War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and content that may disturb
Cast:
Andy Serkis as Caesar
Steve Zahn as Bad Ape
Karin Konoval as Maurice
Terry Notary as Rocket
Ty Olsson as Red
Woody Harrelson as The Colonel
Amiah Miller as Nova
Director: Matt Reeves

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.

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War for the Planet of the Apes was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. Director Matt Reeves did an excellent job with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the surprising Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So naturally, I was excited for what was to come. I am happy to say that War for the Planet of the Apes was even better than I thought it would be. Matt Reeves again delivers on making a compelling film in this series and has truly crafted something special.

This movie probably shouldn’t have been called War for the Planet of the Apes, despite the trailer and the title its not really a war movie, its not an action movie either. There is only a couple of major action sequences, the rest of the film is a drama and I have to give Reeves credit for being willing enough to go much deeper with the story, instead of making the film bigger and more actiony just because its the conclusion of the trilogy. This film is also even darker than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, its very bleak with only a few bright spots. The stakes are more personal and it focusses heavily on Caesar, it’s the most character driven story out of all the Apes movies. Rise and Dawn partially focussed on the humans along with the apes and because they weren’t as interesting as the apes, their segments felt weaker in comparison. War doesn’t have this problem, it’s almost always focussed on the apes (particularly Caesar) and you care about every moment. This film is slower paced and it is long, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. But it really does work in the film’s favour and helps to tell the story. The story of War for the Planet of the Apes may not be what you’d expect it to be (without spoiling anything) but I can’t imagine it being any better. Absolutely everything in this movie is perfect, Reeves again has made me emotionally attached to a movie about apes, not an easy task.

Andy Serkis is absolutely phenomenal as Caesar, honestly this is the best I’ve seen him in a movie. It’s been great seeing him evolve as a character from Rise, to Dawn and now War. This movie is Caesar’s story. Most of the main characters are apes and all of them are great, a standout (like in the previous movies) being Karin Konoval’s character Maurice. There is a new character, with Bad Ape played by Steve Zahn, who I guess you could call the comic relief of the film. This movie is very bleak, with only some instances of humour, and Bad Ape takes up the majority of the humour. This character could’ve gone so wrong, becoming annoying or distracting but that’s not the case. He’s an genuinely entertaining and likable character and Zahn did a great job. There are only a couple of noteworthy human characters. One of them is Amiah Miller as a mute girl, she did a really great job in her role, especially when she interacted with the apes. The other is Woody Harrelson as The Colonel. He works well as a threatening antagonist but at the same time is given some depth and has some motivations for what he does.

Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had great special effects and War for the Planet of the Apes has effects that are even better. The special effects are incredible, at no point does the CGI feel fake. I’m especially talking about the motion capture work for the apes, most of the characters are apes and all of them are look incredibly convincing. War for the Planet of the Apes has some of the best motion capture in a film ever. There isn’t a massive amount of action (really just two major sequences) but whenever it happens it is done excellently. Michael Giaachino has a bit of a reputation of making passable but forgettable scores, however his score here is actually pretty good, and really adds to the movie. Matt Reeves’s direction of this movie is overall perfect, there’s nothing I have an issue with really.

War for the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best films of the year, it is also one of the best blockbusters in recent years. The fantastic direction by Matt Reeves, the excellent performances (particularly from Andy Serkis), and the deep and complex story truly make this an incredible movie. I will say for those going in, keep in mind is that it’s a full on drama, don’t go in expecting an action film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a mix of drama and action, War for the Planet of the Apes is a drama. Matt Reeves did a great job with this film, I don’t know how it could be any better. I don’t know whether there will be any more sequels but if this the final instalment to the franchise, then it’s a fantastic conclusion to one of the best film trilogies ever.

