Director James Cameron has a grand vision for his Avatar franchise. Despite the first movie being one of the highest grossing movies ever… numerous delays and over a ten year wait, it began to feel like we may never actually see what he’d been working. That wait is finally over. Set a number of years after the first movie, Jake Sullly (Sam Worthington) and N’tiri (Zoe Saldana) live a peaceful existence on the planet of Pandora raising their family, consisting of two sons, the daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s character as well as a feral human boy. That is until a new threat from the humans arrives, and Jake & his family are forced to either fight or flee.
Like the first movie, the story is simple yet effective. This time around there is an emphasis on family, race, and nature and it quickly became clear to me the movie is basically one big advert for conservation of the planet etc. not that far removed from David Attenborough documentary at times. However this is still a movie, and a James Cameron one at that – so the visuals, action and technology on display are in a word – stunning.
The CGI is more often than not, jaw-dropping. It’s a step up even from the last movie. Considering that came out in 2009, it still looks better than most movies. Cameron has this time used a high frame-rate technique that gives the movie a near 3D aesthetic, yet takes some getting used to (it’s also available in 3D). I’m not entirely sure it was necessary, but some of the grander moments do look amazing because of it. At 3hrs and 15 minutes yes, the movie is long but that’s because Cameron takes time to develop the characters and story for the first two hours, before delivering some bombastic action in an exhilarating, emotional and impressive final act. A movie that demands to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. A must see.
I’ve hesitated for a while about doing a ten favourite movies of all time, as I find my list can change. However there’s always been certain titles that will always be there. So I thought I’d finally compile a list. These are not necessarily the ‘best’ movies ever made, but movies I personally enjoy watching. In reverse order of greatness…
Still for me the definitive David Lynch experience. Easier to follow for his style of movie but still weird, dream-like and mesmerising.
Although I find the book overly graphic and just not as interesting, Christian Bale’s electrifying performance makes this highly re-watchable, quotable and perversely entertaining.
The perfect mob movie. Energetic, fascinating, shocking, and with all-round great performances. The star of the show however is Martin Scorsese’s expert direction.
Dazed & Confused
The ultimate ‘comfort movie’ for me. I love watching this and chilling out to the music, the characters and the laid-back seventies vibe. A great snapshot of a time and place that’s endlessly watchable.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The ultimate action movie. Possibly the greatest sequel of all time. James Cameron’s slick direction, amazing action, stunning effects. This has it all.
The Big Lebowski
My favourite Coen Brothers movie, a great chill-out movie, massively quotable, very funny with one of the greatest double acts ever put on screen.
Back to the Future
So much nostalgia for this as it formed my childhood. Doesn’t seem to age, is still as fun and re-watchable as ever. Just one of the most enjoyable movies ever made with the other great double-act of Michael J Fox & Christopher Lloyd.
One of the coolest thrillers ever made. A star making debut from Natalie Portman, a badass Jean Reno and Luc Besson’s super-slick direction. This also has my favourite Gary Oldman performance.
Still Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. An ingeniously woven crime opus, great performances all round, cool music. What’s not to love?
Another great ‘comfort movie’ for me. That seventies vibe, a charming, funny and feel good coming-of-age drama that is just so satisfying with great performances and so many memorable moments. Love this movie.
I was quite hyped going into this. This tells the story of Evelyn, a middle aged Chinese woman who runs a laundromat with her husband and father, who is in spiralling debt and being leaned on by the local IRS. However during one meeting to work out her finances, another version of her husband contacts her and tells her he’s from another universe, explaining that there are many more multiverses where Evelyn’s life turned out differently and that he needs her to help him stop a looming threat.
We’re probably accustomed to the concept of the multiverse with movies like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man No Way Home. However this movie takes that idea to the extreme, creating a chaotic and quite bonkers experience. Hong Kong Cinema veteran Michelle Yeoh delivers a commendably demanding performance, that although her grasp of English isn’t great, physically she’s put through the ringer in many dazzling and intricately edited sequences. With all the multiverse stuff the movie jumps rapidly from place to place as Evelyn adopts various abilities, including Kung Fu. The various action scenes are imaginative, well choreographed and often hilarious. The ideas here clearly come from a pretty out-there mind as we get fights with dildos, and at one stage a Chihuahua used like a whip! Jamie Lee Curtis proves memorable as the IRS lady, and movie legend James Hong also makes an extended appearance.
I did feel this got a bit much after a while. The concept means that the possibilities are endless but doesn’t mean a movie need go that far. Also why things were happening got a bit muddled – at times it’s simply odd for the sake of being odd (a multiverse with everyone with hotdogs for fingers!). I was entertained though, just maybe a little restraint would have gone a long way.
I certainly consider myself a fan of the games, especially the 2nd and 4th instalments, so the prospect of a big screen adaptation seemed obvious, even though it’s taken years to get off the ground. Here petty-thief turned adventurer Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) teams up with an old friend of his brother’s, named Sully (Mark Wahlberg) who lets him in on a quest to find some long lost treasure.
Immediately the sheer likability of Holland sells the movie. I don’t consider him much like the Nathan Drake of the games, but he carries his own in a charismatic, physical turn that proves him as a credible lead. Wahlberg surprised as I also didn’t initially think he bared much resemblance of the game’s Sully … but he delivers a lovable-rogue that comes across very much like the character in the games, albeit a younger version. There’s also plenty of action with fights, chases and a few stand out set pieces including a memorable one that opens the movie.
The story for me, apart from a mystery surrounding Nathan’s missing brother, was fairly typical and not that interesting when compared to similar movies. Also, the movie trips itself up in its villain casting, with a woefully under-used Antonio Banderas. Overall, this was still fun, delivered a fairly faithful interpretation of the games and proved once again that Holland is a star. Just a shame it doesn’t have a great deal of personality to call its own.
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