Posts Tagged ‘Trailer’

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Epic: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.

Too often the adjective “epic” is applied to movies that have no business carrying that moniker. A sad byproduct of that misuse of the word is that when a movie that really deserves it comes along, the word means nothing to the ear and mind. Christopher Nolan has delivered just such a movie to the world.

Cooper is a former NASA test pilot that now lives in the American heartland with his aging father, Donald, and two children, Murphy and Tom. Cooper spends his days working not as a brilliant engineer or pilot, but toiling in the hopeless task of tending his corn fields.

Cooper is in the position of farmer because the world has crossed over the threshold of disaster. The planet is in the grip of a famine that is responsible for killing the vast majority of the world’s population, either by starvation or war over resources. A blight is causing crop failures all over the world. Massive dust storms ravage the heartland destroying valuable farmland and covering everything in their path with a heavy layer of lifeless dirt.

The planet Earth is facing a future where human beings will not be the dominate form of life on the planet. If the human species is to survive, finding a new home is going to be imperative. Interstellar is the epic story of how Cooper and his family shape the course that the human race has to follow for survival.

As a writer, Christopher Nolan has brought some truly amazing work to the big screen. Since Memento debuted on the big screen in 2000 he has established himself as one the best Hollywood has to offer. With Man of Steel, Inception, The Prestige and his biggest success The Dark Knight trilogy making up his resume, Nolan has taken on a story, in Interstellar, that is far and away his most ambitious endeavor. Interstellar is a film that truly deserves the use of the word epic.

The first thing that really captured my attention with the movie were the visuals. Maybe it was the fact that I was watching the movie in IMAX, but the scenery and overall scale of everything was close to breathtaking at times. The scenes of the dust storms, the depictions of flight through our galaxy, and the visits to the other worlds were all incredible to the eye. The filming locations were all ideal for the story and the special effects were all perfectly suited to the level of this film. In all, no expense appeared to be spared in making everything “look” perfect.

As stunning as the visuals were, the movie did not rely solely on the eye to keep the viewers engaged. The incredible cast that was brought in was able to really bring this massive story to life. To run down the list of well-known talent in this movie is an exercise in, “how many big name actors can we squeeze into one movie.” Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Michael Cain, Matt Damon, Ellen Burnstyn, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, and MacKenzie Foy make up the majority of a cast that all impressed regardless of the amount of screen time each had.

The best performance of the movie has to go to Matthew McConaughey who continues his recent string of impressive performances that include his roles in The Wolf of Wall Street and The Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey plays the lead role of Cooper, a dedicated family man, farmer, and former NASA talent. Cooper is completely miserable in his existence in a world that sees technology and exploration as wastes of time and resources. The performance of McConaughey as Cooper is one that will only add more weight to his already impressive list of accolades.

If the actors and the visuals are the main positives, the size of the story will be the closest thing I can think of to a negative. The story as a whole is incredibly complex and challenging in size and scope. The movie could have been effectively made by focusing on the characters or the story, maybe even as two movies; Nolan did both in one. The main cast of actors all received a fair amount of development to anchor them into the sprawling story. With the story itself, there was no detail left to assumption. It is very clear that Nolan was not going to cut any corners with this movie and the result is a run time that clocks in at over 3 hours. Again, my only negative.

As I think about the experience as a whole, I am convinced that I have seen a movie that will eventually be regarded as one of the best ever. I am sure there are those out there that will say they didn’t like it, to each their own. For me, Interstellar blended stunning visuals, great acting, an immersive story, and to ice the cake, the legendary Hans Zimmer produced the score. This movie has everything going for it. Get out of your house this weekend and into an IMAX theater, IMAX is a must, and see this future “best ever.”

 

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In 1945 World War II was beginning to wind down, the Allies had stormed the beaches of Normandy a year earlier and had since crossed into Germany on a march to take Berlin. Making up the backbone of the Allied offensive into Germany was the Sherman Tank and its crew of soldiers. Each tank had a crew of 4-5 soldiers; a tank commander, driver, mechanic, gunner, and loader that all worked and lived together in or around their tank. Writer/Director David Ayers has brought the story of one such WWII tank crew to the big screen in Fury.

Fury was the name of the M4 “Sherman” tank commanded by Sgt. Don “War Daddy” Collier, played by Brad Pitt. His crew of 4 was made up of gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia Labeouf), driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), mechanic Grady “Coon Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and machine gunner Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). These 5 men came from distinctly different backgrounds and contributed to the team in very different ways, both professionally and with their personalities.

David Ayers wrote and directed Fury without any real story arc that you can dive into. The setting is irrelevant and the plot details are interchangeable. Much like Ayer’s previous movies Training Day, End of Watch, and Sabotage, Fury places more emphasis on the characters themselves to drive the movie.

Each of the five men that make up this tank crew brings something different to the group that is, at times, complimentary to the team and other times detrimental to the team. The characters are all dichotomies of heroism and villainy. As each character’s story is developed, you see them make incredible swings in their individual senses of morality. As the scenes unfold, you are watching from the edge of your seat to see whether this crew of American soldiers is going to be the pillars of honor that we all imagine them to be, or outright bastards that we should be ashamed of.

