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Total Recall (2012)
An excellent remake
In a post-apocalyptic world where civilization is divided in two and linked by a huge elevator which crosses the Earth's center, an ordinary factory worker, living an ordinary life, begins to doubt his own identity after visiting a company which promises to inject memories into one's brain. He soon discovers that he has an impressive history as a spy and some amazing combat skills which he'll have to use in order to help whichever side he decides to join.
It's an impressive remake of "Total Recall" from 1990 which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as main character. I'm delighted to see a classic movie (at least for me) remade using today's technology and actors especially when the results are as good as this film. The actors were surprisingly enjoyable, especially the female antagonist who seems to put quite an effort in her acting and it shows. The whole mind bending plot is on par with the above mentioned, making your confused mind wonder over and over again about which is the truth. My expectations were beaten so I have to admit once again that I was wrong for judging a book by its cover, this movie proving to be one hell of a ride!
Django Unchained (2012)
A super shooting adventure
A German bounty hunter by the name of Dr. King Schultz, frees a black slave (Django) who will help him identify his latest victims. Noticing that he's got talent, Schultz offers Django a partnership which is accepted without a blink of an eye. After several Wanted posters, Django sets out to find and rescue his slave wife from the hands of a very brutal plantation owner (Calvin Candie). With Schultz's intelligence and experience they elaborate and attend to an ingenious rescue plan but and old black friend of Candie is determined jeopardize their scheme.
It's a very dramatic and emotional story presenting sensitive parts of a slave's life and how someone like him, with a bit of help, can become a feared sharpshooter like Django. It's also engulfed with great shooting action and marvelous landscapes which combined with some impressive effects (although some were quite a bit exaggerated) will delight every viewer's eyeballs. The actors played some fabulous roles and their hard work can be seen in each and every scene.
It's a wonderful piece of cinematic work although I did had the impression that it could have been a little shorter but that isn't a drawback at all. Make sure not to miss it but prepare yourself for a long adventure!
A space odyssey
Mal, the captain of Serenity carries on his ship a very special girl. River, a young psychic who has been trained by the Alliance as a human weapon, was rescued by her brother and thus she represents the number one target for a merciless assassin, sent specifically to get rid of "the evidence". Although she is perceived as a threat by the crew, she will prove to be a priceless key in unveiling a disturbing secret, kept safe at all costs by the Alliance.
It's a dramatic story filled with action and shooting while its complex characters contribute decisively to a wonderful atmosphere. You become connected to the events, start to care about the captain, River with her troubled life and the others. The action is pretty spectacular, at one point I started wondering if I was actually seeing The Matrix in space. It definitely looks great for its time although the effects are not groundbreaking. It made me enjoy it from one end to the other, it surprised me with its story and course of events and it thrilled me with its characters. A must see!
Rio 2 (2014)
Another unnecessary sequel
After the events from the first instalment, Blu, Jewel and their three kids embark on a two thousand mile journey to the Amazonian Rainforest where there are rumours about a flock of blue macaws. Obviously, their adventure won't prove to be without perils as an old "friend" is on their track in order to get revenge, while getting used to the new environment will become quite a challenge for Blu.
It's an animation which introduces a new adventure for the blue macaw family, one which will influence everyone on the journey, hopefully in good. Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, this is one of those, how I like to call them, unnecessary sequels. They used the universe and the success of the first one and hoped to add something equally interesting, but I'm afraid that they failed. The story is as predictable as it is boring, reusing old characters which simply shouldn't have been there just to introduce a bit more "suspense", one which also fails in bringing something good into the equation. The new characters aren't pleasant or good either, each following a stereotypical pattern of a human character, only making the whole matters worse.
Still unfortunately, all which was great in the first one somehow vanished or is present in a much lesser proportion. Take for example the comedy, one which managed to make me laugh many times in the first movie, simply does not exist in this one. It desperately tries from time to time, but doesn't manage to do anything regarding this aspect. The only thing which keeps its pride is the animation itself, which is simply amazing, no matter how you look at it. It simply lost the idea of the first one, its emotion, its story and, above all, its comedy, which made it overall a very good animation. They managed to create something which is truly mediocre from something very good, and this "achievement" shouldn't bring any praise for anybody.
Overall, I have to say that I saw a mediocre animation, one that simply shouldn't have existed if you ask me, but since it does, it manages to be average in almost every aspect, making it a skippable movie. It reminds me of "Cars", which started as a masterpiece and got a sequel which simply dumped everything good about its predecessor and decided to use its own ways. Too bad...
