Posted in Film Feature, Ranking

Ranking Christopher Nolan Filmography (Collaboration)

In terms of directors working today who have had quite the considerable impact of modern day films and film-making, one name that would surely come to mind would be one Christopher Edward Nolan. Since making his directorial debut in 1998, he has made 10 feature films, and through his fine filmography, he has covered a wide range of subjects in his movies, and his films certainly have the tendency to really challenge their audiences and get the mind working.

With the director’s next film, Dunkirk now in cinemas, it begs the question, what is Nolan’s best film? I have assembled a team of fine film folk to collectively rate and slate all of Nolan’s current filmography, ranking them from worst to best: These fine folks are: Plain, Simple Tom, Nathan, Markus, Angus, QuickFire Reviews, RyanMaddy and yours truly. Please be sure to give all those great people a look see via the hyperlinks in their name! Without further ado, let’s get cracking, and see our individual thoughts on each of Nolan’s films:

Following (1998)

Maddy: There is something immediately fascinating about this film. It’s a little bit student film-like, with performances that certainly aren’t great, yet the overall film has such a unique style to it that it was undoubtedly going to put Nolan on the road to success. Not his best, but definitely worth a watch to see where it all began. (6/10)

Tom: A simple yet intriguing story, Nolan starts his foray into the film world with this overlooked film, using the homes of friends and family in which to shoot in.Not extraordinary but always intriguing. Plus, a bat symbol on one of the doors. #foreshadowing. (7/10)

Markus: Following is an ambitious ham sandwich budget debut feature from Christopher Nolan. And for the most part it paid off. Not perfect, but definitely a good way for Nolan to get his foot in the industry. (8/10)

QuickFire Reviews: Made on a budget of $6000, Nolan’s directorial debut – for the limits and restraints in received in production – turns out superbly. From the very start Nolan as a director clearly has an eye for detail, crafting an exceptionally intimate, stylish and engaging character study. (8.5/10)

Ryan: Christopher Nolan’s underground debut feature may not be a perfect film, but it’s a faultless prelude to his now world famous filmography. You can see him beginning to toy with narrative, you can sense his recognisable character types beginning to emerge. It under 70 minutes, Following comes at you quickly but doesn’t skimp on the goods – a solid debut feature with more than enough to chew on. (8/10)

Memento (2000)

Tom: Another unique premise brought to life by a clever script and a handful of fascinating performances. (9/10)

Martin: Almost unlike anything that has ever been to screen before, and since its release, there has never been a film quite like Memento. Riveting storytelling, with a very unique premise and one of the best ever performances that Guy Pearce has given across his career. And for the Love of God, PLEASE don’t remake this movie Hollywood!! (10/10)

Nathan: While Memento succeeds through its direction, with an impressive use of dual narratives coalescing terrifically, the narrative is somewhat repetitive and really challenges your concentration levels come the middle third. That said, it is largely enjoyable and serviceable in delivering us the Nolan we know and love today. (6.5/10)

Markus: Nolan manages to create a fiendishly clever story with Memento, making perfect use of it’s fractured narrative and forgetful protagonist. Guy Pearce gives a fantastic performance that often gets overlooked by people. This movie is far from forgettable. (10/10)

Angus:  The film that is known for being backwards, ‘Memento’ does a fantastic job at keeping your interest within its unusual structure. The film will have you continuously guessing what has happened in what is arguably Guy Pearce’s best performance. A great concept with interesting characters make this film perhaps Nolan’s most unique. (9.25/10)

Ryan: How many film makers create something as good as Memento so early in the career? The film may benefit more from its structure than I’d care to admit (when watched in chronological order, a lot of the magic is lost) but Nolan’s exploration of time and memory is the film’s selling point. Why mark a film down for something it technically hasn’t done? Memento is smart, intricate storytelling and one of Nolan’s strongest scripts. (9.5/10)

Maddy: Massively impressed by this film. It’s so similar to Following but with a Hollywood upgrade, & it pays off really well. Love how we see the same scenes repeated over & linked & slowly pieced together, we don’t know who to trust or what to make of things: exactly what Leonard’s life is like. It’s clever in an effortless manner. (7/10)

Insomnia (2002)

Ryan: Insomnia is my least favourite of Nolan’s films. The performances are strong and the film’s atmospheric work is immersive, but there’s something missing from this one. A bold twist, a new direction for the film to take. Insomnia isn’t a bad film by any means, but it’s Nolan’s most forgettable work by a wide margin. (7.5/10)

Tom: A neat thriller with a fine cast, especially Robin Williams who gives one of his best ever performances. 7/10

Markus: Insomnia is Nolan’s most underrated movie. It’s an incredibly captivating murder mystery that takes a few interesting twists and turns. Pacino delivers a fantastic performance. I love it. (10/10)

Angus: Insomnia brings great performances from Al Pacino and Robin Williams as the cat and mouse game provides gripping entertainment. The struggle from Pacino’s character works very well alongside the mystery aspect of the film that is worth revisiting. (8/10)

Maddy: It’s not written by Nolan so it doesn’t have the same layout or rhythm of his other films, yet through his direction his unmistakable vibe is there. The acting really is first class here, with Al Pacino, Robin Williams & Hillary Swank all brilliant as you’d expect three Oscar winners to be. The audience is given everything but in a manner that seems to gradually distort along with Pacino’s character’s mentality – it’s clever, but easier watching than some of Nolan’s other work. (7/10)

