Apr 302013
 

Oblivion Movie Poster-Click to view trailersThe year is 2077: Jack Harper (Cruise) serves as a security repairmen stationed on an evacuated Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying alien threat who still scavenges what’s left of our planet, Jack’s mission is almost complete. In a matter of two weeks, he will join the remaining survivors on a lunar colony far from the war-torn world he has long called home.

Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, Jack’s soaring existence is brought crashing down after he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Drawn to Jack through a connection that transcends logic, her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he thought he knew. With a reality that is shattered as he discovers shocking truths that connect him to Earth of the past, Jack will be pushed to a heroism he didn’t know he contained within. The fate of humanity now rests solely in the hands of a man who believed our world was soon to be lost forever.

Release Date: April 19, 2013; MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity); Genres: Action/Adventure, Adaptation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy; Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Writers: Joseph Kosinski (original story); Karl Gajdusek and Michael DeBruyn (screenplay)

Actors: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, Andrea Riseborough

The new film from the director Joseph Kosinski who directed 2010’s Tron Legacy, has two things going for it, his great visual style and a fanstastic score provided by M83. The film is beautiful, having been filmed with 4K cameras which is definitely the way to see it as it was stunning. Underneath the film is an amalgamation of a number of sci-fi films that came before. One reviewed said it was the most expensive episode of “The Twilight Zone.” I couldn’t agree more. It is definitely not a masterpiece, but to the open-minded viewer it provides more than enough to give you an easy two hours of entertainment and interesting landscapes. Continue reading »

Dec 292008
 

In a country in the grips of evil, in a police state where every move is being watched, in a world where justice and honor have been subverted, a group of men hidden inside the highest reaches of power decide to take action. Based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known.

A proud military man, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is a loyal officer who serves his country all the while hoping that someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed. Realizing that time is running out, he decides that he must take action himself and joins the German resistance. Armed with a cunning strategy to use Hitler’s own emergency plan – known as Operation Valkyrie – these men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside.

With everything in place, with the future of the world, the fate of millions and the lives of his wife and children hanging in the balance, von Stauffenberg is thrust from being one of many who oppose Hitler to the one who must kill Hitler himself.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Biopic and War; Running Time: 2 hrs.; Release Date: December 25th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Eddie Izzard, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp, Christian Berkel, Kenneth Branagh, Halina Reijn, David Bamber, Kevin McNally, Jamie Parker, Tom Hollander, David Schofield, Werner Daehn, Harvey Friedman, Matthias Schweighoefer, Waldemar Kobus

Director: Bryan Singer

Lay and I went to see this movie on Christmas Day at its first showing in Gastonia, NC, so the theater wasn’t packed.

A story such as this can be a very difficult story to tell. Because it is based on a true story, it only has credibility if the movie is true to the story, but that can be difficult when the topic is complex, and so much of the story known only to a few. Because the outcome is known, it can be hard to maintain the suspense and tension needed to make a good movie, and a movie about a takeover attempt like this is hard to setup, as the real action doesn’t come until the event itself.

Despite these challenges, Singer does a good job putting out the story. I’m no historian, but have read a couple of reviews by people who purport to be historians, and they seem to feel the movie was reasonably true to the actual events. Perhaps the one gripe (and this is understandable due to the time constraints of a movie), in some cases the approach to possible fellow-conspirators was rather abrupt. I would expect more caution in such situations.

Singer managed to maintain a surprising level of tension and drama throughout the movie, and I found myself rooting for the conspirators and forgetting that the plot actually failed. It was also interesting to learn of the many considerations involved in such an action that go beyond the mere killing of Hitler.

I thought all the actors did an excellent job with their parts. I’ll admit to having been a Cruise fan for a while after “Risky Business” (but then what gay man wasn’t hot for Tom Cruise after the underwear scene in that movie), but my attitude towards him has cooled. But he did a nice job playing the part. The other actors carried off their parts in a very believable fashion.

All in all, a movie well worth seeing.

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Lions for Lambs

 Culture, Movies, Politics, War  Comments Off on Lions for Lambs
Nov 182007
 

Lions For Lambs Movie PosterLions for Lambs begins after two determined students at a West Coast University, Arian (Derek Luke) and Ernest (Michael Pena), follow the inspiration of their idealistic professor, Dr. Malley (Robert Redford), and attempt to do something important with their lives. But when the two make the bold decision to join the battle in Afghanistan, Malley is both moved and distraught. Now, as Arian and Ernest fight for survival in the field, they become the string that binds together two disparate stories on opposite sides of America. In California, an anguished Dr. Malley attempts to reach a privileged but disaffected student (Andrew Garfield) who is the very opposite of Arian and Ernest. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the charismatic Presidential hopeful, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), is about to give a bombshell story to a probing TV journalist (Meryl Streep) that may affect Arian and Ernest’s fates.

Director:
Robert Redford

Genre:
Drama, War, Political Thriller

Cast:
Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Peña, Andrew Garfield, Peter Berg, Kevin Dunn, Derek Luke,

Most films of this type are almost always packed with stereotypes about army men, Senators, journalists and it ends with a great deed or tragedy that is supposed to move the audiences. ‘Lions for Lambs’ discusses the same situation with a bit more realism and thoughtfulness than some of these films.

The plot of the film revolves around three events that are happening simultaneously – an ambitious Senator’s (Cruise) interview with a leading journalist (Streep), a formerly zealous and now careless student’s meeting with a professor (Redford) of political science and a military attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. The three events are deeply interconnected but the focus in every scene is on what every character believes in, and how it influences where America is and where it will be in the future.

It actually debates the issues fairly even-handedly. No point of view is made to be bigger than the other. Yet, every view is articulately put forward. With no melodrama at hand, Redford presents different outlooks and makes the end product look effortlessly open-ended. Most significantly, the effect the film has on the audience is not mitigated by the lack of high voltage screaming and background music. The role as well as the viewpoint of politicians, the middle-class American student, the committed soldier and journalists is offered only so that it can be scrutinized by the audience.

I saw this film by myself, as Lay hates Tom Cruise. I’m not a huge fan, but he does a decent job in this movie. The rest of the cast does a great job as well. The story/ies are a bit hard to get your arms around right at first, but stick with it, and it all comes together. This was not a wasted afternoon, and I’ll probably make Lay watch this movie in DVD.

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