Need for Speed

A Videogame with a Supercharger Attached

What it’s about

A street racer is framed by a rival who is also a wealthy business associate in a murder case. Upon his release, the street racer devises a plan with revenge in mind.

My thoughts

Tyre burning in this film is taken to an entirely different level. In fact it is probable that during filming, they will have burnt through so many tyres that they could have filled a tyre graveyard. But if you like films in which high-powered cars are taken to their limits, then you will like this film.

But only if you are able to watch it for what it is, and that is a video game turned into a film, which means if you are person that likes films to have a semblance of realism to them you’re gonna think this film ridiculous.

That means to say the least poetic licence is used in this film, and the way the title characters are willing to just pop in and out of jail so freely and willingly, and to risk jail so freely and willingly is definitely more videogame than feature film.

In fact the entire film is more videogame than feature film. But video games are fun and this film is fun, and if you’re willing to watch it with that in mind then you will find it a fun and easy to watch film which pays solid homage to the video game it is based upon.​

For these reasons it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​Director: Scott Waugh

Writer: George Gatins and John Gatins

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2014

​Runtime: 132 minutes

2 Guns

Action Thriller That Starts Slow but Has a Clever Twist

What it’s about

Two undercover agents, Robert and Michael, aim to expose Manny ‘Papi’ Greco, a drug lord. Unaware of each other’s true identities, the two get into trouble when they finally meet Papi.

My thoughts

An action film which stars both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg to say the least sounds a mighty compelling film. But that is perhaps why this film struggles to impress. The problem of expectations.

And those expectations are hit right at the beginning because to say the least this is a bit of a slow starter, and the way the timeline jumps back and forth in the beginning is without a doubt messy. However, it is still a fun film with a surprisingly clever storyline.

Also despite in the beginning the chemistry between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg seeming a bit lacking the chemistry along with the initial slow pacing grows as the narrative progresses.

All in all, this is a passable action flick that feels like it should have been more than it is but as it is is still half decent watch. Basically if you like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg then in all likelihood you will enjoy this film, but not as much as perhaps you would hope.

And that perhaps is the lasting feeling, and the fundamental problem with this film, it’s a good film with a clever storyline but not as good a film as you want it to be considering the billing.

But as it is a decent action film it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Writer: Blake Masters and Steve Blake

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2013

Runtime: 99 minutes

Sonic The Hedgehog

Boisterous Family Fun

What it’s about

An extraterrestrial hedgehog named Sonic is discovered by a scientist who concocts evil plans to use his superpowers for his own selfish needs, but a local police officer helps Sonic fightback.

My thoughts

Is this an amazing film, no. But if you like Sonic The Hedgehog then there is a high probability you will like this film. Even if you don’t then there is still a high chance that you will like this film.

Some argue that Jim Carrey puts in a wooden performance, and it perhaps is a bit, but James Marsden’s performance as a local town cop who Sonic befriends makes up for any shortcomings as he has yet again proven that family films are what he does best.

All in all it is a fun film, has some great laughs in it, and has a nice touching story at its heart, the sort which everyone will be able to relate to. Basically Sonic is hiding from the world and inevitably is suffering the effects of loneliness, the question is will he be able to find a friend or will he have to leave Earth forever and spend his life alone on a lifeless planet.

Any person can guess what the answer will be, but that is the norm for films like this, what matters is the journey. And the journey is a good one, and has in it some great sequences, the best perhaps being the scene where Sonic finds himself caught in the middle of a bar brawl, in this scene to hilarious consequences he moves so fast everyone else is frozen in time.

But that means yes, at times this film does go a little over the top, perhaps expected from a film which has Jim Carrey as one of its stars, but in its defence it never stretches too far over so as to detract from the story. Meaning this film strikes that great balance between not taking itself too serious, but taking itself just serious enough to be taken seriously.

All in all a fun family film that both old and young can enjoy which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Pat Casey and Josh Miller

Genre: action, adventure, family

Year: 2020

Runtime: 99 minutes

Meet Joe Black

Death falls in love with the living threatening deadly consequences

What it’s about

Disguised as a human, Grim Reaper Joe Black comes to Earth to escort back the soul of media tycoon William Parrish. But Joe’s fascinating journey ends with him falling in love with William’s daughter.