A Cure for Wellness (2017) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual violence, offensive language & content that may disturb.
Cast
Dane DeHaan as Lockhart
Jason Isaacs as Dr. Heinreich Volmer
Mia Goth as Hannah
Director: Gore Verbinski

An ambitious young executive (Dane Dehaan) is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests here longing for the cure. From Gore Verbinski, the visionary director of THE RING, comes the new psychological thriller, A CURE FOR WELLNESS.

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A Cure for Wellness was very polarising upon its release, some hated it, others loved it. It definitely had a lot of potential, I liked the actors involved with Dane Dehaan and Jason Isaacs, I really like Gore Verbanski as a director and the trailer and premise of the movie was very intriguing. So I was definitely interested in how the film would be despite the mixed reaction. Having finally seen it, I personally think that it’s one of the best films of the year.

A Cure for Wellness is a long movie, it’s nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes long but it kept my interest from the beginning to the end. Yes, the pacing is quite slow at times, perhaps unnecessarily at times, but I was nonetheless engaged despite this. This movie is not completely different from anything we’ve seen before, watching it you can recognise some similarities to other movies (such as Shutter Island). What is different is the way the film tells its story, the structure is a little different, all the details of the movie are important to understanding everything, some of these aspects are ambigious and you actually have to really think about to full grasp what’s going on. I know this because that’s what happened with me, there were parts of the movie that I only understood hours after watching the movie, when certain things clicked for me I could more fully grasp what was going on. However generally the movie is straightforward, with maybe the exception with the ending (specifically the last shot of the movie) which is a little ambiguous. However, with many of the details being ambiguous and with all the twists and turns throughout the film, I can see A Cure For Wellness getting better upon repeat viewings. In terms of flaws, there aren’t many to be honest. There was a possible continuity error and the first act is non-linear for no reason really, it didn’t bother me or hinder the film but it did feel unnecessary. However that’s it to be honest.

The acting all around is great. Dane Dehaan is really good in the lead role. There is an aspect to the film where its questioning whether Dehaan’s character is just imagining and hallucinating a lot of what’s happening and Dane pulls it off well. Mia Goth is quite good as a unique patient at the wellness centre, her performance really worked for the movie. This is the first performance I’ve seen from her and I can tell that she’s very talented, she definitely deserves some more work. The best performance of the film however is from Jason Isaacs, who is in the role of the director of the wellness centre, a very sinister character, definitely leaves an impression on you.

The direction by Gore Verbenski is perfect. The cinematography was excellent, everything from the framing, to the camera movement, the lighting and colour was perfect. It’s a beautiful looking movie overall. This movie is full of disturbing imagery, things that make you genuinely uneasy and uncomfortable, and I don’t usually feel like this during movies so that says a lot. The production design is excellent, the location chosen for the majority of the film is a castle and it gives the film a very unique enbironment. This movie also does well at making you feel uneasy, you can tell that something is off, but a lot of the time you can’t pin it down what it is. The sound design was very effective and it all worked to feel very real and unnerving, the creaking sounds of Dane Dehaan’s crutches as he moves from place to place (he is on crutches for the majority of the film) was an example of this. The music by Benjamin Wallfisch ranges from being haunting and eerie to loud and intense, definitely very effective and memorable. I’m confident in saying that A Cure for Wellness is really one of the best directed movies of 2017 so far.

A Cure of Wellness gets everything right, the acting is great, the story is very intriguing and its different structure and storytelling method makes this a unique and fascinating movie. However, it is Gore Verbenski’s direction that ties everything together and makes everything work so well and makes this movie even better than it already is. As shown by the reactions, it seems that A Cure for Wellness is not for everyone. It is a weird movie, along with the dark tone and grim and grotesque imagery, it is a very different movie in terms of its structure, this structure could potentially turn some people off. If you are curious enough however I recommend checking it. I personally think that it’s safe to say that A Cure for Wellness is going to be one of those films which receives a mixed response upon its release but gains a cult following and is later appreciated as an excellent film.

