Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

the-last-jedi-posterSTAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2018)

Directed by Rian Johnson

Written by Rian Johnson & George Lucas

Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega & Kelly Marie Tran

Synopsis (IMDb): “Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.”

It took a while to get my head around this one. And I’m still not sure I should do this review without seeing The Last Jedi once more. But as I don’t, at the moment, have a chance to see it, I’ll try my best to give my opinion. As always, this will be mostly spoiler free review. I have to add some pics to make my point.

As it is usually easiest to me to see films through Oscar categories, I’ll take a look at The Last Jedi piece by piece.

First of all, The Last Jedi looks good. I, especially, adored the production design. And I loved the colour scheme. Those bold colours of red, black and white. They just do it for me everytime. And within this story they worked wonders. Though some might think they’re too into your face. But I like!

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I also liked sounds and visual effects of course and I believe the film should be nominated for Oscars on those categories. As well as the production design, it just stands out. Music is also guaranteed John Williams but nothing  we haven’t heard before because we already got to know those fantastic new themes for Rey and Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. None of the new stuff caught my ear the way I would remember it now, eight days later after seeing the film.

When it comes to acting, I have no complaints, I think everyone has come to their own. Daisy Ridley is Rey, Adam Driver is superb in picturing tormented soul of Kylo Ren and I appreciated a lot that the plot went his way much more than in TFA. Carrie Fisher, of course, has always been the perfect princess soldier although in the last two installments she’s definitely the queen. And Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker has never been this good. Or maybe he has and I just didn’t appreciate his younger, whiny self. Though, he’s still whining. But acting is great and I liked a lot Luke’s story. Worked for me.

I also enjoyed the diversity and having more female characters, especially Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, but to be honest, there were way too many characters on the board. And I didn’t care what happened to them despite them having some nice scenes. But I would love to see more of Oscar Isaac’s Poe. Isaac is hugely talented actor and I somehow feel that he’s being wasted here. Plus I like his rebelliousness almost as much as I loved Han Solo back in the day. What’s not to like in the bad boy who saves the day? Thankfully we have Kylo Ren to keep that bad boy attitude up. Pity that in the same timewe also have so, so many wasted characters. Almost including John Boyega’s Finn. But he had nice chemistry with Rose despite the fact that story almost messed it all up.

Btw, I love the fact that Chewbacca actor of today is Finnish.

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There’s been A LOT of complaints of The Last Jedi not being right kind of Star Wars film. And I disagree and agree at the same time. I was thoroughly entertained and watch the most of the film from the edge of my seat. And marveling some amazing shots, made probably by computer but who cares when your eyes rest on them. I especially liked the ending, it felt and looked great. Cinematography worked nicely together with set and visual effects. As well as action were beautiful, including that out of reality (duh!) fight with light sabers and other cool weapons. Not to mention cool people.

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But the plot. I don’t know. Too much of everything, I guess? Something was off but I can’t really point out what. Too many characters, like I said, but maybe too many story-lines too? And I didn’t really get Rey’s journey. Maybe I’ll get answers in the next episode. I sure hope so at least. And I hope they get rid of those, what they were called, porgs? Yeah, they’re cute but nothing else. Too much of everything. That was the main problem for me. But The Last Jedi is not a bad movie. Not even near. But it’s not The Empire Strikes Back. And it’s not even The Force Awakens but I am interested to see what happens next.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

 

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Christmas Films #2

Yeah, it’s already December 12th and I’ve watched two Christmas movies. I don’t really want to watch more of them, especially because Netflix has amazingly bad options here in Finland right now. Like really bad. They used to have better selection. Now it’s just sad. But here goes nothing…

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A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (2017)

Directed by Alex Zamm
Written by Karen Schaler & Nathan Atkins
Starring Rose McIver, Ben Lamb & Honor Kneafsey

Synopsis (IMDb): “When a reporter goes undercover as a tutor to get the inside scoop on a playboy prince, she gets tangled in some royal intrigue and ends up finding love – but will she be able to keep up her lie?”

