Casino Royale (2006)

007 is back.. he’s always back.

I have long since cared for James Bond films. I saw most of them as a kid, Roger Moore was my favourite. As I’ve grown older my tastes have changed, mostly in the form of action movies. Pure action just doesn’t excite me these days. So I’ve let these films pass me by. The other struggle I have with the series is that every film is a stand alone adventure. New problem, new love, new car, new villian, gadgets, exotic locations, etc. It’s the same formula every film and that’s not a bad thing neccesarilly. Bond is a fictional character, like Superman, one that the real world needs to look to. We need to see that as the world changes, espeacially for the worse, these heroes are still here to save it. Their characteristics and goals change, as the world changes.

I remember when there was so much controversy about having the blonde haired Bond, Daniel Craig. It never bothered me because I was so far removed from the series. From the get go of this film, Bond is different. This Bond has never been so different from his predocessors. He is rugged and ready to get his hands dirty, even his fashion sense is mocked twice in this movie. He is driven with obsession. And best of all, Bond has a heart. He falls hard for the Bond girl, Vesper. He makes plans to leave his job to play out his life with her. It is here that we finally see a Bond that bleeds. Still overall, I don’t feel he is Bond or that I’m watching a Bond movie. It may be for the simple fact that I have seen Daniel Craig in many films before, but it also has to do with its style. This film is very gritty and darker than the previous films in the series.

I dislike the technicalities in spy films, as they create a realm of intreague, one thats usually hard to follow. Simply put, Bond is not chasing a villian seeking world domination this time. Seriously, this is a bit of a shock. Instead the villian, Le Chiffre is trying to recoup the sum of hundreds of millions of dollars that were lost in a scheme Bond foiled in the stock market. Le Chiffre enters a high stakes poker tournament with a ten million buy in. The stakes are high for both. For Bond it’s the girl and for Le Chiffre it’s his life, the investors will have him killed without the money. By this point the film is feeling long and ready for a climax. No not yet! There is still 45 minutes left till the end. It’s a great film and a great start to Daniel Craig as Bond. I just felt the end was overkill, it was trying to do too much.

This is a good movie, better than I thought it was going to be. I truthfully watched it for the two subsequent sequels, for the directors helming each project. First there is Marc Forster, whom directed one of my favourite movie of all time, Stranger Than Fiction. Followed by Sam Mendes who directed American Beauty all the way to Revolutionary Road, which are amazing films.

3.5/5 – Stars

Robert Ring


Oz the Great and Powerful

The land of Oz has never looked so good.

I’ve been a big fan of the lesser known Oz film adaptation, Return to Oz since childhood. Of course I have seen The Wizard of Oz (1939) plenty of times before, but Return to Oz fascinated me. It was in many ways the polar opposite to The Wizard of Oz, the happy world of Oz we last saw was shattered beyond belief, leaving behind only the smallest of remnants that represented that world. Seeing Oz in this way was terrifying, this film was far from family fun fare.. it was dark, creepy, and can I say “eerie as fuck” is an appropriate definition for the feeling you had while watching it. I love every minute of it, and to date it was probably one of the most frighting films I saw as a child. Sadly, Return to Oz doesn’t hold up as well today as it’s predecessor, nevertheless it showed me how vast the land of Oz could be.

Coming into Sam Raimi’s version I was anxious, as well as reserved about how I felt about it. All the promotions before the film’s release had me convinced it would be like Disney’s recent Alice in Wonderland, which I wanted to be so much more. From the very get go I was immersed in the great initiative that was taken towards this latest adaptation of Oz, which sees the origin story of Oscar “The Wizard”, played by James Franco come into power of Emerald City. I’ve seen many reviews pan Franco’s character, but I think his performance is adequate to the tone of this film. Oscar is a con man at face value with women and in magic. Beneath the con man is a man who wants to be great, a man who wants to be a combination of Thomas Edison and Houdini. Thrown from Kansas in a raging storm that captures his hot air ballon, Oscar then comes crashing down into the land of Oz. Here he claims to be “The Wizard,” the one in the prophecy who is said to defeat the evil witch, and take the throne of Emerald City. Accompanying Oscar on his journey are two very emotionally touching CGI companions. Finley the flying monkey in a little bell hop uniform, and a little girl made of porcelain. Oscar’s journey also brings the origin story of the witches played by Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachael Weisz full circle. I’m not one to eagerly jump at 3D films, however I feel it enhanced the experience for me. I was totally immersed in the wonderful world.

