Fairy Tale Blogathon: Ridley Scott’s LEGEND (1985)

FairyTaleBlogathonPicWhen I saw that there’s a blogathon on Fairy Tale movies, hosted by Movies Silently, I jumped at the chance to participate. Alas I discovered it too late that most of the movies I wanted to review had been picked by others.

But then I remembered about Legend, which is a fairy tale/ fantasy film by Ridley Scott that I’ve been curious about. The film’s received some kind of a cult status, and the fact that it also stars Tom Cruise piqued my interest even more. Apparently there are the theatrical and director’s cut [as is often the case w/ Ridley Scott’s works] and the one I saw on iTunes is the theatrical version.

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I knew the movie would be rather campy, a la Flash Gordon, I mean it’s the 80s after all! As the film opens, we’re treated to a really wordy exposition talking about darkness and light and setting up who’s who in the movie: a girl (Lily), a boy (Jack), unicorns and the devil himself, Lord of Darkness. The visuals and set pieces are actually pretty darn good for a film of its time, there’s an atmospheric quality to it that works for this genre. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given Scott’s meticulous hand in creating an imaginative world for his films.

Tom Cruise and Mia Sara play the two lovebirds who supposedly represent what’s good in the world… Jack and Lily are innocent and pure, though we barely know just who these people are and how they meet, etc. Then the story seems to have taken the ‘Adam & Eve’ route in that Eve Lily does the forbidden thing when she touches an angelic-looking unicorn despite Jack’s vehement warning. Apparently it’s a huge no-no in their universe though the unicorns themselves don’t seem to mind it. So of course that incident propels a series of bad things, including one of the unicorn getting its horn cut off and Lily herself being kidnapped by Darkness’ minions.

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Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness is no doubt the best thing about this film with his deep baritone voice and vivacious yet maniacal style, but he’s given so little screen time here. It’s a real shame as his devilish makeup is quite entertaining in and of itself, it’s like a combination of The Joker + Hellboy with big horns and flappy ears. It’s no wonder the makeup team got an Oscar nomination for their crafty work. The English actor relished in being an evil lord and gleefully flash his trademark Cheshire cat grin and deep hearty laugh.

Legend_TimCurryCruise seems rather out of place here and he pretty much just runs around in his hideous scale mail dress, though it’s amusing to see him looking so boyish and fresh-faced here pre his Scientology indoctrination. Let’s just say he gets better with age not just in looks but also in screen presence as he doesn’t seem at all confident or compelling here in comparison to his other heroic roles he’s played in his career. Mia Sara is just ok as the heroine, nothing special. Lily is far more interesting when she dons a very revealing outfit that’s no doubt handpicked by Lord Darkness himself, but otherwise she’s a rather bland character.

The story is inherently cheesy and predictable, but I wouldn’t have mind it so much if it weren’t so boring or worse, mind-numbingly irritating. The movie spends so much time with the silly goblins and those annoying elves/dwarves whom Jack encounter on his journey to fight Darkness and rescue his girlfriend from his possession. Their scenes are just pointless and again, hugely irritating that I actually had to fast forward past them. There’s a big fight scene towards the end between Jack and Darkness, but I wish there’s more screen time between the two of them.

Cruise_LegendFor the most part, Legend is just so cliché-ridden and absurd that it’s unintentionally hilarious. It certainly doesn’t live up to its name as I don’t think the film merits any kind of exalted status. Neither the hero nor heroine [or unicorns for that matter] really inspire anything and so devoid of personalities to make any kind of impact. The soundtrack of the theatrical cut is scored by Tangerine Dream and the synthesized sound actually fits the ethereal look and dreamy mood of the film, though after a while it also gets to be too much that it feels overindulgent. Oh and apparently Sir Ridley has sort of a fairy dust obsession here the way J.J. Abrams is with lens flare, poor Tom and Mia must’ve been engulfed in them in this one schmaltzy scene.

So overall I guess I wasn’t too impressed with this one. In fact it’s nuts to think this is from the same guy who directed the likes of Blade Runner and Gladiator! The concept of dark/light and the allegory of good & evil is intriguing, and it’s a theme that’s always timely. I just think the execution misses the mark and it’s not as entertaining nor meaningful as it could’ve been. I don’t regret seeing it though, as the visuals and atmospheric quality is wonderful and the contrast of the good vs evil is beautifully realized. As far as fantasy movies go, it doesn’t hold a candle to other period pieces in its genre like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Pan’s Labyrinth or The Princess Bride.

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Have you seen this film? I’d love to hear what you think!

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A Fisti Recast-athon: The Devil Wears Prada, Gravity, and Michael Clayton

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Now THIS is a blogathon I can’t wait to take part! Andrew over at A Fistful of Films blog just had a brilliant idea for a recast-athon, similar to what I did here but this time with a slight twist. I’ll let him explain in his own words…

Here is my issue with Hollywood. It seems like these talented women (the men have it much easier) are either relegated to minority-necessary casting (like, we NEED a black actress in this movie because the character is a slave) or they get shoved onto television, where they flourish in short-lived TV shows that the average cinephile has probably never heard of.  It is very rare that a top rate director is going to use an actress of color in a role that doesn’t call for one. Obviously, there are a lot of biopic nominations going on all over the place, but taking those out…look at some of these roles and tell me if they couldn’t have been filled by an actress of color.

