Sunday, January 17, 2016

Movie Review … The Big Short



Although everyone lives on money and some worship it, it’s difficult making it exciting for movie viewing.  ‘Wall Street’ and various heist films have managed to jazz up the dollar’s allure, although generally films focussing on the paper/plastic currency tend to be dry affairs.  ‘The Big Short’ almost avoids this.  A reasonably easy to follow essay on the financial crisis in the mid-2000’s, the mix of drama and humour mostly works in making the filthy lucre an interesting and absorbing subject.

In 2005, a group of financial wizards sense something is seriously wrong with the American housing market.  Noticing the banks are telling fibs to consumers in order to rake in more dollars, they decide to bet against them.  The group, including Michael (Christian Bale), Jared (Ryan Gosling), Mark (Steve Carrell) and Ben (Brad Pitt), aim their targets high.  Gambling on the bank’s continuing greed, their actions foreshadow the looming crisis as the sub-prime housing bubble slowing bursts.

‘The Big Short’ is the type of film which should make viewers angry.  They have a right to be as many of its protagonists are unbelievably ignorant of real world problems.  Trapped in their desire for endless cash and partying on their financial spoils, many of these bankers cruelly depend on the desperation of their clients.  This is very much underscored with Carrell’s role as Mark who increasingly becomes disillusioned with each revelation.  Shocked at the unfeeling nature of the world in which he resides, it forces him and others to re-think their positions.

Carrell’s strong performance helps in understanding how the financial crisis began.  Whilst the financial techno-babble occasionally ensures eyes begin glazing over, director Adam McKay valiantly ensures ‘The Big Short’ doesn’t become too bogged down.  He is assisted greatly by a fine cast who play people you shouldn’t like and seem just as unscrupulous as the bankers they target. Making them different is their level of conscience and concern for those who ultimately paid the price for capitalistic greed.

‘Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it’.  Hopefully this quote doesn’t apply to those featured in ‘The Big Short’.  The book on which it is based by Michael Lewis should serve as a warning to future finance wizards whose financial trust we give at our peril.



Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia. 





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Movie Review … The 5th Wave



‘The 5th Wave’ is the latest in a very long line of teenage book to film adaptations.  Based on Rick Yancey’s sci-fi trilogy, it works hard to differentiate itself from many other similar works.  Filled with a good cast and a decent script, it manages to hold its head above water.  This isn’t any mean feat considering how glutted the genre has become.  It all comes down to how captivating the story is which ‘The 5th Wave’ has no trouble telling as its characters battle an evil alien horde.

After four waves of deadly alien attacks, Earth has been left devastated.  On the run is Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) who will do anything to protect her younger brother.  While bracing for a fifth wave of attacks, Cassie meets fellow survivors Evan (Alex Roe) and Ben (Nick Robinson) who also distrust those around them.  Together they hope to defeat the otherworldly creatures before further onslaughts destroy their world.

Although the creaky wheels of the formula machine is seen driving ‘The 5th Wave’, it does its best to defy its familiar nature.  Instead of diving head-first into an already ruined world, we see how things were.  We also see our central heroes learning how to battle their new enemies.  Unlike ‘The Hunger Games’ series, the characters in ‘The 5th Wave’ don’t know everything and discover the many twists and turns along with the audience.

This makes for a more involving story thanks to J Blakeson’s tight direction.  Whilst certain sequences are overly sentimental with clich├ęs of the ‘young adult’ genre creeping in, he ensures ‘The 5th Wave’ remains fresh.  Moretz, Robinson and Roe aid in giving some spark to the dialogue and their characters.  All make mistakes but have a determination mirroring the best of fictional heroes.  The action scenes are suitably explosive with some genuine surprises and good pacing.

‘The 5th Wave’ may have odds stacked against it due to the over-abundance of similar movie product.  That would be a dis-service as it is a more than strong entry in the full genre.  Making one look forward to a sequel shows it did its job and one hopefully gracing screens soon.



Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.




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Movie Review … Goosebumps




Beginning in 1992, the Goosebumps novel series written by R.L. Stine have become enduring favourites.  A ghoulish barrage of children’s horror fiction the books have transcended the page to embrace most media, from TV to PC games. It now leaps onto the silver screen with stylish aplomb.  Perhaps reflecting the cult of personality, Stine becomes a character in his own work.  Far from being self-indulgent, ‘Goosebumps’ effectively morphs his persona into a twisty-tale as beguiling as his written adventures.

When teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves from the big city to a small town, he fears a boring existence.  This is made easier when meeting Hannah (Odeya Rush) who lives next door to her strange father, writer of the Goosebumps series R.L. Stine (Jack Black).  Wanting to keep newcomers away from his house, Stine’s efforts meet little success.  When a monstrous horde escape from the pages of his books and begin terrorising the town, Zach and company have to save its citizens from the imaginative wickedness come to life.

Thanks to Rob Letterman’s snappy direction, ‘Goosebumps’ is a consistently fun ride.  Carefully avoiding talking down to his audience, Letterman captures the frightful essence of the books.  More child-like than childish, the engaging tone ensures ‘Goosebumps’ should appeal to all ages.  Dark, scary, fun and exciting, it has everything a movie aimed at pre-teens should have.  Moments featuring Stine’s facing his demons and accepting the past provide some depth amidst the endless mayhem.

Whilst occasionally over-stuffed with a litany of ghastly beasties, ‘Goosebumps’ revels in the book’s imaginative flair.  The CGI boffins have a field day as they craft a dizzying array of spirits and ghouls.  None of this over-whelms the performances which are spot-on.  Usually known for hamming it up, Black wisely downplays his role and gives one of his best performances.  His co-stars provide solid support managing to create genuine characters. 

‘Goosebumps’ sets out to be an entertaining thrill-ride and succeeds.  Fans should receive a cool nostalgic blast whilst newcomers should appreciate its craftsmanship.  The series has always highlighted the power of imagination which its film version amply provides.



Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.




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