Tag Archives: Amanda Seyfried

[Review] – Les Misérables

8 Jan

Les Misérables

Title: Les Misérables
Year: 2012
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: William Nicholson, based on the music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, based on the novel by Victor Hugo
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit
MPAA Rating: PG-13, suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements
Runtime: 157 min
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Metacritic: 63

I remember when I first decided to start a blog to review films I vowed I’d try to see as many films from any given year I could, so that I could get a real overview of the whole year in film and not try not to skip those films which I knew were just disasters waiting to happen. I also vowed that I’d see at least one more film each year than I had seen the previous one. In 2010, my first year doing this, I saw 210 films, which I thought was a pretty good number. In 2011 I saw 256 releases from that year, upping the quota from the previous year by a whopping 46 films. That number, 256, always seemed pretty huge and I doubted I’d be able to pass it this year. Well, Les Misérables (though I’m seeing it in January) is the 256th 2012 release I’ve seen, and I still have a few more films to go, so I guess 2013 will be the real challenge.

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[Trailer] – Les Misérables

9 Nov

A full trailer for Les Misérables has just been released and, as one might imagine, it looks pretty damn epic.

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[Trailer] – Epic

26 Jun

20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios have just released their first trailer for their 2013 effort Epic, which you can watch after the cut.

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[Teaser] – Les Misérables

30 May

Yesterday some photos surfaced online, and now the marketing push gets even stronger with an actual teaser for Les Misérables, which you can watch after the cut.

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Gone

14 Mar

Title: Gone
Year: 2012
Director: Heitor Dhalia
Writer: Allison Burnett
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Daniel Sunjata, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Moennig
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence and terror, some sexual material, brief language and drug references
Runtime: 94 min
IMDb Rating: 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Metacritic: 36

It’s not as though I went into Gone with expectations of any kind; the film had received pretty much no marketing push at all, which in turn has resulted in a measly box office take of less than $10 million (on a $22 million budget), and the film wasn’t even screened for critics (and the reviews that eventually came in were pretty crappy). But still, I won’t lie, a part of me wanted Gone to be a decent flick, at least a guilty pleasure kind of thing, because I like Amanda Seyfriend and I thought the idea of her carrying a thriller was interesting. Alas, it just wasn’t to be; it’s just a horribly conventional and terribly dull thriller with a script that really hurts it every step it takes, providing not a single genuine scare or moment of suspense.

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In Time

5 Dec

Title: In Time
Year: 2011
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Vincent Kartheiser, Johnny Galecki, Matt Bommer, Sasha Pivovarova
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language
Runtime: 109 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

 

Andrew Niccol’s films are always very much out there as far as how inventive they are. His debut, Gattaca, is a stunning film, one of the best sci-fi movies of the modern era; he followed that up with his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, a masterpiece; then came S1m0ne, a film that was nowhere near as great but that still showed this was a guy with a hugely creative vision; and finally 2007’s Lord of War, one of the best Nicolas Cage performances of recent years and a smart, though underwhelming, exploration of the gun trade. Now, six years years after Lord of War, Mr. Niccol is back to the sci-fi genre, and even though this is certainly no Gattaca, it still has a premise that is just fascinating, and a cast full of really cool people to bring it to life.

I actually really liked In Time, much more than what the 38% approval grade in Rotten Tomatoes had me fearing that I would. I mean the storytelling and metaphors that are given to us here are nowhere up to par with the ones we got in Gattaca and certainly in The Truman Show, but even if the execution wasn’t masterful, you can’t help but be provoked deep in your mind by the premise alone. If you haven’t heard about it yet, start concentrating because it’s typical Niccol-y mind-bending-ness: In the near future, to avoid over-populating the world, time has replaced money. You have a clock in your arm that will last until you become twenty-five, after that you get one more year to live in order to get more time to live, whether it’s by working for it or stealing it. That makes everyone look the same age, which would explain why Matt Bommer is supposedly a one-hundred-year-old guy and why Olivia Wilde is Justin Timberlake’s mother. Awesome, right?

That’s the sort of plot I’ll always be into, and the likes of which Mr. Niccol is just so good at crafting. Because it’s just a really neat idea, think about it, only the rich can keep on living because they’re the ones that can buy time. Now, it’s kind of obvious that a film as complex as this one will have a few holes in its plot, and this one isn’t perfect therefore it suffers of that too, but it’s just directed in such a fast way, and with good acting and sleek production design that you can actually overlook all of the holes and just have a good time with it. It’s fun because the cast looks like they were all enjoying themselves, a cast full of young, beautiful people because that’s the point of the film (supermodel Sasha Pivovarova makes a cameo as a 130-year-old woman), and that with Justin Timberlake in the leading role finds a guy who actually dials back on the charisma that made him such a worthy part of last year’s masterpiece The Social Network, and instead focuses on giving a really nice performance that doesn’t overshadow the story but instead compliments it.

Mr. Timberlake is Will Salas, who we see having a conversation with Henry, a man played by the aforementioned Mr. Bommer who’s already in the triple-digits and has another century left in the bank. They start having a conversation of rather philosophical qualities, Henry’s apparently tired of living, you see, and eventually they both doze off. When Will wakes up, however, he finds something very odd: he has a hundred years he shouldn’t have in his clock. He looks around and sees Henry in a nearby bridge, apparently having transferred all of his time to Will and ready to take a leap. Will tries to save him, but instead fails and is only caught by cameras that make the police, called Timekeepers, be ready to frame him for Henry’s murder.

It’s obviously an allegory about time being money nowadays, there’s even our typical poker game scene here, but in this film when someone says he’s going all-in he means he’s betting his entire life, and if you call his bluff the guy drops dead. Amazing premise aside, that insanely inventive framework is filled with stuff we’ve been seeing in movies for ages, there are chases, there’s the handsome leading guy, the cold and slick villain played by Cillian Murphy, and the gorgeous love interest who gets dragged along for the ride, played by Amanda Seyfried, who’s the daughter of the richest man in the world, a guy who has centuries of centuries left in the bank. These are classical elements of films that look damn fresh under such creative circumstances.

Yes, there are a lot of questions here we don’t get answers to, mostly because if we did then the whole plot would fall to pieces, but don’t get picky, that stuff is easy to overlook here because you have a kick-ass premise, a film that looks sensationally good (courtesy of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins) and a cast full of people that make this one work because they make the crazy stuff they’re saying sound fun and plausible, if not at all compelling, led by Justin Timberlake who’s more than proven now that he’s the real deal as an actor. Look, it may not be Gattaca, but it’s certainly Mr. Niccol back in top form, and hopefully he’ll use this as momentum to really hit it out of the park next time he’s at bat (hard to imagine when his next project is an adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer novel, but still, let’s not lose our faith).

Grade: B+

Red Riding Hood

19 Apr

Title: Red Riding Hood
Year:
2011
Director:
Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: David Johnson
Starring:
Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, violence and creature terror, and some sensuality
Runtime:
100 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
4.8
Rotten Tomatoes:
12%

Catherine Hardwicke directs this film, based, rather loosely, on the very famous Little Red Riding Hood folk tale. Now, Catherine Hardwicke is a woman I want to talk a bit about before I talk about the film itself. Her directorial debut came with 2003’s Thirteen, a very daring and raw film that I love and that was certainly in my Top 10 of that year. She followed that up with Lords of Dogtown, a film that wasn’t as great, but that was still seriously good, and that had her directing a terrific performance from Heath Ledger.

After those two fantastic films she did The Nativity Story in 2006, with Keisha Castle-Hughes playing the Virgin Mary. That film was a total slip-up, a very uninspired retelling of a story we didn’t need to be told yet again. But anyways, two years after that she came with the film people know her for, even though Thirteen should be that movie, which was of course Twilight. Now, that film made ten times its budget at the box office and was a huge delight to fans of the book, but was really so-so at best, the following two films in the saga (non directed by Ms. Hardwicke) having been better than the first, which is good because it’s not often you see a series of films in which they get better and better.

I just talked about the four films Ms. Hardwicke had made before she gave us Red Riding Hood so that you have her body of work present. She’s always dealing with young people at a very specific point in their lives, whether it’s experimenting with drugs and sexuality, or skateboarding, or giving birth to the mesiah or dating a vampire, she likes to explore the psyches of young people. And the results have been decidedly mixed, from the awesome first two films, to the lesser ones that followed them.

And now, as she tackles another young female leading character and gets to explore the realm of werewolves she would have been thrown into had she directed New Moon, she’s at it again, delivering a very teenage-angst-ridden darker look at the tale we all know so well. The result, however, is far from great, and this definitely is the worst film she’s done yet, and I just can’t wait until Ms. Hardwicke ditches the fantasy worlds she’s been loving for the past half decade and goes back to telling real stories.

And the fact that it’s not so good considering some of the people that were cast in this film, only adds insult to injury. Amanda Seyfried, who plays the titular role, is an actress I’ve always been a fan of, and who I usually shower with praise when I review her films. Then there are also more veteran actors who are let go to waste here like Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie, and the insuperable Gary Oldman.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Ms. Seyfried and Mr. Oldman are actually the two best parts of this film. The look of Ms. Seyfried alone makes her a perfect fit for the role she’s given to play here, and Mr. Oldman can play anything he wants to and make it look good, but the fact is that the script is incredibly weak in this one, the dialogue is incredibly stale and the whole plot felt totally uninspired.

Not to mention that the two young men cast as the leading male roles were particularly crappy, too. Max Irons, a model that’s actually the son of Jeremy Irons, apparently didn’t get his father’s acting genes and should most certainly stick to modeling. While the other young male protagonist, Shiloh Fernandez, is just as helpless here. I mean, Ms. Hardwicke obviously wanted cute guys who would help draw the tween crowd who just couldn’t wait til November for the next Twilight film, but at least Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner can act a bit or two, she should have gone with the same casting director for this one.

I’m kind of mad that Red Riding Hood turned out to be such an inglorious mess of a film, it had a director who has proven that she can do some great things, and had in Ms. Seyfried one of the brightest young stars in the business to play the leading role, and a few great actors in its supporting cast as well. And yet the result is a film I won’t find myself failing exactly because of those few elements I liked, they weren’t enough to make the film anywhere close to good, but they were enough to make me be able to sit through it without feeling much disgust.

I really don’t think that Ms. Hardwicke’s love for over-stylized imagery and teen angst fit this material at all, at least not in such huge amounts. The red riding hood, Valerie, we see trying to pick between a bad boy type who she really likes and a good guy type who she’s been arrange to marry. All the while there are being werewolf attacks in the village she lives in, and Mr. Oldman, who plays a shady clergyman, starts a hunt to find out who the creature is.

The plot deserves no more outlining, the film is just badly done, not even the costumes or the sets are particularly great, they all feel like cheap Renaissance fair material. Not to mention that there are lot of times in which Ms. Hardwicke insists to use these close-ups in which she pushes into the eyes of her characters, it all feels ridiculous here. Just wait til you get to the part in which they try to recreate that famous “What big eyes/ears/teeth you have!” line. If you’re not laughing in disbelief at how ludicrous it all is then you’re much stronger than I was.

Grade: C-