My thoughts

What would happen if death fell in love with the living and the only way for them to be together was for death to take the life of the person he loves? This is the tantalising question that is asked in this film, and the journey to the final resolution is executed superbly.

If you’re not a fan of romances then it should be noted this is likely a film to miss, but if you do like romances and stories about the nature of love then this is a great watch.

Brad Pitt nails it as death, and Anthony Hopkins as ever puts in a stonking performance as the father of the daughter death loves, fighting to prove to death that he should not take the life of his daughter.

This film will make you think about the merits of love at first, and what it means to love full stop. All in all, most definitely entertaining, most definitely will make you think, most definitely worth watching. But like said only if you like romances.

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade and Bo Goldman

Genre: drama, romance and fantasy

Year: 1998

Runtime: 181 minutes

Schindler’s List

One of the Most Remarkable Stories in History

What it’s about

Based on a true story. Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and member of the Nazi party, tries to save his Jewish employees after witnessing the persecution of Jews in Poland.

My thoughts

Arguably no other story captures the horrors of the Holocaust and the fight to survive it better than this one. And no person who watches this film will ever see the world in the same way again. The fact it is based on a true story makes it all the more harrowing.

If you are easily upset then this is likely not a film for you, but if you want to understand just how evil man can be if given the chance and just how good man can be if given the chance and just why the world fought so hard to stop the Nazis, this film will tell you all you need to know.

In terms of the visuals, firstly this film is shot in black-and-white which is rare for a big budget modern film, but it most definitely works. Colours bring things to life but this is a story where life is hanging on by a thread which is why using black-and-white is such a powerful touch.

It really brings to life just how devoid and cold and colourless and evil the Nazi world was for a Jewish person, but it also allows that one shining hope which Oscar Schindler presented to his workforce to really shine through.

All in all this is simply a brilliant film worthy of all its accolades which include seven Oscars which means it gets a definite big thumbs up from me.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Steven Zaillian

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 1993

Runtime: 195 minutes

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Ultimate Proof That Friendship Has No Prejudice

What it’s about

Bruno is the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp during WWII. His friendship with a Jewish boy he meets across the fence leads to unexpected consequences.

My thoughts

​This is a truly empowering story about friendship with an extraordinarily powerful message at its heart, which also captures brilliantly the horrors of the Holocaust and the madness of it without utilising any real violence. 

If you’re looking for a film that will leave you feeling happy at the end, this is not for you. But if you’re looking for a film that will change the way you see the world, then this is one of those films, because it’s a damn guarantee that after watching this you will never look at a person who thinks differently to you in the same way again.

For that reason and many more this film gets a definite thumbs up from me.

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman

Genre: drama, history, war

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

Twelve Years a Slave

Riveting Tale about the Human Cost of Slavery

What it’s about

Based on a true story. Solomon Northup, a free African-American, is promised a fortnightly job by Brown and Hamilton. However, after arriving in Washington DC, he realises that he has been sold into slavery.

My thoughts

This film provides an excellent insight into the human cost of slavery and does very well at avoiding telling people what to think by focusing simply on telling a story and allowing the viewer to form an opinion.

It also does well at avoiding making this a story solely about skin colour, there are just people and some are bad, some are good and some are slaves, it is just in the story the slaves are black and that’s why they are slaves. 

A worthy winner of the best picture Oscar and most definitely worth watching as no person who watches this can watch it without by the end coming to the conclusion that if the world was a certain way, they could have been Solomon.

For those reasons along with the fact is a highly entertaining film it most definitely gets a thumbs up from me.

Director: Steve McQueen

Writer: John Ridley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 2013

Runtime: 134 minutes

Gandhi

A Brilliant Look at One of History’s Greatest Practitioners of Nonviolence

What it’s about

A lawyer, Mohandas Gandhi, returns to British India from South Africa. He begins a nationwide campaign of non-violent resistance against the British rule, pressuring Britain to liberate India.

My thoughts

Gandhi’s life was so vast and filled with so many events and narratives that trying to tell his life story in a film would simply be impossible.

