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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Spectre (2015)

November 20, 2015 1 comment
Spectre (2015)Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Story by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Edited by: Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Thomas Newman, Sam Smith (theme)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona, Judi Dench
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2015

 

It’s been three years since the release of the last James Bond film, Skyfall, but it seems as though a mere matter months have passed by the time Spectre begins, with Bond tracking down an assassin named Marco Sciarra, who is suspected of having ties to a larger organization that has been causing headaches for MI6 and, more generally, the world at large. Fans of the series, particularly those who have either read the books or seen the older films, will by no means have any trouble quickly knowing exactly what organization Sciarra is working for (hint: it’s in the title) as well as what this will likely mean for the Bond franchise going forward. Your enthusiasm for the film and the implications of this organization’s presence from here on out will largely depend upon one’s devotion to the series and whether you’re willing to accept that the more serious, grounded, and gritty Bond films that began with the Daniel Craig era of films were pretty much always going to build up to this from the very beginning. And even if you’re willing to accept this inevitable return to a refreshed but familiar form, what few surprises Spectre does have in store for audiences will actually be a far greater point of contention than the choice to continue moving these films “backward” in terms of tone and grandiosity. Read more…

REVIEW: Die Another Day

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Die Another DayDirected by: Lee Tamahori
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Edited by: Christian Wagner
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Music by: David Arnold, Madonna (theme)
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Will Yun Lee, Kenneth Tsang, Colin Salmon, Samantha Bond, Michael Madsen
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2002

 

Originally, my first post-break review was going to be of the most recent film in the Bond franchise, Spectre, however, a medical emergency (not mine) led to an unexpected disruption midway through. (Seriously, how dare my friend?) Everything’s good now, but I’ve now decided to instead go back to my original post-Halloween plans of reviewing one of Pierce Brosnan’s films as a sort of retrospective. Yeah, I originally also decided on not doing that, too, because I needed a bit of a review break, but now that I’m back, and the review for Spectre has been delayed, I figured, “Why not?” Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 24, 2015 1 comment

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this second part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the summer blockbuster season, which is typically where a lot of hopeful franchises and big, loud, action-packed spectacles are typically placed. That doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or anything, as some of them look quite good, but don’t expect too many of them to be all that deep or groundbreaking.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from May to August 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

Categories: Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

Categories: Favorite Movies, Reviews, Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: “Casino Royale” (2006)

November 8, 2012 5 comments
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Phil Meheux
Music by: David Arnold (score), Chris Cornell (title song)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Simon Abkarian, Caterina Murino, Ivana Miličević
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Year: 2006

 

There are always going to be arguments about who did Bond best. I grew up watching the films but can honestly say that I don’t remember much of the 60s – 80s thanks to the films largely feeling quite… samey. As a kid, however, I did love the character and his world, and, for a while, Pierce Brosnan was my Bond — cocky, suave, witty, and boy did he have a lot of gadgets. Brosnan’s still just fine in my book, but there’s no hiding the fact that his Bond was saddled with the task of carrying a series of films that increasingly got more and more ridiculous and bland.

It was like the Batman film series all over again — a strong start (Batman / GoldenEye), a strong but bloated sequel (Batman Returns / Tomorrow Never Dies), a right turn into camp (Batman Forever/ The World is Not Enough), and then an ultimate downfall into a ridiculously gauche, almost satirical world that didn’t even resemble the first two (Batman & Robin / Die Another Day). Like with Batman, a fifth film to carry on the series was in the works, but, ultimately, the series was put on a brief hiatus for a restructuring. Luckily, Bond continued in the footsteps of Batman and went for a reboot for the “fifth” film, taking a more serious, thoughtful, and realistic approach to the character and his world and ridding the series of the excesses, and doing so by, for the first time ever, exploring the events that made Bond the hero that we know him to be today. Read more…

Trailer: “Skyfall” Teaser

Hey, everyone! So I’ve got a new review coming which I will be working on tonight:K-Pax. It’s kind of an odd film starring Kevin Spacey that came out quite a while ago, and, while, it was on my radar at the time, I mostly ignored it when the reviews started coming in denouncing its quality. It currently holds a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, really, since then, I’d kinda forgotten it existed up until I decided to outsource my viewing habits to a friend who doesn’t really watch movies. Oddly enough, that was his suggestion. How did I like it? Well, you’ll just have to read the review. How’s that for a tease?

