Average User Score: 8.1Jul 14, 2014A gripping conspiracy story with a back bone of evidence, Dirty Wars is one of the most important films to see of 2013. Its designed to provoke outrage, and I would image most will feel outraged when they see it. The film focuses on Scahill, an American Journalist trying to reveal stories of secret divisions of the US Army and the damage they have caused. While the frustrations of entering the media circuit and dismissal at the top courts are interesting, the persist focus on Scahill instead of the victims can be at times distracting. This is especially true during interviews where the camera continually drifts back to Scahill to capture his reactions. The film attempts to present itself as a spy story with Bond style graphics and cuts following its lead star. All this been said, my criticisms are to do with how cinematic the film is, not the story itself. The story as well as the journalism behind it is truly excellent. Regardless of your political stance, see Dirty Wars, if only to glimpse the lives of people caught in the cross fire. War is indeed a terrible thing.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1Jul 6, 2014Of Gods and Men explores a variety of complex religious themes and ideas through the re-telling of a true story of a group of French monks caught up in the Algerian civil war. The film is not a simplistic showcase of good versus evil but is instead a deeply human tale of tolerance, fear and strength. No character falls into the trap of caricature, even the terrorists have depth and motive. The believability of the characters creates a realness that makes the film a more powerful emotional experience.
The film begins by introducing us to the monks. The monastery in which they live is a quiet place and their routines consist of tending to the gardens, reading, praying and interacting with the Muslim townsfolk. Importantly one of the monks, Luc (Michael Lonsdale) acts as the town doctor. The relationship between the monks and the townsfolk is one of mutual respect and friendship. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the natural beauty of the landscape and the simplistic beauty of the monastery.
The monk’s peaceful existence is shaken when word reaches the town that Islamist militants are taking over the countryside. The slow pace of the opening half is so calming that when violence breaks out the audience shares the peoples shock and worry.
It becomes immediately apparent that the monk’s lives are in danger. The monk’s world slowly comes crumbling down around their epicentre which is the monastery. The French government and Algerian officials urge them to escape while the town’s people plead for them not to abandon them. The group of monks is dividend on what decision to make. Difficult questions cause repressed raw emotions to bubble to the surface. Is it okay to accept help from a corrupt government? When is it acceptable for the Sheppard to leave his flock? What good does martyrdom do?
The group is rightly afraid and sometimes the fear takes control. Lambert Wilson (playing Christian) delivers a fine performance as a man struggling with leadership in a harrowing situation. The first confrontation scene is truly terrific, with trembling Christian putting on a brave face, a combination of fear and determination.
It is hard not to be emotional for the second half of the film. The monk’s moral presence is felt ubiquitously. In every act of violence or cruelty, whether on screen or off, the monk’s sadness permeates from the screen. The honesty of the characters naturally draws the audience’s empathy. There is a specific scene which I will not reveal in which the worldly combines with the spiritual that results in one of the most powerful emotional climaxes I have ever seen.
I highly recommend viewing this film regardless of one’s religious beliefs or background. The film shows both the good that can be achieved through belief as well as the bad. Luc quotes Pascal to remind us that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”. The message the film preaches transcends any specific faith as it is one of love, peace, acceptance and harmony.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Jun 20, 2014Weeks after release, I know something that Tom Cruise couldn't foresee; The Edge of Tomorrow would bomb in America. Costing an estimated $178 million, it only recovered $28 million opening weekend getting beat by a movie made for less than a tenth of its budget; The Fault in Our Stars. This failure could be attributed to Tom Cruise’s falling star power (especially among teens), however I think it is due to the inability of the posters and trailers to capture how much fun the movie’s formula is.
Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (which would have been a better title) The Edge of Tomorrow combines a number of sci-fi concepts and devices with the time loop effect popularized by Groundhog Day. While nearly everything in the film is borrowed from other sources, the way the film combines them is never dull.
The film opens with Tom Cruise as Cage, a slimy war recruiter and military PR man, delivering lines of expository dialogue. We are efficiently brought up to speed with what is happening. The world is under attack by aliens, Europe has been taken over and the world is launching a unified last ditch effort to save mankind. It’s the kind of background that is familiar to the genre and Doug Liman recognizes this and sends us immediately into the action.
The war effort appears to be headed by General Brigham (Brendon Gleeson) who sends Cage to the front lines. The scene feels forced. It’s essentially a plot mechanic to get Cruise into the fight. After a brief introduction of some (very) flat supporting characters the battle begins. Cage manages to survive long enough to kill a large blue alien that melts acid over his face. This provides Cage with the Groundhog Day powers; every time he dies the day repeats. The twist is that he must die or else he loses them.
Cruise’s performance works as he transitions from a rookie recruit to a killing machine with the help of macho Emily Blunt. The pair’s chemistry is one of the reason’s the film succeeds. The fight/die/repeat mechanic makes the incredible fight sequences more believable and at times surprisingly funny.
While the film reminds us it is a Hollywood production with a predictably cliché ending, when the action is going Tom Cruise shows us why he’s one the best. While individual pieces are nothing original, the film adds up to more than a sum of its parts.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Jun 11, 2012Prometheus combines all the great aspects of a sci-fi film (special effects, cinematography, futuristic technology) with an absolutely insulting to intelligence philosophy. When Scott tries to answer life's biggest questions he gives you the impression of a 15 year old kid with a religious upbringing who doesn't understand how anything in life works. The crew of 17 supposed "scientists" are scripted to say things most scientists, or even lay people will cringe at. But the film is filled with a few good thrill rides and Fassbender is fantastic as usual. If you want to see another brain dead blockbuster this ones for you.… Expand