Blue the blue macaw
Being kidnapped since he was a tiny blue macaw, an endangered bird species, he ends up in the hands of a caring, lonely girl, who raises him as her best friend. One day, a person specialized in birds comes to her door, asking her to come to Rio in order for Blue to meet a lady bird of his kind and hopefully repopulate. Thus, a big adventure starts, one in which three misfit bandits try to get their hands on the birds for a big amount of money.
It's a wonderful animation which presents the life of Blue, how he's raised by his human friend and how he meets Jewel, a beautiful female macaw, with a mentality on the opposite end of his. Their adventures are well described, with much emotion, managing to maintain interest throughout its entire length. I have to say that the start is a bit slow and somehow rushed, but from there on, laughter and good will are due to form a great atmosphere from which you don't to exit. I must also mention that this move is really hilarious, being able to make you laugh pretty often, making the overall experience a real treat. The story isn't fabulous, but it does its job well, making enough room for its characters to display whatever they desire, and they do it with style and plenty of fun. As you would expect, the animation is top notch, a true delight for your eyes, especially when it presents complex, far away scenery, made almost specifically to impress.
Overall, I found a very good animation, which has a good story, great characters, looks amazing and makes you laugh quite out loud from time to time. A must see for any animation fan.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
A very bad representation of Tomb Raider
On the verge of a cosmic event which happens only once every five thousand years, the famous Lara Croft finds about an ancient artifact, split in half, which grants the one who puts it back together godly powers. As an evil organization seeks it for its own purpose, Lara must act quick in order to prevent a greater evil from being unleashed.
It's a movie which takes a famous video-game character and puts it in the middle of an adventure, just like it would in one of the many games of the series. Unfortunately, this and choosing Angelina as Lara Croft are the only good aspects of the film. It's like the producers thought that it's enough to have a popular character, put it in a movie and just expect the outcome. The plot is bad, to say the least, linear, predictable and almost thrill-less, the characters are extremely simplistic and annoying, making you wonder many times what are they doing in the picture, while the special effects are plain awful. You can search for movies a couple of decades before this one which simply look awesome by comparison. It also has plenty of action but, due to the above mentioned facts and the extremely exaggerated implementation of it, it doesn't manage to generate thrill or suspense, a must in this type of movies.
It feels rushed. It feels like it's made just to be made, like somebody came one day with an idea to use the name Tomb Raider without any type of effort, without a decent plot, without decent supporting characters or antagonists and even without decent special effects. It leaves you with the impression that it is just a rip-off of a very popular name, although the overall result isn't all that catastrophic. It's undoubtedly a bad movie, one which leaves you very disappointed, especially if you had some kind of hope or affection regarding Lara.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
An unique idea
After being released from a mental institution and facing a very tight restrain order, a man is determined to get back on his feet and return to his supposedly beloved wife, convinced that she would be waiting for him. Although struggling with his difficult condition, with the help of a new friend, found in a difficult situation of her own, he seems to be capable to do whatever it takes to impress his wife, but, as you might expect, things aren't going to be easy.
We follow his evolution from the moment of his release, how he reintegrates into society, how he deals with his family problems and how he meets a new girl who's about to influence his life more than he could have ever imagined. The relationship of the two is closely described throughout the whole movie, creating an unique atmosphere which keeps you pointed to the screen.
The plot it features is very good, very well thought and very well presented, and with a couple of great characters, excellently played by a bunch of great actors, contribute to a very good watch. It manages to be dramatic, funny and suspenseful with every single scene it presents, facts which make it one of a kind. It's a movie which has a very different idea and develops everything around it, thus it has to be taken as it is and accepted this way. If you can embrace it, you'll find a very good movie which will provide two quality hours of cinematography.
Overall, I found a very good movie, with an unique plot, a couple of excellent characters and some great actors, which ultimately lead to a very satisfying finale. Everything about this movie is very good, no matter how you look at it, but my only regret is that is don't have anything wow, anything that will amaze, or that it would make it truly special.
X: First Class (2011)
A great X
In a world where mutants lived camouflaged among humans, Charles Xavier, a mutant who can read minds, starts recruiting in preparation for an imminent battle with a malicious group who is determined to start World War 3. This movie presents the beginnings of the X-Men, how each of them began to use their powers, their struggle to accommodate with humans and the battle that separates them into two distant factions.
