Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Film Review: "Rush" (2013).

"The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive.” Which is what Rush offers in this exhilarating ride. This biographical action film directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan. The film is based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt, and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda. The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error.

The film was shot on location in the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria. Filming took place at the former Second World War airfield of Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, the Snetterton (Norfolk), Cadwell Park (Lincolnshire), the former Crystal Palace and Brands Hatch (Kent) motor racing circuits in Britain, and at the Nürburgring in Germany. Both vintage racing cars and replicas were used in the filming.

The film stars Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda. It also stars Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller, Alexandra Maria Lara as Marlene Knaus, Pierfrancesco Favino as Clay Regazzoni and Natalie Dormer as Nurse Gemma. The performances in this film were all strong and superbly acted and delivered. Hemsworth has given the finest performance of his career as the stunning, handsome, charismatic, effortless champion, playboy and instinctual genius. Brühl gave a strong performance as the meticulous, driven, Austrian intellectual. By the final scenes, Brühl has all but disappeared so as to deliver Lauda himself. In the film, James Hunt and Niki Lauda's on-track rivalry was bitter and hard-fought. But in real life, off the track, the two were more sympatico than the film suggests. In fact, they even shared a flat in London for time. A fiver says Lauda did all the washing-up. Though it was not entirely accurate, what film is actually accurate? Nonetheless, they had great chemistry as the two determined rivals. In the end, they did not just mimic their characters, when the film was over, they embodied them. Wilde gave a fine performance as Hunt's ex-wife. Maria Lara also gave a fine performance as the loyal love interest of Lauda, at the time, and her chemistry with Brühl was fantastic. Favino gave a great performance as Clay Regazzoni. Finally, Dormer gave a great performance as Hunt's love interest at the beginning of the film. She brought a stunning and sexy appeal to the character, as she does with most of her roles ('especially' in The Tudors (2007-2010) and Game of Thrones (2011-Present)).

Rush is a powerful story, one of the year's best films, told with great clarity and remarkable technical detail, and acted without pumped-up histrionics. Howard lays off the manipulation to tell the true story of the 1970 Formula 1 Race in painstaking and lively detail. It's easily Howard's best film. Howard turned this film from a potentially visual, fuel-injected extravaganza into a grabber of a movie laced with tension, stinging wit and potent human drama.

Simon says Rush receives:

Monday, 16 September 2013

Film Review: "Riddick" (2013).

" Don't know how many times I've been crossed off the list and left for dead. Guess when it first happens the day you were born, you're gonna lose count. So this, this ain't nothing new.” Which is what is happening this time round in Riddick. This science-fiction action thriller is the third installment in the The Chronicles of Riddick film series. Written and directed by David Twohy, who previously wrote and directed the first two installments. Betrayed by his own kind and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators and becomes more powerful and dangerous than ever before. Until activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past.

For those who are not familiar with the series, here is a brief overview: The first installment of the franchise, Pitch Black (2000), was a lower budget production. The story involved Riddick being transported to prison on the Hunter Gratzner, a commercial cargo ship. When the spaceship is damaged in the wake of a comet and makes an emergency crash landing on an isolated desert planet, Riddick escapes. However, when flying creatures begin attacking all the survivors, Riddick joins forces with the others to escape the planet. It received mixed reviews. But it is now considered a cult film. The second feature film in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick was a bigger budget production and was more action oriented than its predecessor. It takes place five years after Pitch Black and involved Riddick's meeting with Jack and Imam, his escape from the prison planet Crematoria, and his battle with the Necromonger fleet, which ended with the defeat of the Lord Marshall. Riddick kept the way of the Necromonger (You keep what you kill) as success of him killing the Lord Marshall. It received mostly negative reviews.

The film stars Vin Diesel as the title character, Jordi Mollà, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista and Karl Urban. The performances in this film were 'hard-core' and impressive. There were only a few familiar faces, the rest were unknowns. Diesel was impressive as ever as he reprises his famous role, Riddick. Sackhoff was 'badass' and fantastic as the tough, feisty female soldier, Dahl. Her performance reminded me of the character of Private Jenette Vasquez from Aliens (1986), minus the Latan-American background. Lastly, Urban gave a chilling performance though his role, Vaako, was rather a small role for this film.

As an action movie, Riddick offers some thrills, but as the true sequel to Pitch Black, it's not really a major improvement. However, the movie is so jaunty, so limber, and so visually self-assured that art peeks through where crap has traditionally made its home. Like the first film, It works because it's strong on fundamentals: fear of the dark, fear of helplessness, fear of the unknown, and fear of unpredictable human behavior.

Simon says Riddick receives: