Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a 2017 biopic directed by Angela Robinson and starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote. It surprised me with its quality.

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She is beautiful, guileless, kind, and pure of heart.

You are brilliant, ferocious, hilarious, and a grade A bitch.

Together, you are the perfect woman

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

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Yes, this film is so good. It is one of the films from 2017 that surprised me the most for sure. It is about the creator of Wonder Woman and the inventor of the lie detector. The film does showcase the invention of the lie detector really well and those scenes were fascinating. Some of the Wonder Woman creation scenes were rushed, but mostly it was very interesting witnessing the creation of an icon.

But where the film’s biggest strength lies is in its main story which is actually not about what Marston created but actually about how he lived. So basically he had ménage à trois with two women. He was married to his wife when another woman came to their lives and they both fell in love with her and she did as well. They eventually started a relationship and a marriage of sorts.

Now the reason why this film is so strong is because it converted me from a non-believer into a believer when it comes to this type of relationship. It shows us how if all three persons love the other two, the relationship could work and it actually did work for these three.

It is unconventional, but still they are very charming and wonderful together and their dynamic was infectious and a lot of fun. Having in mind that this happened all the way back in 1930s makes the three of them trailblazers in a way. The film is provocative even today and I can only imagine how provocative they must have been back then.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

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Luke Evans is very good here and he gave a pretty good performance and is very charismatic and sensual in this role. A very memorable presence and Marston himself was truly an iconic feminist and way ahead of his time.

But the women are actually better here as this surely is a picture about women and the celebration of women. Bella Heathcote is so good as shy, endearing and lovely Olive and Rebecca Hall is superb as funny, energetic and somewhat bitchy Elizabeth. I loved the lesbian scenes here and I bought that all three love each other owing to excellent performances from all three of these actors. They all deserve bigger careers after this picture without a doubt.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women has its flaws. It is overly rushed in its third act as some of the comic-book sequences were rushed for sure. The kids were also underutilized and too unimportant. The entire second half is somewhat abrupt as the film should have definitely had a longer runtime.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

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But it is still one of the better films of this particular year and it took me by surprise how good it is. The screenplay is one of its biggest strengths – very subtle, smart and sophisticated while always being fascinating. The dialogue truly is amazing and probably even a bigger highlight here. I also loved how the film looked and its use of the color yellow in particular is terrific. Who would have guessed that the film about Wonder Woman would end up being better than the actual ‘Wonder Woman’ film.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is somewhat rushed in its third act, but such a stupendous biopic nonetheless. It was interesting to witness the creation of Wonder Woman and the invention of the lie detector, but inarguably its biggest selling point is its sophisticated and brave handling of ménage à trois. The film is very sexy, dynamic and continually intriguing while being propelled by very strong performances from Luke Evans, Bella Heathcote and especially Rebecca Hall.

My Rating – 4.5

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Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

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Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a 2017 biographical film starring Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie. It is such an underrated, very interesting biopic.

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That bear destroyed my life

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Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

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This film was particularly interesting and fascinating to me because I love Winnie the Pooh and yet I never really knew the story of how he was created and the whole story behind its creator and his family. This film told that story in a typically straightforward and standard manner which is probably why people do not care for it all too much, but still it is engaging from start to finish and it has a lot of interesting things to say.

It is interesting how a very dark, almost tragic story lurks behind one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. And that darkness and maturity as well as thematic richness I did not expect at all and that’s why I ended up really enjoying this film.

It is a particularly relevant film today as it showcases how fame can destroy lives and families and how particularly famous children or children of famous people can be hurt. Christopher Robin lost his childhood and his father in a way and that father-son relationship is the strongest part of the film – very complex and moving.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

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I loved its take on media and how ultimately a lot of good things can come out of a famous book as evidenced by WWII soldiers singing the tune from the book. It perfectly showed us how people desperately needed something magic and childlike between the two wars to make them forget those evils. And the protagonist has PTSD problems and that was also well explored.

Domhnall Gleeson did a really good job as Milne and I really liked his performance and especially the character. Margot Robbie as Daphne is also very good and memorable. I loved Kelly MacDonald’s performance and she is actually the acting highlight of the film as she gave the best performance in a very moving role. The film painfully depicts unfair treatments of nannies and how they can actually end up being more important in a child’s life than the actual parents.

