Looper Movie Review

Looper Movie Review with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
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Looper is as close to perfection as a movie can get. This will certainly be one of the most one-sided movie reviews I have ever written. Spoilers are included in a separate section at the bottom with fair warning.

Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, is an extremely well-rounded sci-fi/action/drama movie that takes place in the future. What impressed me the most about Looper, was how director/writer Rian Johnson was able to incorporate time travel in a way that is easy-to-follow. I have seen many movies fail at this in the past; either trying to explain how it works and failing miserably, or ignoring how it works completely leaving enormous plot holes. Instead, the movie is “self-aware” with the actors acknowledging that time travel is complex, spending some time explaining the basics of the premise and then moving on.

Amazingly, Looper manages to avoid almost every sci-fi cliché in the book, adding to its self-awareness. One thing that I would consider a common cliché is assuming too much of the future. If there is one thing we look back and laugh at, it is old sci-fi movies that assumed that we would be all living in hover cities with flying cars, or things of that nature. Looper portrays a much more realistic future with a number of advancements but nothing completely out to lunch. Of course, sci-fi purists may actually think this is a problem, perhaps to them the more far-fetched the future the better, however I most certainly prefer writers that don’t take every liberty available to them.

The plot was highly unique and thoroughly enthralling, however it was the acting and the character development that was the biggest draw. Instead of the movie revolving entirely around a single character or two, Looper introduces a number of characters that are followed throughout the movie. Flawless acting helps sell these well-developed characters and bring the movie together like few others. Emily Blunt’s performance stood out in particular, despite a smaller role than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bruce Willis was probably the weakest acting piece but his style served a pivotal role for his character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, shattered my expectations of him. It is now clear to me that he will be a strong A-list actor that we can expect to see much more often.

In summary, the movie was flawless. See this movie.

It there anything after the credits? No, there are no extra scenes at the end of Looper.

** Warning: Spoilers below**

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There is one thing that is throwing me for a loop (hahaha, I’m soooo funny): the movie very delicately touched on how time travel works and explained everything well, except for at the very end. How is it possible that Joe is trying to kill Cid because someone turned him bad in the future and yet it was Joe himself that killed said. Hard to explain, but I’ll try again:

How would Joe not know that he was the one that killed Cid’s mother causing him to turn into the future killer that he is?

I welcome any theories in the comments below.

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The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review – Surprises!

Surprises and Spoilers - Dark Knight Rises Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

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The Dark Knight Rises was a phenomenal conclusion to a phenomenal trilogy. I refrain from using the word perfect because there were a few things that held it back from the unheard of, “perfect” status. The Dark Knight Rises does what few trilogies have done before it – ended in a satisfying way. Many trilogy conclusions are, well, unconclusive; leaving loose ends and many unanswered questions. The third movie in the batman series does no such thing.

I cannot thank Christopher Nolan enough for taking the idea of Batman and seeing it through to its true potential. No more horrible movies meant for children with no depth; Batman rises from the ashes of those atrocities to what will likely be legendary status for years to come.

It all started with Batman Begins, where Christopher Nolan established a new vision for Batman, instantly banishing all previous movies, and TV shows to the past that we all want to forget. What makes this new incarnation truly amazing is how Nolan is able to take the notion of a superhero and turn it real. The original comics were written to make Batman out to be a normal guy, albeit a very rich and resourceful one, and Christopher Nolan takes this to this fitting extreme. Everything is explained in such a logical way. Can Batman fly? No, he simply glides using special technology. Does he have super strength? No, just great armour and gadgets. Nolan also successfully eliminates all cheese from the movie by envisioning the “batmobile” as something that looks much closer to a tank and by “explaining” Catwoman’s cat ears as being a part of her special goggles.

As for The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan pushes ahead with his realistic and timely vision for the series. The main theme is the average joe versus those with money; more commonly referred to as the 99% versus the 1%. This is of course a very relevant theme for today’s troubles and is woven through the movie overtly, yet gracefully. The story was superb and tied up every single loose end I can possibly think of. What is truly noteworthy, however, is what truly surprised me:

Spoiler alert!

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Batman not dying at the end

I thought it would have been poetic to have Batman make the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone. It would have been the one way to truly define himself as a hero. The ending was still satisfying but seems like he survived only to provide the cliché happy ending.

When Miranda turns out to be the villain – the ultimate cliché

This bothered me a lot when it was first revealed that Miranda was the mastermind behind the entire evil plan. My fiancée even said that she was the bad guy but I shrugged it off thinking it would just be too obvious. Of course, I was wrong and rather upset at the cheap twist. However, it did tie in fairly nicely with the first one, but it was certainly my least favourite plot point of the entire Batman triology.

The introduction of Robin

This I just really didn’t see coming. At the end when it is revealed that is name is Robin I was truly stunned, for two reasons: 1. they did a great job not giving away that he was Robin throughout the movie and 2. they did a great job with Robin. Robin was so lame in all the original Batman incarnations yet they managed to integrate him so well.

What do you think about these twists?

