Posted in Film Review

Here’s to 2017!!

2017

Well, 2016 is officially coming to its end, and its certainly been a memorable one, though not always for the right reasons (looking at you US Presidential election!) But anyway, I just want to give everyone who has liked, read and interacted with me on my blog here a MASSIVE thank you! It honestly makes me so happy to interact with you all and to keep doing this. Having given this blog a bit of a redesign and renovation, with a much better name name if I do say so myself, I am looking forward to developing this blog further and seeing what 2017 holds for us in terms of cinema. I will be having a Most Anticipated Films of 2017 post very soon and my best films of 2016 post will be out around the middle of January once I have had a chance to catch all of those 2016 releases that trickle into January here.

Whatever you’re doing tonight, whether you’re staying in or going out, have a great time and here’s to 2017 and another superb year at the cinema!

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Ranking 2016 Superhero movies

There’s no question that right now, superhero films are REALLY popular. Lots of people flock to the cinemas to see them, and they take home big cash at the box office. This year combined, the 6 superhero offerings grossed a combined total of around 4.75 BILLION dollars. So although some are complaining about potential superhero fatigue, these films are clearly still very popular despite a lot of them coming out, and 2017 promises even more to come. Anywho with that said, it is fair to say that not all of these films have been received well by everyone and so it is time to rank these movies from worst to first, starting with…………………………………………

6. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman review

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After 2013’s Man of Steel, hope and expectations were riding on this film to really set the DCEU universe on its path to try and challenge the formidable machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it is safe to say, that this didn’t quite happen. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot certainly covered themselves in glory with their debut performances as Batman and Wonder Woman respectively, but that’s kind of where the good things about this film end. The plot was a bit all over the place, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was just so badly miscast, and the film just became a very effects driven mess, with some shocking CGI in parts (*cough* Doomsday *cough*) and some of the writing was just ridiculous, with so many plotlines blurred into one and one of the most ridiculous lines of 2016 with the whole, having mothers of the same name, being a reason to stop fighting one another, just no. Snyder so far is just all style and not a great deal of substance, let us hope he changes that up for Justice League.

5. X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse review

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After delivering what some could argue was the best X Men movie yet in 2014’s Days of Future Past, hopes were high for Bryan Singer to go back to this world to deliver another great X-Men film, but sadly those hopes were dashed with what was a bit of a disappointment. There were some great new additions to the cast, especially Sophie Turner’s young Jean Grey, and there were undeniably some great action sequences, and another brilliant Quicksilver scene, but something about this just felt off. The motivation for Apocalypse himself, and his four horseman (with the exception of Magneto) was extremely thin on the ground, and the stakes were not nearly as high as they were in Days of Future Past, despite Apocalypse threatening to bring about global destruction, and the end result was just a bit underwhelming.

4. Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad review

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This was my #1 most anticipated film of 2016, and upon release, I did not think it deserved the critical mauling it got from critics, and I enjoyed the movie for what it was. That being said this film is not without its problems, the script was a bit weak, which is unsurprising given how director David Ayer was only given 6 weeks to write it, and although some characters were great, other characters were not so great. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was excellent, and likewise with Will Smith as Deadshot. Jared Leto as the Joker looked promising but he was barely given any screen time at all, hopefully this is not the last we see of him in the role. Finally, the film just did not live up to those incredible trailers that promised a really exciting and fun film. The action was a bit choppy and it is possible that those reported reshoots didn’t do the film any favours.

3. Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange review

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE..Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)..Photo Credit: Film Frame ..©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

In all of its previous thirteen entries, the MCU has rarely dabbled in the world of magic. You could make the case for Thor but with the arrival of Doctor Steven Strange and his introductory film, that has now all changed. The Cumberbatch himself was an excellent choice to play Strange and the visuals that this film offered were visually just absolutely incredible with some very exciting action sequences to watch. However, once again the real letdown was the villain. Mads Mikkelsen is a supremely talented actor, but there just wasn’t enough backstory given for his character to make him a compelling a villain when compared to Loki. Yet Dr Strange does remain a very intriguing new player in the MCU picture, and one we will almost certainly see somewhere further down the Phase 3 line.

