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Hello, it’s that guest post time of the month again! This time I’m bringing you a review of Knight and Day, a comedy action film first released in 2010. When I think about it, it’s quite strange of me to watch this film. I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise (although he does occasionally do some really great movies) and usually when I see Cameron Diaz I run in the other direction, expecting a whiny female portrayal somewhat similar to Jennifer Aniston. However, I’m really glad I decided to give it a go.

The Plot
June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is walking through the airport intending to head to Boston for her sisters wedding when Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) bumps into her. They exchange pleasantries and go their own way. However as ‘fate’ would have it, they end up on the same plane, which is suspiciously empty. They flirt with each other, and June departs for the rest room to freshen up. Meanwhile Miller is attacked by everyone on board. He skillfully dispatches them and when June returns he calmly tells her he has killed them. She thinks he is joking until he informs her that he must now pop into the cockpit, to work out how to land the plane (having killed the pilot). As the plane swerves dangerously the bodies fall into the isle making June realize he’s serious. Chaos ensues and they make a crash landing. She discovers that Miller is a spy on the run – although she does not know why. As she searches for answers Miller informs her that he has drugged her. She passes out, and he sends her back to her normal life.
However soon after waking up, she finds herself being pursued by persistent officials in suits. Miller comes to her rescue and they go on the run.

The Verdict
To make it clear, this is not a Bourne Identity type of film. I see it as more of a subtle parody of spy films (I’m not sure if this was the aim, or if it’s simply my interpretation of it) but I personally think it worked very well. I know that the film has received mixed reviews from critics and move-goers alike but I suspect that’s because comedy is subjective. I felt that this film was just right. It was funny without going overboard. It was compelling enough to keep you watching, and it was character based enough for you to become invested. I was actually surprised as the film went on that the plot did have a reasonable amount of depth, something I wasn’t expecting for such a lightweight watch.

There was nothing particularly memorable about the cinematography, as there rarely is in this kind of film, but there was certainly nothing bad about it either. The shots are perfectly framed and the scenes are set up well for maximum comedic effect. CGI is also sprinkled throughout to cater to those that love their car chases and big explosions.

The acting was spot on. Tom Cruise’s well timed facial expressions and seriousness juxtaposed with how absolutely insane he looked makes for some funny scenes. Marc Blucas who plays June’s firefighting ex boyfriend does this equally well, rewarding us with some great chuckles. Cameron Diaz also holds her own. Although she is not as comedically gifted, she manages to straddle the fragile line of being a heroine in distress without coming across as utterly pathetic.

To summarize I think this is an entertaining, lightweight film, as long as you recognize it for what it is. I think a lot of people might have gone to the theatre expecting a more Bourne or Salt-esk spy film, but Knight and Day is much more about the comedy than the complex. It’s lightweight, it’s clichéd, but at the end of the day, that’s why it works.

I give this film 4/5

You can check out the trailer below:

– Becky (Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic)

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Who are the real heroes of today? I found myself trying to answer this questions after noticing how often heroism is being mentioned in the media, either in books or movies. A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Chronicle, a movie about three friends who get super powers after they discover some kind of crystals underground. Instead of fighting evil and dedicating their powers for greater good, the teenagers use their powers to play pranks, have fun and gain popularity. I found the movie to be realistic because, although we might want to believe otherwise, most teenagers will not fight evil.

*Spoiler Alert*

Now, picture this: you’re verbally and physically abused by your father, a person you used to look up to, your mother is dying and you barely have money to get her the medication. That’s as bad as it gets, right? Well, think again! You’re also bullied and have no friends. The only person that you talk to is your cousin, who barely tolerates you. That’s the life of one of the characters, Andrew. Andrew gains two friends after they stumble upon the crystals, he finally gets a glimpse of how a teenager should really live. Andrew soon finds out that even if he thought it would last, the moment would pass; things soon take a turn to the worse and one of them end up dead. Andrew crawls back into his isolated life, getting increasingly angry at society and the world. The day Andrew has to steal money to get his mother her medication and have her die anyways marks his breaking point. Andrew sets off to take his revenge, sabotaging the city and possibly killing innocent by-passers.

Andrew’s revenge is what got me thinking; can we really see him as a villain? Things aren’t just black and white when it comes to this case. Does the abuse and ignorance justify Andrew’s actions? Does he deserve it all? I felt sympathetic towards him and thought that everything could have been prevented if people paid attention to the needs of a mentally conflicted teenager. Andrew was a victim of society and in my opinion, he can be considered a hero for staying strong, although he broke towards the end.

