The Wolf of Wall Street – Review

Director Martin Scorsese and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio team up once again to bring us The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the real life of Wall St stock broker Jordan Belfort. Who rises up through the world of big finance and shows us the true face of greed and temptation.

Image

The movie is best described as a dark comedy, Jordan’s exploits become so outrageous and sickly comic that it regularly left me in stitches and to the movies credit despite the ludicrous nature I never once felt like it wasn’t all true. The Wolf of Wall Street is taking the dark fabric of our culture and putting it up on the screen for all to see.

Some have condemned the movie for glorifying the exploits of these corrupt con-men; however I never felt this was the case. Whilst I did not find myself sympathizing with them I did feel myself being swept away in the overwhelming nature of excess and temptation. Which I feel is the central thesis of the movie.

We see Jordan at the beginning of the movie wanting to make money in the thriving financial centre of the world, but also more importantly to help his clients. An idea which is quickly dismissed by his first boss on Wall Street, played brilliantly by Matthew McConaughey. The idea being that not everyone who goes to work on Wall Street goes there with the intention of ripping off innocent people but they become intoxicated by the culture of greed which they themselves go on to propagate for future generations. This is not to say that Jordan and his compatriots are not to blame which of course they are but it is also pointing towards a larger problem within our society, that we allow these things to happen and go unpunished.

The Wolf of Wall Street had me laughing throughout and delivered standout performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler and Jon Bernthal. I absolutely loved this movie and much like Scorsese’s previous work Goodfellas, which would make an excellent companion piece with movie, The Wolf of Wall Street will be remembered for years to come as a cultural touchstone.

American Hustle – Review

American Hustle is the story of the semi-true misadventures of 2 small time hustlers played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams who become entangled in an FBI plot to take down corrupt politicians.

Image

This the latest directorial outing from the recently prolific David O. Russell delivers some fine performances and brilliant moments of outrageous fun, specifically an absolutely outstanding turn from supporting actor Louis C.K, however fails to create any sort of cohesive narrative.

The movie sort of just plods along and generally just feels muddled and undisciplined as a piece of film making. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed O. Russell’s previous work The Fighter and it’s obvious he has a true talent for getting incredible performances from his actors however I cannot justify his Nomination this year for Best Director at the Academy Awards, nor the movie itself for Best Picture.

American Hustle is an incredibly average movie with moments of brilliance spotted throughout and some fine performances but not quite enough to compensate for its muddled narrative and dragging plot.

More hair than plot, unfortunately American Hustle perfectly exemplifies a movie that is style over substance.

The Fast and Furious Saga Part 1

Is there a series of movies as bat-shit insane as this franchise? If there is I don’t want to know about it. I’m going to watch all 6 of the currently released movies and chronicle the epic journey here in an attempt to find the method to the madness.

Image

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Aka Fast One

 

I’ve seen this movie several times but it wasn’t until I was trying to explain the concept of it to someone who was unfamiliar with the earlier films that I realized that Fast One is actually a total rip off of Point Break. Like seriously, I’m not fucking around here, Fast One is Point Break with cars instead of Surfboards. Here’s the plot synopsis for both movies pulled from imdb:

Los Angeles street racer Dominic Toretto falls under the suspicion of the LAPD as a string of high-speed electronics truck robberies rocks the area. Brian O’Connor, an officer of the LAPD, joins the ranks of Toretto’s highly skilled racing crew undercover to convict Toretto. However, O’Connor finds himself both enamoured with this new world and in love with Toretto’s sister, Mia. As a rival racing crew gains strength, O’Connor must decide where his loyalties really lie

In the coastal town of Los Angeles, a gang of bank robbers call themselves the ex-presidents. commit their crimes while wearing masks of ex-presidents Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson. The F.B.I. believes that the members of the gang could be surfers and send young agent Johnny Utah undercover at the beach to mix with the surfers and gather information. Utah meets surfer Bodhi and gets drawn into the lifestyle of his new friend.

It’s so crazy how similar these movies are I don’t how they got away with it, there have been successful law suits for less than this. Paul Walker IS Keanu Reeves and Vin Diesel IS Patrick Swayze. Now obviously there are differences but compared to the amount of overwhelming similarities it’s staggering. Keanu/Walker is a young hot shot cop trying to crack his first big bust he goes undercover to take down a crew who they know nothing about other than they are involved in the street racing/surfboarding scene. Keanu/Walker meets and kinda falls in love with Vin/Swayze and basically goes all Dances with Wolves on us. Then there’s the other bad boy crew of surfers/Asian bikers who Walker/Keanu thinks are the crew he’s after but then it turns out it’s not them and it’s been Vin/Swayze the whole time even though he’s such a cool bro?! And then at the end Walker/Keanu let’s Vin/Swayze get away because he loves him so much. Oh and also there’s the scene where Vin/Swayze gives a moving monologue explaining to Keanu/Walker why he lives his life a quarter mile at a time/chasing the waves.

