Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now)**

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

My Opinion:

If anyone has ever read a review here, they’ll know that all my superhero reviews start with me saying “I’m superheroed out”. This is movie number 19 of the MCU, for crying out loud! But I’ve watched all of them (other than The Incredible Hulk. Oops.) I do enjoy them. They’re fun popcorn movies & characters and, thanks to Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok adding in much more humor & fun, I’ve liked them a bit more in the past few years. I wasn’t overly excited for Infinity War but knew I’d go to it as I do with every Marvel film. I thought it was pretty great! Slow to start but a truly ballsy ending that I loved. In fact, I liked it so much that I want it to be the true ending. Screw Infinity War 2!

I’ve finally ranked all the MCU movies (I’ll post that tomorrow or Wednesday) and had to re-read the plot synopsis for a few of them to refresh my memory. The ones I remember the least are the Avengers ones with loads of characters. It’s always fun to see them all together but the stories become messy and I find that I barely remember the plot afterwards. I mostly prefer the individual character movies.

I expected Infinity War to be just as convoluted and, okay, it probably is a little messy at first while the movie does loads of jumping around from one place to another. But I had a lot of fun with the various small groups of Avengers meeting & working together for the first time. Considering the massive amount of superheroes in this movie, I thought they did surprisingly well with getting the right balance when it came to time spent with each group and with some further character development.

Of the various superheroes meeting for the first time, the Guardians of the Galaxy & Thor are the absolute best. They made a fantastically funny team. I want them to team up for good and make spin-off movies together! Okay, I admit that Thor & Groot are my two favorite characters and the Guardians movies are my favorites but seeing these characters bond was exactly what I wanted. Loved it! I also loved that a lot of characters who’ve had smaller roles in previous Avengers films (or no role at all) had more screen time here. I really liked seeing the Guardians, Thor, Doctor Strange, Vision & Scarlet Witch given important things to do. Especially Doctor Strange – I don’t know if he’s exactly a fan favorite but I think I’m a fan. I find his abilities far more interesting than those of some of the other characters.


Not that our usual Phase One characters have nothing to do – we still get plenty of Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, etc etc. But I’m glad they slightly took a backseat (As presumably they’ll have the biggest roles in part 2. If alive. I’m not saying!). Iron Man still has a large role in this one and I’m now really liking his growing fatherly friendship with Spider-Man. I actually thought there was too much Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming but now see that it really help set up their relationship for this film.

I’ll wrap this up before I accidentally give away a massive spoiler or something (although the biggest fans will have made sure to see this by now, I hope!). It was hard to avoid spoilers for this one and I’m glad I managed to for two whole days as I think it made me appreciate this film even more. I’ve not mentioned all the characters but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in this (or that they’re dead!). Maybe no one dies in this. Maybe they do. No one really dies in superhero movies, though, so I guess that’s why I’ve never become a massive superhero movie fan. I can’t take them too seriously. It’s not like Han Solo or something – I’m never getting him back! As I said, these Marvel films are just fun popcorn movies to me. Infinity War was actually far more enjoyable than I was expecting and, at the moment, it’s one of my favorites of the 19 MCU movies. But Part 2 could change my mind… I hope it doesn’t undo the good that the end of Part 1 does. I want a superhero movie to do something truly unexpected for a change.

My Rating: 8/10



I love Thor.

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes. Of course? No mid-credits scene, only one at the very end. Yes, you have to stay for it. For once, not ONE person left my cinema before the end credits scene. It only took 19 movies for people to finally figure out that they need to stay through the credits for Marvel movies…. 😉

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Review

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (as far as I’m aware!!)***

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

My Opinion:

As I always say when I start these superhero movie reviews, I’m getting very superheroed-out. However, I do have fun with the Marvel ones even though I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan. But then the Guardians Of The Galaxy films came along and it turns out that the “funny superhero movie” thing is MUCH more my type of thing! I love GOTG. And as for the Avengers, Thor is probably my favorite character because, um. I dunno? I’m trying to think of something mature to say… Okay, I like Thor the most because Chris Hemsworth is visually appealing. Okay?!

