Exam (2009)

Well this was a mystery thriller quite different to ones I’ve seen before. But something so basic, yet I was warped into it and did enjoy it. First thing I have to admit though, is that the trailer does assume more of a thriller than it actually is; the film is much slower than the trailer suggests. So don’t be thinking this is a film of quick pace thrilling moments, it’s more psychological than that, a film to get you thinking, questioning everything, even if you don’t actually find out much at all.

So if you’ve never heard of this film (because I definitely hadn’t), here’s the plot. There are eight candidates, an invigilator and a guard. The candidates are given 80 minutes to find the answer, yet they are unsure to what the question is. There are given a set of rules and if you break one then you are at risk of being disqualified. The worst in people starts to come out when truths are exposed and the candidates start to realise how desperate they are at passing this exam and being chosen for the job at hand. A job we are not even certain what is, soon to learn that not many of them actually do. The candidates are all ones chosen, all of them different, all of them bringing something different to the exam, so is it a test in which to work together? Or do they pick each other off, they turn against each other, survival of the fittest, as it were? All the different personalities are desperate for the job in some way or another.

Exam 1

The film is definitely one of mystery. I was confused at what the question was, but absorbed into the film, desperate to understand. As the candidates argue and discover more about each other, they struggle to find any answer to anything. Something quite different to the film, which adds to the mystery of the film, is that we never discover any names. One candidate chooses physical features in which to nickname the others, but no real names are ever told to us. Although, because of the type of mystery this film is, I feel like it’s probably just a film you watch once. During the film, revelations in flashbacks are shown to us, it’s not a film you watch again to understand it more. Once you’ve witnessed the ending, then that is the end of it. Saying this, I would recommend the film, I really enjoyed it, but wouldn’t say it’s a film you watch on repeat. There is also an element of sci-fi in the film, perhaps a world we’re not used to.

Exam 2

Overall, like I’ve already stated, I would recommend the film. I was trapped in the film, begging to find out the answer and discover what was actually happening. There is so much we aren’t actually told in the film, but that makes the ending even better in my opinion. It’s a film to get you thinking and questioning everything you witness. To say the least, when I watched it with my flatmates we definitely discussed what actually just happened, it is a film to get you talking at the end. So why not give it a go? If you think it’s a film for you of course.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

So I understand the new rave over the Netflix original programme on ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, but in my opinion, the film outshines it. Obviously, the books are the best, having the film and programme being sourced from them, and maybe it’s because I watched the film first, but the film will always be one of my favourites. If you’re unaware of the books, film or even the programme, then this review will focus on the film, but I’ll start from the plot, just in case you are unfamiliar with them all.

The film is based on the first three books, whereas the programme will go through all the books, there are 13; so maybe if you want to know all the adventures, the books and the programme might be better. However, this doesn’t make a difference to the film personally, yes there is a different ending and some parts are slightly different, but the film is the interpretation of the books and a film that is always going to be one film needs an ending, and this one does.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - kids and Po

So what is ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ even about? The film revolves around the Baudelaire orphans, Violet (Emily Browning), a 14 year old inventor who believes “there’s always something”, Klaus (Liam Aiken), the only boy who memorises every book he reads, and finally the youngest, the toddler, Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman), a biter who can bite anything with her “four sharp teeth”. Straight away we are informed by Mr Poe (Timothy Spall – recognisable as Peter Pettigrew in ‘Harry Potter’), that the children’s parents have died in a fire and ultimately this opens up to many secrets that the children didn’t know about their parents and the series of unfortunate events begin. The children then jump from guardian to guardian, starting with the villain of the film. Count Olaf. Now Count Olaf is played by Jim Carrey, compared to the programme where Olaf is played by Neil Patrick Harris, they are both very different personalities despite being the same character. Harris’ Olaf is very much a villain, and more accurate to the books, more serious; although, Carrey’s Olaf is more comical in a way, over-exaggerated in the brilliant way Carrey plays his characters. I think it does work in the film, and I suppose this is what makes the film so different to the books or the programme, but again I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing at all! The audience are quick to recognise that Olaf doesn’t actually want to look after the children but in fact his interest lies in their rich inheritance instead.

