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Star Wars Closure
With "The Rise of Skywalker", the leading cast Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley show their finest acting of all three "Star Wars" movie, they participated on. The production led by Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams is rock solid down to his final cut appearance.
The movie has a great pace, no dull scenes given. Even though not all "Star Wars" fans will agree on the highly twisting plot points as the showdown shares all emotionally accumulated emotions over the years and finishes in an extraordinary dark spectacle against "Emperor Palpatine".
The one thing you can say about "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker" is that it needed to be even bigger. The long-living followers, coming from the 1980s, including myself, wished for a 'Episode VI', 'Death Star II' defying finale furioso space battle in cross cut with the already classic, well played 'Shakespearean' chamber intimacy.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Marvel united (part 4)
In just five days of worldwide exhibition, this ultra-high budgeted 'Hollywood Movie' managed to accumulate a hundred million spectators (1.2 billion U.S. Dollar in revenue) thanks to an amazing collaboration of initial 'Marvel' producer Kevin Feige (p.g.a.) and directors 'The Russo Brothers' as the sticking together ensemble cast of 2012's 'Marvel's Avengers' take revenge on supervillain 'Thanos'; vocally performed with no remorse by Josh Brolin, known for 'Best Picture of the Year' Academy Award winning picture "No Country for Old Men" (2007) directed by 'The Coen Brothers'.
'Endgame' does the trick of reminding the 2018's 'Infinity War' viewers' memory in starting with Academy Award nominating worthy drama before opening the desperately needed science-fiction action in the second hour of total three as world famous actors, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannsson, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo as the all-balanced, genetically-fixed 'Hulk' (to name a selected few) come together again to travel back in time, real "Back To The Future: Part 2" (1989) style, fixing all arguably done mistakes of romancing the 'Infinity Stones' to recover companion- as friendship of deceased 'Avengers' fellows as the beloved Marvel characters 'Spider-Man' and 'Black Panther' remerge.
In the end there is no disappointment emotionally, the Disney / Marvel merger of 2009 used all their filmmaking powers to deliver the ultimate 'Event' picture due to the interweaving grid of story-telling splendour initially incepted in 2008's 'Iron Man' - feeling just to go back and start 'The Journey' all over again.
King Arthur Story In Spectacular Waterworld
DC and Warner achieved what was thought impossible. A great coming together cast, an engaging young director plus a skilled producer on a budget.
The cinematography is indulging the senses throughout, especially with aspect ratio changing IMAX action sequences which create an immense boost of endorphine for any spectator even as the story of 'Arthur Curry', finding his trident, uniting the seven seas under one king, keeps no surprises.
In the end 'Aquaman' stands the test of time mainly by the fitting chemistry of leading duo Jason Momoa & Amber Heard, which will surely do not stop to amaze in the upcoming 2022 sequel under returning James Wan directions.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Marvel united (part 3)
Here comes the "Marvel" movie with sympathies for a supervillain, introduced first in 2012s "Marvel's Avengers" post-credit scene. His name is "Thanos", motion-capturly performed by actor Josh Brolin, known for Academy Award winning "No Country for Old Men" directed by the 'Coen Brothers'. The badass character is coming from outer space to enslave Earth as pathway stone and sweep the entire universe from, in his perspective scum of the galaxies.
What the directors 'Russo Bros.' and producer Kevin Feige achieved here on an 300 million plus production budget comes close to perfect digital movie-making. All characters involved, interlink with there predecessor movies since 2008 "Iron Man", starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, who again also here leads the storyline to an inevitable thunder-slashing showdown at "Black Panther's" Wakanda battlefield of clashing "Marvel" superheroes versus "Thanos" supervillain army of beasts.
I liked this picture very much. It reminiscences films from my youth, when political correctness were stretched to the maximum, winning 'Best Picture' Academy awards and the protagonist's nemesis won the rules of the game; as in "French Connection" (1971) Fernando Rey's drug-trafficking crime kingpin - "Silence of the Lambs" (1991) Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter - "Scarface" (1983) Al Pacino's 'The World is Yours' striking Tony Montana, and surprisingly cliffhanging devil pirat 'Davy Jones', performed by technically revolutionizing mo-cap acting Bill Nighy in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" of summer 2006.
Black Panther (2018)
Stand-Alone Marvel Entertainer
Producer Kevin Feige (p.g.a.) brings "Creed" director Ryan Coogler and his teammates into the Marvel universe with this highly entertaining goody of high-profile 'Hollywood' science-fiction-action.