Green Room (2016) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Vilence, drug use and offensive language
Cast:
Anton Yelchin as Pat
Alia Shawkat as Sam
Joe Cole as Reece
Callum Turner as Tiger
Imogen Poots as Amber
Patrick Stewart as Darcy Banker
Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Members (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat) of a punk rock band and a tough young woman (Imogen Poots) battle murderous white supremacists at a remote Oregon roadhouse.

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Green Room was a movie I heard a lot about, countless people were praising this movie. The premise had potential and it had a good cast with Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart. It’s the first film by Jeremy Saulnier that I’ve seen, and from what I’ve heard he is a great director. Having seen Green Room, I can say that because of its excellent direction, it is a pretty solid movie overall. However I think I might be missing out on something, as aside from that aspect, this movie wasn’t that great to me.

Green Room’s plot isn’t really anything special. A group of protagonists are stuck in a room with the antagonists trying to break into that room and kill them. It has a very simple plot but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With that said, I must’ve been missing something on this movie because not a lot of it really connected with me. I just really wasn’t that interested in the movie, plot or characters to be perfectly honest. The characters are fine and do their jobs but they aren’t that interesting or engaging. I only really started somewhat engaging with the movie when the characters are put in the Green Room situation, and even then I wasn’t always paying that much attention. Not to say that this movie is boring because it wasn’t (aside from a lot of the first act), but I only really payed attention whenever it was an ‘action’ sequence, and considering this is a thriller, I feel like I should be more engaged in the movie throughout, even when nothing is happening. The writing isn’t bad, it’s just okay, it’s the writing of a typical above average thriller.

The characters really weren’t really that great or interesting but the acting in this movie is generally good. The main cast weren’t all on the same level, the best of them were Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots, those two were really good in their roles. Patrick Stewart plays the lead of the neo-nazi gang. He is good in the movie but he didn’t really leave as much of an impression as I thought he should. Stewart acts his role very well but I feel like he should’ve been presented as being more threatening than he actually ended up being because aside from him being played by Patrick Stewart, ultimately I barely remember his character.

While the plot and story didn’t really interest me that much, I will praise the direction by Jeremy Saulnier, it really is the reason to see this movie. The cinematography is excellent, every scene is framed greatly, this movie just looks perfect. I’d even go so far as to say that his direction is flawless. This film also doesn’t hold back, when it’s violent, it is really violent, and the intense scenes are very tense. So I have to give Saulnier a lot of praise, because his direction is what makes the movie work.

Green Room is okay, but it’s the fantastic direction that moves this movie from being okay to being decent. I didn’t love this movie like other people did, writing-wise this movie just didn’t connect with me that much, or interest me for that matter. Maybe a rewatch might change things but from the first watch, it was decent, that’s it. While Green Room wasn’t as great as I thought it would be, I think it’s worth a watch if you’re interested. The direction, as I said, was truly excellent, so if there’s anything that Green Room has done it has shown off Jeremy Saulnier’s talents, and it has interested me enough to check out his other movies.

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Zendaya as Michelle
Donald Glover as Aaron Davis
Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Director: Jon Watts

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns home to live with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine — distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.

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I will be honest, I really wasn’t that hyped for Spider-Man Homecoming in the lead up to its release. I knew I would see it no matter how it turned out, and it didn’t look bad by any means. But it didn’t really grab my attention like it should’ve. I guess it must’ve been some mediocre marketing because this movie was a lot better than I thought it would be. It was entertaining, the plot is good, the action is good, the villain is great, everything about it is pretty good. It is one of the better films in the MCU.