  • Nina Sayers (Black Swan)
  • Nic (The Kids are All Right)
  • Cindy (Blue Valentine)
  • Megan (Bridesmaids)
  • Tiffany (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Cheryl (The Sessions)
  • Dolores (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Jasmine (Blue Jasmine)
  • Ryan Stone (Gravity)
  • Ginger (Blue Jasmine)

So here are the RULES:

1)  Pick an OSCAR NOMINATED performance given by a white actress that didn’t require a white actress (no biopics here, even though Todd Haynes taught us that you don’t need to be the same race or gender to play a real life person).  This performance can come from ANY film year.

2)  Pick an actress of color who could have been a great fit for the role instead of the one cast.  Keep in mind the time of release and chose actresses who were working at that time. So, in other words, don’t select the role of Calla Mackie in 1968’s Rachel, Rachel (played by Estelle Parsons) and suggest it be a great fit for Naomie Harris, because, well, she wasn’t born for another eight years.

3)  Explain WHY that actress would have made a great fit.  Plead her case.  Let’s tell those Hollywood casting directors what they’re missing.


I LOVE this idea! I often think the same thing too that a lot of these roles could’ve easily been done by so many non-white actresses. I love that Drew focuses on actresses as non-white MALE actors certainly do get it easier than the female counterparts. It’s a shame really as there are SO many talented & beautiful actress of color out there who remain so underutilized. So here are three actresses who I think could’ve given an equally good performance in these Oscar-nominated roles:

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Angela Bassett as Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)

BassettMirandaPriestlyI have always been a big fan of miss Bassett. In fact, I have sort of a girl crush on her from Waiting To Exhale. She obviously epitomizes a strong, perceptive, no-nonsense woman but she has a certain vulnerability as well that make me think she’d be great as Miranda. Bassett is nine years younger than Meryl Streep, but I don’t think age is an issue here. In an era where Lucky Fashion Magazine’s editor in chief and Banana Republic’s creative director are of Taiwanese and Korean descent respectively, why not have a Black woman play a Fashion Mag editor in the movies?

I think Bassett would rock the role with her dramatic chops, and she also has a playful side and a rockin’ body that’d look phenomenal in high fashion. As Meryl portrays Miranda less as a sadistic monster of a boss but more of a fierce/demanding figure, I think Bassett can do the same given her naturally-likable persona.

Bonus: It’d be cool to see gorgeous British actress Naomie Harris in the role of Andy Sachs, the naive college grad who moved to NYC and lands a job as Miranda’s co-assistant.

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I’ve been impressed by Naomie in 28 Days Later, Skyfall and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and I’d LOVE to see her in more prominent roles. She’s even more beautiful than Anne Hathaway but I think she could be made up to look more like the girl-next-door.

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Michelle Yeoh as Ryan Stone (Gravity)

YeohRyanStoneWhen I first saw the trailer of Gravity, I was a bit surprised to see Sandra Bullock as Biomedical engineer Ryan Stone on her first space shuttle mission. She just wasn’t the actress I had in mind in the role, though she did a great job in the end and I think her Oscar nomination was well deserved. Now, I read that Natalie Portman was originally the first choice for the role, but heh, if only Hollywood would think outside the box once in a while. I think an actress who’d suit the role nicely is Michelle Yeoh. It’d somewhat coincide nicely the fact that in June 2012, Chinese space pilot Liu Yang became the first Chinese woman in space.

Yeoh is actually two years older than Bullock at 52, though both look at least 10 years younger than their age. I always think of the former Miss Malaysia is hugely underrated, despite having churned out great performances in Crouching Tiger, Sunshine, Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies and recently, The Lady.

I think her martial-art training and dance background would help with the rigorous physicality required for the role. She also has the dramatic chops to pull off the quieter moments of desperation that Stone encounters when she was all alone in space. I really think Yeoh would’ve done a wonderful job in the role and the film would’ve had an ever bigger International appeal given her popularity in Asia.

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Viola Davis as Karen Crowder (Michael Clayton)

ViolaDavisKarenChowderI had put down miss Davis in this role before I saw her in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them where she played a tough but compassionate NYU professor. But now I’m more convinced she’d have been awesome in the role. As she is now playing yet another sharp-witted character, a tough-talking, shrewd defense attorney/law professor in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, you know she would be perfect as the general counsel of an agricultural conglomerate.

I think Hollywood might be reluctant to cast an actor of color in such an unsympathetic role, but I think it’d be a challenging and fun role for someone of Davis’ talent. Chowder is ruthless and even callous, willing to take a life when her cause demands it. But she’s also suffering from a mental breakdown and tough she appears tough and in control in the outside, on the inside she is crippled with anxiety and fear. Though I LOVE Tilda Swinton’s Oscar-winning performance, I can totally see Davis pulling off such an inner conflict with aplomb. Davis’ adept use of subtle body language as well as her magnetic screen presence would also work wonder for such a role.


What do you think of my recast-athon picks? If you were to do your own recasting, who would YOU pick?

The Spielberg Blogathon: Reminiscing about Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jurassic Park

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This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs

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When Ruth asked me to participate in the Steven Spielberg blogathon, I wasn’t sure what to write about so I figured I should do a write up about two films of his that I’ve watched many times. These two films also made me into a film fanatic and home theater enthusiast that I am today.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I was born in the Far East and the martial arts films was the only genre I’d watch, but after seeing this film I became a fan of American action films. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first saw this film, my family and I were living in the Philippines Islands at the time and I saw it at some old movie theater. I was too young to really understood what the film was about but the visual and of course the action pulled me in. I still remember that the film’s climatic scene gave me nightmares, I freaked out when I saw the villains’ faces melt off and they were burned alive.

