Hanna – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Joe Wright

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng

Synopsis: Hanna (Ronan) has been raised in the wilderness by her father Erik (Bana) to be the perfect weapon.   Her mission, when she is ready, is to kill the mysterious Marisa Viegler (Blanchett) of the CIA.   There are many things that Hanna does not learn from her father, such as some of the joys of modern civilisation, and, more sinisterly, the truth of her own past.

This is another of the films I expressed interest in when I posted about films I was anticipating at the beginning of this year.   In the end it only got a limited release in Australia, perhaps due to be an action film that has art house overtones.   There is a lot to recommend this film.   The action scenes are frenetic and exciting, there are some interesting characters, and yet despite how well the film is set up, it somehow does not all pull together at the end to make a cohesive whole.

Ronan does a great job in this film, having been building an impressive CV to date, which includes previously working with director Joe Wright on Atonement.   They clearly have achieved a rapport working together that comes through in this film.   Hanna dominates the screen time of this film, so the actress playing her had to be convincing and watchable.   Ronan manages both of these successfully.   She is as adept at being a heartless killer, as she is at looking at the new modern world with a mixture of wonder and fear.

The fact that when she is released she makes friends with a family on holiday helps also to show the more human side of the character.   There are times these moments threaten to change the tone of the film, making it perhaps more clichéd, the film does manage to turn these moments around into something somewhat unexpected.   This story thread though is one I feel was left incomplete, as this family, headed by the characters played by Flemyng and Williams, is left abruptly and never heard from again for the rest of the film.

Providing the most prominent adult roles, both Bana and Blanchett are on their usual superior form.   Bana appears less than expected, however he does well with the material given to him.   Blanchett is powerful as ever, though her American accent jarred with me, and I feel served no purpose to the plot.   She could just as easily have used her tried and true English accent and played an MI5 agent, and the plot would have been served just as well.   Aside from this though, she is convincing in her role that is at stages maternal, but more often quite threatening.

I quite enjoyed this film for the most part, and it has the benefit of feeling fresh and being an original story, an element that is lacking in a lot of modern cinema.   The ending is handled poorly though, and in reflection there are more than just a few loose threads that are not taken care of, to the damage of the rest of the film.

3 stars out of 5

 

Hanna on IMDB

Hanna on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjtv8tVtVRw]

Upcoming Genre Films for 2011 Part Deux – A Preview by Film Nerd

First of all thanks to Urban Fantasist for that awesome post.   Consider my appetite whetted.   As you referred to yourself though, there are certain tastes of mine that were not catered to, so here is a preview of 2011 from the perspective of someone who collected comics in high school.

I will be using the same list as Urban Fantasist from io9, but I will extend from there a little bit from a post by blastr featuring the top 55 trailers for films coming out in 2011.   I will of course avoid overlap between these lists.

The Green Hornet (io9, blastr)     January 14

A remake of the series that first captured hearts on radio serials then on television, featuring a rich guy turned vigilante.   The character was created by the guy who brought us The Lone Ranger, and at one point in the radio series it was indicated that the Hornet is descendant of the Ranger.   Directed by Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, it could prove interesting.

I Am Number Four (io9, blastr)     February 18

A group of nine aliens hiding out as teenagers on Earth are hunted down for extermination by the government.   With three down, this film follows the story of the fourth to be targeted.    Based on a novel of the same name.

The Adjustment Bureau (io9, blastr)     March 4

Matt Damon plays a congressman destined for big things, before he meets and falls for Emily Blunt’s ballerina.   He was supposed to never meet her again, but somehow does, and falls in love with her.   The mysterious agency of the title steps in to prevent the relationship, and put our heroes life back on the set path.   Escaping, running, and hiding ensues….

Battle: Los Angeles (io9, blastr)     March 11

Gritty war film with hand-held camera work with visceral closeups, etc.   Oh yeah, and humans are fighting aliens.   Sounds like a great big B-movie, but with a cast headlined by Aaron Eckhart, may prove a hidden gem.

Red Riding Hood (io9, blastr)     March 11

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman star in this retelling of the classic tale, with the wolf recast as a werewolf connected the past of she with the hood.   Don’t know how Urban Fantasist missed that one, sounds like her cup of tea!!

