Showing posts with label mark strong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mark strong. Show all posts

5 March 2015

Blu-ray Review - The imitation Game (2014)

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Studio Canal
Rating: 12
Morten Tyldum
Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley,  Mark Strong, Matthew Goode
Release: 9th March 2015
Buy:The Imitation Game [Blu-ray]

The Imitation Game, as everyone probably knows at this point, is about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was one of the radical figures in the creation of what we now know as the computer. He was also homosexual, and was convicted by the police as a result. Due to being forced to undertake chemical castration, he later committed suicide. The film was an early front runner for the Academy Awards and ended up being triumphant in the adapted screenplay category.

In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch has never been better; he perfectly captures a driven man who has ideas too large for his time. He also manages to capture the paranoia Turing suffers after the war, specifically in the scenes where he is interrogated, which eventually leads to his downfall. Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke who was one of the code breakers but had to operate in secret because of the sexism of the time. The rest of the cast is full of solid British actors like Mark Strong and Matthew Goode.

The production design is top notch by Maria Djurkovic who also did Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which also shared some of the same cast). Both have an attention to period detail that is sorely lacking in many films. Oscar Faura shot it and he has been doing beautiful work for a long with films like The Orphanage and The Machinist and this no exception. Finally the director Morten Tyldum solidly puts it all together, even if at times it seems as though it’s begging for an Academy Award.

The film works on many levels; it’s firstly a nail-biting thriller that is gripping from the moment it starts to it’s sad climax, but it also works as a solid war film that shows the behind the scenes of what really won the war. Not only that, but it also works as a depiction of a time when being yourself could lead to prison, or in the case of Turing, even worse. The film is actually surprisingly funny throughout which is surprising given the subject matter, but Turing's interactions with high officials and his team of code breakers are laugh out loud funny as times. The Imitation Game is one of the better British films to be released in 2014, in a year where there were a surprising amount of British films up for the major awards in the US.

The Blu-ray release includes 3 features including 2 on the true history of the story, and finally the more standard making of.


Ian Schultz

10 June 2013

Zero Darky Thirty DVD Review

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After missing Zero Dark Thirty's theatrical run, I settled on straight to DVD alternative Code Name: Geronimo which also detailed US Navy Seal's hunt for Bin Laden as well as the political and military politics building up to this. Whilst the cheaper version was an honourable attempt to portray these events, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty will remain the definitive interpretation of one of the most prominent moments in military history.

Zero Dark Thirty follows Maya (Jessica Chastain) a CIA agent who is inherently driven by the concept of hunting down Bin Laden. We see Maya sit through brutal interrogations with suspected terrorists in her hunt for information, which ultimately leads to threats against her own life. The last segment of the feature details a US Navy Seal team using Maya's intelligence to raid Bin Laden's compound and finally take down the figure-head of Al Qaeda.

Despite a hefty runtime of 157 minutes, Zero Dark Thirty remains fast paced throughout thanks to a sharp screenplay from Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and energetic direction from Bigelow. Boal's screenplay feels completely convincing in its portrayal of the events (whether it is or not is anyone's guess), with every information/military briefing meeting feeling grounded in tension and political gravitas. Boal's narrative gradually unwinds with every piece of information that Maya learns, allowing Zero Dark Thirty to detailing the highly dangerous world of the CIA.

Bigelow's direction is tense and hold viewer's attentions in a tight-grip throughout. Whether taking an action-centric or more dramatic approach (many of the tracking/discussion sequences are far more gripping than the action ones) Zero Dark Thirty remains completely entrancing. The raid on the compound in the film's conclusion is thrilling, despite reflecting that this was not a clean-cut mission - several innocent people were taken out. Despite this, it is hard not to feel like there is a sinister pleasure behind many of these action scenes - with the quick editing and high-octane style reflecting some form of brutal gung-ho quest for blood and revenge. This can make Zero Dark Thirty feel like a rather dubious, problematic watch.

The cast lead with utter conviction, in particular the magnificent Jessica Chastain who captures Maya's unparalleled drive to end this manhunt - which is truly showcased in the film's final sequence. Supporting turns from Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, and Chris Pratt also round off the stellar cast. Also look out for an odd appearance from John Barrowman and Brit action favourite Scott Adkins.

There is no doubt that Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping and truly thrilling watch. Boal's screenplay feels like an accurate and detailed depiction of this military manhunt, whilst Bigelow champions this through slick, tense direction. However, it is hard to ignore these sense of gleeful brutality and bloodlust in the film's final act.


Andrew McArthur

Rating: 15
DVD/BD Release Date: 10th June 2013 (UK)
Buy:Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
Win: Zero Dark Thirty on Blu Ray (opens up on a The Peoples Movies page)

15 March 2013

GFF 2013 - Welcome to the Punch Review

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When he introduced his second feature film, writer/director Eran Creevey commented that Welcome to the Punch was an old fashioned kind of Friday night fun. Though Creevey’s film is indeed visually impressive and slick as Hell, it’s not the action-romp the review snips keep heralding.
                Starting off with a well-executed Dark Knight/Heat heist-turned-chase, the film promises a killer rollercoaster for the audience, a gang of suited criminals carry their payload out of an uber-modern office type space, jump on the back of some motorbikes and speed off into the night with James McAvoy’s hot-headed detective in pursuit. It’s a stellar opening, capturing the potential for London as a metropolis just as suited to cinema as San Fran or Chicago, but without forgetting that it’s not. Unfortunately the rest of the film seems to dwindle itself away on a murky plot, too focused on the politics behind the whole affair rather than truly letting the flow lose itself in spontaneity.
 Though you’ll feel short-changed on action sequences, Creevey is obviously comfortable with them.  There’s a great pace to his action, a streamlined but dangerous quality to the shootouts, which actually makes them believable. It’s incredible how often violence in films can seem so slight (The Dark Knight Rises?)  so it’s a pleasure to watch some well-choreographed ferocity. Saying that, there is one –albeit hilarious- iffy scene of style-over-substance; a shoot-out at one of the robbers granny’s place. You might not see anything as funny as Peter Mullan holding a gun to an old woman’s head this year, but Creevey should have drew the line at slow-mo.

Strong is on top form, every bit the professional criminal and Peter Mullan steals scenes with much needed humour. You can’t help but think this is Strong and Mullan’s show, but Mullan doesn’t get the screen time he deserves. Same could be said for David Morrissey who appears as police chief, a thin character for such a great actor, though he gets to prove his worth by the end. Not to say there’s any issues with McAvoy, but a bizarre move to glorify every step he takes and every word he says ends up making many of his scenes seem melodramatic. That’s not particularly attractive for an action movie.
What’s infuriating about the film is that it regains that action perfection, presented in the opening, for its grand finale, leaving us all thinking why there was so much grey space of political confusion, plotting, and McAvoy sucking gunk out of his manky knee.   Better balance would have left the overall feel of the film in healthier stead. Still, the cinematography is stunning throughout and technically well-conceived (if a little too…blue), and there’s plenty of merit to Creevey’s second feature.

 Although there’s plenty of issues in pace and plot, Welcome to the Punch has the right idea. Good action, great cast, but falls short on being that all-out Friday night fun you might be looking for.

Scott Clark


Release Date: 15th March 2013 (UK)
Directed By