Thursday, 28 June 2012

Independence Day (1996) - ★★½

I remember the first time I ever saw Independence Day. It was exciting, scary, and on par with Men In Black for my all time favourite Alien movie. Watching it recently as a young adult, I found that it was overly cliché and lame, to put it mildly. There were so many "MY GOD" moments from the characters that my sister and I ended up counting them. 

There was a good ensemble cast with many different stories that meet in the end. These stories consisted of Will Smith as a fighter pilot going "Woohoo" and many other unfitting catchphrases whilst fighting for his life and his planet. His stripper and single mother girlfriend, who ridiculously escaped a city consuming explosion from the Alien invaders by running into a room. She then went on to steal a truck and find survivors. Jeff Goldblum played an intelligent scientist of some sorts that is able to find out that the Aliens are counting down to attack the world. His ex-wife is conveniently the secretary of state, so he can warn the president. Then there is the young, modern and honorable president, who does all he can to save the world. I understand that the director Roland Emmerich intended this film for a mainstream audience, but it went way over the top with patriotism. I felt like I was watching a film where America saves the world from destruction (some-what like WWII). 

Quite frankly, the film felt too long. It became boring after the world got attacked. There was no character development, resulting in no emotional attachment to any of the characters. Independence Day was actually a terrible film in many ways. What saved the film from being utter crap was the masterful special effects. Even now the special effects are incredible and create a sense of tension and excitement. The first hour of the film was satisfying as a result of the SFX,  regardless of the silly dialogue. 

Independence Day is surely a film I will never forget, which makes it great in a way, but for now the film that I adored as a young boy will forever sit on my shelf as a film to watch if I feel like mindless action. 

Good Will Hunting (1997) - ★★★½

I loved this film. Robin Williams was at his finest playing psychiatrist Sean Maguire, who counsels the troubled genius Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. He is a kid that could be anything but chooses to live the hoodlum life with his hooligan friends, one of whom is played by co-writer of the screenplay Ben Affleck.

Damon and Williams draw strength from each others company, through sharing stories, thoughts and opinions during their counselling sessions. It was refreshing because they were having real conversation, not just the same generic Hollywood dialogue. Affleck played Chuckie, Damon's best friend. His performance and accent were unconvincing and added no depth to the character. It felt like Affleck wanted to write extra scenes for his character, because no one cares about who Chuckie is, yet he gets almost as much dialogue as Will. Minnie Driver was excellent as Damon's love interest, portraying a real person and being able to express emotions masterfully. One particular scene where she fights with Will was marvelous on Driver's behalf, sealing her worthiness of her Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Overall, this movie was mildly entertaining, thought provoking and a joy to watch. Particularly because of Robin Williams and the performance of his career.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Constant Gardener (2005) - ★★★½

Fernando Meirelles,' The Constant Gardener, is essentially a thriller that delves into issues such as corruption, poverty and HIV, yet it is fundamentally about the love and devotion of a man who lost his wife as a result of her pursuance of a conspiracy involving these issues. This film will surely seal Ralph Fiennes as one of the greatest actors of all time, for it is his heart wrenching portrayal of Justin Quayle, a gentle diplomat and husband that wants redemption for his wife's death, that should be remembered as much as his other roles. Rachel Weisz gave the performance of her career as Tessa Quayle, an ambitious, caring and highly stubborn woman that investigates the mysterious premature deaths of African people with HIV.

The cinematography was much like Sydney Pollacks,' Out of Africa, with beautiful aerial views of some of Africa’s amazing natural wonders. The whole conspiracy investigation plot was thrilling and intriguing at the same time, for the main characters were not only likable, but were investigating an important issue which was whether the pharmaceutical company (3 Bees) experimented with potentially fatal drugs on patients with HIV. It is a long movie, but it did not seem like it because of the films fast pace and unpredictable developments in the storyline.

The Constant Gardener was just magnificent. Personally I thought the highlights were the beginning and ending, for they gave the movie a beautiful class that separated it from other thrillers and romances. 2005 was a brilliant year of cinema, and this film stands out as one of the best.