The movie’s tag-line also caught my attention: “Not all heroes are super”. This struck me as odd since the movie apparently shows that not all people with super powers are heroes, but it depends on your definition of hero. Most people would probably believe Andrew is as far from a hero as can be, so he is super but not necessarily a hero. So, it seems that the tag-line is reversed, it should probably be “Not all supers are heroes”, right?

Has any of you watched the movie? If so, what did you think of it? I personally loved it; I would give it a 4 out of five. Who do you think are the real heroes of today? John Green reveals an interesting idea in his new book, The Fault in our Stars; “The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention.”. You can always count on John Green to come up with thoughtful ideas that leave you with your mouth hanging open! Although his idea baffled me at first, I found myself agreeing with him; acts don’t really matter unless they benefit people and in order to do what’s good for the universe, you need to notice what the universe needs. So, tell me what you think.

DFTBA,

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Hello all 🙂 Guest blogger Becky here. I hope you’ve all been good. This month I am pleased to be presenting to you a review of the film Hanna, directed by Joe Wright, rated 12 (although I have to say, a chilling 12).

Plot
At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Hanna, (Saoirse Ronan) a young girl living in the wilderness with her father (Eric Bana). Since a young age she has been trained and conditioned to be an assassin; with one target it mind (Cate Blanchett). Because of this, she has no contact with the outside world, and therefore cannot comprehend simple everyday things that we take for granted such as music. Her only source of media is the book of Grimm Fairytales. Her father continues to test her until one day she insists she is ready. So the plan is set in motion, and Hanna is released into the outside world with nothing but her training and a few memorized back stories to guide her. While being pursued and trying to carry out her mission, Hanna begins to discover the wonders of the outside world, tagging along with a holidaying British family. It is not long before she begins to question all that she has been taught, and whether her mission is really worth it.

The Verdict
When the film first started I wasn’t too sure what to make of it. The whole premise seemed quite strange; a 16 year old assassin. Not something you come across everyday. The pace started off very slowly with Hanna being trained in the woods by her father, however, this is one of those stories that the longer you watch it the more the plot is unraveled, and it slowly gains in both pace and intensity. Before you know it you’ll be grabbing the edge of your seat, desperate to see what happens next.
The cinematography in this film is fantastic! It ranges from extremely long and complex tracking shots in which the character weaves in and out of other actions going on in the scene, to extreme close-ups that help create both an intimate and unsettling feel. It also makes use of one of my personal favorites, lens flare. There are some stunning scenes using this when Hanna and the British family are travelling in the caravan. Hanna also uses the perfect combination of awkward, and unusual angles to make the audience aware something is not quite right, but not to excess so that it becomes annoying.


The acting is also to a very high standard, but with a cast this great, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Saoirse Ronan (also known for her roles in Pride & Prejudice, The Lovely Bones, and the upcoming release The Host) gives a beautiful and realistic performance as always. In the film she was required to take on reasonably thick accent, and it looks effortless and totally natural. Her portrayal of Hanna’s innocence and confusion is also very believable. Her co-star Cate Blanchett (known for roles in The Lord of the Rings, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Elizabeth) is equally excellent, and pulls off the creepy and disconcerting role of Marissa really well.
The character development however, I feel is the strongest element in this film. On the one hand you have this vicious, lethal, girl trained to kill, but on the other hand you have this childish innocence and naivety that makes for a really intriguing and compelling character. I especially loved the element of ‘girl power’. It was so refreshing to see a female taking the upper hand, and in a way that was actually believable. The fact that the ‘villain’ of the film is also female, reinforces the fact that this is a very ‘girl power’ oriented film.

Overall I would say this is a very solid, and well rounded movie and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys thrillers and conspiracy theories that is a mature 12 or upwards.

My Rating: 4/5

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you wish to discuss the film, want to know more about it, or even just want to stop by and say hi 🙂

You can watch the trailer for Hanna below:

So, see ya next month! 🙂

– Becky (Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic)

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[Highlight any empty spaces to read the text, which is hidden because of spoilers!]

