Spirited Away Movie Review

Spirited Away is a Japanese animated-fantasy film made by the company Studio Ghibli. It was the third Studio Ghibli film I’ve watched (followed by My Neighbour Totoro and Ponyo) but the first one I’d watched properly in an environment without interruption. From what I’d heart of it, I expected great things. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Spirited Away was directed and written by Hayoa Miyazaki who has recently retired. This was one of the reasons I decided to watch this film. It was produced by Toshio Suzuki. I watched the English dubbed version which was voiced by Daveigh Chase (Chihiro Ogino), Jason Marsden (Haru) and Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba and Zenibi).

The film turned out to be somewhat different from what I expected. I expected it to be a simple and cute story without much depth to it, but I found that it was actually quite the opposite. The start of the anime I found to be pretty creepy to my surprise, but overall it was very heartwarming and sweet, as well as adventure-filled. It even made me cry.

The drawing style is pretty amazing. I mean, most of the time it’s pretty average and then suddenly you have this stunning piece of cinematography which is just beautiful.

And, of course, really cute too (you may be able to tell, I really like the soot balls).

The pacing of the film was perfect. I was never bored, and I never felt like things were moving too quickly. It always made me want to know what was going to happen next and I felt very emotionally attached to the characters and storyline. Despite this complexity, I also think the film could be enjoyed by children as well (but probably not too young) as well as adults.

The music I found to be really sweet and pretty, it fits the storyline very well. I barely noticed it was there. The score was written by Joe Hisaishi.

Favourite character: Chihiro Ogino

Least favourite character: Yubaba

Favourite scene: The train ride

Least favourite scene: When Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs

Rating; 5/5 stars

Picture Sources

All gifs: ghibl-gifs.tumblr.com (who you should check out because their blog is perfection)


The Host Movie Review

As far as the books goes, I liked The Host a lot more than the Twilight saga. It was because of that, that I expected this movie to be better than the Twilight films, and I wasn’t disappointed. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

The Host is a science-fiction film based on Stephenie Meyer’s novel, The Host. It was released in 2013 and was directed by Andrew Niccol, produced by Stephenie Meyer, Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz, with a screenplay by Andrew Niccol.

The acting in this movie was great, in fact there wasn’t a single actor in the movie that I could pick out as being bad. The main actors include Saoirse Ronan (Melanie Stryder/Wanderer), Jake Abel (Ian O’Shea), Max Irons (Jared Howe) and William Hurt (Jeb Stryder). They were just all incredible, even in scenes when the script was lacking they made it work. They made the movie far better than it would have been with a different cast.

The pacing of the movie was very slow a lot of the way through, and while I personally wasn’t actually bored during any part of the film, I would imagine that those who are into action flicks would be. The only reason I wasn’t bored was mainly because, at almost regular intervals, there were bursts of action and intensity between dialogue. Without these parts the film would have definitely dragged on. As far as the general story goes, I’d have to say it’s a chick flick with added sci-fi. Usually I’m not a huge fan of chick-flicks but the sci-fi kept me entertained, but it might not do so for everyone.

The thing that surprised me most about this film was the humour. While there wasn’t a lot of it, and it wasn’t obvious, it was there nevertheless. The reason it shocked me so much was because Meyer’s writing has literally zero humour in it. I thought the addition of it was an improvement on the book, even if it was a subtle one. It made the movie more entertaining in parts when it was looking a bit dull. Although, the style of humour was fairly subtle and might not be funny to some.

As far as it goes compared to the book, as in most cases, the book was better. I could understand why some things were left out of the movie (because they would take up too much time or would just involve long parts of just people talking) but there were some other parts that I think could have really been added to the film without taking up too much time. Like mentioning the fact that Wanda is technically female (which was a fairly important part of the plot), or that there is even more hope in the end than was shown because of the fact that ‘souls’ who had human children wouldn’t let their child become a host. These little things would have really added more for people who hadn’t read the book, and would be a great addition to those who had.

The special effects were pretty good, although they weren’t actually used very often except when showing ‘souls’ out of a body. In this respect I think they did really well, they looked almost exactly as they had been described in the novel and how I pictured them. It was perfect.

Favourite character/actor: Wanderer (Saoirse Ronan)

Least favourite character/actor: I honestly can’t pick one, they were all great

Favourite scene: The ending where they thought they were caught

Least favourite scene: Some of the scenes between Wanderer and Ian were a bit slow

Rating; 3.5/5 stars

Picture Sources

‘The Host’ poster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Host_(2013_film)

Man of Steel Movie Review

I wasn’t really interested in seeing this film because of all the bad reviews. That was until my friend offered me cheap tickets to see it, where the money would be donated to a good cause. Long story short, I’m glad that money was donated because it sure wasn’t worth seeing this movie. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Man of Steel is the newest film in a long line of Superman movies. This one was directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder and Emma Thomas, with a screenplay by David S Goyer.

