Review: Son of Rambow

March 28th, 2008

I’ll dive right in by saying that so far this is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Now I know 2008 is far from over, but I have a feeling that by the end of this year Son of Rambow will still be in my Top 10.

Set in the early 1980’s in England, Will Proudfoot is part of the Brethren religion and has been kept away from watching movies, listening to music and making friends with outsiders. After seeing a bootleg version of Rambo (First Blood) at school terror Lee Carter’s house though, Will is completely blown away and Lee gets him involved into making a sort of sweded version of the movie. Add a busload of French exchange students, a flying dog and an evil scarecrow and you have a pretty damn amazing film.

Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow is the movie I was hoping Be Kind, Rewind would be (yeah, I didn’t like BKR, if enough people want, I’ll write a review). The sweding is great, but there is more to the movie than only those parts. The story is so sweet and there are a couple of brilliant moving scenes. It’s also full of funny moments; I was giggling throughout the entire film.

Will and Lee are superbly portrayed by newbies Bill Miller and Will Poulter. I was surprised to see that both of them haven’t been in that many other films (Poulter in none actually), but I’m guessing that after this films is released that’s going to change. I also loved Will’s innocence. Especially at the start of the movie there are things that he’s doing that at first glance you just don’t understand. Then when you find out, you just can’t help but find it cute.

Lee Carter and Will Proudfoot

I also have to give a special mention to the visual effects and sound effects. There aren’t that many (it’s not that type of movie), but when they are used it works so well. For instance, at the start of the movie a group of kids run by, but from the sound of it they seem more like a giant stampede. Then next to that Will’s daydreaming is brought to life in a very unique type of way (I won’t explain how otherwise I’ll ruin it).

This is a definite must-see cinema movie. In contrary to most other movies, Son of Rambow is worth every penny and you’ll come out of the cinema with a smile on your face. By the way, stay seated till after the credits. There’s a little extra you won’t want to miss.

[rating: 4.5/5]

Review: The Bank Job

February 12th, 2008

Yesterday I got to go to a free screening of The Bank Job. Here’s my review:

The Plot

What in heavens would a movie called The Bank Job ever be about? Seriously, though, the answer is not a simple “a bank job”. The movie is set in 1971 and is based on a true unsolved bank robbery of a bank in Marylebone, London (I have no idea which elements of the plot are true). Jason Statham plays small-time criminal/mechanic Terry Leather who receives a proposition from former flame Martine (Saffron Burrows) of a “simple” bank job, targeting a roomful of safe deposit boxes. Terry agrees and puts together a crew of friends, all amateurs, to rob the bank. What Terry and his crew don’t know though is that the boxes contain all types of secrets. Martine is secretly working for a MI:5/6 faction, desperate to get their hands on the content of one of the boxes: compromising photos of a certain Royal, that are being used by black activist Michael X to get out of being prosecuted. Besides that, there are other people who don’t want the contents of their boxes to see the light of day and before Terry knows it, he’s in deep trouble.

The Bank Job - Poster

The Good and The Bad

The main problem I have with this movie is that it lacks tension and suspense. The movie tries to give a historical account of the bank robbery and reveals everything from the start. Even before Terry gets the proposal of the bank robbery, the viewer knows everything about the compromising photos; who they are from, what they are being used for, who wants them and that Martine is supposed to get them. There are no twists and turns whatsoever and everything that happens in the movie is fairly predictable. The writers could have easily made it a bit more exciting: why did we as the viewer have to know what Martine was up to from the start? Why did we have to know from the beginning what was in the boxes? It would have worked so much better if the viewer found out each thing at the same time as Terry, adding a whole lot more surprised to the story.

The Bank Job 1

The pacing of the movie is also slightly off. After a perfect introduction of all the players and the plot (not confusing, structured and to the point), the film continues to show how they rob the bank for about 30-40 minutes with not much exciting happening during that time. It finally picks up some pace once they open the safety deposit boxes, but the film still feels at least 20 minutes too long.

For those of you expecting some cool action movie, I’m warning you it isn’t. You won’t find any gun fights, car chases or explosions in this movie. It’s meant as a thriller and as I said before, it even fails in this aspect.

What I did love of The Bank Job was the look and feel to it. The clothes, the hairdos, the furniture; it captures the vibe of that era perfectly. I also liked trying to recognize which parts where actually filmed on location. There are a couple of scenes at underground stations (Tottenham Court Road, Edgeware Road, Baker Street) and at Paddington Station and now and then I was going: “Hey, I know that place”.

The Bank Job 2

The Verdict

The Bank Job left me a bit disappointed. It’s an okay movie, but there was so much potential in it to be a whole lot greater. The story of the bank robbery is intriguing and the film just doesn’t do that story justice. Instead of a riveting suspense movie, we get a solemn account of the events. My tip: wait for the dvd; it’s not worth going to the cinema for.


