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Kodachrome (2017)
Kodachrome (2017)
2017 | Drama
In dying there was death, in more ways than one. And to fully develop that statement you'll need to watch what is one of my favorite movies of 2017, Kodachrome. It's as moving as it is funny, and Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, and Elizabeth Olsen all deliver amazing performances in what I feel for each is one of their best 'film roles'. If the movie looks out of focus by the end, it's not. That'll just be the tears in your eyes. Don't let this movie flash by, like life has a tendency to, without seeing it.
Very Good Girls (2014)
Very Good Girls (2014)
2014 | Drama
Surprisingly sweet
I usually don't have much hope for original Netflix or Amazon Prime movies figuring if they were good a studio would have purchased them or they would have played in theatres; however, I thought this one was sweet. I do enjoy both Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen so I thought I would give it a try.

Two friends decide they want to have sex before going to college. Unfortunately, they decide on the same guy as their companion without telling the other. Relationships get complicated for sure.

Certainly not going to win any awards, but I thought the acting was solid all around including supporting performances by Ellen Barkin, Clark Gregg, Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfuss.

The dialogue was touching in spots and when things get complicated, you are really rooting for the friendship to ensure.

Wind River (2017)
Wind River (2017)
2017 | Action, Crime, Mystery
Between Sicario and Hell or High Water (both of which landed on my year-end best lists for 2015 and 2016 respectively), Taylor Sheridan has already proven to be an incredible talent at crafting slow-burning thrillers that also serve as in-depth character studies. His new film, third as a screenwriter and second as a director, may move at quite a faster pace than his previous two screenplays, but it is no less accomplished, either in plot or in character development. Though some may leave the theater feeling that they haven’t seen anything new, and they’d be right to as there isn’t anything particularly flashy or unique in the direction or cinematography, Wind River however finds its strength in its simplicity. It’s a simple story concerning the death of a young girl on a Wyoming reservation, of the tracker (Jeremy Renner) for whom the circumstance strikes too close to home, and of the presumably untested FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) forced to face the darker side of her chosen profession.


For Jeremy Renner, Wind River marks a career best. He displays restraint in a role that others would have played far too arrogantly and when he lets us in to share in his character’s painful past, the melodrama inherent in the dialogue is delivered with dignity and humility. Complimenting his performance beautifully is Gil Birmingham as Martin, the father of the murdered girl. Much like his work opposite Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water, his scenes with Renner are the highlight of the film. Every line he delivers reverberates with truth and with the weight of losing of two children, one whose life is thrown away to drug use and one to an untimely, mysterious death. Veteran actor and longtime favorite of mine, Graham Greene is also on hand to give a competent turn as the local sheriff who in equal measures doles out tension-relieving humor as well as reminding us of the gravity of a bleak situation.


In amongst a predominately-male cast, Elizabeth Olsen shines. This film was an undoubtedly a tough task, as her character is given no soft options, and her performance gave me cause to reflect on a young Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. I don’t just draw this comparison because of the fact they both play young agents thrust into a situation beyond their level of experience, but because of the scenes in these films where they are called upon to confidently take command of a room full of men and to show great physicality in moments of unexpected violence. It’s another top mark in her filmography comparable to her breakout in Martha Marcy May Marlene and hopefully, in-between bouts of this bloated Marvel Cinematic Universe nonsense, we’ll continue to see her in roles of some substance.
Wind River (2017)
Wind River (2017)
2017 | Action, Crime, Mystery
Thoughtful, provocative murder mystery
The back 1/2 of August has traditionally been a dumping ground for bad motion pictures. One exception to this was last year when the deserved Oscar nominated film HELL OR HIGH WATER was released (if you still haven't caught up with this, I highly recommend you do). So when I saw that the writer of HHW, Taylor Sheridan, was coming out with another modern sheriff murder mystery, I was intrigued to say the least.

