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    "47 Ronin" is a vivid fantasy movie that retells a famous legend in ancient Japan when forty-seven Ronin went out to avenge their master who had to commit suicide after a series of conspiracies and unlucky events. Of course, this movie has some historical inaccuracies but that's not an issue. This colourful tale should please to anybody who cares about Japanese culture in particular or epic fantasy movies in general.

    What I liked about the movie is that nearly all actors are still Japanese and actually have accents as well. Keanu Reeves is playing one of the leading roles but to my positive surprise, he doesn't take too much space and fits very well into this story. This is a lot more authentic than "The Last Samurai" with Tom Cruise for example. In general, the acting in here is very well done. The movie features moments of anger, defeat, despair, guilt, humour, jealousy, loyalty, romance, sadness and victory and all these emotions are captured very well by the actors.


    The characters in the movie are also quite diversified even though a little bit stereotypical. From the brave leader of the Ronin over the permanently jealous samurai and its rejected half-breed brother in arms to the arrogant villain who gets supported by a beautiful witch and a mysterious Lovecraftian samurai, the viewers are introduced to many epic characters. 


    The movie also convinces with great settings, light and visual effects. The three-dimensional version is worth watching and has some spectacular moments. The places shown in this movie from the slave market over the haunted forest and the creeping temple to the villain's residence in the mountains are intriguing and mysterious.

    The story itself is rather simplistic and easy to follow but the philosophical topic of honour which is this movie's guiding line is an interesting an typically Japanese topic and offers some food for thought. 

     


    Even though this movie doesn't innovate the action or adventure genre, this cinematic odyssey was highly entertaining from my point of view. I can't find any major flaws in here either. From an objective point of view, seven points are appropriate for this movie that is really worth to be experienced in cinema. It's due to my particular interest in ancient Asian cultures that this movie got me even more addicted and that's why I'm ultimately adding one more point. If you're intrigued by my review, you will also be by this film. 

     

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  • Rush (2013)

     

    "Rush" is definitely one of the best movies of the year and has many strong points to offer - even to those who aren't into motor sports at all. First of all, the acting is simply incredible. Chris Hemsworth performs the slowly dying kind of charming and charismatic pop stars among athletes that doesn't exist anymore in modern motor sports. He portrays a self-confident daredevil, playboy and sex symbol who seems superficial and unsympathetic at first sight but who turns out to be courageous and have more values than one might think. Behind his arrogant appearance is a breakable young man destined to live in the fast lane and die young. Many real persons from that time and especially the real Niki Lauda said that Chris Hemsworth acts and speaks exactly as the real James Hunt did which proves his incredible acting job. His antagonist is portrayed by Daniel Brühl who incarnates a young and motivated man who seems to be an arrogant and bourgeois nouveau riche at first sight but who turns out to be as breakable, courageous and determined as his concurrent. The two main characters are very different from each other but at the same time they have enough things in common to be at eye level during the most exciting Formula One season in history. I think that Daniel Brühl's acting is even better. He had to incarnate a real person that is still alive which is always tough. As a German he had to learn an Austrian accent to speak German and English in a credible way, he had to have the same gestures and he had to incarnate the same temperaments the real Niki Lauda. Thanks to a lot of details and time put into this acting job and many meetings with the real Niki Lauda, Daniel Brühl perfectly succeeded and delivers without the glimpse of a doubt the best acting performance of his career. The thing that impressed me the most was that the real Niki Lauda said that he thought of people being cruel and superficial when they have watched him with disgust or scare after his accident but when he watched this movie he had the same terrified reaction and finally understood why I all people had reacted that way so many years ago. His reaction proves how intense and real this movie is even though a few historical facts are of course exaggerated to put additional tension into this film. Next to the incredibly gifted two main actors who almost have the same screening time and are equally treated in depth even though the story is told by the film character Niki Lauda, one should not forget about a whole bunch of great supporting actors in this movie. There is simply no bad actor or actress in this film.

    Another strong point of this movie is the way it mixes the incredible true events by using many original settings from museums or archive footage with well integrated cinematographic elements such as an atmospheric soundtrack, intense dialogues and very well done special effects that are not overloaded with cheap effects but that feel as real as the rest of the movie. The camera work is quite perfect as it has a balanced mixture of cinematographic and documentary shots once again.