Batman Begins (2005)

QuickFire Reviews: A comic-book franchise opener like no other Batman Begins matches Nolan with an equally talented cast to create a deeper, darker and downright thrilling portrayal of The Dark Knight, without ever becoming stale or monotonous. (9/10)

Maddy: This is how you do a superhero origin story. What I adore about the Nolan Batman trilogy & why I think it remains so successful is how much reality he gave it. Whereas in the past we’d seen Batman prancing around in his grey spandex with cheesy fight sound effects, this grounded the vigilante character & created a much darker & tangible take on the classic. Christian Bale makes a brilliant debut as both Bruce Wayne & Batman, & with Michael Caine at his side in what will forever be the perfect Alfred portrayal, this really was a hell of a start to a great trilogy; dark & intense without becoming overwhelming. (8/10)

Tom: Nolan reboots the Batman film universe in spectacular fashion with this exciting, cool, exquisitely designed film. It’s an excellent origin story with a superb cast and a great plot. (9/10)

Martin: The rebirth of the Batman, after the character died in ignominious circumstances. Told through Nolan’s brilliant vision with an exciting look at The Caped Crusader and his origins, magnificently acted by its super talented cast, and a truly gripping story of one man’s journey from man to symbol. (8.5/10)

Nathan: Batman Begins is a sluggish start for the rebooted Batman but helps sets the wheels in motion for an otherwise impressive franchise of films. The performances are decent but the chosen story is weak and, surprisingly, forgettable. (6.5/10)

Ryan: I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy a Batman trilogy when I first saw Batman Begins. The film is well crafted and suitably dark, telling the Bruce Wayne story in a harsher way than before, but it perhaps gets too bogged down in its “origin story” style to break away from the mould entirely. Still, it’s a stronger superhero film than anything we’ve had in the last four years. (8/10)

Angus: In my opinion, this is the best superhero origin story that does great at establishing the famous character. The Batman series needed rebooted badly and Nolan’s darker, more realistic take makes for a great viewing. The film balances its characters very well especially with its villains making Nolan’s first superhero film a successful one. (8.75/10)

Markus: After the Batman movie franchise was more or less killed off by Schumacher’s movies, Nolan managed to revitalise it with Batman Begins. An exciting action-drama that gives us a fascinating and fresh look at the characters and the world they inhabit. It also helps that the performances are top-notch. (10/10)

 

The Prestige (2006)

Martin:  Everyone loves a good magic trick, and for Nolan, this enthralling tale of two rival magicians trying to outdo the other makes for some spellbinding entertainment that will keep your eyes transfixed on screen right from the first shot all the way to the last. With two terrific performances from Bale and Jackman, as well as the late David Bowie, and one heck of an ending. (9/10)

Tom: With two charismatic performances at the centre, this film has an intriguing story that constantly keeps you guessing. A tantalising mystery with some neat visuals and a fine ending. (8/10)

Nathan: The Prestige is an absorbing and somewhat hypnotising picture, bolstered by two terrific central performances and Nolan’s reliably impressive direction. Most admirable though is that there is nothing quite like this film, demonstrating Nolan’s ability to make ground-breaking and innovative cinema. (7.5/10)

Markus: Layered, complex, and filled with twists and turns, The Prestige shows Nolan at his most fiendishly clever. Tricking you at every moment it can, like a good magic trick, The Prestige is one that shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone. (10/10)

Angus: A film about two magicians trying to one up one another is full of twists and turns that will make sure that you are watching every second until the credits role. And then after that, you will be thinking about what has actually just happened and how they pulled it off. This is a film that will stay with you for days and changes the way you watch it the second time around. There are so many layers to this film that make it special, magical if you will. (9.25/10)

Ryan: There’s a cult of film fans who loudly herald The Prestige to be Nolan’s best film and, while I don’t agree, it isn’t tough to see why. This is a starkly original work from Nolan, one that benefits from countless rewatches to fully comprehend not only the story it tells but the way it tells it. The final twist is certainly of the “make it or break it” kind, but if you fit in the former category it’ll turn a good film into a great one. (9/10)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Markus: The Dark Knight isn’t just a showcase for one of the best performances of 2008 (Heath Ledger), but it’s also a layered and suspenseful crime-drama filled with plenty of awesome moments. It’s also beautifully shot and features an excellent score from Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. (10/10)

Tom: Surely Nolan’s magnum opus, The Dark Knight earns its place as one of the best superhero films ever. Amazing set pieces, a thrilling score, cool bat-action, a solid script and all round excitement. Oh yeah and there’s this guy called the Joker and he’s played by Heath somebody; apparently he’s awesome.  (9/10)

Angus: The finest superhero movie ever made is always closely linked to Heath Ledger’s stunning performance as The Joker. However, there is a lot more to the film as its filled with many great moments making ‘The Dark Knight’ a modern classic and the best within its genre. Aaron Eckhart’s performance as Harvey Dent/Two Face is also magnificent as his character development throughout the film is exceptional. The opening heist scene and interrogation scene between Christian Bale and Ledger are two particular highlights. (9.5/10)

Martin: In short, one of, if not THE, best superhero movies ever made, and what a sequel should do. Taking it in dark, mysterious and exhilarating new directions. A masterclass performance from Heath Ledger as the Clown Prince of Crime, among a plethora of wonderful performances and just some darn good action sequences! Now there’s a truly great Batman movie! (10/10)

