A Beautiful Mind (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE and Platoon HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! ūüôā Now let’s hear his thoughts on A Beautiful Mind, IMDB rank 198 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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“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been.”

A Beautiful Mind explores the life of John Nash (Crowe), Nobel Prize winning mathematician.  Beginning with his graduate studies at Princeton, Nash discovers a new concept of governing dynamics, the Nash Equilibrium.  Following Princeton, Nash works at a research lab at MIT doing work for the Pentagon and teaching on the side.  He meets Alicia (Connelly), one of his students, and the two fall in love.  He is also approached by William Parcher (Harris) to do classified work in decoding a Soviet attack on America.

However, not everything is as it appears.

Based on the book of the same name by Sylvia¬†Nasar,¬†A Beautiful Mind¬†is a film that balances a number of movie genres. ¬†It’s got drama,mystery, romance, a little bit of comedy. ¬†The various elements of the film make it insightful, suspenseful, and entertaining on a number of levels.

From a visual perspective, a lot goes on in¬†A Beautiful Mind. ¬†Some of the film’s early scenes, specifically at Princeton, have an older look to them. ¬†I like when a director can add little elements like that. ¬†It helps in contrasting the different time periods throughout the film. ¬†They also do good with showing Nash’s perspective as he sees the various connections and patterns in the math.

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Though some of the character’s¬†mannerisms¬†were annoying to me, Russell Crowe does a great job of bringing John Nash to life. ¬†I’m probably nitpicking more¬†than anything else. ¬†He does well with portraying the paranoid genius who was given “two helping of brain but only a half a helping of heart.” ¬†The real life John Nash visited the set, and Crowe notices some of his tendencies, hand movements, and things of the sort, and incorporated them into his performance.

A Beautiful Mind¬†was filmed almost entirely chronologically, and I think that helped Crowe’s performance as he became Nash and progressed naturally through the various stages of life portrayed in the film.

Jennifer Connelly, wow, what a performance is all I can say. ¬†Even though she doesn’t command every scene she’s in, she gives a strong performance and more than holds her own. ¬†From the beginning of their love story through the pain and anguish later on, her portrayal of Alicia Nash is believable and genuine. ¬†As I’ve looked at some of the other people considered for her role and Crowe’s, I know Ron Howard made the right call with those two.

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Paul¬†Bettany¬†is an interesting character to say the least. ¬†Having¬†portrayed Geoffrey Chaucer in¬†A Knight’s Tale,¬†an entertaining role,¬†Bettany¬†demonstrated his ability to be a sort of classical funnyman in¬†A Beautiful Mind. ¬†Though a lot of his performance has the comedic undertone, he has nuggets of truth and deep insight throughout the film. ¬†Ed Harris also gives a decent performance. ¬†He excels in the serious no-nonsense roles like¬†Parcher. ¬†I don’t know if I would call him a typecast character, but his most memorable performances are ones like this one.

This is a film I’d recommend seeing twice before forming an opinion about it. ¬†I saw this one twice in the theaters: the first time I hated it, the second time I loved it. ¬†Knowing the major plot twist gives perspective and a different understanding to the first half of the film. ¬†¬†Akiva¬†Goldsman, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer created the world through Nash’s perspective, so the audience experiences the major twist at the same time Nash does. ¬†I remember being very confused the first time I saw it, hence not liking it.

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“I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.”

It’s been probably about a decade since I’ve watched¬†A Beautiful Mind.¬† Having a chance to re-visit it for me was enjoyable and a reminder of how great¬†A Beautiful Mind¬†is. ¬†Russell Crowe brings John Nash’s story to life, has great on-screen chemistry with Ed Harris, Paul¬†Bettany, and most importantly Jennifer Connelly. ¬†Ron Howard has created a great film, one certainly deserving of the Best Picture Oscar. ¬†See this one twice if you haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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Gladiator (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of Raging Fluff. He also reviewed North By Northwest HERE. Thanks so much for the reviews, Niall! ūüôā Now let’s see what he has to say about Gladiator, IMDB rank 63 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.

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Gladiator (2000)

*Spoilers That Echo In Eternity

What’s it about? Maximus is a Roman general who’s rather good at decimating bands of Goths (the tribe, not the pale waifs who listen to depressing music). Frail old Emperor Marcus Aurelius loves him like a son, which pisses off his actual son, evil Commodus (inventor of the toilet?). Commodus kills Marcus, betrays Maximus, and for good measure kills his wife and child. Maximus escapes, wanders the earth for a bit (you know, like Kane in Kung Fu), then becomes a gladiator ‚Äď a gladiator who’s very popular with the mob; his fans are Maximaniacs. He makes his way to Rome for the Superbowl World Series Cup Final Bloody Slaughter Championship and plots his revenge.

In a Tagline? It’s Spartacus meets Wrestlemania.

Number of Times Watched? IV or V (see what I did there?)

Verdict? Duos Pollices (Two Thumbs Up)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, David Hemmings.

For a film generally remembered as a rather shouty, violent, and gory sword and sandals revenge tale, it is worth noting that Ridley Scott’s Gladiator begins with a shot that wouldn’t be out of place in Little House on the Prairie: a hand moving across a field of wheat. The pastoral image ‚Äď bathed in gold ‚Äď will return at the film’s end when the hero is killed. Is it a memory of his beloved farm that he has not seen for many years or a premonition of his death? Is it, in fact, a vision of the Elysian Fields?

Gladiator was bestowed with all sorts of critical and commercial praise when it was released in 2000, and the film was a high watermark for most of those involved. It remains the biggest box-office success of Scott`s career; it marked the beginning of a working relationship between director Scott and actor Russell Crowe; it made Crowe a star and earned him an Oscar; it confirmed Joaquin Phoenix as a fierce talent; it introduced audiences to Djimon Hounsou; and it provided Oliver Reed with one of the best roles he ever had, and was his swansong.

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I have no idea how accurate Gladiator is as history, but I`m not sure I care. I`ve watched it several times and let myself be caught up in its sweep and enjoyed it for what it is. It`s no Spartacus, but it`s a whole lot better than most films of this type, mainly due to the performances and the craft with which it`s put together. Scriptwise, it`s a bit daft: it`s a rather simple tale that perhaps takes itself a little too seriously, and has a protagonist seemingly incapable of smiling (usually a bad thing). In fact, the film really only has one good joke, and it`s a film-trivia inside one: Maximus has the figures of two horses on his breastplate, and he tells young Lucius they are called Scarto and Argentio: that`s Trigger and Silver.

The film chiefly concerns fathers and sons, and much of the dialogue is rather ripe but would earn an A+ at the Hollywood School of Greco-Roman Studies. Luckily, it has actors who know how to nibble at the scenery rather than devour it: take note, Gerard Butler.

As Maximus, the betrayed general turned gladiator, Crowe had to carry most of the film and got most of the attention. I found him less interesting here than in his previous films ‚Äď watch Romper Stomper and Proof¬† if you want to see him young and bursting with talent – in spite of the whole “Are you not entertained?‚ÄĚ bit. He adopts the plummy voice he would use in other roles when he wishes to sound dignifed, and he falls back on his acting trick of staring into middle distance and frowning (it’s his go-to expression for sorrow, confusion, grief, and despair). Mind you, when he’s hacking off limbs and heads, he has a grand old time of it. He has become such a stodgy old fart these days, it’s worth seeing him here when he was young and in good shape and hungry.

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Phoenix gives the standout performance of the film for me. His Commodus is psychotic, vain, petty, childish, and cruel. Another actor might have played it over the top, but he manages the difficult trick of being a soft-spoken, sexually confused tyrant, and finds the tragedy in the character. Watch how he plays the scene where he kills his father, Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), and you can see the self-loathing in his face (the scene is very reminiscent of Roy Batty killing Tyrell in Blade Runner).

And then there is Oliver Reed as Proximo, the former gladiator who buys and then mentors Maximus. Reed was twice -blessed as a young actor in the 1960s; he had a foot in the door by virtue of being the nephew of Carol Reed, and he had an earthy, brutal sexiness at a time when many of his peers were fey. He squandered his talent in booze and many shitty films, but he is magnificent here: he plays the part as an old athlete on the sidelines – a coach who still yearns for the thrill of going on to the pitch (‚Äúwin the crowd, and you’ll win your freedom‚ÄĚ) – and when Reed drops his voice to a whisper, it’s haunting.

The action scenes are very well done, even if the tiger special effects look a bit naff at this point. Hans Zimmer’s score owes a bit of a debt to Gustav Holst, but it’s still one of his best, helped largely by his choice of instruments and by the ethereal voice of Lisa Gerrard.

As with anything by Scott, the film looks incredible, with detail and lighting that other directors seem incapable of. Scott has been criticised often for his poor storytelling, and of being more interested in the surface aesthetics than in any depth of character, but here I think he did a great job of delivering a grand old-style sword and sandals epic.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com

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Man Of Steel (2013) Review

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Man Of Steel

Directed by Zack Snyder

Produced by
Christopher Nolan
Charles Roven
Emma Thomas
Deborah Snyder

Starring
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Diane Lane
Kevin Costner
Laurence Fishburne
Antje Traue
Ayelet Zurer
Russell Crowe

Music by Hans Zimmer

Plot Synopsis:

Honestly, I can’t be bothered. Lol! It’s Superman. You know the general plot.

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My Opinion (no spoilers):

My reviews have gotten way too wordy. This movie will have already been reviewed a lot (I’m looking forward to catching up on all your great reviews here now that I’ve seen this). So I’m going to try to keep this short & sweet by doing my “good” and “not so good” thing.

