Tom Hanks is tremendous as Captain Miller; consistently in control, displaying determination and leadership, but not afraid to show fear and trauma to a point of breaking down. He’s so likeable and charismatic, radiating as a down-to-earth, guilt-ridden human being.
The squad has an excellent chemistry. Between the cheeky chit chat, the hostile arguments and the engaging night-time conversations, you get to know a little about each of them, and when push comes to shove, they are a formidably united, equal unit.
The storyline is powerful and enthralling. It’s so noble and heartfelt to ensure that James Ryan comes home safe so that his mother has at least one son alive in the midst of his other brothers’ deaths, and from there you are hooked and desperate to see them succeed.
The famous D-Day sequence is perfect; the best recreation of it ever in cinema. It efficiently captures the fear in the faces of the soldiers and the overall helplessness of the situation. They sure don’t hold back in the bloodiness, with the effects being as realistic as they get. The combo of the he guerrilla-style cinematography, intense sound design and lack of music really put you within the zone, and the immediate aftermath allows you to catch your breath as well as take in the horror that had just unfolded, giving it a measurable, palpable weight.
At no point does the action feel fake across the entirety of the picture. There’s such a brutal, gritty realism to it, making it easy to take seriously and have you physically wincing at the more painful, gory scenes.
There are a multitude of hard-hitting moments that each achieve the impact they seek: the Ryan brothers’ mother receiving the news, the recital of the Lincoln letter, the harsh twist of the wrong private Ryan being given incorrect information, and eventually the real James Ryan being told the news.
The excellent opening scene sets the mood impeccably; Harrison Young’s dialogue-free acting alone is powerful stuff, and it is bookended by an equally strong conclusion off the heels of an intense, suspenseful finale.
The spot on editing is pitch-perfect and the pace is absolutely correct, never dragging but never rushing, and because of the firm interest, the near 3 hours will fly by.
John Williams is beautiful and sombre, never being too grand or overblown, it’s at the right natural pitch in order to accentuate the emotional, bleak tone.
The variety of high calibre technicals lend themselves to the generation of this massive epic scope. This is not a small story, this is a major tale, and Spielberg’s direction helps to give it the majesty and respectable size that it deserves.
Charlie Cox as Tristian is an…adequate lead at best. There’s nothing necessarily bad about him, but he’s badly overshadowed by everybody else.
Tristian has a couple of flawed scenes, namely when he’s suddenly ditching Yvaine to go to be with Victoria which is a d*ck move. It comes out of nowhere and for me damages his likeability.
Michelle Pfeiffer is great as the main villain Lamia, she’s both funny and threatening, although a tad useless at points, I lost count of how many times she relies on the help of her sisters.
Claire Danes is good as Yvaine and expressive as hell, Robert De Niro is bloody awesome as Captain Shakespeare, Mark Strong is memorable as the Prince Septimus, and both Ricky Gervais and Mark Williams are hilarious in their very brief spots as Ferdy and Billy respectively.
Although a little overburdened with multiple plot-points at once, the overall story is more or less straight forward to follow and understand.
The story does take a while to get going; okay in the first half but gradually gaining momentum and improving as it goes, leading into a stronger second half.
A lot of fantastic creativity is employed and that balances out well with the high amount of comedy.
There’s a decent mixture of nice scenery spanning the woods, the countryside and the mountains that results in plenty of sweeping shots.
The pacing is incredibly choppy, noticeably rushing through scenes at times, including moments that should have made a bigger emotional impact. For example, Tristian finally meeting his mother seems so brushed aside without a second glance.
The CGI is terrible, looking quite bad especially by 2007 standards, with a number of the effects looking out of date by nearly a decade.
Tom Cruise and especially Nicole Kidman turn in committed performances, you’re sucked into their interactions and dilemmas, and they have a solid chemistry.
Despite a major element being the two leads’ marriage, Kidman seems to be pushed aside as the plot continues, which is a shame because her early scenes are fantastic.
Kidman is stellar in three specific scenes: the best friend’s party, that argument in the bedroom where she lashes out at Cruise, and when she recalls her unsettling premonition-like dream.
There are a few interesting side characters, such as the Hungarian gentleman at the party and the colourfully odd Mr Milich.
The “masked ball” sequence is extraordinarily captivating, putting you in a firm trance while Jocelyn Pook’s unbelievably haunting score sends chills through the body.
Kubrick does well diving into the struggles that comes with marriage, or any relationship in general, covering the likes of trust, doubt, and past mental scars.
Larry Smith’s cinematography is mostly great and tends to fit the current mood of the scene, although there are a couple of moments where the camera work is noticeably rough and janky, and distractingly so.
The music is wonderful and dignified, with the main theme being memorable, but the repeated piano verses get tiresome after a while.
There’s a magnetic drawing power that radiates from the story, sparking quite early on and being maintained for a long time, but unfortunately it begins to waver in the last third; everything after Nicole Kidman’s nightmare is where it struggles.
Ultimately the payoff is logically sound yet lackluster, with much build-up spent and headed towards very little, almost as if nothing is resolved, and it goes out on a disappointing whimper.