Will Tilston is surprisingly good in the main role. He gave such a terrific performance for an unknown child actor and he was so well cast as he looks exactly like Christopher Robin. Alex Lawther also was solid as older Robin. The character surely is interesting and a very realistic kid.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

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Goodbye Christopher Robin is absolutely beautiful to look at owing to stunning photography at display, but I could see why some would find it too shiny and polished. The film definitely has that typical biopic aesthetic. The pacing is good, but the direction from Simon Curtis is quite weak and amateurish. I can see why some would find this film’s polarizing tone troublesome, but to me it made for an interesting half-dark, half-childlike cinematic experience.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is one of the year’s most underrated films that depicts the darkness behind one of the most beloved children’s books so well and it makes for a really fascinating watch. It is very well shot, acted and cast. It showcases the negative aspects of fame and how it can destroy lives and families and is thus thematically very relevant today.

My Rating – 4

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Loving Vincent (2017)

Loving Vincent Movie Review

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Loving Vincent Movie Review

Loving Vincent is a 2017 animated biopic directed by Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela. It is a solid, but far from great effort.

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Days seem like weeks to me.

Days are weeks

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Loving Vincent Movie Review

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The film is about the life and mostly death of Vincent van Gogh. It is presented as an examination/investigation sort of movie with a lot of flashbacks. I liked that structure and the flashbacks were the highlights here for me. However, the film is very limited in its scope. It not only is very concerned about his death, but not enough about his actual life and especially art. The art element is thoroughly lacking here and they needed to put more of that into the film.

Another problem the film has is its uninvolving nature. It is honestly a somewhat boring film which is not particularly engaging or easy to get lost in and is not overly suited for those not interested in the subject matter. The entire storyline is also very standard and although definitely solid and far from bad, it is also far from great and not only uninteresting, but also not particularly original, deep or memorable.

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Loving Vincent Movie Review

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Loving Vincent is worth seeing just for the animation alone and honestly that is its only selling point. But it is definitely brilliant in that regard. It is the first ever oil painted animated feature and also the first ever entirely painted animated film and in that way it is definitely groundbreaking, audacious and to be respected.

The film is influenced by the works of van Gogh obviously and although I am not a fan of his paintings, I really liked the animation here. Certainly the movements make the colors blurry, but witnessing the paintings beginning to move is truly a transcendent experience unlike any other in animation. The colors are excellent and the film is very atmospheric and it transports you into its time period and his works remarkably well.

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Loving Vincent Movie Review

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It is a very artistic film, but honestly those black and white sequences I liked even more as they are very noir-like in style, moody and polished. Those were the highlights for me in terms of both animation and story. But the characters are forgettable and the voice acting is nothing to write home about and it took me out of the movie at times. It is not a long film, but it is definitely pretty dull and thus far from best when it comes to 2017 animation.

Loving Vincent features stunning, artistic and groundbreaking fully painted animation that should be appreciated how difficult it was to put on film. Watching the film is like witnessing the paintings move which truly makes it a unique experience plus those black and white scenes were even more interesting to me both plotwise and visually. But the storyline, although serviceable, is very typical and not particularly engaging, the voice acting is far from great and the film is too narrow in its scope and too slow paced to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 3.5

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Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

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Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes is a 2017 biopic starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell. It is a pretty good, engaging and very well acted biopic.

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I’m the ladies number one. I’m the champ. Why would I lose?

Because dinosaurs can’t play tennis

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Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

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It is about the titular historical event which was a televised tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film not only traces that match, but it also depicts the beginning of the women’s tennis movement and lives and personal problems of both Bobby and Billie. And I liked that as the film could have easily just focused on her, but the focus on him is nice and I liked how they humanized him. Although his story remains much less interesting than hers.

It was interesting seeing the lesbian romance in it is well. The movie is about feminism in professional sports but also about secret gay lives during the seventies. It explores that really well and subtly. I found the match overly excessive at length which was to be expected and of course the film is somewhat too traditional and straightforward, but still very subtle in its messages and not at all too preachy which I respected.

Let’s talk about the actors. Andrea Riseborough as Marylin actually did a really good job. Understated and memorable. She is very likable in her role. Steve Carell was typecast, but he still delivered a solid performance. But of course this is Emma Stone’s film to shine and she stole the show entirely.