And, I am happy to report, that this film did not disappoint. While it is not at the level of HHW, it certainly is a thoughtful, provocative murder mystery that is a refreshing change from the normal SuperHero, GGI-fests that festoon the cineplex throughout the course of the summer months.

Written and Directed by Sheridan (the screenwriter of HHW and SICARIO), WIND RIVER tells the tale of a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Coming in to investigate is young, city girl, Florida native, Elizabeth Olsen who teams up with aTribal Police Captain (Graham Greene) and a veteran tracker (Jeremy Renner) to find out what happened.

This could have been a by-the-book murder mystery with the naive, "fish-out-of-water" Olsen learning to love and understand the world she is thrust into, but in the hands (and pen) of Sheridan, it is much, much more. Sheridan creates a mood throughout this film, one of slow, lingering dread and hopelessness - and how he accomplishes this was intriguing to me. He uses the setting of the Indian Reservation to show the "smallness" of the people living there, juxtaposing scenes of vast, wild, cold wilderness with scenes of squalor in the settlement of Native American people living there.

The acting is solid - Olsen is turning into a very good actress and her performance sets the right tone. Greene is, as always, a steady hand on the screen with a pragmatic approach to the inhabitants of the Reservation, but it is Jeremy Renner as the quiet, taciturn tracker who has a loss of his own that parallels the murder investigation, that shines. I've always liked Renner and was high on his potential after his breakout performance in THE HURT LOCKER in 2008. While his performances in the blockbusters that followed have been solid, but not spectacular - you saw glimpses of it in films like THE TOWN - but I've felt that he never quite lived up to that potential - until now. This is a very strong performance (falling just short of Oscar material) but one that anchors this film and mirrors the mood that Sheridan sets up through the location of WIND RIVER.

Not the fastest moving of films, but a thoughtful, intelligent mystery that left me grateful for a film with some meat on the bone after a summer of "Cotton Candy" action flicks

Letter Grade: B+

8 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank (ofMarquis)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
2018 | Action, Sci-Fi
The cast specifically RDJ as Tony, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlett Witch, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Holland as Spider-man and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor strange (1 more)
Josh Brolin is Phenomenal as Thanos The Score is Incredible The action sequences are awesome Every character has their moment That Ending!!
Even though every character has their moment they are all underused except Thanos and Thor (0 more)
"I hope they remember you"
Cosmic warlord Thanos begins his quest to gather the six Infinity Stones which will give him God-like power over the universe. The Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to stop him, but can they?

It doesn't take long for "Infinity War" to make clear that this is not another typical summer blockbuster movie. Within the first five minutes the villain has already killed a ton of innocent people (among whom a beloved main character) and has beaten to submission Hulk, the strongest Avenger. Thanos isn't your cookie cutter bad guy who lusts after power for the sake of it. He is a man on a mission, and is determined to crush anybody who stands in his way. Unlike other Marvel villains, every time he appears onscreen the sense of apprehension is palpable. This time we aren't sure that our heroes will survive the ordeal. Josh Brolin's performance, together with the amazing CGI work, give us a character that is destined to be mentioned in the future along the likes of Darth Vader and the Joker.

The biggest concern about this feature was the ability of the Russos to successfully juggle almost 30 main characters and multiple plot-lines. They succeeded in this herculean task, as if through a miracle. The film's pace is relentless and despite it's considerable length at no moment do we feel any slack. The action is rousing and nicely balanced with more quiet and personal moments that provide crucial character development.

You can't talk about this film without mentioning its ending. Surprising and gutsy don't even begin to describe it. I understand why cynics might dismiss it as a stunt. But I also contend that this doesn't take away from its visceral impact on first sight. It's a gut punch because Marvel has gotten us accustomed in boisterous, fun, happy endings.
This one has hopelessness and futility written all over it.