Paul (io9, blastr)     March 18

Comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as two mates on an American road trip that meet foul mouth alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen.   Some of the gags on the trailer are foul, but delightfully so!!

Sucker Punch (io9, blastr)     March 25

A film by Zack Snyder, who previously brought us 300 and Watchmen.   He does have a talent for absolute visual splendour on-screen, and the trailers indicate this will be no different.   It is hard to get a grasp on what it is about, but seems to be the story of five girls attempting to escape the clutches of evil authority in a mental asylum…or is it a war zone???   Or a bordello??

Super (io9, blastr)     April 1

Okay, so the concept of this sounds very similar to Kick-Ass… average bloke dons a costume to fight crime.   So lacking in originality on that count perhaps.   Just watch the clip posted on blastr though and I dare you not to show some interest!!

Hanna (blastr only) April 8

Eric Bana’s ex-CIA agent trains daughter Saoirse Ronin to be the perfect assassin, with the goal to target Cate Blanchett.    A lot of talent there in that sentence, and a pretty cool concept to boot.    The trailer also kicks butt!!

Your Highness (io9, blastr) April 8

Danny McBride and James Franco reteam with the director of Pineapple Express to star as royal brothers on a rescue mission… a comedy that drags Natalie Portman and my favourite Zooey Deschanel along for the ride.   I am still giggling at the trailer… “What a coincidence, I was just about to finish thinking of you!!”   Hehe.

Thor (io9, blastr)     May 6

The Norse god is exiled to Earth, as reimagined by Marvel Comics.   Mjolnir was spotted after the credits to Iron Man 2, resulting in my second Nerdgasm for that film.   Those that don’t know that this is part of building towards Joss Whedon’s The Avengers should be stripped of their geek badge immediately!!

X-Men: First Class (io9 only)     June 3

The second Marvel movie for 2011.   With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones on board, and Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing, can we put the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand behind us???

Green Lantern (io9, bkastr)     June 17

A film based on a DC universe second tier hero.   Ryan Reynolds is good casting, but the CGI costume is still a little off-putting for me.   However, has the potential to be the next Iron Man, whom was one of Marvel’s second tier heroes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (io9, blastr)     July 15

You really want a synopsis for this one?

Captain America: The First Avenger (io9 only)     July 22

The source of my first Nerdgasm in Iron Man 2 was spotting Captain America’s shield partially constructed in Tony Stark’s work room.   Like Thor, this is building to Whedon’s The Avengers, and has Chris Evans donning the tights in what can only be called great casting!

Cowboys and Aliens (io9, blastr)     July 29

James Bond and Indiana Jones!!   The old west!!   Aliens!!    Daniel Craig waits from unconsciousness with a strange device on his arm.   Harrison Ford plays the villain of the piece, that teams with Craig when the bigger threat arrives.   Why didn’t they think of this earlier???

The Thing (io9 only)     October 14

Prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original.   Stars Joel Edgerton, and personal favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (io9, blastr)     December 16

Downey Jr. and Law return to 221B Baker Street, this time to face the infamous Professor Moriarty.   Be warned, blastr screwed up, the trailer from the first film, not the first trailer for the second!!

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (io9 only) December 23

Steven Spielberg directs his first fully motion capture film.   Peter Jackson produces.   They will be swapping roles for the sequel!!   Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.   Some writing was even done by Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffatt!! Add that element of retro charm and I am sold!

Man, that is a lot of movies…. I hope Bride of Film Nerd doesn’t kill me when we need a second mortgage!!

 

Star Trek (2009) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood

Synopsis: The film that takes us back to where it all began… James T. Kirk attends Starfleet Academy and then takes command of the Starship Enterprise.   However, the history of the future is not quite the same as has been implied in previous Trek chapters.

 

A review by Film Nerd.

