Movie Review – Inferno

Inferno

Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, and more.

Directed by: Ron Howard Screenplay by: David Koepp Based on the Novel by: Dan Brown Cinematography by: Salvatore Totino Music by: Hans Zimmer

Premise: Robert Langdon wakes in a hospital in Florence, Italy. He has no memory of how he got there. A cryptic email from a friend and the fact someone tries to kill him make it clear that he’s gotten himself into some kind of mess. The weird hallucinations of blood and hell don’t help matters. Aided by the young doctor at the hospital, Professor Langdon tries to put the broken pieces back together. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Tom Hanks reprises his role as Professor Robert Langdom for the third film of the series. He has great rapport with his rescuer Dr. Sienna Brooks. Felicity Jones does a great job as Brooks, showing multiple facets of her complex personality quite well. Irrfan Khan turns out to be a real treat in the film as the pragmatic Harry Sims. There’s some real sizzle between Tom and Sidse Babett Knudsen once some of the secrets are revealed. Great job from all parties.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: There are special effects of all kinds in the film. Lots of surreal imagery with lots of detail. There’s a painting in the Hall of the 500 in the Palazzo Vecchio which gets brought to life. Looked fantastic.

Rivers of blood running down modern city streets. Physical renditions of Dante’s Inferno as painted by Botticelli. Reality and myth all wound together in disturbing imagery. Tons of lovely work.

There are a couple of falling deaths that were well done. Both looked incredibly painful. The work on the second body and the closeup on the face were gruesome and poignant.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: Doors are a main theme. Those we open, those we close, and those whose frame we stand in. The play with the concept is rather fun and viewed in many angles. Love and its many facets are also explored.

I don’t want to say too much and inadvertently spoil several of the surprises in store. Watch for the ‘odd socks’ as they are hints. A thing or two that seem like mere plot devices are actually something else.

Overall, it all holds together pretty well. They do pound a couple of things more times than necessary, but didn’t prove overtly irritating.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The film isn’t filled with them, but the few there are were well done. The knife fights were quick and well choreographed. A little shaky-cam was used during a water fight, but it didn’t detract too much.

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: One of the best parts of the Professor Langdon movies are the locations! Salvatore Totino has been involved in the cinematography of all three films. As you view the lovely exotic locations you’ll realize why. Several gorgeous panning shots of Florence and other locals will fill the screen. The aerial views from the drone in the park by the Palazzo Vecchio looked great. There’s a shot of Istanbul with a huge setting sun that was fantastic. Lots and lots of lovely vistas. I very much enjoyed all the shots of the historical places, especially the areas where normal visitors are not allowed. 🙂

Super loved the location for the climax. Looked so cool!

Conclusion: Inferno is a nice addition to the Professor Langdon historical mysteries. Another cool puzzle buried in historical trivia and awesome locations. Even has food for thought!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price)

Movie Review – Alice Through the Looking Glass

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Leo Bill, Alan Rickman, Geraldine James, and more.

Directed by: James Bobin Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton Based on books by: Lewis Carroll Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh Music by: Danny Elfman

Premise: Alice comes home from China to find that things are not as she left them. Stepping through the looking glass, she learns matters aren’t any better on the other side. To help the Mad Hatter, she must go back in time and find out what happened to his family. Yet there’s more danger in her mission than she realizes. A lot more. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Mia Wasikowska reprises her role as the spunky Alice to good effect. She appears a lot more comfortable with her role than in the first film. Johnny Depp gets to explore some unexpected sides of the Mad Hatter. Leo Bill was fun as the extreme Hamish. Sacha Baron Cohen was fascinating, and fluid, as Time. Helena Bonham Carter was fun as always as chaotic Iracebeth.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: If you can manage it, try to see this one in 3D or IMAX if at all possible. The special effects will make it totally worth it. From the mad dash of the Wonder through shallow waters to the Chronos Orb eye popping voyage over the seas of time. Lots and lots of amazing sights await.

Especially cool were the Grand Clock and the Chronos Orb itself. The Mad Hatters’ transformations from his illness were lovely. Time was amazing! The actor moving here and there and the audience seeing the machinery sticking out from the back of his head. It truly looked like it was a piece of him. Fabulous!

The vegetable people and the clockwork people looked awesome. The upright fish people were also rather interesting.

And if you enjoy the neat, unfolding buildings in the beginning of Game of Thrones, you’ll like the cute unfolding little tales during the credits.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I enjoyed this second film a lot better than the first. The plot seemed more solid and fascinating. Life on both sides of the looking glass showed different facets of the same problems.