It is interesting how she got all the awards for ‘La La Land’ the previous year when in actuality this is her better performance and probably her career best work. She is very subtle, nuanced and believable in a difficult to pull off role and of course it helped that the make-up apartment transformed her so successfully.

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Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

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Battle of the Sexes is way too long and sometimes not as interesting to watch. It was overly extended and not all that well paced or directed. The strong performances carry this movie along with a very interesting real life story and strong dialogue. The movie thus succeeds as a biopic as it definitely acquainted me with a previously unknown event and important movement.

Battle of the Sexes is overlong and too straightforward, but it is propelled by a very interesting real life story, great dialogue and a thankfully more subtle approach in storytelling and thematically. Emma Stone definitely stole the show here with a powerhouse, career-best performance in a very difficult role.

My Rating – 3.5

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Stronger (2017)

Stronger Movie Review

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Stronger Movie Review

Stronger is a 2017 biopic starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. It is a pretty good and strong, but maudlin film.

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I’m a hero for just standing there and getting my legs blown off?

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Stronger Movie Review

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Stronger dramatizes the Boston Marathon bombing, but in particular it is the tale of Jeff Bauman, a survivor who lost both his legs and had to adjust to his new life. I liked that approach as it is more personal and about one man instead of it being more in the vein of a political movie or a thriller or period piece.

It unfortunately still has some of the pitfalls of the conventional biopic and certainly the entire third act was difficult to sit through as it was just way too sentimental and inspirational for my personal taste. When everyone started coming to Jeff and telling him their stories, that was just too much for me and I disliked those scenes.

But the rest of the film worked really well and it was very emotional and actually quite grounded in reality. It is also smarter than most such biographical pictures as it gives us his struggle not only with his condition but also with his girlfriend. He was humanized here which I loved and that means that he is a flawed human being and not a hero. I loved the commentary about heroism and the pressure of the media.

The highlights were the scenes between the couple as they were so raw in power and emotion. Their biggest argument was just a perfect Oscar moment for Jake Gyllenhaal who here gave another truly terrific performance. He is a great actor and one of the best of his generation. It is such a shame that he hasn’t got himself an Academy Award by now.

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Stronger Movie Review

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Tatiana Maslany also should not be forgotten as her performance is pretty great as well. She proved that she is underestimated and that she should be getting more work in the movies and not just television. The rest of the performances are also very good, but I found his family members overly aggressive and they were portrayed as over-the-top rednecks at times.

Stronger is long, but mostly well paced and engaging to watch. I thought some scenes were too gruesome to watch, but I guess essential for this type of film. They showed me everything I needed to know about this issue and I am glad that I watched this film mostly because of that as the bombing itself is played in the background and that was the right choice.

Stronger is ridiculously maudlin and inspirational in its third act, but everything before that was really well done. It is a strong, emotional and powerful biopic with a couple of hard-hitting scenes with great dialogue. It is propelled by Tatiana Maslany’s excellent work and of course Jake Gyllenhaal’s amazing, Oscar-worthy performance. He proved once again that he is one of the best actors working today.

My Rating – 4

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American Made (2017)

American Made Movie Review

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American Made Movie Review

American Made is a 2017 crime biopic directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Cruise. It is a very mediocre movie.

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I’m the gringo who always delivers

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American Made Movie Review

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American Made is about a story that could have been interesting, but the execution is so bad that we are left with a mediocre mess of a film. It is very boring, never at all involving and it never has any fresh or interesting plot points to offer.

Its major problem is that it just flies by, but not in a good way to be clear. Each plot point is rushed and not properly developed, the film is extremely frenetic in its pace and thus I ended up not caring for either its story or its characters.

And they are all very bland and dull. The only memorable one is the protagonist who is unlikable way too much. I liked Tom Cruise here and I appreciated that he appeared here in a different film than usual for him, but still it is far from his best works and he is not all that well cast when you think about it.

American Made is well shot and I liked its interesting color palette with the yellowish, somewhat brighter approach working in its favor and offering something different. It has solid attention to detail in recreating its period too.