Nathan: The Dark Knight is masterful in almost every sense of the word: as a superhero film, as a blockbuster, as an action-thriller, as a character study, The Dark Knight is perfect. Combining Nolan’s magnificent direction, a wonderful script and incredible ensemble performances (particularly from the late Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight is everything we love to see in cinema. (9.5/10)

QuckFire Reviews: It’s difficult to say the perfect film exists – but if it did it would look like this. From the visceral action sequences, razor edge tone and score, stunning cinematography and a script that elevates the material to what was previously viewed as unreachable heights, The Dark Knight also features my favourite and one of the all-time greatest acting performances in Heath Ledger’s menacing, complex and often funny turn as the Joker. A truly unforgettable viewing experience, destined to forever be a classic. (10/10)

Ryan: How many sequels not only improve on their predecessor, but actually grow to become recognised as a classic? The Dark Knight is a masterpiece of superhero cinema, and when people throw it around it conversations of the greatest films of all time, its inclusion in such discussion doesn’t feel unearned. Led by an unforgettable performance from Heath Ledger and a narrative as momentous as it is explosive, The Dark Knight will sit at the top of the superhero throne for a very long time – one might even argue forever. (10/10)

Maddy:  Nine years on & nothing has changed in how brilliant this film is. Without a doubt the greatest superhero movie, & one of the best performances of all time from Heath Ledger as the Joker. It’s unlike anything else – seamlessly continuing the trilogy whilst building on it, making it broodier & more gripping. Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over the role of Rachel from Begins’ Katie Holmes transforms the character into something far greater than a damsel in distress. And Heath Ledger – where do you even start? He to date is the best Joker, exactly as the character was intended to be. He is truly unpredictable in the most unsettling & jaw dropping way, & in an exceptional way seduces every viewer with his ever changing anecdotes & sick jokes. Another realm of film-making. (10/10)

Inception (2010)

Nathan: Inception may be too complex for its own good at times, but its mind-bending premise, terrific ensemble cast and brilliant visuals are all helmed by Nolan with aplomb and sophistication. It may be the smartest, most innovative film of the decade and one that deserves to be remembered for years/decades to come. (9/10)

Tom: A unique, mind-bending concept, spectacular visuals and a flawless ensemble cast. Surely one of Nolan’s most ambitious films – you ain’t never seen anything like this before! (9/10)

Martin: Dreams, within dreams, within dreams. Crikey what a mind-boggling premise, and one that in the wrong hands could have been an enormous bloated mess, but yet again Nolan makes it all work, with a first class screenplay, utterly bonkers but quite brilliant visuals, another top notch ensemble cast, and absolutely mind-bending action sequences. (9.5/10)

Markus: Taking an idea as complex as Inception’s could turn out really convoluted and bad, but Nolan manages to make it all work. The cast is fantastic, and the score by Hans Zimmer might be the best he’s ever done. Complex, exciting, and epic, Inception is my personal favorite of Nolan’s movies. (10/10)

Angus: I believe this to be Nolan’s best film as it succeeds on so many levels. Thoroughly entertaining whilst being a film that really makes you think makes this truly remarkable. The story is solid and is helped by breathtaking visuals and a phenomenal cast which is the best ensemble that Nolan has worked with. ‘Inception’ is innovative and clever whilst maintaining an exhilarating feeling throughout the whole of the runtime. Again, this is a film that gets better with repeat viewings as you start to pick up little details you may have missed at first glance. Nolan’s finest work to date. (9.75/10)

QuickFire Reviews: With a memorable score, an impeccable cast, stunning visuals and a director that compliments the larger than life concepts, Inception is sleek, engaging and mind-bending all at once, without ever being over convoluted. Though I have never been the greatest fan of this movie, I laud it for being what it is – a thoroughly intelligent blockbuster. (8/10)

Ryan: I won’t beat around the bush here – Inception is my favourite film. It’s the one that drew me into the world of the film, the one that opened my eyes as to the limitlessness of cinema. The film’s action sequences are exhilarating and the narrative structure is sensational, but it’s Inception’s emotional core that mesmerises me with every rewatch. Benefitted further by Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece of a soundtrack, I doubt I will ever love another film in the ways that I love Inception. (10/10)

Maddy: This seemed like Nolan’s real breakout into high budget films he set out to make. Inception is so difficult to explain, but so brilliantly told that you don’t realise that it is confusing (if that makes sense at all). Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal in the lead, with more excellent performances from Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy & more. (8/10)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Maddy: I know that The Dark Knight is the best film in this trilogy, & the best comic book movie of all time. But I think Dark Knight Rises is my favourite; it’s the only one I saw in theatres after my Uncle introduced me to the films one weekend in the summer. I am utterly in love with Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, & Joseph Gordon Levitt being revealed as a sneaky Robin was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Following in the footsteps of an iconic performance as an iconic villain was hard for this film, but Tom Hardy as Bane is a fantastic villain & Marion Cotillard is genius. And then just go round it off, we have Gary Oldman & Michael Caine being absolute sweethearts & making you want to weep from it all. (8/10)

Tom: Concluding the Dark Knight trilogy, Tom Hardy makes for a . . . unique . . . Bane but the overall story is often muddled and unfathomable. Regrettably a bit disappointing. Then again, The Dark Knight was nigh-on impossible to top. (7/10)

