Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

Review:

Going in I didn’t have very high expectations; I knew this movie was based in a popular game, so it would be mostly graphic-oriented.
I didn’t expect such a weak plot, though.

The fight scenes were okay. On quite a few occasions I could not tell what exactly hit the bad guys and there were a few acrobatics that seemed so fake, like running on clotheslines – it was so obvious the actors were being held by wires.

But even so, cool fighting scenes are just not enough.
The storyline is not linear and I felt there were no proper explanations to what was happening. It actually seemed that a huge chunk of the movie was edited out.
The characters were flat, I still don’t get how the artefact everyone is looking for is supposed to work, the side characters don’t add anything to the story and I am just at an utter loss as to how this got put together.

Michael Fassbender and Jeremy Irons are pretty much the only upside to the movie, even though they were so grossly underused.
So yes, you could say I am disappointed at it and I cannot recommend that you spend money on this.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Review:

This was my first time on IMAX and I actually did not know about Doctor Strange so I went into it fully open-minded.

And you know what… This was actually pretty good! Granted, some things were not very realistic and the character development was much too quick in certain parts but overall this was very well achieved.

The movie is reminiscent of Inception and Matrix and I absolutely loved the first scenes, featuring the Ancient One.

Cumburbatch played this character wonderfully. He is witty and egocentric and even though there is development to the character he never ceases to be true to himself.
Some of the humorous moments are simply hilarious. He seems to have been born for this part, much like Iron Man seems to have been created for Robert Downey Jr.

All the other actors performed brilliantly as well, though. Tilda Swinson was simply amazing and her interactions with Cumberbatch were so much fun and awe-striking.
Rachel McAdams did great as well; it’s not easy to shine in such a roll but she was very good and believable.
Mads Mikkelsen as the villain was also superb. I had not expected such a humane approach to him.

I had a great time watching Doctor Strange and definitely recommend it.

Snowden

Snowden

Rating: 4.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The NSA’s illegal surveillance techniques are leaked to the public by one of the agency’s employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press.

Review:

I went to watch Snowden with someone who was extremely well informed about the subject while I sadly wasn’t and while we had extremely different perspectives going into it, I believe it is safe to say both thought the movie was pretty darn awesome. From the former point of view, it appears some important things were left out, while I kept getting stuck on stuff like how does a guy who did not even finish high school and obviously really wants to make it in Special Forces turn out to be such a genius, only being self-taught.

The fact is the story enthralled me. Even if some things felt cheesy, especially the abuse of light surrounding the main character in key moments, the fact is due to such a strong issue and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s stellar performance (queue choir of angels – yes, I am biased towards this guy, sue me), this was indeed a memorable experience.

I mean, that guy obviously did such a brilliant character study. I cannot get past how he placed his voice. The facial expressions and ticks, the way he held himself, a lovely mixture of a fragile and strong young man with principles literally held me at the edge of my seat sometimes – I had to keep reminding myself to sit back.

Some things did throw me off besides what I mentioned above, such as the way he got the information out (the entire process just seemed oversimplified) – and really every single time he expressed his obviously dangerous points of view.

However, I had a terrific time watching this and I highly recommend it. Makes me want to watch the documentary, to find out what really happened and what is just in the movie.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In a Fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system.

Review:

By now, dystopian societies where people are not allowed to feel for the greater good is no longer a new concept. This movie came out 14 years ago though, so I can only assume it was pretty new back then.

Still, having that in mind, it was not very entertaining. Some plot twists made no sense while others were predictable, and there were situations where the main character put himself that there is absolutely no chance he could not get caught in such a society. He was allowed to do those things for much too long, for the sake of the narrative evolving to where it did. Even the new sort of martial art of fighting/shooting was quite beautiful and yet there is no way trained soldiers would just wait in line to be shot like that.

Equilibrium presents itself as a blend of Fahrenheit 451 and The Matrix and if you are big on action movies you will probably enjoy it. As I mentioned, some scenes really are capable of dazzling you. However, I do felt the plot could have been polished much, much more and in the end it was just another cool sci-fi, action movie. Extra points for the newness of the concept at the time and Bale’s performance, but that’s about it.

Nerve

Nerve

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”

Review:

Nerve was an entertaining movie but it asked for a lot of suspension of disbelief.

The strength of the film is the possibility that all of this could happen, born out of the feeling of anonymity that virtual lives allow. It explores that power to the limit.

