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Capsule Reviews: Movies (Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, etc.) Animation | Live-Action | My Reviews 07 JUN 2014

Elysium (2013)

Elysium is a 2013 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp (South African, woo-hoo!), and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat called Elysium. It explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, exploitation, the justice system, and class issues:

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief, and now a parolee, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company which supplies Elysian weaponry as well as the robots which police Earth. After being accidentally poisoned by a lethal dose of radiation, Max has only five days to live, and seeks help from a smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium.

Visually, Elysium delivers on all fronts, and in general, I have to say I enjoyed this film. The story is well implemented and paced, Matt Damon is fantastic as always, and although Sharlto Copley’s South African accent was a bit over the top, he made a great psychotic antagonist. It’s a heavy, but action-packed watch, and certainly a good follow-up to Blomkamp’s previous outing, namely District 9. (Essentially, if you liked District 9, you’ll probably like Elysium).

elysium movie matt damon sharlto copley

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. Matthew McConaughey stars as the real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, and distributed them to fellow sufferers by establishing the “Dallas Buyers Club” while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

First off, this really is a terrible movie. The guy is a dick from start to finish quite frankly, motivated entirely by profit and self preservation, and as such it makes it impossible to actually root for anything. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant in the role, but seriously, this story doesn’t really go anywhere and I genuinely struggled to bother watching it all the way through.

If these happenings were part of your reality at the time, then maybe this will appeal to you, but I certainly can’t say that I got anything out of the viewing. Neither did Chantelle for that matter.

dallas buyers club movie Matthew McConaughey

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller/horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities embodied by the new arrival Lily. Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.

This is not a movie that I would normally watch, but seeing as it was one that Chantelle wanted to see, I sat through it with her. To be honest, the dark tale is pretty okay most of the way through, and certainly does keep one interested from start to finish – but I have to say, it fell a little flat for me when Aronofsky took a couple of steps too far and incorporated the whole CG swan transformation sequences. This broke the story’s ‘reality’ for me just a little too much, and as such, I ended the film feeling a little disappointed and disillusioned with the tale as a whole.

Again, not my cup of tea, but for people who enjoy dark tales of the human condition, this probably hits all the right spots.

black swan movie natalie portman

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass 2 is a 2013 British-American superhero action comedy film based on the comic book of the same name and Hit-Girl, both by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., and is the sequel to the 2010 film Kick-Ass, as well as the second installment of the Kick-Ass film series. The film was written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloë Grace Moretz reprise their roles from the first film as Dave Lizewski, Chris D’Amico, and Mindy Macready respectively.

Dave Lizewski, bored after having retired from fighting crime as Kick-Ass, begins training with Mindy Macready to become a proper hero. Eventually he resumes his life as Kick-Ass, and joins the superhero team Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes. At the same time, after accidentally killing his mother, Chris D’Amico is now in control of his family’s money, and reinvents himself as supervillain The Motherfucker – and swearing vengeance on Kick-Ass, the two groups head straight for a very bloody confrontation!

Um, yeah, I have to say, I found this a pretty boring outing. Jim Carrey blew me away in his role as Colonel Stars and Stripes (wasn’t expecting that!), and it was nice seeing Turk from Scrubs (Donald Faison) getting some screen time again, but outside of that, this movie was a bit of a chore to sit through. Over the top, violence for the sake of violence, gross out bits, and really just a bit… juvenile, I strongly suspect that I definitely was not the target market for this one. Though to be honest, I’m not exactly sure who is.

kick-ass 2 movie hit girl jim carrey

Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion is a 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski’s Radical Comics-edited unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film was co-written, produced and directed by Kosinski. It stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko.

In 2077, the Earth has been ravaged from war sixty years prior with the extraterrestrial Scavengers (Scavs); the war destroyed the Moon, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, while humanity used nuclear weapons to achieve a costly victory. Humanity is now relocating to Saturn’s moon Titan via the “Tet”, a large tetrahedron-shaped space station used as a launching point.