This is the first Spider-Man film to be based entirely in High School. Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man had that but that wasn’t really focused on like Homecoming does, so this made this film feel more refreshing. This movie is very entertaining. For the first half of the movie it does feel like a enjoyable movie, I never really got bored. However I will admit, I wasn’t really loving it. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises to be had, it is at times familiar in terms of tone and plot to some other MCU films, not that its necessarily a bad thing. The second half was better to me, this film handles the dramatic side of the plot surprisingly well. This movie does have a lot of humour and it hits very well, there aren’t many jokes that disrupt the tone or fall flat. It’s nice to see a MCU movie which is more grounded and less world affecting, by that I mean that Spider-Man isn’t trying to save the world or anything like that. Homecoming is a more personal story, which is nice to see. Despite this movie being the first Spider-Man film set in the MCU and having like Tony Stark in it, it’s still very much grounded and works as its own story. With that said, this movie does set up for future movies. Some of the setups were okay, others were really distracting. There is a reveal in the third act which felt out of place and completely unnecessary. I know a lot of changes really bothered some die hard Spider-Man fans, with the exception of that one reveal (which just felt like unnecessary fanservice) I didn’t have any issues with the changes. There are two end credits scenes, the first was interesting and has me interested in what the Homecoming sequel will be like, the second was quite funny.

Tom Holland is a very different Spider-Man to both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, which is good, it’s important for each interpretation of a character to be unique and different from previous incarnations. This Spider-Man is young (15 years old), he’s smart, he’s full of energy and he loves being Spider-Man. But to just say that he’s great because he’s ‘fun’ would be a disservice to the movie and Holland. Tom is also great in the emotional scenes as well, and you can really understand how he feels. He really wants to become an Avenger like Tony Stark and that story arc was done very well. The supporting actors were good as well. Jacob Batalon is very entertaining as Ned, Peter’s best friend, Zendaya was also a fun character as Michelle. Other supporting actors like Jon Favreau and Marisa Tomei were also really good. A concern of mine was Robert Downey Jr.’s role in the movie. Fortunately Tony Stark is used very sparingly and it makes a lot of sense that he’s in this movie and worked well for Peter’s arc. He’s not in the movie too much to overshadow Peter but is in it enough that he is important. Another concern I had was Michael Keaton as the Vulture, the villain of the film. The MCU has a reputation of having mostly just okay villains, with only a few genuinely great villains. While Vulture looked great in the trailers, I couldn’t help but think that Keaton would be wasted. That’s not the case here, Vulture is one of the best villains in the entire MCU series. A lot of time he isn’t wearing the Vulture costume, its just him and Keaton did a great job at portraying that. In fact his best scene was without the costume, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to. Along with feeling like a threat, Vulture is quite a human villain. Without spoiling anything, Vulture has some understandable motives and you can totally see why he does what he does. Vulture is definitely one of the MCU villains yet. There are some other minor villains in the movie and while not great, they were good in their roles. There are some actors who are in Homecoming, potentially to set them up for future movies, examples are with Michael Mando and Donald Glover. They were fine in their moments onscreen but they felt out of place as they really don’t do much in the movie.

The action was really good and it was very entertaining. Some of the scenes at times were shot at night however, and at times it was hard to tell what is going on. The CGI for the most part looked good but at times did look a little fake especially with the Spider-Man costume (he still looked better than he did in Civil War) but most of it is fine. The soundtrack by Michael Giaachino aside from the opening credits and Vulture’s theme was passable but forgettable.

Spider-Man Homecoming was really good. I really liked the new take they had on Spider-Man, I loved the villain, it is entertaining overall and I had a blast with it. It is definitely one of the better Spider-Man movies and also one of the better films in the MCU. I am now on board with seeing future Spider-Man films in the MCU.

Una (2017) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Una Spencer
Ben Mendelsohn as Ray Brooks
Ruby Stokes as Young Una Spencer
Indira Varma as Sonia
Tara Fitzgerald as Andrea
Tobias Menzies as Mark
Riz Ahmed as Scott
Natasha Little as Yvonne
Director: Benedict Andrews

With deeply unresolved questions about her past, Una (Rooney Mara) travels to another city, turning up unannounced at Ray’s (Ben Mendelsohn) work and dredging up a decade-old experience that he thought he’d left behind.