The result entertains on all levels and mostly as a stand-alone 'Marvel' picture; even receiving the first 'Best Picture' Academy Award nomination at the 91st 'Oscars' for Marvel Studios, founded 1993.
Director Rian Johnson, known for "Looper" (2012), fully committing himself for "The Last Jedi" in writing the script and directing on and off set; additionally bringing on board cinematographer and editor in order to create an extraordinary "Star Wars" movie, rooting deep into Japanese mythology, especially with the sequences on Luke Skywalker's exiling island.
Actress Daisy Ridley, playing female Jedi apprentice "Rey", takes a step back in "Episode VIII", making space for Mark Hamill given the 'Skywalker performance' of a lifetime, taking non-stop action in fishing for food in stormy coves of the exile island, pushing leading character 'Rey' to her limits to discover secret passages of "The Force"; all very convincing and in the sense of George Lucas initiative of 1977.
But here comes the swinger in keeping traditional sound design and musical score so conservative, which might have worked in the 80s and 90s, where five times Oscar winning Hollywood legend composer John Williams owned every beat and pitch of "Zeitgeist" for musical underscoring motion pictures. Here seems the time to explore further option of Mr. Williams' classic "Star Wars" character theme, especially "Leia", "Han Solo", "Chewbacca", "Luke" and "Darth Vader" of course, which marching sounds made him legendary.
In recent 2010s history, I recall two times to listen to an extraordinary score in motion picture. One in 2017s "Blade Runner 2049" directed by Denis Villenueve, collaborating with composer Johann Johannson, and the other recent HBO television miniseries "Chernobyl" (2019), where emotional underscoring ambience created almost mystical feature. The wish for "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker" with returning "Episode VII" director J.J. Abrams, known for "Mission: Impossible" (2006), to have force and attitude with producers Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Disney executives to dare "The Impossible" in sound designing and scoring "Episode IX".
Everything becomes the enjoyable Hollywood blockbuster ride; especially in "IMAX" theatres; going all in towards the already slight melancholic sense that main characters are going to die as real-life "Princess Leia" actress Carrie Fisher in December 2016.
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Star-spiked Car Actioner
Two and half years on the market, risen not quite to fulminant success of its predecessor "Furious 7" (2015) directed by James Wan, here producer Neal Moritz raises the budget for his solid established crew for another 50 MIllion to a total 250 MIllion production budget - does it show?
Yes, it does, even if adult subject matter steps back for a traditional keeping the Universal's "Fast & Furious" family together. Vin Diesel as 'Dom Toretto' leading man, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, switching sides of the game, becoming an ally and deliver nicely a prison break action sequence for the ages, not for franchise fan only.
But the show steals clearly Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron, who gives a cyper-intelligent supervillian, commanding people, cars, drones to a show-stopping nuclear submarine from "Up In The Air" gunship central and further blackmailing main character Toretto with mesmerizing blockbuster kiss in front of undermined Toretto love interest, played by Michelle Rodriguez.
After all, fair enough, sequel to the franchise best, even if late Paul Walker (1973-2013) is sadly missed for his easing action skills as I look with an hopeful eye towards a concluding "Fast & Furious 9" in summer 2020, bringing back showrunning routiner directer Justin Lin, who certainly delivered in 2011 with "Fast Five".
Rogue One (2016)
Star Wars Vintage Emotions
Set as bridging link between "Revenge of the Sith" (2005) and "A New Hope" (1977), this "Star Wars" spin-off movie totally in charge by Lucasfilm Ltd. executives delivers with an amazing image system, using up-to-date digital technology without losing the 1980s charms of "Return of the Jedi".
Cast, female led by Felicity Jones, known for the Oscar-nominated drama "The Theory of Everthing" (2014), manuveurs action-oriented through an ensemble story of coming together rebel forces about to steal the digital blueprints of the star-killing "Death Star" space machinery.
Well supported by another "Star Wars" robot, a blind "Zatoichi" (2003) reminding Kung-Fu warrior, performed with grace by Chinese actor Donnie Yeh. Upcoming Ben Mendelsohn gives the empiric chief officer villian as darker "Sith" forces step back in this "Star Wars" picture, making it more gritty in its first conception.
