on war and despair, Edwards crafted stakes and thrilling moments in spite of a conventional story.

4. Gareth Evans – The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2: Berandal

la-1797711-ca-0313-raid-gareth-evans-jlc-03c-jpg-20140331This young Welsh filmmaker became an overnight sensation in 2011. The Raid: Redemption  took the film festival world by storm. The movie mixed conventional story with a brand new attitude. Set in Indonesia, the movie sees a SWAT team infiltrate a high-rise tower in the middle of a lower-class district. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. The movie lets the cast and crew to showcase their strengths. The movie brought intricate martial art pencak silat into the public consciousness. More so, it’s a ferocious and lightning-quick action-thriller with unlimited tension and spectacle. The lead actor, Iko Uwais, was a silent, vicious action hero throwing a million kicks and punches per second. The Raid 2: Berandal upped the ante, borrowing from a slew of asian martial-arts epics and American crime-gangster flicks. Should be make his Hollywood debut or stay in Asia and continue his run of manic action/martial arts projects?

3. Robert Eggers – The Witch


American writer/director Robert Eggers went from obscurity to public notice in 2016. Critically and (surprisingly) commercially successful horror-thriller The Witch sent horror fans and general audiences into a frenzy. One of the year’s biggest surprise hits focused on a Puritan family in 17th century New England, banished to the woods in the outer districts. The family, in true horror-period fashion, are terrorised by evil forces and their ever-increasing paranoia. Eggers stuck to the essential elements, focusing on the family throughout its tight running time. As the forces of evil and each family member collide, the atmosphere becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Exorcisms, jumpscares and chases include an array of unexpected surprises. His style helped to deliver powerhouse performances from newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy and Kate Dickie. The Nosferatu remake is in the best hands possible.

2. Rian Johnson – Brick, Looper


Writer, producer and director Rian Johnson could be the next great saviour of big-budget cinema. The filmmaker burst onto the scene with neo-noir/teen adventure Brick. Brick introduced a whole new generation to noir whilst shooting Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the stratosphere. Johnson followed it up with The Brothers Bloom, giving Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz etc. a fun crime-comedy to work with. In both movies, Johnson showcased a pulpy directorial style, unique sense of humour and solid connections with actors. 2012’s Looper launched Johnson into superstardom. The sci-fi action smash gave us the last great Bruce Willis performance (a feat, in itself). The movie effortlessly balances sci-fi tropes with strong emotional heft and exhilarating action sequences. His next, Star Wars Episode VIII, is sure to give him a wider audience and freedom for future pet projects.

1. Denis Villeneuve – Sicario, Arrival


French-Canadian writer/director Denis Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s weirdest and most wonderful filmmakers. He turned heads with mystery-drama Incendies. The movie’s dark, sickening tone and thrilling twists turned heads. 2013 crime-drama Prisoners gave Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal meatier roles. Thanks to Roger Deakins’ cinematography and tough source material, the movie shot to many critics’ top-10 lists. Along with hypnotic 2014 flick Enemy, 2015’s Sicario gave Villeneuve even more attention. The movie saw Emily Blunt as a SWAT team member fighting a losing battle in the war on drugs. Recruited for a top-secret spec-ops program, she delves into sick, twisted world of bureaucracy, lies and murder. Villeneuve, re-teaming with Deakins, delivered a tight, taut crime-thriller about the government/security’s darker shades. More so, this year’s Arrival is a haunting and thought-provoking snapshot of our times. Blade Runner 2049 should pay off in spades.

Reshoot & Rewind’s Bottom 10 of 2016

My love of cinema extends to the good, the bad and the ugly. Always, I want to walk into a movie and walk out more excited than before. I want to be continually blown away by the majesty and wonder of cinema. However, 2016 gave me only a handful of those moments. Over and over again, I saw sequels, reboots, prequels etc. fail to live up to their potential. Many movies showcased clear mistakes that could have been avoided by script polishes and a few more people saying ‘no’. This year, more than almost any other, highlighted Hollywood greed at its most cynical and detrimental. The movies on this top 10 list made me angry and upset. It pains to see so many talented people involved in such woeful, misguided material. I suspect several A-listers will go back to the drawing board in 2017.

10. Gods of Egypt 

gods-of-egyptDirector Alex Proyas used to make seminal genre pieces like Dark City and Crow. Even I, Robot is an entertaining experience. However, Knowing and now Gods of Egypt illustrate a sharp decline in quality. This action-adventure shows an artist at the end of his tether. This once-great filmmaker has seemingly used up his energy and ambition throughout earlier projects. Gods of Egypt is yet another laughable and anachronistic sword-and-sandal epic. A top-notch cast – including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung and Chadwick Boseman – struggle through an abhorrent screenplay and sluggish direction.

9. Point Break

pointbreakver8xlgjpg-c73302_1280w1991’s Point Break, directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), exists to show off sun, sand and it’s leads’ pure charisma. Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze deliver fun turns in a wild, unrestrained action flick. Sadly, its sheen fails to rub off on the remake. Unknown director Ericson Core directs a 2-hour Red Bull commercial without the cheap thrills or any style. Truly, this has no wings. Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez, although excellent in other movies, struggle to provide any enthusiasm. Both look like they are being held at gunpoint whilst reading off cue-cards simultaneously.

8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant

allegiant-movieThe Divergent Series: Allegiant represents the last gasp of air taken by the Young Adult genre. The studio made the ultimate, and evil, decision to split the last book into two big-budget movies. Thankfully, this movie bombed exponentially. A dwindling fan-base and lacklustre execution forced the final instalment into straight-to-TV exile. The third installment is somehow worse than Divergent and Insurgent. It commits several crimes. Most of all, it steals wholeheartedly from Harry Potter and The Hunger Games  without hiding it. Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller are hindered by silly material and confusing plotting.

7. Bad Santa 2

"Bad Santa 2" Day 23Bad Santa 2 is one of two atrocious comedy-sequels on this list. About 10 minutes into this one, I began contemplating where my life was headed. Billy Bob Thornton’s newfound fame – thanks to Fargo and Goliath – spurred on the creation of this mindless wreck. Like most comedy-sequels, this copies and pastes whole scenes, plot-lines, character arcs and jokes from the original. Tony Cox returns to highlight the downward slope his career has taken. In addition, Kathy Bates joins the cast as Thornton’s mother (talk about fantasy!). The original’s shock-value is replaced with deeply unfunny and offensive gags.

6. Sausage Party

maxresdefaultProducer/performer Seth Rogen re-teams with creative partner Evan Goldberg for another loud, brash comedy. This time around, the pair take aim at Pixar/Dreamworks with disastrous results. The movie’s premise, although intriguing, runs out of steam early on. The movie blatantly copies Toy Story‘s living-inanimate-objects gimmick without the fun, boisterous style. The joke wears out quickly. The comedy is reduced to expletives and lazy sexual references. At this point, Rogen and co. should know better. Worse still, the finale delivers the worst off all worlds for a tasteless orgy sequence that feels 10 hours long.

