It is the script, any filmmaker worth their weight will tell you, that truly makes or breaks a film. It is possible to make a terrible movie with a great script, but without a perfect script, the movie is done before it even started. Which I think is the problem with most action films these days. There is way too much reliance on grandiose action sequence with bits of dialogue thrown together to form whatever semblance of a plot can get the audience from one explosion to the next. And even the Iron Man franchise (one of my personal favorites) is guilty of this. One need look no further than Iron Man 2 to realize that even though Robert Downey Jr. is truly Iron Man incarnate (I seriously don’t know anyone else can be such a total jerk and yet be so likable), without a smart, well-written script the film can fall drastically short of expectations. Which is why I was a little nervous to hear that Iron Man 3 was greenlit. With great hesitancy, I agreed to actually go see it. But by the adorably hilarious scene between Tony and Harley, I once again realized how awesome Iron Man could be—a feeling long overdue. The script (written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black, who also doubles as the director of the film) is smart, hilarious (my mom and I still share our favorite one liners), and full of twists and turns that make it not only an action movie but also a smart movie. And, of course, there are plenty of things that go boom in the most spectacular of fashions. This Iron Man redeemed the mediocrity of its predecessors, and made me believe that action movies can indeed be a genre deserving of more than just scoffs. Although it is uncertain whether Downey Jr. will once again put on the maroon and gold suit (rumor has it that this was Iron Man’s final ride), fans can be glad that regardless of whatever happens, Iron Man 3 has done this beloved character (and franchise) justice.
I should start with a full disclosure that I am an incredibly big fan of the novel The Great Gatsby—despite the fact that my 11th grade English teacher practically forced it on us. It is a book that is so raw, and so beautifully well written that I admit I probably had impossible expectations for the movie. And perhaps that is why I was so disappointed. Not even Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby himself could save this sinking ship (yes, that’s a Titanic reference), although his effort is deserving of a purple heart. It was clear from his first scene (which isn’t until a good ways into the film, much to my great disappointment) that DiCaprio gives his all scene after scene, perfectly weaving together a naïve Gatsby hopelessly in love with a woman he cannot have who also has every potential to become incredibly violent and manipulative at a moments notice. The movie’s failings are not any fault of his. Nor can I totally blame the rest of the cast. Carey Mulligan played the meek and unsure Daisy Buchanan almost to a tee (there are moments, though, when her breathless airy, voice becomes distracting and frankly annoying). Toby Maguire as Nick Carray was the perfect narrator and vessel for the audience to experience the world of Gatsby. Even special kudos should be given to Joel Edgerton as the absolutely loathsome Tom Buchanan. Where the failings of this film lie, I believe, is in the directing. And that is not an easy comment to make about Baz Luhrmann, given his genius behind the camera for Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet (also staring DiCaprio). However, Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby was too loud and too special effects ridden for a story as raw and as gritty as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. It simply didn’t work. So I’ll wait. With a story as popular as this one, it’s bound to be remade again in a few years. My only hope is that future remakes will learn from the mistake that this version made, and appreciate the beauty and power in the subtly and undertones that make The Great Gatsby the cornerstone of English literature that it is today.
It’s in every single line, every single scene: these two are definitely in love with each other. So to me it’s really a love story. It came as a natural progression I would say. I didn’t judge the characters, it seemed very natural actually. - Francois Arnaud (x)
When I first heard that Michael Bay (the mind behind Transformers, Megan Fox, and pretty much anything that goes boom in Hollywood) was going to take a stab at comedy, I admit I was a little intrigued. While Pain and Gain is indeed funny (at parts), I don’t know that the film could honestly be called a comedy; it’s much too quirky and dark for that. Maybe dark comedy at best. And the voice overs are another thing that really threw me off. Almost the entire film is told in voice overs from various characters, and I’m not entirely sure that it works. Instead of telling the audience what they were supposed to know, I would have much preferred to be shown what was happening by characters actually doing things on screen. Those moments (moments when the characters are speaking to each other and not in voice over and actually interacting) are the best in the film. The Rock actually has great scenes and a really well developed sense of comedic timing. However, any moments of humor that were supposed to be derived from these voice overs feel flat for me; I just didn’t find it that funny. See this film for beautiful shots of Miami, and because at moments it really is quite an entertaining ride. But overall it falls short.
For those that have seen the 2009 film Moon, staring Sam Rockwell, the “surprise” ending that happens in Oblivion is no surprise at all. And that’s not a spoiler. I think it’s just pretty lazy writing on the part of Oblivion. I could tell right away from the trailer what it was going to be. However, for the sub-par writing, Tom Cruise, surprisingly, is actually tolerable in this film. It is clear, at moments, that he is actually trying to act and become emotionally investable for the audience—which is more than I personally can say about some of his other more recent projects. But for whatever progress Cruise may have made in the acting department, the supporting cast was not up to par. Indeed, it was so bad not even Morgan Freeman could save them (although why he was even in the film in the first place is a mystery to me). There was very little chemistry between Cruise and his two romantic interests in the film (both of whom were way too young to ever be considered as a serious match for him), and the remaining humans of Earth that Cruise’s character Jack Harper interacts with were so dull and underdeveloped they might as well have been the evil tech machine they were trying to defeat. I would see this film for the passable and admirable attempt at acting that Cruise tries to make (for the first time in a while) and for the special effects (which are really quite well done), but those looking to see deep secondary characters or intriguing plot are going to be sorely disappointed.
Full disclosure: the only reason I saw this film was to see hot guys with no shirts. I certainly didn’t go to experience ground breaking acting or riveting, Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue. I came to see friggin’ buff guys (read: Channing Tatum) with no friggin’ shirt on. So I was not the happiest when (SPOILER ALERT) Tatum’s character “dies” (although that’s never really confirmed) about a third of the way through, never to be seen again. Instead, in the remaining hour and a half after his “death” (which, again, wasn’t ever confirmed), all that’s left is questionable acting, The Rock’s overly-mussley arms lugging obnoxiously large weapons around and a plot that really wasn’t important and ultimately kind of confusing. So I would say go see it for the first half hour; The Rock and Tatum’s friendly bantering in these moments are really the best part of the film. But as soon as Tatum leaves, so should you. The rest after that is really not worth it.