Martin: With two excellent films in his trilogy completed, wrapping up the trilogy in the wake of The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger’s death was always going to be tough. The story is far from perfect, but a plethora of intriguing new addition, the highlight being Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, mixed in with familar faces, and some absolutely batshit (pun not intended!) action scenes, with Tom Hardy truly menacing as Bane, ensure it was a fitting end to Nolan’s Dark Knight Legend. (8.5/10)

Nathan: The Dark Knight Rises may not match the success of its predecessor but it marks a vast improvement on the first in the series, presenting a satisfying and enjoyable conclusion to one of the most acclaimed trilogies of our cinematic time. (8/10)

Markus: Filled with spectacle and a good sense of finality, The Dark Knight Rises is a solid end to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. There are moments of “Eh” at a few points throughout, but overall this is a great movie. (9/10)

Angus: The Dark Knight trilogy ended with its weakest film as ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ did feel a level below Nolan’s usual standard of work. This is a fun film for sure as it is packed with some great action and moments. Tom Hardy is great as Bane, posing a true physical threat to Batman whilst being incredibly clever. However, I feel the film dips in quality after the first encounter between Batman and Bane. At this point there are many questionable and convenient moments that have many problems. However, I can’t deny that this is still a fun blockbuster to watch. (7.75/10)

QuickFire Reviews:  Ambitious, haunting yet also immensely crowd-pleasing, Rises is not quite as refined as its predecessors, but is an overly satisfying conclusion, to Nolan’s revolutionary trilogy. (8.5/10)

Ryan: Is The Dark Knight Rises a perfect film? No. In fact, it isn’t even a perfect conclusion to the trilogy. But it’s big, and big is good enough when surrounded by as many strong components as this film has. Some sloppy fight scenes and questionable plot holes aside, The Dark Knight Rises is a climactic and emotional trilogy closer, a film that coasts on its ambition and ends up as more than the sum of its parts. (9.5/10)

Interstellar (2014)

 Tom: Undeniably ambitious and impressive with its visuals and score but hindered by a cumbersome sentimentality that holds it back while it’s trying to be a big sci-fi epic. As Danny Leigh said: “like trying to land a 747 in someone’s back garden.” (7/10)

Angus: This sci-fi film really brings emotion mainly due to McConaughey’s performance and his character Coop’s relationship with his daughter Murph. This is a truly beautiful film with great sets and special effects showing how well Nolan can work with the latest technology. ‘Interstellar’ showcases Nolan’s creativity as he looks for new ways to get his ideas onto the big screen. The ending didn’t work entirely for me and I do feel that the effects overshadowed the story in this film making it weaker than most of Nolan’s previous endeavours. A film that I would definitely recommend all to watch at least once as its provides a great experience. (8.25/10)

Martin: A very ambitious film to say the least, but if anyone could pull it off, Nolan could and he did. A deeply powerful, human story at its core mixed in with the usual top calibre of performances, some truly stunning visual effects, and a spine-tingling score from Mr Hans Zimmer. (9/10)

Maddy: I was late to the Interstellar game, but oh boy was it worth the wait. I started crying about twenty minutes in & didn’t stop until long after the credits rolled – & at it’s two hour forty nine minute run time that really means something. Every single actor gives it their all, making this futuristic & unrelatable scenario absolutely emotionally touching from the get go. Matthew McConahay, Jessica Chastain & Anne Hathaway are simply phenomenal, the score is beautiful & the entire story is uniquely effecting. I can’t fault it. (10/10)

Nathan: Interstellar is a smart and engaging slice of science-fiction that unfortunately crumbles in its third act; complex ideas progress into conceited ones, twists develop unsatisfyingly, with a few uneven performances in the mix – but with Nolan at the helm, it is still worth a watch. (7.5/10)

Markus: With an almost three long hour run-time and a focus on philosophical themes, Interstellar is a movie that will test some viewers’ patience. Patient moviegoers on the other hand will be rewarded with an intriguing, if mildly up it’s own ass idea, great performances, great music, and fantastic visuals. Also, Matthew McConaughspace. (9.5/10)

QuickFire Reviews: Interstellar is wonderfully filmed, both incorporating aspects of old Hollywood genre film-making, with Nolan’s stamp of uniqueness. It loses a lot of is steam and begins to pander to the extent that I fail to call this a great movie, but it is still as well-crafted as it is ripe with gorgeous visuals and emotion. (8.5/10)

Ryan: Much like his previous film, Nolan took on a lot with Interstellar. The film’s final act will always be divisive, but I hold no restrains in admitting my love for it. The film is visually stunning, but its conclusion takes an already bold film and twists it into something staggeringly ambitious – and, in my eyes, it nails it. Interstellar is one of those films that I love – and always will love – unequivocally, but for those that really don’t get on board with it? I hear ya. Interstellar is a funny one, but it works for me. (9.5/10)

Dunkirk (2017)

Our thoughts on Dunkirk will be added to this post in the coming days, watch this space!

Now that we’ve all had our minds blown by the remarkable filmography of Christopher Nolan, how do we collectively rank his films when we average out all of our scores? Here are the results:

9. Following: 7.5

8. Insomnia: 7.9

7. The Dark Knight Rises: 8.3

6. Batman Begins: 8.5

5. Interstellar: 8.7

4. Memento: 8.75

3. The Prestige 8.8

2. Inception 9.2

 1. The Dark Knight: 9.75

And there we have it, it seems we as a team share the perspective of many a film fanatic out there, with the Dark Knight ranking as our favourite Nolan film combined. For many people, there is a belief that Nolan has not made a bad movie, and if our scores are any indication, we would also probably agree with that sentiment! How would you rank Nolan’s films? Comment below and let us know!