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Una was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016 (however it only really came out for the general audience in 2017). It was mainly the talent involved that had be interested, with Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, with that level of talent I was interested in seeing their performances (and I’m pretty much willing to watch anything that Rooney Mara is in). Having finally seen Una, I can say that the film is pretty decent on its own, with its direction and writing. But it’s the performances that really makes this movie worth watching.

This film feels like a play, which is fitting since it was based off a play called Blackbird by David Harrower (who also adapted the play into the screenplay for Una). This movie’s pace is very steady and with that slow pace, the movie does lose my interest at points. The film really excels in the scenes between Rooney and Ben and every single one of them are riveting (I’ll get into them later). The scenes that aren’t between them are hit or miss, most of them are fine, but some of them just weren’t as interesting as a lot of the other scenes. You also really need to know that that this is a dialogue driven movie, there’s a lot of scenes where characters would just sit or stand and just talk for a long time. As for how it portrays the paedophile aspect, I personally think it was handled well, you don’t see any of the actions on screen (thankfully) but you hear Una and Ray mention what happened, and the film doesn’t shy away from this disturbing subject matter. It was balanced suitably. Aside from the pacing and some of the less interesting scenes, one other criticism I have is that the ending is a little jarring and sudden. I have a feeling that I know what they were going for but it nonetheless felt a little unsatisfying, perhaps that was what they were intending.

The highlights of Una as I stated before are the performances. First of all we have Rooney Mara delivering one of her best performances yet with Una, and considering the performances she’s given (especially The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carol), that is saying a lot. Una is a complicavted person, when she tracks down Ray we don’t know her intentions, and that ambigiouty is shown so well by Mara. Every delivery of her lines, every expression and especially the way she conveys so many emotions through just a look, without even needing to say anything is simply excellent. It’s quite frankly a perfect performance. Just as good is Ben Mendelsohn who gives quite possibly his best performance yet. He doesn’t have an easy job, he’s playing a paedophile after all. The filmmakers and Mendelsohn present Ray as human as possible, which to be honest is the only way to really portray this character. Had this not been handled right it could’ve failed badly, but along with the way he’s presented, Ben Mendelsohn truly is incredible in this role, his performance was just as perfect as Rooney’s. The interactions between Rooney and Ben are the highlights of the movie, they shared excellent chemistry and worked off each other incredibly well. Ruby Stokes plays young Una in flashbacks and she is very good in her role, definitely deserves some praise as well. Riz Ahmed is in this movie and while he is good in his role, ultimately his role could be played by anyone.

This film is the directional debut of Benedict Andrews, he is a theatre director and you can really see that, not just in the way the dialogue is presented but the way the film is edited and directed. This film doesn’t have a flashy direction but that’s good, it doesn’t take away from the focus on the actors. Una is also shot very well, I don’t have any issues with the cinematography. The soundtrack, while not that spectacular does give a lot of the scenes an eerie vibe. In fact a lot of the scenes have an eerie, haunting vibe, from the music, to the camera shots, to the editing, and that helped to make many of the scenes tense, even when nothing is happening.

Una is pretty well written and directed well but really the best reason to see Una is for the performances. Both Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn given some of their best performances to date and are absolutely phenomenal. If you can handle the lurid subject matter, I recommend giving Una a watch. I’m not quite sure if I would call it a great movie but it has a lot of great aspects to it, especially the excellent acting.

The Tree of Life (2011) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien
Sean Penn as Jack O’Brien
Hunter McCracken as young Jack
Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien
Tye Sheridan as Steve
Kari Matchett as Jack’s ex
Joanna Going as Jack’s wife
Director: Terrence Malick

In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing up as part of the O’Brien family in small-town Texas. Jack has a contentious relationship with his father (Brad Pitt), but gets along well with his beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain). As an adult, Jack (Sean Penn) struggles with his past and tries to make sense of his childhood, while also grappling with bigger existential issues.