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The Avengers 2012 Movie Review: Joss Whedon vs. Michael Bay

the-avengers-movie-review-2012-joss-whedon Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.
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Okay, so I’m super late on reviewing The Avengers– both because the movie has been out for weeks and also because I actually saw the movie weeks ago. However, I couldn’t not write about it. After all, it was one of the best movies I have seen. Period. So why am I so ecstatic about this movie? Mostly because it could have been “Michael Bay’d” like Transformers but it wasn’t. Instead it was turned into so much more.

Josh Whedon vs. Michael Bay

On the surface, The Avengers seems like a fairly straight-forward super hero movie, but upon closer examination you will notice that there is much more going on. Unlike a Michael Bay movie, which transplants any semblance of a story with non-stop explosions, Joss Whedon’s works tend to bring much more to the table. For one, The Avengers was a very dialogue-driven movie. Any regular reader of my movie reviews knows how much I like finely crafted dialogue and The Avengers surprised me with witty and hilarious dialogue throughout the movie. This dialogue often served to reconcile the ridiculous with reality and makes the characters much more believable (despite being crazy powerful superheroes, of course).

Michael Bay movies, by contrast, are littered with comedy as well, but unfortunately they are of a grade 4 level and extraordinarily low-brow. The Avengers on the other hand offers non-stop hilarity, combined with the necessary special FX and surprisingly deep characters. This, of course, is all thanks to Joss Whedon. A recent article in Wired, “With The Avengers, Joss Whedon Masters the Marvel Universe”, tells the tale of Joss Whedon like I never could. I highly recommend a read through the rather lengthy article because it truly gives you a new perspective on his works and The Avengers as a whole. The short version: he is brilliant and brings both depth and entertainment to anything he directs.

Okay, so you get it, Joss Whedon is superior to Michael Bay as a director but what about the movie? I mentioned the witty, hilarious, and believable dialogue previously but the movie also did a great job tying in a series of separate superhero movies in such a way that I thought was impossible. From the very beginning when Fury is attempting to assemble The Avengers, each scenario is believable and the characters get along just as you would expect them too (initially hating each other’s guts and then eventually coming around).

Apart from that, the animation was great and not just constant explosions. The cutting was not overdone (very common in action movies when they don’t want you to see much of what is actually happening) and I felt that the story moved along in such a way that I didn’t even realize that the movie was almost 2.5 hours.

The only thing that prevented the movie from being perfect was the inclusion of two characters that suck as superheroes. I’m talking about Black Widow and Hawkeye, of course. I can’t blame that on Whedon though since he was sticking true to the original cast of characters but they sure do feel out of place from the rest. I can’t complain much about Black Widow though, since Scarlett Johansson is always a welcome addition.

If you haven’t yet seen The Avengers, watch it. And if you have, watch it again. 5 stars all the way.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

P.s.

Don’t even get me started about how cool Iron Man is. Throw together a witty and hilarious genius with a super suit that can fly and shoot lasers and you’ve got yourself a character. Best. Superhero. Ever. (Batman is a very close second). They’re particularly awesome because they are not overly farfetched (they stretch reality but they reside within it unlike other superheroes – ahem, Superman).

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The Grey Movie Review

the-gray-movie-review-liam-neeson In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.
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The Grey is not “artsy” enough to be nominated for an Academy Award, but it was most likely the best movie I have seen all year. What makes the movie stand out is its balance. The movie manages to be a thriller, drama, action flick, and dialogue-driven all-in-one. An impressive feat considering most movies that try to incorporate multiple elements end up falling flat.

Like many critics, I was very surprised by the movie. The Grey was marketed as a pure action movie – Man vs. Wolf. It was refreshing to see that there was much more to it. The movie explores various aspects of life and death, fear and survival. No movie, to this point, has made me think of death in the way that The Grey did. There are scenes that are so raw that you can’t help but feel really uncomfortable. The movie is also punctuated with action sequences and gore, but it is used somewhat sparingly – adding to the intensity of the scenes when they occur.

Liam Neeson always demands attention on-screen, and The Grey is no exception. He excels at playing intense characters and can usually be found in intense action movies kicking some serious ass. In The Grey, however, he shows off more of his acting skills and has much more depth to his character. Although he plays an intense character, he also engages in a lot of deep dialogue relating to life and death. His character is also highly believable in the sense that, although his character was a badass, he also showed signs of weakness and openly admitted his fear in their desperate situation.

The movie takes place in the Alaskan wilderness, adding to the movie’s intensity. One thing this movie will do is destroy any desire you have to visit Alaska – if you had any to begin with. The premise of the movie (I know, I’m describing it really late in this review) is a number of oil drillers get stranded in Alaska after their plane crashes. They must then survive the elements as well as a number of angry wolves that are hunting them down one by one.

Overall the movie is well balanced, highly intriguing as well as intense and exciting. Add it to your list of must-sees. You won’t regret it.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie Review

sherlock-holmes-game-of-shadows-movie-review Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.
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Despite being a bigger fan of the recent Sherlock Holmes TV series, I still find the movies brilliant in their own right. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, raised the bar for the movie franchise.