Within the context of the MCU, "Infinity War"'s comparison to "Empire Strikes Back" is well deserved. The final shots of the surviving heroes reeling from their defeat, while a wounded Thanos savors his victory on a distant planet, are potent.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2015 | Action, Sci-Fi
The team Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye Hawkeye's family The hulkbuster sequence The final battle Elizabeth olsen as Scarlett witch (0 more)
Quicksilver was underdeveloped Ultron wasn't as memorable as i hoped he would be. (0 more)
"you didn't see that coming?"
I laughed. I wet my fan boy undies more than once. I wanted to pump the air with my fist and shout 'Hell yeah!' on more than one occasion. (ok, I did. Once. No one was looking. I think)

And still I feel disappointed that Age of Ultron did not manage to cut its own strings attached so strongly to the Marvel Template.

From the opening it's clear we're watching a film without bookends. Thrust into the action with Whedon's trademark 'give every character its moment' visuals, the second installment in the Avengers is aware it doesn't need to introduce itself, it just needs to reacquaint itself with a flashy entrance. And boy does it ever. There's the quick-fire banter, the kinetic action and the energetic fun that made the first film so great.

When the plot kicks in, many of Whedon's quirks remain and to great effect. It's fun, familiar and exciting. We get thrust from one amazing set piece to the next, are treated with some truly outstanding action sequences and are easily allowed to sit back and enjoy the ride. There are a couple of outstanding character moments, most notably for the more 'human' Avengers, something I felt worked rather well, mostly because it was unexpected and because it provided some much needed connection to characters without their own movie franchise.

The new characters are fine. Quicksilver is underdeveloped and never transcends his power, but the Scarlet Witch is absolutely spot on. Olsen plays her with conviction and her development is handled beautifully. Can't wait to find out what they have in store for her. When the Vision first made his appearance I audibly gasped. A firm favourite of mine, his creation and subsequent actions were put in the film especially for me. I'm sure of it.

What misfired for me was some of the comedy, which felt rather forced and the villain. The first is rather easy to step over, the second is a bigger problem. Ultron is a truly formidable adversary, one that deserves a larger platform than he is given here. It seems that the second film was always going to be a transition film to the (probable) epicness ahead and I therefore find Ultron to be an odd choice for the villain. Don't get me wrong, he looks and sounds fantastic and Spader does a truly excellent job, but he feels shoehorned into a middle part that is structured the exact same way the previous film was and most Marvel films are. Again, not necessarily a problem, but I had expected more from this one. The hinted at darker tone is not really there, the seriousness of the threat is not really convincing because it is not given the time to develop properly. There is a moment in the film I felt it was going to happen, where the team is truly rattled and defeated, but it is fleeting as we're already hurrying towards the next sequence. Whedon lacks focus here and seems preoccupied with building up rather than just telling a story. And that's a shame. I felt there was an opportunity here to break away from the mould most of these films seem intent to cast themselves in and it is an opportunity they missed. Better luck next time.

Now, having said all that, I always rate these films by how much fun I had and let me assure you, there is plenty to be had. The Hulkbuster, the final showdown, the nightmare visions all had me smiling like a git.

For all its faults it still is a cut above most big blockbusters in that it delivers the goods with confidence and gusto and never forgets to try and entertain the crap out of its audiences.

JT (257 KP) rated Godzilla (2014) in Movies

Mar 23, 2020  
Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla (2014)
2014 | Mystery, Sci-Fi
Does what it says on the tin
Big action blockbusters probably don’t get much bigger than this, certainly, the budgets don’t. Just ask Gareth Edwards, who is making his second feature (again about monsters) brings to life one of the films most iconic.

Edwards as a director landed on peoples radar with his 2010 micro-budgeted Monsters which drew on strong character development and their ongoing relationships in the aftermath of an alien invasion. In this reboot, which if there was ever a need for a remake this might well have been it, Edwards plumps for well crafted central characters while teasing us with glimpses of prehistoric beings saving the money shots for the big action set pieces.