Film Title: Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Similar in all three mediums of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, there is a narrator in the film. The narrator talks to the audience directly in the background. Straight away the first thing he mentions is that the story is not a happy one, that we should leave the film, turn it off and never come back to it. Of course this draws the audience in more closely, a clever aspect you don’t see in many films. The narrator is Lemony Snicket, played by Jude Law. Lemony Snicket is a character in which prevents scary aspects for children as this is a film for younger ages, but obviously enjoyable for all. Although, there are some tense scenes where Olaf goes to extremes for the orphan’s fortune, but it is cleverly done to want to be watched all the way through. There is also a mystery element all the way through the film, the secrets that never fully become unwrapped. Who were their parents? Why was there a fire? What is this spyglass?

There are many recognisable actors in this film and they are all played so excellently. Other than the ones I’ve already mentioned, there is Billy Connolly as the snake-obsessed Uncle, Meryl Streep who plays a woman petrified of irrational things, and Catherine O’Hara as Justice Strauss. Additionally, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are played well. So the actors is not something to be looked down upon, they make the film that much better.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Olaf's Car

Ultimately, the film is a very different children’s film to many others but shouldn’t be disregarded. I find it a brilliant film, with all the elements of the film perfectly executed. Like I’ve mentioned before, Jim Carrey is fantastic, but he always makes his characters his own and they are all great, this one is no different. I would recommend this film, it is different to the programme and books, but personally so much better. It is a brilliant film and should be watched.

The Third Man (1949)

Ok, so first things first, I don’t want people to be put off because this film is an old one and yes it is in black and white. But this film is a classic film-noir. And you shouldn’t be put off by the differences from modern films, because as I said, this is a classic! Sad to say, it has taken me this long to watch it anyway, but nevertheless I got there and saw this great film and I was not disappointed.

The film revolves around the main protagonist, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), who visits Vienna in hope to get a job from his friend. However, on arriving to Vienna, he finds out that his friend, Harry Lime, has died. Martins absorbs the detective role as he tries to discover what actually happened to him after a woman suggests perhaps it wasn’t an accident. This woman is Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), someone who becomes a main part of the film, her love for Harry dragging her along to discover what happened, warped in Martins’ leads. Also on another angle is Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), police officer in Vienna who himself wants to discover what has happened meanwhile knowing more than Martins does the whole way. Although, we only know what Martins knows, so we are dragged into this mystery and sucked in to wanting to know the truth, uncover what has happened, when there are many characters telling a different story. I found myself not knowing who to trust, unknown to who was telling the truth. For example, when Harry’s porter, Karl (Paul Hörbiger) reveals that there was a third man involved, yet no one else seems to know about this…

The Third Man - Martins

‘The Third Man’ constantly has something happening. There were no moments in the one hour and forty minutes that I was bored. There are moments of tension, the audience is gripped, intense. Even, among this, some small comical moments, and I mean small among the mystery of the case. It’s obviously not a comedy and you wouldn’t watch it for this, but there are moments of silly chuckle comments, just snarky, witty comments. An example I remember clearly, would be the balloon man at a tense part of the film. But most of all, this film resembles a mystery drama in which the audience has no clue in how to guess what will occur.

The film is set after the war in Vienna. Explained at the beginning of the film, where Vienna is split into four-powers; a Russian sector, a French one, a British and an American. The historical setting at the beginning of the film is context relatable to when it was released in 1949, but obviously this is very different to Austria now. Again, stressing that this is an old film, but shouldn’t be treated any differently to others we’ve seen recently. Also, there are parts of the film that are in a different language, for example, I think many parts are in German, however this doesn’t affect the English viewer as things are explained with an English audience in mind.

The Third Man - mystery

Overall, I was warped into this film, and really enjoyed it. I would happily watch it again, and stress that if you like mystery films to give this one a go. It really does throw ideas about to get you thinking on one course to realise that one isn’t true. Perhaps, Holly Martins should have gone home the moment he arrived in Vienna like everyone told him too, but instead he is caught into something he is determined to solve, even if he is just a novelist.

Rear Window (1954)

An Alfred Hitchcock film, and in my opinion you have to watch one of his, being one of the most well-known Hollywood directors ever! Whether it be his most famous horror ‘Psycho’, or ‘Vertigo’, or even ‘The Birds’; there’s too many to name. Personally, I can’t say I’ve actually seen a lot of his films, but after watching this, I’ve realised I need to watch many more, and at least I’ve seen one!