It manages to tell its story in an entertaining and thrilling way alongside all the awesomeness generated by the mutants and their powers. It's unexpectedly captivating and the fact that it leaves almost no question unanswered regarding the origins of the mutants makes it even more interesting. I have to admit that one or two aspects of the "young ones" are a bit exaggerated and awkward but that doesn't affect the overall quality of the film. It was a pleasant surprise from this franchise and I can only hope they will maintain this level in the upcoming titles.
An average Star Wars movie
While doing her routine search for items which will bring her daily dose of food, Rey saves a tiny droid which is in need of even more help. Carrying an important piece of information, it must be taken urgently to the rebels. Together with a new friend, she'll have to face many adventures until the BB-8 completes its quest before the First Order gets its hands on him.
This instalment of the Star Wars franchise has its story set in a time where The First Order has only the last hiding forces of the rebels to defeat before taking complete control. Young Rey is introduced into the story, along with her special abilities, who will prove to be a key factor in what is to come. We follow her, throughout many perils, full of captivating CGI and action sequences, typical to the series. Unfortunately, these are the main pluses of the movie, and not the same can be said about the story and the characters. Many are annoying or simply stupid, without a clear idea of their role, contributing one way or another to a story which simply doesn't provide something truly great. It is just OK, not very predictable but also not very complex, doing its job but nothing more.
I found it to be quite an average film, with only a couple of characters which are pleasant and dignified to be watched, bringing some substance to an average story which also contains characters which simply shouldn't exist, which have a tendency of getting on your nerves more than being useful. Besides this problems, if you look closer, you can still find some good aspects which ultimately transform this movie into a rather good watch. It still looks great, has plenty of action, and at least two or three good characters which somehow make up to the other disappointments.
Overall, I found an average movie, which definitely could have been a lot better, but it simply fell into mediocrity due to a lack of story complexity and character development. I'm pretty sure that the series' fans will be disappointed with it, but for me it was somewhat OK.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
A very good game-inspired movie
In a world where all the characters in an arcade were actually living creatures, being able to communicate with one another (even from different games), Ralph, a bad guy who's job was to destroy a building over and over again decides that he's life can be different. Neglected and avoided by others and living in a dump, Ralph thinks that if he was a good guy, his situation could improve dramatically. Determined to prove his new intentions, he deserts to another game from where he gets a much wanted "Hero Medal", but getting it home isn't going to be an easy task. Through different complications, he ends up in another game where a cute but also rude little girl is in desperate need of his assistance.
It's a great animation, inspired from the wonderful world of video games, with a really interesting plot and some great adventures. It's funny, emotional, dramatic and full of action. The evolution of Ralph's character will prove to be the cherry on top of the Cake, as the little girl seems to need him more than ever. Great to "play", over and over again, like an arcade game!
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)
An unexpected great!
Mr. Peabody, a highly intelligent dog and very different from all his kind, becomes the first to adopt a human being. Together with his son, they use the secret time machine to travel into the past and explore all the corners of history. Everything goes normal until Sherman goes to school and has a fight with one of his colleagues. This event triggers an unexpected visit from child care which are determined to take Sherman away, but Peabody is determined to change their mind. He organizes a special dinner with the child's parents and the representative from child care but his plans are soon to be altered by Sherman's ego who will ultimately put the stability of the time continuum into peril.
Although it begins atypical, this movie presents an interesting story featuring a dog who can do practically anything and his attempts to maintain the course of time flowing in the right direction after his son and the latter's colleague travel back unattended and without permission. It is very impressive with the dog's abilities and the animated special effects which provide a special aura to the atmosphere.
Its story is interesting and although not groundbreaking, it manages to keep your attention throughout the whole picture. Despite the fact that Sherman is quite a troublemaker, mainly due to his friend, he plays an important role in the movie's intrigue and slowly starts to mature in order to impress his father. This movie came as a pleasant surprise for me as I wasn't expecting such a quality animation from this title but it proved me wrong and I enjoyed every single part of it.
Kari-gurashi no Arietti (2010)
A superb animated story
Arrietty is the only child of a family of borrowers living well hidden from the normal human beings. As they were carrying on their peaceful lives, building their home and working for supplies, Arrietty gets accidentally seen by Shawn, an ordinary boy whose life was permanently troubled by his sickened heart. Inevitable, the two start to make contact but this simple and apparently innocent act is going to cause a lot of trouble in both of their lives.
It's an original idea superbly drawn and animated into this gorgeous movie. I absolutely love how it looks and how the whole "tiny" adventure is presented from both perspectives. It's thrilling, dramatic and full of suspense featuring some emotional songs which really managed to create a very enjoyable atmosphere. Everything about this movie is great, without any doubt. A real work of art I might say!
