Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Mountain Between Us (2017): Review

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The Mountain Between Us is based on the Charles Martin book of the same name which was published in 2010.  Earlier this year I read, the book to fulfill one of my reading challenge categories (a movie being published this year), so I have been anticipating watching the movie version of the story. I enjoy reading romance stories and enjoyed this book in its own right. I was drawn into the interactions between Ben and Ashley (name changed for the movie) and it being very easy to read, which I want in my romance novels.  I wasn't expecting having as much difficulty separating the book story from the movie story but I feel like there were changes that were unnecessary and as there isn't a whole lot going on in the story I found it quite distracting.  If you haven't read the book it wouldn't be a problem for you but if you are a lover of the book it will be annoying, especially as the things that were changes would have worked perfectly well in the movie.

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The Mountain Between Us is about Doctor Ben Bass, played by Idris Elba, and Journalist/photographer Alex, played by Kate Winslet.  They are trying to fly out of an airport that is being shut down due a snow storm coming in, Alex to get married the next day and Ben to preform a surgery.  They charter Walter, played by Beau Bridges, to fly them out but Walter suffers a stroke and they crash into a snow covered mountain with Walter's Dog.  Both are injured and have to work together in order to try and get off of the mountain. During this trail, they experience hazards of being stranded on the snow covered mountain and getting to know each other.

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This movie really relies on the interactions between Kate Winslet and Idris Elba and for how good of actors both of them are I was extremely disappointed in their lack of connection and chemistry. I usually love Winslet and don't really care for Elba but this was reversed in this movie. There was nothing compelling about Alex and moments that you could have really been pulled into her pain, I just wasn't. I did enjoy Elba as Ben and at least could see his journey a bit better. There was no connection or chemistry between these two, both when they were at odds or relying on each other. The situation pushed the feelings not the actors in the situation. 

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For this review, I am very much being the annoying person who says the book was better or they changes too many weird things as the movie. But I found it very strange that they changes Ben's Wife's name from Rachel (book) to Sara (movie). Like why change it? all it did was create a distraction from those who know the book. Also there were moments added to create drama in the story that were unnecessary and didn't add anything to the point of the story which is the relationship between Ben and Alex and how they depend on each other for different reasons. The aspect that I did like was that the movie was more evenly focused on both Alex and Ben instead of it being more heavily on Ben.

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The pacing and editing was strange, and thinking back on it, many of the things I didn't like seems to be related to directing and production. It seemed like there were two or three different people with different visions that pasted the movie together. The ending was filmed weird, when it could have focused on both of them interacting it jumps to close up face shots when they are suppose to be having an emotional conversation.

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The landscapes and moments where the mountain is shown are great and I could see how when they were at different spots on the mountain the environment they were at was different in accordance to changes when elevation is dropped.

The dog was adorable but how could he not be.

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I fell like I knocked this movie more than it really deserved. It wasn't that great and a lot of the problems I had with it were unnecessary changes from the book to movie, but it was still an okay romance movie. I wouldn't be opposed to watching it again but it is not worth watching in theatres.

My Rating: 2-

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The Beguiled (2017): Review

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Seeing the previews for The Beguiled I was intrigued to see what it was about, especially when I saw that it received fairly good reviews. While watching it I thought that it wasn't bad but there wasn't anything that interesting about it and I was slightly bored and didn't connect to any of the characters. In a movie where the characters and the interactions between them is all that is going on (the whole movie is set at the house and mainly in just a few rooms)  I need to feel connected or interested in the characters. I was disappointed as the cast had such potential and seemed to just be a waste. When I found out it was a Sophia Coppola movie at the end (as I didn't pay attention to this before I saw it) my non attachment to the movie made sense as I have felt this way about some of her past movies.

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The Beguiled is based on a book by Thomas Cullinan of the same name and the movie is set three years into the Civil War at a Southern girls school. Union soldier Corporal John McBurney, played by Colin Farrell, has been wounded and seeks shelter and care at the school. The school is owned by Miss. Martha, played by Nicole Kidman, with teacher Miss Edwina, played by Kirsten Dunst.  There are five girls living there Alica, played by Elle Fanning; Amy, played by Oona Laurence; Jane, played by Angourie Rice; Marie, played by Addison Riecke; and Emily, played by Emma Howard. The Corporal disrupts their lives and routines while they are trying to deal with being around the war.