Did I ever mention how much I love David Fincher? The guy’s is genius! With movies like Fight Club, Se7en and The Social Network, he could very well be one of the best directors of the century. Fincher added his dark touch to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it worked; the movie is beautifully directed and the opening scene is breathtaking. The opening sequence isn’t only visually stunning, it also indirectly refers to many of the book’s/movie’s themes and the music is just creepy and perfect for the movie.

The book-to-movie adaptation tells the story of a woman in her early twenties, declared incompetent by the court after a mysterious, tough childhood. Being a first class hacker, Lisbeth can find all kinds of information about anyone and anything. She works as a researcher for Milton Security and end up helping a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, catch a rapist murderer.

The movie stayed somewhat faithful to the book. A few minor details were changed; Mikael does not serve a prison sentence, the fact that Mikael’s father worked for the Vangers and lived on the island is not mentioned, Mikael’s and Cecilia’s romantic relationship doesn’t happen in the movie, Lisbeth’s mother is never mentioned and Lisbeth doesn’t think that Palmgren (her previous guardian) is dead, instead she visits him regularly. Lisbeth tells Mikael that she has been declared mentally incompetent and that she tried to kill her father, although he sort of figures that out himself in the second book. The biggest change is the ending; instead of moving  to Australia and starting a family, Harriet is living under Anita’s identity after Anita’s passing.

Rooney Mara is how I imagined Lisbeth Salander to look and be like, just maybe a bit tougher. Mara’s performance is amazing and believable, she deserves the Oscar nomination and I’m rooting for her.  Honestly, when I first heard that Mikael will be played be Daniel Craig, I wasn’t that thrilled; Blomkvist is nothing like bond, he’s smart and quick-witted, yet sort of weak and sensitive. He’s also a journalist, not the world’s favorite spy. I realized I was wrong from the first scene, Daniel Craig made a great Blomkvist, his performance wasn’t as good as Mara’s but I can’t deny his awesomeness! I also liked the movie’s Bjurman, played by Yorick van Wageningen. In fact, the only character I didn’t like was Erika, played by Robin Wright. Robin Wright is a great actress, yet Erika didn’t seem real, she wasn’t spontaneous or friendly or anything other than fake for some reason.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is banned from Jordanian theaters, so I had to get it on DVD. I now understand why the movie was banned, I’m not really that bothered by such scenes (sex, rape..etc), but it’s not something I’d like to watch either. I had to fast-forward/skip some scenes, but these scenes shouldn’t stop anyone from watching the movie because they deliver a message or a cause. You know, like abuse (mostly sexual) and men who hate women… Something along those lines.

So… A great movie, adapted from an even better book. See the movie if you haven’t and read the trilogy if you didn’t!

 

DFTBA,

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Hello readers! 🙂 If your looking at this right now you should know that you are witnessing a historic event. Why? Because this is my first ever guest post! I would like to thank the lovely Dania for inviting me into her own personal blogging space. I am aiming to post regularly around once a month, as a guest contributor. My posts will probably revolve around film, TV and anything else I feel may interest you guys 🙂 You can find my official blog here.
So lets get started shall we?

I was sitting on my sofa earlier this week watching the film Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides, A film I should have been enjoying. But instead, my thoughts were wandering off until I found myself staring at my living room wall. Why you ask? Because it lacked a meaty storyline.

CGI, (also known as Computer Generated Imagery) has become increasingly common in blockbuster films. It was invented in the 20th century but our increasing knowledge of technology in the last 50 years has led to the quality of computer graphics increasing dramatically. A great example is a scene at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince where the entirety of London’s streets and the Millennium Bridge have all been recreated using CGI. The scene can be found below:

Now when viewers stumble excitedly out of the cinema conversations automatically turn to CGI:“Did you see that car blow up? It was amazing!”
“The way they created that dragon…wow, it looked so lifelike!”
“That Beowulf animation was like watching real people!”

It is safe to say that we, as viewers put huge stock in the quality of CGI in our films, and with the new found popularity of 3D cinema, and retailers attempting to find a way to reinvent the experience for home viewing, our obsession with CGI has been taken to a whole new level. Even I have found myself caught up in it, praising the way backdrops have been constructed, or in contrast, complaining about how horrifyingly awful the CGI was, for example when Edward attempts to run with Bella on his back in Twilight.
CGI, can make or break a film.
But my concern is that sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing.
I am all for CGI, but not at the cost of an intelligent and intriguing plot line, and unfortunately lately I have been observing a negative correlation between CGI and a good plot.

