REVIEW: HANNA

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (The Host)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Vicky Krieps (Colonia)
John MacMillan (Fury)
Tim Beckmann (Foster)
Jessica Barden (The Lobster)
Tom Hollander (Enigma)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Michelle Dockery (Self/Less)

Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana) in rural northern Finland, near Kuusamo. The film opens with her hunting and killing a reindeer. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to be a skilled assassin. He teaches her hand-to-hand combat and drills her in target shooting. He left the agency, going incognito into the Arctic. Erik knows a secret that cannot become public, and Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a senior CIA officer, searches for him in order to eliminate him. Erik has trained Hanna with the intent that she will kill Marissa. Due to her upbringing in the wilderness, she is unfamiliar with much of the modern civilisation although she has great encyclopedic knowledge.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)One night, Hanna tells Erik that she is “ready” to face their enemies. Erik digs up a radio beacon that eventually will alert the CIA to their presence. Although he warns Hanna that a confrontation with Marissa will be fatal for either her or Marissa, he leaves the final decision to Hanna who activates on the beacon. Erik leaves, instructing her to meet him in Berlin. A special forces team arrives to capture Hanna and Erik, but Erik is already gone and while Hanna kills two soldiers, the rest of the soldiers assume Erik killed them before escaping. Hanna is taken to an underground CIA complex where Marissa, being suspicious, sends a body double (Michelle Dockery) to talk to Hanna. While talking to the double Hanna starts to cry and crawls sobbing into the lap of the double, which makes her captors uneasy. They send some guards to her cell to sedate her. As they enter the cell, Hanna kills the double along with some of the guards and escapes.
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In a flashback, Marissa is seen firing at a car that is carrying Hanna’s mother; two-year-old Hanna; and Erik. The car crashes but the trio flees. Marissa shoots Johanna, but Erik escapes with Hanna into the woods. Hanna finds herself on the run in the Moroccan desert, where she meets bohemian British people couple Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) and Rachel (Olivia Williams), who are on a camper-van holiday with their teenage daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), and their younger son, Miles (Aldo Maland). She stows away in the family’s camper-van on the ferry ride to Spain seeking to reach Berlin. The family is nice to her, and she and Sophie become friends. Marissa hires Isaacs (Tom Hollander), a former agent, to capture Hanna. Hanna travels with the family as they drive north. Isaacs and two skinheads trail them and eventually corner Hanna and the family in France, but she manages to escape, killing one of the assailants. Marissa catches up with the British family and during interrogation finds out that Hanna is heading to Berlin.
Cate Blanchett in Hanna (2011)
Arriving at the address that Erik had told her, Hanna meets with Knepfler (Martin Wuttke), an eccentric old magician and a friend of Erik’s, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. Hanna plans a rendezvous with her father. However, Marissa and Isaacs arrive. Hanna escapes, but overhears comments that suggest Erik is not her biological father. Later, Hanna goes to her grandomother’s apartment where she finds her grandmother murdered. In a conversation Erik admits to Hanna that he is not her biological father. Erik once recruited pregnant women into a program where their children’s DNA was enhanced in order to create super-soldiers. After the project was shut down, its subjects were eliminated. Marissa and Isaacs arrive, intent on killing them; Erik acts as a distraction to allow Hanna to escape. Erik kills Isaacs in a fight, but is shot by Marissa, who goes to Knepfler’s house. Hanna is there, having just discovered Knepfler dead. They wound each other and eventually Marissa becomes disoriented from her wound, slows down and loses her weapon. Hanna finds the weapon and kills Marissa, echoing the deer hunting scene from the start of the film.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)Quirky, dark, neat. Saoirse Ronan is terrific.  The cinematography is strong, the locations are diverse and far more imaginative than most films. The script is flawless. All in all an excellent movie.