But I still thought the film was magic and when my family and I arrived to the States a year later, I begged my parents to buy me a VHS copy of the film. What’s so funny was that I didn’t know there were sequels until I saw a TV spot of The Last Crusade the year we arrived in the States. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the third film on the big screen but watched it several times on VHS. Then a couple of years later I watched Temple of Doom on the old Sci-Fi Channel. I enjoyed the two sequels but to me Raiders is still the best in the series.

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I’ve owned this film on many formats, first I had the VHS copy then later when I was able to afford a LaserDisc player, I bought a LD version of the film. When DVD became popular, I of course bought the DVD set then just a couple of years ago I got the Bluray set, unfortunately I had to buy the dreadful fourth film too.

Since Spielberg is a big fan of David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia is one of his favorite films, he even stated that the film’s script is the best ever written, so Raiders of the Lost Ark was his ultimate tribute to Lean’s classic film.

 

Jurassic Park

The summer of 1993 was dubbed Arnold vs. Sly since both of those action stars had two big films opening in the same summer and the so-called industry “experts” predicted that Sly’s Cliffhanger and Arnold’s Last Action Hero would dominate the box office. Of course Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was also one of the hyped up films but no one expected it would stomped both Sly’s and Arnold’s films. Sure I was excited to see new action films from Sly and Arnold but I super excited to see this film about dinosaurs. It’s one of the first films to have included full CGI effects in many scenes and it’s about dinosaurs!

Yes, like many kids back in those days, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and I’ve just finished Michael Crichton’s novel that it’s based on. I still remember to this day which theater I saw the film at on opening weekend and still remember how at awe I was after the film was over. The first time I saw the CGI dinosaurs, my jaw dropped and throughout the film, I had a smile on my face. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the cinemas. I actually went to see the film twice on the opening weekend, around this time digital surround sound was pretty new in movie theaters so I wanted to hear the T-Rex’s roar in full digital sound over and over again. I was bummed that I couldn’t make it to the re-release on IMAX last year. With an opening weekend of over $50mil, it’s a record opening at that time. I think the summer of 1993 should’ve been called, T-Rex stomped Sly and Arnold.

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Like Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’ve owned this film on many formats. First VHS then LaserDisc and years later on DVD. Recently I bought it on Bluray but I have yet to watch it. Apparently Universal didn’t give the film a proper HD transfer so I was hesitant to buy it. Since I haven’t watched the film in a couple of years, I need to see and hear it in HD soon. This film also turned me into a home theater enthusiast, as mentioned earlier, I saw the film at a theater that has the new digital surround sound and after experiencing that, I wanted to have a home theater. Of course being a high school kid, I didn’t have the money to buy home theater products yet. But as I’ve gotten older and can earn bigger pay checks, I’ve invested some good amount of cash on home entertainment. In a way, I can thank and blame this Spielberg’s film for making me obsess with home theater.

Spielberg is one of the best filmmakers ever and these two films proved that he can make films that can please both the critics and audiences.

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What do you think of these two films, were you lucky enough to have seen them on the big screen? Do share your memories on the comments section.

The Spielberg Blogathon: My Top 10 Favorite Spielberg-Directed Films

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This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs

I first learned about this blogathon from my pal Michael’s blog, and having grown up watching a bunch of Spielberg’s films, naturally I have to take part! Steven Spielberg is such a legend because so many of his films are not only entertaining but they have such strong emotional resonance and timeless quality about them. For this list, I’m focusing on the 50+ films that Spielberg has directed, as there are nearly 150 projects that he has produced for both TV and film. I didn’t realize this until I made the list but the scores of ALL of the films on my top 10 are done by John Williams! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as a lot of the scores also made my top 10 scores by the legendary composer.

So here they are ranked from bottom to top so #1 is my MOST favorite :D

10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

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Many great sci-fis dealing with artificial intelligence make us ponder what it means to be human, and this film definitely did so. The story about a robot boy who desires to be real and craves real love from his parents was poignant and emotional, it’s not a cold or distant type of sci-fi that’s more concerned about cool set pieces and futuristic designs. The moral dilemmas presented here are genuinely thought provoking, with compelling performances from Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law and Frances O’Connor.

9. The Terminal (2004)

TheTerminal

It’s a story about an immigrant from an Eastern European country finds himself stranded in JFK airport. Though the story takes a lot of liberty from the real thing, I was quite engrossed and entertained by this. It’s perhaps one of my favorite Tom Hanks‘ performance in an underrated but endearing role. Hanks is an immensely and effortlessly likable actor, which makes him the perfect actor to portray Viktor Navorski. Even with an exaggerated Russian-sounding accent, the actor is at his most charming here as he befriends the airport staff and even took a chance at romance. This is also the first time I saw the then-unknown Zoë Saldana as a Trekkie Immigration Officer, which is interesting as she later plays Uhura in the J.J. Abrams movie!

8. Catch Me If You Can (2005)

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Leo DiCaprio at his most charming and, with his Jack Dawson looks and that devil-may-care swagger. I guess this is like Wolf of Wall Street lite as both Jordan Belfort and Frank Abagnale Jr are both charming con artists. I love the retro look and feel of the movie and the sense of fun in the chase as the FBI are on to catch the teenage fraudster. The dynamic between Frank and the federal agent played by Tom Hanks is fun to watch, they definitely play off each other well. There are also great supporting cast and cameo throughout, including Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Garner. The lighter tone somehow work nicely here, with the darker moments only sprinkled throughout which showcase Frank’s vulnerability to great effect.