    And then there is the story which is highly based on true events. You don't need to be a fan of motor sports to get into this film. The story is about the clash of two very unique and different characters who seem to be antagonists and the roughest kind of competitors at first sight but who turn out to be more similar to each other than they might think. This movie is about competition, sportsmanship and more than all the precious value of life. It's also about the ups and downs that come with success. It's a movie about family values, love and friendship but also about extreme loneliness and despair. Many people don't understand why motor sport athletes are risking their lives for this sport. This movie gives us the answer. This sport is a lifelong dream of both characters and they entirely owe the lives they are living to their successful career. At the end, the movie shows us two very different ways how to deal with the risks of this dangerous job and where to stop playing with fate. This opens an almost philosophical and quite profound perspective that makes this movie something more precious than a simple action film or drama. It inspires you to think of which path you would have chosen as anybody should be able to at least partially empathize with the characters. 

     

    In the end, I recommend this film to any movie fan. No matter if you are a fan of action movies, biopics, dramas or suspenseful movies, this flick has it all and even more for you and the incredible acting plus the detailed settings are the cherries on the cake. The movie even includes a few humorous scenes, erotic moments but also philosophical elements. It's hard to create a more complete movie than this one but at the same time, this film always feels consistent and never loses track of its clear guiding line. Right now, this movie is worth nine out of ten and time will tell us if this might even be worth the perfect rate. I think this might be the case and hope that the movie will win a few Academy Awards along with the superb crime drama "Prisoners". These two movies are definitely the best of the year until now and the year is almost over. If you were hesitating whether to watch this film or not, you should by now have made your decision to go to the cinemas as long as this film is still there. Needless to say that the great camera work and the impressive sound effects work even better in cinema than at home. 

     

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  • 2 Guns (2013)

     

     

    "Two Guns" is a very entertaining action movie that mixes brutal and tension filled moments on one side with a lot of addicting dry humour on the other side. The chemistry between the two outstanding main actors Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg is simply great. The first one portrays a cynic and sometimes even misanthropic cop with strong nerves who has only one weak point which happens to be his superior Deb with whom he has a complicated romantic relationship. The latter one portrays a smart but quite offensive US marine who naively believes in justice and truth at all costs. Denzel Washington somewhat portrays the true face of modern America while Mark Wahlberg stands for idealized illusion of it. Both characters are quite different and complement each other very well in this movie.

    They are both working on an undercover mission without knowing each other's identity. They have infiltrated a Mexican drug cartel and are led to steal three million US dollars from a bank that is used by the drug cartel. When they finally rob the bank, they discover that there are not only three million but forty-three million dollars. The US marine gets away with the money and encounters his superiors but they want to eliminate him for not having killed his partner and done his job properly in every detail. The cop is not only followed by his superiors but gets also tracked down by a mysterious gang who is after the money. In addition to this, the drug cartel is also seeking for revenge and wants to get its money back. The two quite different partners need to team up to fight against drug cartels, the police, marines and members of the secret service to get rid of the money and out of this disaster alive.

    The movie works great because of many explosive action scenes, a good dose of dry humour and an authentic acting performance from all main and supporting actors. The story is your usual conspiracy flick which gets a little bit predictable. In the end, there was one scene that happened a little bit too quickly for me to fully understand it when one of the main actors found the stolen money but apart of that the movie has a vivid but not hectic pace and is easy to follow. The side story with the cop's superior portrayed by Paula Patton was too constructed and somewhat unnecessary to me and took the attention away from the main issue but nothing's perfect.

    Fans of the two main actors and conspiracy flicks shouldn't miss this one out. This movie is far from being revolutionary but it's entertaining and definitely worth a walk to the movie theatres. I wouldn't though recommend to purchase this film. You can see it once and truly enjoy it from the beginning until the end but it doesn't request more attention.

     

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  • Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

     

    This movie is an entertaining, action and tension filled thriller in the key of the Die Hard series where terrorists attack the White House from the inside and menace American society and have to be stopped by a disgraced lone wolf who wants to clear his name and save his country.