REVIEW: I GIVE IT A YEAR

CAST

Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Rafe Spall (The World’s End)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Minnie Driver (Ella Enchanted)
Jason Flemyng (Layer Cake)
Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady)
Jane Asher (Runners)
Claire Higgins (Hellraiser)

Ambitious high-flyer Nat (Rose Byrne) and struggling writer Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love at first sight at a party. After seven months together they decide to marry. The film highlights their struggles during their first year of marriage, switching back and forth from flashbacks of the year’s action to a marriage-guidance counselor’s office. Their wedding goes as planned despite many friends’ comments that the marriage will not last, an embarrassing best-man’s speech, and a coughing priest. When Nat returns to work after the honeymoon, she’s embarrassed when Josh calls her in the office—on speakerphone in front of her colleagues—to tell her she is sexy and that he misses her, causing her to abruptly hang up on him. Later, the two meet with their solicitor to discuss how to handle medical crises (last wishes). Nat becomes annoyed when Josh, knowing she would be late, admitted that he deliberately told her the wrong time, causing her to turn up early.The couple throw a dinner party to use their wedding gifts. Some of their differences are highlighted when they talk about their honeymoon in Morocco: Nat didn’t enjoy the leather museum; Josh remembers it as interesting. When the topic changes to Josh’s former flame, Chloe (Anna Faris), Nat discovers that the two never officially broke up when Chloe departed to Africa for four years. In the kitchen Chloe apologizes to Nat for not realising she didn’t know. The women talk about the constrictions of marriage. Nat’s sister Naomi has issues with her own husband’s annoying habits. Josh’s best man Danny asks Chloe out but is rebuffed.The following day, Nat and her work-colleagues make fun of their new client, Guy Harrap (Simon Baker), the new owner of a bleach company. They believe he will be a stereotypical American who thinks the British are “quaint”. They do not realize that their client has been sitting right there in the same café. Before the meeting, one colleague steals Nat’s wedding ring, believing that the account will have a better chance of success if she appears single. During the meeting, Guy deliberately fulfils their expectations of him: speaking in a brash American way, asking for high-fives and casual fist-bumps, asking Nat to repeat certain words he finds amusing and doing a crude Austin Powers impression. Then when they focus on business talk, he switches to his true self, embarrassing the women for their earlier stereotyping. As he and Nat exit the boardroom, she apologizes for their misjudgment of him, and he says they should get better acquainted for the sake of the account. Feeling the attraction between them, she struggles with telling him she’s married, then ends up leaving without telling him.Josh talks to Chloe about his book while she’s working at a charity office. He invites her to dinner because Nat’s going to a work party that night. Chloe declines, saying she’s going out with her work-colleague Charlie, whom she’s been dating. The scene returns to the marriage-guidance counsellor’s office as the two explain that the realities of marriage do not live up to the fairytale expectation they both had. Unable to focus on his writing, Josh sits at home watching television while Nat’s out jogging. At work, Nat receives a large bouquet of roses from Guy. The couple bicker over domestic issues; Josh leaving the toilet seat up, Nat’s inability to sing the right words to popular songs and their different definitions of the rubbish bin being full. Guy shows Nat around one of the factories he owns, where one of his longest-serving workers expresses approval of her as a potential wife for him. Guy explains that he basically grew up in the factory during his childhood summers. Nat comments that she’s not the marrying type, still unable to tell Guy she’s married.Nat tries to discourage Josh from accompanying her to a work party, but he is determined, irritating her. At the party, he makes a fool of himself with embarrassing dancing and standing next to a poster he can joke about during the night. When he approaches Nat while she’s talking with Guy, she still doesn’t reveal that he is her husband and Guy attempts to shake him off, assuming he’s an unwanted menace. Guy asks her to dinner and Nat declines. Incredibly annoyed at Josh for embarrassing her at the party, she heads home without him. Meanwhile, Chloe and Charlie attend a boring dinner party, then leave early to adjourn to Charlie’s apartment. As they kiss on the bed, Chloe’s colleague Alexandra joins them and Chloe finds herself in an awkward threesome. Feeling too silly to continue, Chloe eventually leaves. The next morning she calls Josh to tell him about it, and he soon turns up at her apartment with coffee and her favourite sweets to cheer her up.Chloe and Josh then go Christmas-shopping. Josh wants to get casserole dishes for Nat