7. Empire of the Sun (1987)

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I saw this one fairly recently and I wish I had seen it sooner. Even at such a young age, it’s evident that Christian Bale had the chops to carry a film. I’m usually not into war films but I do like it when it focuses more on a certain character’s life being affected by war and this one shows that from the perspective of a young boy named Jim ‘Jamie’ Graham. There is an epic quality to the production, as one would expect from Spielberg, yet it feels personal and intimate at the same time. I love the unlikely relationship between Jamie and the soldiers in the camp, particularly Basie (John Malkovich). It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story and a survival tale that certainly lingers long after the end credits.

6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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I was pretty young when I saw this movie and it’s one of those movies that one simply doesn’t forget. It might’ve been one of the earliest movies about alien that I saw [well apart from Superman which came out a few years before] and perhaps cemented my love for sci-fi movies. There’s a sense of wonderment in Spielberg movies that definitely appealed to this wide-eyed kid filled with curiosity. The fact that I was the same age as Drew Barrymore‘s character when I saw this made me identify with her even more. I remember wondering what it would be like if there were such an alien creature living in my grandma’s garage. E.T. is the kind of film that fuels the imagination and of course it’s got so much heart, who didn’t at least tear up watching the bicycle scene as it flies across the full moon? It’s also one of the most iconic cinematic scenes ever.

5. Minority Report (2002)

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I regard this as one of my favorite sci-fi movies. I own the Blu-ray and on recent rewatch, I was amazed how this movie still holds up to this day. A lot of futuristic films often look dated even a few years after they’re released but somehow the concepts still feel fresh and modern. The whole *Precrime* notion doesn’t seem all that far-fetched now, not to mention having those annoying ads who know who we are. It’s interesting to see how some of the technology presented here have been realized, while some are still being dreamed up [wonder if we’d have flying cars by 2054? Wouldn’t that be nice?]. I find this movie immensely entertaining and intriguing, with Tom Cruise playing what he does best as a former cop on the run. Though I’ve seen this repeatedly, I’m still surprised by that twist towards the end, thanks to a great performance by Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell. Samantha Morton is also memorable here as one of the three Precogs who could predict the future.

4. Schindler’s List (1993)

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One of the most, if not THE most, essential holocaust film ever made, this film is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. I’ve only seen Schindler’s List once but it’s one I shall never forget, in fact, some of the scenes are forever etched in my mind. It’s one of the most powerful displays of the best AND worst of humanity, as well as a testament how a single person can make a difference even in the most dire circumstances. There are so many indelible performances here, Liam Neeson as the hero is as iconic as Ralph Fiennes‘ villainous turn as Amon Goeth. John Williams‘ evocative, soul-piercing score makes the whole experience even more unforgettable. It’s not a hyperbole to call this one Spielberg’s masterpiece.

3. Jurassic Park (1993)

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I had just rewatched this recently and I was reminded by how wonderfully entertaining this is. Even the latest Godzilla still falls short as it lacks that sense of wonderment and sense of humor. Jurassic Park is such a thrilling ride from start to finish, filled with great, memorable characters courtesy of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern. Of course those cloned dinosaurs are wildly entertaining, as terrifying as they are dazzling thanks to the special effects prowess of Stan Wilson & co. Too bad the sequels never measure up to this amazing original film.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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I’m still mad at Spielberg for ruining his own awesome franchise with that godawful fourth movie! I grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies with my two older brothers and to this day I’m still a huge fan of the first and third movies. Infused with fun action, special effects and a dose of good humor, it’s the quintessential action adventure that never gets old with multiple rewatches. Plus you’ve got an awesome heroine who’s equally charming & fun to watch, Karen Allen‘s Marion. The chemistry between the two is perfect, absolutely perfect. Speaking of perfection, Harrison Ford made the role of the archaeologist adventurer so iconic. It’s crazy to think that George Lucas wasn’t keen on casting him initially [Tom Selleck was the first choice], I really can’t imagine anyone topping Ford as Indy in the inevitable remakes.

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

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This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not just from Spielberg but of ALL movies I’ve seen in my life. There are just so much to love here, even more so than the first one thanks to the inspired casting of Sean Connery as Indy’s father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. They’ve become my favorite cinematic duo ever, apparently there was an inside joke to say that James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones, ha! There are quite a few actors here who’ve been in various Bond movies: John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody & Julian Glover, they’re all great in their respective roles. This movie has everything I loved about the first movie, but on top of the sense of humor and rousing adventure, we’ve got that spiritual aspect going for it that fits perfectly with the familial theme of the film. That whole finale in the mysterious Holy Grail is so wonderfully-filmed and leaves a lasting impression for years to come.

 


HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

1975 Jaws
2005 Munich
2005 War of the Worlds
2011 The Adventures of Tintin
2011 War Horse

Well that’s my top 10 faves from Spielberg. Which movie(s) would be on YOUR top 10 list?

The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Blog Relay

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Yet another Blog Relay is circulating on the blogosphere! When I first saw this awesome relay idea on Bubbawheat’s Flights, Tights and Movie Nights Blog, I thought boy that’s something I’d love to participate. Well, waddayaknow, the fantabulous Andrew from A Fistful of Films passed the baton to me, hurray! :D

The rule here is slightly different than a typical blog relay you might’ve seen in the past, so I’ll let Bubbawheat explain it in his own words:

Now the first thing you might be asking is “why are there 12 movies in this top 10 list?” Well there are a couple changes that I’m making to the typical blog relay. Here are the rules for my relay.

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.
3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it is locked into place.
4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be chosen by someone else.
5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.
6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.
7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

I will keep the current status of the relay here and you can also follow the steps of the relay as it goes along.

Check out the original relay post to see which initial 12 films made the list.
Andrew removed Hellboy 2, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and X-Men.
He then added Chronicle, Mystery Men and The Rocketeer.