This film pays homage to The Wizard of Oz in more ways than I expected, for eg. it also starts with the black and white Kansas scene. I think this is a prequel made very well. It was respectful of it’s source material and gives an interesting take to the events that occurred before it’s beloved predecessor so many years ago. Some scenes may prove frightening for small children, but overall a great family film for everyone. I really loved it. I want to see many more films like this in the land of Oz, and I know there is so much left to be told which I find exciting.

Jump into the world of Oz

4/5 – Stars

Robert Ring

Love and Mercy

There is a line from a Bon Jovi song that I listened to often that mentioned “in a Brian Wilson world” and I was always curious as to who this individual was and what a statement like that could mean. This biopic features the struggles Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame dealt with when dealing with his demons. Brian is deafened in his right ear by his father and beaten periodically at a young age. These trials only worsen as he begins to hear voices while we see him transition from his young adult self played by Paul Dano to his older self played by John Cusack. In later life he contends with abuse from Dr. Eugene Landy played by Paul Giamatti, whom he gave over his legal rights to. Dr. Eugene is always watching and controlling every aspect of Brian’s life, including his love interest to Melinda Ledbetter played by Elizabeth Banks. The story revolves around his genius, his mental deterioration and his love interest. You don’t need to know who the Beach Boys are to enjoy this film, however it will further your enjoyment of it when you hear his songs played and videos recreated. Personally, I found his life to be quite prolific and will read his biography before I see this film again.

The film is brilliant. I have seen many films in theatres this year and this one currently takes the number one spot for the best film of the year thus far for me. Love and Mercy is fantastic.

4.5/5 – Stars

Robert Ring

Batman: Under the Arkham Knight

Batman is busy these days with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in the pipeline for 2016 and the recent release of the critically received Batman: Arkham Knight game out now. It is unlikely that games will be mentioned much on this site, but it’s hard to pass up with the fine cinematic storytelling presented within the concluding chapter of Rocksteady’s Arkham Knight. The title of this post’s play on words is used because of the parallels towards the game and the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood. Below is both a review of the game and the animated film.

Batman Arkham Knight 02
Batman: Arkham Knight

The game begins with the cremation of the Joker, and yes, the Joker is dead in this version of the Batman mythology. Instead, filling the shoes of the villain in this game is the Scarecrow and the mysterious villain the Arkham Knight. The Scarecrow with his fear inducing toxins unleashes chaos throughout Gotham City. Naturally Batman is exposed to the toxins which brings his greatest fear to life, the Joker. Seeing the Joker pop up and ridicule Batman from time to time is in fact is one of the most rewarding parts of the game. The Scarecrow makes each encounter filled with tension as the lines of reality become blurred. This game presents you with twist after twist and the revelation that comes with discovering the origins of the Arkham Knight is one of the best. The combat is perfect and this one allows you to take control of the Batmobile, which I found to be entirely satisfying from start to finish. Rocksteady knew this was their concluding chapter going in and they gave it everything they’ve got, so think again if you think every character is safe from death.

Batman: Arkham Knight does everything right from the scope of a cinematic film to experincing all Gotham City has to offer and story arcs that involve all your favourite villains as well.
4.5/5 – Stars

Batman Under the Red Hood
Batman: Under the Red Hood

This animated film from the beginning starts with the Joker hitting Jason Todd, the second iteration of Robin with a crowbar. Robin is beat senseless before he is blown up by a bomb killing him just as Batman approaches the scene. The start of this film alone is the darkest opening to an animated film I’ve ever seen. Five years pass and Batman is still haunted by the memory of the event. Batman is more withheld and unwilling to take on help from Nightwing because of the loss of Robin against his new foes the Red Hood and Black Mask. The Red Hood is another mysterious figure that brings to light some twists in the Batman mythology. The Red Hood is a key figure and watching this film as a companion to Batman: Arkham Knight will be a treat.