A Christmas Prince is made to Netflix. So it is also so-called TV movie. And it feels like one from tip to toe but it is still well done. It is cheesy, intentionally, but at the same time it manages to level with it. It is kind of hard to explain but this movie is made tongue in cheek and it has found its balance. Weird, huh? But somehow it manages to do it.

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Usually I’m a huge hater of made for TV films. I loathe them. My mum makes me watch them if I’m home for Christmas that happens quite rarely these days. For some reason she thinks that Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy or Game of Thrones are not suitable for Christmas. So she forces everyone to watch these horrid TV movies. Talking about torture… Anyhow, A Christmas Prince is surprisingly tolerable TV movie even when it has all the clichés or maybe because of that. It has cheesy music, beautiful studio-made scenery, royals, kissing in the snow and other “fun” snow activities, horses, betrayal, the script from “how to write a story 101 by Aristotle” and even snow in New York. Oh, and a rebellious journalist lady. EVERYTHING you can imagine. But it’s ok.

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Despite the fact that A Christmas Prince is total bullsh*t, it actually is watchable. Didn’t even feel bad, on the contrary, it made it laugh with it and at it. The script could be worse and the actors, they could be a lot worse. I actually though they make quite nice job with the story like that. Honor Kneafsey is not as annoying as kids in these kinds of films usually are, Ben Lamb as the Prince is genuinely charming while under utterly ugly make-up and I think Rose McIver can balance it between being cute and funny. I just realised that she’s in the main role in iZombie and has done some nice telly including Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex. She’s good.

In conclusion, if you want to watch corny Christmas movie, this one is not the bad choice. I liked it.

Stars: *** (out of 5)

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A WISH FOR CHRISTMAS (2016)

Directed by Christie Will Wolf
Written by Helen Frost & Don McLeod
Starring Lacey Chabert & Paul Greene

Synopsis: “Sara Thomas is the type of woman who prefers to sit on the sidelines at work, but when her big idea for a Christmas initiative is stolen, she makes a wish to Santa that she’ll finally have the courage to stand up for herself. Santa grants her wish, but only gives her 48 hours. As the clock ticks, Sara will discover how to channel the Christmas magic and speak her mind all on her own.”

A Wish for Christmas is made for Hallmark. And it’s the kind of that makes you want to kill yourself. But I actually finished watching it regardless of this all the time mounting nausea. I kind of felt somehow weirdly good after finishing it but I’m not sure if it was because I managed to do something like it or because it had something. No, it must be the first. Because no one should watch this one. Just don’t.

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The script is dreadful. Well, at the beginning I thought for about 15 minutes that it might actually work but no, it didn’t. And the more time goes by, the more horrible it gets. Actors are not good. No. Hmm, I didn’t hate all of them though, so sometimes watching were tolerable. Oh, and what is the worst; that dolly shot when that really, really important, magical thing happens to our main character. Everytime there’s a dolly shot with that same music. Just to make it sure that you understand what is happening right now.

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I gave this one more half a star because I do feel bad for Lacey Chabert, I used to like her in Party of Five. And Mean Girls too. But really; DO NOT watch this. Except if you’ve been naughty and you need to punish yourself.

Stars *½

 

Doctor Strange Review

doctor_strange_posterI should go back to my Oscar predictions but let’s take a look to another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie first.

DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill & based on Marvel comics by Steve Ditko

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams,  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen & Benedict Wong

Synopsis: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. (IMDb)

I didn’t know anything about Doctor Strange beforehand. I’m not a fan of comics, I find them kind of silly. I used to find comic films silly as well but Marvel changed it. Since The Avengers I always have high hopes for MCU film and sometimes I’m a bit disappointed (meaning I give a film 8 out of 10 at IMDb) but usually I’m not and Doctor Strange is not exception. It’s a solid film with great visuals, interesting story and well, with that cast, obviously strong performances.

