Archive for the ‘ Films by Year ’ Category

Rio (2011)

“Rio” is an animation film directed by Carlos Saldanha. It is colourful and beautifully made with lots of exotic animals (mainly birds) and music. The story mainly takes place in Rio, and Rio, of course, cannot be depicted without Carnival and Christ the Redeemer. I loved the colours and animation itself, but the story left no impression on me. It was not special or interesting. It was just a story among many stories.

A small, male blue macaw is found and adopted by child Linda Gunderson. 15 years later both Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Linda (Leslie Mann) are grown-ups living in Moose Lake, Minnesota. The other birds ridicule Blu, because he is a pet and cannot fly. They are visited by ornithologist, Túlio Monteiro (Rodrigo Santoro) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who claims that Blu is the last male of his species. He wants to take him to Brazil to mate female macaw.

Though hesitant, Linda agrees and they are flown to Rio. There, Blu meets different birds, and more importantly he meets Jewel (Anne Hathaway), female macaw. But they both get kidnapped by a group of smugglers and this is how their adventure begins.

The story is quite predictable. When it is revealed that Blu cannot fly, it is absolutely clear that in the end at a very crucial moment he suddenly and magically will be able to fly. Or it is predictable from the very start that the story will have a happy ending and macaws will fall in love with each other. So as I said there is nothing special about the story.

“Rio” is a good watch for children, but not for the adults. Still if you are a family person, you might like to watch it with your children, because children will add a colour to the film.

Reviewer’s rating: 6.5 out of 10


Hotel Rwanda (2004)

“Hotel Rwanda” was directed by Terry George, and is a great film. It has been nominated for various awards. The film and story has similarity with “Schindler’s List” and as “Schindler’s list” it is based on true story. During Rwandan Genocide in 1994, the man named Paul Rusesabagina used his influence as the manager of Hotel des Mille Collines and saved 1268 people by sheltering them in the hotel.

Rwandan Genocide was not committed by another nation, but, by one brother against the other. Hutu and Tutsi peoples are described as two tribes, yet, in my opinion, they are just brothers and sisters divided by foreign invaders. It reminds me of old Latin saying “Divide et impera”, meaning “Divide and rule”. This is what German and Belgium rules did to Rwanda. As it is mentioned in the film, Belgians even measured noses in order to divide people, who had so much in common.

Paul (Don Cheadle) is a Hutu, but his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) is Tutsi. Paul is a very professional hotel manager, who is discreet, knows how to handle things and has a “style”. As the situation in the country worsens, Paul brings up his family and neighbours to the hotel and shelters them. Many refugees come to the hotel for shelter. Paul cannot turn them away.

European colonial powers that gave birth to this conflict are not there when people get killed everywhere around. All foreign nationals get evacuated, while Rwandans sheltered in the hotel stay behind watching them to leave. Though I knew what is going to happen, I was utterly disappointed to see how people were left not just to die, but, to be brutally killed.

The actors’ performances are so good that characters make us to sympathize with them and feel their pain, worry and despair. Thanks to actors’ acting skills and director’s marvelous work, the film is a great watch. In terms of Rwandan Genocide it is quite informative as well.

Reviewer’s rating: 8.5 out of 10   

The Orphanage (2007) (El Orfanato)

“El Orfanato” is a film debut of Spanish film director Juan Antonio Bayona. The film was produced by his good friend Guillermo del Toro. “The Orphanage” has some similarity with Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”, but it has more elements of horror.

The film grips from the start and keeps viewers tense till the end. The scenes are well-paced and each scene makes viewers to expect something bad. Three things that make a great film are all present in “The Orphanage”. The director has done a marvelous job. The performances, especially Belén Rueda’s acting, are excellent. But more importantly, the story itself is great and incredible. The story makes film not just a horror film, but, sad and heartbreaking story of mother. It takes place in Spain.