From the trailer, I was expecting a film that took the viewer through Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) childhood and adolescence, before he became the man of steel. However, the actual film shows very little of Kent’s childhood, and what it does show is in the form of flashbacks that are sometimes out of order, and often seemed as though they didn’t fit in with the overall storyline. From the trailer, I thought that this Superman film was going to be different, and it seemed like it was going to be for the first half-hour of the film. However, after that it was obvious that the movie was going to be very cliche and shallow.

The screenplay was pretty terrible, and because of that a lot of the acting came off as bad as well. This caused the character development to be terrible. Films don’t need a script to have character development. Movie’s like Pixar’s Up and Wall-E have shown us that. But Man of Steel failed spectacularly in this field.

The character of Louis Lane (Amy Adams), for example. In previous Superman films, she’s always been seen as the damsel-in-distress and in Man of Steel you can see how hard they’ve tried to make her a strong, intelligent and witty character but in the end, her character became completely unnecessary. Her ‘witty’ lines mostly sounded stupid (except for a select two; “Well, here it’s an ‘S'” and “Welcome to The Planet”) and I’m pretty sure if her character was removed from the film, no one would even notice.

There also wasn’t nearly enough character development for General Zod (Michael Shannon), Clark’s adoptive father, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) or Clark’s biological father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe). These character were repeatedly mentioned and emphasised to be very important when the viewer was shown so little about them. Yeah, General Zod is the bad guy, but it wasn’t until near the end that we were shown a tiny glimpse into why he was doing what he was doing, and it just wasn’t enough. Ok, Jonathan raised Clark as his son, but who was he has a person. He kept saying these lines that I could tell were supposed to be important and inspirational, but they just weren’t. So, Jor-El was looking after his son even after he died, but what do we really know about him other than that he probably didn’t agree with Krypton’s reproductive system. These characters had so much potential, they could have done so much more, but in the end what we were shown about them only went skin deep. Even one of the characters I liked Faora (Antje Traue) I only liked because she was so badass. The moment she said anything that just went downhill again. Like, one of her lines was “evolution always wins”. What is that supposed to mean?! Evolution is a process! A process can’t win, it doesn’t make any sense! You’d think someone from a highly advanced planet would know that, but apparently not. I’m pretty sure the only character with any major character development is Clark Kent and that’s only because the movie is based on him.

The things that annoys me most about this is that they had the time for character development, they just filled it with needlessly long action battle scenes that just got incredibly boring by the end. I mean, the special effects were incredible (and in 3D they looked amazing) but there are only so many shock-waves and building falling over I can see before it starts getting very repetitive. By the second half, my friends and I were just laughing at the

Words cannot describe how much I love his cape

sheer number of plot holes and the terrible script. I mean, how many people did Clark actually kill when he unnecessarily caused multiple buildings to topple over.  Have a bit of self-control, dude.

Don’t even get me started on the blatant copyright infringement! Ok, I’m probably exaggerated slightly, but it seems like so many scenes from Man of Steel were stolen from other movies (mostly Marvel films funnily enough). For example, there was one scene where one of General Zod’s soldiers was throwing around Clark Kent that looked exactly like when the Hulk was throwing around Loki from The Avengers. There is also the scene when Kent is standing in the street with the Kryptonian’s preparing to fight that also stunningly reminded me of the scene in Thor when Thor and his friends were preparing to fight Loki and the ice giants. There’s also the fact that one of the last things that Kent said to his adoptive father was very similar to what Spiderman said to his uncle before he died. Then there’s the fact that Kent’s father dies at all which doesn’t occur in the Superman comics. There are lots more but there’s no real point in listing them all. The point is that a lot of the scenes seemed to be blatantly copies from other successful franchises. Man of Steel just picked and chose what it wanted.

The music was by Hans Zimmer, and it was decent just very repetitive. I don’t blame him for this, but there’s only so much you can alter a main theme while keeping it ‘epic’ for the hour-long battles scenes (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating that).

So this turned out to be a really long rant more than a review, sorry about that. Hats off to you if you read all 1000 words of it 😛

Favourite character/actor: Clark Kent (Henry Cavill)

Least favourite character/actor: Lois Lane (Amy Adams)

Favourite scene: When Jor-El is showing Lois the way to go

Least favourite scene: The extended fight scenes that kept on going

Rating; 1.5/5 stars (Purely because of the awesome special effects, and his cape. I loved his cape! Also, the humour, even if it was unintentional.)

Bee Movie; Movie Review

I first saw Bee Movie in 2007 shortly after it was released, and was reminded of it recently so decided to give it another watch. I sort of wish I didn’t. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Bee Movie was directed by Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith, produced by Jerry Seinfeld, Christina Steinberg and Cameron Stevning, and written by Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Robin, Barry Marder and Spike Feresten.

In short, this movie tries way too hard. It’s very childish and simple in some respects, and yet it tries (and fails) to appeal to adults by added in irrelevant and often unhumourous pop culture references. It tried to be funny, and occasionally succeeded, but most jokes fell flat on their face. I was disappointed by this because I expected (with Jerry Seinfeld as one of the writers) that the humour would be similar to that in the TV show Seinfeld, but unfortunately it was nothing like it. It was simple, dry and sarcastic, which can be very funny when done right, but not in this film.

