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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Franchise Weekend – Mulan 2 (2004)

Director: Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland

Writer: Michael Lucker, Chris Parker, Roger S.H Schulman (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong, Mark Moseley, Lucy Liu, Harvey Fierstein, Sandra Oh

 

Plot: While preparing for their wedding, Shang and Mulan are suddenly sent off on a secret mission. Mushu starts to meddle, and a surprise attack by Mongolians doesn’t help either.


Tagline – Saving China was just The Beginning

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Warrior to Wedding Disappoints

 

Story: Mulan 2 starts as Mulan and Shang are planning to wed, but before they go through with the wedding the Emperor sends them on a mission to escort his daughters to Mongolia to marry to help keep the peace between the countries. Mushu on the other hand learns that he will lose his place as a guardian of Mulan if she marries, leading him to try and sabotage their engagement.

When Mulan’s previous experiences inspire one of the princess’ to follow her own heart, everything plays into Mushu plans to break the couple up, but this could bring war back to China.

 

Thoughts on Mulan 2

 

Characters – Mulan has gone from fearless warrior to bride in waiting, she does continue to show that women in Ancient China need to learn to be independent but is a shell of the person we met in the first movie. Shang is the warrior due to marry Mulan, their latest assignment causes a rift between them as he must learn that not all missions are important to complete. Mushu is the guardian about to lose his position if Mulan gets married, he sets out to sabotage their relationship.

StoryThe story here follows Mulan and Shang as they are planning for their wedding while going on a mission, if I am honest I just don’t want to talk about this story because it took a fearless warrior in Mulan into a character that just wants to prepare for her wedding. We have lost all the adventure that was in the first one to what is just a relationship drama.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThis is branded as an action movie and has one weak action scene to come, the comedy is mostly a miss but this is more family friendly over the first film.

SettingsThe film doesn’t use the settings as well, but still has good visual temples included.

AnimationThe animation look is good and is the only redeeming good part of this film.


Scene of the Movie –
Nothing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me ruining what Mulan created.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak Disney sequel in the darker days of Disney where they just make rubbish sequels to loved games.

 

Overall: Poor sequel.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mulan (1998)

Director: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook

Writer: Rite Hsiao, Chris Sanders, Philip LaZbnik, Raymond Singer, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer (Screenplay) Robert D San Souci (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, Pat Morita, Miguel Ferrer, BD Wong

 

Plot: To save her father from death in the army, a young maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process.


Tagline – This time, the princess saves the prince.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Dark Adventure Film

 

Story: Mulan starts in ancient China with Shan-Yu and the invading Hun attack. Mulan is a young woman that hasn’t been following the traditions on the family, she isn’t ready to just be a bride, when her father is summoned to serve in the impending war, she wants to help, running away to fight in her father’s place. Spirit dragon Mushu is sent to be her guardian on this adventure, to return her safely, but Mulan has other plans.

Mulan sets out to join the army in her father’s place under the leadership on Captain Shang, in a hope to rebuild her family honour that she has disrespected.

 

Thoughts on Mulan

 

Characters – Mulan is a young woman, she has been raised to follow tradition, something she wants to break and taking her father’s place in the army shows the independence she wants to achieve. This is a strong anti-princess role which is something Disney broke the mould with. Mushu is the guardian dragon that needs to rescue and watch over Mulan, though he mostly just causes trouble for her. This character is here for all the laughs in the movie. Shan-Yu is the leader of the Hun that are attacking China, his armies are ruthless when it comes to battle, with him being a great and powerful warrior.

StoryThe story follows one young woman that wants to make a difference in a world where only men can become the leaders of the armies, she breaks tradition to make a difference and become great. This brings us the idea of breaking away from the tradition just because the people tell you follow that path. For Disney this movie broke their own traditions of have a princess in distress needing rescuing and now feels like the trailblazer it wanted to be.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure side of the film does give us real peril because it takes Mulan into a war battle which has taken lives of many, this could be slightly too dark for the whole family to enjoy too.

SettingsThe film brings us to Ancient China which brings us a new animated setting for an American movie, we have the mountain range which looks beautiful and the towers that show the empires built.

AnimationThe animation is the usual top notch from Disney never looking out of place for their level of excellency


Scene of the Movie –
Mountain range attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me For me Mushu got annoying after a while.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful animated movie that does show us the courage one woman showed to save her country against tradition.

 

Overall: Disney’s last good movie of the late 90s.

Rating

 

 

The Space Between Us (2017)

Director: Peter Chelsom

Writer: Allan Loeb (Screenplay) Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis, Allan Loeb (Story)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, BD Wong

 

Plot: The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Romance Film

 

Story: The Space Between Us starts with the first maned crew living on Mars, the Genesis operation lead by Nathaniel Shepherd (Oldman) is sending the 6 astronauts to Mars to live with mission commander Sarah Elliot (Montgomery) leading the mission. The mission goes wrong early on when Sarah turns out to be pregnant and dying in child birth on Mars. Back home Nathaniel must figure out a way to keep the story covered up raising the child on Mars even though his desire is to head to Mars himself to help raise the child Gardner.