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The Good:

– The casting. It was excellent. So many people in this were the exact right choices for their roles. I thought the very best were actually Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon. Now, Crowe and Costner are NOT actors I like all that much. But they were bloody PERFECT in these roles. And, luckily, Crowe doesn’t sing in this one. Lol. As for Superman himself, Henry Cavill, he seemed the right choice. I’ve only just seen this so still thinking about it. He certainly has the perfect look to play Superman (as I picture Superman which, to my mind because of my age, is mostly Christopher Reeve). I know nothing of the comics (give me a break – I’m a girl). :-p But his look seems just right. And Amy Adams is my favorite actress so I’ll say nothing bad about her. She’s sweet and has an adorable little nose. But she’s the one my hubby didn’t think fit the part. I dunno. I’ll let others decide on that – I just like her as an actress.

– The beginning. It was a little hard to get into at first as it’s very different from the 1978 Superman I grew up with and have an affection for even though I know it’s far from perfect. But thinking about it now, I really liked how Man Of Steel started. It was great seeing so much of his world and getting to know more of his backstory than I previously knew (I have very little Superman knowledge).

– Superman’s families. On his home world and on Earth. As I said, it was great seeing more of his home world and his mother & father. Crowe was perfect as his father. Ayelet Zurer, his mother, seemed a good choice as well from what we see of her. And as I said, Kevin Costner & Diane Lane were absolutely perfect. My favorite bits of the whole movie were probably the ones with Superman & both these families. Very good character development as far as all the parents & their relationships with Superman were concerned.

– Shirtless Superman. Very nice. Overall, he’s not my type. The face is too chiseled and I like my dark-haired guys to have chocolate brown eyes and I like them to have more of a “boy next door” look. He’s too handsome. Nice bare chest, though! And a bit of hair on his chest – not one of these hairless girly boys. Think I preferred him with the beard, too – hides that crazy “man of steel” jaw. Am I going on too much? I’ll shut up now. (Thor is hotter) ūüėČ

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The Not So Good:

– Too much action & too much CGI. Yes, there CAN be too much action sometimes and there was too much in this, especially at the end. And too much CGI ALWAYS annoys me. I’m old school that way.

– Some of the character development. It wasn’t too bad at first but I really was expecting more than we got and am a little disappointed by that. Lois Lane was probably the most underdeveloped. Oh, and those she works with – we were suddenly meant to care about them at the end when we’d seen so little of them. And Superman himself could have done with a bit more development. They did try with him, however. But it didn’t QUITE work for me. I didn’t feel his “internal struggle superhero thang” as much as I’d have liked – I think they almost achieved this then messed it up at the end by going so overboard on the action. I’m not entirely sure if this was the fault of the actor, or the script, or what. Perhaps he wasn’t exactly right for the role? I’ve still not decided. And I didn’t fully buy into his relationship with Lois Lane. That felt a bit weak. Thank god for Superman’s parents – without the scenes with them, I think I’d have felt nothing at all for his character. He just really lacks a personality in this. However, we get a little glimpse of personality at the end that I’m really REALLY hoping we get to see more of in a sequel. Give him a personality! And more shirtless scenes.

The flashbacks. This is a minor thing but I didn’t like them showing his childhood & teen years in flashback. I felt the movie kind of lost something doing it this way. I really would have liked to see him grow up on Earth in chronological order. I just didn’t like the “back and forth” at that point in the movie. Plus I’d have liked to see much more of his younger years to better understand his character, especially as the second half of the movie ended up so disappointing compared to the first half.

The finale. It was too much. It was too long. It was WAY over the top. The more I think about it, the more I really did NOT like the last 45 minutes or so of this film. Or however long it was – it FELT very long indeed. Very disappointing after such a strong beginning & middle.

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Summary:

A promising reboot with a good beginning & middle that is, unfortunately, almost completely destroyed by a very disappointing and ridiculously over-the-top finale. Some excellent casting, particularly both sets of Superman’s parents, is what saves this film and gives it the depth and character development needed to make the audience care in the slightest about these characters & what happens to them. Without Crowe, Costner, Lane & Zurer (the parents), I have to be honest and say that this film would have been a complete and utter disaster. The final scene, however, gave me a glimmer of hope for the sequel. Overall, the movie IS “promising” in that I think there’s the promise of a brilliant sequel in Superman’s future if they do things right next time and make it far more like the first half than the second half of Man Of Steel. Unfortunately, we’re only given the hope of a great movie in the future instead of a great one this time. Disappointing.

My Rating: 6/10

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So where does Man Of Steel rank in my recent list of My Top Ten Superhero Movies? Have a look HERE. ūüôā

And here for all the movies I’ve seen in 2013.

*preparing for the angry comments… Lol!* *Especially now that I’ve edited this & lowered the rating…*