 Massive thanks to my awesome contributors!

Posted in Film Feature

Star Wars: Top 5 Imperial Officers of the Empire

Written by Dominic Evans

We all know the stories of the “Rebel scum” in a galaxy far, far away, but what of the achievements and accomplishments of the Imperial Officers of the Empire? The bad guys we love to hate! Who were the officers who fought those insurgents, maintained order to the galaxy through fear and helped stabilise the first Galactic Empire? It would have been impossible for Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader alone to maintain control and security, and I don’t think you would see the Sith undertaking any of the admin work! Prepare the single reactor ignition… You may fire when ready!

5. Colonel Yularen

 

Blink while watching the first meeting of the high ranking Imperial personnel aboard the first Death Star in A New Hope and you will miss him. The old man of experience (donning a crisp white tunic) began his Star Wars story as an unnamed background character that first got his name through a customisable card game! Wulff Yularen has since been handed a rich backstory.

Beginning as an admiral in the Republic Navy, he served gallantly in the Clone Wars, commanding a Cruiser while serving General Anakin Skywalker. A man who respects command and an admirer of bravery and public duty, Yularen became Colonel of the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) at the rise of the Empire, exposing instances of sedition in the Imperial Senate and later identifying and rooting out rebel spies. One adventure (season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels) had him on board the Chimaera with a blue-faced, red-eyed Chiss, exposing the rebel spy known as “Fulcrum”, Agent Kallus.

His presence was demanded on the Death Star to allay concerns of the station’s security because those pesky Rogue One Rebels stole the battle station’s technical plans. Colonel Wulff Yularen perished on board the Death Star on its destruction at the Battle of Yavin.

4.Grand General Tagge

“If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this battle station it is possible –however unlikely – that they might find a weakness and exploit it”.

General Cassio Tagge, General and Chief of the Imperial Army, was the only Imperial that took the threat posed by the Rebels seriously, following the theft of the Death Star plans. How right he was! In A New Hope, during the joint chiefs meeting, Tagge’s concerns about the Rebels building support in the Imperial Senate were dismissed heavily by Admiral Motti (who was thereafter choked out by Darth Vader who found “his lack of faith disturbing”). Tagge was not aboard the Death Star upon its destruction (as he was investigating Princess Leia’s false claims of a Rebel base on Dantooine) and was later praised for his foresight by the Emperor himself. He was promoted to Grand General and placed in charge of the Imperial military, charged with the Imperial’s expansion of the Outer Rim.

After the Battle of Yavin, due to the increasing disappointment the Emperor had in Vader, the part-man, part-machine was placed under Tagge’s command. Tagge was an effective and methodical analyst who was very critical of “Tarkin’s Folly” (the Death Star). He pondered on the amount of Super Star Destroyers the Empire could have built instead. Frightening thought! Commander of the Annihilator, Tagge’s power and authority grew, but so did his overconfidence. Holding the well-known Imperial trait, his arrogance blinded his belief that he could wield Vader as his own personal attack dog. How wrong he was after being so right! Vader ultimately killed Tagge the second after he was demoted following an attempted coup.

3. Director Krennic

Cunning. Ambitious. Unpredictable. Volatile. Devoid of compassion, mercy and regard for innocent lives. A working-class man who rose through Imperial ranks thanks to his ruthlessness to earn respect, his determination to make a name for himself and his born-given talent of being a master manipulator. Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Imperial militarily and think-tank behind the might of the Death Star, ultimately fell under his own arrogance and obsessions. He was also the only man in the Empire who insisted on wearing a white cape!

After rising to the fore within the Republic Corps of Engineers, following his education within the exclusive Galactic Republic’s Future Program (where he met Galen Erso, the man behind the exhaust port), Krennic manipulated Galen into advancing the research on weaponising kyber crystals for the Death Star’s energy weapon. Working beyond his command, Krennic single-handedly orchestrated the creation of the battle station, utilising smugglers across the galaxy to supply the precious resources, turning them over to the Empire once finished. He was well-known for possessing memorable sarcastic tones: “Oh, look! Here’s Lyra. Back from the dead. It’s a miracle” when Lyra Erso appears with a blaster after Galen had said she died, and “Are we blind?!” following explosions across Scarif.

However, his downfall begun and ended with his grand rival, Grand Moff Tarkin. Krennic cunningly sprung a long-fought battle on Tarkin in the Salient system while he advanced Project Celestial Power behind his back to gain more favour with the Emperor. It therefore came as a shock to him, following the successful test on Jedha City, that Tarkin now claimed responsibility of the Death Star: “We stand here amidst MY achievement! NOT yours!“. Director Krennic was summoned to Vader’s castle on Mustafar in Rogue One. Obsessed with retaining control, he used this as a last-ditch attempt to manipulate Vader into organising an audience with the Emperor so as to recognise his achievements, despite his great fear of the mysterious Dark Lord. Even after being choked by the Force, knowing that he was still in charge of the Death Star’s operations brought a beaming smile to his face. He met his end (choking on his own aspirations!) at the Battle of Scarif, where Tarkin deployed the Death Star to eliminate the Empire base before the plans were extracted by the Rogue One Rebels. Krennic was ultimately killed by his obsession; somewhat poetic! I guess you now know why there was an empty chair at the joint chief meeting in A New Hope.