16 years later Gardner (Butterfield) has grown up still a secret to the outside world on Mars, with the colony growing with Kendra Wyndham (Gugino) being the latest mother like figure in his life. Gardner has been sneaking around making friends with Tulsa (Robertson) back on Earth, but keeping his secret safe.

When the plan is to bring Gardner back to Earth his secret friendship is the desire he most wants to see but the business side of mission wants to us him as a PR device. Once back Gardner gets tired of the quarantine and escapes to learn about the world, find Tulsa and his father, but the longer Gardner spends on Earth the greater danger he is putting himself in.

 

Thoughts on The Space Between Us

 

Characters/PerformanceGardner is a Martian the lack of a better word, he was born and raised on Mars gaining all the intelligence from the astronauts he meets, but what he desires most is a human connection which is what he can get by going to Earth. He gets to see Earth in a new light for the first time which isn’t something original but always interesting to see unfold. Tulsa is a high school girl who is surrounded by students but completely alone because of being in the foster system. She speaks to Gardner being the only connection she has with the world, once they meet she shows her street smarts to help Gardner. Nathaniel is the lead scientist running the program, he wants to do the right thing but gets pushed out and left to regret his decision, but it is his choice to do everything to make Gardner safe on his return to Earth. Kendra also plays a similar role to Nathaniel only she is the closest person to a friend Gardner has on Mars.

Performance Wise, Asa shows again that he is a very capable young actor who I think we could see many more great performances from in the future, Robertson is continuing to play characters she is a lot older than but she does have the look for them. Oldman brings the heavyweight name to the film doing good throughout with Gugino also doing a good job through the film.

Adventure/Romance/Sci-FiThe adventure comes from Gardner seeing Earth for the first time with the sci-fi comes from the idea of life on Mars. The romance side of the film works because it is the driving force between Gardner and Tulsa.

StoryThe story shows us what it would be like is there was a baby born on a Mars colony, it also shows how two people worlds apart can become the closest of friends. The story is young adult material but at least this seems to be a one-off idea for the story, I think it fits the genre nicely and will have the whole audience enjoying how the story unfolds.

SettingsStarting on Mars we get to see what life up there could be, moving to Earth it is a standard road trip across America idea for settings not offering too many new ideas on where to go.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all good when they are needed without being jaw-dropping.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good young adult movie that can be enjoyable by the romantic fans.

 

Overall: This is good for the market intended.

Rating

 

 

Focus (2015)

focusDirector: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Writer: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa (Screenplay)

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro, BD Wong, Brennan Brown, Robert Taylor

 

Plot: In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stylish

 

Story: Focus starts as we meet experience con artist Nicky (Smith) who scouts for fellow con artist where he finds Jess (Robbie) a young upstart who he shows a few tricks to. Nicky brings Jess into his team of petty thieves and con artists teaching her all the tricks his team use to make their money.

After making a record score with his team we get to see Nicky get seduced into a gambling battle with Liyuan (Wong) where he shows off all of his skills taking everything to a level Jess wasn’t ready for, leaving her out of the business.

Three years later Nicky has been hired by Garriga (Santoro) a race car driver who wants him insure his team wins only for his plan to go out the window when Jess turns up claiming to be out of the business.

Focus is a con artist film that seems to have a con going on during every single scene seemingly having a con going on. Where the story struggles is the awful chemistry between Nicky and Jess which keeps getting thrown at us and comes off cringe worthy. The story does come off well without being that stand out in the genre of the con artist.

 

Actor Review

 

Will Smith: Nicky is the expert the con artist who leads a team on all his jobs, he takes young con artist Jess under his wing who takes him out of his game. After trying to cut her out his life he struggles to find work and when he finally gets back into the game Jess re-enters his life turning everything upside down on his latest job. Will is good with the con artist side of the story but when it comes to chemistry there is none between them.

Margot Robbie: Jess is a young con artist that Nicky shows the ropes to while catching his attention, she learns from him before finding herself in the middle of his latest job. Margot is solid but lacks that chemistry with Will.

Adrian Martinez: Farhad is Nicky’s tech guy and go to guy on any job he is working on. Farhad has always adds the only laughs in the film. Adrian is good comic relief only really.

Gerard McRaney: Owens is the muscle for Garriga who has always been against using a con artist checking up on every single move Nicky makes. Gerard is solid in this role but is just a glorified muscle like character.

Support Cast: Focus has a supporting cast that all work with the con going on but in the end they don’t come off memorable.

Director Review: Glenn Ficarra, John RequaThe pair give us a twist on the con artist film where they try to make us wonder just what is real or not throughout the film.

 

Comedy: Focus doesn’t really hit many of the laughs it tries for.

Crime: Focus does through us into the world of petty criminals and con artists showing just how slick they can be.

Settings: Focus doesn’t use any iconic settings through the film never really using them to make anything big happen.
Special Effects
: Focus has a few effects but tries to keep everything with slick camera work.

Suggestion: Focus is one I do think is worth a try but other than that it won’t be for everyone. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Con Artist side of the story.

Worst Part: Chemistry really sucks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too:

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $50,1 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline:  Never Drop The Con

 

Overall: Stylish but bland con artist film.

Ratingcard