Review: Definitely, Maybe

February 9th, 2008

Last Wednesday, I got the chance to see a screening of Definitely, Maybe, the new movie from the makers of Notting Hill and Love, Actually.

The Plot

Ryan Reynolds plays the Manhattan advertiser Will Hayes who is about to get divorced and his daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), wants to hear the story of how he and her mother ended up together. He agrees to tell her the whole story, but changes the names, so that she (and the viewers) will have to keep on guessing which woman Will eventually marries. The story flashes back to 1992 when Will moves to New York for two months to work on the presidential campaign for Bill Clinton. Over the course of the next 16 years, Will has to deal with his relationships with three different woman, but which of these is Maya’s mother? Is it Emily (Elizabeth Banks), Will’s college sweetheart, who’s struggling with their long-distance relationship? Or is it April (Isla Fisher), the quirky copy machine girl? Or is it Summer (Rachel Weisz), the outspoken journalist and childhood friend of Emily?

Definitely Maybe Poster

The Good and The Bad

This is not your typical romantic comedy, where boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl and they end up happily ever after. And that’s a good thing. In contrast to other movies, Definitely, Maybe keeps the viewer guessing on who Will will end up with and it is not until the end of the movie that you finally find out. This takes away the whole problem of predicability that most romantic comedies suffer from.

Ryan Reynolds sets down a likable character and he has a great chemistry with each of his female leads. His character grows in the 16 years that we see him and Reynolds achieves portraying the right transformation. There’s really a difference between the 1992 “Will” and the current day “Will”. Abigail Breslin is sweet as his questioning, smart-alecky 10 year old daughter, although I know there are people who are going to find her annoying.

Definitely Maybe - Will and Maya

The three love-interests are perfectly cast. I love that Elizabeth Banks is getting larger movie roles. She was great in Scrubs and in this film she excels in bringing the girl-next-door Emily to life. I’m looking forward to see her Zack and Miri Make A Porno. I hadn’t seen Isla Fisher before, but I had heard a lot of raving reviews about her previous performances. Now I understand why. Her character is so fun and spontaneous, but at the same time quite vulnerable. Rachel Weisz never fails to amaze me, again pulling off a completely different character than in her previous films.

While the guessing game keeps the movie unpredictable and original, it also makes it a bit confusing. With there being different girlfriends, which couple are you supposed to root for? It saves itself a bit by having three likable actresses. Each character has endearing qualities and at a certain point in the movie it didn’t matter for me anymore who Will ended up with.

Definitely Maybe - Will and Summer

This film may be a romantic comedy, but don’t expect romance and comedy every step of the way. Will has three different girlfriends and you know from the start he’ll only end with one, so be prepared for at least some heartache and heartbreak.

The Verdict

This is a sweet romantic story of how a man deals with his various relationships and eventually finds love. If you don’t like romantic comedies, this isn’t going to change your mind, but it exceeds the standard chick flick productions. Definitely, Maybe is perfect as a date movie and I am sure it is going to be a big Valentine’s Day success.


Review: Stardust

October 16th, 2007

I’ve just gotten back from a screening of Stardust and to summarize it in one word: brilliant. I read the book (by Neil Gaiman) a couple of months ago and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed. The movie, however, took all the elements that did work in the book, altered the story line into something more fit for screen and added some fantastic features. I think this might actually be the first time I like the movie much more than the book. In terms of style, it certainly belongs up there with Labyrinth, The Princess Bride and The Never-Ending Story, but what I love from this movie is that it isn’t a kids movie. Yes, kids will enjoy it, but it’s not purely aimed at them. It’s first and foremost a fairy tale, albeit a very funny one.


The Plot

The movie is set 150 years ago in the small English town Wall, named after the nearby wall guarding the way to the magical kingdom of Stormhold. Our protagonist is Tristan Thorpe (Charlie Cox), a young man from Wall, with an unrequited love for the pretty but cold Victoria (Sienna Miller). While seeing a shooting star fall down to earth, Tristan promises to go beyond the wall and retrieve it to prove his love to her. He finds the star, only to discover it is a beautiful, shining girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes), knocked out of the sky by a jewel. This jewel is the dying king’s solution to the succession to the throne of Stormhold; whichever of his sons reclaims the jewel and survives the assassination attempts of the others, inherits the throne. From the seven sons (all aptly named Primus, Secundus and so on to Septimus) only three still are alive; the rest, having been assassinated by their brothers, are overlooking the whole debacle as ghosts stuck in the form they died in (axe in the head, etc). Next to that there’s also a witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her two sisters looking for the star to regain their youth, beauty and power by eating the star’s heart. While Tristan initially only wants to take Yvaine back to Wall to show to Victoria, he quickly takes on the role as her protector, slowly falling in love with her.


