The Ides of March Movie Review

the-ides-of-march-movie-review An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.

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The Ides of March finds a great balance between illustrating what goes on behind a political campaign while focusing on the emotional war between political players and campaign staff. It was particularly refreshing to see that the movie avoided the typical “Hollywood” take with a much more realistic approach to the story – avoiding focusing on the presidential race.

Despite lacking Hollywood flair, The Ides of March was still interesting and engaging with its share of intensity and a phenomenal cast (Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman) that made every scene memorable. The movie’s pace was great, which I was originally a concern of mine seeing as many heavy movies tend to drag at points. The dialogue was great, which was to be expected and in my books, dialogue-driven movies are king. If you are looking for epic action and explosions, look elsewhere.

The Ides of March is about the politics of politics.

The movie’s biggest success is in destroying what little respect we might have left for politicians. The underlying theme was trust – trusting the campaign, the message –  and how you shouldn’t always believe what you see. Overall, it was a highly satisfying movie that would review a perfect score from me were it not for a particularly disappointing ending (read below for more details).

*Warning spoilers below*

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My only complaint about the virtually flawless movie was how abrupt, unexpected and unfulfilling the ending was. Ryan Gosling (Stephen in the movie) was left preparing to address the media. He was clearly struggling with the message that he was now representing – integrity – which he now felt that he lacked. However, the ending was left completely open as the movie ended before he was able to respond. Did he decide he could no longer be a part of the campaign that was all a big lie? Did he sell his soul and give up his morals to join the heartless politicians?

Although I understand that some people may enjoy open-endings, I certainly do not. It always feels like a cop-out to me, as if they were not sure how to end the movie so they leave it to the audience to fill in the blanks. If I wanted to fill in the blanks with my own imagination, I would sit at home and close my eyes to write my own story.

What do you think? Satisfying ending? Any indications which way it was “supposed” to end? Let me know in the comments below.

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Contagion Movie Review 2011

contagion-movie-review-matt-damon A thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.

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Contagion is a very unique movie for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is shot with elements of both a documentary and a typical Hollywood drama. Unfortunately the style does not lend to a particularly compelling presentation. I was left feeling that the movie was neither personal enough nor informative enough. There appeared to be a lack of focus regarding what exactly the movie was supposed to be.

This is not to say the movie was not interesting, because it was. The movie was successful in taking the audience through what it would be like to be involved in the middle of a massive disease outbreak. It was certainly interesting to see what society would have gone through with outbreaks in the past, before we had become effective at curbing these disasters.

Matt Damon’s character was hard to read and his performance was not up to his usual standard. The movie also failed to develop a connection between other main characters and the audience which took away from the personal elements as the movie progressed.

Overall the movie missed the mark, but the concept was unique and intriguing and still worth a watch, if only as a rental.

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.