Without spoiling any more on an animated feature with a runtime of 75 minutes, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a great Batman one shot and the best DC animated film I’ve seen to date.

3.5/5 – Stars

Check out these two Batman stories while you wait for the feature films coming to theatres next year.

Robert Ring

Pan’s Labyrinth

This is not only the finest fairy tale ever made but one of the greatest films of all time.

Firstly this is a Spanish film and luckily for English speaking viewers the director took it upon himself to translate the film, with english subtitles, thus keeping the dialogue to his vision. The result reads like a dream. It quickly immerses you and no longer do you realize you are watching a foreign film. This film has two worlds. There is the harsh overtone of Spain’s civil war during 1944, melded with the fantasy world seen only through the eyes of the young, eleven year old, protagonist Ofelia. Ofelia arrives at a newly commanded base of operations, in a mill. The leader of the operation is her newly acquainted stepfather, Captain Vidal. A man that is easily among the greatest of film villains. Ofelia never recognizes him as her father, as much as her pregnant mother tries. On the first night a fairy leads Ofelia from her bedroom and to a labyrinth. Here she meets the Faun. His name is said to be so old that only the wind and the trees can pronounce it. He tells her that she is Princess Moanna, daughter of the king of the Underworld. The labyrinth is the last portal that can send Ofelia to the Underworld. But first the Faun must test that her essence is intact. So Ofelia must complete three tasks before the moon is full. The tasks involve choices and the penalties for disobeying the Faun’s instructions. Captain Vidal is always there to compromise Ofelia’s progress, while continuing to battle against a rebel alliance of Spaniards. This fairy tale is far from a children’s story. It goes to dark places, brutal and horrific. It reminds us as adults that once upon a time we too still believed in a world of magic.

I have seen this film countless times now and I still learn new things with each viewing. There are only a few movies I get really excited about, when I find out people haven’t seen them and this is probably at the top of that list. I love being able to share it with people. It’s a special feeling to watch others discover how amazing this film is, usually from my persistence. I love it. I can not recommend it enough. It has a place in my top ten favourite films and if you are ever given the chance, you should check it out too.

4.5/5 – Stars

Robert Ring

Creed Trailer Released!

This year I dived into the Rocky franchise and watched all six films. It is one of the oldest film franchises ever made and I think it might be the longest running franchise with the same cast of characters. There is 39 years between Rocky (1976), and Creed (2015) at the end of this year. Creed is technically a spin off, but one where the character of Rocky takes the backseat as coach to Apollo Creed’s son. Well today the trailer for Creed hit the web and I’ve attached it below. It is everything we could want from a spin off of one of the finest movies, and it brings the journey full circle as Rocky’s own coach taught him.

Additionally here are my thoughts on the six Rocky movies, and if you are a newcomer I would say watch all but Rocky V.

Rocky (1976)
Rocky Balboa fights Apollo Creed – 4/5

Rocky II (1979)
Rocky Balboa fights Apollo Creed (Again) – 3/5

Rocky III (1982)
Apollo Creed trains Rocky to defeat Mr T – 3/5

Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky fights to avenge the death of Apollo Creed – 3/5

Rocky V (1990)
Rocky loses his money and turns to coaching – 2/5

Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky wants to fight one last time, sums up the legacy of Rocky and makes up for Rocky V – 3/5

Creed could be as good as the original Rocky, if not better with a great director in Ryan Cooglar and Michael B. Jordan in the title role. The baton will be passed and a new franchise may fill our cinemas for years to come.

Robert Ring

Welcome to KissTheMovies!

Here at KissTheMovies we will talk about the latest from film news, movie reviews, film lists and a little bit on the television side as well. This website is the start of what I hope to be a wondrous venture for myself and hopefully it translates to others as well.

I look forward to growing and communicating with many of you.

Robert Ring