Photo Credit: mashable.com

Interstellar (2014)

Complex, dramatic, engaging. Christopher Nolan once again manages to transport his audience to his adventurous worlds outside of our own, complete with beautiful imagery and effects and a heartwarming, though far-fetched and implausible, story. Recommended? Fans of the writer/director’s previous works will be satisfied with this one, as it is fascinating and thought-provoking to the very end.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The story of Interstellar takes many science fiction and space travel clichés (dystopian future, curing an epidemic, sustaining the human population, coming out of retirement, doing a job that you are not fully qualified for, being the chosen one, getting lost in space, getting stuck in space, machines malfunctioning in space, humans dying on other planets, travelling through wormholes, travelling through time, aging at a different rate, confusing game-changer in the last few minutes) and mashes them with universal themes and Nolan’s unique elements and manages to hold its own. For a movie of almost three hours in length, it begins on a high note and continues to build until the very end. The pacing is very well done, for even though the movie felt like three hours, it was interesting the whole time.

The beauty of the artistic work behind this film is that elements like the production design, visual effects and score are not cheaply thrown at the audience. They are all well done, but in a believable way. Instead of staring in awe at the universe or expanses thinking about how well done they are, they can be just accepted as the setting for the movie. The effects and music are also just part of the experience. All elements of this film are successful in that they are felt as opposed to observed.

Interstellar is overall a wonderfully directed adventure from which viewers could learn a lot. Some of their science may be flawed or inaccessible to many viewers and there are one or two inconsistencies that aren’t quite explained. But this masterpiece could serve as a great conversation starter, as with most of Nolan’s original films, there is a lot to ponder and many different interpretations can become of it. It also poses a few ethical and moral conundrums, making viewers question whether the real human race could be headed towards a similar many years from now.

John Wick (lebillet.ch)

John Wick (2014)

Violent, intense, artsy. The fight scenes are choreographed and executed well, but all of the fancy artistic elements added to this movie seem to reiterate the superficial storyline. Recommended? John Wick is a fun action movie where not much thinking is required to watch it.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

For a great deal of time, there is an intense feeling that something great is going to happen. The story starts off so simply and builds up like there is a twist of the proportions of movies like Fight Club, The Usual Suspects or even Kill Bill. The positive critical reception that this movie received upon release fueled this feeling even more. But as the movie goes on, there is nothing universal or deep that runs underneath and the story can only really be taken at face value. Sure there’s some love, vengeance, loyalty, family values and forgiveness in the mix, but these themes only go skin deep.

The one element of this movie that was impressive beyond all others was the action sequences. The combat scenes ranged from shooting to chases to hand to hand combat and all were driven by a sense of intensity. The visual effects and art direction were also impressive, as the wide variety of places added to the confrontation and action in each scene.

Also notably well-done was the sound effects and editing. The editors and mixers knew what to emphasize where and often let actions ring louder than words, not that there was much to be taken from that which was said. The music was eclectic, but fit the scenes of the movie well. Overall, the artistic elements of this movie were well thought out and executed, probably as a means of masking what lacked everywhere else.

The acting in this movie runs along the same continuum as the quality of the rest of the film. Keanu Reeves held his own in his role as the title character, but he typically delivers in roles that don’t require him to speak much or show a lot emotion. The cast also included big names like Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki and John Leguizamo, all of whom did what they could to bring out their one-dimensional characters.

John Wick is thoroughly a fun and exciting experience with an unfortunately predictable story. There is so much potential for something clever and surprising that would take the story out of its action/revenge flick mold, but the fact that the plot in this film is so easy to call and the production was overly flashy (including “creatively” bolded and placed subtitles for Russian dialogue) degrades the quality of the film substantially.