The Acting

Kudos to the casting crew; all the characters where perfectly cast. Charlie Cox was fantastic as the unworldly shop boy trying to find his place in the world. You could really see his transformation into a man unfold on the screen; although it was helped by the makeover and haircut halfway through the movie. I loved how they made Claire Danes literally glow of delight, matching her radiant personality. I was a bit annoyed that in the trailers and promotions it seems as if Ricky Gervais and Rupert Everett both have substantial parts, while they both only appear briefly. The most impressive performances though would have to be Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert de Niro. Pfeiffer is just perfect as the evil witch, slowly decaying from beautiful woman into ugly hag. And Robert de Niro? Superb as the ferocious Captain Shakespeare. This is just a performance you have to have seen to believe it. I won’t give anything away, but it’s unlike any de Niro you’ve seen before.

The Special Effects

I love it when the special effects don’t get in the way of the storytelling or when effects are added purely “because they are cool”. Here all effects were used to drive the plot, exactly fitting into the flow of the movie. In most fantasy films (yes, even Lord of The Rings) most effects look cheesy and you perceive them as cheesy. With Stardust there were also cheesy effects, but it somehow fit against the backdrop of the tale. There’s a great scene where Lamia turns a chariot into a giant inn with stables and everything, which just looks amazing.


The Action

No fairy tale is complete without a sword fight, and boy, does Stardust deliver. It has one of the most original sword fights I’ve seen in ages (The Pirates of The Caribbean Moonlight Dance remains the best), although it could have been a bit longer for my tastes. There are also some great magic battles, with the magic visualized as green flames/light. I’m still waiting for a movie where there’s no need to picture “magic” with pretty colours.


The Funny

This film wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t for the great comedy moments. My favourite bits included anything with Captain Shakespeare, but as I said before you’ll have to see that for yourself. The ghosts of the princes were also hilarious, giving great commentary during serious moments. The movie is full of little jokes, keeping the mood always light and simple. For instance, there’s a funny scene where the guard of the wall goes completely ninja on Tristan, doing spinning kicks and the like. That actor is 78! Another scene includes a mouse and they managed to get the cutest, sweetest mouse to pose all cute and sweet. I think it was a real mouse; if that was CGI I’m really impressed!



I loved this movie and it certainly has made its way into my favourite movies list. Although at first glance it may seem all fairy tale like and childish, it has some great action scenes and a lot of funny moments. A must see!

Last week I managed to get tickets to a free screening of Daywatch (Dnevnoy Dozor), the sequel to the Russian cult movie Nightwatch (Nochnoy Dozor). Both movies are based on the books by Sergei Lukyanenko and that was the main reason why I hadn’t seen the first film yet. If possible, I always like to read book adaptations, before seeing the film, because you’re otherwise stuck with the film version in your mind, every time you read the book. In most cases once I create my own interpretation of the book, it won’t be affected by watching the movie.

With Nightwatch and Daywatch, however, I still hadn’t taken the time to read the books and a part of me is still regretting that decision. The world and mythology of the series seem quite complex and I think you’ll only grasp the whole idea of that world if you read the books.


So, first up: Nightwatch. After watching it, I did a little googling and wikipediaing to find out there are actually 2 versions. You have the original and the international version, and there are quite some notable adjustments in the international one to make the story clearer for a foreign audience. I watched the original and I really understand why there was the need for an international cut. The version I saw was at times extremely confusing, moving from one storyline to another without any clear indication. There were also subplots that only added to the confusion and I was glad to hear they had been cut from the international adaption.


In the world of Nightwatch you have “Others”, humans with supernatural powers (mages, vampires, shape-shifters), living among us. Hundreds of years ago there was a great battle between the forces of Light (the Goodies) and the forces of Dark (the Baddies), that ended with both sides signing a truce. To keep a balance between Good and Evil, the forces of Light roam during the daytime and the forces of Dark during the nighttime. Both are regulated though by representatives of the other side: the Daywatch consists of Dark Others supervising the Day and the Nightwatch consists of Light Others supervising the night. The story is set in modern-day Moscow and follows Anton, a member of the Nightwatch, dealing with the problems that arise during a watch. I can’t say more without giving too much of the plot away, but that’s basically the gist of it.