5. Criminal 


Criminal represents the very worst of action cinema and blockbuster filmmaking today. Talented A-listers including Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman are dragged down by this lame, despicable and mean-spirited sci-fi/thriller/actioner. The far-fetched premise is driven into the ground by the execution. Costner plays a borderline-disabled prisoner selected for a secret-operations program involving another person’s memories being planted into his brain. From there, his horrific lead character injures and kills innocent people without quit. Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot are also stranded thanks to wasted material.

4. Mother’s Day 

mothersday_trailer2The late Garry Marshall rounded out his career with one regrettable project after another. Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and Mother’s Day turned audiences into suckers, taking everyone’s money and offering nothing in return. Like the preceding holiday-themed movies, Mother’s Day follows multiple plot-lines and characters over one particular day of the year. The movie’s lack of focus or emotional heft is obvious. Marshall’s latest is hamstrung by the budget, looking almost like a student film. Basic filmmaking rules are squandered, while the cast cashes their egregious paycheques. Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and co. barely escape with their careers in tact.

3. Grimsby

13-grimsbySasha Baron Cohen’s career started promisingly thanks to Ali G, Borat and Bruno. His shock-fuelled humour and faux-documentary stylings made for hilarious adventures. However, The Dictator and Grimsby prove he has nothing left in tank. Like Adam Sandler, Cohen pulls out the cliches for a paycheque and vacation to an exotic paradise. This time, he drags noted character-actor Mark Strong, wife Isla Fisher and knockout Penelope Cruz down with him. The movie throws out a collection of preposterous gross-out gags and mediocre pop-culture references. Digs at Donald Trump, FIFA and Daniel Radcliffe are borderline offensive without being even vaguely clever.

2. Zoolander 2

titleWriter, director and actor Ben Stiller spent years listening to requests for another Zoolander installment. This follow-up to the 2001 sleeper hit showcases the A-lister’s cynicism and fatigue. Stiller stars as everyone’s favourite dumbass male model, re-teaming with Hansel (Owen Wilson) to take on Mugatu (Will Ferrell). This lazy, shallow cash-grab shows off just how little these actors care. Wilson and Ferrell are stranded thanks to contractual obligation. Like many sequels, this one slouches through an uninspired spy-caper plot minus joy or laughs. Stiller’s pet project resembles Hollywood greed turned up to 11. This parade of celebrity cameos, cheap gags and dull performances is excruciating.

1. Dirty Grandpa

maxresdefault-1Veteran performer Robert De Niro, over the past 20 years, has delivered a string of flops. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle birthed a new era of veteran actors taking quick paycheques. Dirty Grandpa is the epicentre of awful. De Niro and Zac Efron look to be destroying their own careers. De Niro shouts out harsh, vulgar, inappropriate, sexists and homophobic comments every milisecond. Efron is pushed to the sidelines as the 73-year-old embarrasses himself and becomes a shell of his former self. This hate-filled movie is pure, unadulterated and uncut anti-cinema.

Dishonourable mentions:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Legend of Tarzan, The Boss, The Danish Girl, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Now You See Me 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Mr Right, Warcraft, Ben-Hur, Independence Day: Resurgence, Inferno, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Bronze, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Me Before You, London Has Fallen, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Why Him?.

Biggest Disappointments:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Jason Bourne, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Concussion, Bad Neighbours 2, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, X-Men: Apocalypse, How to Be Single, Money Monster, Office Christmas Party, The BFG, War Dogs, Free State of Jones, Snowden, The Girl on the Train, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, The Accountant, Keanu, The Finest Hours, Jane Got a Gun, Ride Along 2, The Infiltrator, Pete’s Dragon, Allied, A Bigger Splash, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, Kung Fu Panda 3, Trumbo, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Article: 1940s: The Beginnings of Bogart

Humphrey Bogart, from the archive

Article: 1940s: The Beginnings of Bogart 

Article: The Victors & Victims of Game of Thrones


Article: The Victors & Victims of Game of Thrones


Article: Vs. Films: The Good v. The Bad


Article: Vs. Films: The Good v. The Bad

Article: Hot List: Movies Coming in 2016


Article: Hot List: Movies Coming in 2016

Article: 5 Stars that Will Continue to Rise in 2016


Article: 5 Stars that Will Continue to Rise in 2016

Article: 5 Artists Who Dominated in 2015


Article: 5 Artists Who Dominated in 2015

Reshoot & Rewind’s Best Movies of 2015

720x405-Joy-InsideOut_Charlize-MadMax2015 was certainly an interesting year for politics, economics, art, and everything in between. The world was forced to watch on in horror as the forces of evil attempted to destroy our way of life. People lost their lives, cities were attacked, and the world’s governments came together to make a difference. We stood against those responsible, questioning their motives and responding to threats.

The year in cinema pushed boundaries and formed unique and invigorating works of art. Films including The Martian and Sicario, both of which I watched on the same day, proved the magic and majesty of celluloid can illuminate the globe. However, films including Fantastic Four and Chappie fell flat on their stupid faces!

For Reshoot & Rewind, the year delivered its fair share of hits. Covering a greater number of topics and formats, I aimed to take chances and deliver the best articles possible for my loyal followers. I hope to make 2016 an even better year for myself and the site. Thank you all for embracing the craziness – delving into the reviews, lists, interviews, news pieces, op-eds etc. I loved putting together.

Here are the best of the best:

1. The Martian

Director Ridley Scott returns to form with this testament to technology, ingenuity, and the human spirit. The Martian is a fascinating and fun action-adventure-sci-fi romp, bringing Scott and leading man Matt Damon back from the brink of critical and commercial failure. Every element –  including its gleeful lead characters, rousing set pieces, light-hearted direction, and positive message – establishes this rollercoaster ride as one of 2015’s most innovative and spirited works of art.

2. Sicario

Sicario marks the true power of Hollywood cinema, spreading its wings and utilising its resources to discuss a crucial socio-political topic. This crime-thriller, yet again, showcased the brilliance and resilience of director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins. Together, these power-house professionals paint a gorgeous, gritty, and confronting picture of the US-Mexico conflict. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro craft strong performances, bouncing off on another with style. The film draws the line between what is right and what is beneficial for the free world.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is the year’s most invigorating and inventive blockbuster. Every ingredient of this post-apocalyptic actioner is awe-inspiring. Balancing between nostalgia and a contemporary vision, the film marks the glorious return of acclaimed filmmaker George Miller. A key part of 2015’s feminist angle, it bravely pushed it titular character to the side – crafting the most fun female action hero since Ellen Ripley from the Alien Franchise. In addition, any film featuring the line: “Fang it, schlanger” is alright by me!

4. 99 Homes 

99 Homes is a shocking and rousing account of middle America’s struggle against The Man. Shockingly, it’s based in the realm of reality! From its confronting opening sequence, the film delves head-on into the post-Global Financial Crisis wasteland. As a character study, 99 Homes excels thanks to efficient, brutal screenwriting and direction. As a performance piece, lead actors Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon deliver powerful, gripping performances as two sides of the same coin.