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I kept thinking during Strange that it is quite an achievement from film industry to make these huge blockbusters with actors who have been recently nominated for Oscars or some have even won some like Tilda Swinton in this case. No wonder characters in these kind of films are not bland anymore like they used to be. There is much more depth to them even if scripts are weak. The script of Doctor Strange is probably the simplest thing in it. And for some reason, villains in recent comic movies have been on the weaker side too. And Doctor Strange is no exception. But at least its villains are not black or white. What brings me to the point of Doctor Strange being accused of “white washing”. What? There’s Ejiofor, there’s Wong and there’s a woman as an Ancient One. And internationality more than most of the films.

Marvel Studios Hall H Panel

The best element in Strange is the pace. I was never bored. The story starts right away, you get the feeling who we’re dealing with Dr. Strange and Cumberbatch draws the character perfectly. We see how he deals with others, what kind of a person he is. And we don’t really like him but we get to know him and see him grow and we definitely start to care about him. I also liked a lot of McAdams’ character even though she’s quite on the side. And there are some very, very nice one-liners. As always when it comes to MCU movies.

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In general Doctor Strange is great! It might lose some of its magic (ha haa) when watching it again (and again which I will probably do) and on the first time, I loved it. Is it perfect? No, but it’s entertaining as hell. I recommend. Half of the star in rating is given because I got overly excited because of the first end-credits scene, it sure was the best one so far!

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

Films of the Week Vol. 12

I’ve been so lazy at watching films. Then again, I’ve been working 7 days in a row and today is one more. But then I have some time off. And the last time I had time off, I watched some TV, read about it here. But during the last week I saw two films; The Hunger Games (again) and a bit newer stuff, Florence Foster Jenkins. Here’s my thoughts on them.

hungergamesposterTHE HUNGER GAMES (2012)

Directed by Gary Ross

Written by Gary Ross, Billy Ray & Suzanne Collins

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley & Lenny Kravitz

Synopsis (IMDb): “Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death”

Yeah, I know, everyone has seen the films already and bla bla bla but as I’ve reviewed three other parts already (here, here and here), then why not do the first one as well. I’ve already mentioned before I liked it, so there’s not much to add but as I still liked it, after seeing it, I don’t know, probably tenth time, I may as well say something about it.

It was a bit surprising that The Hunger Games still works. It was on TV and I watched it “live” with commercial breaks (I know! So weird.) and it took something like three hours but that time flew by. It is that good film. The pace is perfect, the introduction of situation
hot_jennifer_lawrenceis over quickly and in no time Katniss is on her way to the Capitol where they waste no time in introducing more characters and how our heroine works together with others. We even get couple of nice twists and then it’s game time. Even the emotional pace works nicely. So, well done Gary Ross, that’s the way you direct a film based on a youth novel.

And as said 1001 times, Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. She’s strong and vulnerable at the same time but she’s also genuine and manipulative. And a spectator can’t be sure of her motives. Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is no match to her but I’m still totally Team Peeta. He’s still somewhat endearing. And those youngsters from areas one and two actually feel dangerous.

I also like how the film is set, the production design, make-up, costumes and obviously the music are nice too. The film is a bit one-dimensional and goes on a bit too long and some of the actors are wooden but otherwise; no complaints.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016)

Directed by Stephen Fears

Written by Nicholas Martin

Starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg & Rebecca Ferguson

Synopsis: “The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.”

I have no idea how truthfully Florence Foster Jenkins is told but if it is, it is quite amazing which lengths people would go for their loved ones. That’s beautiful and quite moving.

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First of all, Meryl Streep is still amazing actress. I’m quite sure she again will gain an Oscar nomination for this role. She’s fearless and can, apparently, act anything. I also appreciated Simon Helberg’s work here and I’m so glad he gets recognition from somewhere else too than The Big Bang Theory. And it was refreshing to see Hugh Grant playing something else than single douchebag. I’m not sure how much make-up he has here but he’s old and that’s weird.