I did like the movie, but as I said before it was sometimes too confusing. I regularly had moments that I was going: “Heh? Weren’t we watching another girl? When did it switch to this girl? And who’s that guy?” If you know me, I rarely loose track of the plot of a movie, but with this one I had quite some trouble. I’m hoping the international version handles it better, cause on all other fronts the movie was quite enjoyable. The actors were chosen well, the special effects were great and the atmosphere of the movie just oozed “weird”. There were a couple of great subtle effects, like this faint wisp of red mist forming when a vampire moved. I think this was one of the first movies that didn’t portray supernatural beings as just plain corny.


Next: Daywatch. I can’t say anything about the plot of this movie without giving everything of Nightwatch away. I’ll only say that it’s again about Anton (yes, he survives Nightwatch, if I’ve spoiled the movie for you, boohoo, get over it). The plot of the movie was much better to follow than it’s predecessor, but then this was the international version (I wonder if the original version of Daywatch is also hard to follow).

I loved the actors, music and special effects even more in Daywatch, but that could also be from seeing it in a cinema instead of on a small tv. The special effects used in the end sequence were just amazing. I hate it when effects are too overdone, when you can easily see that they’re not real. Here they seem quite subtle, but the effect is superb. There’s one scene with half a building in rubble and I wasn’t sure which part was real and which part CGI.


Extra kudos to the designers and artists behind the subtitles and yes, you read that right: designers and artists. The subtitles are unlike any I’ve seen before. There have been movies and tv-series that have a unique placement of the subtitles (Heroes) or show the subtitles in another colour (Kill Bill), but here the subtitles are very much a part of the whole experience. For starters, if there are two people on the screen, the subtitles will be placed under the person who it belongs to. Sometimes the words from one sentence wouldn’t appear all at the same time, but with some delay for extra effect. Another example is that words like dead or blood were coloured red. A more interesting instance was when one of the characters was drumming and one of the words in the subtitle was jumping up and down on the beat of the drum. All together, it gave a very unique experience to something as mundane as subtitles. Instead of only reading words, which sometimes causes you to miss the screen action, the subtitles are used to augment
what is seen and heard on the screen.


Both movies aren’t the typical Hollywood movie and they won’t be appreciated by every movie goer. The woman next to me, who was dragged along by her husband, actually said about halfway through the movie that she was bored! Well, I was many things during that movie, but I definitely wasn’t bored. For the guys reading this: in Daywatch there was this one shower scene kind of involving two woman and I don’t think I have to say more. There’s another great scene where a car is driven on to the side of a building (this sentence doesn’t even come close to describing what happened, you’ll just have to see it yourself).

If you like something different and are not scared off by foreign films, I really recommend this movie. This is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like vampire/werewolf/etc movies and weird stories, you’ve got to check this movie out.

Review: 3:10 To Yuma

September 13th, 2007

I just got back from a screening I was able to go to of the western 3:10 To Yuma with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. To be honest, it didn’t really look that interesting to me and I don’t think I would have gone if it hadn’t been for the free tickets. What convinced me to even show up today was the fact that Christian Bale is in it. Since seeing him in Equilibrium (which is actually on TV now as I write this), I’ve found that any film with him in it, is actually worth watching.

3:10 To Yuma

Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a rancher who is paid to help bring a captured outlaw, Ben Wade played by Russell Crowe, to a train leaving at 3:10 to Yuma, where he will be led to trial. Bale perfectly portrays Dan as a down-on-his-luck man who is desperate to do anything to sustain him and his family. He believes he has long failed and lost the respect of his wife and sons, which is why he decides to take on the offer of escorting Ben Wade to the train. Adding to that is Russell Crowe as the outlaw Ben Wade. This character could have been so one-sided and just plain mean and unlike-able, but Crowe manages to actually bring some more dimensionality into it. He isn’t really the completely bad-person that he wants you to think he is; just one with not too high morals. The acting of the two main characters was just superb; I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them got nominated for an Oscar next year.

3:10 To Yuma

So what did I think of it? It was… interesting. It’s not as if I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t really love it. The acting was good, the music was good, the setting was good; in fact there was a lot that was good, but nothing that was great. Maybe it’s because I’m not the western type or the “Oscar”-winning movie type. Haven’t you ever noticed that most Oscar nominated movies are quite intense and dramatic? Full of meaningful life lessons and bravery and complicated relationships?Well, this was kind of one of those films. I can appreciate 3:10 To Yuma as a good well-thought-out well-cast well-scripted well-directed and so on movie, but it won’t be one I’ll passionately adore and want to see over and over again.

If you like Oscar-type movies, you really should go here. If you don’t, wait till it comes out on dvd and watch it before the Oscars in February; it has all the requirements to be nominated and I have a weird feeling it will.

Review: The Fountain

July 5th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I finally saw The Fountain. It’s written and directed by Darren Aranofsky, who did Requiem for a Dream and Pi (two films on my very long “still to watch” list) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Prestige) and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Mummy).