‘Rear Window’ is such a clever film. It has such a simple plot and it is so easy to follow, but there is so much depth within this simple plot. It is based around one apartment, actually everything is around this one apartment. The apartment of L.B. Jefferies, or Jeff (James Stewart), our main protagonist. Even though we are based in one apartment and all we witness is inside this apartment and the courtyard from Jeff’s window; we are told so much more. The film cleverly brings in other characters who come into the apartment and fill in the gaps of the outer world. For example, Lisa Carol Fremont (played by the famous Grace Kelly!), also there’s Stella (Thelma Ritter) and finally, Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey). All of these characters are of course played excellently and all bring a different aspect into the film for the audience to enjoy.

rear-window-jeff-and-lisa

As the title says, there’s a hint that there might be a focus on windows, and I cannot express how true this is. The whole film is delving into the lives of others, of Jeff’s neighbours, as he watches we watch. The audience might find it a bit invasive, spying on people’s private lives. However, I feel it reflects how windows are always both ways, and perhaps we expose too much. The whole film is Jeff invading people’s privacy being a “peeping Tom” as Stella states. So many lives take place in this one film; we witness a ballet dancer, a newly-wed couple, a couple who own a cute little dog, a woman known as ‘Miss Lonely Hearts’, a piano man, a couple going through issues, and others. In this one courtyard there is a variety of lives happening, but as the film progresses Jeff becomes focused on one apartment in particular, and this is where a mystery begins… A very clever plot.

This film is definitely clever in bringing in the audience into an intriguing set-up atmosphere. You just want to know what has happened, you need to know. Especially as Jeff becomes more desperate and crazed in his ideas, we understand what he means, however we doubt as the audience is shown more than what Jeff knows in some parts. This makes you question your own ideas and definitely question Jeff’s. What happened to that man’s wife?

rear-window-windows

I can’t fully explain how brilliant this film is, I really did enjoy it. I was tense in some parts, significantly the end, but so intrigued into the whole film. It’s obvious that this film is going to be excellently directed, it’s a Hitchcock film! And he stands out for what he is known for and is definitely great at doing it. This mystery film is one I would recommend over and over again. It’s so different, delving into other people’s lives, watching as a couples’ arguments may have turned into something else. The whole idea of only seeing Jeff’s apartment and through windows is so clever; even though it is limited space you can be told so much! A blind closing assumes something, someone behind a wall makes the audience intrigued and hides away little details, however we can guess what is happening, or some details are exposed right in front of the window, where everything is out in the open, where we can see. So as I said I would recommend this film. Besides, aren’t you a little curious at what has happened?

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Happily, this film is not a disappointing sequel to the first Scooby-Doo movie; it is still up to the standard of the classic Mystery Inc. ‘Scooby-Doo 2’ is by the same director as the first movie, Raja Gosnell, and also has the same actors, thankfully, as they were all so great in the first movie.

Mystery Inc are back and full of fame, fans copying them and screaming their names. Or so it seems that way at the beginning… Things take a turn pretty quickly. The mystery? Someone is creating real monsters out of costumes of the unmasked villains in Mystery Inc’s past. This film is hilarious and full of parts to get children laughing. Although, I’m not restricting it to children, I still find it hilarious, I laugh at parts I used to when I was younger. Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are the best! Matthew Lillard plays Shaggy perfectly, I can’t imagine anyone else that could have portrayed his character so excellently. He is hilarious, but also he is heart-warming for the audience, that he just wants to be seen as a hero and help the gang on purpose instead of making mistakes all the time. Both Shaggy and Scooby spend this movie feeling like they’re “screw ups” and that they are not needed in the gang; with the way that things turn out, it gives a nice moral to the film for children to understand.

Scooby Doo 2 - Shaggy and Scooby

From Shaggy having a crush in the first movie, ‘Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’ portrays that it is Velma’s turn to have a crush. This being Patrick Wisely (Seth Green). Velma (Linda Cardellini) feels she is not good enough for Patrick and hesitates to go on a date with him as she feels he doesn’t like her. It’s a classic relationship plot, which is obvious where it heads, however one that tells the younger audience to have faith in themselves. To say the least, Velma makes me feel dumb, I know she’s supposed to be the smart one, but sometimes in this movie, I have no idea what she’s saying… Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are of course back as well, both in their relationship even if it’s never stated. I like how Daphne’s character links from the first movie as she is much more active in fighting the monsters and isn’t taken as the damsel in distress anymore.