So here’s the list as it currently stands:

The Avengers
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The Dark Knight
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Superman
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Spider-Man 2
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The Incredibles
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Iron Man
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Blade 2
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Batman Returns
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Unbreakable
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Chronicle
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Mystery Men
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The Rocketeer
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The three I’m removing:Chronicle_Blade2_MysteryMen Chronicle | Blade 2 | Mystery Men

Sorry Drew for removing two of the ones you added, no hard feelings? ;) As I often say in other blog relays, I’m not so much removing them as I’m just moving them down the list if this were a top 2.

Now, I like Chronicle a lot (I gave it a 4/5 in my review) and if I only need to take out two instead of three movies, I might’ve let that in. I do think that even though it’s inventive, there are plot holes abound and the finale might’ve been a bit too bombastic that it felt like an abrupt shift in tone. As for Blade 2, I LOVE Wesley Snipes in the role but I just don’t know if any of the Blade movies deserve to make the top 10. I hardly remember much about them, so they didn’t leave a lasting impression to me other than Snipes look cool as a bad ass ninja vampire. Lastly, I took out Mystery Men because I haven’t seen it yet. Sorry again Drew, but I really tried to see if there’s another movie on the list I could take out but  in the end I had to let this one go. But since you included it, I might give it a rent :D

The three I’m adding:

BatmanBeginsWinterSoldierX2Batman BeginsCaptain America: The Winter SoldierX-Men 2

I’m a huge fan of Nolan’s first entry to the Batman trilogy. In fact, I dare say that Batman Begins is as good as The Dark Knight and sets the bar high for a superhero film. I like that it focuses on the hero instead of the villain, and Christian Bale makes for a caped crusader who’s truly worth rooting for. I love it so much I’d even be willing to forgive the Katie Holmes casting! Now The Winter Soldier is still quite fresh in my mind and I do believe it deserves to be in the final top 10 because it has everything you’d want in an entertaining superhero flick and then some. It’s a successful genre-mashup, mixing the traditional superhero genre with a Cold-War espionage story, that expands the characters’ arc and takes the story forward in a thrilling way. As for X-2, well I think at least ONE X-Men film deserved to be on the list and I agree with Drew’s rationale that X-Men 2: X-Men United is a better film than the first film. The opening scene at the White House is fantastic and Brian Cox is one of my fave superhero movie villains as covert government operative Stryker. The multi-layered story combined with great performances gave the film a dramatic weight that transcend beyond fun entertainment. Not to mention the most indelible and emotional finale involving one of my favorite X-Men characters Jean Grey, as mutant vs. human struggle continues… ever closer to the brink of war. Powerful stuff!


Well I hope that at least one of my three pics would stay to the end ;)

I’m passing the baton to my pal & fellow superhero movie fan Terrence of The Focus Filmographer! I’m pretty sure he’s seen all or most of these movies so I’m VERY curious to see how he’d shake up the list.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks. Agree/disagree? Well, let’s hear it!

Blogathon Relay: TEN Most Iconic Female Movie Characters

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Yet another blog relay! Well most of you should get the idea by now, it’s a relay race of a list of who bloggers think are ten most iconic… this time it’s focused on Female Movie Characters. Thanks to Dell from Dell on Movies for shining the spotlight on the fairer sex, and certainly he picked some great characters on the initial top 10 list!

What are the rules?

A list of 10 iconic female movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think she should not be on the list) and replacing it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments below and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

Thanks to Jaina at Time Well Spent for passing the baton to me! These nine remain on the list as it stands right now, scroll down below which director I have to let go and his replacement:

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Clockwise from top left:
Ellen Ripley | Princess Leia | DorothyMarge Gunderson* | Foxy Brown
Sarah Connor
| Holly Golighty | Scarlett O’Hara | Lisbeth Salander

*Marge Gunderson was the last one added by Jaina. 

I have to confess that there are a couple of characters here from films I haven’t seen before (Foxy Brown and Lisbeth Salander). As Jaina said,  the fact that I know who they are just shows how iconic those characters are. However, there’s one I absolutely have no idea who it is without googling about her, and I feel that she’s perhaps not iconic enough to be in the top 10. So…

Who’s Out?

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Nurse Ratched

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the many Oscar-winning films I haven’t seen yet, so I literally had to google who Nurse Ratched is. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, there are other characters on the list I’ve never seen before on screen, but yet I knew who they are and which movies they’re in. So I feel that even if Louise Fletcher’s performance as that character was indeed excellent and Oscar-worthy, she might not be iconic enough to be in the Top 10.

Who’s In?

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Mrs. Robinson

When we’re talking about an iconic role, I think of someone who’s become a pop-culture phenomenon. The ultimate cougar, aka older women who like to seduced younger men, I’d think even people who haven’t seen The Graduate would know who Mrs. Robinson is or what she represents. She’s one of those rare female antiheroes, complex and incredibly flawed, but definitely indelible. I actually became familiar with the character before I saw the 1967 film, it was from the popular song dedicated to her by Simon & Garfunkel.

And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey

Anne Bancroft‘s Oscar-nominated performance is a big part of what makes her character so iconic. Then there’s that famous shot that’s used in the poster of her nylon-covered leg, that becomes synonymous with illicit seduction. There’s even a stage version of The Graduate, with Linda Gray (whose leg is actually used in the famous poster), Kathleen Turner, Jerry Hall playing the titular role, among others. So I think Mrs. Robinson deserves a spot on this list.


