Monday, May 29, 2017

Movie review: 13 Reasons Why

 Following the unexpected suicide of Hannah, classmate Clay receives a box of tapes that reveal the reasons behind her choice to end her life.

Dylan Minnette (Clay), Katherine Langford (Hannah), Christian Navarro (Tony), Alisha Boe (Jessica), Brandon Flynn (Justin), Justin Prentice (Bryce), Miles Heizer (Alex), Ross Butler (Zach), Brian D'Arcy James (Andy), Kate Walsh (Olivia).

13 Reasons Why begins shortly after Hannah's suicide with some character introductions and setup. When Clay receives a box of tapes Hannah recorded to explain her death the series shifts to flashback mode mixed with current events. The remainder of the series is a roller-coaster of emotion as Clay discovers things about Hannah he never knew, which also threatens other students and friends.

The message of the film seems to be that not one person, or thing, can push someone to commit suicide. And intentionally or not, the series exposes some things to look for in other who may be suicidal. A week after watching the series I'm still not sure I have wrapped my head around the entire story.

Acting was exceptional with Minnette and Langford both delivering very well and working together nicely. Navarro was a delight with good delivery and emotion. Boe, Flynn, Prentice and the remainder of the supporting cast also did very well throughout the film.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are solid, fitting, and fairly simple. Action scenes are decent with only mild reality stretching. Dialogue had nice depth and added greatly to the impact of the series. Sound and soundtrack are good.

13 Reasons Why will likely draw strong emotions from just about anyone who watches and should probably come with trigger warnings and even suicide prevention information. If you have ever been even remotely exposed to suicide be prepared for some tears as this one is pretty intense.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 5.12.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: TV series, TV Drama, Crime TV, Drama, Teen Drama

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Movie review: Last Knights

Raiden is a Commander with a troubled past who has no more interest in waging battles. But when his master, Bartok, is disgraced after open opposing Minister Mott, Raiden gathers his troops and vows vengeance.

Clive Owen (Raiden), Morgan Freeman (Bartok), Cliff Curtis (Lt. Cortez), Aksel Hennie (Mott), Tsuyoshi Ihara (Ito), Ahn Sung-ki (Auguste), Peyman Moaadi (Emperor), Si-yeon Park (Hannah), Noah Silver (Gabriel).

Last Knights is an enjoyable story with wonderful depth. Raiden has a troubled past and plenty of demons but rises to protect the honor of his Master and defend the people against a ruthless, and possibly psychotic, ruler. He does so with plenty of deception and a long running plot that add great depth to the film. Add some sexuality, and violence, and you have a film that is entertaining and engaging through the end.

Acting was good with Owen delivering a wonderful performance. Freeman was solid, though his role was somewhat brief. Curtis was a nice addition, and Hennie fit his role quite well. The remainder of the cast was solid and enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds all had a nice realistic feel and portrayed the period fairly well. Action scenes were solid and fit the film. Dialogue had good depth and added a lot to the film. Sound and soundtrack were well done.

Last Knights winds up being an enjoyable action adventure flick with good technical work and depth that holds audience interest well. Fans of the genre should enjoy this one.

With some mild nudity, sexuality, and plenty of violence, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2015
Reviewed: 5.12.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Action & Adventure, Adventure, Action, Period Pieces

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, May 26, 2017

Movie review: Brick

 When Brendan's ex-girlfriend turns up dead he must dive into the underworld of high school crime, thespian domination, thugs, drugs, and nerds to find her killer.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brendan), Nora Zehetner (Laura), Lukas Haas (The Pin), Noah Fleiss (Tugger), Matt O'Leary (The Brain), Emilie de Ravin (Emily), Noah Segan (Dode), Richard Roundtree (V.P. Trueman).

Brick begins in the middle of the story with Brendan finding the body of Emily, his ex-girlfriend. The plot then does a rewind showing us a bit about his relationship with Emily, and how he found her body. Yet another shift and the focus is now on his quest to find, and punish, her killer.

While this sounds great, it is not. The story is decent, but the storytelling leaves a bit to be desired. Heavy use of strange slang made a fair amount of dialogue difficult. Additionally, the high school age characters behave well beyond their years with no apparent adult supervision and lavish lifestyles for many. As a result the film is hard to believe and audience engagement suffers.

Acting was decent with Gordon-Levitt delivering nicely. Fleiss did well with his one-track-minded character, as did O'Leary. Haas was good, though his character was somewhat unrealistic. Segan, Roundtree, and the remainder of the cast were enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were fitting and solid. Action scenes were okay, though several felt somewhat unrealistic. Dialogue, as mentioned, was difficult with strange slang that was not at all explained or beneficial to understanding the plot. Sound and soundtrack were okay.

Though not as overdone, Brick felt like a poor imitation of A Clockwork Orange without the steampunk aspect. While the dialogue is a challenge, you can still follow the plot, though it feels like there is depth you can't quite see. Fans of quirky Indie films should enjoy this one.

With plenty of violence, blood, mild sexuality, more violence, foul language, and some drugs, this should be fine for older teens and above.

Released: 2005
Reviewed: 5.12.17
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Indie Drama, Crime Thriller, Crime Drama, Mystery

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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