Wild, 2014 Review

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Cheryl Strayed and Nick Hornby
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern

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Every now and again, you see a film that really sinks in, deep down, and resonates with you. A film that pulls on heart strings and causes thoughts to swirl up into a dust storm in your head, fogging your vision. A film that captures you, and encapsulates you, and doesn’t let you go until long after you’ve finished watching it.

This is one of those films, for me.

This movie about a troubled girl who needs to get away from civilisation and heads into the desert and forrest to get away from her past to try and find herself, makes me think a lot about myself, particularly when life gets too hard and I try and retreat. I just wish I’d had a trick like this up my sleeve.
On a true adventure of self discovery, Cheryl Strayed hiked 1100 miles alone, in order to get over the severe hardships her life faced, that earns the woman some serious kudos points as far as I’m concerned. I’m all for camping a few days here and there, but we are talking over 90 days in the wilderness with a small tent, mush and very sore feet.

The film is stunningly shot, depicting gorgeous scenery and vast, yet confining landscapes; the overall tone certainly sits very well with that of the story being told. I have to admit, the imagery alone had me contemplating doing a small stretch of the hike myself. Starting out in the desert, as Cheryl hikes north, the landscape changes and becomes more lush, more mountainous, more inviting. And while very subtle, the camera work and cinematography are both very pleasant to watch.

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Then there’s Reese.
She was fabulous in the role, and it’s no wonder, as Cheryl herself sent a copy of the book to Reese 5 months before it was released, in anticipation that were it ever to be made into a film, Reese, and only Reese, should play her character. The emotion that she injects into Cheryl onscreen is just the right amount, the sex scenes have just the right amount of (tasteful) nudity and awkwardness, the drug scenes the right amount of pain, the aura of giving up and being lost.
The character was not a particularly easy role to play – it was severely emotionally charged, but above and beyond that, it was also very physically demanding. I was really impressed with Withersoon and her representation of the range of emotion and the constant pain, coupled with determination.

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For me, the film just struck a cord. I’ve been there, maybe not to the same extent, I’ve not done drugs, or yet lost someone more important or close to me than a grandparent or boyfriend; but just understanding that desire to wipe the slate clean, to start over and re-discover yourself. Maybe, one day, I’ll have the opportunity to do just that.

If you get an opportunity to see this film, I very highly recommend it. And am also very much looking forward to reading the book as well.
Also, it has foxes.

5/5 StarsIMG_0069

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review

Not being a Star Trek fan prior to the 2009 relaunch I was always fairly dubious of watching the films, what with being a Star Wars obsessed geek and all. However, having loved the first installment, I had quite high expectations for this second film. And boy did they deliver!

Aside from my annoying ability to guess almost every plotline that is coming up, I found this film to be an almost magical harmony of action, suspense and comedy. I still love the casting of these films – almost everyone cast fits into their roles quite nicely. One of my favourites is John Cho as Sulu, his ability to shake the character of Harold from the Harold and Kumar series has served him very well indeed, and let’s face it, he’s hot. Then again, so is the lead, the Captain himself – Chris Pine. I think Chris is such a brilliant Jim Kirk, with just the right amount of recklessness balanced by his desire to do what’s right, even if he needs Spock to remind him of that sometimes. I’m not entirely sure how the many die hard Star Trek fans feel about Zachary Quinto as Spock; I can only really take Dr Sheldon Cooper’s opinion on board, and that is that he has worked out quite well for the role. This I agree with, in fact, I enjoy Quinto so much as Spock he makes me want to spend my last $100 on a new Blu Ray player so I can re-watch Heroes from the beginning.

New to the cast for the sequel though, are Benedict Cumberbatch, playing the villain – Khan, and Alice Eve who plays Dr. Carol Marcus. Both are brits, and it will never cease to make me happy that brits are breaking into Hollywood. While Eve has a minor role, she still brings some spark, and a little bit of competition for Spock also. Cumberbatch is just completely in his element in this film – he plays the villain without a hitch, you are never quite sure when he’s going to turn on everyone around him; he’s conniving, intelligent beyond understanding, manipulative and just outright entertaining to watch. His character has depth and is strikingly and impressively easy to empathise with.

Also – a shout out to Noel Clarke – a support role in Doctor Who will always get you somewhere, was super proud to see a whovian on the big screen!

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The visual effects are, of course, stunning. Though the images do sometimes seem quite dark, I felt that the overall feel of the film sits well, it isn’t just a joy ride, this time it is more personal to Kirk and the team. The 3D was fantastic, it works really well, and the end credits just looked awesome. The sound track was also really good, keeping with the feel of the original series, which I love even though I wasn’t a fan.

Over all a great, action packed, fun filled romp. Definitely buying this one on Blu Ray!!

5stars 5 out of 5 stars.

Iron Man 3 Review

I was sincerely excited to see this film. The first two films of the trilogy had, from memory, completely engrossed me and left me anticipating more. Much more.

Initially, I was quite excited to be sitting in the cinema, 3D glasses on, popcorn by my side. Robert Downey Jr. has again reprised the role of Tony Stark (and let’s face it, he IS Tony Stark), and the familiar red and gold suit graced the screen before me once more.

The look of the film was all there – it looked great. The colours of the film give it that grainy war like feel continued from the first film, and there are some other recurring themes also. We see similar images in the background of the terrorist clips we see through out the film, as those that appeared in the cave where Stark was held hostage in the first installment, it’s just a shame they had to recast Rhodey after the first film.

Pepper returns to support Tony in all the areas he needs them, but she has changed a lot since the first film, where her witty comments about taking out the trash had me in a small fit of giggles. She isn’t really funny anymore, and is instead used as the key to keeping Tony focused. While this works for the film, I miss Tony’s reckless boyish charm, and don’t really like having to sit through a love story when I want to watch an action movie.

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SPOILERS:

It was the terrorist videos however, that started to drain me after some time, particularly the way Disney had decided to make Guy Pierce the mastermind (like we didn’t see that coming), and have the man we see in the videos turn out to be a washed up, drunkard out of work actor. ‘The Mandarin‘ – in the comics – was “a genius scientist and a superhumanly skilled martial artist“, and should have been truly feared by Tony and the audience alike. I don’t like this direction away from the comics. If they wanted to have a fake terrorist on the screens, then fine, but they should have created a new character for the role, instead of ruining an already well known one.

I also really disliked Pepper getting superhuman powers (I know that this is in the comics, I just don’t like it) – again, it was simply too predictable, and it bothered me that they felt it necessary to flip the damsel in distress role. It seemed to open a whole idea of further storyline, that we know they wont be pursuing (and if Pepper is in any of the follow up Avengers films featuring super strength and healing powers, I will be most unimpressed).

Aside from these two points, the rest of the film was great, I loved seeing the return of some of the older suits, and the army of automated suits was kinda fun at the end too. Overall, I think the film was well done, summed up the series well and looked great, and lets face it, I’ll buy all three on blu ray eventually.

4.5stars 4.5 out of 5 Stars