Prince Ashitaka, while fighting to save his village, gets bitten by a demon and a horrible curse unleashes through his body. Determined to find a cure, he sets off on a journey where he'll encounter an active war between a mining colony and the forest's gods. He must decide which side he'll join in order to prevent total destruction.
It's a very emotional story about courage, morality, faith and honesty which shows what Ashitaka must endure for something he did not commit. We're presented the whole connections between the forest's gods, its tribes and its leaders in their attempt to stop the greedy humans from destroying everything in their blind quest for fortune. It was thrilling all the way, emotional and passionate and as every anime, superbly animated. A great movie by far!
Tonari no Totoro (1988)
Satsuki, her younger sister Mei and their father move to the country in order to be closer to their ill mother, patient at a local hospital. While unpacking, the two girls feel that something strange is happening around, to find out later that in the nearby forest lived a supernatural creature by the name of Totoro. This lovely furry cat-like creature will play an important role in their lives, proving to be as helpful as it is cute throughout the movie.
It's a very enjoyable movie and although it starts a bit slowly, showing step by step the beginning of the characters' new life, it slowly progresses in thrill and excitement as Totoro shows up. It can't say much about this movie, as it is just a great piece of classic animation, with its unique drawing style! Watching it is a must in order to understand its message.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
An excellent animation of a classic story
A very greedy, self-centered and rude old man is about to be visited in the Christmas eve by three Christmas spirits which will try to change his miserable life, offering a last change for salvation.
A classic and very popular story of Charles Dickens transformed into a Disney animation, with Jim Carrey interpreting the main character is definitely a recipe for success, as this movie will prove. Very well animated, dark but also joyful when it was required, this movie tells how not to be in life by flashing the life of an old man through his eyes, in an attempt to make him understand his mistakes and correct his inappropriate attitude. It uses Christmas as the perfect opportunity to tell its story and it does it flawlessly, according to the original story. It's emotional, full of Christmas spirit and has a lot to learn from its plot. A clear recommendation from me, especially during the winter holidays.
A superb adventure movie
Hugo, an orphan child living in some hidden tunnels in a train station gets into trouble while trying to fix a robot which may elucidate the mystery of his father's death. Meanwhile, he befriends the adopted daughter of a local toy repair store owner which has a couple of mysteries of his own. His adventure will prove to be more tangled than he expected as more and more clues and connections are revealed.
It's an emotional and dramatic story which follows an ingenious little boy and his everyday struggles. His adventures are presented in style, in a very atmospheric place, the train station. It has soul, it looks great and it has some very good actors. You get eager to find out what will happen to Hugo right from the beginning which creates some sort of a bond, a great feeling. The finale is as surprising and satisfying as it is unexpected. The mystery surrounding his father's past, together with the one from the repair shop owner will definitely prove worthwhile. A very good movie, no doubt about it.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A brilliant mathematician but anti-social person by the name of John Nash begins having some new acquaintances with whom he seems to achieve the most important work of his life. He marries his beautiful and caring wife and starts secretly working for a mysterious person in an attempt to break a powerful encryption. All seems to go flawlessly but suddenly, a highly unexpected disease is discovered in his body, one that seems to have affected almost everything he has ever done. From there on, a very painful struggle begins, one on which his entire life depends on.
It's a very sad movie which seems to tell in its beginning the story of an extraordinary man but suddenly decides to present a very unexpected turn which leaves you completely dazzled. As much as it is mind blowing, as much it increases the drama of the entire movie, keeping you eager to find out the finale of this brilliant plot. The actors do a very good job reenacting their characters, managing to create a highly dramatic atmosphere which transmits emotion with every single scene it describes. I cannot explain how much this movie marked me with its incredible story and characters which ultimately ends with great style. It truly is a masterpiece, making it a must see for every single movie lover.
The American President (1995)
An excellent package
A newly employed negotiator, working for the ecology party, is sent to transmit a powerful message to the president of the United States of America about a new law that they strongly support. Her unique character attracts the lonely president who enters an apparently easy election year and slowly, they develop an unexpected relationship. As one might guess, this relationship quickly reaches the press and is bound to affect the election polls. To make matters worse, his quiet approach regarding the upcoming elections leave his adversary a clear path to victory. He must take the correct decisions and manage his career and private life at the same time in order to keep his position and, of course, his new lover.
