Saturday, 20 June 2009

Shawshank Redemption

Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins is wrongly convicted and sentenced to two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover. Following his sentence he is sent down to Shawshank prison. After a couple of months of being sent down he forms a friendship with Red, which is integral to the rest of movie.

During the first few years of his imprisonment, Dufresne works in the prison laundry service, and is forced to endure particularly harsh beatings and even rape, this being caused by a group known as the "Sisters".

The story moves on as he catches the attention of Hadley (one of the prison guards) during a scene in which the prisoners are working outdoors; he makes him aware of how useful his knowledge of accounting can be after he advised him what to do with his inheritance sum in order to avoid tax payment.

After assisting Hadley, Andy is moved to work with Brooks Hatlen the Shawshank prison warden in the library, during this time he takes control of all the guards financial enquires, he becomes so popular for doing this that guards from other prisons bring work for him.

While working within the library, Dufresne begins writing letters to canvas support asking to increase the funding of the library, he succeeds in doing this and dramatically improves the overall quality of it. From seeing the work of Dufresne the Warden takes advantage of his ability to create a fraudulent identity to embezzle funds.

Concurrently Dufresne begins educating inmates to pass high school diplomas. Amongst these is a young prisoner named Tommy' who we and Andy are made aware, knows the person who committed the crime in which Dufresne was wrongly convicted for. Resulting from this, the warden has Tommy killed as he can't afford Dufresne to be freed from Shawshank prison knowing what he knows about his corrupt financial dealings.

Following two months in solitary confinement shortly after Tommy's death, Andy returns with his hope seemingly broken. During the following scene, his friends are concerned that he may commit suicide. The following morning, he is found missing from his cell.

Firstly, I have heard a great deal about this film and from looking on the movie database it is ranked the 3rd best film of all time. I decided to just buy the film and see if it was really that good. There are so many great films about this movie; to put it quite simply, it's a masterpiece.

The plot, the screenplay, the character development and timing are all perfect in this film. The amount of time the film covers is incredible, over 40 years. The film deliberately reveals the story slowly giving great attention to detail and this is probably one the best things about this film, it gives an accurate insight into prison life; this also makes the ending of the film so special and unique.

Moving on to the performances; Robbins' portrayal of Andy Dufresne provokes a lot of thought; he builds the character up slowly throughout the film. The character itself develops, and seemingly accepts his new life but shows great determination and above all else; hope. Morgan Freeman delivers probably one of his best performances in this film; maybe even his best. The rest of the cast are all unique and have a great deal to offer in this film. If you haven't seen this film, it's a film you have to say.

Spiderman 3

At the start of the movie the plot is quickly set with all three villains of the film introduced, it starts with one night in a park, where Peter and Mary Jane are on a date. A small meteorite crashes nearby, and an alien symbiote comes out of it and attaches itself to Peter's moped (Later becomes Venom). This is followed by Flint Marko an escaped convict who we are made aware that he needs to find money for his sick daughter; further along in this scene he falls into a particle accelerator which transforms him into a shape shifting sand manipulator. Finally we see Harry Osborne who from the last movie, wants spider-man dead. As you can probably tell, the movie is quite busy and at times can be a bit confusing with too much information to take in and too little time for the movie to present its audience with the kind of detail it had in the previous intallments of spider-man.

To start off, I thought the first two instalments of spider-man were incredible; I was a big fan of the Spider-man series and from seeing the previews of the movie this movie; it promised to top them all. This is why I watched the movie right upon its release and before I go on let me just say that the film itself is entertaining with incredible action sequences which are intense. It is fair to say that the action in this film is the best of the three spider-man films. However, the first two Spider-man films set extremely high standards with there incredibly well structured storyline and likewise with the great detail and back stories that the characters had.

My are a few fundamental flaws which really bugged me about this film; first off were the characters, unlike the first two films they were lacking in detail and at times their back stories were so undeveloped it became confusing as to why they did certain things in the film. The other problem is films obvious gaping plot holes.

The storyline is the most tightly packed of all three films and this maybe this is the reason for it. Even with the extended length of the film, there is too information to impart that many scenes feel too forced and some important scenes are cut incredibly short, this adversely affects the development of many of the characters and their back stories and motive appear to be lacking detail and cohesion with the rest of the story. This is evident when we consider that Sandman and Venom clearly don't have enough screen time.