In an opening credits history lesson which gives us a background into the creation of the gargantuan predator, and the reason for all that nuclear testing, we are fast-forwarded to 1999 was the discovery of giant remains sparks fears that something else has been awoken and ready to cause some havoc.

I wasn’t particularly blown away by this one, the first half is exceptional as Cranston’s Joe Brody is encapsulated in a collapsing nuclear power plant disaster and then goes a bit crackpot as he looks to unearth his theory that the government are trying to cover something up.

Once the dust settles on that and the force of nature have revealed themselves in the shape of Godzilla and his foe the M.U.TO.s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Objects) there is little to do but sit back and watch the carnage unfurl.

With so much going on the character performances are practically dwarfed by the 350 ft beasts going toe to toe, and you really pay little attention to what is going on in the background. Some of the cast add little if anything which is a shame, Ken Watanabe does a lot of starring into space with his jaw-dropping onto the floor. His partner in science Sally Hawkins merely attempts to add snippets of useless information and poor Elizabeth Olsen is reduced to a bit part love interest.

Taylor-Johnson looks suitably beefed up and manages to hold his own, taking centre stage to save the world from possible annihilation, as if that hasn’t already been achieved by the Dawrinesque nuclear creation. There are parts within the film that are ludicrous, and parts that you can stare in amazement at none more so than the final fight which if anything is certainly worth the admission price.

Visually as you would expect it’s a stunning film but is somewhat disjointed throughout. There were enough subtle references to suggest a sequel (which there was) and that Gareth Edwards will in someway get another crack and wreaking havoc somewhere else (which he didn’t).
Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla (2014)
2014 | Mystery, Sci-Fi
The cast especially Bryan Cranston The Action sequences Godzilla and the Mutos The suspense The score The Cgi (0 more)
Needed more Bryan Cranston (0 more)
"let them fight"
This film is an absolute masterpiece. Not once did I find myself getting bored or losing track of the plot - something that happens commonly when I watch longer movies - and I was gutted when it was over. Not because I was disappointed, but because I desperately wanted more. Gareth Edwards' film takes monster movies to a whole new level, with some nice twists to the usual "Godzilla" story lines, a fantastic cast and some of the best action sequences I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

The first thing to mention about this film is its cast and its focus on the human characters, played mainly by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Lieutenant Ford Brody), Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody, Ford's wife), and Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody, Ford's estranged father). Bryan Cranston is only really in the first half, portraying his character as a very outcast, yet very determined former nuclear engineer who is searching for the truth about his wife's tragic death. He was fantastic in the role delivering each line with emotion and conviction he was the best character in the film and I wish he was in the film longer. His theories beautifully foreshadow the events to come, and he drags his son, Ford, right into the heart of the trouble. Thankfully, this means that we get to see lots of the brilliant Aaron Taylor- Johnson, a courageous explosive ordnance disposal technician who comes face-to-face with Godzilla several times. Literally. Aaron Taylor-Johnson really is the star here, and the scenes with his wife, Elle, and son, Sam, before any of the action starts makes his actions later on all the more respectable and courageous as he risks his life to save them and the entire city. Elizabeth Olsen isn't used as much as I would have liked, as she is fantastic in the scenes in which we see her. Having said that, she does appear a fair amount, as the strong wife and mother holding back her terror in order to stay and help. Her scenes with Aaron Taylor- Johnson are great too, and make for some very believable characters. The other main character is Dr Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe), a scientist monitoring Godzilla and the MUTOs. He doesn't really do much apart from look very worried in every shot and say tense or shocking one-liners, but Ken Watanabe makes sure that it's never cringe-worthy or boring.