In addition to the emphasis on the characters, Ayers also places a great deal of detail on the emotions of war. He drives home the point that those emotions are often complicated and swing between joyful and painful like a pendulum. Acts of bravery and honor are contrasted by acts of rage and depravity. Brief moments of joy are almost immediately negated with overwhelming scenes of pain and loss. From the characters themselves; the youthful fear and idealism of the new guy, Norman, is opposed by the confidence and callousness that comes with being seasoned in war embodied by Collier, “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.”

Themes of brotherhood and individuality, faith and hopelessness, compassion and vengeance, and bravery and cowardice were all prevalent as Ayers tries to emphasize the duality of war.

Ayers also uses the graphic scenes of battle like a blunt instrument to get across the point of the brutality of war during that era. The clear images of horrific battle injuries and the over-the-top examples of death were hard to see at times. The scenes of battle between the Sherman tanks and the vastly superior German Tiger are historically accurate and will have you sitting with your jaw agape wondering how the Allies managed to win a war with such inadequate equipment. The final battle scenes are emotionally gripping and compelling despite the fact that the end result is so obvious and inevitable.

To complement the diverse characters, an equally diverse cast of actors was brought in to play the various roles; all of which delivered as needed and beyond. Brad Pitt delivers a performance that was equal parts Inglourious Basterds and Saving Private Ryan. Shia Labeouf is able to shake off any negative impact that his off-screen antics, and the Transformers movies, may have had on his career and give a performance that many will be surprised by.

Brad Pitt’s character, Collier, was very complicated one; both for the actor and the audience. Pitt had to embody a man that was very rough on the outside, but also compassionate. Collier was a man that acted as if he was fueled by anger, while trying to balance being reasonable. Pitt is able to deliver on all of those points perfectly.

The true highlight of the cast has to be the 22 year old Logan Lerman. Lerman was remarkable in his ability to step out of the shadow of Percy Jackson, and his other “teenish” roles, and step into a role that is far and away more complicated and mature. Lerman was asked to play a young man that was forced into the role of tank crew member from his previous role as a desk clerk. The character, Norman, is forced to change from meek and cowardly into a machine that would fight and kill for his team without question. In the end, Lerman delivers a performance that should elevate him to more roles that are mature and rich.

As a whole, Fury is one of the best movies that I have seen this year. As disturbing as it was at times, I found myself enjoying every moment. The incredible acting talents on display, the look and feel of the movie from being shot on 35mm film with an anamorphic lens, and the compelling characters all made for a movie that should give even more strength to the already impressive resume of David Ayers’.

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Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are all spoken of as movies that are well worth seeing for their stories. All of them feature plotlines that appear to be straight-forward and otherwise uneventful when thought of in the scope of movies that have been made. What makes them different and noteworthy? The short answer… David Fincher calling the shots.

The last time we saw a movie directed by Fincher was back in 2011 when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made its big screen debut. Since that time, he has done a couple of TV endeavors and even a music video, but nothing truly worthy of his pedigree. That all changes now.

Fincher has brought another work of genius to the table for us all to marvel at and drool over. His newest offering, Gone Girl, is a wickedly smart adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s New York Times Best Seller of the same name. Gone Girl is the story of a relationship that goes bad in the worst possible way and how we as a society can hang onto the lies that reside in appearances and accept them as truth.

Some would say that making a movie from a novel as compelling and complicated as Gone Girl would not really translate well to the big screen. For one, the level of detail needed would be hard to capture on screen. Second, the complicated nature of the story would have to be confusing. Finally, the “twists” in the story are too widely known to really keep audiences engaged.

Fincher not only overcomes those issues, but he does it in a way that leaves you wanting more. Even after sitting through the full two and half hour runtime. His take on the “unreliable narration” that is so critical to the story is done in a way that will truly keep you guessing about what is real and what is not. Gone Girl is truly some of his very best work.

The cast of this soon to be classic consisted of Ben Affleck in the center-piece role of Nick Dunne with Rosamund Pike as his wife Amy. The supporting cast of Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens filled out a group of actors that all lived up to the hype that has surrounded this movie.

Seeing the performance that Affleck gives under the direction of Fincher makes you really question if that really is the same guy that starred in duds like; Jersey Girl, Gigli, Daredevil, and the many others that have poisoned his acting reputation.

As the story unfolds, Affleck goes from aloof, to incriminated, and even to victimized, all with a screen presence that has you really guessing about his character. The mystery surrounding Nick Dunne is masterfully held by Affleck all the way until the truth is fully revealed. The range of emotion that he demonstrates with his facial expressions alone gave me a new found appreciation for him. Affleck has to be considered one of the top contenders for the Best Performance awards during the upcoming awards season.

If Affleck is going to be given a nod for Best Performance, then Rosamund Pike has to also receive some serious consideration for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance was equal parts; sexy, demented, and endearing. She perfectly brought to life the character that Gillian Flynn introduced to us in the novel back in 2012.

Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris are both able to shed their more commonly known comedic characters of Madea and Barney to really contribute to the story in a meaningful way. Rarely can you say that an actor with less than 10 minutes of screen time can play a pivotal role, Perry and NPH can say it with pride.

Overall, during a time when superheroes and guys with “special sets of skills” seem to be filling up the theatres, it is very refreshing to see a movie, like Gone Girl, come along and be truly different. What this film brings to the table has been missing for quite a while, intelligence and originality. I can only hope that Hollywood will take a long hard look at what Flynn, Fincher and Affleck have done and do the best they can to follow-suit.