Film Reviews by Milstead On Movies

Welcome to Milstead On Movies's film reviews page. Milstead On Movies has written 6 reviews and rated 315 films.

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12 Years a Slave

'Slavery is a tragedy that should befall none.'

(Edit) 07/07/2014

12 Years A Slave is a remarkably harrowing and uncomfortable watch based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in pre-Civil War New York, abducted from his wife and family and sold into the diabolical slave trade where he spent each day doing all he could to survive.

Director Steve McQueen (no, not that one) isn't afraid to show all the horrific ordeals of forced slavery, mothers separated from their children, 'inferior' workers flogged, whipped and occasionally hung.

Every single performance in this film is fantastic, Chiwetel Ejiofor appears in virtually every scene, mostly as a passive character who witnesses and experiences all the atrocities, but his performance is nevertheless excellent, especially in the closing stages. Lupita Nyony'o thoroughly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar as Patsey, whom Solomon befriends on a cotton plantation owned by the seething, dictatorial, cynically evil Epps (Michael Fassbender).

Not all the white people are the bad guy though, and some of them even help Solomon to win back his freedom, but these characters are few and far between and even those who do have redeeming qualities simply don't lessen the impact of Solomon's ordeal.

It's no surprise at all that this film was named Best Picture of 2013. An accolade most truly deserved.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Kill Your Darlings

Harry Potter & The Beat Generation

(Edit) 07/07/2014

With a title like 'Kill Your Darlings' I was expecting a much more taut, thrilling and dramatic film about a real-life murder.

Based on a true story, the movie focuses on the rise of the 'Beat Generation' writers Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, William S. Burroughs & Jack Kerouac as they plan to go against the grain of conventional prose and indulge themselves in a new wave of literature.

For the most part, the film plays out like Fight Club at Columbia University, except there's no fights, there's no conflict and there's no real drama, just a group of rather unpleasant, self-obsessed characters talking pretentiously and marvelling in their own genius. The only real rebellion they participate in on-screen is stealing the university's library keys to put banned works like Lady Chatterely's Lover on display.

One of the biggest faults I found with the film was how openly gay Ginsberg & Carr's characters were. Perhaps they were that way in reality, but considering the events in the story took place at a time when homosexuality was not just taboo but forbidden! I'm sure the entire point of the Beat Generation school of literature was to express their lifestyle choices through their writing. In my opinion, the film would have been much more powerful if the characters were wrestling internally with their sexual orientation, instead of leering salaciously at each other throughout the duration.

A murder does takes place in the story but it's very much on the periphery rather than being the integral part of the story that it should be.

Overall, the film is just a giant snorefest despite a handful of good performances, especially Dane DeHaan as Carr. Daniel Radcliffe, aside from resembling a young Allen Ginsberg is incredibly miscast (perhaps it's because his acting has no real depth. All I see is Harry Potter.)

Worth watching if you want to see a schoolboy wizard having his first gay kiss, but there's no entertainment or even educational value in this film. It's merely an independent film intended to shock with no real merits aside from some decent acting performances.

Also, the intentional anachronisms of having modern songs playing over the soundtrack borders upon criminal.

0 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life Of Ben Stiller

(Edit) 30/06/2014

Despite this being Ben Stiller's most mature work as director/star, but the film isn't really that special.

I've not seen the 1947 original starring Danny Kaye and therefore have to judge this film purely on it's own merits.

Stiller plays the title character, a photo archivist at a magazine publisher who escapes from his own mundane existence by daydreaming on a frequent basis, when the negative for the upcoming final issue of the magazine goes missing, Mitty goes on a worldwide quest to relocate it, taking him to Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas, meeting an array of characters while he pines for the woman of his dreams (Kristen Wiig). The main problem I had with this film was not knowing whether what I was seeing was real or merely a figment of Mitty's imagination and even by the end I was left completely unconvinced.

The performances are fine, the photography is excellent and there's some great visuals, but it's not really a great film.

Overall, it felt like an ego trip for Ben Stiller to go sightseeing and hiking up mountains.

I wouldn't say the film is disappointing, but it is a little bit pointless and has mixed messages, with a half-arsed moral of making every day count or making your dreams a reality, or even something as mundane as adventurous exploits shape your person.

It was all quite unconvincing because it all seemed like the character lived his life through his daydreams, even after the credits started rolling.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

'An Unexpected Journey'

(Edit) 30/06/2014

What was Peter Jackson thinking when he subjected us to the first film, which was practically two & a half hours of character building and the odd tribute to The Lord Of The Rings. The only scene of note was when Bilbo Baggins discovers Gollum & the 'ring', which we already knew by watching the LOTR trilogy.

In honesty, you could skip the first movie and be justly rewarded. You'd miss out on a bit of back story but you could easily pick it up and enjoy some brilliant scenes of action and adventure.

Bilbo, Gandalf & the dwarves are continuing their quest across Middle Earth from the first film and face peril at every step, across an enchanted forest, a kingdom of surly wood elves (including Legolas - Orlando Bloom), a floating village, before they eventually penetrate the dragon's (Smaug) lair.

As in the previous film and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, meticulous effort and sweeping photography transports you to the mythical Middle Earth convincingly and the visual effects, makeup, costumes and production design are as good as they can get, although it's a shame that CGI has replaced makeup when bringing some orcs to the screen. The CGI animation to bring Smaug to life however, is top notch and Benedict Cumberbatch was a very good casting decision for the dragon's powerful, creepy voice.

The ending sets up the third film nicely, although it's a shame about the crap Ed Sheeran song ('I See Fire') which plays over the end credits.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Frozen

Let it go...

(Edit) 27/06/2014

Am I missing something?

I just didn't seem to enjoy this as much as the rest of the world. Sure it's great animation in the usual Disney style with the studio's twist on a fairytale with the usual princesses, hulking heroes, dastardly villains and talking animals (well, snowmen in this case) but what makes this the most successful Disney film ever exactly???

The film's trailer had a walking, talking snowman named Olaf and a reindeer fighting over a carrot (Olaf's nose), but none of this comedy was in the film, instead it's an adaptation of a Hans Christian Anderson story where a newly coronated queen with magical powers hides in a fortress of solitude and makes her kingdom perennial winter while her sister is on a quest to break the curse.

It was entertaining, but I could've quite happily watched a whole film of tug-of-war over the carrot.

The songs (and there are many of them) are grating and enchanting in equal measure. 'Let It Go' is a truly great Disney song, but some of the others are simply too twee.

Overall, I'd say it's a good family film, but it's so incredibly overrated.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Step aside DeNiro!

(Edit) 27/06/2014

Leonardo DiCaprio & Martin Scorsese have a brilliant collaboration going on which is beginning to rival the screen legend's partnership with the great director.

This is the fifth film which DiCaprio has worked with Scorsese, following Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, The Departed & Shutter Island.

The Wolf Of Wall Street amounts pretty much to Goodfellas of the financial world. Based on the true story of Jordan Bellfort, a drug-addicted, sex-addicted, money-addicted stockbroker who lives life to full excess and pays the penalty when the FBI investigate his wrongdoing and underhand tactics.

This black comedy is as black as they come with DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and co all playing unsympathetic characters who get rich making others poor, indulging in the lifestyles of rich and famous and taking an insane amount of drugs.

Although the characters are morally unpleasant, this film is absolutely hilarious with the characters suffering from their own greed and self-indulgence.

In another year, DiCaprio might have won the Best Actor Oscar for this performance (he lost out to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club).

At nearly 3 hours, this film is a long slog and the first hour drags a little, but it's full steam ahead after that and a brilliant comedy of yuppie greed during the 1980's and 90's.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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