but Chloe laughs that this is not a present for a wife and she must help him; they end up at a lingerie shop with Josh uncomfortably trying to make conversation with the shop assistant amongst the shop’s expensive contents. Chloe tries on a lingerie set, and asks Josh what he thinks of it. They end up kissing in the dressing room, although both are embarrassed about it afterwards. Josh ends up buying the lingerie. When Nat meets with Guy at his hotel to discuss their business deal, she rebuffs his attempts to get her into his room. He mentions that he has booked a conference room down the hall, but when Nat enters she finds a romantic dinner complete with doves and a violinist. When Guy makes advances, she finally blurts out that she’s married and can’t leave her husband because it would destroy him, and finally storms out.Guy chases after Nat and they bump into Chloe and Josh on the street. After some initial awkward exchanges, Josh suggests that Chloe and Guy get together and they agree on a double date. Back to the present in the counsellor’s office: Nat explains that they hit a low point around the Christmas period, commenting that her husband’s family are weird—in particular his mother. Josh retaliates that Nat’s family were not overly friendly towards him. The scene shifts to a Christmas family reunion at Nat’s parents’, where a series of embarrassing incidents revolving around Josh occur. Josh unwittingly but clumsily offends Nat’s grandmother during a game of charades, Nat’s father makes him sleep on the upper deck of a bunk bed of a young female relative, and Nat’s parents giving Josh a pair of books titled How to Be a Successful Writer and How to Stop Wasting Your Life. At the end of the visit, while leaving her parents’ house, Nat confronts Naomi about why she stays with her husband as they clearly hate each other. Naomi says that they both “embrace the hatred” and that is what marriage is about. Even though she admits there could be something better out there for her, she ultimately loves her husband.Nat and Josh have a conversation about his suggestion of Chloe dating Guy. The two talk about the prospects of both of them as romantic interests. The four meet for dinner, and spend the evening playing pool. Chloe and Guy seem to hit it off, happily competing against Nat and Josh. Nat becomes more frustrated with Josh’s clumsy and patronising attempt to teach her how to play properly, as well as with her growing jealousy towards Chloe, who can play well. They leave the bar, and Nat asks Guy to talk about packaging details, intending to meet Josh back at their flat afterwards. Chloe and Josh depart together, while Nat and Guy go the other direction. After a moment, Nat passionately kisses Guy, resulting in the ripping of the underwear bought for her by Josh.Meanwhile, Josh attempts to discourage Chloe’s attraction to Guy, and she admits she is and has always been still in love with him, lamenting that Josh never stopped her from leaving and insisting that their current circumstances are impossible, that they cannot see each other anymore. When Nat returns home, she and Josh talk about their relationship. After nine months they decide to get help instead of giving up on their marriage. This leads us back to the counsellor’s office, who ultimately advises them to try to make it to the one-year marker. The couple then put up with each other’s quirks over the next few months, eventually making it to their anniversary. Nat brings out the same expensive lingerie for the special occasion, and struggles to do it up because of two broken hooks, remembering the circumstances in which they were broken—her with Guy. Josh meanwhile leaves the flat, telling Nat he’s remembered he has to do something and that he will meet her at the restaurant. He races to Chloe’s apartment, only to find that she is heading off in a cab with Guy, whom she embraces lovingly. Nat contemplates phoning Guy, but then decides to go to the restaurant, where her friends and family are there waiting to surprise the couple. After failing to contact Josh, Nat sits down. She discovers that their friends didn’t think her marriage would last. Josh makes it to the restaurant party, and tells Nat that he thinks she is the perfect wife, just not for him. He asks her for a divorce and she immediately and delightedly agrees. The couple rejoice at the situation, and immediately leave the party one after the other.Meanwhile, Guy and Chloe are at the railway station waiting to go to Paris on a romantic trip. Josh finds them and professes his love for Chloe. When it’s discovered that he split up with Nat, the two are shocked. Nat appears behind Josh, who awkwardly assumed he is the one she wants to speak to, but it turns out she was there for Guy. After a short exchange they happily discuss how perfect Guy and Chloe are for them. In the end, Chloe and Guy mutually break up. Nat ends up kissing Guy and Chloe shares a kiss with Josh.I really enjoyed this movie! It’s a laugh-out-loud romcom, which is genuinely unconventional. It is awkward in all the right places. This movie is clearly making fun of mainstream romcoms. Definitely worth checking out.