Of the standalone movies, the first Iron Man may be my favorite and I think the first Thor film is quite weak. But then I liked Thor: The Dark World a hell of a lot more than the first film and, with the Avengers films, we were able to see Thor develop much more of a personality. The “Thor with a sense of humor” thing that started to appear really worked for the character and I’m very happy that they’ve finally gone fully in that direction with this film. I’m surprised it’s getting such good reviews overall, though, as I can’t see “funny Thor” working for everyone? I hated Batman V Superman with a passion (yeah, I know that’s DC) and that whole “dark, brooding, depressing” superhero bullshit annoys me. But some people love that. Those who love dark & brooding are unlikely to love this new version of Thor. I personally love this new version of Thor (and all versions of Thor, including shirtless Thor) but my only negative comment is that this film does feel out of place in amongst all the other Marvel Avengers movies. It doesn’t really “fit”. I don’t know how some fans will feel about that.

I lied: I have one more negative comment so I’ll get that out of the way now. The story in this movie isn’t anything special. It’s your typical Marvel plot. But I honestly never give much of a shit about any of the Marvel plots as they all seem the same to me anyway & I see these all as “popcorn” movies that I don’t want to have to think about. I don’t mean to sound dismissive of these films as I know they have so many fans – I just see them in a different sort of way than a full-on fanboy or fangirl would see them. I don’t think I can say that this movie really added anything important to the overall Avengers stories. It was just a lot of fun to watch, which is the main thing that a superhero movie should be (in my opinion).


Here are the positives: there are loads of genuinely funny moments, Thor and Hulk are hilarious together, and I thought all the new characters were very good (especially Tessa Thompson’s super cool Valkyrie & Cate Blanchett’s super evil Hela). Oh, and Jeff Goldblum, of course. I didn’t realize he had such a big following! People seem to love him & he’s very funny in this. I also really liked Karl Urban (Oh yeah – I like Dredd a lot & that’s dark & depressing! Hmm) and I liked seeing Idris Elba get to do more than I can remember him getting to do in the other Thor films (I could do with re-watching them but doubt I’ll ever bother). And I think everyone knows that director Taika Waititi plays a character named Korg. He’s pretty damn hilarious and was clearly a favorite with the audience in my cinema. Oh, and it was one of those weird times when some people in my cinema clapped & cheered at the end of the movie. I always find that strange (it’s not a play!) but it gives you an idea of how some feel about Thor: Ragnarok – I saw a lot of people who clearly had a great time watching this.

I liked this movie a lot but, for some reason I can’t put my finger on, I didn’t love it. It seems like all the elements are there for me to love it. I think Taika Waititi is very funny, I far prefer fun & lighthearted superhero movies like this, and I loooooove Chris Hemsworth. The new characters are great, I laughed quite a bit, and even though I haven’t listened to Led Zeppelin in years after having a big phase of worshipping them in my teens I never stopped loving Immigrant Song (because it kicks ass) and its use, though predictable, is perfect for this movie. So why don’t I love this movie? I disagree with the hubby quite a bit on movies these days but I have to agree with him saying that this movie feels a bit “throwaway”. It’s fun but, years from now, it may not stand up as well when compared to some of the strongest Marvel films.

Also, I’ll remain spoiler-free but just a warning if you bring kids under 12: this movie is more violent than some and there’s one particular moment that was quite horrifying. My daughter turned to me with a look of horror on her face but I don’t think I was much comfort since I had a similar look of horror. 😉 But you know kids: they bounce back quick. About 15 minutes later she whispered “I love this movie!” while I still had yet to fully recover. The moment is listed in the parents’ guide at IMDb if you really need to know beforehand but it’s a major spoiler. Also, this movie is a lower rating in the UK but is a PG-13 in America. Damn. As we got it here first, I had no warning beforehand so be careful if taking sensitive kids to this. Knowing America, though, it probably only got the higher rating there for some “dirty talk” that will go over kids’ heads anyway. 

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Duh. Of course. One partway through and one at the very end. Worth staying for if you like to get the full experience.

Stan Lee Cameo: I feel like I should start rating these… I loved this one. Another fun cameo and he was the perfect person for this part. 🙂

Spotlight (2015) Review

Last weekend, I tried to catch up on watching some Oscar nominees. Of the Best Picture nominees, I’d already seen Mad Max: Fury Road (awesome), Room (amazing), and The Revenant (pelts!). I went to Spotlight & then what I really wanted to see was The Hateful Eight but it was sold out & I was stuck having to go to The Big Short instead. Were Spotlight & The Big Short worth my time? Let’s find out. I’ll review Spotlight today & The Big Short on Wednesday. 

