Movie Review: Unbroken (2014)

Title: Unbroken

Running time: 137 minutes

Director: Angelina Jolie

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Garrett Hedlund, Domnhall Gleeson, Jai Courtney

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Unbroken is Angelina Jolie’s second feature as a director. It tells the real story of athlete and USA Olympian Louis Zamperini and his time during World War II and as a prisoner of war in Japan.

What this guy had to go through is unbelievable and Jack O’Connell is great with what he has, because in the end, the character doesn’t have much complexity besides being unbroken. There are so many aspects they could have focused on, like the religion. It is what happened after the war and is told through the credits what made him unbroken and would have been more interesting to watch than the last part of the movie.

The supporting characters get next to nothing. No back story, no development, and by the end of the movie, the protagonist is the only person we know something about and the only one we care for. And I don’t know how accurate portrayed The Bird was, but for me felt completely miscast.

Unbroken is an intense and beautifully shot movie. The scenes when they’re in the water are phenomenal but it’s after that, when they’re captured when the movie starts to fall apart, it grows slower and doesn’t grab you the same way. And for everything that happened it could have been more brutal in a visual way.

6,5/10

Movie Review: Wild (2014)

Title: Wild

Running time: 115 minutes

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Michiel Huisman, Thomas Sadoski

maxresdefaultFrom the director of last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, Wild is based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, where she tells her personal experience as she hiked 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.

It is fair to say that this movie is all about Reese Witherspoon, who is simply fantastic, and as she does with that giant back-pack, she carries the entire movie on her shoulders. This is probably the bravest and more challenging performance of her career and she approaches it in the most un-glamorous way and makes Cheryl Strayed a real character who has made many mistakes and is trying to find herself.

The movie does a really good job at portraying the idea of a woman on her own in the wild and how she has to approach every single person she meets with caution, to the point where it makes you fear for her with every new encounter. Some of these encounters make for powerful moments, especially one with a little kid, which is heart-breaking.

A thumbs up  for this movie is that even though the story centers on Reese Witherspoon’s character, every supporting role contributes to the story and makes Cheryl a rounder character and more realistic, which is rare in these kind of movies, where the supporting cast is usually there for the sake of having more people or adding drama.

It is difficult to pull off a movie entirely about hiking but, as the journey is more about what goes on in her head than in the hiking itself, turns out to be very interesting. It’s very well-handled the present story with the flashbacks of her self-destructive life to show you who she is and why is she there. You can definitely identify with her in certain aspects despite all the terrible things she has done and that makes for a relatable and inspirational self-discovery experience.

9/10

Movie Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

Title: The Imitation Game

Running time: 114 minutes

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance

THE IMITATION GAMEBased on true events, The Imitation Game tells a fascinating story that took place during World War II, which has been classified until very recently, about the unsung heroes that helped win the war, the hard decisions they had to make in order to achieve their goal and the repercussions in mathematic Alan Turing’s life.

Benedict Cumberbatch nails it as Turing with that accent and a very subtle performance that could have been a caricature in the hands of some other actor. He combines arrogance with naivety and still makes you like him way before Keira Knightley’s character, Joan Clarke, helps him connect with his colleagues. One of the stand outs of the film is indeed the compelling relation between this two characters, who show genuine care for each other without getting romantic.

And even though the movie has these two actors in the center of it, the rest of the supporting cast does an amazing job, especially Charles Dance, who is always a delight to watch in these kind of leadership roles.

But, while is a well-made movie, reflects beautifully the time period and feels very cinematic for a biopic, sometimes The Imitation Game plays it too safe, making some people compare it to a BBC TV movie. I, personally, would have liked to get more explanation to how the machine worked because they left that a bit in the air. Still, it flows really naturally between the past, the future and the present story without it being distracting or confusing and keeping the focus on the main story that surely will leave you thinking afterwards.