Laura (Belén Rueda) and her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) together with their seven-year-old adopted son, Simon move to the house of her childhood – orphanage, where she lived until her adoption. She wants to reopen orphanage for disabled children. But soon we find out that this is not an ordinary house.

Everything that makes a perfect horror house is present in this film; ghosts of children, cracking floors and doors and other strange noises. The combination of these stuff and other clever directorial maneuvers build the tension up throughout the film. I do not want to tell more about the film, because it is better to watch it without any idea what will happen to the characters.

I enjoyed “The Orphanage” very much and it left a lasting impression on me. You will definitely enjoy this film, but if you do not like horror films, then it is not for you. It is better watch something else.

Reviewer’s rating: 8.5 out of 10

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)

This is an animation film directed by Zack Snyder and based on the books “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” by Kathryn Lasky. Beside than having owls as the main characters, in my opinion, nothing is special about this animation. It is about the usual fight between good and evil and expected victory of good over evil.

Soren (Jim Sturgess) is a young barn owl. He lives with his parents, older brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) and younger sister Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) in the forest. His father tells his children the stories of Guardians of Ga’Hoole. They are mythical group of warrior owls. In the past they saved all owlkind from the evil “Pure Ones”. Does it remind you of anything? Oh, right. Nazis.

One night in the forest Soren and his brother Kludd are kidnapped by two owls. The owls bring them to the home of evil Pure Ones. There, many little owls kidnapped from various places are turned into slaves. Those who do not protest and who are weak are sent to be pickers. While stronger, faster and obedient owls get trained and become soldiers.

Though barely able to fly, Soren and his little friend Gylfie escape from slavery. They fly after Guardians of Ga’Hoole in order to bring help, inform them about evil Pure Ones’ plans and save little owlets.

This is an enjoyable film for children and might be a little bit boring for adults. As different kinds of owls were depicted in the film, those who love owls and can distinguish one kind from another will definitely enjoy it, too.

Reviewer’s rating: 6.5 out of 10

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

The mere name of director speaks a lot about the film itself. “Inglourious Basterds” was directed by sadistic Quentin Tarantino, who loves scenes full of blood and death. Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent portrayed main characters.

The film is almost a parody to war films. It is quite amusing and enjoyable. If you want to watch semi-serious non-historical film full of blood and cruelty, then this film is for you. But if you cannot watch films that are not based on historical facts, then do not watch it. It is totally useless.

The film was nominated for numerous awards and I do not understand why. Of course, Tarantino is a talented director and the film is good. But good is not enough even for nomination and in my opinion, most of those accolades/ nominations were quite exaggerated.

The film starts with original, sad, cruel, shocking scenes in which Shosanna Dreyfus’ (Melanie Laurent) whole family hiding underneath the floor of farmer’s house gets killed by Nazi. Nazi colonel, cruel and cynical Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) lets Shosanna escape. It takes place in France in 1941 during World War II.

Then we move to American Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), who leads team of Jewish-American soldiers to enemy country in order to kill and scare off German officers. Lt. Raine tells his soldiers that they each owe him 100 Nazi scalps.

Our main good characters never meet, but they fight for the same purpose. When we meet Shosanna again, she is an owner of cinema and her new name is Emmanuelle Mimieux. Unexpected turns and twists gather all our good characters and many high-ranking Nazi officials including Hitler in Shosanna’s cinema. This gives her an opportunity for revenge.

I enjoyed Waltz’s performance, though was surprised to see how his well-worked out character was spoilt and destroyed in the end. Tarantino turned him from gruesome killer into silly and naïve commoner and this is where he made a mistake. Lt. Raine’s moustache and false accent were annoying, but worked well with his character.

You will definitely enjoy this film in the company of your friends. Do not take it serious!

Reviewer’s rating: 7.0 out of 10

The Last Airbender (2010)

This film is based on “Avatar: The Last Airbender” TV series for children aired for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. I loved these series! The idea, quotes, wisdom, stories, characters, all were perfectly worked out and each season brought only fascination and joy of watching.

I had those TV series on my mind when I strived for watching this film (I am sure many others thought like me, thus film earned lots of money). I was utterly and highly disappointed from the beginning of the film. “The Last Airbender” is an example of how beautiful and amazing masterpiece can easily be spoilt by wrong filming and wrong person. I call it masterpiece, because an animation so incredible designed for children makes adults to watch it with pleasure as well.

The film was directed or I should say ruined by M. Night Shyamalan. If you are familiar with TV series, you probably know about four human nations (Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Kingdom and the Air Nomads), that the world is divided into, in the story. Each nation has one of four natural elements: water, earth, fire and air. The lives of people in each nation are based on these elements.

Benders are people who can control and manipulate the element of their nation using martial arts. There is only one person in the world, who can bend all four elements: Avatar. He is the spiritual entity of the world that keeps peace reincarnating into the next nation every time after the death and learning to bend each element from the start in each of his lives.

When Aang, young airbender is told that he is an Avatar, surprised and sad that he cannot be like everybody else, he leaves the Air temple with his flying bison Appa and gets stuck and frozen in ice for 100 years. While the person who keeps peace between all nations is away (people believe he is dead), Fire nation starts a war invading and capturing other nations and benders.

Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are brother and sister from the water tribe, who find Aang (Noah Ringer), the Avatar. This is where the film starts. Whole film is rushed over the first “Book”, which is also season and depth of characters, the wisdom, stories, motives and arts are lost in this rush. The scenes are paced irrationally. The performances are dull and unlikable and the script is garbage. Aang in series smiled a lot, but Noah Ringer seemed confused and concentrated on being something special. Fire nation, that was depicted with squinty eyes and white in series, turned out to be Indian. Beside than intentional mistakes, there were number of unintentional wrongs in the film. For example, Earthbenders were trapped in Earth and they did not fight back. Where on earth did Kyoshi warriors go?

Any person, who is not familiar with series, will get even more confused than those, who are familiar. Do not watch this film unless somebody threatens you with death. Instead watch TV series, which you will most definitely enjoy with your family.

Reviewer’s rating: 4.0 out of 10     

City of God (2002) (Cidade de Deus)

Cidade de Deus” is a Brazilian film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund. All characters are real, and the film is based on true events. It is an adaptation of same name novel written by Paul Lins. The film won numerous awards. Though the story is cruel, violent and shocking, directors gave “Cidade de Deus” some kind of legerity making it quite interesting.

The story is narrated by Buscapé nicknamed Rocket (At different ages, the roles are played by different actors.), a young man, who grew up in the Cidade de Deus and the only person, who seems to be keeping away from gang wars, drug dealing and trafficking. He dreams about becoming a photographer. Yet, his story is not essential. He narrates the story of others.

Cidade de Deus is a neighbourhood near Rio de Janeiro. The film covers period of time from the end of 60s to the beginning of 80s and growth of organized crime during that time. It starts with an original and admiringly simple scene of an armed gang following running chicken. The time stops when Rocket comes across the gang and we go back to the 60s. In my opinion, it is a strong and beautiful start for a film.

After witnessing destructing poverty and cold-blooded massacre of motel inhabitants by sociopath child Zé Pequeno, we jump into the 70s. Zé Pequeno and his best friend Benny are grown up now. They have established a drug empire by eliminating all other competitors. Despite power, Zé is not successful with women and his sociopathic nature cannot cope with it. His actions give a start to the war between the gangs.

“Cidade de Deus” is a breathtaking film, which you will most definitely enjoy. The story of the film is so original, incredible and shocking that even if there were lacks in directing or actors’ performances, you would hardly notice. But directors and actors have done a marvelous job. The scenes are well-paced and well-thought. Only one role was played by a professional actor. The rest of characters were played by real-life favelas, what makes film even more interesting since their performances are amazing.

This film is a great watch in the company of friends. Be prepared for violence!

Reviewer’s rating: 9.0 out of 10