    From the dramatic opening scene to the tension filled ending, this movie is a breathless hunt. The action scenes are off course a little bit overproduced but it's better than other recent Hollywood flicks like "A Good Day to Die Hard" that simply go too far with their special effects and feel rather ridiculous in the end. The story line is definitely nothing new but the intensity and the surprisingly solid acting Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman and antagonist Rick Yune make this movie one of the better of its popular and repetitive kind. On a personal note, I might also add supporting actress Malana Lea who doesn't have a big role but who perfectly incarnates the devil in disguise, a breathtaking beauty with a truly evil side. 

    Nevertheless, the movie has a couple of flaws. It's not quite clear what happens to the First Lady in the beginning of the movie. I thought the accident scene on the bridge was somewhat strange. Was it a simple accident or an attack from the outside? The movie includes other strange moments. The role of the character played by Dylan McDermott remains mysterious. One gets no credible reason for his negative attitude as well as for his sudden change of mind. It's also strange that he isn't used by the main actor after his change of mind to mix up things in the bunker of the White House. His role could have been a lot more profound and he could have been the changing element of the whole story. Instead, his fate is quickly abandoned. Let's add also that even the intentions of the antagonists remain somewhat superficial. How did they all infiltrate the South Korean government as well as the United States of America and what are the true convictions and reasons behind their actions? I'm aware of the fact that this flick is meant to be a straight action thriller but a little bit more depth would have been a great deal as well to stand out of all these quite similar movies.

    Once again, I must also add that this film includes mild propaganda elements. It's not as evident as in "Red Dawn" but maybe similar to "Argo". Instead of choosing mafia bosses, radical American terrorists who want to destroy their own government or an international gangster organization, it had to be once again pro North Korea terrorists. This movie underlines in a subtle way how dangerous this American enemy could be and what could eventually happen if one didn't try to prevent them from doing what they do. I think that arts and politics shouldn't mix too much. There have been plenty of patriotic war movies after the 9/11 incident and they surely had their reasons to be there. After a few years, these patriotic movies disappeared but now they seem to have come back over the last three years or so for no apparent reason. These slight propaganda attitudes seem to have for goal to challenge the nation's enemies and to make people believe that the United States of America are still going strong despite the economic crisis and the events that made Afghanistan and Iraq a second or third Vietnam. I would have liked this movie more if the terrorists had not been stereotypes of an American enemy.

    Despite these few flaws, this movie is truly entertaining and among the strongest films of the not so young year 2013. I recommend you to watch this film in your local cinemas to be able to appreciate the great sound and special effects it has. As many people said, this is what the last "Die Hard" movie should have been.
     

     

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  • A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

     

    This film is by far the best comedy movie of the year so far. It includes completely ridiculous and exaggerated action scenes that can last for overlong ten minutes or more and involved hundreds of cars destroyed in a city centre by only a few guys. It includes stunning passages where one can find car keys out of nowhere with massive weapons hidden inside a car in front of a Chechen bar in the middle of Moscow. It includes parts where Moscow and Chernobyl seem to be in the same country and only a few hours situated from each other so you can easily go there by car. It's possible to enter a completely devastated nuclear plant without any protective suits. It happens that you stroll around this highly radioactive area without getting any harms. If accidents and explosions happen in this area, no visible consequences occur. Add dry one-liner dialogues to this, a twisted father-son relationship and other funny sequences such as an annoying singing taxi cab driver.

    Seriously, this must be the movie with some of the highest number of film errors and ridiculously embarrassing dialogues I have ever seen. That's why one simply can't take this film serious. You have to take this as an over the top action comedy flick that never fails to make you laugh out loud. If you simply want to have entertaining fun and change your mind, this film is for you. If you want to laugh about closed minded American stereotypes and get another example for the downfall of the Western world, this one is also for you. This one is to switch your brains off and head for a fun ride.

    If you are looking for some tension filled moments, a clever story line or something more than the usual stereotypes of evil old Russian terrorists as you have them in any classic American propaganda movie of the eighties, this movie is not for you. 

    The entertainment and comedy factor is worth ten points. The story itself not more than one or two points which leads to a final result of six points out of ten. Go for this movie without associating it to the previous Die Hard movies to avoid deception and take this as some sort of action comedy movie with a script that could have been written by a bunch of ten year old boys.
     

     

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