Then there’s the voice acting. The main cast of Bee Movie (which includes some very popular names) were Jerry Seinfeld (Barry B. Benson), Renee Zellweger (Vanessa Bloome), Matthew Broderick (Adam Flayman) and Chris Rock (Mooseblood the Mosquito). I think it can be generally agree than Seinfeld is a bad, yet funny, actor. It turns out he’s just as bad a voice actor, and the humour in Bee Movie bared no resemblance to that in Seinfeld or in his stand-up comedy.

Then there are all the scientific inaccuracies. I get that some things aren’t supposed to be accurate, like bees talking, but there are other parts of the film, parts that seem to be trying to teach children that are just plain wrong. For example, you can’t take pollen from one type of flower and use it to pollinate every flower in the world, bees are not the only pollinators, only female mosquitos drink blood and no living plants would die due to a lack of pollination, it would just stop reproducing and no fruit would be produced. There are more but these are just the more obvious ones.

My thoughts on the animation (by Dreamworks) is mixed. As far as the scenery and the backgrounds go, it’s pretty good. It’s bright and colourful most of the time but is also dull and almost greyscale. On the other hand, however, the animation for the characters seems stiff. It just doesn’t hold a candle to that of other animation studios such as Pixar. This is a shame because I know Dreamworks is capable of great animation like in How to Train Your Dragon.

In addition to this, there are the obvious flaws in the storyline. For example, the number one rule for bees is never ever speak to a human under any circumstance. Then Barry goes ahead and talks to a human when there’s no real reason to and gets less than a slap on the wrist by his hive. For breaking the most important bee law, zero punishment. Another flaw that really disappointed me was the lack of response by the human race when they found out that bees could talk. It’s a bit like “Oh, bees can talk, how fascinating. Let’s also let them sue a major company in court and represent themselves.” I mean it should be a big deal, but it just isn’t!

Don’t even get me started on the relationship between Barry and Vanessa, I mean, in the film it seems all innocent because it’s a children’s film, but when you actually think about what they’re suggesting. What they’re implying, it’s just so wrong I don’t even want to talk about it. So anyway, I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone except for people who want to learn what not to do in an animated film.

Favourite character/actor: Mooseblood the Mosquito (Chris Rock)

Least favourite character/actor: Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld)

Favourite scene: The scenes that show the inside of the hive

Least favourite scene: The interplay between Barry and Vanessa

Rating; 1/5 stars

Love Actually Movie Review

I watched this film a few years ago and remembered it being good, so when Christmas came around again, I decided to re-watch it. Although this film isn’t strictly a Christmas film, it would have to be one of the best. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Love Actually was made in 2003, and was written and directed by Richard Curtis, directed by Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Lisa Chasin.

As far as romantic comedies go, this one takes the cake. Taking a quick skim over the plot on Wikipedia, you’d assume that the film is a Love_Actually_movieswirling vortex of confusion, with far too many characters and plots to get your head around. Yet surprisingly, this is not true. There seem to be a few storylines that are major, and yet it’s the minor stories that I prefer, my favourite being the relationship between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Moniz). The storylines are also amazing because most of them sort of link up to each other, at some points at least.

One of the things I really like about this film is that it doesn’t just show romantic love (although this is the primary theme). It also shows the love between parent and child, friends and siblings such as the relationship between Sarah (Laura Linney) and her brother, Michael (Michael Fitzgerald). This is rarely shown in romantic movies, let alone romantic comedies.

One thing to be greatly admired about Love Actually is its incredible cast list including; Alan Rickman (Harry), Emma Thompson (Karen), Hugh Grant (David), Keira Knightly (Juliet), Colin Firth (Jamie), Martin Freeman (John) and Rowan Atkinson (Rufus). This, of course, makes the acting brilliant. It’s just all, perfect and amazing. Usually I couldn’t really care less what celebrity is in a film (except in fangirling cases) but in this movie it actually makes a difference, and you can tell.

I found this amazing picture that shows all the (confusing) connections between the characters

I found this amazing picture that shows all the (confusing) connections between the characters

Overall, the film is very heart-warming, in a good-corny kind of way. One of the best parts is the way that the start of the movie links up to the ending (I love it when they do that). The real-life footage of Heathrow Airport really seems to sum up the essence of the the movie. These scenes at the begining and at the end of the film always have me struggling not to burst into tears. This is the first quote of the film:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

Some scenes are also hilariously funny, which means the film actually lives up to being a romantic comedy something that other rom-coms really seem to forget. I love a movie that can make me laugh and cry.

The music is mostly actual songs, and doesn’t have very much of  a score. The best thing about these songs is that they weren’t just newly-released songs from the time the film was released. It includes songs that go as early as 1818 (Silent Night) and non-Christmas songs as early as 1957 (Catch a Falling Star).

Favourite scene: The beginning and the ending

Least favourite scene: When Karen finds out that Harry is cheating on her

Favourite character/actor: Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant)

Least favourite character/actor: Karl (Rodrigo Santoro)

Rating; 4/5 stars