Month: September 2014

The Guest (2014)

If I’m being completely honest about The Guest, I wouldn’t have known about this film had my friend not shown me the trailer. This passed me by largely unnoticed. It’s not that surprising either when considering the cast being largely unknown and directed by Adam Wingard, most noticeably known by You’re Next and certain segments in the horror flicks V/H/S (1 and 2), of which I don’t usually watch as I find horrors predictable and (for me) boring.

Anyway, the trailer intrigued me and seemed to be going for the thriller genre of the psychological area. The Guest preys on the fact that mothers sometimes don’t see their children return from war, and that’s how the film begins. With a normal family home, however, the mother begins crying when she is alone due to the memory of Caleb, her son who was killed in action. David Collins (Dan Stevens) comes a-knocking and states that he was with Caleb when he was dying and was told to tell Mrs Peterson (Sheila Kelley) that he loved her up until his last moment.

Look at that charming smile of his.

Look at that charming smile of his.

David, who instantly charms Mrs Peterson with his charismatic behaviour and great hair,  is then told to stick around for the sake of the family and that he could possibly help out, and the film flows like a familiar pattern. Including the father not liking the idea of having David in his house and him teaching self defence to the drawn out teenage cliche of having the younger boy of the family being bullied in school. Admittedly you can probably guess the rest of the actions that David gets up to around the Peterson family. However, what is different is, he affects the family in different ways.

At this point, I must specify that I will start to include spoilers into certain areas. Like this one: basically about David affecting the family. In a drunken conversation Mr Peterson (Leland Orser) states his dissatisfaction at a person making regional manager before him due to his education, David ends up fixing this problem, as Mr Peterson’s regional manager is found dead supposedly overdosing on medication, a while later in the film.

Maika Monroe as Anna

Unfortunately for the film, this is where it starts to get messy as David interferes further with the Peterson’s family’s issues and a government agency getting involved in trying track down David after Anna’s (Maika Monroe) discomfort of David. He goes AWOL, killing people like it’s nobodies business (which is literally what he tries to make it). The best to describe this film is up until the point where David is being tracked by the KPG (The government agency) that it’s a thriller that quickly descends into a slasher flick, with the unholy amount of deaths (some needless may I add). Not forgetting the film becoming highly confusing as to why David is the way he is, it’s only partly explain in a sentence or two uttered by Major Carver (Lance Reddick) that it’s down his neurological system, but I felt that wasn’t enough of an explanation and the lack of depth left me feeling confused.

Apart from the typical storyline and what not, the acting was surprising. I enjoyed the seamless transition between being a nice, charming and charismatic but coy guest to a clinically strange psychopath staring into the camera lens, probably the best being when he speaks to Anna after she blurts about the real David Collins being dead. His action scenes, like the bar fight scene was excellent and an enjoyment factor to the film, however, these scenes seemed to be very far apart from each other. What really worked well was the synth soundtrack that accompanied the key scenes throughout the film, including the climatic scene at the Halloween ball.

THE GUEST

For me, the film was surprising. My expectations weren’t very high considering I hadn’t even gotten a chance before seeing the film to read around about The Guest. That being said, it was enjoyable, up until the last half hour, when things get confusing and rather ridiculous, however enjoyable the action scenes were. This mix of ridiculousness and a largely guessable framework to the film let the film down considering the acting of Dan Stevens was excellently terrifying at times and the excellent use of soundtrack was the plus points of the film.

3/5

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

After the post-credits sting from Thor and Avengers Assemble. We finally see the two characters make their appearance in a feature length film. I am of course referring to Thanos (Josh Brolin) listening to Loki’s pleas (from Avengers) and The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), from Thor) collecting the tesseract.

One thing that is cleared up pretty much immediately during Guardians of the Galaxy is how Peter Quill (Starlord) came to become an interstellar traveller known as Starlord (Chris Pratt). And the opening scene can be quite emotional, a young boy in 1988 listening to ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 1’ on his walkman, has his mother die in front of him and then he is taken by what is revealed later on as group of ravagers led by Yondu (Michael Rooker).

