100 Word Review – Cloud Atlas

Adapted from David Mitchell’s novel and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume:The Story of a Murderer) and the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), this film is extraordinary.

There is no describing the plot. It crosses time and space in seconds, covering both the past, present and future as well as alternate worlds.

The cast is fantastic (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon) and the cinematography is exquisite. There is simply too much to see to take it in with one viewing. This film is Romantic with a capital R.

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100 Word Review – The Running Man (1987)

Arnie really is wonderful, isn’t he? If you were ever in doubt, watch this film.

Set in a dystopian future, Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and forced to participate in a public execution disguised as a brutal gameshow.

Based on the novel by Stephen King (The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining), it was adapted by Steven E. de Souza (Die Hard, Commando). Think an adult 1980s Hunger Games, but with more gore and less characterisation. There’s explosions, plenty of shouting, people in leotards and enough exploding heads to keep any Arnie fan happy.

100 Word Review – Starship Troopers (1997)

This is glorious in both its satire and its exploding giant bug aliens.

Set in a militaristic dystopian future, Earth is at war with a race of bug aliens. A group of friends work their way through the ranks in the hopes of destroying the alien threat.

Adapted from Robert A Heinlein’s novel by Edward Neumeier (Robocop) and directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Robocop), upon its initial release the satire was missed by many who criticised it as a glorification of war.

It achieves the perfect balance between violence and politics, showing one up by use of the other.

100 Word Review – Total Recall (1990) 

Based on Philip K Dick’s story, We Remember It For You Wholesale, this is Arnie at the very peak of his brilliance. 

Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can’t afford to go to Mars, but he can afford to have an adventure implanted into his memory of being a spy on Mars. But is it really a false memory? Why are people trying to kill him. He must get to Mars!

Full of the paranoia typical of Dick, and the explosions and shouting you get in every Arnie flick, all tied together by the satirical vision of director Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers).

100 Word Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

You’ve seen the first one and the second one.

You are ready to follow Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) into District 13, the heart of the resistance. What will Snow (Donald Sutherland) do to punish her betrayal? Does she really have the moral high ground? Is she fit to be Mockingjay?

Heavily built on the sturdy foundations of the previous films, don’t start with this one. However, it takes a good hard look at the intricacies of rebellion and the power of propaganda which is covered so well in the book (Read. The. Books.).

It’s the things we love most that destroy us.

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100 Word Review – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Sequel to The Hunger Games (2012), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has survived her first Hunger Games, but will she survive the scrutinising gaze of The Capitol and Panem’s terrifying leader, President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

With all the drama and almost as much of the politics as the books (read the books!), this opens up Panem in a way the first film couldn’t.

The cast is fantastic (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Jenna Malone) and the visuals are just as breath-taking. Prepare yourself for media spin, duplicity and rebellion.

Nobody ever wins the games. Period. There are survivors. There’s no winners.

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100 Word Review – The Hunger Games (2012)

Read the books.

But, also, watch the film. It’s not as good, but still brilliant.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers her life in place of her sister’s when she is chosen to participate in The Hunger Games, a barbaric event designed to keep the masses in line in this dystopian future.

Yes, there are similarities, but it is more than an Americanised Battle RoyaleChildren are killing children to survive, but for the sport of the Capital. Battle Royale may be gruesome, but this is emotionally brutal.

Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson are both stunning in their supporting roles. It’s magnificent.

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100 Word Review – Insurgent (2015)

So, I probably should have seen Divergent (2014) first, but this film definitely holds up as a stand alone film as well as part of a trilogy (albeit in four parts).

In a dystopian future, a community is split in to groups based on personality types. But Tris (Shailene Woodley) is different. Together with Four (Theo James) and co., they must fight against the tyranny of Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) regime.

Although this does sound like every other teen Sci Fi, it stands out for its 3D characters, emotional gravitas (they have sex and it’s not a big deal!) and genuine suspense.

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100 Word Review – V For Vendetta (2005)

It is a dark dystopian night, in a future London when Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) first meets V (Hugo Weaving). Dressed in a long black cape and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, V is vaudevillian, a visage, a vigilante intent on shining a light on a villainous workings of the British government and burning its totalitarian walls to the ground.

Based on the iconic graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, this Wachowski Brothers’ adaptation currently sits at #146 of IMDb’s Top 250. As a film it stands alone as the perfect way to spend a November evening.