Secondly we have Gareth Edwards' directing - wow! I need to see more of this guy! Every shot looks as good as it could possibly be, and the first reveal of Godzilla is brilliant. There's a MUTO smashing up an airport. Cue plane exploding, followed by the one to the right, and then the one to the right, and then… a foot. Silence. Another foot. Cut to a shot of the MUTO roaring, and then back to the feet. Up the camera pans (for quite a long time!), leaving us with a beautiful high-angle shot of the beast himself. And then comes the roar. There's another great shot of Godzilla making his way across the Pacific to San Francisco, and another in the city itself of… well, there's no other way of putting it – Godzilla and a MUTO having a good old' fashioned fistfight, which culminates in a pretty fantastic and well-timed tail slam from the big guy. The skyscrapers don't really bother them. It's just a long shot, and in it we see two giant monsters ripping each other to shreds and obliviously destroying the city below. Another great shot (or shots) is during the HALO jump, as we see the city in flames, the men falling through the clouds and the burning skyline and a close-up of a Godzilla vs MUTO fight.

Now I'll move on to the plot and the headline acts – the MUTOs and the big guy himself, Godzilla. The plot is very straightforward. A MUTO hatches in Japan, one hatches in Nevada next to Las Vegas, and this is all because they've been feeding on humanity's nuclear waste and radiation. Oh, and by the way, the MUTOs look brilliant. Imagine a metal praying mantis crossed with a four-legged spider, as tall as a skyscraper. That's a MUTO. Anyway, Ford joins the fight to stop the creatures, and as they make their way to San Francisco the military plan to destroy them with their most powerful nuclear weapon. Godzilla is closing in too, and when the pesky MUTOs steal the nuke and build their nest around it, Ford and a group of soldiers must go into the city to detonate it. However, Godzilla and the MUTOs are also in the city, smashing everything (including each other) to bits. It's very odd that, for once, we end up cheering Godzilla on, as the two MUTOs begin to overwhelm him as he is seemingly hurt. And then he is actually made out to be the good guy (a twist I enjoyed), as he saves Ford in a spectacular way from a MUTO and the media call him " the saviour of our city?". 'Zilla looks amazing too. "Massive" is probably an understatement, but the spikes on his back, the battle scars on his body and his terrifying face make him look awesome. Also, his roar had me jumping up and down with excitement, as did his surprise for the MUTOs: his atomic fire breath.

All in all, "Godzilla" is one fantastic movie. No longer a mockery, but terrifying, tense, and, unlike many monster movies, it is complex. Complex in that it has multiple characters with interesting back-stories (that are all explored) and gives Godzilla a new personality and purpose. Everything looks great, it feels epic, and I enjoyed every moment. This is a movie that would appeal to anyone.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2015 | Action, Sci-Fi
This one belongs to James Spader
I doubt that Joss Whedon and the team down at Marvel knew just how successful 2012’s Avengers Assemble would go on to be. After just a few months of release it became the third highest-grossing film of all time, by no means an easy feat to achieve.

Therefore, Whedon and co had their work cut out trying to build on the solid foundations they had laid when it came to producing a sequel. However, three years and $250m later Avengers: Age of Ultron hits our screens. But is it the follow-up everyone was asking for?

Age of Ultron follows the dynamic team of superheroes as they continue to save the world following the near cataclysmic events of the 2009 predecessor and of course every Marvel film released since. Here however, they are tasked with taking down a robot hell bent on destroying the world – a tough day at the office to say the least.

All the fan favourites return as well as some new faces in a film that is technically spectacular but a little overambitious at times. There are 11, count them 11, major characters vying for screen time in Age of Ultron and while Whedon manages to give each of them their own story arc, at times it feels a little rushed.

Joining the cast is James Spader as the voice of Ultron, a robot accidentally created by Tony Stark, and he is by far the most intriguing character in an already impressive line-up. Robert Downey Jr. continues to be on fine form as the wise-cracking Iron Man/Stark with Chris Hemsworth providing the eye-candy as Thor.

It’s also nice to see Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner’s Black Widow and Hawkeye get some much-needed fleshing out after their fairly limited roles in previous Marvel films, and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is a joy to watch.

