Month: April 2014

Transcendence – Review

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Since its release, Transcendence has received a mixed bag of a reaction, sparking mostly negative reviews, particularly in the US. Wally Pfister (best known for cinematographic work alongside Christopher Nolan) makes his debut in the director’s chair and his first project is a carefully put together, thought provoking piece of film.

Johnny Depp plays Dr Will Caster, a techno scientist alongside his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend and colleague Max (Paul Bettany) who are attempting to create a computer mind powerful and intelligent enough to solve the world’s most potent issues. Due to Dr Caster’s controversial experiments and accusations that he is bidding to “create a God”, a group of anti-technological extremists set out to stop Caster by any means necessary. Their efforts result in the murder of the Doctor, who ultimately, with the help of his co-workers, resurrects himself in computer form. After Caster raises a number of ethical questions following his experiments from a computer screen, the attempts to stop him become more and more apparent and he has no choice but to react.

It’s important to note that you do not need a subscription to Wired magazine in order to comprehend the events of the film. It appears the underlying connotations of the movie have been lost amongst many and is ultimately misunderstood. Nevertheless, Pfister creates a dystopian like atmosphere and fills the film with brain busting morale queries. It should also be added that the film is shot brilliantly, with some incredible locations on show including the world of Caster’s underground labs. What a shame therefore that the awing set pieces we’ve come to associate Pfister with from Inception and The Dark Knight series is evaded in Transcendence. Fortunately, a huge name cast also including Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy give the film that added quality needed.

Transcendence does lack a cutting edge; a film defining scene, which the audience is screaming out for. It seems there the film is constantly building up for a mighty spectacle only for it to fizzle out in a relatively anti-climactic manor.

For a directing debut, Pfister’s Transcendence is a safe take on an ambitious and complicated, yet intriguing tale. By no means an epic, but a strong cast and some beautiful visuals make this film a satisfying first outing in the director’s chair for Pfister.

7/10 #WebbersRatings

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Review

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An argument I have been making recently regarding superhero films is how vast amounts of money is thrown into huge set pieces and action sequences, completely disregarding any backstory or emotional credibility. The biggest compliment to offer The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is its impeccable balance of both of these elements.

Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker and the masked hero, desperate to discover the secrets of his parents and in particular, his father’s research. Emma Stone also returns as love interest Gwen Stacy, the other half in an otherwise complicated partnership undetermined due to her safety under his guidance. Here poses Parker’s primary concern but as his alter ego, he faces new challenges. Firstly, Electro played by Jamie Foxx. A one-time Spider-Man enthusiast who suffers an electrical accident resulting with him gaining special sparky powers. Betrayed and lied to by the web-slinger, Electro seeks vengeance, teaming up with Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) AKA the Green Goblin, who is after similar revenge.

Importantly, the quality of the casting must be noted. Garfield is superb as Spider-Man and over the two movies has perfected the role as once a geeky and mundane school kid to confident and quirky as the masked hero. The Brit has matured into an exciting and incredibly talented actor, not more evident than in some of the tear jerking and powerful moments Peter shares with Gwen. The same can be said about Emma Stone who is no stranger to romance but the pair’s on-camera chemistry is absolutely impeccable. DeHaan is also proving a fascinating screen presence and his damaged aura is perfectly portrayed as Harry Osborn.

Marc Webb’s unique style of filmmaking pays dividends in Spider-Man and the entire movie feels incredibly modern with some quality slow motion set pieces in addition to its fine attention to detail. Webb also understands his audience and the similarities that potentially can be shared and related to, with much of the movie based around the young love between Peter and Gwen. And this brings me nicely onto the point I made at the head. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has mass amounts of back-story including discoveries of Peter’s father and the highly complicated relationship between him and Gwen. This in addition to some fascinating action sequences ultimately make for an intriguing and exhilarating spectacle.

At two and a half hours, it perhaps is slightly too long for its own good and arguments could be made against the cheap and cringe filled lines made in the film throughout. On top of this, the final scene, which sees an underused Paul Giamatti sporting a questionable robo-mechanic rhino, is somewhat a head in hands moment.

Nevertheless, the second outing for this reboot is a highly impressive watch and refreshing to see a superhero movie not solely concentrating on fighting and blowing everything up. By no means perfect, yet Webb’s bold and charming adaptation is a fresh and amiable glance into a future of superhero filmmaking.