Les Miserables

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone

Synopsis: The film adaptation of the musical adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel.   Jean Valjean (Jackman) is a convict, having served 19 years incarceration after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child.   Unable to get ahead upon his release, he breaks parole to start a new life.   This stars Javert (Crowe), a man of the law, on his trail for a story spanning many years. new-les-miserables-poster-01   Continue reading

Planet of the Apes (2001) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Krsitofferson

Synopsis: A very loose remake of the original Charlton Heston film, Wahlberg’s Leo Davidson gets propelled to unknown reaches of the galaxy by a mysterious space storm.   Her crash lands on a mysterious planet, where apes are in charge, and humans are merely pets and game.

Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, David Thewlis, Julie Waters, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Natalia Tena, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Ciaràn Hinds, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent

Synopsis: The final chapter in the popular series of eight films that began ten years ago, based on the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.   This is the final battle for Hogwarts, and the time when Harry must face his final confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort.

Given that this franchise has been with us since 2001, it is almost with a sense of disbelief that with this film, it draws to a close.   The film proves a thrilling conclusion, providing fantastic action sequences and special effects, some great character moments and, for those that have not read the books, a few unexpected surprises along the way.   If there is one complaint I can level against the film, it is that it is too short.   The 130 minutes pass very quickly, and not a minute of it seems wasted.

The films have certainly come away since the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.   The quality of the special effects are amazing, truly taking advantage of advances in technology in the intervening period.   More significant, however, is the improvement in the performance of the three leads.   Watson’s performances have been of high calibre for many films now, leaving the boys behind, however Grint and Radcliffe have both had substantial acting experiences themselves outside of the Potter franchise, and the benefit of these project shows.   Radcliffe gives a very commanding performance, leading no doubt that this young man is capable of the extreme responsibility on his shoulders.

Fans of the novels may be somewhat disappointed.   Always the price of an adaptation like this is that some of the finer details get left out.   Those fans, myself included, would argue extra time could have been added to this running time to highlight some of these elements more clearly.   This in the end is a minor criticism, given that the film does succeed in giving screen time to almost every single significant character from previous films, both living and dead.   The fact that most of these characters have been played by some of the most brilliant actors in the UK today is an added treat.   They each manage to shine despite many getting scant time on-screen.

In the end, this is the classic battle of good against evil, that addresses thematic concerns as the nature of evil, dealing with loss, and not being too quick to judge others.   Some may question some of the choices made in adapting the novel, but apart from this the film delivers everything one could demand for the final instalment of a beloved story.

4 stars out of 5.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on IMDB

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NYt1qirBWg]

 

The King’s Speech – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall

Synopsis: The Oscar winning film that tells the story of King George VI (Firth), who battled life long with a debilitating stutter.   When his older brother (Pearce) abdicates, it is up to him to step in and guide the country on the eve of the second World War.   To assist him in addressing his subjects via wireless, he enlists the help of unorthodox Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush).

A review by Film Nerd.

Revenge of the Film Nerds is a bit late on reporting on this film, despite the fact it is still playing in some cinemas even following its release on DVD and Blu-ray.   There is simply no excuse for this oversight, as it is a film well deserving of all the accolades heaped upon it, and is one of those rarer instances these days where the Academy chooses a deserving winner correctly.

The story of King George VI is a simple yet inspirational one.   His early abortive attempts at public speaking can only draw sympathy, even for those that have not personally experience the debilitating effects a stutter can have.   It is not a long stretch to amplify that in one;s mind when some-one is born into a role requiring public address.   Firth is on fine form, never missing a beat when missing a beat, as it were.   It takes a fine actor to take a character, real or not, with a clear defect, and to not make that a caricature.   Firth imbues his “Bertie” with the right amount of frustration and anguish to show a real man with a real challenge.   Then steps in Rush, on equally fine form.   His Lionel Logue is certainly eccentric, his methods somewhat absurd, and yet the impact of his actions is imbued with a real sense of authenticity.