Anyway now that we’ve exposed this mind shattering fact we can really jump into this movie and let me just start by saying what the actual fuck? Ok so in terms of the over the top insane action that the series has come to be known for this first instalment is pretty mellow by comparison but you can see where the seeds were planted here. One direct reference which I had previously overlooked is the first appearance of the spear gun which will return in part 7 to great effect, which brings me to the actual plot of this movie. So in Point Break Swayze is robbing banks for millions of dollars in cash, in Fast One Vin is knocking over trucks…..for DVD players. Yeah that’s right, we’re led to believe that every law enforcement agency in the state is after these guys, for DVD players? Ok and the way they do it is even more fucked up. So they all drive up to the trucks in black Honda Civics instead of their colourful tricked out super cars to avoid suspicion, smart right? Sure except for the fact that all the cars have green neon lights under them! How many black Honda Civics do you see with green neon lights? How many cars period? Why was it so important for them to have neon on their cars?? It makes no sense.

Also the movies leads us to believe that underground street racing is incredibly popular with the kids these days, so much so that literally hundreds upon hundreds of people turn out to watch and all of them bring their cars. And we’re also to understand that Vin Diesel is like the Tony Hawk of the street racing world, guys I’m pretty sure this is not how street racing works. Also apparently these guys drive so fast (and furiously) that they literally defy the normal laws of reality. These guys drive in a fucking straight line, like 100% straight, not even a hint of a turn yet when the race is over they are right back where they started the fucking race?? What is going on in this movie! All the guys who were hanging around at the start of the race are now just here at the finish line. How am I supposed to reconcile this? Did everyone watching just get in their cars and drive to finish line? And if they did how did they get here so much faster than the guys who were in the actual race!!! Come on how did they miss this?

Fire shoots out of their exhaust pipes, like a fucking flamethrower. Who made this movie, cause that’s something I would think was cool if I was 8 years old. If fire comes out the back of something it makes it go way faster, we all know this to be true. Even more fucked up than this; Buffalo Bill is in this movie. He’s a real actor, and he’s killing it in this movie, they should totally bring him back for Fast Seven.

Now here is where the movie starts to fall apart for me, so at one point in the movie Vin and Paul Walker are scoping out bad Asian dude Johnny Tran and witness him sexually assaulting a gas stop attendant or something and Walker notices a shit load of DVD players in this dudes garage, like dozens. Ok so case closed right, this guy is 100% the guy right? Wrong. But the movie never explains why Johnny Tran feels the need to store all these ‘legally purchased’ DVD players in his garage? What is Johnny Tran doing that he requires this many DVD players? Does he just have very reckless movie watching behaviours?

My last point about this movie is this, as far as I’m aware Dom is pretty much indestructible. We’ve witnessed him pull off some pretty impressive feats in these flicks, from getting tossed through brick walls by The Rock to flying through the air and catching motherfuckers midflight at 100mph speeds and then shielding them from impact with his powerful spine, but in this opening chapter we see Dom bleed, does it then follow that Dom can be killed?

Next up: 2 fast 2 furious aka Fast Two

EDIT: Ok so just as I was researching this article I learned of the tragic death of Paul Walker. I would just like to say that although I really rip on these movies I do really enjoy them a lot and it’s incredibly sad to hear of his passing.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Trailer Review

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLWsK1ZFunA Here it is, the very first official trailer for Marvels upcoming release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Let’s get right into right. So we start off with back and forth between Cap and Black Widow, apparently the new power couple of the Marvel Universe. I liked it, I think Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have some pretty good chemistry and I’m interested to see how their relationship will play out throughout the movie considering some pretty major plot points hinted at which we’ll get into later. Cap jumps out of the back of plane, again, this time sans parachute and into the water which I’m guessing is leading up to the scene talked about in interviews where Cap single handedly seizes control of an enemy boat.

 

Right off the bat and throughout the trailer we get a pretty good look at Caps new Shield Issued suit, which I just love. I think it’s a major improvement over the quite frankly ridiculous outfit in The Avengers.

 

Next up we get a few shots of DC where the movie will be primarily set and our first look at acting legend Robert Redford as Shield top brass giving Steve a pep talk. Whilst I really enjoyed this trailer it does seem like you can deduce the entire plot already. I may be wrong but here’s what I’m thinking in broad strokes. Cap is adjusting to his new life as an active Shield operative in the modern world, far gone are the black and white days of WW2 where good and evil were clearly defined, now Steve must fight in a world where the government sees fit to sacrifice certain civil liberties for the greater good, which obviously doesn’t sit well with Cap ‘This isn’t freedom it’s fear’. Robert Redfords character will obviously be Caps antithesis, his polar opposite and eventually Shield itself will turn against Cap (the elevator scene).