Kick-Ass’ Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Godzilla’s Elizabeth Olsen also join the cast as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, two characters fans of the X-Men universe will recognise. However, due to legal requirements their origins are changed and the fact that they are mutants is never revealed, unfortunately limiting their appeal.

When it comes to special effects, Whedon has made sure every sequence is brimming with the highest quality CGI, and despite a couple of lapses early on in the film, the majority of the picture is flawless with some stunning global locations beautifully juxtaposed with the characters doing their thing.

What stands out in Age of Ultron however is the plot. Avengers Assemble was a fine film right up until the generic city-levelling, headache inducing climax that looked like it could have come straight out of a Michael Bay movie.

Thankfully, whilst the action is dialled up a few notches here, the plot is much more detailed and the final scenes are utterly breath-taking.

Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron had a massive amount to live up to and in some respects it falls a little short, its overambitious nature is its downfall with too many characters needing screen time. However, as a good-time blockbuster it’s hard to find one better and James Spader is genuinely mesmerising as Ultron.

Is it the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, it’s definitely an improvement on its predecessor – but for me, Guardians of the Galaxy just takes that title by a whisker.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
2016 | Action, Sci-Fi
Mini Avengers, Assemble
Is anyone else getting bored of superhero films? Nope? Just me then. We’re not even halfway through 2016 and there have been three of them. In February, there was Deadpool, a film that despite all the odds, turned out to be smashing – despite its generic finale.

Then, DC tried to compete with Marvel in March with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was fine, if far too long and lacking in any real drama. Now, Marvel is back with Captain America: Civil War. But can it break the superhero tedium that has started to settle in?

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is back and he is not happy. The titular hero, and the rest of our beloved Avengers clan, are asked to sign up to a UN treaty, designed to reign in their unsupervised power after a dramatic and deadly battle against terrorists in Nigeria. It turns out the Avengers lost the PR war and countries across the globe want blood – well them to back off a little at least.

Most of the fan favourites return in Civil War, with Robert Downey Jr proving once again why he was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man all those years ago. He is a commanding presence and brings to the table some of the best one-liners outside a fully-fledged Iron Man film.

Elsewhere, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) all return and despite the increasing number of characters all make their presence felt throughout the course of the film – something Avengers: Age of Ultron failed to do.

However, the film belongs to the characters that join the film and the Marvel Universe. Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man makes a truly exceptional appearance and features in Civil War’s most memorable scene – a brilliantly choreographed battle between two sides in a deserted airport.

And, the long-awaited “homecoming” of Spider-Man to the MCU is thankfully worth the wait. He’s been teased in the trailers and I’m pleased to say his screen-time is far greater than anyone could have imagined. Young Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker may need some time to settle in, we have a Spider-Man reboot to look forward to in 2018, but he makes a cracking first impression.

So, with all those characters it’s fair to say that Civil War should be renamed “Mini Avengers Assemble” as there’s far more at stake here than a simple Captain America movie. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have created the film that Age of Ultron should have been and it’s a slight disservice to their incredible work that the film isn’t labelled as a full Avengers feature, despite the lack of Thor and Hulk.

The action is beautifully filmed and the locations are fabulous. From Africa to America and from Germany to London, nearly every inch of the world is touched upon in some way – yet it doesn’t feel disjointed.

But what makes Civil War stand out from all the rest is its human side. This isn’t a superhero movie that ends in a climactic battle against a faceless army, it explores the human impact of our characters’ actions and the emotion radiates from its heart.

Yes, it’s 20 minutes too long but apart from that, I can’t think of a bad word to say. It has reinvigorated a genre that was starting to turn a little stale. Bringing together a set of characters that against all the odds gel together so well makes it feel as fresh as Iron Man did way back in 2008.

If this is the magic the Russo brothers can work at Marvel, Avengers: Infinity War should be something truly special indeed. X-Men: Apocalypse, you have your work cut out.

Oh, and wait right up until the end credits for something very special indeed.