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Tree of Life was a movie I was curious about. I wanted to see a couple of Terrence Malick movies before seeing his latest film (Song to Song), so that I could get used to his style beforehand, so I decided to start with one of his most well known movies, Tree of Life. I expected to see an unconventional, arty film which is visually beautiful, and I really wouldn’t know how to feel about it afterwards and indeed that’s the movie I ended up with. I was left polarised and confused by the end of the movie but yet I think I like the movie. It’s very difficult to describe my experience with the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easy movie to describe, I think the best way to describe all this is to tell how I felt during the movie. This movie is unconventional to say the least. The first 10 minutes focusses on Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn, during this I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. 20 minutes in, there is a 10 minute segment which pretty much featured the universe being created (there’s no better way of describing it). It focusses on random aspects, stars, meteors, nature, animals, plants, even dinosaurs at one point. I was intrigued by what I saw but didn’t know what to really think. The rest of the movie for the most part focussed on the family (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan) as time goes by. At that point, I started to oddly enough like this movie and I was interested in seeing everything progress. After the family segment, I’m not really sure what to think of the movie, I don’t even know what the ending was supposed to mean and represent. I don’t really know what this movie is about (apart from life). The movie does have a lot of monologues throughout the movie, though I didn’t find myself picking up on what they were meaning. I can see how other people would be bored of the movie, it is very slow paced. I only really started being fully engaged after 30 minutes into the movie. But yet there is something about it that I liked, I haven’t yet figured out what it is.

This movie has a lot of talented actors with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan. They are all pretty good, with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain being the stand outs as the parents of the family. Even when they aren’t saying anything, it’s easy to see how they feel in certain situations just through their expressions and reactions. Sean Penn doesn’t really get to do much, most of his limited screentime is him just walking around while Terrence Malick follows him around with a camera. With that said, this happens with every actor, a lot of the movie at times just follows the actors/characters around with them having no dialogue and not doing anything that important. I’m guessing that this is what happens with every actor in Terrence Malick movies.

One thing that all people who see this movie will say is that Tree of Life looks absolutely beautiful. Every shot is framed well and looks magnificent. Even the 10 minute ‘creation segment’ was beautiful. I couldn’t tell always what the shots of certain aspects were supposed to represent, but they looked beautiful at the very least. And plus, a lot of the time Malick manages to make the audience feel emotions through his imagery. The only thing directionwise that’s off was a scene with dinosaurs, the CGI looked incredibly fake, embarrassingly bad, and it kinda takes you out of the movie. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat was great and really added to the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easily accessible movie. There are a lot of people who really don’t like this movie and find it to be pretentious and boring and I don’t really blame them for thinking this. Tree of Life is different, it’s slow, it’s unconventional. But if you are willing to give it a shot, I recommend watching it. Just know what you are going in for. I myself am not sure about what I had watched but I liked it at a point, it’s difficult to describe why. I get the feeling that Malick’s films are meant to make people feel emotions rather than it be technically good like most movies, not conventionally anyway. I know this review hasn’t been very descriptive of the movie, but honestly that goes to show how unusual of a movie this is.

Hannibal (2001) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling
Gary Oldman as Mason Verger
Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler
Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi
Director: Ridley Scott

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from custody. The doctor is now at large in Europe. Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) remembers Lecter too, and is obsessed with revenge. Verger was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and though horribly disfigured, has survived. Verger realizes that to draw the doctor into the open, he must use someone as bait: Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore).

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On paper, Hannibal looked like it would be something fantastic. Everything looked great, it’s a sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and many other talented actors are involved and Ridley Scott is directing. It’s a shame really, since despite all that this movie didn’t turn out all that great. It’s not bad and it does have a lot of good elements to it but it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.