5. Bridge of Spies 

Steven Spielberg is one of few contemporary filmmakers still creating genuine works of art. Charging through a multi-decade career, the veteran genius returns to true form with Lincoln and Bridge of Spies. Bridge of Spies, teaming up Spielberg with Tom Hanks again, links a Cold War-era narrative with modern socio-political themes. The film fuses comedic moments with dark, searing drama, serving up one of the era’s least known but most enthralling true stories.

6. Creed

In the year of long-awaited/belated sequel/reboot/whatevers, Creed broke the mould, destroyed the competition, but was still gracious in victory. Easily eclipsing Jake Gyllenhaal-vehicle Southpaw, the film aptly harks back on the Rocky franchise legacy whilst heading on its own journey. Throwing their names into the Oscar buzz ring, leading man Michael B. Jordan and American treasure Sylvester Stallone deliver career-defining turns in a magnetic mentor-protege relationship. Creed was the biggest surprise of 2015.

7. Youth 

Unlike many ‘For Your Consideration’ projects, dramedy Youth acknowledges its foreign director’s style, allowing them to create a truly original achievement. The film simply would not work without Paolo Sorrentino’s outside-the-box vision and acute attention to detail. This dramedy ably comments on the highs and lows of celebrity and age. Lead actors Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel handle the balance between satirical bite, emotional intensity, and laugh-out-loud moments with ease.

8. Inside Out

As the modern version of Herman’s Head, Inside Out proves that a familiar idea can be reinvigorated and improved upon with the right people involved. Pixar Animation Studios, returning to form after a string of disappointments, showcases truckloads of imagination with this light, breezy effort. Featuring likeable characters and enjoyable set-pieces, Inside Out is a more exciting action extravaganza than Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, and Jupiter Ascending combined. In addition, its climax will have every viewer shedding a tear or two.

9. Selma

Robbed of success at this year’s Academy Awards, Selma is an emotionally affecting and necessary docudrama. Covering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s rise to prominence in America’s conscious state, the film documents a tough, gruelling time in modern civilisation. Covering important events and key issues, Ava DuVernay’s direction depicts the essential details with class and maturity. David Oyelowo, another British actor perfectly embodying an American historical figure, is worth the admission cost alone.

10. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Winning Best Picture and Best Director deservedly, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a flawed but ultimately assured and detailed dramedy. Veering away from 21 Grams and Babel territory, acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu crafts an outside-the-box analysis of contemporary cinema, celebrity, and fandom. He along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create many “How did they do that?!” flourishes throughout this thought-provoking character study. Michael Keaton is back with a vengeance!

Honourable Mentions:

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Amy, Dope, Mississippi Grind, The Program, The Lobster, Straight Outta Compton, The Gift, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Love & Mercy, Slow West, A Most Violent Year, Top Five, The Avengers: Age of Ultron 

Biggest Surprises:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spooks: The Greater Good, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Partisan, Unfriended, Ex Machina, The DUFF, Still Alice, Furious 7, Run All Night, American Sniper, Focus, Pride, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Longest Ride

Reshoot & Rewind’s Worst Movies of 2015

worst-movies-2015-pic2015 was certainly an interesting year for politics, economics, art, and everything in between. The world was forced to watch on in horror as the forces of evil attempted to destroy our way of life. People lost their lives, cities were attacked, and the world’s governments came together to make a difference. We stood against those responsible, questioning their motives and responding to threats.

The year in cinema pushed boundaries and formed unique and invigorating works of art. Films including The Martian and Sicario, both of which I watched on the same day, proved the magic and majesty of celluloid can illuminate the globe. However, film including Fantastic Four and Chappie fell flat on their stupid faces!

For Reshoot & Rewind, the year delivered its fair share of hits. Covering a greater number of topics and formats, I aimed to take chances and deliver the best articles possible for my loyal followers. I hope to make 2016 an even better year for myself and the site. Thank you all for embracing the craziness – delving into the reviews, lists, interviews, news pieces, op-eds etc. I loved putting together.

Here are the worst of the worst:

1. Pixels

Family action-comedy Pixels represents every single thing wrong about 21st century Hollywood filmmaking. This bland effort teams up a short-film premise with Adam Sandler and his band of merry morons. Director Chris Columbus sinks further into mainstream hell with this derivative waste of time and money. Talents including Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage are left stranded in unlikeable roles. This is Hollywood’s worst impulses stuffed into a hurricane force of mediocrity. F*ck off, Sandler!

2. By The Sea

Writer, director, activist, and actress Angelina Jolie was given free reign to produce and market By the Sea. The Result: a critical and commercial disaster of epic, Gigli-esque proportions. This self-indulgent, trite romantic-drama lambasts the very idea of marriage… despite being created by the most famous married couple on Earth (very strange, indeed). The plot is non-existent, the characters are unlikeable and childish, and Jolie’s writing and direction bang the same note repeatedly. First Unbroken, now By the Sea – go back to humanitarian work!

3. Taken 3 

Despite the cheap thrills of Run All Night, 2015 marked the sad, violent conclusion of Liam Neeson’s reign as Hollywood’s leading geriatric action hero. Taken 3, bludgeoning a dead horse, is somehow worse than the excruciating Taken 2. Lacking the original’s bursts of energy, director Olivier Megaton (Columbiana) delivers a sequel entirely for the sake of monetary gain. Gigantic plot-holes and a derivative man-on-the-run narrative further obliterate contemporary action cinema’s reputation.

4. Fantastic Four 

After the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four disasters, 2015’s ‘dark and gritty’ reboot needed only to improve upon its lackluster predecessors. Bafflingly, those flicks now seem more refined and unique compared to this clunker. This tone deaf, bizarre superhero flick lacks the energy, thrills, and even pulse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-Men entries. Thanks to feuds between the studio and director Josh Trank, Fantastic Four is a confused and boring non-starter. Back to the drawing board, yet again.

5. Hot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon, following up her latest Oscar nomination for Wild, destroys her reputation with Hot Pursuit. Producing and starring in this tired comedy, Witherspoon’s attempt at strong female characters fails spectacularly. She and co-star Sofia Vergara portray the year’s most annoying and insulting characters, tripping over one another thanks to bizarre accents and over-the-top pratfalls. The film’s attempts at edgy comedy also fall flat – adding menstruation jokes to almost every scene.

6. Chappie

Director Neill Blompkamp, following up his breakout hit District 9 with polarising blockbuster Elysium, further descends into the M. Night Shyamalan-writer/director doldrums with sci-fi-drama Chappie. His latest effort is a misjudged, over-the-top venture afraid to delve into any one discernible plot-line or theme. Shoving multiple feature film ideas into one narrative, this romp is a hollow mess of plot-holes, shallow characters, and a limited sense of style and vision.

7.  Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowski siblings, like Blompkamp, are on a downward slide from bad to worse to downright disgraceful. Are the failures of Speed Racer and the Matrix sequels, Jupiter Ascending finally puts the last nail in the coffin. This sci-fi flick stuffs seven TV episodes into one two-hour experiment – forming an irritating cacophony of exposition, one-note characters, atrocious dialogue, and laughable moments. Thankfully, the Wachowskis have now been banished to TV with Sense8.