The movie had a well thought-out storyline that was made apparent about halfway through. As usual, the audience is deliberately left in the dark for the first half of the movie. With that being said, the movie was a little longer than it otherwise needed to be – the fun really beginning once the main plot had been revealed.

As for the individual characteristics:

– Comedic timing was great with humour used to break up and lighten the movie nicely

– The plot was both straightforward and elaborate (the big picture was straightforward with intricate details that will take several viewings to piece together fully)

– Moriarty is a particularly great character in this movie. So perfectly sinister and brilliant. Sherlock Holmes seems to have truly met his match in Moriarty with each taking turns at winning at their favourite game – a grand game of chess.

– The use of slow motion action was more prominent than in the first movie but added greatly to the movie. Unlike most Hollywood action movies where action sequences are deliberately edited to be blindingly fast, the slow motion sequences in Sherlock Holmes were a really neat effect allowing a better glimpse of the action and another angle on Sherlock’s brilliance (fighting).

– The witty and fast dialogue can be compared with the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (before the franchise dropped witty dialogue to focus on special effects and action). Any movie with this type of dialogue is an instant winner with me and I was very impressed.

In Summary

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, was predictable at times (understanding the typical Sherlock Holmes story twists) yet overall extremely entertaining. This second film built on the first and added to it in many ways. I certainly hope they continue to make sequels if they can maintain this level of quality.

And for those of you who enjoy Sherlock Holmes and have yet to check out the BBC series – what are you waiting for?!? It is by far one of the most accurate depictions of Sherlock Holmes with the added bonus of being set in modern times with brilliant ways to integrate the old stories into modern times.

Muppets Movie Review 2011

the-muppets-movie-review-2011 With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.

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The Muppets movie was incredible. Done.

Okay, I have more to say than that but considering my expectations were fairly low, I was truly surprised. The movie was legitimately funny, not just for kids but had a variety of clever references. The majority of the comedy was not just low-brow kids comedy but rather unexpected and fairly clever – at least at times.

Why the Muppets movie was great in 3 reasons:

  1. Surprisingly clever
    I felt as if some of the jokes would go over straight over children’s heads but that is fine by me! Specifically, The Muppets took advantage of “calling itself out” and making reference to itself. I am personally a big fan of fun movies that can point out some of the clichés in movies. The Muppets did a great job of incorporating clichés for comedic effect – not because they are unimaginative.
  2. Lots of Amazing Cameos
    Almost every scene in the movie had a cameo of some sort and they were great. They were incorporated into the movie and weren’t just fully thrown in for fun which was great. I could go on about the cameos but I don’t want to ruin the magic.
    For a full list, see the spoilers below.
  3. Great music
    Some of the songs were a little lame but most were very good. The song “Man or Muppet” [YouTube Link] was my personal favourite. It was not just the song itself but the accompanying hilarity that made it so great along with the great cameo . . . it is really hard not to give anything away in these reviews! I have to be so cryptic. Anyways, after watching the movie you will see what I mean.

Overall, the movie was great and I highly recommend it. You have to be in a happy-go-lucky mood though or you might not appreciate it as much. Also, disclosure: my view may be elevated because of my initially low expectations of the movie. A great movie for a night in, or out, with the girlfriend or family.

Warning Spoilers Below!

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Full Cameo List:

Emily Blunt, James Carville, Leslie Feist, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Jim Parsons, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman, Ken Jeong, Donald Glover.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-movie-review An origin story set in present day San Francisco, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

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Despite being a movie fanatic, I often find myself being very cynical with certain movie ideas. Although I had not seen any of the original Planet of the Apes franchise, the concept always seemed very cheesy to me. It seemed like a concept that they would not be able to get by with today. As such, I did not have high expectations for the movie but I must say, I was blown out of the water. The realistic modern take on the concept made the story believable and engaging in ways that the original franchise likely did not.

To put it into perspective, you may remember a time when comics, cartoons and movies were almost entirely held in fantasy. There were many loopholes in logic but it was “okay” because it was pure fantasy. In cinema today there is a much greater emphasis on realism – even when the movie is based in fantasy. Personally, I love it.

I think the best examples of this are the original Batman movies (everything before Batman: Begins & The Dark Knight). Most people would agree that those original movies were quite cheesy and lacked the serious and realistic focus of the new iterations by Christopher Nolan. In his take on the Batman franchise, characters are well-developed and their back-stories explained well. Nolan focused less on the superhero aspect of the movie and more on the story itself and it pays off big time. It is always effective to increase believability for an audience – we can believe in a Bruce Wayne, someone who has access to a lot of resources – it’s a lot harder to believe in Superman. But that’s enough about Batman.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes combines these somewhat indescribable characteristics that make it a very compelling movie. They pulled off a “smart animal movie” in a way I did not think possible. You will feel sorrow, anger and happiness – for an ape. So watch the movie and enjoy.

P.s. stick around at the end of the movie – there is a surprise ending that is sure to please.