Spotlight (2015)

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic Priests. It is based on a series of stories by the real Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

My Opinion:

Yes, Spotlight is a good film. It’s very much “Oscar material”, so I can understand why it’s up for awards. Is it the BEST MOVIE EVER?? No. Is it one of those Best Picture nominees that people will barely remember ten years from now? Hmm. Yes, I think so. Sorry. It’s pretty much your typical “serious true story” made into a Hollywood drama just in time for Oscar season. I mean no disrespect to the unthinkable true story behind this film but, judging it just as a film as opposed to the topic the film covers, it’s indeed a solid piece of filmmaking but is certainly not up there with some of the absolute classics that have been nominated for Best Picture in the entire history of the Oscars.

But, yes, it’s at least worthy of a nomination (for Best Picture – not so much for the acting categories). Sorry to start out sounding so negative – I promise that I have nothing bad to say about this movie from here on out (I’ll save my negativity for my next review). I’ll talk about all the things that I thought were good about Spotlight. There’s honestly nothing at all bad about it – I think my negativity is aimed more at the Academy being so out of touch with the general public nowadays. But I’m getting ahead of myself again – that complaint belongs in the review I’ll be posting on Wednesday. I apologize to Spotlight – I think it’s just unfortunate that I saw it on the same day that I saw The Big Short!

Spotlight takes a serious issue and, thankfully, doesn’t exploit it. Movies based on true stories can often take things too far down that tearjerker, emotional DRAMA(!!) route and quite often end up feeling insincere. The story focuses mainly on the Spotlight team of investigators as opposed to the actual victims of sexual abuse by their priests and I think that was the best way to approach telling this story. We don’t need to see the abuse or get specific details – just knowing that such a thing could happen and that it was so widespread is bad enough. It disgusts me that adults in a position of trust can betray children in such a horrible way. But back to discussing the movie itself, not the topic it covers…

I liked this film’s approach as I’ve never been a fan of over the top melodrama and I think the quiet & subdued performances in this are much more realistic. However, it also felt like any professional actor could have played any of the roles in this film so I’m quite surprised that both Mark Ruffalo & Rachel McAdams are up for acting Oscars. I don’t think they have any chance of winning. It’s not because they’re not both good in this (they are) but these just aren’t exactly defining roles. Actually, the best performance here may be from Stanley Tucci in a small role. 

I think the Academy too often confuses “worthy topic” with “good filmmaking & acting”. But a lot of what I’m saying may also be down to my own personal preference – I like a worthy film now and then but I most often watch a movie for escapism so will almost always choose sci-fi, fantasy, etc, over a dramatic true story. The story behind this film is a very important one so it’s great that they did a Hollywood film about it as that’s (sadly) sometimes the only way the public becomes fully aware of a certain topic. But, for me personally, after watching movies like these I often feel like I’d be better off just watching a documentary (if one exists) instead of the Hollywood version of true events. Spotlight is a good film, though, and most certainly one you should watch if you like the genre and want to see how they’ve handled the story.

My Rating: 7/10

Shutter Island (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of Shutter Island, IMDB rank 235 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

shutter island poster

Sanity’s not a choice, Marshall. You can’t just choose to get over it.” Dr John Crawley

SYNOPSIS: A U.S Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. – via IMDB

Yes! You better believe it! I am back again, I just cannot resist this IMDB Top 250 challenge at all, and I just want to thank the lovely Miss Mutant for allowing me to submit so many reviews to her site for it. Well, we all know what goes here, so now we will move on to the movie reviewing bit itself – I am talking Shutter Island today.

Now, I know there are a few people that are not overly enamoured with this endeavour by the dream team that is Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (super cough directed at you, Eric). But you know what? I guess we will leave this at each to their own.

shutter island the island

I have read Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, and I loved that, too. Lehane is a gifted writer and I have enjoyed all his work so far. Granted, I read the book after the movie, but I would like to mention that it is one hell of a loyal and great adaption of the book. Shutter Island was a trip to take; it was just wonderful for me. It was suspenseful, very well acted and I loved the cast. The CGI may not have been perfect, but that was really peripheral for me in all honesty. I have always said that I can deal with crappy effects provided that the story is gripping and captivating. Now, these effects were by no long shot dreadful, but they were quite a way from being on the level of something like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The score for this was loud and in your face, building suspense, though at times I even thought that it was a little excessive (yes, defender of the film that I am and all). Most people complain about how heavy and loud it is in the beginning, but I thought that it served its purpose perfectly there – it was going out of its way to make you feel uncomfortable and jangle your nerves.