8’5/10

 

Movie Review: Into the Woods (2014)

Title: Into the Woods

Running time: 124 minutes

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp

meryl-woods-disney

Disney Studios reunite again with their Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director, Rob Marshall, to bring to the big screen the adaptation of the popular Broadway show, Into the Woods. Marshall is no stranger to musicals as he was the director of the great Chicago and the not-so-great Nine and in Into the Woods he brings back that claustrophobic feeling that resembles watching a play

You can tell they’re not singing live like in Les Misèrables, but at least all the actors can sing and they do a very good job at it. Meryl Streep is getting most of the recognition but for me it was Emily Blunt who stood out the most. I loved her as the Baker’s Wife and she had fantastic chemistry with James Corden. The one that surprised me the most, though, was Chris Pine, who was really funny portraying a different kind of Prince Charming and I really enjoyed his solo with the other prince.

The two kids held their own in this group of “movie-stars”, specially Lila Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood, who was very charismatic. Actually, Rapunzel was the only character that felt underwritten and part of her story is hinted at the beginning but is never resolved.

Meryl Streep was great, as always, because she is Meryl Streep. But was it an Oscar-worthy performance? In my opinion: No. I was sceptical about Johnny Depp playing another cartoonish character but he wasn’t in it as much as I thought he would, so he was ok and not too distracting.

But while the performances are all very good and the majority of the songs very catchy, this movie runs 45 minutes too long. The first hour is cute, having  all these fairy-tale characters that we love and seeing how their stories intertwine, but in the third act it loses it a bit.

Overall, Into the Woods is a solid movie with great performances, lovely music, beautiful production design but beware, this is a musical from beginning to end. There is not as much singing as in Les Mis but if you’re not a fan of characters just breaking into songs, this is not your movie.

7’5/10

Movie Review: Whiplash (2014)

Title: Whiplash

Running time: 107 minutes

Director: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser

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Whiplash was first made as a short that debuted at Sundance in 2013, winning the Grand Jury Prize in the category of Short FIlm. A year later, director Damian Chazelle premiered the full-length feature film in Sundance again, this time winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. Both versions featured J.K. Simmons as Fletcher and a story inspired by Chazelle’s own personal experience.

It’s quite disappointing that Miles Teller is not getting more recognition and, like Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher, he has been completely overlooked this award season. He stepped out from the typical roles we normally see him in and is simply fantastic. He did the majority of his drumming and gave the performance that most required emotionally of him to date.

But the true stand-out of the movie is J.K. Simmons as the teacher that brings such a psychological torture to this kid. We all have had that teacher that terrified us and still is fascinating the way he plays it. His dynamic with Teller is phenomenal and every time he is on-screen, he demands your attention. He brings a level of intensity that reaches the brutality and is definitely one of the best performances of the year.

The movie does a great job at portraying the high levels of stress someone who wants to pursue a career in the arts has to go through and the consequences that wanting to become the best at something has. Whiplash makes you consider if it is actually worthy earning that success if you have to lose everything else in the process.

Sharply written, full of extreme close-ups that add to the tension building throughout the whole movie to culminate in a powerful ending, Whiplash is, no doubt, my favourite film of 2014.

10/10

Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

Title: Foxcatcher

Running time: 134 minutes

Director: Bennet Miller

Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller

Foxcatcher

Based on true events, Foxcatcher is probably the most creepy, tragic and disturbing film I have seen in 2014. This movie was supposed to come out earlier but was delayed so it could have a better shot at this year’s award season and it’s understandable their faith in it because the acting is perfect across the board.

Starting with Channing Tatum, who is the front man of the movie, and is not receiving enough credit for his role and he’s being highly overlooked in the awards race. This is not because of his performance, which is impeccable, but because of how extraordinarily good Steve Carell is in it. He is unrecognizable. Yes, in part because of the distracting fake nose, but also because he completely immersed himself in the mind of this, not only disturbing, but disgusting man. It’s so different from what we are used to seeing him like, even his voice sounded different.