The cast is awesome, everybody stands out with their own unique, diverse identities. No matter how large or small a part, all the actors deliver in one way or another and succeed in their given roles, including Bruce Willis as the cheeky smartass, while Milla Jovovich is innocent and impressionable, Ian Holm is anxious and frustrated, Chris Tucker is delightfully over the top, and Gary Oldman is damn near unrecognisable as the amusing, confident villain.
Even with the umpteen threads and details thrown in, the plot is just simple and logical enough for the audience to grasp.
I noticed that there were story touches quite similar to The Mummy films; both the classic and the Brendan Fraser series; mainly the multiple generations of priests based in Egypt protecting the world from an evil source.
I think what has me enjoying The Fifth Element the most is that there’s an outlandish childlike feel to the whole thing. It’s like a mash-up of a comic strip, a Saturday morning cartoon and there’s seemingly even drips and drabs of anime. It’s basically a dumb, mindless barrel of pure, exhilarating awesomeness.
The comedy is consistently on top form, the action is a tonne of fun, and there’s even a couple of cool serious scenes; most notably the Diva song sequence which is genuinely lovely and even kind of spine-chilling.
It’s tightly edited and extremely well-paced, the film is just a constant blast that flies in. It’s never boring and never feels slow.
The set and production design are super ambitious and it looks insanely vibrant; the practical effects are great, and although a lot of the CGI hasn’t aged too well, credit is deserved for the considerable effort.
The costume work is distinct and there’s a wide variety of races and species involved.
The soundtrack is rocking, especially Little Light Of Love, and I admire subtle details like the cool, spiritual sound cues used when referring to the Supreme Being and the elements.
The dark planet is a really weak main threat. There’s not much time dedicated to it, and never at any point is it presenting worry or tension.
The logical and creative punny title already earns a tonne of points.
The plot is simple enough, in fact it’s close to bare bones, with definitely more focus on the gimmick and the comedy above all else as you’d expect, which is reliant if you find it funny, and two thirds of the time it is, although a little hit and miss with not too much that busts the gut.
They do repeat a few beats from Stir Crazy, mainly the fact of them being framed for murder and escaping from custody, even the personality traits are similar; Pryor has the attitude, Wilder is nicer and laid back, and the pair work off familiar formulas, which is a double edged sword; they’re good in their traditions, but it’s almost not much new.
But with that said, Pryor and Wilder are on great form and return with their usual stellar chemistry.
The dialogue is great and natural with a real improvised vibe to it; the arguments especially are brilliant.
As for the rest of the cast: Adele’s fine, Captain Braddock is a standard angry police captain, Gatlin’s amusingly sympathetic and chilled, Eve’s alright, Kirgo stands out with a distinct accent, and the chief villain Sutherland is barely developed so there’s not much to be said about him.
There’s a lot of wonderful memorable moments; for starters, the interrogation scene is hilarious and Wilder’s naivety is a highlight.
I absolute adore the photographer in the police station, who is so over the top but so damn relatable, it’s honestly my favourite moment.
The time jokes; 12 o’clock, 10’o clock etc; are clever.
The medical conference is juicy and will please those with a seriously childish, immature sense of humour like yours truly.
Will Smith as always is naturally cool and charismatic, the role of Sterling feels a little run of the mill for this point in his career, but then again that’s what makes him suit the character I suppose.
Tom Holland is good as Walter; similarly to Smith in his role, he’s a predictably yet natural pick as the awkward geek while carrying an infectious energy and a pure love for what he does.
Together, Smith and Holland, despite being basically polar opposites as actors and characters, have such a strong chemistry and their interactions are hands down the highlight of the film.
The side cast are just okay for me. Performance-wise they do what’s necessary but there’s not much memorable character-wise.
As for Killian, he is such a bland one-note villain, which is immensely disappointing to me especially because besides Vader and maybe the droid, Ben Mendelsohn was the best part of Rogue One as Director Krennic.
The concept is straight forward enough and the jokes in connection with it may be at times obvious but they work.
The plotline is incredibly standard and so by the numbers, and almost everything you can see coming a mile away with no out of nowhere twists or turns. Even at the end, there’s such a pointless bluff.
The design as a whole is very bright, colourful and grabbing, and the animation is slick and quick with the comedic timing on constantly good form.
The jokes often land well and the dialogue, especially the back and forth arguments between the two leads, is a joy, and both older and younger viewers can get a kick out of it.
Lastly the music isn’t half bad, with a few decent tracks that make a mark of sorts.
The concept is straightforward yet effective, it’s a very classic Hitchcockian style idea that is almost timeless and really could have been made in any era of cinema
Elijah Wood is our star who is engaging and he nails the stage fright element, complete with the panic and anxiety, then eventually building the courage to the point of taking no more crap
John Cusack is solid and threatening in his voice acting
The remainder of the cast do quite a fine job and play their parts nicely
Alex Winter as the lackey I couldn’t quite take serious as evil, but his moments of sassy attitude give him personality, and it’s there where he seems natural
There’s a little bit of comic relief there too, and it’s surprisingly well done
The cinematography is incredible with so many techniques applied, it looks stunning and flows flawlessly
Snappy, fast editing keeps a strong pace and amplifies the intensity when it needs to
The actual music itself is great and the performances on that front are commendable
There’s a lack of suspense in the reveal of the villain because Cusack is credited up front and there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s him, plus there’s virtually no backstory to Cusack so his arc seems empty and as a result, the ending falls flat