At The Movies
Taken 3 ★★
Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott
When ex-operative Bryan’s ex-wife is murdered in his apartment, he finds himself on the run and it’s left up to him to clear his name, track down the real killer and protect his daughter.
There’s a lot less violence in this second sequel of “Taken” than the previous “Taken” films released to date. This one tones it down to be accessible for a younger audience. There’s still plenty of action throughout the film and also a freeway car chase scene. There are a few hand to hand combat scenes that are worth watching out for though it can be a bit hard to see exactly what is going on.
The film this time is more plot-driven than the others. There are a few twists but otherwise it’s a bit generic and predictable. You can’t get a real tell of the relationships between the characters either as the film doesn’t tend to spend much time concentrating on the relationships enough. Forest Whitaker and Dougray Scott make a brilliant addition to the trilogy. Liam Neeson again is brilliant although at times he comes across a bit wooden.
“Taken 3” is a fairly decent action film but don’t expect anything more from this third part in the trilogy.
Ex Machina ★★★★
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicica Vikander
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), who works for the world’s largest search engine company, Bluebook, wins a competition to spend a week with the CEO of the company, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), at his beautiful home situated in the countryside in a remote location surrounded by mountains. When Caleb arrives at his boss’ home, he soon finds that he was deliberately picked and is actually there to participate in an experiment in which he must interact with and examine the world’s first artificial intelligence ever. The test is to determine if a machine can actually show emotion and pass itself off as human in civilisation.
It’s a bit slow paced. But it’s a very serious film and very thought-provoking. The main concept of the film is how we interact with AI s humans and how they in turn may interact with us. This addresses a lot of questions we may one day face. The film focuses a lot more on characterisation more than anything. It has a well written script and is constantly gripping with a lot of twists throughout the film.
It’s brilliantly casted and is possibly Domhnall Gleeson’s best performance to date. The writer and director is Alex Garland, and as a directorial debut, it’s a brilliant first attempt.
It’s beautifully shot and features some brilliant cinematography.
This is a complex science fiction film. If you have seen “Artificial Intelligence” and “Her” then you will probably like this.
Into the Woods ★★★
Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp
A witch (Meryl Streep) calls upon a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) to fetch some items which will restore her youth in exchange for a baby. They go into the woods and an array of fairy tale characters that help them along the way.
The film is based on the Broadway Musical of the same name. “Into the Woods” brings all fairy tales into one story and ties them together all in a clever way.
The songs are very catchy and sung very well. The set pieces are astounding and the costumes are beautiful. However, it goes for quite a bit longer than needed and is messy in parts and drags a little. It does however have some funny moments throughout the film, Chris Pine in particular shows off his funny side in this film.
Johnny Depp makes a small appearance and is somewhat underused, only appearing in the film for around five minutes overall. His character, the Wolf also comes across slightly paedophilic. The film is very dark and gets very serious towards the end and not what one would expect from a Disney film. There are also some violent moments in the film. Although depicted otherwise, this is not one for children.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis
Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomas, an actor mostly known for his film “The Birdman”. After turning down what would be the fourth film in the franchise, he is now washed up and turning to theatre. He decides to try his hand at directing an adaption of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. However it proves to be nothing but one disaster after another when the lead actor is injured on set. He scrambles to find another lead actor but when he finds him he then finds out he’s more trouble than he’s worth. He then also had to deal with his daughter who just got out of rehab, and stopping any more on stage disasters. And to make matters worse, he then has to deal with a critic determined to bring him down and relationship dilemmas as well as his inner struggles. “Birdman” is a quirky little film with some exceptional performances from a stellar line-up and is brilliantly written. Keaton shows off his acting skills. You can really see the struggles in his face. He shows that he can do serious as well as funny once again. The other members of the cast also put in brilliant performances. Zach Galifianakis shows off his more serious side and Edward Norton proves his acting abilities once again.
This is also some wonderful cinematography and is brilliantly executed. The director really captures the character’s emotions and anguish well. You can really see the detail well by the shots that are taken. This is perhaps most certainly Alejandro González Iñárritu’s finest film to date. “Birdman” is a masterpiece of a film and is a must-see. If you’re going to see anything this year then this should be it.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ★★★★
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Aidan Turner, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, Ian Holm, James Nesbitt, Lee Pace, Ryan Gage
The concluding part to the trilogy starts from where the last film left off. Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) is now unleashed and causing havoc on the nearby Laketown. Back in the dragon’s lair, Thorin (Richard Armitage) finds himself under the curse of the gold and finds himself succumbing to greed.
There are some scenes which relate to Lord of the Rings and setting up for the first part of the trilogy nicely, building the bridge between both trilogies well.
We get to see more of Bilbo’s (Martin Freeman) and Thorin’s relationship which faces problems due to Thorin’s paranoia and greed. We also get to see more of the love triangle between Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Kili (Aidan Turner). Unfortunately the dwarves get pushed aside for other character’s storylines.
The name comes from the huge battle towards the end of the film. The huge battle consists of dwarves, humans, elves, goblins, eagles and wizards. There are some other brilliant action pieces throughout the film but this is the one that stands out the most and builds up to the end of the film.
It’s visually beautiful with plenty of action and brilliant acting from the likes of Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage. There are a few tear jerking scenes and some laugh-out-loud moments. However the storyline leaves a lot to be desired. Sadly the film leaves a lot of questions unanswered and unlike the first two parts of the trilogy; it steers away from Tolkien’s masterpiece novel, instead giving too much more screen time to Tauriel’s love triangle subplot.