Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Micro Reviews

I promised I would return to reviewing films this week, and true to my word I've got a bundle for you. I've mentioned before that finding the time to write a lengthy review for each film that I want to is quite hard while juggling Uni work, so this is my solution: Micro Reviews.

Lately I've been watching more films than is healthy for any one person, and so whenever I watch one from now I will put together a paragraph summary of my opinions and rating to post up here in bundles every few weeks. I'll still be posting full reviews, just not as regularly as I would like, and so this is my happy medium between the ideal amount of posts I'd like to put up and the non-existent amount that I've been putting up lately.

So here are the first six. Let me know what you think of the films and if you agree or disagree with my reviews.

V For Vendetta 
James McTeigue // 2005 // 15 // 132 mins

Adorned in a cape and a Guy Fawkes mask Hugo Weaving's V uses theatrics, murder plots and an endless supply of fireworks to help empower the repressed people of a dystopian Britain. The lead performances are both incredible, as Weaving charms, entertains and intrigues the audience without ever showing his face and Natalie Portman fearlessly portrays the vulnerability and drive of V's young ingenue Evey. The action choreography is relatively simple, but always effective and exciting to watch while the narrative is consistently engaging. Visually the film honours it's graphic novel roots with often stunning uses of lighting, cinematography and editing, and contains one of the most incredible montage sequences on film, ...ever.

Nosferatu the Vampyre
Werner Herzog // 1979 // 15 // 107 mins

Herzog's update of Murnau's 1922 classic silent horror film is a nice addition to the Dracula film catalogue but lacks some of the atmosphere the original had in abundance. The pacing is extremely slow and for this the film is probably about 20 minutes longer than it should be. As the title character Klaus Kinski is the clear standout of this adaptation, somehow making Count Dracula even more terrifying, his physicality and overall performance making familiar scenes appear fresh. The sequences that take place at the Count's Transylvanian home are the most effective and engaging of this adaptation, but as a whole is an atmospheric and successful portrayal of a somewhat tired story with decent performances and solid direction.

Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino // 2012 // 18 // 165 mins

Tarantino's latest is as bloody, stylish and satirical as expected but suffers from a drawn-out runtime and an over-abundance of style over substance syndrome. Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave who teams up with the German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) that frees him to find his lost bride. Every one of the lead and supporting performances are solid, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson dominating the films latter half. The writing and comedy is particularly solid, containing countless one liners and laugh out loud moments, but the overall plot is far too stretched out and becomes tedious in it's length. Tarantino's cameo is the weakest link of the film, coming across as an unnecessary ego boost for the director which is far too long. The soundtrack is particularly successful and fitting, but unfortunately the tracks are made a spectacle of in their own individual scenes that serve no real purpose, rather than being used over actual narrative scenes. It's a fun ride that just drags itself out a bit too much and suffers from Tarantino repeatedly showing off.

Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola // 2006 // 12A // 123 mins

Kirsten Dunst adorns the oversized, powdered hair of the infamous French monarch in Sofia Coppola's stunning historical teen-movie. The film is a visual explosion, with costumes, sets and even food all becoming a treat for the eyes. While none of the performances are overly impressive they are all extremely entertaining. Dunst in particular is charming and endearing in the lead role, and Rose Byrne provides great comic relief at numerous points throughout the film. The narrative covers the majority of her reign as the Queen of France, humorously observing the behaviour and traditions of the time, but never dwells on the historical events surrounding the character that is being studied. While the film fails to explore such issues, it never shows any intention too and could be seen as intentionally focusing only on the frivolity and superficiality that the the monarch has come to be criticised for.

Premium Rush
David Koepp // 2012 // 12A // 91 mins           

Wiley (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bike messenger in Manhattan. Making deliveries with tight deadlines he rides the busy streets of the city without brakes or gears, but when he collects an envelope from the roommate of his ex-girlfriend he attracts the attention of a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is as charming as ever but is restricted by a cookie-cutter character who is never really explored in any depth, while Shannon gives a cringe-worthy pantomime villain performance that does nothing to excel an extremely one-note character. The plot concept is fairly original and the non-linear timeline works well, but sequences that mirror the visuals of a sat-nav are ineffective and often (ironically) disorientating, while glimpses into Wiley's mind, showing the multiple outcomes of the routes he can take, become increasingly ridiculous and laughable. The emotional central story of the film does carry some weight towards the climax, but Jamie Chung's incredibly weak performance undermines any impact this story could have throughout the preceding 70 minutes.

The Grey
Joe Carnahan // 2011 // 15 // 117 mins

When a plane transporting a group of oil workers from Alaska crashes in the vast snow-coated landscape, Liam Neeson takes responsibility for keeping the group of surviving men alive whilst they are hunted by a pack of vicious wolves. With a slow burning plot and washed out cinematography the film excels in portraying the bleak situation the men have found themselves in as they repeatedly fall victim to both the wild animals and the extreme climate. Neeson is fantastic in the lead role and displays the vulnerability and survival instincts of the character with ease, with each of the supporting performances brilliantly complimenting his. The use of a minor intercut backstory for Neeson's character is well utilised and engages the viewer with an alternative interpretation of the characters actions throughout the narrative. 


  1. I completely agree with your review of Django Unchained. Very enjoyable but he needs to learn to reign in his bravado a little. I grew a little tired in the long scenes at Candy Land.

    1. Thankyou. Yes he really does need to learn to tone himself down a little, the film felt so much longer than it should have which ruins the experience. By the time it came to his cameo it was just too much and I became irritated.

      It's a shame when everything else about it was so enjoyable.