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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Tom Holland

How I Live Now (2013)

Angst-fueled teens vs. the Military. Wonder who will win that bout?

Spoiled, US teen Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) gets shipped away from her dad, all the way to her Aunt’s place in the English countryside where she is uncomfortable, pissed off and annoyed with her surroundings, practically every second of every day. She notices that her cousins are too free-living and spirited for her own good, so therefore, she ridicules them by shouting out insults at them, telling them to leave her alone and basically just having this whole sour-puss feeling towards them whenever they want her to do something fun, exciting or useful with their days that doesn’t just concern sitting at home, listening to hip, cool indie bands and/or going on the interweb and chatting with all the coolies. However, Daisy does begin to lighten up a bit when she catches the eye of Edmond (George MacKay), a house-keeper of the family, and suddenly finds herself happy and pleased with these new quarters she’s surrounded by. Even though Daisy and everything with her cousins seem to be going all mighty fine and swell, it isn’t until a full-blown nuclear war begins and the military intervenes, separating all of them and sending them to war camps where they are practically enslaved by their own government, without much hope of seeing the outside world ever again. Daisy won’t let this stand though, and instead, decides that it’s time to escape and find the ones she was sent to stay with in the first place.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella's and Edward's on there, and you'll see no difference.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella’s and Edward’s on there, and you’ll see no difference.

This is one strange beast of a flick for many reasons, but the main which being is its tone. For instance, the first-half of this movie starts off something like a Twilight movie where young teens are seen frolicking around, falling in love, smiling and listening to a bunch of cool songs which, needless to say, got very boring to watch. It wasn’t because it didn’t offer anything new, it was just that it was uninteresting because there was nothing really going on except for a young girl falling in love and somehow coming into her own as a woman. That meant it was only an amount of time before things switched gears and got very, very dark, which is probably where this movie really began to work its magic.

See, about half-way through, director Kevin Macdonald practically pulls the rug out from underneath us by placing us inside this very bleak, unrelenting and grim movie about two young girls trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that’s been shattered by death, nuclear attacks and insane amounts of war. This part of the film is where I really began to be interested, and yet, I still couldn’t get my head around how differently it felt from the first-half. And like I mentioned, the first half was as weak as could be, but once Macdonald switches gears into a sort of war, survival-flick where the tension and will to live is amped-up, it felt a bit jarring, rather than a smart move on his part.

I liked the fact that Macdonald knew where he wanted to take this material, because it sure as hell showed that he had balls to take something that was a young adult romance, and give it a hard-edged spin on its ass, but it didn’t feel right and after awhile, I began to wonder what type of movie it was that I was watching. But then again, there is that thought in my head that knows I shouldn’t be all that mad at Macdonald because at least this switch kept things interesting and compelling; two elements that the first-half sure as hell wasn’t even close to achieving. So with that, I guess Macdonald deserves credit, but maybe a whole film dedicated to what was the second-half would have probably went down a lot smoother than the sudden change-of-plans that he decided to spring right onto us.

But since that second-half is so good, it’s worth mentioning how unrelenting Macdonald gets with his direction, almost to the point of where I was actually scared in believing something like this could actually happen to modern-day society. Without getting too ham-handed or preachy, there’s certain ideas about what this world might come to in case of a nuclear war in this movie that really rang true to me because while Macdonald doesn’t show an awfully negative view of the world, he still realizes that there is plenty of evil out there, regardless of if a war is going on or not. He doesn’t dig any deeper than that, but I think the ideas that were laid-out on the table were enough for me to be fully invested in what happened with this plot, and to these characters that inhabited it.

That said, Saoirse Ronan really does come into her own with this role as Daisy, showing us why she’s one of the best young actresses working today. And heck, she’s not even 20 yet! Though she did have a major set-back with the Host earlier this year, Ronan still shows promise in the way she’s able to carry herself as this self-righteous, spoiled brat that all of a sudden changes her mind once love and war gets in the way of things. The change her character has may have rang a little false, but that’s more of the scripts problem than it is of Ronan’s and I have to give her credit because she makes this character always worth rooting for, even in her most questionable acts and decisions, which come to light many of times throughout the violent last-half.

All they wanted was an autograph!

All they wanted was an autograph!