I’m passing the torch to Eric, who runs the awesome blog The Warning Sign which has a nice mix of classic and contemporary films.

Previous relay contributors:
Dell on Movies
Nostra
Jaina


So folks, agree/disagree with my picks? Well, let’s hear it!

Six Degrees of Separation Blogathon: Hitchcock to Transformers Movies

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Nostra, aka The King of Blog Series is at it again! This time in association with dutch movieblog “De Protagonisten” (who inspired him to do this). Check out the main blogathon page on My Film Views blog. Surely you’re all familiar w/ the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, but here’s the idea in his own words:
This blogathon is based on a theory that in only six steps you can link anyone to any other person in the world. It will test your knowledge of actors, movies and directors. You will get two names of either actors/actresses/directors or movies and what you will have to do is make a link between them in a maximum of six steps.


So how does this blogathon work?

As you know I have done several relay races in the past and have heard from several bloggers that they wished they would get a chance to participate as well, but since there was only one baton the chances would be small to get it assigned. So to go with the theme of this blogathon I decided to increase those chances sixfold and assign this blogathon to six bloggers who can then each hand over the baton to another blogger with a new end-goal for that blogger.

Well, Nostra assigns six of us with the initial task, I have to connect Alfred Hitchcock to the Transformers movies in six steps or less. I was able to do two different versions for this, and none involving Shia LaBeouf, yay!

Alfred Hitchcock to the Transformer movies

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Alfred Hitchcock directed Marnie (1964) starring Sean Connery
Connery was in The Rock (1996) which was directed by Michael Bay
Bay directed all of the Transformers movies
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Alfred Hitchcock worked with Bruce Dern in The Family Plot (1976)
Dern co-starred with Jon Voight in Coming Home (1978)
Voight was in the first Transformers movie (2007)

So I’m handing over the baton to Natalie from Writer Loves Movies blog. So Natalie, your task is connect the Transformers movies to… Gary Cooper.

Good luck Natalie! :)


Thoughts on this blogathon and/or the films/actors mentioned here?

Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen AdaptationPart II – Mansfield Park

Today I bring you the second one of our collaborative Austen Recasting Series with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. The first one we did was Sense & Sensibility, this time we’re tackling the screen adaptation of Mansfield Park. If you haven’t read the book or seen any film adaptation of Mansfield Park, this Sparknotes article gives a good insight about its characters.

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Anna’s Picks

Sophie Turner as Fanny Price

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Admittedly, this choice is the result of watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing what her character of Sansa Stark goes through on the show (well, at least up to “The Mountain and the Viper”), Turner seems perfect for the role of Fanny. (Then again, what Fanny goes through is practically idyllic compared to Sansa’s ordeal.)

Ben Whishaw as Edmund Bertram

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I was initially considering Whishaw for Edward Ferrars on the Sense and Sensibility casting post, but I realized he was must better suited as Edmund. A few of his roles have him as kindhearted but naive, which easily sums up Edmund.

Rebecca Hall as Mary Crawford

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It was Hall’s work in Parade’s End that made me think she’d be right for this role. Her character of Sylvia Tietjens uses her looks and charms to conceal her more deceitful nature, much like what Mary does throughout the book.

Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford

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I must thank Andrew from Encore Entertainment for this suggestion because quite frankly it’s almost impossible to cast the men in an Austen adaptation. (Key word: almost.) Cooper could easily play a man who thinks he’s entitled to any woman he fancies, regardless whether they return the affection or not. (It doesn’t hurt that he had previously played another Austen cad.)

Stephen Dillane as Sir Thomas Bertram

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Dillane has done his fair share of authoritative roles (Game of Thrones comes to mind) and often times they’re not that sympathetic. With Sir Thomas, Dillane could continue that role and have the chance to become kinder towards the end (particularly after a “my God, what have I done?” moment).

Natalie Dormer as Maria Bertram


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Okay, last Game of Thrones actor, I promise. Anyway, Dormer could easily play a woman who’s arrogant and thinks she’s entitled to anything (or anyone) that catches her eye. (It would certainly be satisfying to see her comeuppance towards the end.)

Emily Blunt as Julia Bertram

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Similarly, Blunt could play a character like Maria albeit in a less vain manner. (At least Julia gets a happier ending than Maria.)

Emma Thompson as Lady Bertram

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There’s just something about seeing Thompson in a role that would have her being lazy and indifferent most of the time that sounds so appealing. After all, she’s played so many prim and proper roles throughout her career. It would be nice to see her to do a role like Lady Bertram.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Norris

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Likewise, most of the roles I’ve seen Staunton in had her as the kind matronly figure. Suffice to say, it would be a bit of a shock to see her being absolutely vile to the main character.

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Ruth’s Picks

Jessica Brown Findlay as Fanny Price

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I LOVED Frances O’Connor as Fanny in the 1999 adaptation so it’ll be hard to top her in my mind. I think of Fanny as a strong young woman who keeps to herself a lot as a result of her circumstances. Growing up in her wealthy uncle’s estate, she often gets belittled and degraded, especially by her aunt Norris, but she remains dutiful and patient. She’s gentle but does NOT mean she’s a feeble character. In fact, her strong moral compass and sound mind makes her indispensable to the Bertram family. After seeing Findlay as Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey (and the unfortunately dreadful Winter’s Tale), I think she’d make a suitable Fanny. She’s effortlessly likable and sweet, but she’s also steadfast in her will, as evident in her refusing Henry Crawford no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Reid as Edmund Bertram

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After seeing the Belle movie twice the last couple of months, I’ve been quite taken with the 27-year-old Aussie-native. In fact, as I watched his character John Davinier in Belle, I knew immediately he’d make a fine Edmund. In the book, Edmund desires to be a clergyman and Davinier was the son of a vicar. Sam Reid is classically handsome but he has a kindness about him, an earnest demeanor that’s perfect for this character. Edmund is Fanny’s only true friend in Mansfield Park, and it’s easy to see why Fanny would fall for him.

