Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Writer: Becky Johnston (Screenplay) Heinrich Harrer (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako, Danny Denzongpa, Victor Wong

 

Plot: True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.


Tagline – At the end of the world his real journey began.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drags Along

 

Story: Seven Years in Tibet starts when Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) heads to India to climb in the Himalayas, he doesn’t get on with his team with leader Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) forcing him to return, which does see him taken a prisoner of war.

Escaping from the prison camp, Heinrich and Peter head into the Himalayas before reaching Tibet, where he befriends the young Dalai Lama which sees a unique friendship started between the two.

 

Thoughts on Seven Years in Tibet

 

Characters – Heinrich Harrer is an explorer from Austria, he heads out for his next quest in the Himalayas to avoid the war heading to his country, he leave his pregnant wife behind him, but his nature isn’t to be friendly with anybody else on his team, he must learn to work as a team when the team are captured, and the escape sees him travelling around the Himalayas. Peter is the guide on the quest, which sees him being the one that does end up becoming the only friend for Heinrich, the two do their mission across Asia to the religious city. Ngawang is one of the Dalai Lama’s advisors, he wants to use the friendship to his advantage. Kungo is the man that welcomes the outsiders into the city, The young Dalai Lama is interested in Heinrich, being somebody with outside knowledge, he wants to keep him around.

PerformancesBrad Pitt really does struggle in the leading role, his accent is all over the place and for a charismatic explorer he doesn’t drag you into his performance. David Thewlis is solid enough in his role which is where he is always an actor to turn to. The rest of the cast have a mix of experience and screen time which just doesn’t let them effect the story.

StoryThe story tells us the events that led to Austrian explorer becoming friends with the Dalai Lama during World War II and the Chinese invasion of Tibet. It does show a different in culture, how the Dalai Lama was willing to gain knowledge from people outside of his village even at a young age. We do get a lot of jumping in time, with very little happening in places, which doesn’t help the flow of the story, which is meant to be a big moment in history. The narration from Brad Pitt doesn’t help too, because it sounds like he is just mumbling the lines which are meant to fill in the gaps.

Adventure/Biopic/WarThe adventure shows the incredible will to survive that Heinrich has, the ability to adapt to each situation which will take him across Asia. This plays out in the biopic side of the film, showing us just how the event of his story unfolded. The film is most set during the war, be it the second world war or the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic locations for the events of the film, it shows the harsh reality certain locations are for Heinrich.


Scene of the Movie –
The meetings with the Dalai Lama.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is slow for no reason.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced biopic that could show us a real moment of history, only it ends up not giving us enough to care about.

 

Overall: Disappointing a slow biopic.

Rating

 

 

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Wilde (1997)

Director: Brian Gilbert

Writer: Julian Mitchell (Screenplay) Richard Ellmann (Book)

Starring: Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Jennifer Ehle, Gemma Jones, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson

 

Plot: The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realization of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage, fatherhood and responsibility with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. After legal action instigated by Bosie’s father, the enraged Marquise of Queensberry, Wilde refused to flee the country and was sentenced to two years at hard labor by the courts of an intolerant Victorian society. 


Tagline – The story of the first modern man

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Biopic

 

Story: Wilde starts as we meet Oscar Wilde (Fry) the popular play writes of the upper class of London, he marries Constance (Ehle) as they start their own family, however Oscar lives a secret life among the upper class where has male friends, with Lord Alfred Douglas (Law) becoming his latest obsession.

As Oscar and Alfred’s relationship continues to grow, we see the differences between the two men and Alfred’s father The Marquess of Queensberry (Wilkinson) doesn’t make it any easy between the two.

 

Thoughts on Wilde

 

Characters – Oscar Wilde is one of the most famous poets and play writes of all time, here we meet him on top of the world as he has a family and has his men on the side, taking up most of his time. He was openly gay in a society that frowned upon him, though he did keep his actions secret and behind closed doors, it is his latest relationship which causes the most problems as the man’s father refuses to be involved in any of that activity. Lord Alfred Douglas is the latest man to come into Oscar’s life, he has the title which draws the attention of the city to the couple, though he isn’t as loving as Oscar towards each other. Constance is the wife of Oscar, who must see her husband’s name dragged through the mud because of his action.

PerformancesStephen Fry shines in this leading role, only he could have bought us the strength in speech that his brings Oscar, with his emotions coming through when needing. Jude Law does a wonderful job here too as the young lover of Oscar, he brings the bratty side to the high society too. When it comes to the actresses they are all strong with their performances, knowing they need to let Fry shine more often.