8. The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel, arguably the most famous Dungeons & Dragons player in history, was given all the power and money to adapt his adventures for the big screen. However, The Last Witch Hunter proves Diesel should only be allowed to do Fast & Furious and Riddick installments. This cliched, uninteresting action-adventure is a confusing slog through exposition and predictable plot developments. Dragging talents Michael Caine and Elijah Wood through the mud, Diesel’s latest project shows some people have too much power.

9. Entourage

Vinnie, E, Turtle, Drama, and Ari Gold return in a TV adaptation released at least three years too late. Unleashed four years after the series’ final season, this franchise extender lands smack-bang in one of Hollywood’s most progressive eras. Carrying the show’s wish-fulfillment elements, whilst lacking the first-two seasons’ satirical bite, the film is a frat-boy fantasy drenched in pure sexism, bitterness, excess, and self-indulgence. Jeremy Piven aside, the movie also features the year’s worst performances.

10. Knight of Cups 

‘Ambitious’ writer/director Terrence Malick, after Oscar-buzz magnet The Tree of Life and polarising drama To The Wonder, returns with Knight of Cups to diminishing returns. Although aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, this pretentious, befuddling effort offers little else than Malick’s signature flourishes on repeat. The film lacks any sense of narrative, character, or theme other than: “Hey look, sunsets are nice”. Worse still, its biggest crime is under-utilising Christian Bale’s talents.

Dishonourable mentions:

The Dressmaker, Vacation, Legend, Pan, Survivor, Hitman: Agent 47, Self/less, Paper Towns, Ruben Guthrie, Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys, The Loft, The Cobbler, Jurassic World, Unfinished Business, Dumb & Dumber To, Aloha, Home Sweet Hell, The Gunman, Get Hard, Unbroken, The Theory of Everything

Biggest disappointments:

Joy, Truth, In the Heart of The Sea, Spectre, Spy, Crimson Peak, The Walk, Black Mass, Everest, Southpaw, Minions, San Andreas, Gemma Bovery, Tomorrowland, Woman in Gold, Blackhat, Pitch Perfect 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Inherent Vice

Article: Top 5 Bond Villains


Article: Top 5 Bond Villains 

Article: Top 5 Bond Songs


Article: Top 5 Bond Songs

Article: Top 5 Bond Gadgets


Article: Top 5 Bond Gadgets

Article: Top 5 Bond Girls


Article: Top 5 Bond Girls

Article: Top 5 Up-and-Coming Directors 2015

interview-actor-director-joel-edgerton-talks-his-latest-movie-the-gift-560295Article: Top 5 Up-And-Coming Directors 2015

Article: Working hard < Working Harder – Legendary Contemporary Directors



Article: Top 10 Most Anticipated Blockbusters of 2015


Article: Top 10 Most Anticipated Blockbusters of 2015

Article: 87th Academy Awards Nominees Announced

Article: 87th Academy Awards Nominees Announced

Article: 87th Academy Awards Nominees: Should & Will

The 87th Academy Awards race delivered one of the most controversial runs in Hollywood history. Between the Golden Globes and now, the world has expressed its fair share of cheers and jeers over the varying choices on offer. This year, being the whitest selection of nominees this century, illustrates the Academy’s 65-year-old white demographic is in full control. Snubs for Selma alums Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo hint at a still-strong underlying, and uncomfortable, backlash against minority cast and crew members. In addition, the fusion of American Sniper‘s success and Selma‘s snubbing further hinted at full-on nose-uppedness from the Academy voters.

The Hollywood Reporter’s ”Brutal Honesty’ articles – chronicling the voting processes for several anonymous voters – succinctly sum up the crowd’s overall opinions. With The Lego Movie and Jake Gyllenhaal unfairly forced to sit at home, hopefully next year will deliver a more tangible and unique selection of nominees. Everything, from John Legend and Common hit Glory to Richard Linklater’s seminal masterpiece Boyhood, is on the line tonight. Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and the aforementioned 12-years-a-boy smash are going head to head. Here’s hoping The Theory of Everything doesn’t receive too much praise.

In blue, I have put the nominees that I believe deserve to win. In red, however, are the ones that, most likely, will sweep up those heavy, gold statuettes in a few hours time. Good luck, everyone!

The 87th Academy Awards kick off February 23rd at 9pm.

Article: Top Picks – Perth International Arts Festival


Article: Top Picks – Perth International Arts Festival

Article: Our Favourite Things of 2014 – vol. 4

Article: Our Favourite Things of 2014 vol. 4

Article: 2014’s Bottom 10 Movies

10. Need for Speed

9. Labor Day

8. Serena

7. Dracula Untold

6. 47 Ronin

5. Sex Tape

4. The Other Woman

3. I, Frankenstein

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Dishonourable mentions

Men, Women, & Children, Hercules, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Jersey Boys, 3 Days to Kill, The Captive, Maleficent, Noah, The Monuments Men, Into the Storm, Devil’s Knot, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Pompeii, Transcendence


Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Judge, The Equalizer, Magic in the Moonlight, Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Before I Go to Sleep, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, God’s Pocket, Horrible Bosses 2, Sabotage, Deliver Us From Evil, Non-Stop, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Water Diviner

See you all in 2015!!

Article: 2014’s Top 10 Movies

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

9. Short Term 12


8. Foxcatcher


7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

6. Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Nightcrawler

4. Boyhood

3. Wolf of Wall Street 

2. Gone Girl

1. 12 Years a Slave 

Honourable mentions

The Guest, Her, The Babadook, Whiplash, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 22 Jump Street, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Cold in July, Edge of Tomorrow, Blue Ruin, The Raid 2: Berandal, Only Lovers Left Alive, Under the Skin, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Snowpiercer, The Lego Movie, A Hijacking, Mr Turner


Kill the Messenger, John Wick, Lucy, Fury, Camp X-Ray, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Bad Neighbours, Chef, 300: Rise of an Empire, RoboCop, In Order of Disappearance

See you in 2015!!

Article: The 2014/15 Oscar Season: Classics of Future Past


The 2014/15 Oscar Season: Classics of Future Past

2014’s Blockbuster Season: Conquerers & Wimps


2014’s Blockbuster Season: Conquerers & Wimps

Franchise Fix – The Dark Knight Trilogy

Well, as far as superhero-action movies go, we have come to this point in our epic saga. Unquestionably, this genre has reached its proverbial peak. Certain entries, defying extreme expectations, have taken it upon themselves to stand out. How are they different exactly? They, above all else, have soared, dipped, punched, and stretched to elevate themselves above the meandering competition. So, what separates a Captain America from a Ghost Rider? It all starts with the seed of an idea, before growing it into an all-encompassing entity.