Lara Pulver as Mary Crawford

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I LOVE Lara Pulver in BBC Sherlock and Robin Hood. I think she’s absolutely stunning and is the kind of girl that can make any man fall for her. Mary is charming and bewitching, as she practically steals Edmund’s heart. There’s a certain seductive quality about her as well that Lara would be perfect for.

Tom Hardy as Henry Crawford

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Henry is as equally charming as his sister Mary. He’s what you’d describe as a bad boy, perhaps even more so than Willoughby is in Sense & Sensibility. Tom Hardy simply oozes charisma and sex appeal, plus he has that playful quality that would make him quite an irresistible scoundrel. I think Hardy can display a certain sensitivity for the role for when Henry falls for Fanny and he ardently pursues her.

Iain Glen as Sir Thomas Bertram

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I’ve always liked Iain Glen since he played the villain in the first Lara Croft movie. Yes he even out-shined pre-Bond Daniel Craig in that one. Later on he popped up in the later season of BBC Spooks and now he’s in Game of Thrones. There’s a certain gravitas that commands respect which makes him suitable to play a wealthy landowner who’s tough on his children. His authoritarian style drives away his eldest son Tom, and he’s quite harsh to Fanny when she refuses to do what he says. But in the end he realizes the error of his ways and I think Iain can also display vulnerability when the scenes call for it.

Gemma Arterton as Maria Bertram

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Maria is described as vain and pretentious, and she’s a bit of a bully to Fanny. She’s obviously materialistic as she only marries Rushworth for his money. I could see Gemma play this role. She may look like a sweet English rose but there’s an icy quality about her that could work well for the role.

Rose Byrne as Julia Bertram

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Julia is not as mean nor cocky as Maria and deep down she resents her sister for being so over-indulgent. Seems that Rose has been in a lot of American comedies lately, I’m curious to see her in a period drama like this one.

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Bertram

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I always see Helena being so feisty all the time, I’d like to see her play a rather lethargic character. Lady Bertram is described as neurotic as she’s dependent on her pills and all she does is lounge around in the house doing absolutely nothing. There’s something childlike about this character that I think Helena can pull off with aplomb.

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Norris

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Having played Mrs. Benett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, I somehow think it’d be interesting to see her play a mean-spirited character here. I absolutely loathe Mrs. Norris, especially her treatment to Fanny, always reminding her of her *place* in the family in the cruelest way. Blethyn often plays comedic character and sometimes comedic performers often make convincing villains.


Previous Jane Austen Recasting Post:

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Well, those are our picks for the main characters Mansfield Park. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!

A-Z Favorite Movie Titles Blogathon

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I’m a little late to this but I promised Brittani @ Rambling Film I’d do this when I get back from holiday. I can’t possibly missed not participating in her debut blogathon! Here are the rules:

1) Going through the alphabet, list your favorite movie title beginning with each letter.

2) You don’t have to necessarily like the movie to use it’s title.

3) Use the banner at the top of this post in yours.

4) Please have submissions in by Friday, May 30th*.

Now, even though Brittani said I don’t have to like the movie to use its title, my list consist of movies I love, not always a favorite but those I don’t mind seeing more than once. Of course there are a couple of guilty pleasures thrown in. For the purpose of narrowing things down, I’m only including movies from 90s and up. So here goes:

10 Things I Hate About You

Amazing Grace

Belle

Casino Royale

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Elizabeth

Four Weddings and A Funeral

Gladiator

How to Train Your Dragon

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Jurassic Park

The King's Speech

Licence To Kill

The Man In The Iron Mask

Nowhere Boy

One Fine Day

Pacific Rim

The Queen

The Rocketeer

Sense & Sensibility

Toy Story

V For Vendetta

A Walk In the Clouds

X-Men 2000

The Young Victoria

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Check out what my fellow bloggers pick for their Favorite Movie Titles here.


So that’s that folks. Are any of your favorites on my list?

FlixChatter Double Review: Edge of Tomorrow

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This weekend I finally saw my first movie on the big-screen after my holiday. Ted has seen it earlier in the week, here’s what we think on Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster.

Ted’s Review

For the last 10 years or so, Tom Cruise has starred in so many big-budgeted action pictures that I lost count. I think he’s decided not to pursue the golden statue anymore and why not keep making big movies while studios are still willing to foot the bills right? His latest is another spectacle and I was surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did, after seeing the trailers and heard about the concept, I wasn’t that interest in it at all.

Set in the not too distant future, the world has been invaded by an alien race called “Mimics” and most of the western Europe has been overtaken by these aliens. After several defeats, humankind have developed new battle suits called “Jackets” and were able to fight back. As the film opens, the military are planning a surprise attack on the beaches of France and we were introduced to General Brigham (the always great Brendan Gleeson). He orders Major William Cage (Cruise) to be sent to the battlefield with a camera crew, the military is expecting a victory and want to show the world that we’re winning the war against the aliens. Since Cage’s background is in advertising, he’s never been to battle and sort of a coward. He tried to weasel his way out by trying to blackmail the General. Brigham responds by put him under arrest and knock him out. Cage was then dumped at a Heathrow base and here he meets Master Sergeant Farrell (Bill Paxton), again he tries to weasel his way out of a combat. 