2. Grand Admiral Thrawn

“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art”.

His name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo. Who? More commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn (the blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss who made his debut in season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels), ultimate commander of the Chimaera . He was the only alien within the Empire’s chain of command that was exclusively made up of humans. He is THE master of strategy, tactics and war through the deconstruction of his enemies’ art. Art?! Thrawn’s obsession was based on the notion that in order to truly defeat one’s enemy, one must be mindful of the importance of understanding an enemy’s culture, art and philosophy, allowing him to delve into the psyche of the people he wished to destroy. Being a brilliant military strategist earned him countless victories over smugglers, spies, pirates and that pesky Rebellion. Because of his successes in utterly wiping out his opponents, Thrawn was not known to the rebellion at large, something he used to his advantage: “I will start my operations […] and pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction”.

To gain access to the Empire, Thrawn faked his exile and bamboozled Stormtroopers into taking him before the Emperor (although his true purpose was to deduce the Empire’s potential might as an ally in combating the impending doom emanating from the Unknown Regions –theorised to be the threat of Snoke!). Thrawn’s ingenuity and tactical prowess caught the attention of the Emperor as well as his knowledge of the Unknown Regions (a dangerous and unchartered area of space where the Emperor believed to be the location of secret discoveries of the dark side). Thrawn’s knowledge was in part used to travel there, where the Empire’s remnants re-organised into the First Order.

His calm and collected demeanour, as well as his suave and sophisticated mannerisms masked his ambition and ruthlessness: “I do not require glory, only results for the Emperor”. The obsession with total annihilation of his enemies makes him very dangerous and his ultimate future is yet to be determined (season 4 of Star Wars: Rebels will map that out). But, where he has efficient and effective tactical precision, brilliant military prowess and considerable skill in hand-to-hand combat in the bucket loads, he has a great gap: political astuteness (believing it not to necessary in his attempt of perfecting the art of war). He therefore lost out on #1 to someone who had the entire package…

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1. Grand Moff Tarkin

The measuring stick for all Imperial Officers to follow. The poster boy! The perfect blend of ambition, ruthlessness, tactical and military prowess and arrogance which allowed him to shape his legacy within the Galactic Empire. Born into a wealthy family on Eriadu, Wilhuff Tarkin from the age of 11 was sent on his own into the untamed Carrion Plateau at months at a time to hone his predatory skills. To Tarkin, respect, discipline and obedience were of the utmost importance, and he learnt that everything could be taken away from him in a blink of an eye, even if he had spent a lifetime trying to obtain it. Life to Tarkin was a constant struggle for survival.

As a young man, his devotion to service and loyalty meant that he (on the advice of his mentor, Naboo politician Sheev Palpatine) pursued a path in both law enforcement and government. During the Clone Wars, he served as a Republic Captain under Jedi Master Even Piell. He was captured by Separatists after the Battle of Murkhana and taken to Lola Sayu, home to the impenetrable prison known as the Citadel (designed to hold renegade Jedi), only to be rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ashoka Tano. Tarkin was always sceptical about the Jedi fronting the Republic forces: “I find their tactics ineffective. The Jedi Code prevents them from going far enough to achieve victory, to do whatever it takes to win”.

At the birth of the Empire, Tarkin was one of its strongest supporters and helped consolidate control through the use of ruthless tactics, overseeing mass arrests and executions. Tarkin was elevated to Grand Moff (the Empire’s first) and became regional Governor of the Outer Rim after uncovering a conspiracy involving political dissidents in a “Route 66”-like team-up with Darth Vader. As Grand Moff, he did not tolerate failure and often had ineffectual officers executed. He also became one of the only people to have correctly deduced the identity of Vader.

After being suitably impressed with the successful demonstration of the destructive power of the Death Star as it devastated the Holy City of Jedha, Tarkin (with his chilling smirk) utilised his political astuteness and immediately assumed complete authority of the battle station, despite the boisterous protests of Director Krennic. He thereafter developed a simple and brutal philosophy: fear of the Death Star’s planet killing super-weapon would suppress all resistance to the Empire. Tarkin demonstrated his cold and calculating mannerisms by blowing up Alderaan to demonstrate its “full power”, despite learning the location of the Dantooine rebel base.

But, even with his brilliant military strategic mind and unparalleled devotion and ruthlessness to the Empire, Tarkin’s “Folly” ultimately blinded him: “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you over-estimate their chances!” Convinced of the battle station’s invulnerability until his end, Tarkin died on the Death Star, not solely because an unknown farm boy from the back water planet of Tatooine made the impossible shot, but because of his own arrogance.

So, after learning of the “heroics” of the most influential officers of the Empire, it is now over to you! Who is your favourite Imperial, and how would you rank them? Comment below! If you enjoyed reading this, please give the Facebook page a like and follow @ThrSilverScreen on Twitter.

Posted in 1990-1999, 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Film Feature

Ranking the Star Wars movies

Image is property of Lucasfilm

Is there a franchise across the galaxy that has made such an impact on popular culture than Star Wars? Right from its inception in 1977, it has seeped its way into almost any and every aspect of our daily lives, so much so that a good four decades after the first film was released in cinemas, it has continued to enjoy almost unparalleled levels of popularity. You ask anyone you meet on the street if they know Star Wars, it would be quite incredible if you encountered someone who genuinely has no idea what the hell you’re on about.