Firstly if we consider Venom; the most popular of all the Spider-man villains considering the comics fan-base meets his fate so soon after being introduced and seemingly so easy. At the end of the film, this left me thinking that the movie itself was too rushed. This is also the case for the Sandman who's back story is quite similar to the second spiderman's Doc Ock who had a well developed character with a sympathetic edge which made him a great villian, but this just disappears altogether after his opening sequence. This also relates the films gaping plot holes when Venom and Sandman first meet; the scene lasts just under 10 seconds and they decide to team up against spider-man, this leaves many questions such as how does Venom know Sandman and why does he think he would help him; this has been weakly addressed as Spider-man may have stopped him from getting the money for his daughter but killing spider-man is not going to work to his advantage.

To conclude, the film is good but it had the potential to be something far greater. The action scenes were immense and it was enjoyable but there were so many fundamental flaws in the film which the first two Spider-mans did not have. It is clear that this film should have at least stretched out in two-parts and gave the villains justice similarly to the first two in the series.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End

The film follows on from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Purl following the captivating cliff-hanger with Jack Sparrow being swallowed up by large sea creature known as the Kraken. Fortunately, all is not lost. He's only in Davy Jones' Locker and we see Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann reluctantly team up with a shockingly alive Captain Barbossa revealed in the previous movie.

Meanwhile, Lord Becket has captured Davy Jones' heart. He is using his control over Jones and his ship, the Flying Dutchman, to set up a final confrontation. To stop him, a meeting of the Pirate Lords is called, and since Jack is one of them, they must rescue him.

The Film

As for the film itself, for the most part the film was really good but at times it became pretty confusing and at other times it simply dragged on a bit too long. There were definitely a lot of things happening throughout the film and some interesting, unexpected plot twists. Like the first two films there was a lot of humour, some of which was genuinely funny, but quite a bit of which was too silly to really be funny.

I would have to say that Pintel and Ragetti are by far the funniest characters in the film. Like I said though, one of the films failures was the amount characters they had to fit into the story, some of which just became pointless. It seems to be the way with film sequels that they always try to out-do the previous movie and try too hard, usually without great success.

One of the better aspects of the film would have to the action sequences; the special effects were great on the whole and were better than in the second film. The fight and battle scenes were extremely inventive and well put together. The film itself was probably more violent than the second movie. There were a couple of things that while not exactly violent were still rather disturbing, but not too concerning.

However, unlike the first two films there are a lot of scenes which didn't not have much action in it and dragged on slightly, but this wasn't that bad and the film never became boring. Other good things about this film is that it addresses and explains many things from the 2nd film and also links back to the 1st leaving the film feeling well concluded whilst also leaving the possibility for another sequel.

As usual Depp was great but the true star of the film has to be Geoffrey Rush. Knightly played her character well for the most part but there were some parts of the film which didn't appear right, i.e. when she was leading a battle cry in the final scene. Bloom's character was seemingly different to the previous two films, but as I said earlier the film veered into many unexpected twists and new directions.

Additional characters such as Sao Fend played by Chow Yun-Fat seemed rather pointless. As I said earlier Pintel and Ragetti were extremely funny in this film.


The music, like in the previous two films worked well and blended in with most scenes. Pretty much what you expect from Hans Zimmer who has composed music for Gladiator and Batman Begins.


Overall I really enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean 3, but it wasn't as good as the second film. The actions scenes were great and the plot was interesting and innovative although I feel the film tried too hard to top the first two films and so, made the film too long and with too much going on.

Pursuit of Happyness

The film delivers a simple; but inspiring message and this is that many people, when they fail they simply give in and accept defeat, believing that theres nothing they can do to change their situation for the better. There are many cases where we forget what the world has given us and all the possibilities that lie with this.

This is certainly not the case for Chris Gardner who endures considerable adversity. However, his relentless effort to pursue his dream and to be able to support his son allows him to achieve what he set out to do.

The whole film is built around the life of Chris Gardener, the opening of the film gives the background into his situation. He owns a large number of expensive bone-density scanners on which he has spent his and his wife's life savings on.

The problem lies with the fact that these bone density scanners are barely more efficient than an X-Ray machine and largely more expensive. He can't sell the machines and his life becomes a financial mess with bill after bill, his troubles become worse as his wife leaves him and he is kicked out of his apartment because he can't pay the rent.