And everybody else involved with this young cast is great too, except that none of them are really as well-written as Daisy is, and now come to think of it, she wasn’t all that well-written either, it’s just that she had Ronan’s performance to fall back on. These other kiddies don’t fair quite as well as her, which is a bit of a shame, especially for George MacKay as Edmond, the one Daisy takes a liking to. Not only is this kid written like a total dream-boat that’s as unrealistic as you could get, but the romance between these two feels more like an infatuation that would take place over one summer, rather than a full-fledged love story that would have one person dangerously cross the ends of the earth just to be reunited with the other person. Didn’t feel right to me, and while it was easy for me to sort of get by all of that nonsense and pay attention to the harsh world that Macdonald created in front of my eyes, I still couldn’t fully believe in the romance that was supposed to be fueling all of this movie’s emotions and feelings. In fact, I’d wager that if it the story was told the other way around, then it would sure as hell be believable, because what strapping-young lad wouldn’t risk his life and limbs to be with Saoirse Ronan just one last time before the world goes to total shit? Lord knows I would, but then again, I’m a total sucker for young starlet babes, so sue me!

Consensus: The change-in-tone in How I Live Now is pretty jarring, and will most likely confuse the hell out of some viewers, but once this transition does happen, the movie becomes a whole lot more interesting, compelling, emotional and important, especially if you take into consideration the world we live in now, and what could happen if the same consequences presented here were to occur. Think about it, people! Think about it!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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The Impossible (2012)

Apparently the English had it way worse than the rest of Thailand. Apparently.

Based on a real story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents of three sons as they are all caught in the aftermath of the humongous tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. They get split-up, with the oldest-boy (Tom Holland) and his mother on one side, whereas the father and the younger-boys are on the other. However, among all of the pain, destruction, and disaster  both sides set out to find one another and do, simply, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Come on, you had to know that was coming up.

The 2004 Tsunami is a disaster that is still fresh and clear in many people’s minds and in ways, still has people feeling the effects, even after all of these years. That’s why making a flick about this monster-Tsuanmi would still seem a little too soon for some, but it’s a lot more tastefully done than the advertising would have you think. To be honest, it’s probably a better use of the Tsunami than that piece of crapola Hereafter was. Hey, if you’re going to cash-in on a real-life disaster, do it the right way, not the Clint Eastwood way. And that’s why director J.A Bayona is suited so well for this material because not only does he handle the subject and topic with a real sense of class and decency, but he also shows it in the way that makes me feel as if I was right then and there while it was happening.

After seeing a whole Summer chock-full of the world being blown-up and countless other areas being turned to shit, I was very, very surprised to see that the very best use of any type of destruction for a movie in 2012 (no, not that Roland Emmerich piece of shite) came from a movie that uses only 10 minutes or so of it, and then it’s practically gone. We only get 10 minutes or so until the actual Tsunami comes and concurs, and it’s just one of those moments that occurred this year where I was grounded to the floor from start-to-finish. The reason that is, is mainly because everything I saw seemed so real with the waves coming in at a very realistic look and pace, and the scariest use of water I have seen in quite some time. You seriously feel as if you are right there with these people as they get hit by the Tsunami and I have to give Bayona a crap-ton of credit for putting me on the edge of my seat and having me feel like I was in for a wild ride of drama, sadness, destruction, and family-matters. I got all of them, but sadly, not the way I wanted.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

No matter what they threw at her, Naomi Watts was still the most beautiful creature on the face of the planet here.

After the Tsunami hits and we get to see the shitty situations these characters have found themselves in, everything, slowly but surely, starts to fall-apart. Maybe that isn’t the right thing to say because I was very involved with these characters, this real-life disaster, and the aftermath of it all, but then it almost seems to lose it’s focus. The story that we become first accustomed to is with Watts and Holland as he has to practically be the parent in this situation, because she can barely even walk and practically falling apart. This story-line was interesting as hell because you rarely get to see the kid parenting the parent in movies, unless it’s some teenage daughter teaching her dad all of the cool lingo that the Y-Generation, cool kids use. We see how a parent can put themselves below a child, be tended to, and how a child can actually do that while being successful, and yet, still be a child. It was interesting to see and I could tell that if this was how the whole film was going to play-out, then I was probably going to need to borrow the extra bag of Kleenex’s from the person next to me.