Production Design, cinematography and musical score maintaining the grace of the original "Star Wars" movies, elevating "Rogue One" in the league of a superb quality science-fiction movie, based loosly on Dark Horse comic book series "Dark Empire", even enjoyable to spectacular watch for non "Star Wars" followers.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Almost Avengers Light
Not as superb as the directing Russo Brothers first one "The Winter Soldier", due to a complexion of being almost an "Avengers" movie; "Civil War" builds up to a kind of thrilling potential in the final confrontation between Steve Rogers vs. Tony Stark.
Production Design and musical score are behind expectations in this super-high budget Marvel movie. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. play the hell out of doctored script preserving the enormous as delivered spectacle in "Infinity War". Too many characters reduce the fun factor, when the story's spine should have been simple enough by taking sides for the cause of protecting a friend from prosecution.
Nevertheless new introductions to the "Marvel's Avengers" universe as "Black Panther" portrayed by highly-gifted African-American actor Chadwick Boseman, known for Universal's "Get On Up" (2014) and Warner's "42" (2013), keeps the modest entertainment drum in this Phase 3 Marvel movie pumping.
A Skywalker Mirror
This is the story of mid 20s young adult female Rey, introducing English actress 'Daisy Ridley'. As Luke Skywalker, performed by 'Mark Hamill' in the 1970s, Rey must escape a father- and motherless desert planet in the "Star Wars" galaxy.
As Luke before her, she is about to discover an energy field surroundings, all live and dead things, named by initial auteur George Lucas, simply "The Force''. Along Rey's pathway, she meets new and old reprising allies, when the "Episode 7" story kicks into gear with Harrison Ford, after 32 years giving legendary character "Han Solo" once again.
"The Force Awakens" directed by also producer J.J. Abrams has the classic ingredients of the original "Star Wars" trilogy as the 'Millenium Falcon' swings again through narrow tunnels on planet into space, proving that leading character 'Rey' is a gifted pilot herself.
The ending becomes mystic and grateful; It pays all the respects to George Lucas' conceptional vision of 1977. A movie to remember and enjoyed by hundreds of millions viewers worldwide.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Marvel united (part 2)
Marvel's Avengers return, three years after the first mega-spectacle, almost remaining on top of the game with director Joss Whedon going deeper into the Marvel interweaving universe. The story again led by "Iron Man" Tony Stark, performed by Robert Downey Jr., as the Marvel superhero assembling kicks right in from the start in storming a "Hydra" occupied Transylvanian castle.
Highlight become an African-town-sight full confrontation between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner aka "The Hulk", solidly acted by sophisticated American actor Mark Ruffalo, as the "Iron Man" must utilize his hulkbuster suit to engage the green beast.
Acting cast, surrounding some of Hollywood's finest performers are convincingly directed and backed by producer Kevin Feige as "Age of Ultron" becomes the fourth highest grossing picture of 2015, shy after Universal's "Furious 7" and "Jurassic World", nevertheless beating in audience attraction by overall winner "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".
Collaborating for the fifth time, since "The Island" in 2005 a sciene-fiction thriller for DreamWorks Pictures; director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg take on an more sophisticated screenplay by Ehren Kruger to deliver a mixed summer blockbuster Hollywood picture.
The cinematography by Amir Mokri, known for "Man of Steel" (2013) takes on some extraordinary crane shots, especially in the opening sequence, where Special Forces, led by most commited Tillus Welliver, making hunt on hideout "Autobots". The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer protégé Steven Jablonsky takes all the high emotional pitches, as leading actor's character, played by Mark Wahlberg, Texas ranch gets under attack by those governmental forces due to hiding and run-down "Optimus Prime" in his barn.
The final editorial of over two and a half hours keeps the pace, but loosing it at times as highly corporated storyline of an new-built technology company KSI takes turns hard to follow at first watch - several viewings of 'Age of Extinction' recommended. Nevertheless supporting cast Stanley Tucci as CEO of that spoken company keeps the fun in his performance with alien "cypertron" matter pumping, when later the ensemble hits Chinese grounds to awaken the movie's highlighted scenes with fighting metal "Dinobots".
CGI has not been improved over "The Dark of the Moon" (2011). But ILM, George Lucas' visual effects company starting out in 1976, does an almost perfect job, getting supported by visual effects companies in Asia, especially Singapore, to assemble almost impossible looking plate tracking shots.
Overall "Age of Extinction" is a whole lot of fun; nothing more nothing less. The picture now in its seventh year on the market strangely gains on charms, especially because director Michael Bay directs a "Jason Bourne" like hand-combat fight scene between Wahlberg and Welliver; Villain actor Kelsey Grammar, known for comedy sitcom "Frasier" (1993), is cast against type and fulfills his job as secret government executive brilliantly; Emotional emphasis between CGI robotic and live-action characters never looses its story-telling eye of this continuing Hollywood big-shot director.
Iron Man Three (2013)
It is the 4th appearance of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark aka "Iron Man" (2008-2013) and his finest.
Combining science-fiction action components with comedy and action-thriller elements, it's where the second collaboration of Robert Downey Jr. and director Shane Black, after crime-comedy "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" produced by Joel Silver in season 2004/2005, pays off.
Despite a weaker opening sequence, featuring a 1990s Italian-produced #1 single wonder pop song, "Iron Man Three" quickly picks up pace of major blockbuster story-telling. Tony Stark must encounter his most outrageous defeat as a villian called "Mandarin" attacks his 'Malibu' home by heavy missile fire.
After that incident, the picture gets better and better, featuring supporting cast Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark Industries CEO wife, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce in one of his best Hollywood big picture performances.
In the end, I stood "whoa-struck" on how the technological advancements, especially with the Iron Man mark 3 suits assembling in an spectacular showdown sequence at 'Los Angeles' habor, giving "Iron Man" a proper sent off in Marvel's best single character trilogy.
An MGM picture revival of the Golden Era
As Academy-Award winning director Peter Jackson brings back almost the whole production crew from his greatest success "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" back to Wellington, New Zealand and outstanding creative support by WETA workshops, led by Richard Taylor, this 2012 Christmas movie based on a book by J.R.R. Tolkien from the 1930s withholds all the magic high-craft filmmaking is about.
Shot in native three-dimensional dual splitter system on compact RED digital cameras, the visuals are at no time a bore, delivering splendour CGI effects at the state of the art and a joyful cast, led by Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins and Oscar nominated character "Gandalf, the Grey (wizard)" into an adventure of full imaginative "Middle Earth", where Orcs, Elfs and wolfs linger.
Set as a first part of three part movie series, director P. Jackson has hands full of work from adapting scenes, previsualizations and shooting actors in heavy made-up costumes keeping new arrivals in high-end moviemaking, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott and Graham MacTavish, who come theatre backgrounds, in the mood with all the shooting against green-screens and digital place holders.
"The Hobbit", now seven years on the free market for everyone to watch, stands strong in narrative, spectacles and enjoyment that reprising characters Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman, all played by former "Lord of the Rings" cast members to mention Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and late Christopher Lee (1922-2015) are high-rise Hollywood entertainment to watch.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Hollywood As Large As It Gets
Director Christopher Nolan and brother writer Jonathan Nolan work up to four years to dysect the DC graphic novel series "Knight Fall" to assemble the essentials of the ''Bane vs. Batman"; here portrayed by young and eager Hollywood actors Christian Bale and Tom Hardy respectively, who get denied the sciene-fiction overdrive, including secret ooze of superpowers and hyper gadgets into space, when director C. Nolan remains his rigid, but spectacular hyper-realism, course for in-camera live-action shots as he remains to his todate last movie ''Dunkirk".
Nevertheless two and a half hour plus running time are well spent, especially at IMAX theaters, which every spectator gives the 'whoas' at least in certain scenes of mega-confrontation in the subterrranean sewers of Gotham City, thanks to final collaborations with long-time friend and partner cinematography Wally Pfister. Which keeps "The Dark Knight Rises" above Hollywood summer blockbuster average is its direct connection to the Nolan's masterpiece, at age 37, "The Dark Knight", where he led late actor Heath Ledger (1980-2008) to unforgettable stardom in letting him run free in his interpretation of an unlimited anarchistic as iconic nemesis character.
Watching "The Dark Knight Rises" over and over again over the last seven years, despite the commited, revisiting character-spines, ensemble cast including Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Morgan Freeman as Wayne-incorporated Lucius Fox and then again new supporting actors Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, who suffer under under sexed directions,, recalling Michelle Pfeiffer's performance in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" of summer 1992.
The Avengers (2012)
Marvel United (part 1)
The youngest of Marvel heroes "Iron Man", first appearance in comic format 1968, leads the way into a science fiction spectacle of superlatives. Robert Downey Jr. portrays Tony Stark aka Iron Man with ease and occasional sophistication in times of crisis. This is exactly what happens when the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility; led by Nick Fury, since 2010 given face by actor Samuel L. Jackson, is under attack by a mediocre villain "Loki", who remains just a puppet for supervillian "Thanos" to be one of the major action confrontation in "Avengers" part three (2018) and four (2019) of the marvel movie series.