Unfortunately for him, Farrell was told that Cage is deserter and a con man, so he’s forced to join J-Squad. The next day the soldiers arrived at the beach and were ambushed by the “Mimics”. Apparently they knew about the surprise attack and were waiting for the humans to arrive. Cage was able to escape unscathed when the helicopter clashed. Since he’s never been in a battle, he had no clue what he was doing. While running around in the battlefield, he saw another soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). He witness her being killed right in front of him. Then later he was killed by a Mimic but somehow he inherits the alien’s power and woke up a day earlier back at the Heathrow base. If you seen the trailers, then you pretty much know how the story will unfold, Cage will have live the same day over and over again and learn how to defeat the alien.

Three screenwriters (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth) were credited for this film, it’s based on a Japanese graphic novel called “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Considering that the concept has been done several times before, I thought they did a good job of coming up something “new” to keep audiences interested. Personally, I don’t like this kind of concept, the idea of a character relieving the same event over and over again just doesn’t excites me. But here the writers kept me interested and threw in a couple of surprises here and there.

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I’ve always been a fan of Doug Liman, I mean here’s a man who pretty much introduced Jason Bourne to the world, well to those who’ve never read the books anyway. Sure his last couple of films weren’t that great but I still think he’s a good director. Here he crafted a good thriller that didn’t take itself too seriously, I’m getting tire of big movies the last few years trying to be too serious (I’m looking at you Godzilla and Man of Steel). In a way this film reminds me of some of the good 90s summer flicks, it’s fun and didn’t try to insult the audiences’ intelligence. With a budget of around $180mil, you can expect to see some great visual effects and action set pieces; I was particularly impressed with climatic shootout/chase.

The performances by the two leads were pretty good, Cruise was quite amusing the cowardly character at the beginning of the film. Of course as the film progresses, he becomes the tough action hero like his other roles. Blunt was quite effective as the love interest/mentor to Cruise’s character. I’m just glad they didn’t make her out to be another damsel in distress like most big action pictures of the summer.

What’s holding this film down from being great, for me at least, is that it just reminded me too much of Groundhog Day. Yes it’s not the same genre but everything that happened in this film, we’ve seen them before. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the design of the “Mimics”, they’re sort of cross between the bugs from Starship Troopers and aliens from all those Alien films.

But I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed this film and I think if you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi/action, this one is recommended. Heck if you hate Tom Cruise, you might enjoy seeing him die over and over again.

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Ruth’s Review

I have to admit that when I first saw this trailer, I thought ‘meh, this is just another Tom Cruise action flick.’ In fact, until reviews started popping up, I was set on just renting this one on a slow night. Well, I’m glad I gave it a shot.

I’m not going to rehash the plot again as Ted’s done that in his review. What I did like about this movie is the amount of humor, which I didn’t expect. I’m glad they did though, I mean this movie worked as it didn’t take itself so darn seriously (*cough* Godzilla *cough*). Also, we see a slightly different version of Tom Cruise than what I’m used to seeing in his action flicks, at least in the beginning of the film. His character looks bewildered pretty much the entire first act as he’s a self-described wimp who’s never been on any combat “I can’t stand the sight of blood. Not even a paper cut.” Ha! The always-fun-to-watch Brendan Gleeson‘s expression in this scene is such a hoot. Nice to see Cruise play a character who’s not always in control all the time, though of course by the end, he’s back to ‘savior of the world’ mode.

I really enjoyed the first act, which could be described as action comedy at times. The comparison to Groundhog Day is inevitable and actually quite fitting, as the main character had to relive the same day over and over. The sci-fi element isn’t introduced until midway through the film, which I thought is a pretty interesting, albeit not entirely original, concept. Yet the writers manage to surprise me in that the story kept me engaged throughout. I did get a bit battle fatigue after a while, especially in the third act.

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Fortunately Cruise and Emily Blunt were fun to watch. I’ve always been a fan of miss Blunt and she shines once again here. I don’t normally associate her with bad-ass heroine roles, but I guess she did show her action chops in Looper in 2012. She looked extremely fit as the super soldier, surely guys don’t mind the repeated scenes of her doing her mighty push-ups. Yet there’s still a vulnerability about her that makes her human. She’s not a Lara Croft type character who’s practically indestructible. She has a pretty decent chemistry with Cruise, at least better than in the last few female pairings he’s had lately. Speaking of Lara Croft, interesting to see Noah Taylor who was Lara’s equivalent of Bond’s Q made an appearance here playing Rita’s scientist friend.

Edge of Tomorrow is definitely a great sci-fi action, it’s funny, entertaining and definitely offers you a couple of hours of fun escapism. I wouldn’t say it’s the best movie of the year as some are saying on Twitter though. For me, a movie would have to hit the emotional high points and be really invested in the characters in order to be truly leave a mark. I would say that this one is much better than Elysium and something I’d actually recommend, but that’s it. I have to give props to Doug Liman for pulling off the ‘repetitive’ aspect of the story that is far from boring, and to Cruise for still being capable enough to carry a tentpole Summer movie with the same intensity he’s shown in nearly 40 films. Whether or not he’s still as bankable is a different story though.

In terms of special effects, I personally don’t see anything ground breaking. It serves the story but it’s not so visually-arresting that made me go ‘wow.’ I’m glad we saw the movie in 2D with Dolby Atmos sound though, that is the perfect combo as the Atmos sound definitely enhances the experience whilst most 3D offerings are so unnecessary. If you’re looking for something fun to do at the movies, you could do a lot worse than seeing this one.

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What do you think of Edge of Tomorrow?