But that’s why this film works, it does not try to instead it tries only to give a brief snapshot of his motivations and methods for bringing about independence, specifically focusing on his penchant for using nonviolence. 

And it does this really well, meaning if you wish to know what it was Gandhi was fighting for, how he fought for it and what it was he had to overcome to achieve his goal, this film will give you an insight into the answer while at the same time entertaining you.

Of special note is Ben Kingsley’s performance as Gandhi, which alone makes the film worth watching. All in all a great biopic drama, which is most definitely worth watching which means it gets definite thumbs up from me.

Director: Richard Attenborough

Writer: John Briley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 1982

Runtime: 170 minutes

Saving Private Ryan

Visual Masterpiece with the Most Human of Stories

What it’s about

During the Normandy invasion of World War II, Captain John Miller is assigned the task of searching for Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have already been killed in the war.

My thoughts

Visually speaking this film is a masterpiece in the way it presents such a realistic and vivid account of what it was like on the front line during World War II.

But what makes this film stand out is the fact that it has substance to go with those visuals, and is an extremely powerful story which asks the question is it right to risk the lives of other soldiers to save one soldier, simply because that one soldier has lost all his siblings. 

Let there be no doubt that this film makes for grim watching, but if you’re willing to persevere it will be worth your while, for that reason it gets a thumbs up from me.

Director: Stephen Spielberg

Writer: Robert Rodat

Genre: drama, action, war

Year: 1998

Runtime: 170 minutes

Meet Joe Black

Death falls in love with the living threatening deadly consequences

What it’s about

Disguised as a human, Grim Reaper Joe Black comes to Earth to escort back the soul of media tycoon William Parrish. But Joe’s fascinating journey ends with him falling in love with William’s daughter.

What you will learn from watching it

​This is one of those films that most definitely will make you think specifically about the merits of love at first sight. And the way it goes about making you question the merits of it is simply genius.

A man and a woman meet in a coffee shop and really hit it off, then unbeknownst to that woman the man gets knocked over by a car. He is dead but death wanting to experience life takes over the man’s body and becomes Joe Black.

What follows is a fascinating love story, the woman turns out to be Susan Parrish the daughter of William Parrish who death has decided will be the man to teach him about the living world.

The question is does Susan Parrish love the man from the coffee shop or does she love death? This film is an investigation into that answer and a fascinating one at that, which will most definitely make you think.

Is the story any good

The story is loosely based on the 1934 classic novel death takes a holiday. However, Martin Brest who directed this film when talking about it mentioned that for years he had wanted to bring this film to life but struggled to find a way to make the premise work on screen, which likely explains why it went through eight different writers before it finally came to screen.

The premise is a fascinating one, and is along the lines of what would happen if death fell in love with the living and the only way for them to be together was for death to take the life of the person he loves but the person that he loves does not know that he is death, but instead thinks that death is the man that they fell in love with at first sight in a coffee shop one day?

Pretty long-winded and pretty complex which is no doubt why it went through eight different writers, it is also likely why the runtime is a staggering 181 minutes for what is at heart a very basic story.

But at its heart this is a very beautiful story, about a father’s love for his daughter, and in reality that’s what this film is a story about a father fighting to keep his daughter out of the hands of death.

This is very much an arty film but Anthony Hopkins performance is simply superb, Brad Pitt also puts in a stonking effort as death. The soundtrack for the movie composed by Thomas Newman is also extremely beautiful.

Meaning this is a beautiful story which is backed up with a beautiful soundtrack with excellent acting by the main characters. Which means yes the story is very good.

Final words

With a brilliant premise and a brilliant story normally I would be saying if you like stories about love then you should watch this film.

However, it should be noted that this film very much needs to be watched with a pinch of salt mentality, that means if you are a person that likes to tear a film apart then in all probability you will find this film a drag.

But if you are a person who is able to watch a film and see it for what it is, and you enjoy watching films about love then you will most definitely love this film.

That means this film gets a solid thumbs up from me, with a reminder that this is a three hour long love story.

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade and Bo Goldman

Genre: drama, romance and fantasy

Year: 1998

Runtime: 181 minutes