Nowadays, forced to pay ridiculous ticket prices, the average film-goer determines each superhero flick’s chances of success. To succeed, you need to deliver an action flick people will go see more than once. However, the other side of the coin is one of torrential, Twitter-fuelled critical comments and poor box-office performances. Of course, top spot on the superhero franchise podium belongs to the Dark Knight trilogy. Despite varying in quality between efforts, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s trilogy series has sparked a wave of darker, meatier blockbusters. With that said, each instalment delivers significant highs and debilitating lows. Like the caped crusader, however, they all manage to pick themselves up.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

As the highly anticipated franchise capper, The Dark Knight Rises had a helluva lot to live up to. Resting on Nolan and co.’s previous successes, the final product had the potential to be the best of the series. However, with rumours, videos, and images threatening to spoil the movie’s intricate plot, it seemed destined to continue the trend of underwhelming third instalments in superhero franchises. Fittingly, after its mega-successful release, this instalment was met with polarising reactions from critics, fans, and common film-goers.

Some people, looking past minor quarrels, saw fit to compliment Nolan for completing his game-changing franchise. Sadly, however, many people felt the opposite. Criticising villain Bane’s vocal patterns, the leaps in logic, and egregious run-time, this instalment’s detractors nearly threw it into the Spider-Man 3/X-Men: The Last Stand/Blade: Trinity pit of doom. Thanks to Nolan’s seminal final Batman flick’s mixed response, The Dark Knight Rises comes off as the trilogy’s third best instalment.


Bane vs. Batman vs. Gotham’s soul.

With that said, I said “third best” and not “worst” for a reason. With minor plot-holes and character faults getting in many people’s way, the movie delivers more-than-enough positives. Nolan, at the very least, should be admired for pulling off such a gargantuan trilogy capper. In fact, the movie, thanks to its emotional heft and stunning performances, is more dystopian drama than superhero extravaganza. With Bane’s spectacular introduction pitting man against machine, this instalment seemed destined to follow charismatic characters through a dire journey. Of course, despite Bane’s raw power and regal presence, you can’t go past Christian Bale’s scintillating turn as a dilapidated Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Providing his best Caped Crusader performance, Bale’s energy and purposeful mannerisms propel his extraordinary character arc here. With an 8-year hiatus, Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Alfred’s betrayal, and Bane’s might to deal with, Wayne’s raw determination pushes him ahead of this instalment’s other well-drawn heroes and villains.

2. Batman Begins

Before the era of reboots, reboots, and more reboots, one origin tale took it upon itself to change the system. Batman Begins, introducing the average cinema-goer to a sickeningly dark version of the Caped Crusader, did its job in delivering something fresh and original for its time. In an age of sugar-coated blockbusters, this reboot opened the doors to several superhero origin movies willing to embrace their characters’ first ventures into crime fighting and personal discoveries.

The narrative, as usual for superhero reboots, kicks off with a younger version of the titular figure. Refreshingly so, his friendship with family friend Rachel Dawes kicks off this transcendent and touching superhero-action flick. With a child’s innocence smashing into said child’s greatest fears, the opening delivers an appropriate leap off the blocks. From there, Batman Begins falls into a pit of despair and anger. With a thirty-something Wayne (Christian Bale) meeting wise nobleman Ras Al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the lead’s journey transforms him from a rebellious fighter into an intriguing symbol of hope.

Batman Begins – the Caped Crusader’s true origin story.

Tackling several  weighty issues, Batman Begins looks into its own soul and examines Batman’s undying aura. With an arresting story wrestling with a claustrophobic atmosphere, this uncompromising thriller aims higher than whiz-bang effects and generic genre twists. From the first Batman sequence onwards, Christopher Nolan presents this fan favourite DC character as a philosophically bruised anti-hero willing to destroy anyone in his way. Like its sepia-esque colour palette, the tone pushes us into each gloriously dour setting. Fusing his Memento/Insomnia darkness with the comic series’ free-flowing nature, Batman Begins threw Nolan into another realm of fame and possibility.

Despite all this, it’s the cast members involved which divert Batman Begins from the Summer tent-pole blur.  Rounded out by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy, the movie’s talented ensemble brought Oscar-calibre vibes to this intensifying superhero adventure. With movies like Man of Steel and The Incredible Hulk borrowing ideas and sequences from Nolan’s first Bat-flick, Batman Begins, 9 years on, still stands up to intense scrutiny.

1. The Dark Knight

I know, it’s a complete cliché to place The Dark Knight on top of any kind of ‘Best of…’ list. I’ll admit, my extreme infatuation with this feature might be clouding my judgement. However, I think I speak for a helluva lot of people when I proclaim this action-drama to be the best action movie of the past 10 years. Up there with the likes of There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men, this superhero flick is an instant classic that future generations will discover and fall in love with the way we all did. The Dark Knight, Nolan’s magnum opus, is a triumph on every level.

Thanks to scintillating action sequences and pitch-perfect performances, this sequel proves itself worthy of repeat viewings and intense analysis. From the opening back heist sequence onwards, this superhero flick establishes itself as an unbeatable and transcendent. Despite soaring above and beyond the competition, the movie intrinsically examines the evils of good and the strengths of evil. As our characters stand on a knife’s edge, Gotham City’s newest resident seeks to turn everything inside out. Painting each character in shades of grey, The Dark Knight matches crime-thrillers like The Departed and Heat point for point.

Heath Ledger’s momentous portrayal of the Joker.

Of course, credit belongs to Nolan for elevating the genre from its cartoonish roots to a more mature and meaningful place. taking a real-world approach to the Cape Crusader, The Dark Knight  amicably discusses the consequences of vigilantism. Is Batman doing right by the citizens or his own sense of valour? The movie’s greatest moments belong to Batman’s fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and Harvey Dent/Two Face (Aaron Eckhart). With Gotham’s tug of war becoming increasingly violent, The Dark Knight lets loose on our society’s fragile world view. Wayne’s ego, now interlocking with his motivations, seeks to push him towards hanging up the cape and cowl. Establishing connections between Wayne, Alfred (Caine), and Lucius Fox (Freeman), the quieter moments cement this movie’s place in the annals of blockbuster cinema.

Despite delivering thorough questions and answers, The Dark Knight dons a core entertainment value at opportune moments. Blissfully so, the action sequences reach sky-high levels of fun. The Bat-pod chase through Gotham ends with pure gusto and awe-inspiring technical savvy. The truck flip alone is cause for celebration. By breaking up the light and dark moments, The Dark Knight proves its own worth as a momentous turning point for blockbuster filmmaking.

Ps. check out this video, it sums up everything awesome and immaculate about this series! Enjoy!

2014 in Film: The Next Few Months



2014 in Film: The Next Few Months

Hollywood Musicals: Grand Crescendos & False Notes



Hollywood Musicals: Grand Crescendos & False Notes

Cinema’s Greatest Movie Monsters: Slimy and (Occasionally) Sympathetic


Cinema’s Greatest Movie Monsters: Slimy and (Occasionally) Sympathetic 

2014’s Blockbuster Season: Good and Bad Trends



2014’s Blockbuster Season: Good and Bad Trends

Reshoot and Rewind’s Oscar Predictions – 86th Academy Awards

Thankfully, this Academy Awards season has been a true delight. We’ve seen Matthew McConaughey transform into a national treasure, a 90-minute sci-fi flick shoot for the stars, and Pharrell Williams tell us to be clap along and be happy. Admittedly, this may be a cheesy re-tread of similar Oscar prediction lists that have come out over the past few days. However, due to expectations, I should probably throw in my two cents. Here are my predictions for this year’s Oscar winners. The names in bold highlight the nominees who will, and in some cases should, win.