Anyway, speaking of teasers (How do you like that segue?), Kevin Spacey’s friend Sam Mendes (I assume they’re friends since Spacey was in Mendes’ big break, American Beauty, but that may be me being naive about how Hollywood platonic relationships work) has a new teaser trailer out, and it’s for a film that looks much better than K-Pax — at least from an aesthetic perspective. The teaser trailer, of course, is for the next James Bond film, Skyfall:

So, what does this tell us about the next Bond film? Well… not much, really. Starts out with a few word associations as Bond is debriefed/interrogated(?) as onlookers M (Dame Judi Dench), Agent Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), and I believe MI6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear, whose work I’m not too familiar with) look on with concern. Bond seems to keep his cool, even sort of reveling in his clever association with the word “murder” and “employment,” but when they come to the word “Skyfall,” it all suddenly turns grim as Bond flashes back to the mission and ends the session.

Obviously, this being a teaser trailer and all, very little plot is given away, but we do know that the plot deals with an attack on MI6 and Bond’s loyalty to M and the agency. This jibes with the images of coffins draped with the Union Jack and Bond stating in the end, “Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.” Much of what comes in between is standard fare for teasers, banging music and all. New locales, a few brief, ambiguous explosions and scenes of Bond either staring intently in exotic locales or engaging in daring acts of violence and destruction, and, of course, a few brief glimpses at the Bond girls, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe.

That all being said, this does look to be one of the prettiest Bond films. I think the imagery is very strong in this film. It’s dark with accents of neon color, but, at least from what I can tell from the trailer, not in a sense that the film looks tacky like, say, Mission: Impossible II did (and that was an ugly action film). Sam Mendes has an eye for visuals, and so I’m expecting this to at least be a great-looking film.

What don’t we see in this trailer? Aside from more plot, we still don’t have any glimpses of Javier Bardem as the film’s villain, nor do we see the return of the long absent gadget-supplier Q, who is making his re-debut in this film with the much younger Ben Winshaw taking the place once filled by Desmond Llewelyn and briefly by Peter Burton (Dr. No) and John Cleese (Die Another Day).

Altogether, it’s a serviceable teaser, but not much else. It got me excited, however, but then again, that’s what it’s supposed to do and the film could still turn out crap despite any number of trailers. We’ll just have to wait for more meaty trailers to come out in the meantime before we pass judgment on whether this looks worthy enough to satiate our desires for another Casino Royale. In the meantime (shameless plug alert, why not go speculate about who will do the theme song for this film by checking out my overview of all the Bond themes up to this point?

Here are your convenient links:

James Bond: The Themes – Part 1

James Bond: The Themes – Part 2

2011 in Review: The Top 5 Worst Films I Saw

January 17, 2012 5 comments

Some would say that 2011 as a very disappointing year for film. While there were definitely fewer films that I wanted to see this past year than in years past, or at least ones that I was totally looking forward to, there was hardly a shortage of films that I did see and love, all the same.

But before I get to those films, we do have some filth to get out of the way, first. Though I try to avoid them at all costs, sometimes a bad film is just too hard to avoid, whether it’s because I saw them out of obligation to someone else or, as is the case with many of the films I saw this past year, I developed a case of morbid curiosity. Sometimes it paid off. Sometimes it didn’t. And while there were some films I did see from the past year were truly very poor ones, there were some that were just downright disappointments, too.

I’ve already gone through and told you about the films that I liked, and I already have a list of my favorite films of 2011 coming to you, as well, but before we do that, let’s get this out of the way, first.

Here is a definitive list of the Top 5 Worst Films I saw from 2011 that I did see, in ascending order from bad to worse to just absolutely awful…

5.  Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11)

As if this story weren’t retold enough, here comes Canadian animation studio Arc Productions’ gimmicky little collaboration with Disney, a comedic and decidedly un-tragic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Honestly, it’s not a horrendous film and likely wouldn’t have made this list had I seen some of the more horrible-looking films this past year that I managed to avoid (which is why it’s at the bottom of this list); but Gnomeo & Juliet‘s biggest failing isn’t that it’s awful, but that it’s like that friend who cracks all those corny jokes all the time, who gets everyone laughing but only because, you know, they’re friendly enough and generally nice to have around, but you really can’t bear to hurt their feelings and tell them that they’re not as clever as they think. The title, though, should give you an idea of what kind of humor lies within the film — puns aplenty and a smearing of self-aware sensibility so heavy that you’d think the animators kind of knew they were making a rather bland film and decided to compensate for it. Read more…

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