Photo Credit: hollywoodreporter.com

Her (2013)

Quirky, funny, emotional. The acting is on point and the story is unpredictable, but the most moving part of this film is its level of realism and its social commentary, set in a beautifully created not-so-distant future. Recommended? As far as romantic movies go, Her is set apart in its originality and technological themes.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning screenplay is truly an experience in itself. At times funny, at others emotional, he maintains a light atmosphere throughout the film like that in most romantic comedies. Even scenes that contained foul language or graphic sexual dialogue were maintained in a humorous light. The story evolves in an original way as well. In terms of the basic story, most people could predict how it goes and ends. What makes this story interesting is how the characters get there. We see them grow in ways we don’t expect and when the ending comes along, it is an emotional one that we don’t know is necessarily happy or sad. It just concludes and everyone can take from it what they do.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was central to the film and he held his ground well. His performance is quiet, introverted and alone. Looking at him today, he seems out of place, only really interacting with his electronic devices and video games. Upon further contemplation, it is obvious that everyone acts like this in the future because direct human interaction has become practically obsolete. The challenge with playing a character that interacts with someone that can be heard, but not seen, is in figuring out where to direct your attention on set. Phoenix worked this into his character, first staring at the devices on which Samantha exists, then just staring and speaking in space.

The world of the story is beautifully brought to life. It blends modern architecture with more advanced futuristic styles, but does not go overboard in a sci-fi/fantasy way. For some, the film can feel like it takes place in the present, for others it can feel like the future. Either way, it feels real. It adds to the sense of a story like this becoming reality in the near future. Even in details like the main character’s job, where he makes love letters that look handwritten for other people. In this world, people have become so detached that they can’t even reach out to their loved ones themselves.

At first, Her seems like a romantic comedy with a twist inspired by an episode of The Big Bang Theory. In actuality, it runs far deeper and touches people in a way as real as the characters feel. It makes us question what it means to live and to exist and reasserts the importance of interpersonal relationships in our lives.

Photo Credit: movies.disney.com

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Funny, informative, emotional. This movie may look like a fluffy comedy about a cranky, middle-aged woman and her war of artistic differences with Walt Disney, but in actuality, the emotional life story that inspired the fictional phenomenon is entertaining, deep, and beautifully brought to life by the incredible actors who take on these icons. Recommended? This is a surprisingly impressive movie and it is very fun to watch.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb


The story of this film is far more interesting than most might expect it to be. The movie takes place at the time Mary Poppins was in pre-production, but features flashbacks to P.L. Travers’ childhood, where many of the influences for the adventures in her books are revealed. (more…)

Photo Credit: o.canada.com

Nebraska (2013)

Light, slow, humorous. The artistic appeal of this movie is fascinating and the acting is well above par, but with the exception of a select few funny moments and character nuances, this movie received its classification as a comedy for its drawn out and nonsensical conversations as opposed to its actual comedic value. Recommended? With the exception of its heartfelt base and meaning, this feel-good family comedy is not for everyone.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The storyline seems a little like Rain Man at times; a man takes an estranged family member on a cross-country journey in search of a large sum of money. The difference here: replace an autistic brother with an alcoholic father; a fortuitous inheritance with a million dollar marketing sweepstakes; and a journey of two men repairing their estranged relationship with each other with one man enabled by his son and his wife to face his life’s former demons. The dialogue comes off dry at times, but story is very touching and relatable. (more…)

Photo Credit: vividlife.me

Philomena (2013)

Emotional, dramatic, humorous. The journey taken by the characters is a fascinating one and Judi Dench perfectly executes Philomena’s more quirky moments where the film would be otherwise very dry. Recommended? This may not seem like the most exciting drama out there, but the story is eye opening and definitely one that should be seen.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The movie is based on the real life work by Martin Sixsmith about the journey of Philomena Lee in searching for her son from whom she was separated by the nuns at the abbey where she lived when he was only three years old. A few liberties were taken with some characters, but the story is a fascinating one regardless. Bouncing from one of hope to tragedy to determination, Philomena’s journey is unpredictable and entertaining all the way through. (more…)

Photo Credit: geek-lantern.com

Pacific Rim (2013)

Fun, simple, forgettable. While the story is not very original or interesting, the focal point of this movie is the visual effects which were completely on point here Recommended? This movie is fun and should only be seen in a fashion that will best portray the stunning imagery.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The only real reason to see this movie is for its special effects. From the aliens to the robotic sequences, from the ocean floor to outer space and down to the centre of the Earth, the effort put into the visuals for this movie left for a true success. The fight sequences alone make this movie worthwhile. If not for the visuals, this movie would be no better than the average 80s second rate science fiction movie, for here, the flawed storyline is supported by effects that actually look realistic. (more…)