Anywho, for a great many years it did look as though there was no force left in the world of Star Wars, since its creator George Lucas had originally planned for two trilogies. However, since Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, the franchise has enjoyed a new lease of life. The new trilogy is up and running and an anthology film is in the bag with many more planned. But the force has not always been strong with this franchise, and so it’s time to take a trip to a galaxy far far away and rate the Star Wars films from worst to best. Time to get started, and make that jump to hyperspace! Punch it Chewie!

8. Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Read my original review here

The whole purpose of the prequel movies was to witness the transition of Anakin Skywalker from extraordinary Jedi to badass Sith, however he was far from a compelling character and here he’s nothing but a whiny pain in the arse! It is fair to say that Episode I wasn’t quite as well received as the 3 films that had come before it, so after some negative feedback you’d have thought George Lucas would have made some improvements in the 2nd outing in his prequel trilogy, and well in short he didn’t.

The dialogue is dreadful, with Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman not possessing a single bit of chemistry between them just makes it so painful to watch. Romantic dialogue at its absolute worst. “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere” is a line that will live forever in film infamy. The film tries to make things exciting with Obi Wan’s adventure, but even that is just ridiculously bloated and nonsensical. At a point it just becomes a chore to finish the movie as you’re just not invested in the adventure one bit. Even with less of one of the most infuriating characters ever brought to screen, it’s an excruciating watch, even with some lightsabre battles involved.

7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Read my original review here

Ahem, speaking of said infuriating character: JAR JAR BINKS. One word: WHYYYYYYYYY????? What on earth was Lucas thinking when he came up with the idea for this character ? He’s annoying to watch/listen to, and it’s not surprising that some thought the character was deeply offensive, regardless of whether he was written to be for children, he did not need to be so infuriating to watch. He’s perhaps the most hated movie character ever, and justifiably so too. But that’s just one facet of what’s wrong with The Phantom Menace. Right from the opening crawl, upon watching this, something is not right. Trade negotiations??!! Peace treaties??!! Star Wars, this is not!

Again just what was Lucas thinking?! When you watch this you wonder is this the same man who created this wondrous universe? Cos here it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Lucas clearly became drunk with CGI, as there’s a ton of it on show here, and while some scenes are cool, the majority of these effects are horrifically dated. The script, much like Clones, is also abysmal, as is the acting. What puts Phantom Menace above Clones is Duel of The Fates, Darth Maul and the ending lightsabre battle, cos that’s just cool, but it’s not enough to save the movie from the mediocre snoozefest it really is, and that’s an almighty shame.

6. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Read my original review here

AT LAST! WAR! After two for the most part painful movies, we finally got the prequel movie we signed up for! Right from the opening space battle, we immediately get the feel of old school Star Wars, and the Clone Wars that we were promised. More importantly, we watch as the Dark Side gnaws away at Anakin, eventually leading to his full turn to the Dark Side. Rise, Lord Vader! Christensen is for the most part, much better here in his performance, but there are still some lines that are just painful to watch. But it must be said, the acting went up a couple of good pegs, largely courtesy of Ewan McGregor who really shines as Obi-Wan. Not more so in the destined duel between Master and Padawan. You really feel the emotion, the pain and anguish of these two former friends now ferociously trying to kill the other. It’s also much funnier than the first two movies, largely courtesy of R2D2.

The action is also much better, from the opening battle to the battle against General Grievous (also the best villain of the prequel trilogy). There’s a handful of some great battle scenes, such as Yoda VS Palpatine and the climactic battle between Obi Wan and the newly turned Lord Vader is certainly gripping, if a little overlong. But by far one of the most excruciating scenes to come out of the prequels was Order 66! It made any Star Wars fan’s stomach churn watching the grim destiny of the once highly lauded Jedi Order. Yet, there are some scenes that much like its predecessors are truly head scratching, dying of a broken heart? I mean, really? And that really dumb “Noooooooooo” right at the end, just well erm, no. No thank you Lucas. At least this film ended the trilogy and the franchise (or so we thought at the time) on a positive note.

5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Read my original review here

The one that originally closed the book on the franchise, and although in terms of quality it doesn’t quite match up to its predecessors, there was much enjoyment to be had in this final instalment of the original trilogy. The Battle of Endor is really well done and features one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history, courtesy of Admiral Ackbar (you know the one!). But the main focus of this tale is Luke’s mission to rescue his father from the evil Emperor’s clutches, and try and restore him to the good side. Their climactic final battle carries a lot of emotional weight, and is also very gripping to watch: “I am a Jedi, like my father before me”.

Now on the other hand, there’s the small matter of the Ewoks, you either love or you hate these little bears, but either way the idea of them being able to topple the Empire’s troops is a bit silly and very perplexing. That being said, despite these furry bears, Jedi has enough enjoyment in it to give the original trilogy the satisfying conclusion it really deserved, but as we know, this was not the final chapter in the adventures of the trinity: Luke, Han and Leia.