StoryThe story follows the life of Oscar Wilde, from where he was the most famous play writes in London, while known for having a tendency to go around town looking for men, even when it was frowned upon. We see how one man can break the sensible side of Oscar, making him make the mistakes in his life which will see him lose everything and be punished for his action. He story shows us how somebody can get power over anybody when it comes to love even if they don’t mean to, the greatest mind can take away moments from life and send it in a direction which is just as painful.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic in this film shows the personal life of Oscar Wilde, how he didn’t care if he went against society for the time. The romance shows how Oscar was stuck in a position where Alfred managed to get control over Oscar without meaning too, showing how love can make you do crazy things.

SettingsEach setting feels like we are in the right time period where we get to see how the upper class lived during this time too.


Scene of the Movie –
The poems.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The frustration this is how human society once treated people.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant biopic that showed how one of the greatest minds in history was shunned because of his sexual preference, showing the annoyance of how the world treats people.

 

Overall: Wilde by name, Wild by nature.

Rating

 

 

As Good as It Gets (1997)

Director: James L Brooks

Writer: Mark Andrus, James L Brooks (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr, Skeet Ulrich,, Shirley Knight, Yeardley Smith

 

Plot: A single mother and waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is assaulted in a robbery.


Tagline – Brace yourself for Melvin.

Runtime: 2 Hours 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderfully Charming Drama

 

Story: As Good as It Gets starts as we meet arrogant obsessive disordered ridden author Melvin Udall (Nicholson) who hates his gay neighbour artist Simon (Kinnear) and his dog Verdell, he goes to the same diner needing to keep the same seat with the same waitress Carol Connelly (Hunt) who has her own problems with money and her sick son.

After Simon gets brutally attacked by burglars Melvin is forced into looking after Verdell which opens up his life to being nice to other people including Simon and Carol.

 

Thoughts on As Good as It Gets

 

Characters – Melvin Udall is an author that has a perfect routine to keep him happy, he OCD is clear with how he enters rooms, lock doors, he doesn’t get on with his neighbours and drives the people in his life crazy. Once he is forced to look after his neighbour’s dog he starts being nice to those important in his life, learning that there is more to life. Carol Connelly is a waitress in a Manhattan diner she has waited on Melvin for years even with his difficult behaviour, she has a sick son at home that she has never been able to get proper medical care for him, leaving her constantly worrying about him instead of focusing on her own life. Simon Bishop is the gay artist neighbour that clashes with Melvin on a daily basis, he gets brutally attacked in his own apartment leading to him facing financial ruin and needs to try and make up with his parents.

PerformancesJack Nicholson won an Oscar for his performance here and clearly show why he is such a talented actor, he takes on a performance unlike most of his normal performance we know him for. Helen Hunt shines and with her Oscar winning performance that showed her at the very top of her game. Greg Kinnear is also fantastic in the supporting role, he might have missed out on the Oscar he shows us just the talent he has.

StoryThe story here shows us how three people from different lives can meet and help each other with their problems. We mostly focus on Melvin and how he hates everybody not in his normal routine, we get to see the arc for him to become more open while still dealing and learning to overcome his own problems. We get a woman that has never been give help offered a lifeline which could help save her son and a staving artist learn about the risks he must take to become the artist the world will remember. This is a story that shows you can change people’s life by just listening to their stories, it has charm about how things unfold and just leaves you with a smile on your face by the end.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in this film works with you getting plenty of laughs through the film and it does give us a good romantic angle about needing to learn to take a chance with love.

SettingsNew York city, well how often do I say this is a wonderful setting for anything to do with inter-connecting lives, this delights with seeing people in different backgrounds coming together.


Scene of the Movie –
The dog walk.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not taking the dog on the trip for extra laughs.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful movie that can be enjoyed by everyone, it has brilliant performances from the three leads and hits the comedy romance throughout.

 

Overall: Brilliant film.

Rating

 

 

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Randall McCormick, Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Jan de Bont, Randall McCormick (Story)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins

 

Plot: A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.


Tagline – Rush hour hits the water.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Passable Action Film

 

Story: Speed 2: Cruise Control starts as we meet Annie (Bullock) still trying to get her driving licence back, long past dating Jack (Because Keanu was smart enough not to come back) and has moved onto what she thinks is a quiet cop role of Alex Shaw (Patric) who is actually a SWAT officer too.