Soundtrack by Hollywood veteran composer Alan Silvestri and digital cinematography by Seamus McGarvey only excellerate this Hollywood blockbuster ride of summer 2012 directed by passionate director Joss Wheddon, who had been trusted enough by Marvel Studios and operating executives at Paramount Studios to fulfil a cinematic vision of pace, whoa and joyful acting beats avoiding any moment of this picture to be dull.
A standing strong contribution for the ultra high budgeted decade of professional filmmaking in the 2010s in Hollywood.
Stand-Alone Pirates Movie
Here is filming in native 3D, which now in retrospective had been limiting producer Jerry Bruckheimer's and director Rob Marshall's vision for a stand-alone "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie as summer blockbuster event back in May 2011.
All the basic cast from the initial trilogy directed by Gore Verbinski return as Johnny Depp leads the story as Oscar-nominated character "Jack Sparrow", at Academy Award ceremony in 2004, to an mysterious island, where to believe the cave, which is holding the "Fountain of Youth". New cast entreès Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane in a wrangling father and daughter relationship, which has some beats of surprise, but does not convince to the very end.
Nevertheless the sheer production effort and atmospheric cinematography, especially at mermaids cove make it a Hollywood joy ride, much shorter in running time as its predecessors that moments of Disney movie magic remain.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Live-Action Splendor As First Notable Remake of An Animated Feature
Twenty-five years in the directing business from Beetlejuice (1987) over Batman (1989) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) for Warner Bros. Studios, Tim Burton finally arrives at Walt Disney Pictures with an mega budget of two hundred million dollar and favorable Hollywood star Johnny Depp in the male lead as Mad Hatter to adapt Lewis Caroll's book classic with every possible special visual effect engine available in movie season 2008/2009 to deliver an instant classic picture for the whole family with wonderful memorable characters as a magical blue cat, a smoking caterpillar and show-stealing red queen, portrayed by actress / director's wife Helena Bonham Carter as main character Alice must encounter all of them in dream-like, neo-medieval landscape of digital splendor, so that audiences around the world could not resist the visua charm to elevate the Walt Disney Picture of an new age in the "Billion Dollar Club" at international box offices.
Still ranking as number one, to this day, of being the movie accumulating the most revenue worldwide, approximately 2.78 billion U.S. dollar over a time span from december 2009 to may 2010, this James Cameron produced, written and directed high-end budget movie connected to audiences from any country, taking the native American story into space to a planet called Pandora, where corporates of a global-player company fight tribesmen over natural ressources. Avatar runs long and deep as audiences return for a second viewing to witness splendid, eye-popping spectacles in an intergalactic jungle favoring the color blue, close to fully animated state of the art computer-generated imagery, which deserved an Best Picture Academy Award nomination at the 82nd Oscars and marks the only second of entire three 200 million dollar movie to do so, following Titanic in 1998 and later
Black Panther in 2019.
Pirates of the Caribbean Sequel
After high box office success beyond expectations in Summer 2003 the adaptation of a Disneyland park resort ride finds an even more exciting sequel produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Films, adding key personnel, including director Gore Verbinski and leading actor Johnny Depp, to the production crew rooster of summer 2005 as state of the art visual effects, combining motion capture techniques with secret star character of the summer 2006 event movie Davy Jones ruling the seven seas with monstrous Kraken in wood-splintering, explosive ship attack sequences all resulting in the second 200 million dollar plus movie crossing the magical line of one billion U.S. dollar at international box offices with approximately forty percent coming from the domestic market.
A Billion Dollar Club Movie
First of its kind to cross the magical one billion dollar frontier of admission splendour; to audiences around the world starting from mid-December 1997, when writer, producer, director James Cameron unleashes the ultimate sacrificing love story, portrayed by Academy-award winning actors Kate Winslet (The Reader 2008) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant 2015) on the infamous Liverpool cruiseliner ship "Titanic" sinking on April 12th 1912 into the Atlantic Ocean due to hitting a too-late foreseen iceberg as James Cameron holding all the strings over splendid cinematography with over lapping on-hand live-action footage in the first ever produced 200-Million-Dollar production, coming in with an approximately 1.6 billion U.S. dollar in worldwide box office revenue in spring 1998 after winning 11 Academy-awards at the 70th Oscars, except recognizing supporting acting bliss by Kathy Bates, Billy Zane and Bernard Hill as the legendary ship's captain.