 

Shield much like Tony Stark have obviously been responding the post alien invasion climate by stock piling a metric fuck ton of hellicarriers underneath DC, and I’m guessing that it’s not The Winter Soldier who brings down the hellicarrier we see in the trailer but Cap himself. Honestly I would not be surprised if they end up tampering with The Winter Soldiers origin and make him one of Shields dirty little secrets much like the tesseract arsenal in the Avengers, again making Cap question his allegiances. Clearly the Falcon buddies up with Cap but what about Black Widow, does she stand by Cap or with Shield? I’ve got to say this is easily the most excited I’ve been for a Marvel movie since The Avengers. Especially given that this movie has been described as the most crucial leading into The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

 

A few last points, the elevator scene looked great I love that they’re really making Cap a serious threat, the fist fight with The Winter Soldier looks intense, Falcon wow. Everything looks great. Really can’t wait to see more

Enders Game – Review

Image

 

So here it is the worst movie I’ve seen this year by a long shot.  The major problems with this movie are twofold, first is the plot. I’m sure when the book first came out in 1985 (which I haven’t read by the way) it presented some pretty novel ideas but in regards to the movie we’ve come a long way since then. The entire premise just feels incredibly cliché and almost every major narrative turning point seemed like I’d seen it played out 100 times before in various different forms of media and done much better than it is here.

As is becoming increasingly frequent in Hollywood Enders Game is just another movie focused more on special effects than it is on emotional engagement which leads me to the movies second major fault: the cast. A lot of people have described this movie as Harry Potter in space, which I think is pretty accurate in more ways than one and not in a good way. Like the early Harry Potter movies the primary cast here are all incredibly young and as such do not carry the movie very well. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of their acting abilities but as children they just lack the life experience required to believably portray the gamut of emotions required of them. As it turns out this is kind of big deal when your story is centered on a bunch of kids. Which by the way is never adequately explained in the movie, if Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley are the ones training these little punks why can’t they just lead Earths forces instead? I mean come on, who would you really want defending the planet. A bunch of preteens or someone with a lifetime of real world experience?  The threat was also never really fleshed out and as such just felt like an afterthought and the whole of Enders journey felt pretty needless. 

Image

Ultimately this movie was just really boring and is starting to become a trend for Writer/Director Gavin Hood, previous efforts including X-Men Origins: Wolverine the worst X-Men movie ever produced, perhaps Enders Game signifies that perhaps Hood should call it quits in terms of big budget Hollywood movies. Don’t go see Enders Game. End of

The Wolverine – Review

Image

 

Finally the Wolverine movie we’ve all been waiting for.

No kidding this was just amazing. I can honestly say I didn’t think they would really be able to pull it off but this just blew me away. If it was only mediocre it still would have been an improvement on its predecessor X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it’s so much more than that.

Instead of yet another pointless prequel the film makers made the very well thought out decision to set this film after all the events of the previous X-Men movies. Logan is alone, jaded and still haunted by the death of Jean Grey who appears throughout the movie via dream sequences exploring Logan’s inner turmoil as an immortal warrior surrounded by the death of his loved ones. And this is the crux of why I enjoyed this movie so much. Not only does it deliver great action and special effects but it’s also got a really great story at its core and delves into some really interesting themes at the same time. Essentially it manages to do what so many other movies strive but ultimately fail to do; it strikes the perfect balance between epic action and mature dramatic story telling.

Image

 

I loved the fact that the movie literally starts with Logan withstanding a nuclear strike at Nagasaki; I loved the fact that after being burnt to a human cinder his hair grows back to its perfect trademark style. I loved the fact that there’s actual honest to god character development in this movie.

My biggest fear with going in was the concept of taking away Logan’s mutant healing factor. A common trope which I really grow tired off. ‘Hey you know that one thing you really like about this character, well we ran out of ideas so we’re just going to make him vulnerable by magically taking that away’ Ugh. But honestly it didn’t grate on me as much as I thought it would and I was actually on the edge of my seat going into the climatic final battle.

About half way through the movie as Logan was reminiscing about his nuclear encounter in the now rebuilt Nagasaki (I’m not sure reminiscing is the right word?)  I was thinking to myself ‘Wow I’m really enjoying this, like a lot’ Which I think sums it up quite well. For a while now it’s just been so frustrating to watch Fox have their way with wolvie on the big screen. Hugh Jackman has always been the perfect fit for the role but pesky little things like the story and what not have seemed to get in the way, but not this time. They kept us waiting but they eventually got round to making a movie that truly does this character justice. Well done sirs. For 126 mins you managed to make me forget how much I resent the fact that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to these characters.

Also with the absolutely tantalizing stinger this movies serves as a pretty great trailer for next year’s X-Men Days of Future Past. Which if you weren’t excited about already you will be after you see this movie.