To break the tension, Alex takes Annie on a cruise, which happens to have John Geiger (Dafoe) onboard that has his own plans for the cruise. As John takes over the boat, he plans to evacuate the passengers which will leave him the ship, but Alex will get to the bottom of this and try to save the day.

 

Thoughts on Speed 2: Cruise Control

 

Characters – Annie is back, she still can’t drive and now she has fallen for another risk-taking cop in Alex, this is a character that strangely feels iconic for the genre, while not being bad character or being weak, she doesn’t do much over than panic. Alex is the risk-taking cop, this sounds familiar doesn’t it? He will do anything to save the day. John Geiger is the villain of the piece, he has made his plan and wants to operate through his plan, though he didn’t plan for Alex. Strangely he never plans to kill anyone.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is fine in her role here, she works for these films. Jason Patric just lacks the charisma Keanu had in the first one which doesn’t make you care about his character. Willem Dafoe is one of the most reliable villains in Hollywood, it is strange that he is good, but the character is largely forgettable.

StoryThe story is just like the first Speed, it has a criminal that takes a vehicle with the promise to kill everyone if demands aren’t met. This is the old tried and tested formula without being overly impressive and never reaches the levels of the first film. it does everything it needs to do while being easy to watch from start to finish.

Action/Crime/RomanceThe action sequences for the most part are entertaining even if they are overly long at times, like the sequence crashing into the island, just seems to go on and on. The romance involved is just more of the same mostly tagged on too.

SettingsThe film being set on the bottle, tries to do something different, but it just lacks the tension the first one has.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are terrible and even in places laughable.


Scene of the Movie –
While long the boat crashing into the harbour is fun watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random dog sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that gets a lot of bashing, it does everything it needs to for an action film, that just isn’t on the same level as the first film.

 

Overall: Sequel that works well enough.

Rating

 

 

Wishmaster (1997)

Director: Robert Kurtzman

Writer: Peter Atkins (Screenplay)

Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson-Landes

 

Plot: A demonic djinn attempts to grant its owner three wishes, which will allow him to summon his brethren to earth.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Horror Fantasy

 

Story: Wishmaster starts when artefact collector Raymond Beaumont’s (Englund) latest piece arrives but is damaged with a gem finding itself way into the trade markets. When expert Alexandra Amberson (Lauren) learns that something isn’t right about the gem, she finds herself receiving whisper like messages about releasing something from the stone.

When the Djinn (Divoff) starts lurking in the shadows waiting for people to give them his wishes so he can grant them, anything including murder, but Alex feels all of these deaths as the power the Djinn has grows. Alex must learn the power of the stone while Djinn powers himself up as he searches for the one who freedom Alex.

 

Thoughts on Wishmaster

 

Characters – Alexandra is an expert in the analysing of gems but when she releases the Djinn and must gain the knowledge to prevent him from gaining the power to take over the world, we don’t learn too much about what he job is but it does give her connection that can help her along the way. The Djinn is the Wishmaster that once released listens for people’s wishes or desires and makes them happen but not in the way the people would imagine. He does like to play on the words people say to have creative ways of getting rid of the people. Raymond Beaumont is a collector that has been building a collection of all the ancient Gods, he is the one that brings the statue that contains the gem to America.

PerformanceTammy Lauren is a good lead but you do see stronger performance in the similar created characters. Andrew Divoff makes for a menacing villain through the film controlling when needed too. Robert Englund is good in what is a different role for him where he isn’t a villainous character in a horror film.

StoryThe idea that an ancient God can come back granting wishes to release his own power of the Earth is a nice touch, on the three wishes idea how the Djinn can re-word what you say into the nightmare is very clever trying to teach people to be careful what they ask for. This does follow a formula but does disappoint as we only seem to meet a lot of characters just to be victims of the wishes showing the weakness the human spirit can have.

Fantasy/HorrorThe idea of a mystical figure that can create wishes that only turn into nightmares is a very good use of the horror fantasy genres.

SettingsThe settings are not the most important or noticeable part of this film, which disappoints in places.

Special EffectsThe effects do look good for a film that is 20 plus years old, the film did become creative with some of the kills too.

Scene of the Movie – You would have to go through me.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many disposable characters we don’t learn enough about.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good film that does seem to grow in quality as the film unfolds to being something you just want to watch until the end.

 

Overall: Good little horror fantasy

Rating