I did not see that plot twist coming really; I was more interested in experiencing what was going down as it was without thinking too far forward. That is usually unlike me, I call these things rather quickly, and I know a lot of other people did call it early for this movie, but still. Maybe it is because the first time I watched this I was distracted with other things I was doing at the time, either way, it was a really pleasant surprise for me. Now, let’s talk about the performances. We all know that I am extremely taken with the super-talented Leonardo DiCaprio, and what he did in Shutter Island was no exception to his wonderful repertoire of roles. He came in as US Marshal Teddy Daniels and just… worked that role. He was angry, upset, driven by his work though definitely had some undertow of grief due to the loss of his family and a side project he was working. Mark Ruffalo complemented him fantastically as Chuck Aule, the two working back and forth, engaging and entertaining. DiCaprio came in and lent credence to Teddy, giving us some intense flashbacks of the things that he has seen in the past, the places he has gone.

shutter island sick world

The flashbacks are broken apart by the main story, which is also broken by the flashbacks. They come together so well, and give the movie a cool way of storytelling. The partnership between Teddy and Chuck was something different. Suspect, trusting, devolving into the mad crusade that Teddy is so preoccupied with… it is presented as a locked box mystery, but that in itself is such a side measure to the real issue at hand: Teddy and Shutter Island.

shutter island which would be worse

Martin Scorsese might not have delivered his finest work with Shutter Island, but he did deliver a solid adaptation of Lehane’s novel as well as a highly entertaining and undervalued film exploring the lengths that the mind will go to in order to protect itself. I find it to be a extremely enjoyable watch and something I will always recommend to people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iaYLCiq5RM

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, IMDB rank 75 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I’ve received 3 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” – Mary

I have nothing but good memories about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  See what I did there?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not your usual and conventional romantic film.  The ‘boy meets girl’ concept is a familiar and overused trope in the film world. But with the added sci-fi twist involving memories, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ignores the trend and takes the audience on a mind bending and surreal experience that is full of charm, wit and most importantly, sentiment.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as Joel and Clementine.  After spending two years together as a couple, the relationship turns sour. They undergo a procedure that erases their memories of each other.  Trouble is, as impulsive they were in committing themselves to the procedure, they rediscover what they had in the first place.

“Random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” – Joel

The unique quirks in this film are displayed in its brilliant visual concept.  It taps into the surreal nature of the mind where it’s never consistent or logical.  Its visual complexity and how each scene transitions unto the next are handled seamlessly.  Most scenes don’t contain any CGI effects, just clever camera movements!  It may feel jarring at first but once your mind gets to grip with the concept, it’s a rewarding experience.

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There’s something very low key about the technology used in the film by Lacuna Inc.  2015 and swiping on everything that has a screen size over four inches has become the norm.  With its ease of use and simplicity, you can’t imagine how we coped before!  But for a film that came out in 2004, the technology is a little clunky with CRT monitors straight out of the 80s or 90s, a time capsule reminder of the evolving past we use to belong to…and it wasn’t that long ago!  It never looks sleek, state of the art or high tech – there are many functional parts in order to make it work and it does its job. The film doesn’t dwell on how the procedure works except for acknowledging that the effects are on par with a night of heavy drinking.  It gives us as the audience a basic understanding of what it does, mapping personal items with emotional connections, which form as part of the erasure development process.  Because of this, the essence of the business by Lacuna Inc. is small scale and experimental.  It’s not seen as a global attraction like something out of Total Recall with its tongue-in-cheek advertising.  In fact, it’s the opposite where the experience is a more personal and intimate, like visiting your local doctor.

While the film doesn’t explore in great detail about Lacuna’s operations, the film does raise some ethical questions. There’s never a feeling over who is held accountable for its practices.  The characters of Patrick (Elijah Wood), Stan (Mark Ruffalo) Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) are quirky individuals who have used the memory erasure technology for their own gain and advantages.  A great example of this belongs with Patrick who steals Joel’s personal items to make a good impression with Clementine.  It completely backfires on him but what he essentially does is commit identity fraud.  The actual procedure happens at night in the comfort of your home while you’re asleep.  So is it right that the technicians raid your fridge or dance on your bed with great freedom while you’re undergoing your treatment?  You will wake up without any recognition that they were there the night before but there’s a certain level of trust to be had to accept the strange and intrusive circumstances.

