Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lucy

WRITTEN BY: Luc Besson
DIRECTED BY: Luc Besson
STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
RATING: 3 stars

This film has been hyped up a lot and critics everywhere seem to be loving it, but all I can say is it is ok. The concept is fascinating in the way it explores the meaning of life and how human brains operate. However, the film feels too slow-paced and has a bizarre ending that is perhaps rather typical of writer/director Luc Besson, but ultimately left me feeling disappointed.

Lucy poses the question: What if human brains, which only use up about 10 per cent of their capacity, operated at 100 per cent? It is an intriguing and perhaps terrifying notion. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is an innocent victim caught up in drug trafficking. A super drug is placed inside her body but when the package starts to leak, Lucy begins to feel the effects of the drug. Her brain capacity starts to increase and she becomes a super powerful individual seeking revenge.

As I was watching the film, I thought Lucy was the kind of role Angelina Jolie would have taken on a few years ago, and apparently she was originally offered the role. Johansson is still a believable strong woman, as we have seen in the Marvel films, and she gives a solid performance as the protagonist. The debate about whether women can carry blockbuster films continues, but I think we have seen several in recent times including Jolie in Maleficent, Sandra Bullock in Gravity and now Johansson in Lucy, which proves female-led films are just as entertaining as male-dominated films. Morgan Freeman also appears in the film as a professor studying the human brain who joins forces with Lucy, and he is as reliable as ever.

Lucy is sure to provoke worthwhile conversations. I just wish the film had a stronger ending. 



Wednesday, 30 July 2014

These Final Hours

WRITTEN BY: Zak Hilditch
DIRECTED BY: Zak Hilditch
STARRING: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica De Gouw, Kathryn Beck
RATING: 3.5 stars

It is refreshing to see an "end of the world" themed film that does not have a hero trying to save the world or sacrificing himself to save Earth. That is a typical Hollywood story. In These Final Hours, the debut feature film of Australian writer/director Zak Hilditch, there is no hope of saving Earth. Everyone is going to die. But that is not what the film is about. It explores how desperate people behave in the most confronting crisis imaginable. The film does not shy away from some horrifying aspects of humanity caught up in the anarchy including kidnapping, murder, suicide, brutality and drugs. There are certainly a couple of plot holes along the way, but they hardly matter. It is an impressive debut feature from the Perth film maker.

These Final Hours opens with the world coming to an end. Europe has well and truly been obliterated and Australia is just hours from being hit. Everyone in Perth seems to be reacting differently. Some are taking their own lives to preempt the horror while others are going on violent rampages and some are just enjoying one last party. James (Nathan Phillips) is afraid of dying and cannot sit idly by the beach with his girlfriend, Zoe (Jessica De Gouw). So he leaves her to go see his friend (Daniel Henshall) who is hosting a rave party. Meanwhile, James's other girlfriend (Kathryn Beck) is under the delusion that perhaps they can survive the apocalypse in a bunker. As James makes the journey to the party, he rescues a young girl named Rose (Angourie Rice) from two kidnappers. James becomes her surrogate guardian and decides to spend his final hours on Earth reuniting the girl with her father.

James is a good anti-hero. He has obvious flaws, including his self-obsession, which he tries to address during the film and ultimately proves to be one of the better people in the world. His character arc is fascinating. Phillips carries the film very well. Rice is also exceptional, providing a few laughs along the way and never falling into the category of being an annoying child. Lynette Curran is impressive as James's mum who had given up on her unreliable son, while Beck has a memorable emotional meltdown.

I highly recommend this film for Perth residents. It is fun seeing your home city being blown up on film. But it also has a wider appeal and has a thought-provoking message about humanity. 




Sunday, 27 July 2014

Jersey Boys

WRITTEN BY: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
DIRECTED BY: Clint Eastwood
STARRING: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken
RATING: 3.5 stars

Watching the film version of Jersey Boys only made me want to re-watch the theatre production. The film should be able to stand alone but instead, it added very little to the remarkable true story of rise and fall of The Four Seasons, which is already wonderfully presented on stage. With Clint Eastwood at the helm as director, I expected something different, but he played it safe in his first musical. The cast was solid and the singing was great. It could just never come close to the live experience.



Friday, 25 July 2014

A Most Wanted Man

WRITTEN BY: Andrew Bovell
DIRECTED BY: Anton Corbijn
STARRING: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Robin Wright
RATING: 1.5 stars

A Most Wanted Man had all the makings of a good espionage thriller, but it faltered so badly that I almost fell asleep during the screening. The film is based on a novel by John le Carré, which in turn is based on a true story, so the tale should be intriguing. Instead, it felt too long and the characters were neither truly evil nor particularly nice, so there was little care for what might happen to them despite a well-known cast. I saw the film about a week ago and already my memories of it are starting to fade. I imagine in a month I will barely even remember that this film exists.










Thursday, 24 July 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

WRITTEN BY: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman,
DIRECTED BY: Scott Derrickson
STARRING: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn
RATING: 3 stars

For the first half of Deliver Us From Evil, the film feels less like a horror, and more like a detective thriller. It is based on a true story - which is sure to freak out some viewers - about a detective (the always charming Eric Bana) who seems to have a good hunch about where danger might lurk. He soon realises that a couple of his investigations may be linked and through the help of an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez) he learns there may be an evil out there that he cannot arrest. The story is intriguing and hooks you in quickly. Unfortunately, it then becomes a very standard kind of horror film, even including an exorcism. That being said, horror fans should still enjoy it and those who are not traditionally horror lovers will find some appeal in the film because they probably will not need to cover their eyes too many times.