In this game called Nerve, there are players and there are watchers. Players have to accept challenges, or dares, which get progressively more difficult to fulfil, even life-threatening, but the reward is exponentially higher as well.
Winning the challenge is part of the game, the other is getting more followers. So all these people gather around following their favourite players both online and in real life, rooting for them.

There was so much I didn’t get about this game and how the movie progressed.

How are the dares chosen? Only towards the end do we get an inkling of an explanation – that they are voted by the majority. Ok but who creates them in the first place and out of so many thousands of people how many are necessary to get a dare through? Do they all vote? It seems like a somewhat long process given the speed at which they came up.

Who created the game? Who wires the money and how? Who decides if the challenge is passed or failed, since it is not always that obvious?

One of the challenges was for Ian to take Vee to the city. What if she had said no? Would he have lost? Was he supposed to take her by force?

Also one of the rules is that for the dare to count it must be filmed by the player’s phone. I got so confused because the scenes would be filmed as if the player was holding the camera when they were obviously not… The motorcycle challenge was the one where this showed most blatantly. There is no way either of them could have filmed that, or even a watcher, not from that angle.

The movie is so fast paced that probably folks won’t be thinking about most of these things but I couldn’t get them off my mind. It just did not seem plausible for such a concept to exist in this fashion. It needed to be much more polished.

Also, the ending was totally anticlimatic since those issues were never explained, particularly about who created the game and how it worked. And having kid hackers admonish the watchers and that’s it, game over, slap on the wrist and people simultaneously gain a conscience and the game is destroyed was beyond ridiculous for a resolution of such a story.

The main character’s evolution was a bit too dramatic. She is portrayed as a bookworm with little to no self-esteem, cannot even speak to a guy she likes, and we are presented with a knockout of an actress who I can never believe is any of those things. She shines so much more than her so called star friend.
Anyway, assuming she was all that, I get that Vee gets carried away by the entire thing and it is a journey of discovering herself but some things were really extreme and it just struck me as not believable. Then there were all the clichés about the friend who obviously likes her more than she does, the jealous friend, and so on.

With all these things that ticked me off, Nerve is still a fast-paced movie which makes you wonder about possibilities in today’s world and how things can so easily change in the blink of an eye and how everything we take for granted may vanish and especially that just because we are anonymous online it does not mean our words and actions do not count or have no power.

I had fun. I wish the concept had been developed better but I had fun.

Surrogates

Surrogates

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.

Review:

Surrogates is a thought-provoking, generally well made sci-fi movie. There was a little too much action for my taste and I didn’t get how people who were connected to their surrogates almost 24/7 still had functioning bodies at all, or how they performed basic functions, but the main concept was intriguing.

In a world where you look however you want and never get hurt, who would ever use their real body? What is the point? In doing so, are you losing a large portion of what makes you human?
The movie asks these questions and others.

It started really well for me, as it presented an evolution to the current state of the world. It was progressive, we didn’t just get ‘bam, this is how things are, doesn’t matter how it got here’.

The development of the story was ok, it felt the pacing was off a bit at times. I thought the concept and its consequences was so powerful that it could have been better executed – all the action and superhero stuff only got in the way. Still, I appreciated the main characters, their struggles and their development. I particularly enjoyed the anxiety experienced by the main character when going out to the world for the first time in years.
All the cool effects were a welcome bonus. That flawless skin… Wowza. How the heck did they do that??

Besides the amazing imagery and all the action, Surrogates had suspense, mystery and interesting plot twists, so I recommend it.

Now You See Me 2

Now You See Me 2

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Review:

Well that was entertaining!

There were quite a few loopholes, some corny stuff particularly in the villain department, no way most of that stuff could ever have happened, and I have to admit the long sequences worn me out, but the movie still held my attention through and through.

The ending spoiled it a bit for me and I felt dizzy with everything that went on, but it was still a very enjoyable experience. Cannot beat the first one, but still pretty darn amazing.

Dark City

Dark City

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun.

Review:

This was a cool one. The narrative unveiled in such an interesting way. This normal guy wakes up in a tub, obviously has trouble remembering where he is or even who he is.

From then on, there was intrigue, suspense, tension and freaky aliens who could change your memories, amongst other very nifty things.

Granted, some things were a bit too much, like Kiefer Sunderland’s character, who seemed to be an odd mix of Dr Frankenstein and Quasimodo and always short of breath, as well as the oversimplified process of handling memories but, overall, a cool sci-fi flick.

I was sad about the ending, though. I had hoped for more resolution.
I cannot imagine anyone remaining sane, living like that, growing old in that rock. I had really hoped they’d make it home. I am pretty sure the Doctor mentioned Earth in the beginning of the movie so he should know of it, right?