From my point of view, this is one of those movies for which you fall at first sight. It has almost everything you could wish for, tons of laughter, drama and romance, all packed up in a good and very enjoyable plot. It also has a couple of great actors who help a lot in creating a lovely atmosphere. It's an excellent movie which I recommend to anybody!
B.D. la munte si la mare (1971)
A very good third installment
In this third and final act, the three friends decide to form a family and try to make a name for themselves at the beach. There, they start doing favors for a very wealthy and influential person who promises them paid contracts abroad, just to find out that they got into the illegal business once again. As for the others, it's funny, thrilling and tense, and although it isn't as brilliant as its predecessors, it's still a very good movie.
B.D. în alertã (1971)
An excellent sequel
After their release from prison following the events from the first part, the three try to search for some legit jobs this time, but as the local authorities aren't able to "do their talent justice", they meet a weird guy who promises them everything they wanted, in exchange for a couple of apparently innocent tasks. As you would expect, they once again get involved in organized crime, leaving them clueless to what the future might have in store. As I can say for the first part, a very good plot and some brilliant actors form a recipe for success. Simply great!
A brilliant comedy
Three friends, earning their living through apparently small but illicit jobs, find themselves involved in organized crime which will inevitably throw themselves behind bars. Their funny and innocent attitude play a big part in this series, as they are able to make you laugh with almost every action they undertake. A couple of Romania's best actors, divided into two sides (the good and the bad one), manage to create a crime comedy masterpiece which brings a good time with every watch. Simply brilliant!
Bruce Almighty (2003)
After failing to obtain the anchorman position he's been dreaming of for a very long time, Bruce gets into a fight with his girlfriend and starts blaming God for his miserable life. As a result, God gives him much more than a sign that he requested. Bruce is granted the powers of His, thus he starts playing around town. What he's about to find out is that it's much harder than he expected and that free will cannot be influenced in any way.
It's a very interesting movie which presents a common person who receives superhuman abilities but soon realizes that life becomes out of a sudden a lot harder as every action of his has terrible consequences. It's presented in a very comical manner thanks to the skills of Jim Carrey, being able to make you laugh with almost every action he undertakes. Apart from the entertainment, it manages to be sad and emotional when required, thus creating a very pleasant atmosphere which you follow eagerly towards the finale. A very good comedy overall, thanks to some very good actors and a very well written and implemented plot.
Bad Boys II (2003)
A sequel on par with its predecessor
The second instalment of the Bad Boys which are once again on the move in an attempt to arrest the leader of a notorious drug cartel from Cuba. With one of the boys' sister undercover in the operation, they must act quick until she gets into more trouble than she already is.
This movie follows the same footsteps as the first one, only with even more flamboyance, explosions and action. It also makes you laugh out loud multiple times but not at its predecessor's level, while compensating through intense action. The same two great actors do a very good job in creating this picture and the whole entertainment part which is simply one of a kind. A very good comedy from every aspect and a very good movie overall.
Bad Boys (1995)
A great action-comedy
A team of two narcotics investigators must take in custody a key witness after an immense quantity of drugs has been stolen right from the police. Together, they must solve the case in order to keep their jobs but their difficult and different characters will play an important role in the investigation, especially with a witness which has no sense of security or respect for other people's property.
It's an action packed movie which brings excitement with almost every scene it depicts but its biggest upside is by far the quality of entertainment and laughter it provides. This is how a comedy should be made. This is how you keep the viewers pointed to the screen, by providing them a good plot and a couple of complex characters which manage to make you laugh out loud with almost everything they do. It doesn't have the best story or the best implementation, but it has two brilliant actors which will definitely raise your mood.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
A dark comedy great
After rescuing two strange characters from the bitter cold, a bounty hunter and his slave seek shelter from the upcoming blizzard in a remote cabin, where he meets a bunch of other weird people, each with a secret of his own. In order to collect the bounty for his slave, he'll have to take some extra security measures which might help him overcome the dangers to come, while the other characters will be full of surprises for him to uncover.
It's a very atmospheric movie, set in a wild and freezing mountain environment, full of unexpected events and complex characters which keeps you eager to discover the next move, never letting you get bored, although it is not as action filled as I was expecting. It manages to maintain a sober atmosphere despite its amusing dark comedy moments, slowly uncovering its mysteries for your pleasure and amazement. I really enjoyed it despite its duration (~3 hours), and although it could have contained a bit more action and not focus so much on lengthy dialogues which tend to feel like fillers, it proved to be a very good watch. Its actors really contribute to this achievement through their wonderful and convincing performance, making this one yet another great from Quentin Tarantino.