Of course, the film is building to overcoming the odds, especially as the world once again descends into war, requiring the public to hear a strong address from country’s figurehead.   Once again, when this moment finally comes, the speech is not flawless, but it is strong and honest.   Despite all these events though, I would argue that beyond this, it is a story about friendship.   The Prince on his road to becoming King has been raised to not share his emotions, especially not with a civilian like Logue.   For Logue himself, he has more than a high profile assignment…   In figuring out what makes his client tick, a friendship is born that will define them both.

It is not a film of much action, nor of big, grand-standing moments.   It is a film however of heart, and of inspiration.   Well done to all involved in bringing this interesting piece of history to life in such a mid-blowing way.

5 stars out of 5

The King’s Speech on IMDB

The King’s Speech on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzI4D6dyp_o]

Terminator: Salvation – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: McG

Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Michael Ironside

Synopsis: The war against the machines is well and truly in progress.   John Connor is not yet leader of the resistance, however he is a source of inspiration of pockets of survivors through regular radio broadcasts.   The Resistance discovers a signal that can be used to turn off machines within range, and it is Connor’s mission to test it.   Meanwhile, he discovers a young Kyle Reese is Skynet’s current primary target.

A Review by Film Nerd.

After thescripting  shambles of Rise of the Machines, the plot is now firmly established within the story of the war in which John Connor shall eventually take the most prominent role.   Given all the leaps in logic to continue the franchise have already been taken, this film is actually very enjoyable, as no excuse need be made for it existing.   The continuity in this film is never an issue, though familiarity with the previous three chapters I would argue is a must if you are to fully enjoy it.   I regret I did not discuss the franchise more fully with Bride of Film Nerd prior to our first viewing, as it was about half an hour into the film I realised this was the first time she had ever seen a terminator film.   This was much to my shock and horror at the time, I will admit, though hindsight would suggest that this was entirely within character for her!!   My bad in the end.

McG seems a curious choice of director, veteran of the recent Charlie’s Angels films and of music videos before that.   I get the impression though he was intentionally trying for something grittier and much more serious with this piece.   He convinced Bale of this fact, managing to get him on board another potential franchise, something he was at the time reluctant to do being already associated with Batman.   Having Bale on board is where the great impact of this film lies.   He is in my opinion the best actor to portray John Connor yet.   The character he portrays is a man I would take leadership from, something I would not have said about the previous incarnations.   The talent does not stop there though.   Dallas Howard picks up where Claire Danes left off as Kate, wife of John Connor, and she is convincing in a comparatively small role.  Star Trek‘s Yelchin also showed there is much more to him than Chekov, being very convincing as a young Kyle Reese, before he was fully trained and bad ass as played by Michael Biehn in the original Terminator (hmmm, I wonder what young version of an iconic character he will play next!!).   Bonham Carter is also quite extraordinary despite the brevity of her small role as a cancer sufferer.   The acting side of things is slightly let down by young resistance fighter Blair (Bloodgood) and the mysterious Marcus Wright (Worthington).   Their performances are serviceable to the plot, but do little special.

As far as plot goes, it is an enjoyable ride.   It is a mix of classic war story, with very gritty POV camera work defining early  battles, very similar to the cinematography used in the D-Day landings of Saving Private Ryan, with more traditional sci-fi, with enough reference made to the original films indicating the victory we know is to come.   The references made to past films are sprinkled throughout to very good effect.    As in every film, there is even a variatioon on the classic “I’ll Be Back” (admit it, you hear every word with a capital letter in that phrase too!!).   CGI was also effectively used to ensure a brief appearance from an actor who was not present, yet without whom this is not a Terminator film.    The film ends satisfyingly enough… in a way that hedges the bets….this works as a stand alone film just as much as it works as the start of a potential second trilogy.    I have heard no new word on whether there will be a continuation from this point, but unlike Rise of the Machines, I feel it is justified in this case.   I would certainly invest some coin to go watch it.

This does not reach the lofty heights of Judgement Day, but given the quality of that film that is a very high benchmark to set.   It is a worthy addition to the Terminator cannon, however, and washes the bad taste left in the mouth by its predecessor.