However, I soon forgot about a very key, important-factor to this flick: there’s a whole other side to the family! When McGregor shows up with the two, younger boys, then the flick becomes a bit conventional and melodramatic, almost to the point of where it’s off-putting. With Watts and Holland, it was rich, raw, and gritty, almost to the point of where you were cringing because somebody needed to throw water and soap on them, but when you get McGregor and his story of looking for his family, it takes everything down to something that feels as if it would be from a Lifetime movie or something. The eternal conflict that McGregor has to go through, is that he has to choose on whether or not to abandon his own children, to look for his wife and other child, and that’s it. He has to find them and if he doesn’t, chances are, they’ll be dead. I get that it’s a very real and true depiction of events that probably occurred to a plethora of families around this time, but still, it doesn’t make it the least-bit intriguing or surprising to watch, especially when all that I’m watching is a guy, walking around with a piece of paper in his head and asking people certain names. Yeah, should have just stayed with Watts. She probably would have gotten naked more, too.

The fact that this is a real depiction of something that real people had to go through, just makes this final-product a bit more distasteful in it’s own way. For instance, I find it relatively strange that the flick’s real-life story, concerns a family that was Mexican. Here, they are English and even worse, the rest of the film acts like it was hardest on them the most. Over a million people died that fateful day and some families are still reeling from the effects of that, so to sit-there and make a movie about a little, mighty family of mates that went searching for one another, does seem a bit rude to the rest of the people out there who died and were sometimes under the same circumstance as this very same family. I do have to come and realize that yes, this is a Hollywood production and yes, this is a real-life story about a real-life family, not the real-life event that actually occurred, but still, if I were one of the families who suffered from this Tsunami and saw this movie, I’d be a little ticked-off, quite frankly.

"You think I'm bad, you should see Anakin."

“You think I’m bad, you should see Anakin.”

Even though the actual, real-life family this story is based-off of is in fact, Mexican, the English cast that actually does take over this story still make it worth the while to watch and are easily the best elements to this flick. Naomi Watts is getting all sorts of hollers and praise for her role here as Maria, the wife/mother who can’t fend for herself due to a terrible disability, and it’s well-deserved hollers and praise, in my mind. Watts is always knocking roles like this out of the park, each and every single year, but here, she sort of shows the vulnerable-side to her character that can’t be the leader and owner anymore, and instead, has to sit on the back burner and try to stay alive, while her son cares and tends for her. Maybe it’s not as traumatizing of a performance as the one she gave in 21 Grams, but it’s still the cleaner, more mainstream-version of that same performance.

Ewan McGregor is an actor that has been very so-so over the last decade or so, but I think he’s gotten his career back on-track and is a great actor to watch, especially when he’s in such an act of desperation as his character is here. McGregor definitely still has the lovable sensibility to him that not only makes you feel like he’s a great father that loves his family for what they are, but will ultimately, end-up doing the right thing for every one in the end. There’s a scene with McGregor on the phone and without giving too much away and spoiling it for all of you cats out there, it’s probably his most powerful piece of acting he’s given ever since the days of Moulin Rogue. Maybe to some, that’s not saying much, but to me, it means the whole world. Good job, Ewan! Now stay away from the new Star Wars movies!

As compelling as McGregor and Watts are (and trust me, they are something to watch and behold here), the one who really stands-out the most is probably Tom Holland as the oldest-son. The kid starts off as a bit of a brat that can’t help but being a piece of crap to his parents and to his brothers, but has to change all that up once everything goes from bad, to worse, to absolutely dreadful. Not many kid actors working today could pull-off that transition from spoiled-brat, to powerful, adult-like child, but Holland does it and does it so perfectly that you really believe in whatever this kid does next. He’s a wonderfully kind specimen the way he cares for his mother and looks out for her, especially when she needs him the most, but is even kinder when it comes to helping others out in looking for their families, friends, and loved ones. Holland may, or may not slide-by with an Oscar nomination this year but if he does get one, I will not be mad in the least-bit because he’s never annoying, and he’s always real. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Consensus: Focusing on one, English-family throughout this terrible disaster that occurred in 2004, does seem a bit insensitive to the ones who were effected the most by it, but The Impossible still provides plenty of rich, character-moments that are made even better by the cast and crew that make this flick, one step above your typical, soapy-drama.

7/10=Rental!!

Don't let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

Don’t let the looks deceive you, this kid could kick your ass if he had to.

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