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In essence it is a clandestine and artificial relationship of convenience.  Someone from your inner circle will be informed about the procedure and you (or them) are expected to live with that knowledge, such as Joel’s friends. While the Doctor or any of his team can preach about how wonderful the process is, the real issue is the aftercare.  At times there’s a lack of professionalism within the group and if they’re not accepting their responsibilities and the consequences from their actions, would you want to undergo an experiment like this?  I certainly wouldn’t.

Clementine: “You know me, I’m impulsive.”

Joel: “That’s what I love about you.”

However, the sci-fi element is secondary to the actual plot because its main focus is on Joel and Clementine.  When they are first introduced, they are complete opposites both in personality and character.

Joel acts more like an introvert.  He’s quiet and unadventurous.  He’s comfortable within his own head.  He’s clearly talented and likes to draw but otherwise his life is pretty mundane.  Clementine on the other hand is more of an extrovert – outspoken, forward and defiant.  It’s a relationship that probably shouldn’t work but their qualities make them attractive.  Clementine brings excitement for Joel, allowing him to do something out of his comfort zone.  Joel brings stability and reassurance, accepting Clementine’s personality for what it is without compromise.

The greatest strength of the film is that their relationship is presented as honest and real.  Nothing feels clichéd or predictable.  When their relationship does fall apart, you can’t help but go through the motions with them and the actual reason for the break up will seem silly as an outsider.

Cleverly, Joel’s erasure of his memory occurs backwards from the time of the break up, ending to where he met Clementine for the first time.  You see Joel’s world literally falling apart, a visual representation of the hurt and anger he was experiencing – a scene helped with brilliant visual effects.

But are all memories bad?  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind says no and over the course of the film, Joel changes his mind despite being physically powerless to do so.  With the help of Clementine (the dream version in his head) he runs and battles against the deletion by creating scenarios in his mind where the machine couldn’t find him.  On the flip side, the real Clementine who already had the procedure is not the vibrant, confident girl that you witnessed at the beginning of the film.  She’s lost, manic and feels disconnected.  Her new boyfriend Patrick might be saying all the right things to her but it fails to put her mind at ease.  Something is missing in her life but she can’t remember what.

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That’s what special about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Memories both good and bad can define a person.  It shapes your personality and character.  What this film has in abundance is the acknowledgement of sentiment, living and embracing your life.  The negative memories will hurt, as they should do but it portrays the positives ones as something you should hold onto and treasure.  It makes life worth living.

For Joel and Clementine, being together is what made them whole. The film does strike a chord even if this is not your type of movie.  There are plenty of identifiable and personal moments that you as the audience can relate to.  Lacuna Inc. may have perfected a procedure to erase your thoughts but there is no perfect formula for love and at times, it can’t be explained.  If your relationship is based on a lie (e.g. Patrick and Clementine), then the foundations will crumble.  What Joel and Clementine have is something magnetic that kept pulling them together in every bizarre situation without them realising it.  That is something that Lacuna Inc. didn’t count on.  They were so busy fulfilling a misguided duty that in the end it exposed their own hypocrisy and business practice.  To them everything was a quick fix without addressing the real problem.

“Come back and make up a good-bye at least. Let’s pretend we had one.” – Clementine

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are fantastic and once again it proves that Jim Carrey is a man of many talents.  He’s not limited to comedy and can do something dramatic.  For me, this is up there with his performance in The Truman Show.  It’s great to see him as an everyman character.  He’s famous for playing eccentric characters, but in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he underplays it.  He is often reacting to the dream scenarios around him rather than being the direct cause of it.  The technicians from Lacuna Inc. deliver the eccentricity and humorous nature of film.  Joel and Clementine deliver the heart.

Aided with a beautiful soundtrack by Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a deep and emotional exploration on the nature of relationships.  It breaks down each moment of Joel and Clementine’s relationship into sizable chunks because in the end, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  The ending is left up to the audience to interpret which can be viewed as optimistic or pessimistic but it’s a film worth watching again and again because of the underlying messages it conveys.  It’s a wonderful, unique and enjoyable movie.

Or as Joel would say, it’s nice.