Up until this point, I have avoided reviewing my favourite franchises.   I felt for a very good reason too… I am such a gushing fanboy, that my reviews would be decidedly one-sided and biased by my collected knowledge of the entire saga, rather than focussing on the individual film.   This brief preamble explains exactly why there are no reviews here of anything from Lord of the Rings, James Bond, or, indeed, nothing from Star Trek.   The fact I feel I can now review them is more a reflection of the fact that I have quite a number of reviews under my belt now that may show me as an impartial film critic, that I can perhaps let myself indulge a little  bit in absolute impartiality.

An impartiality that had me see J.J. Abrams Star Trek a total of three times at the cinema, dragging Bride of Film Nerd with me on at least two of those occasions (forgiven mainly due to the fact that the second visit was our first trip to IMAX).   I did not walk in entirely blind, I had already been made aware of the MacGuffin, that villain Bana’s Nero and Nimoy’s Spock had travelled back in time, altering the timeline in the process.   Quite frankly, this was a stroke of genius, in one move freeing ther film from over forty years of Star Trek cannon.   This gave the script more room to breathe, and also let the individual actor’s develop the character’s for themselves, while keeping enough respect for the original cast to keep the spirit of the original characters alive.

Pine’s Kirk is a perfect example of this.   Pine was provided with the “what if?” scenario of James Kirk growing up without the support of his father.   As a result, he is a delinquent who lacks direction.   That is until he is recruited to Starfleet by Greenwood’s Captain Christopher Pike (a reference to the character who in the original series captained the Enterprise before Kirk, played by Jeffrey Hunter).   Pike’s mentor role brings out something in Kirk more familiar, a rascal, but one that accepts responsibility, much more the Shatner style Kirk of old.   Zachary Quinto is also amazing, not only looking like a young Leonard Nimoy, but capturing the essence of the character brilliantly.   He is perhaps more prone to emotion than the original, but this is fitting given his younger age and his continued struggle with his human half.   Of the lead three, I would have loved to see more McCoy.   Urban does a fantastic job capturing the character of the irascible country doctor with the heart of gold made famous by DeForest Kelley.   He even is more striking as a ladies man type than the original, which used to be hinted that the younger McCoy was prior to the series.

The rest of the cast does very well.   Saldana as Uhura not only looks smoking, but is a very fierce and capable officer.   Cho and Yelchin imbue their Sulu and Chekov respectively with the right mix of officer material and sense of humour.   When it comes to sense of humour though, Scotty was always great comic relief in the series, and Pegg’s version takes full advantage of this fact.   Aside from the main cast, Bana’s villain has an understandable motive, but is perhaps too consumed with the need for revenge to develop too far.   His power comes more from advanced technology than from sheer intellect, so Khan he is not.   Given this is an origin story though and there are already 7 main character story arcs to follow, this may also have been necessary for the scripting of the film.   Greenwood is amazing in this film, the first which I can recall seeing him in.   As may be clear from other reviews on this site, I have subsequently become quite a fan of his.   Finally, I get to Nimoy.   He is the connective thread between this film and all that has passed before.   For many, he IS Star Trek.   So his presence is what makes this whole movie gel.   He doesn’t have to do anything beyond slip into a role he is comfortable with just as he is his own skin, and as a true fan, I could ask for nothing more.

Abrams was very clear in making this fan, he was not necessarily a Star Trek fan.   He made it clear though he respected exactly why the franchise was loved by so many.   In the end, he crafted a film that he felt he would want to go and watch.   In doing so, he opened up the franchise to the uninitiated.   After all, my evidence for this was Bride of Film Nerd, who enjoyed it enough to acquiesce to see it again with me.    In making the product more open, I acknowledge there was a backlash.   Those that know Abrams was a Star Wars fan insisted on seeing similarities in this film with the former franchise.   To me, this is frankly bollocks.   The opening scene of a large Starfleet vessel drifting past the camera may have been an obvious homage, but beyond that I think those naysayers were grasping at straws.   Come on guys, Star Wars does not have copyright on ice planets!!   No, despite this film being open to a larger audience, it is quintessentially Star Trek, with the message for a bright future for humanity well and truly in tact.

5 stars (out of a possible 5)


Star Trek on IMDB

Star Trek on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuDc4GtjLfY&playnext=1&list=PL823376CAA9CEFC13&index=1]