Movies in 2014 (Part 3)

Spoiler alert yet again!

The Equalizer

Ballet-style fighting

Ballet-style fighting

OCD to the fore in this action movie by Denzel Washington who plays the title character Robert McCall, an ex-CIA Special Branch super soldier who currently works at Home Depot. He seldom sleeps and due to his OCD, there is a timely pattern to his daily activities. That all sounds good until someone messes up that routine, and that someone turned out to be prostitute Teri, played by Chloë Grace Moretz. McCall had already left his fighting days behind him but when Teri gets manhandled and mistreated by her pimps, he steps in.

What he thought was a one-off warning, which ended up in a very calculated 20-second cuts and speed up fight scenes in which Washington’s character make full use of the things around him to take out the thugs. This is no blurry fight scenes choreography but a very methodological OCD-style fighting, shown in bits and pieces. But the effect is just as good.

Once McCall had waded into this business of ‘protecting’ other people and doing good with the skills that he has, his life started to unravel the more he tried to help. And his activities irked the mafia mob boss into sending the Russian version of McCall, Teddy to clean up the mess. The climax of the movie ends at the very same Home Depot that McCall works in and he calmly takes out each and every mobster with all the equipments on hand.

Director Antoine Fuqua plays out the fight scenes in a very unique way, kind of like a dance scene or a ballet, but with severe consequences. There’s no love story to complicate matters and it basically sets up Denzel Washington for more McCall scenes for future sequels if it comes to that.

All in, a simple action movie for a quiet weekend viewing.

Gone Girl

Why?

Why?

Probably the most talked about movie of the year. Gone Girl starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Nick Dunne (Affleck) comes home one day to find his lovely wife, Amy (Pike) gone. It was supposed to be their wedding anniversary and she usually leaves clues for him to figure out his anniversary gift. Throw in a rather inquisitive Detective Rhonda, and you get a psychological thriller. The story is based on a book (again).

Affleck’s character went from innocent husband into someone hiding a few dirty secrets as the movie moves along. Together with the aid of his in-laws, who undermines his every move, he felt as if he’s being boxed up and being pigeon-holed by the press, tabloids and even talk shows. The only support he has comes from his twin sister, who coincidentally finds him sleeping with his student. Making her suspicious of him. But as tensions mount, he is forced to hire a lawyer, which adds up to the public’s guessing game that he could be, in fact, the murderer.

Pike, on the other hand, looks so calm and collected but deep down inside as the movie starts to show things from her point of view, appears to be a really cold blooded sociopath. The lengths in which she went to in order to frame her husband makes you really wonder what is actually going on in that twisted mind of hers. And when she manipulates her ex-boyfriend into giving her what she wants, she ended up killing him and framing him instead when she felt that things were not working out. I guess we’ve got a potential award winning actress performance from Pike herself in this role.

A tidbit for moviegoers, while Nick and Amy were flirting around in the library, they mentioned Pride and Prejudice, which coincidentally was a movie in which Rosamund Pike had a role in. Which was also one of my favourite movies.

One word of advice, not a movie for those newly weds or recently engaged. It makes you wonder who are you really sharing your bed with.

Grand Budapest Hotel

Who's who at The GBH

Who’s who at The GBH

Wes Anderson to the max. This is a really funny and colourful show that takes place in the fictional country of Zubrowka. Zero Moustafa has just began his life a a lobby boy at the illustrious Grand Budapest Hotel run by M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), who not only is a fastidious concierge but secretly shares the bed with a couple of the hotel’s distinguished guests, including one particularly old lady called Madame D (unrecognizable Tilda Swinton).

When Madame D passes away in mysterious circumstances, Gustave and Zero journeyed to her funeral only to get themselves involved in her family’s money-loving relatives and being blamed for the murder of Madame D. When the concierge is thrown into jail, Zero with the aid of his love, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan with a Mexico birthmark), breaks him out of it and with the help of the secret society of the Concierges, managed to find themselves back at the Grand Budapest Hotel which is now under the scrutiny of the SS.

The story ends with Zero Moustafa, currently the owner of the ill-forgotten Grand Budapest Hotel, narrating the story to Jude Law, a writer who is intent on finding out what really happened to the hotel.

Having seen Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, I’ve come to expect this from Mr Anderson himself. He has really outdone himself this time. The storyline is simple but when added to the colourful cinematic backgrounds and madcap cinematic elements, brings forth a rather youthful and funny show suitable for all ages, except it would take a lot of explanation for the younger ones.

Even if you have nothing better to do, feel free to count the number of actors and actresses making their cameo appearances on the show.

Guardians of the Galaxy

I'm Groot

I’m Groot

If you’re tired of being bombarded by the Avengers, SHIELD, etc. This is your go-to movie for the year. If you haven’t noticed I’ve bypassed Avengers and Captain America on the alphabetical list because I’m tired of them. Guardians of the Galaxy can be regarded as the B-team to the Avengers A-team. Made up of a bunch of tricksters, bounty hunters and assassin, this wacky oddball outfit actually manages to pull it off.

Not much can be said about the storyline, it’s just a way of introducing the backstory to the characters in order to pull off another few more sequels in the future. Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is probably the least known bounty hunter with a super duper name. And when he starts to pursue an object — a mysterious orb. He brought every single pair of eyes and more on him. Soon he finds himself behind bars together with Rocket, Groot, Drax and Gamora. Two CGI characters and two human characters. One thing led to another, the five of them band together to escape prison and to cut the story short, they saved the day. Or rather Groot did.

Having read the comics on and off throughout the years, as it’s not one of the mainstream Marvel comics, such as the X-Men family or the well-known Avengers. It’s a delight to see the characters in the comics brought to life. Although the outcome wasn’t as expected, it was understandable. Most of the people watching the movie had never heard of the comic let alone the characters, so a backstory is needed. Surprisingly, these five were never the original team members of the initial Guardians of the Galaxy. A small tidbit, Iron Man was actually a member back in 2013!

With news of the sequel in production, you can see why this is another money-grubbing movie. The cameo appearance of Thanos. Which could lead to a tie-in with the Avengers in the future is also a possibility. The producers have left nothing to chance.

Spinoffs galore! Sequels galore!

Hobbit : Battle of the Five Armies

Finally

Finally

Finally, the Star Wars-styled LOTR trilogy and prequel finally comes to an end with the release of Battle of the Five Armies. Having read the book and seen all the movies of the LOTR franchise and their slight deviation from the book, I have come to realize that in order to enjoy the movie, I need to separate fact from fiction. Books will always be books, but movies need to earn money, so they need an extra attraction in order to catch the attention of the movie goers.

The movie picks up with Smaug’s attack on Laketown and its subsequent death. Having killed the dragon, the people of Laketown are yet again, called upon to defend themselves, this time from the marauding orcs. Who have come to end Thorin Oakenshield’s bloodline and to gather all the gold for themselves. Needless to say, they are also being pushed by the unseen hand of Sauron.

Okay okay, before you start to ask me why five armies when you only count four? The humans, the dwarves, the elves and the orcs right? Unfortunately, they separated both the orcs into two legions, one led by Azog and the other one led by Bolg. So that makes it five armies.

Needless to say, the hobbit saves the day yet again and despite the casualties to both sides, good has triumphed over evil, as it has done over the ages. Unfortunately, comparison must be made against the final battle against the armies of Sauron in the original LOTR trilogy as well as the one at Helm’s Deep. And for that, this battle of the five armies, pales in comparison. The only highlight was the elves leaping over the dwarves in the initial charge against the orcs.

The Hobbit trilogy in general actually shows more of the individual rather than the general story arc. Focusing on Thorin’s greed and lust for power despite having being humble most of his life. And how a simpleton, a hobbit could actually inspire people to do good.

But having said that, this is a good ending as any ever to be given to a trilogy and what more, it leads directly into the LOTR trilogy. So time to dust off the old collection and watch it all over again.

Or rather, there and back again.

 

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