The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10

Foxcatcher (2014) Review

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Foxcatcher (2014)

Directed by Bennett Miller

Starring:
Steve Carell
Channing Tatum
Mark Ruffalo
Vanessa Redgrave
Sienna Miller

Running time: 134 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Foxcatcher is a 2014 American biographical drama film based on the true events surrounding John du Pont’s efforts in hiring the Schultz brothers to help train US wrestling Olympians.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief (I promise!). This sort of true story drama isn’t really my sort of thing usually. Obviously, this isn’t the type of movie where you can exactly say you “loved it” or thoroughly enjoyed it or that you’d want to watch over & over again. It’s not an easy watch but I did think it was a good film with wonderful performances (even from Channing Tatum!).

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As for the real life story, I didn’t know a THING about it beforehand. I’d never heard of anyone involved & didn’t know what the outcome would be so I was totally engrossed the entire time. As always, I won’t reveal the full plot as I think it’s probably better to watch this with no knowledge of what happened if you don’t already know the story. It’s a very slooooowwww movie and also very quiet (which makes you feel self-conscious while munching on popcorn!). I think some people may not like the slow pace but this is a movie that is all about the performances and the character studies of a very eccentric millionaire and a lonely young man who strike up an unusual partnership & friendship.

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The nominations received by Steve Carell & Mark Ruffalo so far are indeed well deserved. It’s a shame that Channing Tatum seems to be being left out but his performance deserves praise as well. It may be because he doesn’t seem to exactly be playing against “type”… I’ve complained about him before – Magic Mike was rubbish & he seemed very out of place in Side Effects. However, the Jump Street films really suit him and this role does as well. Unfortunately, he’s overshadowed by Carell (who I never liked until The Way Way Back – why do I only like funny actors when they move on to serious roles?) and even, surprisingly, Ruffalo.

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Summary:

Foxcatcher is well worth the watch just for the performances alone. The tension builds very slowly and I’ll admit that the story possibly takes a little too long to tell but the time spent is worth it for the amount of character development you get. I can’t say I “enjoyed” the movie due to the subject matter (the outcome but also the “wrestling” – I’m sorry but, especially as a girl, I just DON’T get wrestling). However, it’s luckily not a “sports” movie as that part takes a backseat to the exploration of the relationship between Carell’s & Tatum’s characters. I’m glad I saw it and I found Carell’s character fascinating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Now You See Me (2013) Review

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Now You See Me

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Starring:
Jesse Eisenberg
Mark Ruffalo
Woody Harrelson
Mélanie Laurent
Isla Fisher
Dave Franco
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman
Michael Kelly
Common

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Four magicians, brought together by mysterious circumstances, are investigated by the FBI after performing a magic show together in which they seemingly pull off a bank heist.

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My Quick Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as, unfortunately, there’s not a lot to say about it. I went in with low expectations and knowing it was going to be a simple movie with a bit of magic that would at least keep me entertained for a couple of hours. I wasn’t exactly expecting The Prestige – one of my all-time favorite films. But Now You See Me is a much further cry from the brilliance of that film than I was hoping.

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Everyone does a decent enough job in their roles but the characters are very one-dimensional. I love Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman and always enjoy watching them but they’re wasted in this film. Woody Harrelson is probably the most entertaining of the four magicians but he’s really just doing the sort of role he often does. The actual highlight of the film is probably Mélanie Laurent as an Interpol detective. But that could just be because I have a bit of a girl crush on her… I felt they could have done a lot more with her character, though, as it didn’t feel very well developed. Same goes for Mark Ruffalo’s character. All of the characters in this felt very underdeveloped, actually. Disappointing.

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Summary:

A lightweight “magic movie” that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours but won’t have you leaving the cinema asking any questions. Unlike The Prestige, which I thought about for days afterward. Hell, I still do. I left Now You See Me feeling quite empty, though, like the box after the rabbit has disappeared. (Ha! Was trying to get a “magic” reference in here somewhere. That was pathetic, though. Lol!).

I just expected a BIT more from such an impressive line-up of actors. At the very least, since the story and characters are a bit weak, I expected more really fun and cool MAGIC than we actually get. Mindless fun but a little TOO mindless. And once you’ve seen it, I have a feeling that it’s one where things really don’t add up if you were to watch it a second time. But it’s really not worth the time thinking about too much – this movie isn’t asking you to think about it beyond the final credits. Oh man – I’m being more harsh than I’m meaning to be! It was a fun watch. Nothing less but certainly nothing more. Rent it.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s a sexy photo of Mélanie Laurent:

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