Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts

Monday, 31 March 2014

Divergent Movie Review

Divergent movie review, trailer, photos and rating.

Director: Neil Burger

First Release Date: 20th March 2014 (Hong Kong)

Running Time: 139 minutes 

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn

"Divergent" has been billed as one of the biggest films of the year.  Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet, the movie is based on the novel by author Veronica Roth, with the same name.  A highly entertaining and original movie despite its comparison to "The Hunger Games" (2012), "Divergent" provides action, thrill and it will certainly have your hear rate up a few notches throughout. 

Set in the future where much of the world has been ravaged by war, a city stands surrounded by 'the fence' to protect it from what lies beyond.  The city's population is divided into five factions based on personality traits; Selfless = Abnegation, Peaceful = Amity, Honest = Candor, Brave = Dauntless, Intelligent = Erudite. Each faction has their own role and job to fulfill for society.  As people grow up they take a test to determine what faction they are best suited for, although ultimately they can choose the faction they wish.  For Beatrice (Woodley) the decision is harder, her test is inconclusive, she is... divergent. 

Divergent movie review

"Divergent" is a thoroughly entertaining and action packed film. The storyline (for those who have not read the books) is gripping and will keep you engaged for the whole two hours nineteen minutes run time.  A large majority of the film is background information; setting the scene and contextual work.  This is not a complaint, the film needed it for certain aspects to make sense and fortunately the context setting itself is very interesting.  Once the film gets going it flies into full speed. The story twisting and maneuvering as much as the characters do. The increased injection of pace pushes the film to the next level with only short sections of scenes allowing you to catch your breath. 

The cast performances are very good - in particular Woodley and James.  The film also features Winslet in a villainous role, yet her screen time is short.  She does not appear much in the film and even though the short glimpses of her character, Jeanine,  prove to be evil and conniving,  it is a shame more of the character and Winslet are not shown.  Woodley steals the show, giving a magnificent performance displaying a range of skills that prove she is going to be a star of the future. James is also very good in the movie.  He gives a reassuring performance and is assertive in his portrayal of his character named Four. Both of them go well together on the big screen and that chemistry is vital in making the character interactions and relationships authentic.

Movie review of Divergent directed by Neil Burger

One interesting aspect of the film are the 'fear' sequences.  These are very integral to the movies plot and are good at keeping the film interesting and non-linear.  This is important, enabling the film to be tension filled to even those who have read the books.  "Divergent" is successful in creating a world that is intriguing and discoverable.  The film plays on emotional ties and the usual 'right vs wrong' idea.  The sense of wrong and evil taking over the good of humanity draw the audience in scene by scene.

The film is great and the sequels will now be hotly anticipated. Using unusual action packed scenes, "Divergent" offers an alternative action adventure film that can be enjoyed by young and older audiences from all over.  Woodley and James create an on screen presence which out rivals any other young actor combination at this present time in cinema.  A must watch for what is going to be another large and successful film franchise.

M+F Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Review

Movie review, trailer, rating and photos of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

UK Release Date: 26th March 2014

Running Time: 136 minutes 

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford

It has been one of the biggest billed movies of the year and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" certainly does not disappoint.  Marvel once again demonstrates that its Cinematic Universe is a big hitter and that they can make films that are action packed, contain light humour and are centered around a storyline that is both honest and serious.  Chris Evans returns as Captain America as again Marvel do not let the fans down by producing a film with a super stellar cast. 

Two years after the events of "The Avengers" (2012) Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Evans) is coming to terms with his modern day life. Working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and teaming up with Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain America finds out that all does not seem right with the world.  World agencies seem to have a more watchful eye on the public than ever before and The Captain is  not comfortable with this.  Can he make a difference or will he struggle against an old soviet soldier known as The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)?

S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America movie review

With a film of this proportions it is often difficult on where to start. The storyline for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is very good.  In typical Marvel style it has everything you come to expect and much more.  The central plot is fresh, modern and unexpected which is great for any viewer.  One area where the film does disappoint is in terms of the emotional effect it does not have with the audience.  It is unable to connect as well as other Marvel films to the audience and is one let down from the film.

The movie is action packed with the wide array of characters which keep it fresh and exciting.  Fighting scenes are excellent and the imagination that has gone into these scenes is second to none. The movie also looks good.  It is clear and the graphics look great on the big screen.  There are no exceptional shots like that of Asgard in "Thor: The Dark World" (2013) but other aspects of the film make up for this. 

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" embraces the use of other characters to full effect unlike other recent Marvel films, specifically "The Wolverine" (2013).  It is pleasing to see The Captain team up with Black Widow and Falcon (Anthony Mackie).  It gives the film the width it needed to cover all angles of the storyline.  What's even more pleasing is the more predominant role given to Nick Fury - rarely is he involved in the action as much as he is in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier". 

Movie review, rating, trailer and photos of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The soundtrack is typical but only adds to the effect of the film and the viewers experience. It helps build up scenes and increases the tensions that occur in the plot.  As is common with films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe there is a mid-credits scene and an end-credits scene.  Both of these are very intriguing and viewers should wait till the end to watch both of these. 

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is an excellent movie all around with only one area where it does disappoint.  Immediately after watching the film you will be asking when the next Marvel film is out.  Good acting performances from all of those involved and a great storyline, "Captain America: The Winter Solider" is certainly going to be one of the bigger blockbuster movies of the year.  It questions peoples morals and is very relateable to the world we live in today.  It is more than just a comic book movie.  It is enjoyable, exciting and has something that every viewer will be able to enjoy.

M+F Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Movie Review

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters movie review, trailer, rating and photos

Director: Thor Freudenthal

UK Release Date: 7th August 2013

Running Time: 106 minutes

Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Levin Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson,  Stanley Tucci

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" follows directly on from the first film in the Percy Jackson film franchise, "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010). Directed by Thor Freudenthal the film is based on Rick Riordan's book of the same name. Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario reprise the roles they portrayed in the first film while some characters are portrayed by different actors which is often strange for a film series like this.

The safe place where Percy (Lerman) and his fellow friends, Grover (Jackson) and Annabeth (Daddrio) live, falls under attack but with the help of others, they must go on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Sea of Monsters to save everything they know.  With enemies to contend with and a prophecy predicting the rise of an ancient evil Percy has to believe, fight and trust in people he would not normally to have any chance of saving Olympus and the world.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters movie review, rating, trailer and photos.

The movie is certainly action packed while remaining fun at the same time.  It is easy to watch, quick paced and benefits from the storyline consisting of mythical Gods that are always interesting for an audience to engage with.  Although it is aimed at a younger audience, it is a film that can be enjoyed by adults as well although is not one that should be taken seriously.  A lot of the graphics are very disappointing and downgrade the film's look and feel.  This was something that was very frustrating to see as for a film that is so mythical, it is important for mythical creatures to be shown on the screen in an exciting and engaging manner.  

Except from being quite entertaining "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" does not offer much else.  The plot is basic and can be followed with ease. It is not the worse sequel to a film you will ever see but it is way out of the leagues of the big hitters like films from The Hunger Games and Twilight film franchises. It is fresh to see a cast that is primarily young and this does work in the films favour in terms of keeping it entertaining and action packed while remaining light-hearted. 

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" is an okay film at best. It is limited due to its straightforward storyline and young cast yet this helps shape the film into what it is. It will be interesting to see if a third film is made, as it is set up nicely at the end but it would be good to see the film taken in a alternative direction or to try something different.  It is an enjoyable film which requires little effort to watch but is by no means a big hitter.

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Khumba Movie Review

Khumba movie review

Director: Anthony Silverston

UK Release Date: 11th April 2014

Running Time: 85 minutes 

Starring: Liam Neeson, Catherine Tate, Laurence Fishburne, Jake T. Austin, Steve Buscemi, Richard E. Grant.

"Khumba" - a film that's storyline is centered around zebras is one that you will feel you have seen before. Unfortunately the film lacks in originality and fails to impress even with a voice-over cast that includes Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne. In 3D the film did look very good.

Movie review, trailer and rating of Khumba
Khumba (Jake T. Austin) a new born zebra, is born with half his stripes which to the rest of the herd is considered as bad luck. As rains fail to fall and the water holes dry up, Khumba's popularity dwells and the blame is forced upon him. Following a map provided by legendary green mantis, Khumba's adventures start outside of the Zebras own proclaimed enclosure as he meets an ostrich called Bradley (Richard E. Grant) and Mama V - a wildebeest (Loretta Devine) as he searches for his stripes while being followed and hunted by Phango (Neeson).

From the outset the film has a sense of familiarity about it. With the main character being a zebra we immediately think of Marty from "Madagascar" (2005)  yet Khumba is totally different. Similarities can be seen throughout the film with there being a mixed feeling of The Lion King (1994), Happy Feet (2006) and Finding Nemo (2003) amongst others as the story line and plot comes to a conclusion. The problem is that "Khumba", while having a sense of these films does not bring anything of it's own that can match these films individually.  One could go as far to criticize the actual characters themselves. While at times they are fun and amusing generally they are difficult to relate to. The characters just feel out of place and rarely reflect well on screen together as a good well rounded animated cast. 
Movie review of Khumba

However considering that "Khumba" is a children's film these observations may be out of context. The film has a range of characters that children can enjoy and the storyline is very laid back and  enjoyable for that target audience. What child would not find for example football playing zebras amusing?  This being said though other animated films including those mentioned can appeal to multiple audiences both young and old. 

"Khumba" is an okay film at best. It is helped by the well known cast of voice-overs that will help stem interest in the movie as well as carry the film in parts. Ultimately "Khumba" falls into the trap of being too much alike to other animated movies and this lack of originality really hinders the films progress. The movie is based for children though and should be one that they enjoy. 

M+F Rating: 5/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

WALL-E Movie Review

WALL-E Movie Review

Director: Andrew Stanton

UK Release Date: 18th July 2008

Running Time: 98 minutes

Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver

We are generally big Disney and Pixar fans but it dawned on us the other day that we had not yet watched "WALL-E" which was released back in 2008.  We had heard a few things about the film itself, one being that there is next to no spoken script or dialect.  This intrigued us a lot and also worried us.  Pixar's other hits such as the Toy Story franchise and "Finding Nemo" (2003) both rely heavily on the script used however "WALL-E" is able to overcome this with a heart warming story that is both creative and one that the audience can relate to.

WALL-E (Ben Burtt) is a robot that is left on Earth to tidy up all the mess and rubbish left by the humans who have moved into space on a spaceship called Axiom.  A loveable and cute character he is soon not the only living robot on Earth as another, EVE (Elissa Knight), arrives.  WALL-E falls in love and ends up heading off into space on an adventure that will change the course of the human race, Earth and his own life.  


"WALL-E" is a film that anyone can watch.  It reaches the audience on multiple levels.  From being a nice story for children to follow to also conveying a message to the adult audience.  It really is a story about friendship, love, and making a difference.  It portrays Earth and the human race in a way that is not so farfetched.  It tackles topical issues in regards to technology, waste management, recycling and obesity.

WALL-E as a character is great.  Innocent, adventurous and looking for companionship in a world where he is all alone.  It really draws the audience in from the beginning. He rarely speaks and when he does it is limited but automatically you feel a connection to his character which is really great.  Throughout the film you are hoping he is okay and eventually finds what he is looking for. 


The film also addresses topical issues but does so in a way that it does not ruin or affect the film in a negative way.  These issues are portrayed so the audience can either choose to accept them and think about them or totally ignore them and just enjoy the film.  "WALL-E" shows what could happen to our planet.  Yes, this is woven into a story about love and friendship but it is clear that this representation of the future is a possible one.  The world has known for a long time that we need to recycle more and look after the planet which is still not happening - so much so that in the film the human population had to leave.  It also addresses issues in regards to obesity and technology.  The population is getting lazy and this is shown in the film - albeit to the extreme.  

"WALL-E" is a superb film and is one that every person should watch and will enjoy. It is a really nice story that is a pleasure to watch and for us it is definitely one of the Pixar greats.  Not only this, but it attempts at tackling different topical issues as well in an innocent but blatant way. An excellent movie that shows again why Pixar have been so good at producing these sorts of films over and over again. "WALL-E" will make you laugh, cry and will also make you wish you had your own little robot friend.

M+F Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Lion King Review: An Over the Top Dissection

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
UK Release Date: 7th October 1994
Running Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane

General Overview

If you have not heard of or watched The Lion King then you are certainly missing out.  It is an American animated Disney film set in Africa. All of the characters are animals that are naturally found on the vast continent.  We have watched this film many times and grew up with it; it is one of the only films we have watched on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and at the cinema in 3D.  The film features an impressive soundtrack complete with songs composed by Tim Rice, Elton John and Hans Zimmer. The general consensus is that The Lion King is a children's film but we disagree with this film. Cleverly,  The Lion King conveys humour, life morals and emotions for multiple audiences; children and adults.

Film Structure 

The films structure is typical Disney.  Following the same base storyline that most Disney films have embedded within their scripts. The best way to describe this is with a flow diagram:

It is quite easy to fit this template to other Disney films such as Aladdin (1992). What is interesting is that they share the same base plot and both films were very successful. Now there are two ways to interpret this information. The first is that it is the holy grail of script writing. This storyline works and can be repeated from movie to movie with only minor details changing (setting, small parts of the plots, characters). The second is that other contributing factors made these films good and the base structure is only a small part of this, for example the soundtrack.  In our opinion we believe it is a mix of both interpretations.  Due to the success that these early 1990's Disney films achieved, it proves that the base structure worked and combining this with an excellent soundtrack made them hugely popular. Traces of this structure can be seen in movies everywhere and we do not claim that this is where this film structure originated at all but we are just applying it and analysing it for this film.

Life Lessons

The Lion King is primarily known as a children's film. It provides a great story with loveable characters that children can relate to.  Entwined within this are morals that can be learnt from the film.  One theme is friendship shown when Simba meets Timon and Pumbaa.  Simba, an outcast now, is alone and vulnerable but Timon and Pumba take him with them - looking after him as he grows into a young adult.  This is  a great notion for children to learn and understand.
"Hakuna Matata. It means no worries." - Timon and Pumbaa.

It also teaches any young viewers that family are important. You can withdraw inspiration from others including those close to you.  This is evident when Simba sees his father, Mufasa, in the clouds and also in a reflection of himself.  This gives him the self-confidence and belief needed to go back to where he belongs and face his enemy, Scar.  This is also a great lesson for children to learn. To stand up to adversity, to believe in themselves and others around them. The Lion King is an excellent example to children while also providing great entertainment.



Multiple Audiences

The film does not just convey messages for children.  In an earlier part of the film, Mufusa (Simba's father and mentor), is killed.  This is something that the majority of children would not understand to the extent that the older audience would.  We watched The Lion King throughout our childhood and it is only when we have viewed it more recently that we feel sad and emotional while watching this scene.  We believe this is because now we are older, we can relate to it in a way where it means something to us.  We were astonished at how this scene makes us feel considering when we were younger we would happily sit through the whole film without thinking any more of it.  This makes The Lion King a film that can be understood by both a young audience and an older one.


One aspect that makes this film even more appealing is the comedy that flows throughout.  The jokes mainly come from characters Timon and Pumbaa but also the hyenas - one of which is voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.  While the younger audience can relate to many of the jokes made, slipped in along the way are a few other jokes/dialect that are directed more at the older audience.  Here is the transcript of our favourite from the film:
Pumbaa: Hey, Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
Timon: Pumbaa, I don't wonder; I know.
Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
Timon: They're fireflies. Fireflies that, uh... got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.
Pumbaa: Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.
Timon: Pumbaa, with you, everything's gas.
It does not seem that funny on face value but it did tickle us here at M+F Reviews.  We found it quite clever and shows the contrast from how a young person could understand the stars at night to an older person who knows what they are. It is a representation of what we have been aiming to explain in the earlier parts of this review - the film caters for two audiences.

Soundtrack Overview:

That's enough talk  about film structure and what audience the film is projected at.  The soundtrack of The Lion King is a masterpiece.  Tim Rice and Elton John composed the majority of the soundtrack while Hans Zimmer did the same with the film score. There are a range of songs, from high upbeat ones, to love songs that have become classics.  The soundtrack is without doubt one of the first things that comes to mind when anyone mentions The Lion King.  If you have not heard any of the songs here is our top three:
  1. Hakuna Matata - Elton John, Tim Rice (performed by others)
  2. Circle of Life - Elton John, Tim Rice (performed by others)
  3. This Land - Hans Zimmer


We recommend The Lion King to anyone who has not seen it and also for those of you who have seen it to watch it again.  A great animation, with amusing characters and script. Not only that but it offers deeper meanings for those who watch, whether you are young or old.
M+F Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Wolverine Review: Mutant's Should Stick Together

Director: James Mangold
UK Release Date: 25th July 2013
Running Time: 126 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto

First of all, it is important to note for this film to make any real sense it would be worth watching the X-Men films (yes, we do recommend all of them - come on, we do love films!). However if you are not keen on watching all of them, you should at least view X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) as this film picks up where it left off. 
Hugh Jackman returns as our favourite angry motorbike rider, Logan in this action packed movie.  In case you need another introduction for who Jackman plays, here is one of our favourite quotes of the film:
"What kind of monster are you...?
The Wolverine!!" 

That's right Logan is The Wolverine and faces a nemesis in the form of Viper, a skin shredding, venom spitting, snake like female mutant.  But that's not all - he is also up against a very large adamantium (for those who are not X-men fans, adamantium is the metal that Wolverine's claws and skeleton are made out of) built robot, manned by none other than the character he saves at the start of the film.  In true X-men and Wolverine style the film features lots of action, and in this case it happens to take the form of martial arts fighting.  This is down to where the majority of the story takes place - in Japan. 
If you are a Jackman fan then you will certainly want to watch this film.  The actor is pumped up for the majority of the film and this is a testament to how hard he would have had to work to get in to shape for this film. What is disappointing is that the rest of the cast and storyline fail to live up to the standards we should expect from a Marvel X-men related film.  Having said that, the film did rate better in a critical sense compared to its predecessor X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).  For a film of this billing it was disappointing not to see any other large named actors on the screen. This is not to take away from the rest of the cast - it just felt like the film lacked the usual punch compared to other X-Men films. 
The storyline was somewhat disappointing for us at M+F Reviews but we do think it could have been a hell of a lot worse.  If it was not for Jackman or the typical comic one-liners that often creep into films of similar genre (or other Marvel films) this film would have been a huge let down.  It was quite easy to predict what was going to happen throughout with no real effort and you could quite easily have watched this film without paying too much attention to detail.
We did have very high hopes for The Wolverine and maybe that's why we feel it was not as good because we expected too much - something that any film fanatic would have experienced sometime or another.  The film was not all bad though and had good action scenes and a few graphical scenes that we liked and you should look out for:
  • Wolverine cutting into his own chest with his claws.
  • Viper shredding her skin and hair.
  • Wolverine being brought down by countless (no exaggeration) arrows.
We really enjoyed these scenes and felt they gave the film a bit more kick - which it did generally lack with The Wolverine being the only big name mutant on the screen.  It would have been great to see The Wolverine along side other well known mutants and exploring there relationships - something that could have been done while still diving into the troubled life and mind of the Wolverine himself. We do understand this is a Wolverine spin off and not a full X-Men film but one or two extra mutants would not have gone a miss.
The Wolverine is a film that you should watch as part of the X-Men film series but it is not one of the better movies.  However, it can still be enjoyed especially if you like martial arts and lots of action.  Jackman shows his raw strength as an actor (and his physical fitness) by holding this movie together. With news of a third film in the X-Men: Wolverine franchise it will certainly be interesting to see what direction they take it in and whether they add any other big name mutants to the cast (our recommendation). Do watch The Wolverine if you have not already and make up your own mind up it is still an enjoyable and easy film to watch.
M+F Rating: 5/10 

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.