2. Deadpool

Deadpool review

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In this era of superhero dominance, there hasn’t been a comic book film that has quite pushed the boundary when it comes to extreme violence and expletives aplenty, this is until the Merc with a Mouth made his glorious debut onto the big screen good and proper. Ryan Reynolds was absolutely perfect in the titular character, the humour was great, and the action was a lot of fun to watch. This movie knew exactly what it was and it played to its strengths superbly well. Sure the story was a bit formulaic and the love story was a bit by the numbers, but in a year that was filled with some not so super superhero flicks, this was a delightful surprise and it is of no surprise that a sequel has been green lit, fans will undoubtedly be very excited to see Wade Wilson again on the big screen, in all of his red spandex glory.

1. Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War review

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No debate here. By far and away, the best superhero film of 2016 was Captain America’s third solo film. After the brilliant The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers pulled it out of the bag once again with this absolutely brilliant flick. Before hand you may have decided which team had your loyalties but the film does a sterling job of making you flit between the sides. Ultimately you understood the mindset of both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, and it made for a terrific watch watching these two, who have clashed many times in the MCU, bring their clash to an explosive battle. That airport scene is one of, if not the best MCU action scene maybe ever, and arguably even one of the best in any superhero film ever. The brilliant introductions to Black Panther and Spider Man, just made it so much fun to watch, and with the Russos set to return for Infinity War, those films are in very safe and capable hands.

That is my ranking of 2016’s superhero films, a mixed bag for sure, but with more coming in 2017, hopefully there will be a few more gems from next year. Despite DC’s efforts, Marvel is still reigning supreme right now, but will 2017 see a change in the terrain? I am sure your list is not the same as mine, so please comment below and let me know how you would rank these films. Be sure to follow Through the Silver Screen on Twitter and like Through the Silver Screen on Facebook as well!

Posted in 1990-1999, Film Review

The Lion King (1994)

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Image is property of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

The Lion King – Film Review

Cast:  Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Niketa Calame, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg

Directors: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

Synopsis: A young cub is being prepared by his father, the king of a pride of lions, to become the future king, while the King’s brother secretly plots to seize the throne for himself.

Review: If ever there was a studio that could perfectly demonstrate the enduring power and appeal of animated films that are almost universally adored for their brilliant characters, gorgeous animation and emotional scenes that really threaten to tug at your heartstrings to such an extent you become a big blubbering mess of happy and sad emotions, then Walt Disney Animation Studios and their extraordinary collection of films could be just the studio you were looking for. Yet, if there was one film that does all of the aforementioned things, and a film that has stood the test of time with flying colours, and has built itself an enduring legacy, loved universally by all generations, 1994’s The Lion King certainly ticks all of those boxes, in an emphatic manner.

A soaring and stirring musical number opens proceedings, and for the next ninety minutes or so, you are taken on an enthralling journey set in the heart of Africa, specifically on a pride of Lions, ruled over by Mufasa and his wife Sariba, and their young cub Simba. The young cub is taught all about life, and more specifically the great Circle of Life, via one of many absolutely brilliant and powerful songs, of which there are aplenty to be found here. Of course, life has its ups and downs and as Simba finds out, sometimes things can take a significant turn for the worse. Thus he goes on a journey that anyone watching can and will relate to in some way.

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The screenplay, inspired by the works of Shakespeare and more specifically Hamlet, packs plenty of powerful and emotive themes into it. It is profound and deeply moving, that will almost certainly leave a lasting impression on the viewer. the characters have a great many layers to them, perhaps none more so than Simba. Initially a brash, cocky cub, through time he becomes this wise, powerful Lion just like his father Mufasa, voiced by the one and only James Earl Jones. Like most animations, these days, there are more than a few scenes that get the audience emotional, and if you have seen this film, you certainly know what scene in particular here will ensure the audience will be looking for something to wipe away the tears. The voice cast is excellent from Matthew Broderick as Adult Simba, to Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, to Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as Timone and Pumba. Jeremy Irons as the villainous Scar was another excellent casting choice. Last but not least is Robert Guillaume as the hilarious Rafiki (friend in Swahili).

