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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) threatens her new legal guardian (Yorick van Wageningen)

The first thing you notice about this film (interesting also because Daniel Craig is in it) is the James Bond-style opening sequence. Only instead of beautiful girls, here there are male and female heads exploding after being punched. Nice..

The ‘Girl With A Dragon Tattoo’ novel by Stieg Larsson (and it’s sequels) are a literary phenomenon, one which I have so far managed to avoid. Partly because of the book’s popularity and also because this is a remake for a Western audience of the original Swedish film – I assumed that this would be average at best. However it’s actually a very good film, dark and multi-faceted with characters painted in shades of grey rather than the standard Hollywood template of just black and white. It only suffers slightly from it’s literary origins : the plot is over-complicated and it can be hard to follow at times.

Undoubtably the best thing about the film is the eponymous heroine herself : Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). She exudes charisma, almost by way of having none. She is thin with piercings, resembles a drug addict and is also something of a sociopath. So not your typical Hollywood heroine then. Skilled, strong and vulnerable (there is an uncomfortable rape scene), she holds your attention in every scene she features in. Daniel Craig also deserves a mention. He puts in a very good but understated performance as Mikael Blomkvist, the disgraced journalist who employs Lisbeth as an assistant during his investigations into a potential murder.

A very good film, and all the better for it’s Swedish origins. 7/10

Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund). Tron was not the main character in the first film and features even less in this one.

I half loved the original Tron, it was a striking looking film and was built around an interesting concept but to be blunt it did get boring around the halfway mark. Tron Legacy however is much better. Visually and aurally it is easily the equal of the original. There is a stark minimalist beauty to the new toned-down visuals as laser-like beacons of light contrast sharply with the surrounding darkness. The music is also superb and it combines with the visuals to elevate the film to a level above the quality of it’s story.

The film follows Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund) as he attempts to find his father and hero of the first film Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who is now lost somewhere in The Grid (the computer world). Sam is aided by the beautiful Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who is a new type of emergent AI lifeform. At the same time he must also avoid the murderous intentions of CLU (Kevin Flynn’s clone) who was originally created to do good in the electronic world.

The updated light-cycle sections are predictably superb as are the games that Sam must participate in when he first arrives on The Grid.  Today’s CGI is finally able to do justice to the 1982 original’s vision. Sam although capable and the hero of the film is not all powerful and his vulnerability creates interesting situations in which he must rely on Quorra and his father’s help.

The only slight disappointment for me is that (necessarily) there is so much exposition that there isn’t much time left for the characters’ journey to the ‘I/O Portal’ (their only way back to the real world). They meet a David Bowie look-a-like (Zuse) and I hoped this would just be the first of a number of  such encounters but instead they jump on a ‘Solar Sailer’, a kind of airbourne express train and pretty much end up at the portal immediately. Also the less said about the CGI version of the young Jeff Bridges the better…

Great action and drama with a striking aesthetic and superb music. It’s really a 7/10 film but it gets an extra point for the visuals and music, which really do add an extra dimension to the film . Much more enjoyable than the original 8/10

This picture slightly exaggerates the quality of the special effects in this film.

Well yes I only have myself to blame. In the film Bowfinger, Steve Martin unsucessfully pitches an idea for a film called ‘Chubby Rain’ in which aliens come down to Earth hidden in rain drops. The plot of this film is frighteningly similar – except here here the aliens use tornados.

However something much stranger appears to be going on with this production than just seasonally-unusual tornados. Such is the quality of acting on display, that it seems highly likely that the professional cast were all killed in some kind of accident and then replaced with some cheap stand-ins from the local amateur dramatic society.

Even more strange, for a film about aliens – sorry for the spoiler but you really shouldn’t watch this film anyway –  there are actually NO aliens in this film.

To summarise: B-Movie Plot, terrible acting, no aliens, and add to that –  it’s boring and has very cheap-looking special effects. 1/10

Sorry Leonardo but you won’t win an Oscar for this one….

Does anyone actually go to watch these biographical films at the cinema? Even at home I thought twice before pressing the record button. But anyway here we go…

Leonardo DiCaprio is a good actor and although much older now, he still has that boyish, slightly effeminate quality which has never quite left him. My initial impression was that maybe his J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t masculine enough but then after learning more about the man as the film went on – his latent homosexuality, his unusually close relationship with his mother and the wearing of women’s clothes. Well, maybe he’s a better fit for the role than I initially thought.

The film switches back and forth between J.Edgar’s younger days before he was head of the FBI, to his twilight years as head of the Bureau. I did find it interesting, and the relationship between the FBI and the government is especially illuminating. However there is the feeling that the portrayal of J.Edgar just isn’t as well rounded as it could have been – the film just seems to focus on a few key aspects of his personality, and you never get the impression you are watching a real person.

Only watch this if the subject matter interests you or if you are interested in history in general. 5/10