Scooby-Doo 2 - Velma, Fred, Daphne

I would recommend watching this film, it’s another great Scooby-Doo film which doesn’t let the audience down. Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby face a dilemma none like any others, one that puts their city in severe danger. There is a large range of monsters to enjoy, some of them are even comical for the audience. The music is great, really fits in well with all the scenes at the right moments. Watch this film for a good laugh and a mystery for you to try and solve yourself. It’s a brilliant family film that the whole household will love. But I advise for you to watch the first movie first if you haven’t already. So join the gang and search for clues, alike to all Scooby-Doo’s.

Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Well where do I start with ‘Now You See Me 2’? Well to begin with, if you haven’t seen the first film I would advise you to not read my review on this film, but can read the first one, and I would definitely advise that you watch the first film before this one anyway as they couldn’t more lead onto each other. I am a fan of the first film, love it. And I have to say, I am definitely a fan of the second film. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve just seen it at the cinema and I get that first time seeing it feeling after and cinema feeling, but the film was just great! There was another great magic scene fight, just like the first film, this one involving Agent Dylan Rhodes and it was brilliant, perhaps not so successful as the one with Jack Wilder in the first film but still pretty impressive. Also, there was a brilliant tense card scene that is just one to remember and probably the best part of the film in my opinion. 

Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe, Morgan Freeman. Love love love!! At first before seeing the film, I was a bit disappointed that Isla Fisher wasn’t going to be in it again, whatever the reason for her leaving was. But after watching the film I have to say Lizzy Caplan was a great replacement, she played such a different character, Lula, for the fourth Horseman that it worked really well, plus she definitely gave a more comedic element to the film. Who doesn’t love good ole Janis from ‘Mean Girls’ anyway? All the actors are excellent, but of course they are, you don’t need me to tell you that! And I love that Daniel Radcliffe was in it, even though he wasn’t the most happiest or sensitive character in the film, but I just love that Daniel Radcliffe played such a big part in it and of course played it brilliantly. Daniel Radcliffe back with the magic again, who doesn’t love that? I like how more involved Mark Ruffalo’s character, Dylan Rhodes, was in with all the magic this time, especially after the big reveal in the first film, so he definitely had to be, and there were no disappointments. There was also an introduction of a new character, Merritt McKinney’s twin brother, Chase, even though he was on the wrong side of the Horsemen and a supposed enemy for the audience, he was quite comical and a good addition to the film.

Now You See Me 2 - Walter

Additionally, I loved the plot of the film. It sure was one that throws you in confused, parts you were watching actually misleading you. There was a lot of things in this film that I really didn’t see coming. You get to the point in the film where you just start guessing random conclusions to anything, yet still don’t seem to get the right answer, or know whether the things that are happening is going to the way of the Horsemen or actually they are just screwed this time. You don’t know until it is over, and that is what is really clever of the film, how gripping it is. That there are so many unanswered questions and so many things happening at once that the audience just needs to know all the answers, and they don’t reveal themselves until the end. And the ending… Well that was a good ending. No spoilers though, I promise I won’t ruin it.

The plot was more based around Dylan Rhodes and his past, especially around his magician father, Lionel Shrike, which in the first film we discover died after failing at a magic trick. This gave a more emotional route for the film, explaining to the audience why Dylan had spent 30 years of his life planning a magic trick that will ruin the man he believed to be responsible, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). This of course being the plot of the first film, however the second film expanded this on a more emotional trial for the audience, this started with a flashback at the beginning of the film of when Lionel Shrike did his trick where he died, with his young son watching the whole time and slowly discovering that his father was never going to appear again. I like how this was done and think it was very clever of the director, as not only have you got to watch the first film to understand, but also it leads on from the first film and answers questions that were not fully answered, giving closure to that film and opening more new questions for the second film. Perhaps there will be a third and the same will be done again? This second film was a journey of Dylan Rhodes finally letting go after 30 years of his father’s mysterious death and taking his life into a different journey with the Horsemen. While the Horseman discovered their true place in the Eye, by working together and discovering things on their own as things go wrong from the beginning.