REVIEW: CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)

 

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First CLass)
Gemma Arterton (The Voices)
Alexa Davalos (Angel)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Polly Walker (Caprica)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Alexander Siddig (Kingdom of Heaven)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Ian Whyte (Game of Thrones)
Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)
Vincent Regan (Troy)
Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob)
Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner)
Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake)

In ancient times after defeating their predecessors, the Titans, the gods divided the Universe among themselves. Zeus took the skies, Poseidon took the seas, and Hades was left with the Underworld upon being tricked by Zeus. The gods created the mortals, whose faith and prayers fueled the gods’ immortality. As time passed, however, mortals began to question and soon resist their creators, angering the Olympians. A fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea, discovering a baby, Perseus and his mother Danaë. Spyros decided to raise Perseus.

As Perseus and his family fish from a boat, they watch soldiers from the city of Argos destroy a statue of Zeus. Infuriated at this desecration, the Gods unleash the Furies who attack the soldiers and destroy the fishing vessel. Only Perseus survives and is found by a group of the soldiers. Perseus is brought before King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, who are celebrating their campaign against the gods. Queen Cassiopeia brashly compares her daughter Andromeda to the gods and boasts that she is more beautiful than Aphrodite. The revelry is cut short by the arrival of Hades, who has been given leave by Zeus to punish the mortals for their defiance. Hades threatens to unleash his monster the Kraken against Argos, unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice. Before leaving, he reveals that Perseus is a demigod and the son of Zeus.

Perseus meets Io, who confirms his origin. Io also reveals that she has watched over Perseus his entire life. She has always protected him for he is the only one who can defeat the gods. Perseus leads the King’s Guard to the Stygian Witches, looking for a way to kill the Kraken. After being betrayed by the power-hungry Hades, Zeus gives Perseus a sword forged on Mount Olympus and a winged horse named Pegasus. Perseus refuses both, but the captain of the King’s guard named Draco keeps the sword for when Perseus needs it. Soon after, they are attacked by Calibos, an agent of Hades. Draco severs the beast’s hand and Calibos flees. The band give chase but are attacked by giant scorpions called Scorpioxs that spring from spilled drops of Calibos’s blood. They are saved by a band of Djinn, non-human desert sorcerers led by Sheik Suleiman where the remaining Scorpioxs are tamed by the Djinn. The Djinn also wish for the gods’ defeat and lend their aid to Perseus and his band.MV5BMTgyNTUyNjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUxNzYyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,822_AL_The group arrives at the lair of the Stygian Witches and learn that to kill the Kraken, they must obtain and use the head of Medusa, a gorgon who resides in a temple in the Underworld. Any living creature that looks on Medusa’s eyes turns into stone. Perseus, Io, Suleiman, Draco, and his remaining men, Solon, Eusebios, and Ixas, cross into the Underworld. The men enter Medusa’s temple lair while Io, being a woman and forbidden from entering, remains outside. Medusa kills all three of Draco’s men. Suleiman and Draco both wound the gorgon, sacrificing themselves in the process. Perseus finally beheads her by using his reflective shield to see her with his back turned. As he leaves the temple with Medusa’s head, Calibos appears behind Io and fatally stabs her. Perseus and Calibos fight where upon finally accepting that he is a son of Zeus, Perseus picks up the Olympian sword and stabs Calibos through the chest, who with his last breath urges Perseus not to become a God.

Before dying, Io urges a reluctant Perseus to leave her and save Andromeda and Argos. Then she dissolves into a golden ethereal vapor. Pegasus appears and Perseus mounts the flying horse and hastens back to Argos as the Kraken is released. The people of Argos seize and bind Andromeda to offer her to the Kraken. Meanwhile, as people die in the Kraken’s wake, the balance of power on Olympus shifts. Hades reveals he does not require the faith or worship of mortals (as Zeus does), as he has learned to survive on their fear. Hades then effortlessly subdues the weakened Zeus. Riding the black Pegasus, Perseus arrives at Argos and exposes Medusa’s head to the Kraken, which makes eye contact just before it is able to reach Andromeda. The Kraken, petrified, slowly turns to stone and shatters. Prokopion, the insane leader of the Cult of Hades, tries to kill Perseus, but Kepheus stops him and is stabbed, before both are killed when the kraken’s petrified hand falls on them. Hades appears, intending to finally kill Perseus. Perseus, calling upon Zeus, throws his sword at Hades. A lightning bolt engulfs the sword and the blast sends Hades back to the Underworld.

Perseus rescues Andromeda, who is now the rightful Queen of Argos. Andromeda asks Perseus to stay by her side as King, but he declines. Perseus also refuses another offer of godhood from Zeus, who then proclaims that if Perseus is to live as a human he should not be alone and revives Io.

The movie keeps moving without feeling too chopped up and thankfully there’s a minimum of shakeycam or MTV overediting to accompany the overdose of testosterone. Big on spectacle and short on charm, it’s a very different animal to Harryhausen’s film (there’s even an injoke about that version’s irritating mechanical owl), but as long as you’re expecting that it’s one of the better action adventures of recent years.