Disney animations have certainly become known for their great and extremely effective use of music in scenes. From the soaring opening number, to the more jovial tunes like Hakuna Matata, to the powerful Can You Feel the Love Tonight, the great songs are aplenty and they’re all extremely memorable. The great songs are exquisitely matched by the score from Hans Zimmer, which as usual, is near enough perfect. Disney has for a while been what some may argue as the champion of animation in cinema, and for an animation that came out over two decades ago, the animation has stood the test of time, and still remains absolutely excellent and breath taking to watch.

The Lion King has ensured it will remain a staple of animated entertainment for a great many years to come. Having generated a very popular  production that has also been on for several years now. It is safe to say that through all of their spectacular and brilliant animated features, there may not be a film that has stood the test of time and left its mark on numerous aspects of popular culture to such an extent, like the Lion King has. Disney has made many movies since, and although their greatness is undoubted, it is worth considering if any since have reached the remarkable heights that have been set by the Lion King. Hakuna Matata indeed!

Beautifully animated, with rich and complex characters, with incredible music and a wonderful score, this is truly one of Disney’s most undisputed masterpieces.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars story (2016)

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Image is property of Lucasfilm Ltd and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rogue One: A Star Wars story – Film Review

Cast:  Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmad, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whittaker

Director: Gareth Edwards

Synopsis: Telling the tale of the brave rebels who upon hearing about the Empire’s construction of a deadly weapon capable of destroying entire planets, set out on a brave mission to find and steal the weapon’s plans.

Review: “There will be no episode 7” the words of one George Lucas back in 2005, and for a long time that looked as though Lucas’s stance would not change. This is of course until Disney came calling to the tune of 4 billion dollars, and last year Episode 7 did arrive courtesy of JJ Abrams and Disney. Of course Disney had no plans to stop at Episode 7, with as well as two films to complete the new trilogy, there would be as of right now, three anthology films to come as well, giving Star Wars fans across the galaxy one new film every year until 2020.

Of course, as Lucas himself found out, making a prequel or three can be a risky endeavour, so the new creative faces behind the resurgence of Star Wars decided to pitch a story that would not touch the existing saga, but one that would sit nicely between say a couple. In the case of Rogue One, it sits between Episodes III and IV, the focus is on a rag-tag group of rebels led by Jyn Erso (Jones) who make a daring move for the plans to the lethal Death Star weapon. The franchise has boasted plenty of great action down the years, but rarely have they ever felt like it was truly Star WARS. Well enter director Gareth Edwards and writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy who really put the war in Star Wars and then some!

Edwards proved he could handle action well like he did in 2014’s Godzilla reboot, and here he demonstrates his considerable talents once again. The action particularly in the third act is utterly compelling and just brilliant to watch in all of its glory. It’s almost like Saving Private Ryan, but in Space! Much like what Abrams did with Awakens, the world Edwards has also created just looks and feels like Star Wars, with a few familiar faces in there brought incredibly to life by the wonder that is CGI but of course some new characters, all of whom are compelling to watch, but some are more developed than others. The cinematography too is tremendous, and much like Awakens, there is a great emphasis on the use of practical sets, and not relying on Green Screen, bonus points if you can spot the use of a London Underground station as an Imperial base!

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Image is property of Disney.