3 stars out of 5

 

Terminator: Salvation on IMDB

Terminator Salvation on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p6GHSWDScM]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – A Review by Film Nerd

For details of cast and crew, and links to IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and the trailer for this film, please see the review already posted by Urban Fantasist;

UrbanFantasist’s Review

It is with pleasure that I write this review, especially in reflection to the original goals of this blog.   As this film has the potential to be reviewed by at least three different contributors.   As linked above, Urban Fantasist has already provided a fantastic review of the film, and Bride of Film Nerd has promised to follow-up with her own very shortly.   I am also left with a dilemma though.   Urban Fantasist’s review I found to be absolutely spot on, so my challenge is to provide my own comment more specific to my own interests, without covering too much of the same ground and just being repetitive.

Here it goes.   From the absolute outset of this film, a very different tone is established immediately.   In the promotional interviews for ever Potter film from Chamber of Secrets onwards, the claim was made that each film was darker than the last.   Though this proved never a false statement, in the case of The Deathly Hallows, it could not be more apt.   No potter film before this has started on such a drastic note.   It makes it very clear that this is not another year at Hogwarts, that this is war and the odds could not be mounted higher against our lead three protagonists.   All this was achieved before even the Potter logo appearing on-screen.   In a way, i was reminded of how the pre-credits sequence in Bond takes you out of the real world and right smack bang in the middle of the action of the film.   Viewing it was perhaps even a little uncomfortable, but at the same time it is clear that this is what director Yates is aiming for.

This is evident as this is overall a film with comparatively little levity.   Yates chose to prepare the audience early, and I certainly found his methods effective.   He further illustrates what is at stake by an early interlude between Ginny and Harry.   In discussing why a wedding was held at a time like this, Harry rightfully points out that maybe preserving moments like those was one of the most important things they can do.    As an audience member who has seen it to the end, I am inclined to agree with him, given the prices that were paid over the 2 and half hours of this film.    Just as Urban Fantasist did, I cried, at an identical point to which I cried during the book.   At the risk of being beaten up later, even Bride of Film Nerd, who mocked my reaction to Toy Story 3, was affected by the emotion of the moment.

A quick note should be written on what has improved overall with this film.   The lead three actors have all grown into their roles,  and their ability to convey the emotions of each is now at an admirably high level of talent.   Special note I feel should be made of Tom Felton’s performance as Draco.   He really became an acting force in the last film, and though given less to do overall in Part 1, he provides a nuanced performance that makes a three-dimensional character of what had initially been a two-dimensional villain.   The pacing of the film was just what was needed.   We know all the real action is yet to occur in Part 2, so this is in many respects a long preamble, but at no point does it become boring, and I could easily have kept sitting past the end credits for them to start playing the next instalment for me then and there.   The pacing is in itself a huge improvement on the book, which often lagged during the events shown here.   The other improvement was in the CGI.   The house-elves return in this film, the creatures that had previously been incredibly fake, especially in an era of Peter Jackson’s Gollum.    This is no longer the case, with the elves being absolutely amazing, not only gaving softened and life-like facial features, but now blending pretty much seamlessly with the external environment and with the actors.   I am especially glad for this as without these improvements, some of the scenes with the house-elves would not have had anywhere near the same impact.

Urban Fantasist finished her review with a comment concerning what an absolutely wild Potter fan she is.   I should perhaps add to my review that I was also an established Potter fan prior to this film, however I could never compete with my colleagues level of obsession.   I only actually read Deathly Hallows once, much less than any other book in the series, and I had forgotten a  surprising amount.   I do feel though that this extra knowledge did make the film viewing experience richer for me, and there were a few things extra I would have liked to have seen.   Looking dispassionately at what was cut though, it is easy to see how it would have adversely affected the pacing of the film, while adding comparatively little.   I also feel enough information was available for the uninitiated to enjoy.    In the end, the main thing that stops mew giving this 5 stars is because I am petulant and want to see the finale to the series right now!!

4 stars (out of a possible 5)