Even Yondu looks cool.

Even Yondu looks cool.

Twenty-Six years later Starlord is looking for the orb that is seen in the trailer, where he mocked for being called Starlord by Korath (Djimon Hounson) an associate of the this films antagonist Ronan The Accuser. (who is badass – with a name like that, what can you expect?). Chris Pratt playing our hero of sorts in this film, I imagine would’ve played up to his loveable idiot character that is associated with him, Andy Dwyer out of Parks and Recreation, and he does in sorts, singing and dancing to his walkman all those years later whilst booting these weird lizard creatures.

My feelings towards Guardians of the Galaxy was odd. I wasn’t in no way looking forward to this film or franchise, as I just see a money making quip by Marvel. Yet they swindled my money away from me. The casting is odd too, having Vin Diesel utter the words “I am Groot” x amount of times, Bradley Cooper voicing a bad-tempered raccoon with an accurate shot, Dave Bautista (Batista from the WWE franchise) playing Drax, a grieving father and husband. Finally, Gamora, Quill’s (eventual) love interest, however an assassin initially sent by Ronan to retrieve the orb ends up becoming a Guardian of the Galaxy. (Worth noting she is an adopted child of Thanos (the big dude Ronan answers to) after he killed her family, but she plans to backstab Ronan)

Ronan-the-Accuser-in-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

The story revolves around this mysterious orb that Starlord tried to sell but as soon as the buyer learns that Ronan is after it quickly retracts his intention to buy. Of course he also being trailed by Yondu who is also after the orb after Peter double-crossed him, the film soon becomes a cat and mouse with Yondu and Starlord. The orb contains an infinity stone, that essentially harnesses the power to destroy planets. Funnily enough this is what Ronan wants to do on Xander after this peace pact goes sour between Xander and Kree (forgive me if I’m wrong. It’s been a while). That being his primary motive in this film and it is made abundantly clear. Something that a lot of villains seem to lack in Marvel films, they just do it for hatred of the protagonist I feel. Whereas Ronan, wants power and to crush Xander for his people, however sadistic his plan is. The infinity stone is pretty powerful as it destroys Taneleer Tivan’s (The Collector – Benicio Del Toro) assistant as she goes nuts on him.

Without an introductory series of film unlike the Avengers, the story for the characters is lacking in sections. Although there is mention of Rocket Racoon’s history and Gamorra’s backstory. The only one we truly get to know is Peter’s as the story surrounding his mother becomes full circle at the end. Either way, they team up like in Avengers, but for odder reasons. Drax to get at Ronan, Gamorra for the same reason, whereas Rocket’s and Peter’s is for money and Groot is just Rocket’s travelling plant.

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However, regardless of these introductory section for each of the characters, there is more of a connection with the audience, including Peter Quill’s story about his mother, Rocket Raccoon’s drunken confession and the backstories involving Gamora and Drax. These four characters have had more heart than I’ve seen in quite a few marvel films in recent times. And as we know with Marvel, the casting of Chris Pratt was for an influx of comedy seen on the screen. Including how he manages to stop Ronan The Accuser seeking his goal, it’s pretty funny I must admit.

As for my favourite casting of this film. I was a big fan of Michael Rooker’s work on The Walking Dead and this is no different. His character of Yondu was splendid, he was funny but terrifying at the same time and his arrow was something to marvel at. The other cast I’d have to talk about is Dave Bautista as Drax. I found this character to surprising as I expected his casting was because of his build to match that of Drax the Destroyer, however, he was one of the funniest characters in the film including this little quip below.

“Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it”

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with this film. And I was annoyed with this. Because I went in disliking this idea of snapping up filming rights for anything with the Marvel print on it (Just look at a the proposed Marvel films raining onwards until 2017). However, striking the right chord with Marvel films doesn’t happen often and this film had it. It didn’t include the grit and surprising storyline of Captain America 2, but included the right amount of comedy, emotional storyline and had cast surprisingly well, including Drax as Bautista played him surprisingly well. Out of the two Marvel films released this year, it’d be a difficult decision, but I’d probably opt for Guardians of the Galaxy.

How did the comic book fans find this interpretation? I’d like to know what they thought about it.

4/5

Lucy (2014)

In theory and premise, this film was set to be stunner on the box office. In practice the feelings didn’t transpire to what I had hoped would happen. Within circles, this film seemed to be quite anticipated film of 2014 with the cast of Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman being directed by Luc Besson. Lucy can draw comparisons on Limitless with drugs expanding the minds capacity, however, whilst the concept of both of these films is brilliant, in practice Limitless was less so. Will Lucy fare better?

No.

Scarlett being cast as Lucy, at first a woman in Taiwan, partying and partly studying (As she mentions about an exam on Monday). Her boyfriend, tricks her into taking a briefcase to Mr. Jang (Min-Sik Choi) full of CPH4, a new synthetic drug. Interestingly here though, Besson integrated a cheetah stalking it’s prey and cast it in such a way, Lucy becomes the gazelle and is capped off when the gazelle is caught, which coincides with Lucy is being taken by Mr. Jang’s henchman.

Lucy[1]

Morgan Freeman as Professor Norman, a specialist in the human brain, is then seen discussing the humans use of 10% of cerebral capacity, and then what happens when humans use 20% onwards. Lucy on the other hand is shown the contents of the briefcase and has one of the four CPH4 bags in inserted into her abdomen, along with three other men, who are then forced to fly to one of four European destinations. En route, however, Lucy is kidnapped (I assume as it’s not made clear) and kicked in her abdomen releasing the drug into her system. She then goes all exorcist on screen as the drug encapsulates her body and immediately increasing her brain’s capacity.

Unfortunately, as for the rest of the film, this is where it becomes boring with the action scenes few and far between. Luc Besson’s use of the cheetah and gazelle was a great and interesting effect, however the over saturation of the effect becomes annoying as the nature around the Earth becomes commonplace in the movie as does Lucy takes her cerebral capacity to new heights. And Scarlett Johansson’s performance is different to what we see, it’s nothing mesmerising, I thought anyway. The emotionless, terrifyingly efficient Lucy is different, a world away from Johansson as Charlotte, Barbara and Sarah Jordan.

lucy-scarlett-johansson-movie-29

Morgan Freeman, I thought, was there for name purposes. A voice to go with the character. His character is not integral to the storyline, just a man to pass on information about the human brain. However, as Lucy takes control of her brain and the movie, she channels all the information about life and existence, the story becomes about time. The time Lucy reaching 100% brain capacity, that time is the true measurement of life, not numbers. It’s all very confusing and kinda hard for me to explain because even I left feeling confused myself.

I still can’t help my feelings about the film though, and that is this film didn’t completely excite me. The effects were good, although sometimes scenes were needless, including the police chase scene and Lucy travelling through time (although it was interesting, it was still pointless). However as Lucy increases her cerebral capacity and telepathically reads Mr. Jang’s mind, accesses Professor Norman’s phone and television set and even manages to make a dog stop in it’s tracks, these scenes are more interesting because they can be connected to what professor Norman was saying at the start of the film.

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With the film being highly anticipated, I believe this is part of the reason why I am quite disappointed with the film. Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably see the film again, but to say I’ll be rushing into the nearest shop to get the DVD when it comes out will not be happening. The ridiculous storyline about people disintegrating and shipping drugs in people’s bodies make the film quite ridiculous overall and the lack of performances from the cast left me disappointed. Aside from the Asian gangsters, particularly Mr Jang, I wasn’t particularly fussed with the acting performances.

2/5.