On Earth, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are two of the last few humans on Earth. Stationed at Tower 49 in what used to be northeastern United States, they are instructed by mission controller Sally (Melissa Leo) to protect from Scav attacks the gigantic offshore fusion energy generators, using a combination of Drones and Jack’s reconnaissance via his ship. Though both had memory wipes five years prior, Jack experiences visions of being on the observation deck of the Empire State Building well before the war – and images of a mysterious woman…

First up, I have to say that the visuals are absolutely stunning, and the cast are perfect, the action sequences great, and the story contains a well executed twist – in other words perfect Sci-Fi. But the pacing… not so much. Actually, I lay the blame squarely at the muddling and slow-paced soundtrack – M83, the band behind the music fails to generate the necessary musical temp to match the action-packed sequences, resulting in an almost boring, listless affair.

It’s a pity really, because everything else really appealed to me, and yet I ended the viewing feeling a little ‘meh’. So did Chantelle, so I know I’m not alone on this one either.

oblivion movie tom cruise and drone

Ultimate Fantastic Four: The Fantastic Comic Books | My Reviews 17 MAR 2010

The Fantastic – When ten-year-old scientific genius Reed Richards is chosen to be part of the United States top research and development programme, events are set in motion that will give birth to the world’s First Family of Superheroes!

Twenty-one years later Reed Richards leads a pioneering research team that includes Susan Storm, her hot-headed, younger brother Johnny and Reed’s oldest friend Ben Grimm, into the parallel dimension known as the N Zone. Disaster strikes however, during the teleportation experiment’s main test-run and a remarkable metamorphosis takes place, endowing the incredible quartet with fantastic powers: powers that draw them in conflict with the monstrous Mole Man!

Ultimate Fantastic Four: The Fantastic collects the first six issues of the popular Fantastic Four modernization series set in the Ultimate universe, written by acclaimed comic scribes Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar (who literally live worlds apart) and illustrated by the legendary Adam Kubert of the well known Kubert stable of pencillers.

Widely acknowledged as the first real superhero group, the Ultimate Fantastic Four updates the classic flying into space origin and instead replaces it with a secretive government-initiated parallel dimension teleportation experiment gone awry – resulting in the birth  of our four intrepid heroes, maintaining their original powers but making some significant changes in terms of age and personality to the four.

Of course what comes out of the six issues neatly bound to one another is pretty much the origin story, a little background history from each character, the initial awe and wonder at the new powers received and of course the obligatory first face-off – which just happens to be a particularly impressive lizard like monster that threatens all of Manhattan just by sneezing sort of thing.

It’s the classic tale revamped but with the new personality twists we get to see an awkward but intelligent Reed without his leadership abilities and a more direct and forceful Susan. Funnily enough though, despite their change in age, Johnny and the Thing pretty much stay as is, meaning that in the end there really wasn’t all that much that Millar and Bendis could throw at these two to initiate just that little bit of a change the Ultimate is so about.

In terms of writing, there is loads of depth in terms of story advancement and character building, but all beautifully wrapped up in some great dramatic moments tempered with a lot of humour and one liners, making it a great introduction for newcomers to the Fantastic Four lore but particularly satisfying to readers of old. These two widely differing in style writers have come together with a great collaboration that reads easily and well, maintains much of what makes Fantastic Four the Fantastic Four, but at the same time through a new slant on the story that is quite enjoyable to work through.

In terms of artwork, Ultimate Fantastic Four really shines brightly thanks to Kubert’s wildly energetic and detailed pencils, which he combines with some awesome and often quite exaggerated facial expressions that makes for a slick read. He nails the humorous moments right on the head and captures the intense action to great affect, making the Ultimate Fantastic Four quite the visual experience.

In addition to Adam’s great pencils, mention must be made of Danny Miki and John Dell’s great inks that do wonders to give that extra depth but maintain the crisp sharpness of the visuals, and paired up with Dave Steward’s great colouring palette, we’re let with a simply sublime looking product.

In summary, there really isn’t much not to like about this first collection of the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic series. Great writing with a modern twist on a classic storyline, good characters to relate to and some beautiful visuals, this is definitely one of those comic events well worth picking up – especially if you already fall well within the classic Fantastic Four fandom! :)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Fantastic_Four