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American Made Movie Review

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But it is very weakly directed and overlong. Not one scene was remotely memorable to me and the same goes for the characters who are frequently very unlikable. It is a very regular crime flick and a very standard biopic that doesn’t have a lot to offer to those who are not great fans of both of these genres such as myself.

American Made is well acted and shot, but nonetheless a very mediocre crime biopic with forgettable characters and story, weak direction and problematic pacing as the film is overly frenetic and thus incapable of developing its story and characters properly.

My Rating – 2.5

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Dersu Uzala (1975)

Dersu Uzala Movie Review

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Dersu Uzala Movie Review

Dersu Uzala is a 1975 Soviet-Japanese adventure biopic directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is a long, but pretty good film.

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How can man live in a box?

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Dersu Uzala Movie Review

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This is a co-production between Russia and Japan and I liked seeing these two great countries join forces and create this epic. Akira Kurosawa is a great director and he directed this film so well. His direction and the titular Asian character bring the Asian flavor to the film which revolves in Russian Far East with Russian actors. I really liked that mix.

The friendship that develops between a Russian man and this native is heartwarming and very strong. Their explorations of the harsh region are so great and it was very interesting seeing the various different conditions from fog to snow. This is very much a film about nature and the power of it and of course I admire movies that promote that.

The two main characters are very good and I really loved their friendship. The actors also gave such strong performances. But other characters are quite forgettable. The film deals with Dersu’s aging very well and in terms of the themes, it is a familiar, but well realized film.

Dersu Uzala looks absolutely magnificent. It sounds great thanks to excellent score and superb sound design, but the various natural landscapes are beautiful to witness and the film relies heavily on its very harsh and alienated atmosphere and setting to great effect. It is an old tale of man versus nature but well crafted nonetheless.

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Dersu Uzala Movie Review

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The problem with Dersu Uzala is naturally its running time which is just way too long. Two hours would have been enough and I would cut those thirty minutes from it. Sometimes the film was slow and uninvolving and although it is a slow-burn, it still would have hugely benefited from stronger pacing and a shorter runtime. It got the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and I don’t mind its win as it is actually one of the better winners from the seventies.

Dersu Uzala is certainly overlong and it is quite a familiar tale, but well told with a strong friendship between its main characters, excellent direction and great atmosphere thanks to superb sound and wonderful cinematography. It is slow, but moving and it utilizes its interesting setting so well.

My Rating – 4

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Megan Leavey (2017)

Megan Leavey Movie Review

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Megan Leavey Movie Review

Megan Leavey is a 2017 war biopic starring Kate Mara. It is a pretty solid film that is typical in execution, but very sweet and inspirational.

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They’re not even dogs anymore.

They’re warriors, and they come back

with all the same issues we do

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Megan Leavey Movie Review

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It is based on the true story of Megan Leavey, a girl who went to Iraq where he went on missions with her dog Rex. Eventually, the two become war heroes, but she has to petition in order to adopt him and spend his final years together with him. Now this is a true story, but it was obviously made for a tearjerker movie and it shows.

The film is so straightforward and safe in its execution that it never could escape it. That was most certainly a problem. Every plot point was expected and the film never took any chances with the story and Hollywoodized it beyond repair.

Another big problem is the relationship between Megan and Rex. Eventually, the two bond and both are great characters and the ending was truly moving. I liked both of them and their relationship, but and this is a big but, I thought the emotion was not fully earned because the first half did not rely as much on Rex as it should have and the beginning of their relationship was immensely rushed.

I am criticizing Megan Leavey a lot, but I honestly liked it for what it is. It is a great movie for dog fans as it truly is inspirational and what I loved about it is how respectful and truthful it portrays the relationships between humans and dogs and how special those relationships can be.

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Megan Leavey Movie Review

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It was also very interesting to see dog workers, this time around in combat. It is a fascinating thing that dogs suffer from the same post-traumatic disorders as humans do which was emphasized here in their life after war. Very touching stuff and the film surely is emotional and sometimes very hard-hitting especially in the scenes with her terrible mother.

I liked Megan’s boyfriend, but I am glad he did not take too much of the movie. The war took a bit too much out of it and Rex should have been more present, but Megan herself is truly excellent which mostly stems from Kate Mara’s powerful, stupendous performance as she is the star of this movie for sure. It is a well made, engaging film, but definitely flawed in the end.