Friendship and family were the main recurring themes. And like the first film, it hints at how a small thing can begin a chain of events that end in unforeseen and even tragic results. Bits of darkness, than in and of themselves don’t seem like much, but can fester and grow until they are out of control.

They have some rather cute after moments that run through the credits, too. Like extra bits from after Alice’s visit.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of tumbles, crashing, jumping. A few of the landings from both the Chronos Orb and Time’s other machine looked like they hurt! 😛

5) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: The period costumes were very nice. And I loved the female captain uniforms. I also thought that Alice’s oriental dress was gorgeous. The makeup work on the Mad Hatter was superb, especially as it kept changing. They even used the makeup for some subtext with regards to Iracebeth as well.

Conclusion: Alice Through The Looking Glass is a fun ride with lots of gorgeous special effects. Definitely put the Wonder in Wonderland. 🙂

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Movie Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci, and more.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence Screenplay by: Peter Craig and Danny Strong Based on the Novel by: Suzanne Collins Cinematography by: Jo Willems Music by: James Newton Howard

Premise: With the 13 districts united, the rebels turn their focus to the capitol. Katniss struggles with what’s been done to Peeta and also what to do about Gale. Worse, President Snow decides to turn a large chunk of the capitol into a new Hunger Games. And Katniss learns President Coin might soon no longer have a use for her. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth give great performances as the odd love triangle spins, gets even more complex. and eventually comes to a resolution. Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore were a lot of fun as the opposing presidents. Elden Henson and Wes Chatham added some nice depth to the story as Pollux and Castor.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The special effects team does a superb job in the film. The scene where everyone is cut off and the black water comes, and then when we see the black water in action and chasing after them, was awesome. Loads of explosions and heavy gun fire. The close range explosions from the arrows looked great underground. The 50+ caliber guns and the devastation on the columns from the bullets looked very real. And wait till you see the special surprise the group is given by Snow’s team in the sewers. My only problem was that the marketing department gave away all the good traps in the previews! Boo! (Hubby was displeased!)

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: It really would be nice if films that have multiple parts or have sequels with years in between, the movie makers would deign to remember not everyone will have rewatched the previous films before seeing the new release and give a recap. Especially for side characters! While remembering the principal people was easy, there were several side characters who’ve been in several of the films who weren’t as memorable for whatever reason and therefore it was hard to realize who they were and what their backgrounds were to get the audience to care when bad things happen to them. Jena Malone’s character Johanna Mason was one of these. I adored her performance in Part 2, but I was hard pressed to remember anything about the character at all. And not remembering anything, makes it very hard to care. (This was a major suffering point for the film “Insurgent” earlier this year.)

Aside from not knowing who some of the people were, however, I very much enjoyed the direction they took with the film. Talking with my daughter, who read all the books, I know they changed a few points for the ending, but these were improvements to the plot rather than issues. They also continued to show that actions have consequences and will affect people emotionally as they had in the previous films.

The major theme this time played with duality and perceptions. Katniss comparing Peeta and Gale. Peeta comparing remembered and altered memories. Gale and the way he viewed enemies as things rather than people and how this comes back on him. It even applied to President Snow and Coin.

Another theme they had fun bandying about pertained to hubris and pride. Also how your enemy can be your friend and vice versa. And both themes tie in to the ending at the capitol, which was well played if a little transparent.

Only thing I wished we’d gotten a little more on was Snow’s reactions when he thought Katniss was dead and then found out she was alive. Totally unexpected reaction, but it spoke back to that duality theme I mentioned before. Heh heh.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The cast and the stunt team did some great work in Part 2. The fight in the sewers was especially well done – lots of hand-to-hand combat goodness. Between the traps and several explosions during the film, people get thrown all over the place.

5) Costuming/Makeup – Thumbs Up: While the departments did a great job as usual, there was one thing missing. A section of this film happens at the capitol. Several meetings even occurred in Snow’s mansion. But for the most part all the outrageous clothes and makeup were nowhere to be seen there. In a scene with actual citizens running to and fro, there were still no true funky clothes and hairstyles. Tigris definitely had both, but she’s just one person, and an extreme case at that. Even Effie was toned down. Seeing these people in their wild getups and makeup was half the fun in the previous films! 😛

Conclusion: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was worth the wait though they would have benefited from a recap or releasing this one close to Part 1. Gritty and emotional and a fun ride.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)