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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

13 March, 2014

300_rise_of_an_empire_2014-wide

Release Date: March 7, 2014
Director: Noam Muro
Run Time: 102 min.
Screenplay: Zack Snyder | Kurt Johnstad | Frank Miller
Staring: Lena Headey | Eva Green | Rodrigo Santoro | Sullivan Stapleton
Rating: R
Genre: Action | Drama | War
Synopsis: After its victory over Leonidas’ 300, the Persian Army under the command of Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, first on the path of Xerxes’ army, bases its strength on its fleet, led by admiral Themistocles. Themistocles is forced to an unwilling alliance with the traditional rival of Athens, oligarchic Sparta whose might lies with its superior infantry troops. But Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land. Written by Gargantuan Media

Now I have seen the original 300 (2006) and I absolutely loved it.  I mean how could you not?  Fast forward to 2014 and we have the follow-up 300: Rise of an Empire, and while it does an admirable job and isn’t a bad movie, it certainly isn’t anywhere near the original.

Now there are a few things to keep in mind.  General Themistokles is a very different character to that of King Leonidas.  Likewise Athens was a very different City-State to that of Sparta.  Athens at this point in history was immersed in an experiment called democracy while Sparta was a monarchy.  Athens was a centre of politics and thinking, while Sparta was a centre of military and war.  As such, we are dealing with two very different men, places, ways of thinking, manners of being and as a result two very different movies.

Sullivan Stapleton, while he does a very admirable job in his portrayal of Themistokles, is very wooden.  I just felt that a politician should have been much more compelling and dynamic than he was portrayed.  Eva Green does very well once again in the role of the villain, this time taking on the role of Artemisia.  The problem is the lack of chemistry between the two of them.  And honestly, that sex scene was the most pointless and boring sex scene ever.  It was thrown in for the sake of throwing it in.  Lena Headley is one again awesome in her role of the Spartan Queen.  Her portrayal of a vengeful and grieving Queen Gorgo is spot on.  *Interesting Historical Fact – Queen Gorgo was actually Leonidas’ niece as well of his wife.  She was the daughter of Leonidas’ half brother Cleomenes I.*

The graphics were once again amazing.  Of course, they lack the original impact that they had when first done in 300 back in 2006, but they were still stunning.  The naval battle scenes were epic and just so well done.  And what were those things swimming around in the water?

All in all 300: Rise of an Empire was an enjoyable movie.  Just as long as you don’t get caught up on comparing it to the original 300, you should enjoy it.

Release Date: March 7, 2014 Director: Noam Muro Run Time: 102 min. Screenplay: Zack Snyder | Kurt Johnstad | Frank Miller Staring: Lena Headey | Eva Green | Rodrigo Santoro | Sullivan Stapleton Rating: R Genre: Action | Drama | War Synopsis: After its victory over Leonidas' 300, the Persian Army under the…

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Not a bad movie, but don't compare it to the original 300!

68
Movies

Pompeii (2014)

3 March, 2014

Pompeii

Release Date: February 21, 2014
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Run Time: 105 min
Screenplay: Janet Scott Batchler | Lee Batchler | Michael Robert Johnson
Staring: Kit Harington | Emily Browning | Kiefer Sutherland
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama
Synopsis: Set in 79 A.D., POMPEII tells the epic story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a torrent of blazing lava, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved as the once magnificent Pompeii crumbles around him.

My lord.  I’m not really sure where to start to convey just how bad this movie is.  I mean I don’t think I’ve seen a movie this bad since I saw Timeline.  It really is difficult to describe just how bad Pompeii is and I kind of want to write it sucks over and over again, but I won’t.

I understand what the creators of this movie were trying to do. They were trying to capitalize on the success of movies and Televsion shows like 300, Gladiator, Rome, and Spartacus.  They wanted the same people who tuned in week after week or showed up at the Theatre in droves to come out and see Pompeii.  I get it.  What they didn’t get is that you not only have to have a great story, but the right cast, and these were two things that Pompeii didn’t have.

The story was unbelievable predictable.  A Roman slave falls in love with a Roman Noblewoman at first glance and tries to save her from from the cruel man she is to marry while trying to outrun an erupting volcano.  And not just any erupting Volcano at that,  but rather the Mt. Vesuvius.  You know the one released ‘a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima Bombing’ (credit Wikipedia) and killed an ‘estimated 16,000 people’ (credit Wikipedia).  There were so many plot holes it wasn’t even funny.

Then you can add in the terrible casting and dialog.  Kit Harrington, who is supposed to be the lead, has like 5 lines throughout the entire movie.  And even then, those five lines are delivered badly.  He spends the entire movie brooding and trying to go for the dark and mysterious look.  I’m not gonna lie, he looks hot in this one and the fact that he spends part of his time without a shirt is a bonus.  The sad fact is that he is really too small in terms of physical size, and doesn’t have the acting chops (or at least he doesn’t demonstrate them here) to enable him to pull off being this undefeated Gladiator.  I am not even going to really get into Emily Browning other than to say that I was distracted by her rather large ears every time she was in a shot.  Every single time.  Kiefer Sutherland  was creepy, and not in a fear me because I am mean and insane kind of way.  He was creepy in that funny uncle kind of way.