Megan Leavey is your typically straightforward biopic in terms of storytelling and some of the things felt rushed in execution, but it is a solid, engaging movie that is especially touching in its ending, hard-hitting in its drama and respectful in the portrayal of dogs and war veterans. It is a pleasant movie that is mostly worth seeing for Kate Mara’s stupendous performance.

My Rating – 3.5

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Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi Movie Review

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Gandhi Movie Review

Gandhi is a 1982 historical biographical film about India’s leader Mohandas Gandhi, it is directed by Richard Attenborough and it won Best Picture in 1983.

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The only devils in the world are those

running around in our own hearts,

and that is where all our battles ought to be fought

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Gandhi Movie Review

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This is the film that, like ‘Chariots of Fire’ the year before, won Best Picture and did not deserve that at all. This is the story that is of course important and always relevant, but the major problem I have with it is of course the extended running time. There is no need for 3 hours here and it highlights how the movies that win Oscars are usually very long which is super frustrating and needless. It starts off great but it quickly gets boring, repetitive and simply tiresome.

The character development is weak here, except for the main character understandably, not one of them stands out. And the direction and of course the editing and pacing are incredibly troublesome. As is the plot development and characterization.

But, why I think that, unlike ‘Chariots of Fire’, Gandhi is nonetheless not a mediocre movie? Well, largely of course due to incredible Ben Kingsley who is masterful in the role, he literally embodied and became the man. And all of the performances are good. I especially liked the character development of Gandhi in that he is not portrayed as a God-like figure, but a human with his troubles and problems and that is crucial to his character’s success along with of course Kingsley’s powerhouse performance. Also, the first act with about 40 minutes or so is absolutely excellent and very engaging and well done. It is interesting to watch and an incredible history lesson and an origin to the movement. It is unfortunate that it all went downhill afterwards when it clearly started off incredibly strong with a lot to offer. The movie turned out definitely disappointing because it had a lot of potential.

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Gandhi Movie Review

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The first act is very good and the character development of the lead character is superb along with a powerhouse performance from Ben Kingsley, but Gandhi nevertheless ends up being an incredibly disappointing and troublesome film because the editing and pacing are problematic due to unnecessarily long running time, the film is incredibly boring and tedious afterwards and it all just went downhill after the first half which is a real shame because it could have been a great film. It is all a solid and watchable fare, but very flawed and problematic nevertheless.

My Rating – 3

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The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor Movie Review

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The Last Emperor Movie Review

The Last Emperor is a 1987 biographical film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and it won nine Academy Awards including Best Picture.

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This isn’t a school; it’s a prison. A real prison

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The Last Emperor Movie Review

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This is another 1980s Best Picture winner that not only did not deserve the honor, but it also is not a good film, rather a mediocre one. It is better than ‘Chariots of Fire’, but it is worse than ‘Gandhi’.  This is another not so much relevant story that spans decades and that is told in three hour long running time which is again totally unnecessary.

The characters are forgettable and the acting is literally nothing to write home about. But the tone and pacing is so slow and the movie is definitely incredibly boring and dreadfully uninteresting. I literally almost fell asleep watching it. Nothing ever happens, nothing interesting or mildly intriguing and that is why it was a total waste of time.

Granted, the technical aspects are solid here. The cinematography is good, but the production design is of course excellent and quite remarkable as is the costume design. However, the direction and of course the editing is pretty mediocre and does not stand out.

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The Last Emperor Movie Review

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This movie is not only overlong and tedious, but also too incredibly old-fashioned and dated in its approach which is just too casual and straightforward. There is no energy or investment shown here, not to mention that the character development is awfully weak and the emotions are not present at all. The message and point here also escaped me leaving me to the conclusion that this a cold, pointless movie without a doubt.

The Last Emperor has good production and costume design, but great technical aspects do not make movies good. The story is boring, the tone is tedious, the character development is literally non-existent, the emotional investment is definitely lacking, the running time is expectedly overblown, the direction and acting are nothing to write home about and the film lacks any message, point, emotion and energy in its execution whatsoever. It is again a testament to how bad Academy’s choices were in this decade leading to what is arguably an overrated, overlong and dreadfully uninteresting movie that is best to be forgotten.

My Rating – 3

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