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The Beguiled focuses on the intrigue of Corporal John McBurney as he tries to win over all the ladies in the school and the different relationships/ feelings the ladies have towards him through the events of the movie.  I can see that all of the actors tries and were acting but there was no real connection between any of the characters and everything felt really forced. There could have been a lot of work with and I would have really liked to see the development from one moment to the next with the relationships between the Corporal and the ladies but it just seemed silted and just assumed that there is acceptance of what is going on. I usually really like Colin Farrell and he usually has really great charm but this is stifled in this movie. It seemed more like directorial and producer choices more then what the actors are capable. The movie seemed to be going for subtle but if was way too subtle for me and I just didn't buy it. When there are difficulties and strife later on in the movie I don't really care because there wasn't the emotional connection that needed to be there to be any real change in me when this finally happened. However it was at this point that anything interesting happened in the movie.

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The tone of the movie was consistent and the setting was interesting. I lived the southern trees and the house. It was even interesting to see the interactions the school had with the soldiers who passed by occasionally, hearing the battle not far away, and seeing the smoke from the battle. I did find it strange that there were moments where the whole screen went black and their wasn't a transition from scene to seen that was distracting. It made me think of a made for TV movie where there is just abrupt cut outs where a commercial would have been inputted.



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This movie was short and I don't see any reason why more time couldn't have been focused on development and getting me to believe and connect with what was going on. The movie itself wasn't bad it was just boring. I liked Marie, Jane, and Amy but they seemed to be the least focused on characters. It is a movie that will very quickly slip into obscurity if anyone really noticed that it came out in the first place. Definitely not worth paying to see in theatres. 

My Rating: 1+

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017): Review

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I was pleasantly surprised when seeing Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets because it was an extremely enjoyable movie. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it because this type of sci-fi movie can be really good or go really, really badly. This one wasn't the best I have seen but had a plot that kept it going (thanks Valerian and Laureline comic books), although there were lots of strange things going on, it was beautiful to watch, and had a good production value but didn't feel like it was taking itself too seriously.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planet, follows Valerian, played by Dane DeHann, a Major in the United Human Federation who along with his partner Sargent Laureline, played by Cara Delevingne, who are a special service team, who get drawn into figure out what the unknown force that has taken over the center oft he space station Alpha (a.k.a. the city of a thousand planets) is and what is really going on with the people involved. While they are going about their duties they are trying to figure out what is really going on, who is the actual bad guy, and having banter about their potential future relationship. Also staring: Clive Owen as Commander Arun Filitt; Rhianna as Bubble; Sam Spruell as General Okto-Bar, Kris Wu as Sergeant Neza; and Herbert Hancock as Defense Minster.

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As I said, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and enjoyed the whole thing. The basic plot is very simplistic and their isn't much happening when you think of just the basic plot but there is a lot of side jaunts that Valerian and Laureline take to get there that are weird but make sense and are easy to follow. There is nothing really complex going on but it is an enjoyable ride and beautiful to look at. The cast is alright, there isn't phenomenal acting but it isn't over the top or that bad. There isn't much development in the characters but the whole movie takes place over the course of  a single day so there isn't a lot of time for that to happen. The whole relationships thing between Valerian and Laureline is forced a bit but this is mainly because their are not great sparks that fly between the two. This is more due to Cara Delevingne's wooden performance and inability to really engage with the people around her (and even the cute little replicator thing). I just wanted her to show other emotions on her face and seem like she is connecting with the people around her but especially Valerian. Where you get little smirks and attempts at something from Dane DeHann, there isn't much being sent back at him for her to work with.

