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…)

Photo Credit: myviewscreen.wordpress.com

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Dark, serious, fun. The tone follows in trend of the post-Avengers Marvel movies being darker than the original ones, and while the story and characters lacked in certain areas, the visual effects were the true focal point of the movie. Recommended? This movie could be enjoyed by fans of the Marvel franchise or action/fantasy movies in general.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The most impressive element of this movie by far was the special effects and artistic production. The visual effects team created the illusion of multiple worlds and heavy destruction in each one. While many of the effects in the first Thor movie were unrealistic and suffered from lens flare, the technology has finally caught up and the results were beautiful in the landscapes, destruction and the galactic creatures. It was also interesting to see an American film where the destruction was focussed in London, England as opposed to New York. (more…)