Month: July 2017

Dunkirk – Review #79

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dunkirk-poster.jpgChristopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker. He has “it”. He knows the tricks of the trade and I don’t have to be the guy to tell you that his works have been very, very successful.’

And I can see why people who call him one of the greats of our time. Just according to me personally, his dedication in using actual practical effects is something I applaud at. Extras up to the thousands, using actual planes and ships from the actual evacuation, getting large scale remote controlled aircraft just so he can crash it into the English Channel? In a world of overwhelmingly use of CGI and less and less time and money spent on practical effects, the fact that Nolan has the credibility and leeway to have these actual things is something I really much appreciate. He’s able to bring out the best of everything and everyone.

So yeah, Christopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker.

He is, however, boring as hell.

Let me explain. When I go into the cinemas to watch a movie, I expect to get sucked into the world that the director makes. I expect to get fully engrossed into the story, the characters, all that jazz. With Nolan’s directing style I just can’t get that absorption.

His directing style can be visualized with these series of words: shakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticwideshotshakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticcameraisattachedtosomethingshakeshakeshakeshakeshake

For ninety percent of the movie, the camera doesn’t rest. It has constant motion. Not shaky cam-he’s competent enough to not use that-but there’s shaking.

And the camera’s focus for the most part is pretty tight. Occasionally you’ll get the cool extra wide scenic shot, but for most of the people it’s usually focused on people’s faces.

Now, most people would say that he did this to show the intensive fear and creeping terror of the soldiers’ wait for escape, how hope just seems to be on the edge, and in that sense one would be right. However, here comes the common flaw of this method in this movie.

He uses it too damn much.

Little to no deviance, the one image that will be ingrained in your brain watching this is “shaking close up of man”. The fact that he lingers on this technique for so long, and with so little changes, that when it does change to a shot that in any other movie I would marvel at, the brain has been numbed to the point that it doesn’t register as epic as it should.

That is not to say that the shooting style is ineffective. Not at all. The movie did grab my attention all the way through. Problem is, the lack of shot changes mean that the tension of the scene isn’t elevated, taking the movie and subsequently the audience higher.

It’s like a car that’s constantly on 4th gear. At first you’ll feel the whoosh, the adrenaline. But by the time you’re at the 2nd hour mark it’s become the temporal reality. It doesn’t affect you as much.

Now, there’s other problems that this movie has, albeit smaller comparatively. The fumbling of the timelines really did confuse me for a bit, and when they finally merged together, my brain was still occupied in trying to piece it all together.

Also, there have been complaints that the sound on IMAX is way too loud. I’m inclined to agree, although I do not know if that’s because of my already settled worries, or if it really was just very loud. I will say that earphones are recommended though, just in case.

But all those aside, what frustrates me about this movie is that the rest of it is so good. As I said before, the practical effects are something I applaud at, but almost every other aspect of the movie is brilliant. The cast is absolutely astonishing, with amazing performances from everyone involved, even the ex-boybander Harry Styles. Music wise, Hans Zimmer has made a master-class of atmospheric music. The blaring horns and the violins, all a perfect fit for a film.

If not for Nolan’s style, this movie could’ve easily gotten my praise and admiration like it has gotten from so many people. It’s a great movie, but it could’ve been a modern day classic. Can you see how frustrating this is?

Dunkirk. The 8/10 that could’ve gotten so much better.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Review #78

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spider_man_poster2.jpgCue the jingle.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, is the sixteenth (Jesus Christ) film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the third goddamn reincarnation of the web-slinger in recent history. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine — distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.

The previous Spider-Man films have had this steady decline of caring within me throughout them. The three Raimi movies I watched in my childhood and will forever be my favorites-yes, even Spider-Man 3 come at me-of the genre; I watched The Amazing Spider-Man once I never cared for it nor that franchise since; and now we have reboot #3, a Spider-Man movie for the modern times.

But, as usual, I try to go into any movie with an open mind. It’a only fair. So how does our newest superhero fare?

Not very great.

Talk about a movie that’s unappealing. No, not that exact word. “Mind switch-off-ing”, there we go. Everything about this movie feels tested and almost manufactured; there’s no soul to it. It’s not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination, it just feels like “another movie in the MCU”. It doesn’t shine enough to be really remarkable, which is a shame because you can see there is some potential.

The lack of attracting characters is only magnified when you realize that this is a coming-of-age-film. The interactions between Holland’s Peter Parker and Batalon’s Ned don’t feel like two characters actually talking; it just feels like actors acting out their parts. They’re absolutely trying their best, I’ll give them that, but it just didn’t work for me. I think the main reason for this is the goddamn constant cutting. Holland says a line; cut. Batalon says a quip; cut. When you want to show a character mature and grow in some way, perhaps being spoken to by a mentor figure, can you not cut every single four syllables because you’re scared the audience might lose interest? Get it together, people.

Speaking of the cast, they’re alright. I believe the flaws of the film lay more on the technical aspects of it more than the contents. I could actually get behind Tom Holland as Peter, and the side characters, in better means, would be at least more interesting. Tony Revolori is in this movie, for example, and he’s Flash Thompson. But throughout the movie you don’t think of him as Flash, you think of him as the freaking bell boy from The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie doesn’t give its actors good material to work with.

And Marissa Tomei as Aunt May was just weird to me. This is completely personal preference, but there’s an innate wrong-ness to me in seeing people being sexually attracted to her. No fault of the actress, she’s actually pretty good, just feels strange to me.

Whatever else I’m gonna say is pretty much just the same thing; the people they have in this movie are actually pretty competent, it’s just the execution that kills any excitement, so I’m cutting this review short. In conclusion, this movie is 2 hours of bland “okay”. I’m going back to my Raimi and J.K. Simmons.

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