Saturday, December 28, 2013

Xpress Reviews: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty & The Class Of 92

In just a few more days, we'll be celebrating the arrival of 2014. A brand new year often triggers a new resolution for most people. We garner a renewed sense of optimism and inspiration to do better in the upcoming twelve months. As the year draws to a close, I saw two films that managed to connect with me on a personal level, and well, inspire me at the same time too.

# The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty [2013]

"Beautiful things don't ask for attention"

Gifs taken from here
Edited from original photo taken here
Directed By: Ben Stiller
Written By: Steve Conrad
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahnn, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn
The Story: Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) is a guy working at Life Magazine whom regularly zones-out into his daydreams/imagination. With the company being taken over and turned fully into an online publication, staff lay-offs are inevitable. For the final issue of the magazine, the management has decided to go for a photo from legendary but elusive photographer, Sean O'Connell (played by Sean Penn) for its cover. A problem arises when the photo, described as a "Quintessence", is no where to be found. Mitty goes searching for the photo by tracking down O'Connell while embarking on a real-life adventure.
The Verdict: As mentioned above, this film connected to me a lot on a personal level. It also most probably heavily influenced the level of enjoyment I received. Not only have I gone through first hand experience of a company take-over and lay-off, but during my years as a child and teenager, my struggles with ADHD meant just like Walter Mitty, I also experienced "Calvin & Hobbes"-styled zone-outs on a regular basis. The theme in the movie of leaving your comfort zone and being adventurous also felt extremely inspiring to me.
Ben Stiller as always plays the role of the underdog to perfection. We really do root and feel for him. Kristen Wiig who plays Mitty's love interest, Cheryl Milhoff, manages to be lovable and charming as always. We get to tag-along with Mitty's real-life adventures to Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan, and are treated to some impeccable scenery and visuals. Along with its delightful soundtrack, this whimsical and heart-warming story really does prove that 2013 has been a great year for movies.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

# The Class Of '92 [2013]

"You're massively aware of what you're representing in history"

Directed By: Benjamin Turner, Gabe Turner
Featuring: David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Nevile, Nicky Butt, Danny Boyle, Tony Blair, Eric Harrison, Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson
The Story: A documentary focusing on the six graduates from the 1992 youth team of the globally renowned football club, Manchester United. The six players soon became the core of arguably the club's greatest ever team.
The Verdict: Six great players all with six distinctive personalities and characters. "The Global Celebrity" David Beckham, "The Everlasting Legend" Ryan Giggs, "The Ultimate Professional" Gary Neville, "The Introverted Genius" Paul Scholes, "The Kid" Phil Neville, and "The Warrior" Nicky Butt. As a life-long fan of Manchester United, I'm obviously quite bias in my rating. But no one can deny the impact these six had on football and the inspirational story of their youth and climb towards prominence. Also includes interviews with celebrities such as Oscar winner, Danny Boyle and former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, December 20, 2013

Xpress Reviews: 47 Ronin & Captain Phillips

2013 is almost over. I've missed quite a lot of movies this year but will still say that its been one of the best 12 months in terms of films being released! Now if only I could afford to blog more often. Right then, here's two quick movie reviews so that December won't be a barren month. Both are based on true stories (although I do have doubts on elements of the first one). Happy holidays folks!

# 47 Ronin [2013]

"If we do this, there's no coming back!"

Gifs taken from here
Directed By: Carl Rinsch
Written By: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini, Walter Hamada
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikunchi, Jin Akanishi
The Story: Based on the true-life legend of the 47 Ronin, a samurai group that set out to avenge the murder of their master.
The Verdict: Without knowing much about the movie while going in, I was actually surprised at how big of a role fantasy elements played in 47 Ronin. To be honest I would have preferred less magic, witchcraft, mythical creatures, and CGI. Whenever the film focused on the more grounded drama of the samurai/ronin, we could feel an emotional pull to the story and felt much more invested (and interested) in the film. As for the fight sequences, the choreography on display is spectacular. Keanu Reeves (playing the character Kai) has proved in the past that he makes a pretty stellar martial-artist, and it is no different here. The same can be said of the other samurai too, particularly Hiroyuki Sanada (playing the character Oiishi), all whom we can have no problems in believing that they are indeed top-notch samurai.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

# Captain Phillips [2013]

"I came too far, I can't give up"

Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Written By: Billy Ray
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahamt M. Ali
The Story: Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) on board the MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship as it is been hijacked by Somali pirates.
The Verdict: What's one of the best conditions to watch a movie which is based on true events? By not knowing how those events unfolded in real life, that's how. That actually was the case when I viewed last year's award winning film, Argo [2012] for the first time. The climatic scene in that film was one of the most intense and suspenseful cinematic experience I've had in a while. Captain Phillips also succeeds in generating those tense and fearful moments, only here it is present from very early on in the movie and lasts right to the end. Tom Hanks has starred in many of my favorite movies (list of my 10 Favorite Tom Hanks Movies here), and with the brilliant Captain Phillips, he manages to add another notch on the belt.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
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