Mark Ruffalo also disappeared behind the character with a big transformation and I’m glad he’s getting the recognition he deserves. He portrayed a nice balance between having a complicated relation with his brother and still being very caring and protective of him and his family.

Not everything is perfect with the movie, though, and its first issue is that it’s really slow, spending a lot of time in shots showing the wrestling. Despite the outstanding acting, it’s hard to connect with the characters and also, It’s tough to watch. It’s not the kind of movie people will re-watch. I certainly know I don’t intend to see it again.

7’5/10

Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

First of all, Happy New Year! Now, let’s star with some honorable mentions like Peach Perfect 2, Heart of the Sea, Jurassic World and Tomorrowland, films that I’m looking forward to, though not quite as excited about as the following:

#10 The Martian

ridley_scott_va_a_dirigir_the_martian_con_matt_damonDirector: Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott hasn’t done many great movies lately but I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt. The Martian is based in the novel by Andy Weir, so the story is already there and if Ridley Scott can do something is making an spectacular-looking film and with this one being set in Mars, I expect nothing less.

 

#9 Minions

minion-miniDirector: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

The cutest part of Despicable Me has finally its own movie and is of course going to be one of my most anticipated of 2015. Starring the minions, this movie is going to be incredibly funny and adorable.

 

#8 The Hateful Eight

-7882faad-1c50-4e2a-b005-b0e51c821e04Director: Quentin Tarantino

After what he did with Django Unchained, I just can’t wait to see what Tarantino has in store for this movie. The script for the film leaked but I’m glad he’s still making it, that shows it has a lot of potential.

#7 Crimson Peak

Crimson-PeakDirector: Guillermo del Toro

Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain in a movie together, do I need to say more?

#6 Spectre

007-bond-movie-announcement-new-title-spectreDirector: Sam Mendes

I love what Sam Mendes has done with the Bond movies, especially with Skyfall and Daniel Craig is such a fantastic James Bond.

 

#5 Ant-Man

Ant-Man-Movie-CostumeDirector: Peyton Reed

It’s not much what we know about this movie and the production has been a rollercoaster with Edgar Wright leaving after so long attached to it and some people are starting to lose faith, but, for me, Marvel has yet to disappoint so I’m trusting them for now.

 

#4 Pan

hugh-jackman-in-an-image-from-the-new-pan-movieDirector: Joe Wright

I can’t describe how much I liked the trailer for this movie and that is why it’s so high in my list. Peter Pan is one of my favourite fairy tales and I just love the cast gathered for this movie. The kid, Levi Miller, looks like he could be a great Peter Pan and I’m super excited about Hugh Jackman and Garret Hedlund playing Blackbeard and Hook. The only one I’m still not fully convinced about is Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily.

 

#3 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

imagesDirector: Francis Lawrence

The first part might have suffered from a lack of action and being quite slow but everything in it was leading up to this moment  and even though Mockingjay is my least favourite book of the trilogy, the movies have still to disappoint me and I’m sure this  will be an action-packed finale.

#2 Star Wars: Episode VII

2014StarWars_TheForceAwakens_Press_251114Director: J.J. Abrams

The race for the top spot was in a dead heat but finally I’m putting the next Star Wars in second place just because at this point, considering the previous films, I have a little more faith in Marvel. Still, I’ve loved everything related to this movie. The teaser gave us just what we needed, I’m very excited about some of the cast members and to see the original cast coming back. The most disappointing thing is to think is still a year away.

 

#1 Avengers: Age of Ultron

avengers-age-ultronDirector: Joss Whedon

The first Avengers movie is probably one of my favourite movies of all time and it seems the sequel is going to be at the same level. The trailer was just spectacular. I like the change in the tone, the new additions with the twins, Vision, and, of course, Ultron, who has the potential to be an amazing villain. Also, I’m so excited to see how the events in Age of Ultron and the relation between Ironman and Cap lead to Civil War.