Honestly, the best part of Pompeii was watching Mt. Vesuvius erupt.  And even then, watching the eruption was interrupted by the plot of the movie.

Release Date: February 21, 2014 Director: Paul W.S. Anderson Run Time: 105 min Screenplay: Janet Scott Batchler | Lee Batchler | Michael Robert Johnson Staring: Kit Harington | Emily Browning | Kiefer Sutherland Rating: PG-13 Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama Synopsis: Set in 79 A.D., POMPEII tells the epic story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned…

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A complete and total waste of time. Wait for it to come on DVD and even then I still wouldn't waste my time!

35
Movies

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

3 January, 2014

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Release Date: December 25, 2013
Director: Justin Chadwick
Run Time: 139 min
Screenplay: William Nicholson (screenplay) | Nelson Mandela (autobiography)
Staring: Idris Elba | Naomie Harris | Terry Pheto
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Biography | Drama | History
Synopsis: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

First, let me start off by saying that I have seen Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom twice now.  I first saw it back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and I loved it.  I saw it for the second time over the Christmas holidays with my mother and I have to confess that I loved it even more.

When I initially heard about Nelson Mandela’s incredibly powerful and moving autobiography was being made into a movie I was very skeptical.  The book is 656 pages long and covers such a vast amount of material that I didn’t think that there was any possible way it could be made into a movie that would still do it justice.  I was wrong, and I have never been more happy to admit that.

What I loved about Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is that the movie doesn’t solely focus on Nelson Mandela.  Is he a central part of the movie?  Of course he is, but the movie also gives a voice others who were not only a part of Mandela’s life but also a part of the struggle to end Apartheid in South Africa.  One of these people in particular is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s second wife to whom he was married to for 38 years including the 27 years Mandela spent in prison.  Indeed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela played a large role in Nelson Mandela’s life and it was great to see that demonstrated in the movie.

And let’s talk about performances in the movie.  Idris Elba was superb as Nelson Mandela.  I know my mother was surprised by just how good he was, but after having seen his performance in 2005’s Sometimes in April, I had no doubts on just how good he would be in this role.  Honestly, I don’t think that there would have been another person out of the list of internationally recognized black actors (of his age group) today that would have been able to pull off the role.  Elba’s Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor is well deserved after his fabulous performance.  Likewise Naomie Harris delivered an outstanding performance as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.  She was enthusiastic, vital, militant and just such a force in her portrayal of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.  Harris’ performance left me in such awe and totally convinced in her role as Winnie.

Quite honestly, I can see myself adding Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom to my already large DVD collection.  The movie adaptation stayed pretty true to the original autobiography and managed to condense a lot of information into a completely believable movie.

Release Date: December 25, 2013 Director: Justin Chadwick Run Time: 139 min Screenplay: William Nicholson (screenplay) | Nelson Mandela (autobiography) Staring: Idris Elba | Naomie Harris | Terry Pheto Rating: PG-13 Genre: Biography | Drama | History Synopsis: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the…

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A great movie to add to any collection and in light of Mandela's passing, a great way to introduce a new generation who may not be familiar with his life and legacy.

70
Movies

Pacific Rim (2013)

26 August, 2013

Pacific Rim - Poster

Release Date: March 7, 2014
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Run Time: 131 min
Screenplay: Travis Beacham
Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Synopsis: When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenceless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Fair warning, I might be a little bit obsessed with Pacific Rim.  I mean I did see it in IMAX 3D twice in one day.  Excessive?  Probably.  Worth it?  Absolutely!

I am not a huge sci-fi fan.  There are specific films or franchises that I like and those that I don’t.  So imagine my surprise when I just loved Pacific Rim enough to see it a total of four times in IMAX 3D.  The premise of the story is a little far-fetched, but Pacific Rim is so visually stunning you find yourself getting lost in the story as the movie progresses.  Let me just tell you that the Kaiju alone were pretty damned amazing.  Add in the Jaeger’s that totally fit the nations they represent and you have some seriously phenomenal CGI work done on this film.  It’s like a giant set of Rock’em Sock’em Robots but much, much cooler.

Part of the problem that I usually have with sci-fi movies isn’t really the story, but usually the casting.  There is usually someone in the principal cast that just doesn’t work and tends to throw off the rhythm of the rest of the cast.  This is certainly not the case with Pacific Rim.  Charlie Hunnam brings just enough humility, strength, and a little of that Jax Teller swagger (SOA reference anyone) to his role as Raleigh to make it believable.  Idris Elba was so brilliant as Marshal Pentecost that you really felt like he was a career military man fighting for the greater good.  Ron Pearlman, for the short time he was in the film was absolutely outstanding in is his role as Hannibal Chow.  I mean really, is there no role that this man doesn’t manage to nail to complete perfection?

Overall, Pacific Rim was very entertaining.  I for one can’t wait for the DVD so I can hear the director commentary.  For some reason I have this strange feeling that I may end up watching the DVD more than a few times.

Release Date: March 7, 2014 Director: Guillermo del Toro Run Time: 131 min Screenplay: Travis Beacham Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy Synopsis: When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant…

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A surprisingly entertaining film from beginning to end.

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