Take the hugely popular film Avatar (2009) for example. Avatar is most commonly know for it’s use of CGI visual motion-capture that was specifically advertised as an amazing, revolutionary, 3D experience. Sitting in the cinema I was captivated by some of the scenes, due to both there complexity and detail. However as soon as the initial impact wore off, I found myself unfortunately, irrevocably bored. The plot was slow, un-stimulating and did nothing but regurgitate an already worn out plotline where humans are presented as the bad guys invading another land and terrorizing the population, which can be seen in countless films such as Pocahontas, Atlantis and King Kong to name but a few.

A second example is Sucker Punch (2011) a story about a group of girls that create their own fantasy world in order to shield themselves from the harsh reality they live in. As the trailer below shows, the CGI in it is pretty amazing, and manages to capture a dream-like oriental quality that is pretty darn breathtaking. However, once again when I was only half an hour into the film I felt increasingly bored. It was an interesting idea for a film, but it’s execution was far from satisfactory.

My final example for today is the film that prompted me to write this post, Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (2011) The Pirates of the Caribbean films are well know for their awesome stunts, unique sword fighting scenes, and their CGI. Although this installment contains less CGI than the previous films due to a smaller budget, it still remains a key element. It wasn’t terrible, and was entertaining in parts. But again I felt it lacked an interesting storyline, it was very one dimensional, and my overall impression of it wasn’t helped by Penelope Cruz’s role that consisted of her moaning, nagging, being bitter and vengeful, and basically being there simply for male eye candy; all female clichés that I hate/resent. But I digress…my point is that this film spends too much time trying to create visually appealing scenes with CGI backgrounds, which would be time much better spent on it’s weak storyline.

I know I personally would much rather watch a film with an intelligent plot such as The Social Network, or The Kings Speech, however, in an ideal world I would like a happy medium, such as Source Code and Fight Club, something that seems difficult to come by these days.

So which is more important to you? If you had to choose, would you pick a visually appealing CGI film or a possibly dry, but intelligent plot focusing largely on the actors? Let me know! 🙂

– Becky, Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic

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I watched a lot of movies this year, some were good and others were bad (seriously bad). looking over all the movies I watched since the beginning  of this year I wondered if there was enough of the good movies to fill a top-ten list, the fact that that thought crossed my mind made me realize that 2011 was a  bad year for cinema. Yet, when I went through top ten lists put together by critics and other bloggers I also realized that I watched the wrong movies all year long. I blame Jordan… Yes, I blame my country for the fact that I watched relatively bad movies all year long. Why? I’m going to try not to rant too much about it and keep it brief. The good movies were never even released here! The movie theaters around Jordan had a few problems this year; Hollywood refused to do business with any of the theaters as long as the government keeps imposing high customs on all movies. So, no new movies were released all summer and when they finally released new movies, they were movies like Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Anyhow, I decided to make a list of the best movies I watched of 2011.

1. Source Code

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the lead in Source Code, a sci-fi thriller that tells the story of a soldier that wakes up in another man’s body on a train that explodes eight minutes later. The soldier then finds out that he was inserted into one of the passengers memories; the last 8 minutes of people’s life is forever stored in your brain, to find out who bombed the train. Source Code is a clever movie that succeeds in combining the elements of sci-fi movies with the elements of emotional dramas.

2. Unknown

Unknown is a fast-paced thriller, the kind that keeps on the edge of your seat, counting the seconds to the next move. The movie tells the story of a man that wakes up after a car crash to discover that someone has stolen his identity. To make it all worse, no one believes him, not even his wife. He sets off with the cab driver responsible for the crash to prove who he really is. What I like best about this movies is that it gets you thinking and still catches you off guard.

3. Fast Five

Although The Fast and the Furious franchise is not considered to feature the best movies or acting, I have always liked it (except Tokyo Drift, that one really did suck!). In the fifth movie, the series takes on a new angle; instead of two hours of relatively mindless street racing, Fast Five is more of a heist film. The gang plans to ‘steal’ the fortune of a corrupt businessman. Best Fast and the Furious movie, hands down.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II

2011 marks the end of an era, the end of a franchise that we grew up with; the final Harry Potter movie was released this past July. I must say: describing the Harry Potter finale as epic is an understatement. I’m a big fan of the franchise and I believe it ended rather well.