The story splits in to two different directions when, Gardner runs into a largely successful man with an expensive sports car who says he is a stockbroker. Gardner draws inspiration from this encounter and with his great confidence in his ability to succeed he pursues a life of becoming a successful stockbroker.

He impresses in an interview at the firm and receives a small opportunity to become apart of the Dean Witter brokerage firm. Simultaneously the story follows the troubles and him and his son living in abject poverty.

I have to say; this is very good film, maybe not exceptional but it's very well-written and based on the true life of Chris Gardner. It well directed and the film itself provokes a lot of emotion, most people can relate to this story of hope and struggle, it's also enjoyable to watch someone succeed beyond all odds.

The screenplay is impressive and gives a good insight into San Francisco and the split between the prosperous part of the city and also the poorer sections of it which are ridden with poverty. I have to add that the music in the film fits perfectly with the theme and adds to the overall experience.

Moving on to the performances; I have to say that Will Smith's portrayal of Chris Gardner is possibly his best ever on-screen performance; he seems to get better with every movie he does. It is also a character dissimilar to anything he has played in the past; this is what makes his performance so great.

Smith demonstrates great strength of character and relentless determination to fight against the odds for himself and his son and he carries this off really well without over-acting his role.

Finally, Gardner's son is played by Will Smith's real son, this was a great addition to the film. Firstly he shows a lot of talent but more importantly shows a great a connection with his father which comes across as completely natural on screen.

This being said, I have to say this is one of the better films produced in 2006. It shows the strength of character in one person desire to succeed regardless of their situation and the obstacles that get in their way. Although many us may not be able to achieve what Chris Gardner does in this film, it still offers hope that confidence and determination can go along way for us to achieve what we set out to.

Friday, 19 June 2009

American History X

The film is driven behind the character of Derek Vinyard. He is an extremely intelligent and articulate but is he is hugely influenced by his father’s views on black culture ‘affirmative action’; his father was a fire-fighter before he was killed by a black drug dealer. This seems to be the defining factor in him becoming second in command of The Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.). The opening scene of the film see’s three black men park in front Derek’s house. His younger brother, Danny, hears them and informs Derek, telling him that "a black guy" was outside. Derek becomes incensed and grabs his pistol.

He opens the door and shoots one of the men, killing him, and wounds a second. The third escapes in their car. Derek kills the wounded man by stomping on the back of his head (one of the most horrific scenes in any film) Danny watches in horror and witnesses his brother gets arrested.In prison Derek becomes a reformed neo-Nazi mainly due to him becoming good friends with a black guy in prison, this helps him realise that his hatred is just a generalisation. He is released from prison after serving three years.

Upon being released, the story develops as he finds that his younger brother, Danny has followed his footsteps and has become an active white supremacist in the D.O.C (group Derek led before his arrest).

Derek decides to leave the group whilst trying to keep his brother from making the same mistakes he did. The main aspect of the film lays emphasise on the events that lead him to change his racial perception. The film certainly does not glorify skinheads but does show how a young person can have distorted views and racial prejudices; it also shows how much pain and suffering racism cause.

One of the most integral parts of the movie is the arguments presented by the white supremacists , some of the views appear to be, on the surface valid points, this could well be down to the incredible performances in the film.

However, with further interpretation it is not viable to argue subjectively and so generally on complexity of issues such immigration and rising crime and pin this down on particular race of people. This film points out with great force and raw emotion, racism is about hate and insecurity which is subjected on a generalisation with which to use as a scapegoat for their problems.

I have to say that one the best parts of the film is the superb performances by Edward Norton (maybe his best) and Edward Furlong which were incredible exceptional; very dramatic and poignant. I definitely believe that Norton should have received an Oscar for his part in this film. The overall theme is something which its audience will always remember; it is incredibly inspiring for all races which presents the message that we are all human-beings.

The ultimate part of this movie ifsthat it demonstrates the true cost of one man's hatred, and seeing it in the end; tear apart his family. It’s a powerful message and powerful movie.

However, this film is not for everyone; it has strong racism and extreme violence which is capitulated by the opening scene which see’s a man bites on to a curb and stomping on the back of his head, thus breaking his neck. Worst of all, it contains a rape scene. Despite this, in my opinion this is a must see film.