Movie Review: The Theory of Everything

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In this biopic of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Eddie Redmayne gives an absolutely brilliant performance, painting for us a picture of a very complex individual who struggled between his academic and personal lives as he coped with the ALS diagnosis.

The direction and plot are very standard; short of the performances by the two leads, the film offers us no surprises in terms of its storytelling, editing, or other aspects.  The film does not focus at all on Hawking’s work; it consciously shies away from the science and focuses on the personal events that made him who he is today.  This almost felt to me like a cop out, as if the writers didn’t bother with attempting to make the science interesting enough for the general audience.  What we’re left with is a story about one of the most brilliant scientists on earth, without the science.  They get away with it though, as Redmayne and Jones’ performances carried the film.

I’m very surprised that the film is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, considering its lack of a ‘wowing’ factor compared to the other nominees (or some films that were not nominated).  It’s definitely worth a watch, though, if only for the performances of Redmayne and Felicity Jones alone.

Movie Review: American Sniper

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“American Sniper,” a biopic based on the book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” chronicles the life of Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper.  Cooper packed on quite a few pounds to physically resemble the formal SEAL sniper, and gives a magnetic performance that holds the film together.

I can’t help but compare this film to 2009’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, “The Hurt Locker.”  Both films center on characters who go through the atrocities of modern war and struggles to deal with life after combat.  Although “The Hurt Locker” was a fictional and dramatized account of a bomb defusal unit, and “American Sniper” is a comparatively more accurate portrayal of the story of Chris Kyle, as a film, the former is a level above the latter in its storytelling and it grips the audience at the very beginning and never lets go.

Clint Eastwood is back on his game after some sub-par films such as “Jersey Boys” and “J.Edgar.”  The film is well-shot and well-edited, putting the audience right in the middle of Kyle’s world.  There’s nothing ground-breaking here, just very solid film making.

At over two hours, the film is a tad too long, and would have been a bore if it weren’t for Cooper and Sienna Miller’s excellent performances.  While I don’t quite agree with nomination of the film and Cooper for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Actor, respectively, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Quick Review: Taken 3

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The trailer looked good.  It seemed like a return to the roots of the original Taken, after the disaster that was Taken 2.  But seeing as it was Taken 2’s director (Olivier Megaton) at the helm and not the director of the first one (Pierre Morel), I did not have my hopes up.

I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t find much to hold my attention.  The editing during the action sequences were so fast and choppy I could barely see what was going on.  The plot was unnecessarily convoluted; what made the original Taken special was that the plot was straightforward and we felt drawn into Bryan Mills’ world.  With Taken 3, the plot lacked focus, and the reduced violence to get a PG-13 rating definitely hurt the film rather than help it, as it took away the impact of the violence.

It’s a bit better than the second Taken.  And I still believe there is a chance for this franchise to come back if they reboot it by changing the writer and director.  But unless that happens, Taken as a franchise has run its course.