5. The Rite

Anthony Hopkins is one of the few actors that I’d watch every movie they star in, whatever it was. Usually, I don’t watch exorcism movies but I watched The Rite because I’m a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins. The Rite follows a priest who travels to Italy to go to ‘exorcism school’. Anthony Hopkins has always succeeded in creeping me out and The Rite is no exception; the movie definitely proves that Paranormal Activity is fun and games.

6. Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol is an action-packed sequel to the well-known franchise, filled with breathtaking stunts and never-ending action, the movie can be considered the best of the franchise. Read my review here.

7. Limitless

Limitless tells the story of a writer struggling with a severe case of writer’s block. His Problem is solved when his ex-wife’s brother offers him a drug that enables him to use  his whole brain, that’s awesome since humans can only use 8% of their brain at a time. With the ability to observe everything around him and remember every single thing he sees, Eddie sets off to achieve his dreams. Limitless takes it’s viewers on a journey that doesn’t disappoint, although it ends poorly.

8. Final Destination 5

Final Destination 5 has as much blood and gore as any of the other FD movies, only in 3D, just the way I like it! I don’t know why but I find it hilarious when some one’s intestines burst, or when their eye falls out. If you happen to feel the same way, the movie is hilarious! The fifth installment of the franchise has an actual plot, which makes way more enjoyable. It’s a suspenseful movie that I believe can (hopefully) bring the series back to life.

9. Fright Night

Fright Night is a remake of the 1985 vampire movie of the same name, I haven’t watched the original but I know for fact that the remake is a success (at least by my standards). Fright Night is about a boy who finds out that his (incredibly good-looking) weird neighbor is actually a vampire that feeds on the residents of the small neighborhood on the outskirts of Vegas. Fright Night combines humor and suspense, creating a mix that leaves the viewer satisfied. The movie also has a great soundtrack and is starring Colin Farrell (Love him!).

10. Thor

The comic book film, Thor, follows the rise of the legendary warrior/demigod of Norse mythology. Thor is starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman; good acting and a terrific story. This movie was made to be one of the best movies of 2011.

Movies that would probably have been included in this list, if I had watched them:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsThe Girl with the Dragon TattooDriveThe Ides of March, The Tree of Life,
Captain AmericaContagion.

 

I found this video on YouTube, it’s a mash-up of  2011’s  popular movies. It’s called: 2011: The Cinescape and it’s awesome, so I thought I’d share it.

Happy New Year!

DFTBA,

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From Moscow to Dubai and India, Mission: Impossible takes its viewers on a wild ride! I’m a big fan of Tom Cruise, so, naturally, I was looking forward to watching another Mission: Impossible sequel. And I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.

Who would want to miss two hours of this?!

The action kicks off from the very beginning; the “bad guy” obtains codes that can launch Russian nuclear heads/rockets, and the Kremlin in Moscow is bombed and the IMF are framed for it. Consequently, The president launches Operation Ghost Protocol; The IMF is shut down; Ethan and his team, consisting of Agent Dunn, Agent Carter and Brandt- the chief analyst, are left to their own devices. With no plan, no backup and no choice, the team’s mission is to catch the “bad guy”, stop him from destroying the world and clearing their organisation’s name.

First things first, the stunts are amazing! The stunts were breathtaking; everything felt real and terrifying, Ethan climbs the world’s tallest tower (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa) and almost falls… TWICE. The whole movie was action-packed, it kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting for the action to slow down, just for a while, so I could get a toilet break (didn’t happen though,I  had to miss a couple of minutes).

Nerve-breaking!

The characters are pretty likable. Simon Pegg was awesome as Benji (Agent Dunn), which I found humorous and a bit awkward. While Jeremy Runner played William Brandt, the IMF’s chief analyst, a smart and slightly cowardly member of Hunt’s team. I liked Paula Patton as agent Jane Carter best as she plays a vital role in the movie and presents a strong female figure. Jane’s need to avenge a colleague’s, and probable love interest, murder seems to keep her going.

Love her dress!

I found the plot to be pretty solid. It involved almost everything from the authorities to hit men (more like woman) that receive payment in diamonds. The only negative comment I can make is that the plot was sort of clichéd; the hero, the villain, his sidekick and the government agent pursuing the wrong guy.

All in all, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol is an action-packed movie that I believe brought the franchise back to life! Don’t miss it!

 

DFTBA,

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