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Simon Helberg

I liked the way the film looked, it’s very pretty with all those clothes from 1940s and always fabulous New York and its Carnegie Hall. The film is nicely told, the pace is ok and it made me feel good. But that’s about it. I was a little bit bored, there’s not enough of story to be told, I think, and as the film is not too emotional, it’s a bit bland. I really wanted to like it more but it’s one of those films you will forget you even saw. Streep is great but as she is always, it’s nothing exceptional. Oh, there’s some nice music if you like classical music. There’s not much to say about it. I saw it and I’m quite sure I will never watch it again, it is just not interesting enough. I also wanted to give it 2,5 stars but as everything works, it deserved more.

Rating: *** 

Captain America: Civil War Review

captainamericaposterCAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

Directed by Brothers Russo

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (comics by Mark Millar, characters by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby)

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Daniel Brühl, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Emily VanCamp, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd & Tom Holland

Synopsis (IMDb): “Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.”

First of all, Captain America: Civil War is not really a Captain America movie, it’s The Avengers film. To me that means that I like it better than other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Or at least it has been that way so far. And you know what, it still stands. New Captain is very good.

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The film is a bit too long but as the ass-kicking still looks good, well, actually, I thought that some fight choreographs were even better than in previous MCU films, it hardly matters. Obviously those scenes need to top each other if you want to place your favourite superheros against each other. Apart from fighting or fleeing, the tone of the film is very sobering as the team ponders what is right and what is wrong and are they too far gone. But it’s still classic MCU and there are great, witty lines written for everyone. Especially for Tom Holland who plays new Spider-Man. He’s absolutely great! I kind
of like to think that he steals the show. And is probably the best Spidey on silver screen ever. Perhaps. I need to see the film again to judge that truly. Just wait for the homage to Star Wars, I couldn’t help to cheer a bit in that scene. Yay!sebastian_stan_hot

Tom Holland might steal the show a bit but everyone involved is great. Obviously. They’ve been playing those characters for some time and some of them really have become them (hint: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans). To me it’s funny how much I like Cap these days as the first Cap film wasn’t my cup of tea. Oh, and all you Sebastian Stan fans; this film is for you. He gets A LOT of screentime. Paul Rudd has great scenes too, I loved that! Ja Hawkeye gets much more time too that I expected, yay for that too, I’m still a big Jeremy Renner fan. On the down side, I’m not sure if I was that into Black Panther and he is going to get his own film… I’m a bit worried about it.

It’s hard to say anything clever of this kind of film. Summer has officially started, popcorn flicks are here (yeah, yeah, there was already one Superman s**t, but who wants to remember that?)! This one is a great one! I recommend to see it. It helps a lot if you’ve seen the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films to keep up. At least the ones with The Avengers. The plot is based on them. Go enjoy! Pure entertainment.

The Oscars Review: Room & Brooklyn

I know. I’m late with this and I actually already decided not to write this post at all but as I’m now a bit lazy mood after spending hours reading others’ blogs, I’ll just go with this now. roomthemoviewithbrielarson

ROOM (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Emma Donoghue

Starring Jacob Tremblay & Brie Larson

Synopsis (Imdb): “A kidnapped mother and son make a daring escape, and experience a dramatic homecoming provoking a look into the power of imagination and the unstoppable force of a mother’s love.”

I really, really wanted to love this little film but unfortunately I didn’t. Room was nominated for four Oscars this year including the best picture, actress in a leading role, adapted screenplay and directing. And it should have been nominated for the best actor in a leading role too as Jacob Tremblay is the star of the film (with Larson). It still bugs me that he wasn’t. But thankfully he stole the show in most of the awards shows anyway.

Besides Tremblay, Larson was on top form and I’m very glad she won the best actress. I’ve liked her since seeing her in 21 Jumps Street and in all of the films I’ve seen her since she’s been at least good and very relatable. In Room she’s fantastic. Although I didn’t really like her character. But I think that is a praise to her acting skills as her character has a hard time to adjust and acts like that. It was much easier to like Tremblay’s Jack than Larson’s Ma. The acting is anyway definitely the best part of Room.

I’m not sure if I 100% support Abrahamson’s directing nod. The film is well-done and especially interestingly shot but that’s due to cinematography, I think. It’s amazing how Room looks like before and after. Maybe it’s Abrahamson who got those amazing roles out of his two stars. I don’t know but I’m sure he’ll have bright future ahead. I’m glad Emma Donoghue got a nod for writing as the original novel is hers too. And I do think that if you’re going to nominate something for directing, writing and acting, it should be the best picture contender too, so that was OK.

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When it comes to my opinion outside of acting, I don’t know. I was a bit bored, the story became quite soon an uninteresting one and I just wished that the film would end. It didn’t go under my skin what I was expecting after all the praise. Over-hype made it underachiever to me, I guess. It’s good but nothing spectacular.

Rating: ***½ (out of 5)

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BROOKLYN (2015)

Directed by John Crowley

Written by Nick Hornby (novel by Colm Tóibín)

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen & Domhnall Gleeson

Synopsis: “An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.”

If Room was boring to me, this was way worse! I think I took three pauses while watching Brooklyn, it just wasn’t interesting enough. Brooklyn was nominated for three Oscars; picture, adapted writing and best actress. And I don’t really know why? OK, I admit, Saoirse Ronan was great but she’s quite often great. Her character is shitty, little bitch who doesn’t appreciate anything. (See, there’s my problem with this film; I couldn’t relate to it at all!) I also think that Emory Cohen was very good, he was like I imagine good Italian boys of that time to be. His character was deffo the best thing in film. Apart from costumes, I liked those!

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When I saw the first trailer for Brooklyn, I thought it would be totally my cup of tea and usually I like this kind of stuff but this time when I wasn’t bored I was frustrated of infuriated with Ronan’s character, Eilis. How annoyingly selfish a person can be? Gosh. Come on, girl! You have your whole life ahead of you and you just whine and whine and stay miserable. Plus the character is really bland. Not good entertainment.

What did I like? Well, it looks pretty, the colours are nice and like I mentioned, I liked the costumes and Emory Cohen. And Irish accents. And New York but I always like New York.

Rating: **½ (out of 5)

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New York by me back in 2009. 

February Films Watched

Update!

So, in February I watched following films:

  1. Enough Said (2013) ***
  2. The Martian (2015) ****
  3. The Voices (2014) **½
  4. The Riot Club (2014) ***
  5. About Time (2013) ***½
  6. The Joneses (2009) ***
  7. The Imitation Game (2014) ****½
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****
  9. Clueless (1995)
  10. Pride (2014) ***½
  11. Room (2015) ***½
  12. Brooklyn (2015) ***

Bones header

And five seasons of Bones. Yes, Bones is ruining my goal of watching 200 films this year like I decided in my 50/50 challenge this year. I also didn’t manage to read a book in February. I’m still in the beginning of one which is not very good and as an excuse, as I forecasted in my previous update from January, my life changed a bunch when I moved to northern Finland, Lapland, to work at a restaurant during the high tourism season. So, I’ve basically been working and sleeping and watching some Bones during few spare hours since the middle of February. david_duchovny_sexy

Looking that list, you can see I didn’t manage to watch any of the films on IMDb-list of Top-250 and the ones that I saw for the first time weren’t that good. They were OK but not great. The Imitation Game, though, was as good as it was a year ago.  And The Joneses was the best surprise of the month as I had never even heard of the film when we run into it while browsing Canal+ Go selection. It’s always nice to look David Duchovny.

Oh, I did spend hours for this list of possible future Oscar contenders, take a look! 😉