Saturday, March 29, 2014

Film Review Round Up 29th March 2014

Now the good films are starting to arrive on screen. The Raid 2 was an enjoyable surprise for me, Mr. Peabody and Sherman an entertaining animation, Noah a tad wet, and Half of a Yellow Sun only got it half right. You certainly have some choice this week.

(My movie Pick of the week)
The Raid 2 (Berandal) ✪✪✪✪ ½
Opens in Australia:               27th March 2014
USA: 28th March 2014            UK: 11th April 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

So there was me, middle-aged female, with five males in the media screening. The testosterone for this violent, martial arts film—which is a follow up to the hit from last year The Raid—was palpable. Even the publicist warned me about the violence and suggested it may not be my cup of tea.

But I’ve been working out my toughness quotient by watching Walking Dead, and what most people don’t know is that Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director; Django Unchained, my fave film of last year. I haven’t seen Raid, so I was a tad nervous and ready to cover my eyes and block my ears.

It is violent and full on action, but I loved it. The fight sequences are extraordinary. You will not, and have not, seen anything like it in any other film. Girls, ingratiate yourself with your fella by suggesting you go see this one. It has great humor and there is a story. Best action character since Kill Bill’s The Bride (Uma Thurman) has got to be the female assassin in this, “Hammer Girl.” Totally awesome. Do not miss it.
He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen - a fight that left the bodies of police and gangsters alike piled in the halls - rookie Jakarta cop Rama thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn't have been more wrong. Formidable though they may have been, Rama's opponents in that fateful building were nothing more than small fish swimming in a pond much larger than he ever dreamed possible. And his triumph over the small fry has attracted the attention of the predators farther up the food chain. His family at risk, Rama has only one choice to protect his infant son and wife: He must go undercover to enter the criminal underworld himself and climb through the hierarchy of competing forces until it leads him to the corrupt politicians and police pulling the strings at the top of the heap. And so Rama begins a new odyssey of violence, a journey that will force him to set aside his own life and history and take on a new identity as the violent offender "Yuda." In prison he must gain the confidence of Uco - the son of a prominent gang kingpin - to join the gang himself, laying his own life on the line in a desperate all-or-nothing gambit to bring the whole rotten enterprise to an end.(c) Sony Classics

Half of a Yellow Sun ✪✪✪½

Opens in Australia:      27th March 2014
USA: July 2014             UK: 21st March 2014
Perth:                            Luna Palace Cinemas
Other Countries:          Release Information

Somewhere within this story is an interesting tale. It’s reasonably well acted, filmed well and has a very fine cast. It’s not a terrible film by any means. The story is of a violent period in the history of Nigeria, but the writers focused so much on the love triangles and the soap opera between the two sisters that the really interesting part of the story was not explored—the country’s politics and the history.

We reviewers came out of this none the wiser about what actually happened in what is clearly a terrible time for this country. I didn’t understand what they were fighting about and after two hours, I would have really liked to have known.

The female protagonists were hardly sympathetic characters. In fact, I don’t think I really liked any of the characters. They all seemed rather self-absorbed. There is where I think lays the inherent problem—the self-absorption got in the way of the true story. Try again, people. There’s an incredible story her and I would like to understand it. Then again, maybe we should all just go and read about it.
When civil war breaks out in Nigeria in the late 1960s, political lines are drawn and families are forced to scatter. Odenigbo (Ejiofor) and Olanna (Newton) find themselves in the middle of an escalating conflict that drives them from their university-town home and threatens Olanna’s relationship with her sister, Kainene (Anika Noni Rose).

As the war escalates, and the situation in the newly established Biafra becomes increasingly hopeless, Odenigbo, Olanna and their family struggle in the face of hardships of every kind yet still find a way to survive.

Woven around the relationship between twin sisters, HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is a very human story set against the backdrop of displacement, blockades, refugee camps and national ruin. In the face of devastation and loss, this is a story of resilience and hope told with a warmth and jaunty vibrancy that depicts life and its shifting fortunes in a deeply personal and intimate portrayal.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman ✪✪✪½

Opens in Australia:               27th March 2014
USA: 7th March 2014             UK: 7th February 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

What a cute movie. It’s a lovely story, full of action, and who doesn’t love a time travel story? The cinema was full of real little ones, but they were very well behaved which is a sign that the film engaged them. My harsh 11 and 13-year-old critics also enjoyed. In fact, they had a bunch of their friends and their friend’s families at the preview and they all enjoyed it as well. I feel reasonably confident in recommending this film as a family treat. It’s not surprising that it was so engaging as the director and producer is Rob Minkoff, who is also brought us The Lion King (1994) and Stuart Little (1999).

Mr. Peabody, the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman, use their time machine - the WABAC - to go on the most outrageous adventures known to man or dog. But when Sherman takes the WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they accidentally rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Before they forever alter the past, present and future, Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, ultimately facing the most  daunting challenge of any era: figuring out how to be a parent. Together, the time traveling trio will make their mark on history. (c) Fox

Noah ✪✪✪ 
Opens in Australia:         27th March 2014
USA: 28th March 2014    UK: 4th April 2014
Other Countries:             Release Information

I was prepared to go along with the rock monster thingies that helped Noah build the ark and defend it in a kind of Transformer’s face off. It’s Hollywood after all, and they have to throw something in to make the story feel original and big screen worthy.

The battle between Noah and his wife and sons over the future of mankind, though, now that just didn’t sit right with me. It was overblown within the plot. Before you strike me down with a thunderbolt, yes, I know that was the crux of this film, but it went on for so long I just wanted it over. Director, Darren Arnofsky (Black Swan and The Wrestler) seems fixated on the darkness within the soul, and so this was always going to be bleak and relentless. Many of the critics loved it, but I wasn’t one of them. My 11 and 13 year olds found it average in the entertainment stakes, too.

I don’t want to put you off going if you have your heart set on seeing it, because my voice is one dissension among a multitude of praise. Is not terrible, just muddled, and that can happen with a lot of rain. Russell Crowe and the rest give fine performances. He's winding his way back into my graces since Les Miserables.
Russell Crowe stars as Noah in the film inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope. Directed by visionary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (c) Paramount

What have you seen this week? Did you find our comments helpful or do you disagree? Share your thoughts with us.