Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Awakening (2011)

Number Rolled: 34
Movie Name/Year: The Awakening (2011)
Tagline: All the children are gone… except one.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: StudioCanal, BBC Films, Creative Scotland, Lipsync Productions, Origin Pictures, Eagle Pictures
Executive Producer: Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Olivier Courson, Robin Guise, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry, Joe Oppenheimer, Peter Raven, Carole Sheridan
Director: Nick Murphy
Writer: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy
Actors: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Shaun Dooley, Joseph Mawle, Diane Kent, Richard Durden, John Shrapnel, Cal Macaninch

Florence believes in science, not ghosts. She makes her living by proving that the supernatural is fake. When a man comes to her with claims that he has found a real ghost, she reluctantly agrees to investigate.

Selina’s Point of View:

The first thing that caught me about this film was the setting. Even before fifteen minutes had gone by, I felt drawn in because of the realism and intensity of the imagery. Every set in this film is beautifully done.

On top of that amazing background, the writing was superb. There were some holes in the plot here and there, but I don’t really believe it mattered. The story sucked me in, the foreshadowing gave me something to hold on to, and there was a significant depth to the characters.

Stephen Volk (Afterlife, Octane, The Guardian) and Nick Murphy (Blood, Prey, Occupation) wrote their story brilliantly. Although there were some jump scares, the majority of the thrill and horror revolved around a constant build up and hidden danger. It gnawed at my psyche, got me to wait for jump scares that never came. Instead, the real meat of the frightening aspects was subtle and crept up on me.

I can’t say enough about the actors in this film. Joseph Mawle (Half of a Yellow Sun, Game of Thrones, Made in Dagenham), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Game of Thrones, The Wil Wheaton Project, The Boxtrolls), Dominic West (The Affair, The Wire, The Forgotten) and Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Freedom Writers, Maleficent) were amazing in their roles. Each of them affected me exactly as they were supposed to.

Rebecca Hall (A Promise, Closed Circuit, Iron Man 3), however, stole the show. I felt for her character even before I knew why I was supposed to. I felt pain from Florence that had no context until later in the film. That shows remarkable talent by the actress. She became Florence in a way I don’t believe anyone else could.

Despite the minor plot holes I mentioned, I still loved this movie. I would easily recommend it to others.

Cat’s Point of View:
This was one of the random movies that I’ve gone into blind. I hadn’t heard a lot about it that I could recall; nor had I seen any of the trailers, or read any reviews. The teaser synopsis on Netflix was the entirety of my foreknowledge of this film.

Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Dorian Gray, Transcendence) encapsulated the role of the intelligent and determined Florence Cathcart with finesse. From the beginning you see there is more to her than her brusque exterior, and the pain of the obvious loss in her life. It made me wonder what else had happened to her that hadn’t been revealed yet.

I had an eerie feeling while watching the young Isaac Hempstead Wright’s (Closed Circuit, The Boxtrolls, Family Guy) performance. I knew I’d seen him before in something, and yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. I would later understand why. This young talented actor just so happens to play Bran Stark on Game of Thrones (2011-).

The ending of the film took quite the unexpected turn for me. I knew something funny was up, but I didn’t see this particular twist coming. The final scene leaves me in doubt of whether I know what the true resolution of this story actually was. There were elements to support either way that could be answered.

Once you’ve watched it – which way do you think it turned out?

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 61%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 51%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.1/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Number Rolled: 49
Movie Name/Year: Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Tagline: This is not war, it’s extinction.
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 165 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Paramount Pictures, Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Tom DeSanto/Don Murphy Production, Ian Bryce Productions, Amblin Entertainment, Platinum Dunes
Executive Producer: Michael Bay, Brian Goldner, Steven Spielberg, Mark Vahradian
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, T.J. Miller, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth, John DiMaggio, Mark Ryan, Reno Wilson

Humans have become scared of all aliens, even the autobots. They are hunting down all the transformers from all sides of the fight and taking them out on sight.

Selina’s Point of View:
I feel like I just watched an old childhood friend die.

I enjoyed the first three Transformer films. I even enjoyed them more than I was supposed to. They’ve all been a kind of “action porn” with only a touch of substance, but they were still fun to watch. There’s a big difference between those films and this one.

It felt like no one was really at work when they were shooting this film. Michael Bay (Pain & Gain, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys) wasn’t paying attention. Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm, The Skeleton Ring, Scream 3) was just looking for the easiest paycheck that could be made with minimal effort. The actors were all just barely awake during their scenes… which is sad since some of them are amazing actors in general. Even the graphics weren’t as good as a movie with this budget should have been able to produce.

Transformers: Age of Extinction was bad. Not only was it bad, but it was also long. It felt like the longest movie in the world.

I will likely see all the future Transformer films, but I’ll never give Bay my money to see them in theaters again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’d seen this movie while it was still out in theatres. It was nice to get a chance to re-visit it and see if I could catch anything that I missed last time.

I have to admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to these movies. I have been a fan of Transfomers, in general, since The Transformers (1984-1987) cartoon series when I was younger. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee were (and still are) my favorites, closely followed by the Dinobots.

Peter Cullen (Piglet's Big Movie, Transformers, IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix) was my first ‘voice crush.’ I have been practically giddy that he has continued to voice just about every iteration of Optimus Prime that has been released since then.

This far in to the modern Transformer movie franchise, there isn’t much point in going over my opinions as to changes they made to various characters – so we’ll leave that aside. I don’t generally watch these movies to nitpick.

Much like my enjoyment of Jurassic Park (1993) sets aside the great liberties they took with the plot for the sake of dinosaur effects; I like to watch these films for the nostalgia factor and seeing my beloved characters “made real.” So long as Optimus Prime keeps the same voice and remains a semi; I can take the rest with a large grain of salt.

I’ve also been a fan of Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, Contraband, Date Night) since I first saw him in Fear (1996). Some of his movies hit the mark, and some fall a bit short. I feel his performance here met my expectations for the scope of this movie.

What failed to quite meet the mark, however, was the length of time the Dinobots were on the screen. The beginning was a little slow – but I get that. If Grimlock and company weren’t teased in the trailers, I probably wouldn’t have felt as much of a loss.

I also didn’t quite like the new transformation effects. I get they were trying to go with something more sleek and modern – that it was to be cutting edge technology. It was spiffy when they were playing around with it, but when it came down to actual Transformers going through those changes, it lost some of the inherent expected vibe, for me.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie, and will continue to watch any installment of the franchise that hits the screen. These ‘robots in disguise’ will always hold a special place in my heart.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 18%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 52%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.7/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer: