Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

If the entirety of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was as convincing as the scenes shared between returning stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, then the film would be an unmitigated success. Unfortunately, as it stands with its overstuffed narrative and cavalcade of uninspired villains, the film isn’t much better than its predecessor. With alter-ego Spider-Man riding high, Peter Parker (Garfield) is trapped, unsure how to sustain his relationship with Gwen without putting her in danger and failing in his efforts to understand more about his past. Continue reading “Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)”

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Review: Rio 2 (2014)

Rio 2

The sequel to Blue Sky Studios’ smash-hit parrot adventure, Rio 2 maintains the same bright and brisk approach that helped carry its predecessor to a cool $484M box office cume, but lacks substantially in substance and emotional depth. When a hidden tribe of Spix’s Macaw’s are discovered in the Amazon, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and his family – Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three chicks – leave their domesticated life in search of pastures new. Continue reading “Review: Rio 2 (2014)”

Review: White House Down (2013)

White House Down

After briefly sidestepping into more artsy territory with the widely panned Anonymous, Roland Emmerich comes back full force with White House Down, an over-the-top explosion-fest that flopped spectacularly upon its release in America. It’s dumb and predictable, sure, but unlike Olympus Has Fallen, this year’s other White House-set Die Hard parody, White House Down embraces its ridiculousness – a feat that mostly works in its favour. Continue reading “Review: White House Down (2013)”

Review: Django Unchained (2013)

Django Unchained

Writer and director Quentin Tarantino enters new territory with Django Unchained, a part exploitation, part Spaghetti Western romp about slavery in the antebellum South. That’s not to say that Django Unchained is any less a Tarantino film than, say, Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction were, as it includes many of his memorable traits (explicit violence and quick-cut editing) and boasts a revenge motif as intrinsic to the narrative as any other. Continue reading “Review: Django Unchained (2013)”

Review: Rio (2011)

Rio is the latest animation film from Blue Sky Studios, and features the voice talents of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx.

The film centers on Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, who, when he meets the fiercely independent Jewel (Anne Hathaway), takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with this bird of his dreams.

The peppy, action-packed and convivial screenplay – aside from struggling to sustain the party atmosphere to the end, and falling foul to the well-trodden romantic chase caper, and the trademark slapstick gags – combines charm, thrills, laughs and romance to admirable, sweet avail. It’s not overly complicated, and may feel a tad strained at times, but the approach is sharp enough to keep you entertained throughout.

The characters, including the humans, are under-developed and, no matter how top-notch the voice acting is, the dialogue feels too conventional and flaky to capture audiences attention like other, braver, animation films.

There is, however, one exception. Clement, who voices Nigel, a red-eyed cockatoo, steals every scene he’s in, even delivering a hilarious yet equally fearsome performance as the central villain.

In a technical sense, Rio is simply exquisite, with director Carlos Saldanha ensuring every scene twinkles with a remarkably high level of attention-to-detail. The 3D is crisp, richly attained with a tremendous depth of field, accentuating the glorious, picturesque scenery and wonderfully buoyant animation, and never feeling unnecessary.

The music, ranging from John Powell’s score to original songs by Taio Cruz and will.i.am, was tempestuous, but not always as soaring as you’d expect.

Rio may not be hugely original, and certainly has its share of flaws, but it has a refreshingly light, entertaining feel to it that, in addition to the superb animation and energetic voice acting, should leave you beaming from cheek to cheek.