They Live

They Live

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.

Review:

Ah the good ole gaudy 80s!

I can tell why this movie became a classic back in the late 80s and 90s. John Carpenter is a masterful director and some sequences were full of tension, particularly when the main character finds out what is going on.

Alas, in 2016 the movie just doesn’t have the same impact. Even the soundtrack sounded lame.

Not only did I want to know more about the story – like who found out about the whole plot or who made the glasses – some scenes just seemed excessive, especially when it involved violence. I mean, at one point I was like – is this fist fight ever going to end?? Just put on the freaking glasses, for crying out loud.

I didn’t feel much of a balance. The sequences were either too slow or too nasty. Some characters, the main one included, stood expressionless in the middle of all the mayhem for the longest time, which made the scenes drag on. So yes, in the middle of all the violence and noise, I was actually bored at times. Towards the end, the movie just felt rushed.

Then there was that thing that seems to happen in all action movies, especially of this time, where the heroes never run out of bullets, always hit the professionally trained bad guys and only get shot if it involves a dramatic ending. Oh and every single piece of information or access to what they need is served on a silver platter. I mean, really, a hallway that accesses everywhere important? Obviously not underground, although by all accounts it should be. A guy in a major elite party showing those two drifters the ropes to the place and master plot? Seriously?

Maybe I just don’t have the right type of humour to appreciate it but I cannot say I was impressed.
Mostly predictable, save for the director’s self-reference, which is not exactly a good point in my book but hey, I am sure it was hip back in the day, and very last shot.

Mix sci-fi with George Orwell’s 1984 at the hands of John Carpenter in the late 80s and this is what you get.
Gaudy as it is, it’s still food for thought at a time of frenzy capitalism and consuming, which most certainly remains very real.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Review:

I’d say I was pretty disappointed with the ending to the Hunger Games movie trilogy.

Not that I remember much of past movies, but I did feel the perspective or atmosphere of the setting changed quite a bit. There’s a lot of planning and plotting and then running and chasing and then all of the sudden characters who played fairly active roles in previous movies die and I didn’t really feel much emotion, at least not from the characters from whom it should have come.

At other times, the movie dragged on unnecessarily and some dialogues were cringe-worthy.

I felt that the resolution to the conflict which has been lasting for so long was rushed and some things certainly did not make sense.
So let me get this straight – Katniss chooses Peeta over Gale because Gale could not protect Primrose? Seriously? Also, Peeta gets magically cure and can suddenly control all his urges and they live happily ever after?

Alas, it makes for a good action movie, with lots of running around and fighting and a heroine who still somewhat manages to stay likeable, even despite the loathing love triangle but who, to be frank, I did not recognize much anymore. Here is a girl who one minute wants to do the right thing and the next she isn’t looking at means to achieve her end.

I don’t know. I was puzzled. It’s an entertaining movie but it didn’t give me the closure I expected and the ending was completely ridiculous.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

Review:

I am not quite sure what I was expecting from this movie but I left the room with an odd sense of a lot having happened but… not really. Let me try to elaborate.

Considering where the first movie left off, I expected this one to be filled with dismal landscapes, high-tech facilities, saviours who I was pretty sure the gladers should not trust. I got all that.
I liked those first scenes when they were at the facilities and tried to figure out what was going on. New characters were met, alliances formed when Thomas realizes something fishy is going on and then atrocious things discovered.

But then it sort of went downhill for me because it felt like the characters were being pushed from one place to the next in a rather pointless way. There were a lot of Come on, hurry up!! or Let’s go, follow me! and running, lots of it. There were narrowly escaped near-death experiences, a few very suspenseful scenes, which was nice, and very scary ones, particularly when people who had contracted the flair were involved – but mostly I was tired and wanted more plot-wise.

I guess The Scorch Trials suffers from that which seems to be present in pretty much all, if not all, movie adaptations of books. I am sure it all makes sense in the book, but in the movie it felt like they were trying to cram too much stuff in its relatively short duration, which took meaning from it.

I am glad I got some answers, and new questions which I am sure I will want to see answered in the third movie, but I guess I wanted a bit more background and coherence to the story. I wanted the narrative to take its time being established and instead there was just a lot of running and I was left wondering things like when and what do these people eat? or where to they get fuel, not to mention other supplies?.

It was an exciting movie and it made me want to read the books.

If you are looking for an action packed adventure movie with teenage characters this will do the trick. Make sure you watch the first one, though.