Best Picture

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Directing

American Hustle (David O. Russell)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

Best Costume Design

American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)
The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)
The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor)
12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)

Best Film Editing

American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)
Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)
12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)
The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)

Best Original Score

The Book Thief (John Williams)
Gravity (Steven Price)
Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)
Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

Best Original Song

Happy (Despicable Me 2)
Let It Go (Frozen)
The Moon Song (Her)
Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Production Design

American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler)
Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard)
The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)
Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena)
12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns)
Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)
Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward)
Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)

Best Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)
Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)
Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow)

Best Visual Effects

Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)
Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)

Hopefully, my predictions aren’t too distasteful. We’ll find out how accurate they are when the 86th Academy Awards ceremony kicks off on Sunday night.

2013’s Best and Worst Movies

2013 was one tough, frustrating, and eventful slog of a year! We saw corporations, governments and celebrities taking steep dives into oblivion and irrelevance. We saw sporting greats, politicians, and journalists become idiots, and Ben Affleck redeem himself with a hearty Academy Awards speech. 2013 in cinema was also a mixed bag. The Oscar season drew to a close in spectacular fashion whilst Hollywood comedies hit one new low after another (seriously, don’t ever watch Movie 43!). Over the past couple of years, the internet age has soured our way of analysing movies and expressing opinions. The influx of articles (highlighting the exhaustive amount of set pictures, marketing ploys, trailers, and interviews that come with every Hollywood movie) and fiery internet comment sections have distorted our idea of what big-budget movies could and should be. Some movies bombed miraculously (The Lone RangerAfter Earth) while others soared up into the sky in more ways than one (Iron Man 3, Gravity). I looked back on 2013’s crop of movies to give several of them my own kooky form of gratitude. PS. these lists only include movies I saw at the cinemas, and reviewed, this year despite significant release date shifts.

PPS. Judged specifically between January 1st, 2013 – December 31st, 2013.

Best Movies of 2013

10. Stoker

Pulling us into his spooky yet enrapturing style, South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) continues his stellar run with Stoker. This scintillating drama-thriller, dripping with punishing character motivations and sexual awakenings, is one of 2013’s surprise hits. Mia Wasikowska delivers a career-defining performance, along the way. It even brought Nicole Kidman’s acting talents back from the grave. Very spooky, indeed.

9. Flight

From take off to landing, Flight is a profound and enthralling character study. Following Denzel Washington’s depraved yet regret-filled anti-hero, director Robert Zemeckis’ latest drama delves into a life worth salvaging. Peppered with hysterical supporting characters, an intense plane crash sequence, and compelling dialogue moments, Flight soars higher than anyone had anticipated.

8. Django Unchained

Pulling its punches at every correct moment, Django Unchained illustrates that acclaimed writer/director Quentin Tarantino still has what it takes. Proudly earning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, this spaghetti western ably transition into an African-American revenge fantasy. Chilling performances, a kinetic soundtrack, and excessively powerful blood splatters enhance this comedically frantic romp.

7. Side Effects

Turning up the heat on its morally ambiguous characters, Side Effects caps off director Steven Soderberg’s sterling career with style. His entertaining directorial style, trademarking his many thought-provoking efforts, boosts this disturbing drug-addled drama. Brilliant performances (from Rooney Mara and Jude law, in particular), valuable messages, and a startling attention to detail develop an addictive and infectious psychosexual thriller.


6. Captain Phillips

As the sea-fairing version of United 93Captain Phillips is a tightly edited, claustrophobic, and exhilarating hostage-thriller. Tom Hanks’ emphatic performance as the titular hero earns him yet another Oscar nomination. Excruciatingly tense throughout its taut run-time, the movie places a real-world sheen on the hostage-thriller genre. Credit, of course, goes to director Paul Greengrass for delivering yet another fearless and detailed post-9/11 drama. Despite the intensifying material, this is a profound roller-coaster ride.

5.  Prisoners

Touching upon media-powered fear-mongering and suburbia’s darkest secrets, Prisoners is an intense, expansive, and gripping crime-thriller. With an ingenious narrative and remarkable performances, this kidnap-drama explores one man’s actions during a worse case scenario. Switching it from kidnap-drama to torture-thriller, director Dennis Villeneuve keeps us guessing throughout. In addition, Roger Deakins’ pulsating cinematography lends dimensions and malice to this already engaging drama-thriller.

4. American Hustle

With money, hair, boobs, and attitudes sent flying across morose settings, American Hustle develops one enlightening dialogue sequence after another. Director David O. Russell’s style lends itself to this intricate and enigmatic crime-drama. Based on a bizarre true story, this con-man flick breaks the rules and delivers thrills, laughs, and noteworthy performances. Christian Bale and Amy Adams soar above everyone else in this juicy and scintillating puzzle.

3. Rush

Speeding through Rush‘s purposeful run-time, the two lead characters face off in a heated battle for glory and respect. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl fill out these roles with passion and, ahem, drive. Acclaimed director Ron Howard builds the tempo with the exhilarating and intensifying race sequences. Ultimately, Rush is a visually stimulating and attentive docudrama. Pushing its narrative with brute force, this enjoyable sports-drama moves at the speed of light.

2. Zero Dark Thirty

Longingly delving into the 21st century’s hottest topic, Zero Dark Thirty is a sickening, honest, and visceral sensory assault. Drawing a line between explosive action-war flick and extensive procedural drama, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal make for a kinetic and exciting duo. In addition, the final action sequence is worth the price of admission. With intensifying set-pieces, cutting dialogue, and an acute attention to detail, this war-drama deserves repeat viewings.

1. Gravity

Reaching for the stars, Gravity is an engaging, thought-provoking, attentive, and intensifying sci-fi action flick. As edge-of-your-seat entertainment, this sci-fi extravaganza holds steady throughout its taut 90-minute run-time. Director Alfonso Cuaron’s heartening style throws the audience into an engaging survival tale. Unlike most blockbusters, every detail serves a specific and profound purpose. With Sandra Bullock and George Clooney delivering charismatic performances, the heartening story stands up to the electrifying and breath-taking technical achievements. This is cinema at its most ambitious and entertaining!

Honourable Mentions:

The Hunger Games: Catching FireHarry Dean Stanton: Partly FictionLincolnSilver Linings PlaybookLife of Pi

Biggest Surprises:

World War Z2 GunsWarm Bodies, Olympus Has FallenPain & Gain20 Feet from StardomThe Last Stand

Great movies I caught later on:

The ConjuringYou’re Next42Mud

Worst movies of 2013

5. The Great Gatsby

Director Baz Luhrmann, once again, chooses style over substance when bringing a renowned story to the big screen. His version of The Great Gatsby, despite its positive elements, tries and fails to capture Hollywood’s true power. Choosing glitter cannons and anachronistic music cues over efficient story-telling intricacies, Luhrmann frustrated audiences everywhere with this overlong, hollow, and vacuous adaptation. From here on out, he should keep his favourite stories to himself.