I haven’t read Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, so I don’t know how much they changed from the original source material aside from them removing one character and changing the ending. All I can comment on is what is in this movie, and I have to say that sadly, the story and writing for Hannibal was rather underwhelming and messy. The scenes with Clarice and Hannibal’s perspectives each feel like they are in completely different movies, and felt out of place whenever the film changes locations. I found the plot to move a little slow, it wasn’t boring but at times it was close to being that. It wasn’t as captivating as some of the other Hannibal movies. Another issue I had was the way they decided to portray Hannibal. I’ll get into detail later about what I mean, but to sum it up, he’s no longer unique, he becomes a typical over the top serial killer. Sure, we get more focus on Hannibal as a main character instead of being a supporting player, but he’s ironically less compelling in this movie despite that. As mentioned earlier, the movie does change the ending from the book, some will like it, others won’t. As someone who doesn’t like the direction that the book ending took, I liked the movie ending more, the book ending wouldn’t have worked at all for the movie with the way they decided to depict certain aspects (no spoilers).

Jodie Foster unfortunately didn’t return for this movie (for whatever reason) so Julianne Moore instead plays Clarice Starling and she does a really good job in her place. I get the feeling that her part wasn’t written as well as it should’ve (Clarice really doesn’t get to do anything until later in the movie) but Moore definitely added a lot to the role. The most stand out performance to me however was Gary Oldman as Mason Verger, who once again is incredible in another unrecognisable role. The makeup on him really was great and enhanced his performance. He’s completely covered in this makeup and looks nothing like himself but the way he acts and speaks made his performance really work. Giancarlo Giannini is also good in his role. Ray Liotta is a great actor but he was just annoying when he was on screen, I wouldn’t blame him though, his character really was the problem and he just acted what was given to him.

Now there’s one major performance that I’ve held off talking about, and that is Anthony Hopkins as the titual character. Hopkins was great in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon but here… he wasn’t that great. While he felt unique in both of those films, he was incredibly hammy in this movie, going quite over the top and seeming more like a parody of Hannibal than actually Hannibal Lecter. It is often hard to take him seriously at points. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs worked well but here it’s typical laughable serial killer obsession kind of stuff, it’s almost sexual and is just sort of weird rather than being captivating. It’s sad that Hannibal ironically is one of the biggest flaws in Hannibal. Not to say that Hopkins/Hannibal don’t have any good moments in the movie, but most of the time he wasn’t that great.

The direction by Ridley Scott is really good and one of the highlights of the movie. Something consistent throughout all of the Hannibal movies, no matter how good or bad they are, is that they all look beautiful. Hannibal is no exception, this film looks really good especially when the film is Italy. If there’s an aspect of the direction which wasn’t handled that well it was the violence. It’s not necessarily the level of violence (as the Hannibal show has even more violent moments but yet have executed those sequences excellently) but it’s how it’s presented. A good example is a scene involving a brain in the last act. It was so cartoonishly violent that I just found it funny rather than terrifying and horrific. A lot of the moments of violence just feel rather forced and over the top, though to be fair, I can’t blame Scott for the way these scenes turned out here. The scenes that they are adapting from the book aren’t easy to portray on screen without going too over the top and violent or too tame. Even Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) decided not to return to direct this movie because he found the Hannibal novel too violent and unadaptable. So I give Ridley credit for at least trying. It is nevertheless something that really stands out as an issue with the movie. The music by Hans Zimmer is great as usual, and works very well in the movie. This movie’s atmosphere is also great, and the soundtrack played a part in that as well.

Overall the movie is a mixed bag. The story itself was a bit messy and unfocused and it wasn’t as interesting, and it goes way too over the top at times. Even Anthony Hopkins was hammy and unfortunately rather silly, difficult to take seriously. Despite all that, the movie still has some really good stuff. The acting from most of the actors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini) is great, the direction from Ridley Scott is solid, so this movie is not without some high quality aspects. Hannibal is an okay film overall. If you liked the other Hannibal movies I recommend at least giving it a look, but don’t expect anything on the level of Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon.