Tag Archives: Margot Robbie

My Thoughts on: Terminal (2018)

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If you watch enough films, you’ll realize that there are some films that cannot be explained; they have to be experienced. After last night, I’m convinced that Terminal is one of those films. The film can best be described as an extremely twisted take on Alice in Wonderland (as the film is permeated throughout with references to the book). Terminal is mostly set in a train station late at night and follows a mysterious woman named Annie (Margot Robbie); a dying English teacher (Simon Pegg); two contract killers (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons); and the peculiar cleaner that works at the station (Mike Meyers) as their paths converge in unexpected ways.

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One undeniable positive about Terminal is that it looks amazing from start to finish. Based on the noir style, the scenes contain vibrant pops of color set against dark backgrounds (my particular favorite is Annie’s bright red coat). There’s also a wonderful use of neon lighting. On the other hand, I spent most of the film watching this beautiful display of color and wondering what on Earth I was watching. The film’s biggest weakness is it takes a very long time to connect the dots and reveal how these characters are all connected. Now, that being said, once the film does reach this point, things begin to make sense very quickly.

The final twenty minutes of the film are where things really get crazy (and that’s saying something in a film that’s full of crazy moments). Several twists are revealed in succession, from the expected (I pegged one twist about halfway through the film) to the “oh my god I did not see that coming.” In fact there are so many reveals at the end that it’s almost like watching a mini-movie separate from everything that just happened. There was probably a more straightforward way to incorporate these last twists but I can’t complain too loudly because the film made sure to cover every loose end.

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If you’re willing to wait for the payoff, Terminal is a very enjoyable film. It’s not perfect by any means, but the flaws aren’t big enough to ruin the experience. If you’ve seen Terminal, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Soundtrack Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

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I grew up loving A.A. Milne’s stories about Winnie the Pooh and his best friend Christopher Robin. In fact, I remember being delighted to learn that Christopher Robin had been a real person (he passed away in 1996). So when I heard that Goodbye Christopher Robin would be looking at the story of how the Winnie the Pooh stories were made, and the consequences for the Milne family, I was immediately interested. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson as A.A. Milne; Margot Robbie plays his wife Daphne Milne; and Will Tilston plays the young Christopher Robin.

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The soundtrack for this film will be released on CD on October 13th and was composed by Carter Burwell (he’s also worked on Twilight, The Bourne Identity and Anomalisa, among others). And I have to say, the soundtrack for Goodbye Christopher Robin has been absolutely delightful to listen to. Let me highlight a few of my favorites for you:

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First there was “Tree of Memory”, a beautiful track, with primarily string instruments. It was very soothing, very much what you would expect from a film about the origins of Winnie the Pooh. At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice a minor tone begin to creep in towards the end, which might be hinting at the tension that arises in the Milne family as the fame of the Winnie the Pooh stories brings a LOT of attention their way (the real Christopher Robin eventually grew tired of being associated with those books as he grew older).

“Toys and Stars” was another favorite. It starts with a soft guitar ostinato (repeating melody) that is joined by a flute and a clarinet. It feels like music for a lullaby, and by the end of the track all the instruments come together in this perfect harmony.

“Balloons” is a whimsical track that is very short (only fifty seconds in length) and entirely strings. The melody jumps and skips and then it will flow, and it was very fun to listen to.

The last track I will highlight is “Into the Forest” and this might be my favorite of the bunch. It would be wrong to call it “dark” but it isn’t “happy” either. It begins with an extremely light air of tension that slowly grows as the track goes on. I would love to know the context of this piece as it is very interesting to listen to. If I had to take a guess, since it’s titled “Into the Forest” I almost wonder if someone (maybe Christopher Robin) is lost in the woods? Anything is possible at this point.

This is just a sneak peek into the overall soundtrack, everything I listened to sounded amazing. I definitely recommend picking up this soundtrack when it is released. I hope you enjoyed reading about the music for Goodbye Christopher Robin. My thanks to The Krakower Group for making this soundtrack available for review.

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Thoughts on Suicide Squad (2016)

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It finally happened: I actually caved and watched Suicide Squad, and boy oh boy do I have some thoughts on the subject.

 

It happened towards the end of my little vacation trip; there was a screening of Suicide Squad that evening and I thought to myself “Well I don’t have anything better to do, why not?” The next thing I know, I’m over an hour in to the story and I’m HOOKED!

Yes, despite the flaws (and they were many), I found myself enjoying the story I was being fed, so I’ll start off by listing the positives:

  • Margot Robbie absolutely KILLED it as Harley Quinn. I could watch her all day long, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the full-length Harley Quinn film.
  • Will Smith was fantastic as Deadshot, I loved the prologue part where he’s demanding his money over the phone before he’ll do the hit. And based entirely on the scene with Deadshot and his daughter (when Batman arrests him), I want/need to see a full-length Deadshot film, and it must have Will Smith in it.
  • The visuals are out of this world! This is important for me, as I’m a visual-based person.
  • I like the look of Enchantress, both her initial look and her secondary look when her brother gives her some of his power so she’s not dependent on her heart.
  • And then there’s the Joker…I admit, I DID enjoy Jared Leto’s performance, what little of it we got to see anyway. I can’t pass a complete judgement on whether it was good or bad because he’s barely there as a character, but it definitely has the potential to be amazing (and definitely a unique spin on the legendary villain).

 

Those are the big good points for me, now for the not so good.

  • Here’s the thing with Suicide Squad: if you don’t THINK about what you’re seeing, it’s a great story. The problem comes when you think about the sequence of events, where these people come from, etc. and then issues start coming out of the woodwork. Everyone who says they should’ve done some standalone films before launching Suicide Squad are absolutely right. In fact, those “prologue” segments for most of the main characters look like they came from 5-6 separate films, and I desperately want to see more, because aside from the bigger characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, I don’t really know who Captain Boomerang or Diablo are.

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  • And then there’s the fact that not all of the characters get a backstory. Slipknot is literally introduced out of nowhere, and we don’t even get to know him before he (spoiler alert) dies in a rather gruesome fashion. And THEN there’s Katana, who is also brought in with ZERO explanation, which stinks because she looks really awesome!!
  • And speaking of explanations, I feel like they could’ve made a full-length Enchantress movie explaining how she and her brother came to our dimension, ruled the humans, were betrayed, etc. and such a film would’ve been really helpful in establishing her motives in this film. I mean we do get plenty of hints that the pair were worshipped as gods, that they’re very ancient, but in the end they were betrayed and trapped away, and now they want vengeance.

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  • It really was a mistake to put the Joker in this film and NOT have him as the main villain. I know that was the biggest reason (among many others) that this film failed to impress. Because, let’s face it, the previews essentially promised a film where the main villain was the Joker!! And who doesn’t want to see that? Then we actually GET to the film and, even in the extended cut, the Joker has maybe ten minutes of screen time. Talk about a bait and switch!! It should’ve either been Joker as the main villain, or Enchantress as the main villain, but using both was a mistake (though I would’ve been okay if they had done the following: have Harley receive messages from the Joker periodically, but don’t actually show him. THEN, at the very end of the film, have the “Joker breaks Harley out of prison” scene play as normal and show the Joker as a teaser/hook for the inevitable sequel. You know, something to whet the appetite of the audience.

Suicide Squad is definitely not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it does not meet its full potential either. That being said, it does solidly rank as a good popcorn film with me (that’s why I ran out and bought a DVD copy as soon as I got home from my trip). Hopefully Jared Leto gets to reprise his Joker role in the future so I can form a better opinion of his performance.

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My Thoughts on: The Legend of Tarzan (2016) w/spoilers

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*warning: there are full and almost complete spoilers for the film below, turn back now if you don’t want the film to be spoiled for you!!!

Although I am familiar with the story of Tarzan, the only film version I had seen prior to Saturday was Disney’s 1999 animated version. The Legend of Tarzan was my first time seeing a live-action version of the Tarzan story and I have to say, it was completely worth it!

First, I have to say that this is not quite the traditional version of the story because, when the film opens, Tarzan and Jane have been living in London for almost ten years. Tarzan has claimed his “human” identity of John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke, and has worked very hard to forget that he was ever Tarzan. He puts on a good front, but in the opening scene where we first see Tarzan, it was clear to me that the man was miserable. He seemed bored with everything, and was totally in denial about who he really was, on the inside.

That’s the big theme of this movie: accepting who you really are, not what society expects you to be. In this case, Tarzan/John Clayton is attempting to live up to the wishes of his late father, who, in a letter to his then-infant son, repeatedly expressed the point that “London is your home, not this place.”

Tarzan’s wife Jane (Margot Robbie) however, is not in denial and when an invitation to visit the African Congo is extended to Tarzan, Jane insists on coming along, as she wants to go “home” to where she grew up.

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Even here in England though, in the vast expanse of Greystoke manner, Tarzan shows subtle signs that he has not quite forgotten the jungle. For one, he still enjoys eating raw eggs. And for another, he is still shown to be quite comfortable climbing trees, as he effortlessly pulls himself up to a branch where Jane is sitting. Reluctantly, he agrees that Jane can come along with him. Accompanying them is Dr. George Williams, played brilliantly by Samuel L. Jackson. His role is clearly that of comic relief, and it absolutely works.

However, the invitation to visit the Congo is a trap. The entire story takes place at a time when Leopold of Belgium is seeking to strengthen his hold on the Congo as a colony. But he’s running out of money to pay his troops so he dispatches Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz) to find the legendary diamonds of Ophar, which he does. But the diamonds are guarded by the tribe led by Chief Mbonga, and he has reason to see Tarzan dead. So the two make a deal: if Rom brings Tarzan, Mbonga will let him have as many diamonds as he needs. So Tarzan is lured to Africa, accompanied by Jane, and while visiting the local tribe that once hosted Jane and her father, both are captured by Rom and his men. But before they can reach the boat, Tarzan manages to break free while Jane remains a prisoner.

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From this point on, the story revolves around Tarzan shedding his civilized skin and slowly working back to his jungle roots. It’s a fascinating process to watch, and one of my favorite parts of the movie. There are several fights along the way: fighting a train car full of soldiers, and fighting his former ape “brother” who grew up alongside him years ago. While it’s true that Jane spends most of this time as a captive, she is hardly a “damsel-in-distress.” She does what she can to undermine Rom’s progress toward Mbonga’s territory, but she’s limited because her friends from the tribe are being held hostage and will be killed if she makes too much trouble.

Eventually, the two groups (Tarzan and George and Rom, Jane and his men) converge where Mbonga is waiting and things come to a head, which is where my one real gripe comes in. Through a series of flashbacks that tell the story of Tarzan’s childhood in the jungle, we learn that Mbonga’s son killed Tarzan’s ape mother Kala during a rite of passage where the men of the tribe had to hunt gorillas. In revenge, Tarzan chased the young man down and killed him, leaving Mbonga to swear vengeance if he ever got his hands on Tarzan. Considering that a good part of the film revolves around this plot of vengeance, the actual fight between Tarzan and Mbonga…is kind of short. It almost felt anti-climactic, because the big action climax comes a little later. I wish they would have spent a little more time on the tension between Tarzan and Mbonga, but what follows makes up for it fairly well.

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Jane is still a prisoner of Rom, but the latter has his diamonds now and the mercenary army they will pay for is getting ready to land at the port. If they come ashore, the Congo will stand no chance against them. But Tarzan has a plan: using his lion and ape friends, he causes a huge wildebeest stampede that storms the port town and collapses most of the buildings. It reminded me very much of a series of events in the original Jungle Book stories where Mowgli commanded the elephants to “let the jungle in” at a particular village. Seeing the town overrun by the wild animals of Africa reminded me of that moment.

Jane is finally saved, but there’s still the matter of Rom to settle. If there’s one thing you don’t do, it’s mess with Tarzan’s wife, so you’ve known for most of the film that there’s no way Rom is getting out of this alive. While fighting on a sinking boat, there comes a moment when Rom seemingly has Tarzan finished, with a strangling cord around his neck. But Tarzan begins to make a strange sound, and Rom asks him what he’s doing. Being raised around the animals of the jungle, Tarzan is a master of mimicking various animal calls, particularly mating calls. And in this case, he’s using the mating call of the crocodile to summon crocodiles to the boat. Large hungry crocodiles plus a defenseless Rom…you do the math on how it ends for the villain.

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One year later, it’s revealed that Tarzan and Jane have stayed in the jungle, apparently making their home with the same tribe that Jane grew up with. Tarzan is with the men, waiting for something. At last, a commotion comes from the big hut where all the women are gathered and a tribeswoman comes out with a little bundle in her hands: Tarzan and Jane’s child! At the beginning of the story, Tarzan let it slip that he and Jane recently lost a child, whether it was a miscarriage or a young child that died from illness is never specified. Now that they are back “home”, the birth of their child cements that this is where they truly belong.

I’m not sure if there’s a hook for a sequel or not, but I wouldn’t mind if a sequel was made. Overall, this was a very enjoyable film. A handful of moments could’ve been built up more than they were, but I still recommend this film if you like action and adventure.

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Also, the musical score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is very well done. This composer is not familiar to me, but I will be sure to keep an eye out for his name in the future. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, with a lot of shooting done on location in Africa. The contrast between the drabness of Greystoke manor and the vivid life found in the jungle is striking.

Final Thoughts: The Legend of Tarzan is a really good movie, Alexander Skarsgard does great justice to the role and Margot Robbie absolutely slays her role as Jane. Christoph Waltz is very believable as the villainous Captain Rom (although for some reason he kept reminding me of Aidan Gillen, who plays “Littlefinger” on Game of Thrones).

Have you seen The Legend of Tarzan? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

*poster image is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures

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