4. The Bling Ring

bling-ringSpending 90 minutes with these five mean-spirited, inane, and self-indulgent people is a torturous concept. Add director Sofia Coppola’s undercooked style to the mix, and The Bling Ring becomes even worse. Despite the visual flourishes, Coppola mishandles the bizarre and thought-provoking material. This repetitive, vapid, and uninspiring docu-drama wastes the audience and Emma Watson’s precious time. It’s about as scintillating as watching your bestie go shopping for six hours straight.

3. The Hangover Part 3

As painful and time consuming as an actual hangover, this unnecessary, cynical, and brainless third instalment officially wears out the Hangover series’ welcome. Featuring an underdeveloped heist-thriller plot, useless villains, laugh-less stretches, and screechy supporting characters, this instalment is little more than a made-by-focus-group big-budget comedy. Adding to the already disastrous year for Hollywood comedy, The Hangover Part 3 is an unforgivable, bland and stupefying waste of time, money, and resources.

2. A Good Day to Die Hard

Destroying John McCLane’s good name, A Good Day to Die Hard (2013’s worst movie title) is a silly, forgettable, and torturous action flick. Divorced from the 1986 classic, and even its worthwhile sequels, this series hit an embarrassing new low with this instalment. Sleep-walking through another action movie role, Bruce Willis has all but given up on regaining his charismatic and magnetic former self. However, after this instalment, everyone has given up on him.

1. Machete Kills 

Director Robert Rodriguez needs to take a gigantic step back from the director’s chair after this self-indulgent, cheap, and stupefying sequel. Dragging a good cast and intriguing concepts through the Mexican desert, Machete Kills is an unwelcome and uninspired sequel to an already forgettable original feature. Removed from its faux-trailer roots, the Machete franchise contains only 2-3 minutes of engaging and fun material. Sadly, this movie’s marks this A-list director’s fall from grace. Having once made stunning action flicks, Machete Kills strips him of his valour. For shame!

Dishonourable Mentions:

RiddickNow You See MeHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Biggest Disappointments: 

Gangster SquadOnly God ForgivesThe Fifth EstateThe ButlerAmourThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Atrocious movies I caught later on:

RIPDAfter EarthThe Lone RangerSpring BreakersKick-Ass 2Identity ThiefThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Movie 43, Jack the Giant SlayerThe Family

Best Blockbuster Movie Moments of 2013 (So Far)


Best Blockbuster Movie Moments of 2013 (So Far)

Zack Snyder’s Worst to Best Movies


Zack Snyder’s Worst to Best Movies

Tom Cruise’s 10 Greatest Roles



Tom Cruise’s 10 Greatest Roles

The Best & Worst Movies of 2012

This blog has been a rewarding experience. One that emptied my bank account and, much more importantly, opened my mind to the majesty of film. My top 10 is based on films that expanded and enlightened. My bottom 5 however is full of ‘WTF!’ moments. I’ve had a blast and I look forward to 2013.

p.s. Sorry if my English hasn’t been the best. I’m getting a lot better. Trust me.

Top 10 of 2012

10. Seven Psychopaths

9. My Brothers

8. Skyfall

7. Killing Them Softly

6. The Descendants

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

4. The Avengers

3. The Dark Knight Rises

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

1. Argo

Honourable Mentions:

The Cabin in the Woods, Midnight in Paris, The MasterHugo

Biggest surprises:

Dredd, Chronicle, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games


Bottom 5 of 2012

5. Battleship

4. Red Dawn

3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

2. Alex Cross

Tyler Perry.

1. Resident Evil: Retribution

Dishonourable mentions:

Total Recall, Dark Shadows, Mirror Mirror, Savages

Biggest Disappointments:

The Bourne Legacy, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Taken 2, Safe House

The Top 11 Movies of 2011

2011 illustrated the triumph of the superhero period piece, the unique capabilities of motion capture technology and that the great Steven Spielberg is still able to capture our hearts the way he used to. My picks for the best films in 2011 do not come lightly. Fast Five and Real Steel for example, though not making it on this list, still managed to enthral mass audiences and catch me completely off guard. My list is comprised of the films that I saw as going out of their way to create original visuals, beautiful action set pieces, and compelling drama. I hope this flourish of brilliant cinema will lead to an even better collection of films in 2012.

No. 11  The Adjustment Bureau

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind meets Dark City in this film as we see the many enrapturing ways in which fate brings people together. Matt Damon plays a senator running for congress, while Emily Blunt plays a ballet dancer. They cutely meet in an awkward situation and from then on he cant stop thinking about her. The subtly handled religious themes of the film kick in at this point as Damon’s character is torn away form her by something he was never meant to know existed. The concepts brought to the attention in this film are smartly handled by the direction. George Nolfi (Screenwriter of Ocean’s 12) chooses to focus most of his attention on the romantic sparks flying between Damon and Blunt, with small messages of fate and connection becoming apparent throughout. Clever and witty scenes, such as John Slattery (Mad Men) stopping them from reaching romantic peaks, constantly keep the film moving in a light hearted fashion.

No. 10  Contagion

Steven Soderberg (Ocean’s trilogy, Erin Brokovich) is notoriously known for being able to control a large, big name cast. This trend continues with Contagion, the best viral thriller since I am Legend. His cast is used to communicate different threads of a much larger story. The main point of the film is an important message about how we would handle an issue affecting the entire world. Matt Damon plays suburban man whose wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) suddenly dies from the mystery virus, Jude Law plays a blogger obsessed with finding an easy cure, while Lawrence Fishburne and Marion Cotillard play scientists desperately seeking answers. The film is a tense and uncomfortable journey of a search for hope. The slow, building soundtrack complete with brisk editing, detailing the vicious spread of the virus across the globe, build up to the desire to see these characters find a breakthrough. As usual for a Soderbergh film, the performances are top notch. Notable mentions include Jude Law playing it nastier and slimier than he did in Road To Perdition and Kate Winslet as an American doctor investigating the disease’s origin.

No. 9  Limitless

Another pleasant surprise of the year was the Neil Burger(The Illusionist)-directed film Limitless. With a simple premise, the film uses many visual techniques to create a work of art. It follows Bradley Cooper as a struggling writer. After losing his girlfriend, he comes across the solution to his failures in the form of a brand new drug designed to access every part of the human brain. His character achieves everything he has ever set out to do, but not without attracting attention from some powerful and potentially dangerous people. The film uses many elements of European art house cinema to create a original look to a contemporary Hollywood film. These include distinctly bright colours used to illustrate the drug’s powerful affect. Shots of a rollercoaster-esque point of view detail the effects of someone speeding through life without looking back. Bradley Cooper, having already proved himself in ensemble casts with both the Hangover films and the A-Team, is a charismatic leading man. Scenes between him and Robert De Niro are directed with intensity and confirm Cooper’s status as the actor to watch in these types of roles.

No. 8  Super 8

Super 8 is a perfect call back to the early films of Steven Spielberg that are seen as the inspiration for many aspiring film makers of the time. The story revolves around a group of kids filming a zombie film (a small call back to the work of George A. Romero). One night while filming a night scene at the train line, a military train is forced off the tracks in a fiery crash. Something then breaks out of the train and soon causes chaos in the town. J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) uses this film to represent his childhood, making genre films on Super 8 cameras in the vein of Spielberg. This is represented primarily in the main characters. Using the kids as the main characters not only reflects the many sides of Abram’s passion for film-making at that age, but is also a staple of classic 80’s adventure films such as Stand By Me and The Goonies.

No. 7  Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Taking the concept of a chimpocalyse seriously, Rise of the Planet of the Apes benefits from the poignant story of struggle over a dominant species and the advancements of film technology. With the forced death of an escaped chimp from scientific testing, head scientist Wil (James Franco) finds the reason for its anger, a newborn chimp hiding in its enclosure. Wil discovers significant human- like brain function in the baby chimp, named Caesar (Andy Serkis). Years Later, Caesar’s actions force him to live in an ape sanctuary under malign conditions. Caesar’s hand is forced, beginning his revolt on humankind.  The fascinating creation of Caesar along with the amazingly expressive and Oscar-calibre performance of Andy Serkis will forever be the symbol of motion capture technology, more so than the creation of Gollum or even the recent films of Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol, Beowulf). The connection between both the human and ape characters, including the fight for Wil to save his father and Caesar’s relationships between the other apes in the sanctuary, define the heart of this story. The in depth analysis of both Franco and Serkis characters make their motivations completely believable.

No. 6  Captain America: The First Avenger

Bringing influences in from both Steven Spielberg’s early films and the classic era of comics in the 1940s and 50s, Captain America is both an in depth character study and a cheerful popcorn action flick. It carries over Joe Johnston’s dramatic and action styles to deliver a familiar yet exciting superhero origin story. Johnston uses many elements of the smooth 1940’s look of his first film, The Rocketeer, to bring the most popular symbol of American patriotism to life. Chris Evans portrays both Captain America and Steve Rogers with a powerful presence. Learning about the boy before he becomes the man is vital to this story of having to evolve in superhuman ways. The positively over the top score by Alan Silvestri and the bombastic action sequences keep the film at a tight pace, heading towards the emotionally charged and unique final 10 minutes.

No. 5  X-Men First Class

X-Men First Class is a welcome change to the modern superhero film. Bringing the X- Men characters into a swinging 60’s setting made famous by the Sean Connery James Bond films, gives the film a refreshing and colour charged look. The stylish direction by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick Ass) in being able to sell the 60’s style mis-en-scene to a new audience makes him an action director to watch out for in the near future. The film excels in both the performances form its lead actors and the story of good and evil in the time of nuclear war between Russia and the United States. James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto are incredible as the saints and sinners in this time of war and mutant revelation. Their dynamic performances deliver on every level, McAvoy as the ladies man and professor, and Fassbender as the cold blooded Nazi Hunter. Their chemistry when together works with the tight direction to create intensifying scenes of dialogue that question the moral boundaries on both sides of the mutant ‘issue’.

No. 4  Thor

Capping off the successful superhero films this year is Thor. This story of characters from two different worlds works through the film’s light hearted tone. The film is perfectly balanced to provide an entertaining mix of both fantasy action film and fish out of water story. The action and special effects scenes are filmed to create the sense of sucking the audience into every gigantic set piece. Right from the beginning, everything about the world of Asgard is explained to the viewer, delivering in both the level of detail put into every effect and how these mythical worlds fit into this story of heroism and humanity. Chris Hemsworth creates both an arrogant, strong and sympathetic hero in his first Hollywood leading man role. His chemistry with both the warriors three and Natalie Portman’s character is fun to watch as a god from another realm slowly becomes human. This was also one of the funniest films of the year. The slapstick and fish out of water humour is abundant but never over the top.

No. 3  The Adventures of Tintin

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the famous Tintin comic books is a fun rollicking adventure, showing his passion for playful and original film making techniques. One of these is the ever increasingly developed style created through motion capture technology. This film is head-and-shoulders above others of its type. The facial expressions and body language perfectly extends to guessing which actor is playing which character, particularly Daniel Craig as the evil Sakarine. Of course, this motion capture film also stars Andy Serkis, lending his wild gestures and Scottish drawl as the frolicking and drunken Captain Haddock. The witty dialogue and characterisations by screenwriters Stephen Moffat (BBC’s Sherlock), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) consistently deliver through out this roller-coaster, particularly from Tintin himself. Jamie Bell as Tintin also works in bringing the titular character to life as he brings sweetness to the already likeable adventurous Journalist. The film of course involves one inspiring action set piece after another, sequences of a foot chase through foggy London streets and an enormous motor cycle chase through Morocco showcase Spielberg’s talent for thrilling camera movement. With long tracking shots staying close to the characters during these chases, you see their ever-changing movements and reactions to each tiny situational change through out each set piece. This, along with small winking nods here and there to classic Spielberg films such as Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Make this an instant classic among action and animation fans.

No. 2  Warrior

This story of two underdogs competing for the same prize is easily the most emotionally affecting film any man would agree to watch. With friends of mine telling me of their emotional connections to this film, I was able to agree with them whole-heartedly, Mostly due to the poignant relationships between fathers, sons and struggling families. The direction by Gavin O Connor (Miracle) keeps the story focused on the fighting spirit of the main two characters. Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon, a physics teacher on the verge of losing everything and Tom Hardy as Tommy, a war hero finding a home and a way to cope with his father Paddy (Nick Nolte), deliver fantastic performances, both showing different and sensitive sides to their somewhat generic characters. Both underdog stories are given equal screen time, not allowing the audience to support one underdog over another. The emotional tare of this family at the hands of Nolte’s character Paddy, makes the climactic and inevitable fight between the two lost brothers even more painful. The MMA fight scenes also deliver a sense of pain due to the grittiness of the choreography and camera work. The camera gets right into each fight scene, delivering every blow straight into your face.

No. 1  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

My favourite film of the year is also my favourite brutally honest action film of the last five years. Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant) brings an array of cinematography and mise-en-scene techniques to create a beautiful and enrapturing thrill ride. Though it is almost entirely action set pieces and a simple action based story, the pacing and camera work in set pieces such as the skyscraper climb in Dubai and the Car park jumping fight between Tom Cruise and the villain bring a strong level of inspiration and strength to the many fights and stunts through out. The film also delivers on the affecting chemistry between the main characters. Bringing the aspect of the team into this instalment works best for this film as each personality lends a level of attachment to the unbelievable story. Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner work best as the comic relief and shady spy respectively, while the back-stories of the main characters, lend a surprising level of emotional impact.