REVIEW: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

 

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits)
Rooney Mara (Her)
Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man)
Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Lacey Beeman (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jason Flemyng (Snatch)
Jessie Heiman (Chuck)
Riley Voelkel (The Originals)
Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Max Minghella (Horns)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Oliver Muirhead (Like Crazy)
Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out)

MV5BZmRiMzA2MzAtNzAxZC00M2EyLTg1NDctODJkOWQ1MGEyM2UzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY5MzAxMDc@._V1_David Fincher’s The Social Network is a business procedural played with the intensity of a thriller and the ingenuity of a screwball comedy. It’s something of a departure for the filmmaker, whose pictures lean toward visual pyrotechnics and darker, more disturbing themes. Handling a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that consists primarily of people in rooms talking, and in which the violence is purely psychological, he curbs his occasional excesses and cooks up his most satisfying film to date. Though mining (with some significant departures from the official record) the origin story of Facebook, a presumably of-the-moment phenomenon, Fincher and Sorkin have made a movie that is about more than its ostensible subject. Yes, The Social Network examines, at least implicitly, the cultural moment that precipitates the explosion of a site that aims specifically to make the social experience a virtual construct. But where the film strikes oil is in understanding the kind of guy who would want to create that experience.His name is Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the opening scene that introduces him is a whiz-bang Sorkin special–a flurry of rat-tat-tat dialogue and cranked-up interplay in which characters talk non-stop while revealing themselves only accidentally. Zuckerberg, a smug Harvard sophomore obsessed with the university social hierarchy that he cannot penetrate, is out with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara); he clearly sees himself as smarter than her (she attends lowly Boston University), but she’s so adroit at conversational maneuvers that before he realizes it, she’s broken up with him. Depressed and half-drunk, he goes back to his dorm, blogs some hurtful things about her, and concocts a website called “facemash” that pulls pictures from campus sites and lets students rank the women against each other. Fincher gives this embryonic sequence the finesse and energy of an action scene–particularly as he intercuts the rich and powerful “club” kids living the life Mark longs for, the velvety seductiveness of the haves in sharp contrast to the laptop tappings of the have-nots.MV5BYjUyYzEzNTMtYzVlYS00ZDJlLWE0MzAtZDU0ZWM2YjE3NWU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzQ3Nzk5MTU@._V1_The program crashes Harvard’s server and gets him called on the university carpet, but it also catches the attention of would-be power broker Divya Narenda (Max Minghella) and irritatingly entitled rich twins Tyler and Cameron Winlevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). The trio approaches Mark with an idea for a new networking site–“The Harvard Connection,” a school-wide apparatus for profiles, pictures, and so on. Mark jumps in, but decides almost immediately that he can do this thing better than they can; he builds on the concept, hits up his best friend–and occasional conscience–Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a grand or so in start-up funds, and launches his version, “the facebook.”The complex saga of the rise of Facebook (and of Zuckerberg) is told in interlocking depositions (“I’m currently in the middle of two lawsuits,” Mark explains, somewhat impatiently), which sounds like the dullest imaginable framework for a narrative. But the picture gets a kick from Sorkin’s distinctive conversational rhythms and considerable skills as a wordsmith. The Social Network is a whirlwind of talk–invigorating, intelligent, fast-paced dialogue, from the throwaway lines to the occasional loquacious show-stopper. Every Sorkin script has one (Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” bit in A Few Good Men is the obvious example, though Baldwin’s “I am God” speech in Malice is nearly as quotable); here, it comes when the Winlevosses’ lawyer asks Mark, “Do I have your full attention?,” unleashing a perfect storm of Sorkinian attitude, snark, and barely-contained impatience. “You have part of my attention–you have the minimum amount,” Mark snaps. “The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”Performances are universally strong–Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman) is immensely likable and marginally heartbreaking, Hammer’s double-playing is simple but effective, and Timberlake, as the well-connected but semi-flaky Parker, handily sells his multi-layered portrait of the guy who knows all the angles but can’t quite hide his own rough edges. But Eisenberg’s is the breakthrough performance; as good as he’s been as shy, stuttering, would-be intellectuals in Adventureland and Zomiebland, this is a darker and more complicated piece of work. His performance here is somehow both showy and deftly underplayed–you get the sense, from that very first scene, that he’s already tired of always being the smartest guy in the room.Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010)When The Social Network was announced, it seemed such an oddball project that snickers and jeers were the prevailing response (. But from the unveiling of its mesmerizing trailer, it was clear that this wasn’t just “the Facebook movie,” any more than Citizen Kane was a film about newspapers.