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The whole movie is beautiful to watch and I really enjoy the backgrounds and environments. I saw the movie in 2D but am tempted to go back and see how everything looks in 3D. Usually when everything on the screen is CGI (characters and background), I think it all looks really bad and is distracting, but this  production team obviously put the money to good use with making everything look really good, appealing, and cohesive. I liked the use of color and with the whole one thousand planets and species that exist in the world there is a lot of use of different colors and how different parts of Alpha look and are used. Although this is a sci-fi movie and set in space the focus is not on being or traveling through space, it is on the characters and their mission/ the intrigue that they have been drawn into.

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I enjoyed how the movie used tone and although it is a family friendly movie (PG-13) it doesn't feel like it was dumbed down or wanted to be something that it wasn't. This movie very easily could have taken itself too seriously and tried too hard but I am glad that it didn't. Things fit together and you could see that during some of the times where a lot of ridiculous things were happening that the movie had that little sparkle that shows its not taking itself too seriously even thought it is committing to the weirdness.

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Overall, I  was impressed and enjoyed this movie and I am thinking that I want to go back and see it in 3D just to see how it is a different experience. This is definitely a movie that benefits from being seen on the big screen and was good.

My Rating: 2
My Enjoyment Rating: 3

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Dunkirk (2017): Review

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I was lucky enough to be able to see an early screening of Dunkirk thanks to a friend having an extra ticket and I am very glad that I was able to see it and it is an absolutely fantastic movie. Usually war movies do not have a big draw for me but I was intrigued about this one. While watching it my attention was completely focused on what was happening and after I figured out the interplay between the three parts of the story, I was drawn into what was happening on screen, which thinking about how little dialogue there is in the movie is an amazing feat.

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Dunkirk follows three interweaving stories (or points of view) set around the evacuation of Dunkirk beach. These three stories happening over different amounts of time and although each section is chronological itself, the cuts between the different perspectives are not moving at the same pace or timeframe.  There is the beach story which occurs over the course of one week and follows young soldier Tommy, played by FionnWhitehead. Tommy is trying to get evacuated from the beach where the British Soldiers have been trapped during WWII on Dunkirk beach and interacts with Gibson played by Aneurin Barnard, and Alex, played by Harry Styles. The second story occurs over the time frame of one day and follows Mr. Dawson, played by Mark Rylance; Peter, played by Tom Glynn-Carney; and George, played by Barry Keoghan. These three take their own boat to Dunkirk in an attempt to assist with the evacuation of the soldiers stranded on the beach. On their way they pluck a soldier out of the water, played by Cillian Murphey.  The third story occurs over a hour and follows fighter pilots Farrier played by Tom Hardy, and Collins, played by Jack Lowden.

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Dunkirk is initially a bit confusion because there is no set up to what is going on, it just jumps right into the story. I liked this but it took a moment for me to understand what the one week, one day, one hour text meant and that the different stories and points of views were not happening concurrent to each other but at different paces although they converged and certain moments. You would see a situation from the air and then later see how what they were witnessing in the sea got there or vice versa. Once I realized this it was easier to follow what was happening and the jumps between the different storylines and where the movie was in the overall timeframe of the whole story.  This is really the only big thing that I found confusing and negative for the movie. Dunkirk was extremely well done and worth watching.

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Dunkirk has very little dialogue and some of the little dialogue that there is, especially at the beginning of the movie, is difficult to hear. This may be due to the accents but it seemed more due to the loudness of the score and the music which drives the movie. The emotions and the main story is driving through the visuals and the scoring of each seen. Sound is uses extremely well and is the driving force of the movie. Where most stories rely on conversations between characters to explain to the audience what is happening, Dunkirk uses what is happening to the characters and the background score to show and express what is going on. Even though there is little said during the movie I feel like I missed a lot and would have liked to immediately see it again to really take in the whole experience and see all the little details that I know I missed. The cinematography is grittier and you can see all of the blemishes of the characters and how there each are dealing with difficult situations, either by making a difficult choice or by having things happen to them.  There was a bit of shaking cam during the beginning that I found distracting but overall the filming worked for what was being shown.

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Christopher Nolan did a fantastic job with this movie, it is visually stunning to watch and has me caring about what is going on, even thought there is no character development of any kind but yet gets me to care about the characters. I recommend going and seeing this movie. It is a fantastic dramatic film.

My Rating: 4-

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