Now You See Me 2 - 4 Horsemen

Another great thing about this film is that there are so many elements of different genres. I would definitely say that this film is primarily a mystery, with the magic and all… But there is comedy, with just simple great lines or just the way in which tricks turned out. Also, there was slight romance, obvious from the word go with Lizzy Caplan’s character. And of course, action. There wasn’t a car chase scene like the first film, but why would you want them to be the same. Instead there were motorbikes, though that didn’t last long; and some aggressive fist fights too. Just a bit of everything for everyone to love, in my opinion. Unless you just really hate magic… Then I wouldn’t say this is the film for you.

So in conclusion, there are many elements of this film that were just great and I really don’t know what I could say that would have made the film better as it was so good. So I would recommend this film to anyone that likes to be thrown into a confusion yet thrilling film, unsure what will happen, and get a surprise that you’d never see coming in the end, once again.

 

Now You See Me (2013)

‘Now You See Me’ is most predominantly a magic film. And one of the best going. You have to understand if you don’t like magic, you will hate this film. Personally, I love a magic film, it’s not supernatural, but things that can be explained by logic, as it is the magic of deception and tricks. The first thing to remember is the “first rule of magic, always be the smartest guy in the room”.

‘Now You See Me’ is a brilliant film that hooks you right from the beginning and makes you wonder what is going on and who are the ones to trust. And if that doesn’t make you want to watch it, who doesn’t love a film with the classics, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine? In fact, all the actors are great, obviously brilliantly acted but just well-known actors as well, well many of them are known in the films that I watch anyway.

Now You See Me

You are introduced to all of the magicians even before the title, introduced all separately in their own lives. These four best magicians are all chosen by a mysterious hooded figure, also known as The Eye. Three men and one woman. The big-headed, slightly arrogant Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), the brilliantly clever mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), the one and only girl Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and the young street-wise Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). They all join together under the instructions of The Eye, unknown whether if it is legit, yet they create the Four Horsemen. Their first trick together, a year after being brought together, they rob a bank, turning their magic a bit more dangerous and connected to criminal activity. Therefore, bringing in Special Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) from the FBI, and Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) from Interpol.

Now You See Me - Dylan Rhodes

The film is split into the three acts of the magic show the Four Horsemen play a part in. But also, there are about four different plots on at the same time, they all revolve around the Four Horsemen and their three act show, but they are all different characters that are important to key parts and you follow each of them in different parts of the film. This is cleverly done as they all overlap in the film, but it makes the audience less in the know to what is happening. There’s of course, the Four Horsemen themselves, where you watch their shows from their side; then most of the film following the FBI and how they are constantly misled by misdirection. Then there’s the exposer, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the ex-magician, whose life is taken over my uncovering magicians secrets; his new target, of course, the Four Horsemen. Finally, there is the smaller aspect which is the benefactor of the Four Horsemen, the money behind all the shows, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), who becomes involved involuntary in one of the magic acts. But overall, it is cleverly done and doesn’t become confusing for the audience even if there are lots of things going on at once, the audience is meant to be left astounded by what has happened, just like the magicians want. As Daniel Atlas says himself “come in close, closer, because the more you think you see, the easier it will be to fool you”.

Now You See Me

‘Now You See Me’ is an amazing film that covers many aspects for it to be a good film. There are comical aspects; however, the film is not a comedy, but I find Merritt is a comical character, he is probably one of the best played in his comments and actions. There is also some action in the film, an extensive fight scene, but instead against an FBI agent and a magician, to throw in surprises and make it more difficult for the Horseman to be caught; also there is a very dangerous car chase. But most of all the film is manipulated by the aspect of magic, the audience in unknown to who they are supposed to trust and the ending is unpredictable, yet, brilliant. Although, you are still left wondering after the film has finished how things unravelled; of course most questions are answered, but not all of them, making you just want to watch another film leading onwards.

Now You See Me - Jack Wilder

This film is a 12, there is the occasional swearing, but other than that I wouldn’t say it’s inappropriate for younger ages. The plot isn’t confusing, it’s just a cleverly done plot including magic in a form of mystery for the film.

I would 100% recommend this film. The first time watching is the best because the ending is so unexpected, however, watching it again, like I have lots of times, it still isn’t ruined, somehow knowing how things are going to turn out doesn’t ruin it and it still is a great film. So I would definitely recommend; and the clue is to not look close, but in my opinion you’ll be fooled either way, especially for the first time.

Thankfully, they even did a second film, ‘Now You See Me 2’.