Jones is excellent as Jyn Erso, a character who has had a difficult past, but after a big discovery becomes personally connected with the story, she’s the lead and the most well developed, because she is a key part of the Imperial’s plans for reasons that will not be disclosed here, but there are others who absolutely shine as well. Cassian Andor (Luna) is excellent as the main support for Jyn, with Donnie Yen as a blind Rebel warrior at one with the force, and an absolute badass! Comic relief characters often come in droid shaped sizes, and this void is filled excellently by newbie K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. Beyond these guys, the rest of the crew are a little bit light on character development, but the aforementioned trio certainly aren’t. On the flip side there’s one key new villain in Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic, almost your typical pantomime villain, who sneers at just about everyone and anything. Of course one Darth Vader makes his presence known once again, largely thanks to James Earl Jones’s booming voice and it’s an absolute joy to see one of cinema’s best ever villains back on the big screen.

Many took aim at Awakens  for being too similar to A New Hope. For sure there are some obvious visual nods and throwbacks, to please the fans, but ultimately given the poor reception of the prequels it was the safe route to have taken to launch the new trilogy. Of course Rogue One does do something similar with neat little visual nods to certain characters but by the time the enthralling third act arrives, gone are the Star Wars familiarities, it’s all out war in every sense of the word, with reminiscent shots of World War II and epic battles occurring on the beaches of this planet, and the CGI remains at a very high standard, with Michael Giacchino stepping in as a late replacement for Alexandre Desplat, delivering another superb score, the first not composed by John Williams.

For Disney, their colossal investment to take control of this franchise is certainly looking to be a wise decision, and one that is looking set to pay off big time. The studio raked in the cash following the release of Force Awakens. Although it’s unlikely that Rogue One will make the 2 billion The Force Awakens made, there’s every chance that Rogue One will make some serious cash. Right now, The Force is strong with this franchise, and the all powerful Disney machine in many ways resembles the Galactic Empire in terms of its sheer power, but Disney certainly doesn’t seem to have any plans to build a giant planet killing weapon!

This is everything the prequels should have been but really weren’t. It manages to strike a great balance between everything you know and love about this franchise, whilst also going in some exciting new directions.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

No Country For Old Men (2007)

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Image is property of Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage

No Country For Old Men – Film Review

Cast:  Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Synopsis: When a man stumbles across a drug deal that has gone sour and finds a suitcase with a large amount of cash, he finds himself being pursued by a relentless hit-man who will stop at nothing to reclaim the cash…

Review: What would you do if you happened to come across a substantial amount of cash that you found in the desert? Chances are you’d probably take the loot and run as fast as you could for the hills. Yet what if you knew (somehow) that the money was the subject of a drug deal that had gone just a bit awry? Would you think twice? You might well do if you knew that there was a psychopathic man after you, who will stop at nothing to recover the loot from said drug deal.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, at the centre of this thriller is Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) who upon finding the aforementioned loot does decide to bag the cash and make a run for it, along with his wife Carla Jean (MacDonald). However his pursuer Anton Chigurh (Bardem) is the crazy mofo who is after the cash, and possess machine like determination in order to hunt Moss down and reclaim the cash. Thus this gives the audience a game of cat and mouse, that is brilliantly written and expertly brought to the screen by the Coen brothers. Right from the moment the chase begins, the tension begins and never abates until the credits role. The dialogue is minimal in some scenes but the tension remains high throughout the two hour run time as you watch this chase unfold.

The film is bolstered immeasurably by the performances of its three main actors, all of whom give excellent performances, Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as the gruff Sheriff Ed Tom Bell who becomes involved in the chase between Moss and Chigurh, all the while becoming horrified with what the world has become. Brolin, as the mouse in the chase, is also excellent determined to do whatever it takes to survive, mainly due to the strong love of his wife . Yet, it is undoubtedly Bardem who gives the most impressive performance. Here’s a man who could make the most innocuous conversation sound utterly terrifying, such as a conversation about the toss of a coin. He hunts his prey with Terminator like efficiency with even a terrifying haircut! He will spare no one in his quest to reclaim the cash, and is certainly remains one of the finest psychopathic, menacing villains that has ever been put to the big screen.

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The Coens masterful writing, lifting McCarthy’s novel from page to screen excellently, and their exquisite direction is aided by the usually flawless cinematography from Roger Deakins, marking his incredible 8th collaboration with the Coens. Both were recipients of Oscar nods for their incredible work, and in the case of the Coens, it was three times a charm as took home the prizes for directing, writing for an Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, as well as a well earned triumph for Bardem for Supporting Actor. Sadly Deakins did not take home the gong for cinematography, but the sheer quality of his work remains crystal clear. What also remains clear is that this is one of, if not, the finest pieces of work from the Coens. The ending leaves much open to interpretation, as such, it may jar with some, but when you sit down and assess everything you have witnessed, it is absolutely perfect, a word that could be used to describe just about every aspect of this extraordinary film.

Anchored by three outstanding performances by its leads, with brilliant dark humour thrown in for good measure, this is the Coen brothers’s masterpiece, without any question of a doubt.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Moana (2016)

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Image is property of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Moana – Film Review

Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker

Synopsis:  Moana, the daughter of the ruler of an Ancient Polynesian tribe, sets out on a journey to find the demi-god Maui whose actions have threatened to wreak havoc on their way of life.

Review: Is there a movie studio out there that seems as though with each passing film that they release is a massive hit and rakes in the cash at the Box Office? One could make the argument for Marvel Studios, but certainly one studio that seems to be on an unstoppable run at the minute would be Walt Disney Animation Studios. Their first 2016 release Zootopia/Zootropolis raked in over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and was a smash hit with just about everyone who saw it. Their latest effort proves that the studio is still bringing home the bacon, and in some style too.

The story focuses on our titular character who after being brought up by her father to be the future leader of their clan, is determined to break from the role her parents want her to be, and become the person she wants to be. Their situation becomes somewhat desperate when the demi-god Maui who without spoiling too much, has made some decisions that are threatening their island and way of life with dire consequences. As such, with typical Disney Princess determination and courage, she sets sail in order to save her people. Disney has certainly forged a reputation for telling Princess stories and telling them with beautiful animation, rich and diverse characters, some singing and a really fun and exciting adventure, and Moana is no exception to this trend.

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It is something of a cliche at this point to say that the animation is great because with Disney, you wouldn’t expect anything less, but in this instance the animation is truly something to behold, the sheer amount of detail that has clearly gone into the creation of everything you see on screen is absolutely crystal clear. Directors Ron Clements and Rich Musker, having worked on gems such as Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, certainly bring their strong experience to the table. Of course superb animation would be pretty rubbish if the story with it was no good, but no chance of that here, as the screenplay by Jared Bush, with a little help from one Taika Waititi, is excellent. The gorgeous animation is aided by, as is so often the case with Disney and in particular Disney princess stories, great music and great songs that could very well give Let it Go a strong run for its money, and just maybe an Oscar nod for Original Song.

Disney so often creates multi-dimensional characters that audiences can gravitate to, particularly in the case of Moana, in a similar vein to Frozen’s Elsa is a strong-willed and fierce female protagonist who is not dependent on a man to tell her what or what not she needs to do. Opposite her is of course Dwayne Johnson’s Maui who at first is a bit rude and dismissive of Moana but over the course of the film grows to respect her. The pair make a solid duo and you cannot help but get excited as they go on their adventure, all the while being accompanied by a rather hilarious and somewhat dim chicken named Hei Hei, who certainly tries his hardest to steal the show, and in some cases succeeds.

There are times when the story, although it is very well done, is not sailing any new seas. You would be forgiven for thinking you have been here before, but with the excellent characters that you become invested in, you want to go on this adventure and marvel at the joyous animation on screen. Between this and Zootopia alone, Disney has had one superb year, and if you include Pixar and well Marvel and Star Wars, then the wind is certainly in Disney’s sails alright! Furthermore between Disney’s offerings, Finding Dory and the many other animated films to have graced the silver screen this year, the race for that Animated gong in this year’s Awards season could be a very interesting one indeed.

With every film they make, Disney just keeps making hit after hit, and with breathtaking animation and well developed characters, Moana is another fine piece of work that has all the ingredients to become a future classic.

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