4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Read my original review here

Despite being called “Star Wars”, there hadn’t really been a moment where these films really felt like proper war movies, this is of course until Rogue One blasted its way onto the big screen, in the first of the anthology films that Disney had been developing since it seized control of the franchise. Taking place right before Episode IV kicks off, the focus is on a group of rebels who make a daring mission to steal the plans for the Empire’s deadly planet destroying space station, the Death Star, and it really does bring the war element to the franchise in a way that we had not seen before.

No Jedi to be found here, and in Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso the franchise has another very compelling female lead (more on that later,) the assortment of characters that are recruited are enjoyable to watch, Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe for instance, and new droid K2SO is VERY funny. Yet there is a bit of an irksome lack of development on some of these characters, aside from Jyn and the relationship she has with her father Galen. However, when we get to that third act, it is breathless entertainment, not to mention one of Darth Vader’s best ever moments in the franchise. It is a perfect companion piece to Episode IV.

3. Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Read my original review here

There has perhaps been no movie this decade that carried more hype going into it than for the first Star Wars film since 2005. By this point, the franchise had now firmly made the decision to move forward with its own ideas, and as such Lucas’s suggestions were left by the wayside, much to his dislike. After the prequels had for the most part left fans vastly disappointed, much was riding on this film to match those lofty expectations, and for the most part, it delivered.

Now there has been much criticism hurled at this movie for being essentially a carbon copy of the original. While admittedly there are lots of visual nods and throwbacks, JJ Abrams and his team delivered a film and a story that felt so much more like a homage to those original movies we know and love. Rey is a very compelling and interesting character that is so effortlessly watchable in spite of the fact that we know so little about her, and given the fact she is the central character of the new trilogy, is critical. John Boyega also gives a top notch performance as FN-2187 (Sorry, I mean Finn), a Stormtrooper gone rogue and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron certainly carries that Han Solo esque aura about him.  Speaking of Han, this film gives him and Leia so much more backstory and fleshes their characters out in ways we hadn’t seen before.

In Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, the series has another superbly portrayed antagonist who in spite of knowing the bare minimum about his backstory (other than also being Ben Solo), is very compelling to watch in the same way that Rey is. He’s in many ways a wounded soul, but one you absolutely do not dare mess with. Some would even argue that he become most menacing when he removed his terrifying mask while interrogating Rey, placing his mask on the ashes of his Jedi victims, only to reveal a young boy, corrupted and twisted by the dark ways of the Force.

There’s flesh on the bones of these characters in a way that was pretty much non-existent across the prequel trilogy, thus you’re invested in them, leaving you wanting more. Also, the movie makes a bold choice by leaving the film on a cliffhanger. There are many questions that fans across the galaxy at this moment just do not know the answers to, which only generates more excitement and anticipation for the next instalment.

2. Episode IV: A New Hope

Read my original review here

The start of truly something special, a film that revolutionised the industry in pretty much every way, and created a franchise that to this day enjoys galactic world domination. It would be fair to say that there was something of a struggle to bring this to the big screen. Production problems, difficulties in funding the film, and even some cast members thought the film would be a massive failure. Mark Hamill commented that on the first day of filming in Tunisia, cameramen were laughing at his costume. How wrong they were!

Right from the opening moments, this film just captivates you, the effects at the time were dazzling and they still hold up to this day (well for the most part!). The characters are all very intriguing and much like The Force Awakens, you wanted to spend more time with these characters, characters who have left their mark on pop culture forever. Luke, initially a bit whiny, really grows into the role of the main protagonist. Han Solo is your cocky, brash but lovable smuggler, and in Princess Leia, you have a female protagonist that is up there with the very best that have ever been put to screen. Equally in Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader, you have two of the most memorable antagonists cinema has seen.

Despite all the production problems, the struggles were not in vain, and the final product is cinematic gold in every sense. The start of a franchise that has reigned across the galaxy for decades now and will in all probability continue to do so for decades to come.

 1. Episode V: Empire Strikes Back

Read my original review here

Sequels have very much become a staple of modern cinema, sometimes they improve on their predecessor, and sometimes they just don’t. Empire is most definitely the former, in this instance, but it’s more than just a great sequel, it is one of the best films of all time. Period.

With the first film we got introduced to our key characters and at the same time, introduced to a plethora of planets to explore and a very intriguing and well told story to boot. This film takes those characters and develops their relationships in very unique ways, whilst also making plot choices that are bold to say the least. While the action in A New Hope was something to behold, here it is even better. The Battle of Hoth is mesmerising to watch, whilst the climatic final battle between Luke and Vader (who’s also an absolute boss with no Tarkin to hold him back) just mercilessly dropping his own men dead in the quest to find Luke. What’s more if you had no knowledge of the prequels (lucky bastards) as people in 1980 did, then the twist that happens in this battle is so well executed that you just never saw it coming.

The tone is also much MUCH darker, especially given the fates that befall some of our heroes, and the direction and the cinematography are just BEAUTIFUL to look at. There’s not a single thing wrong with this movie, and with the introduction of Yoda, you again have one of the best characters to have ever graced the silver screen, and some of the best cinematic insults too. It remains to this day the best film in the franchise, and it will take something truly special to beat it.

So, after making that jump though hyperspace through all of the major cinematic Star Wars films, it is now over to you! Which is your favourite Star Wars film, and how would you rank these films? Comment below and let me know! If you enjoyed reading this, I’d be very grateful if you gave my Facebook page a like and connect with me on Twitter: @ThrSilverScreen.

May the Force be With you all!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Top 10 Films of 2016

Another year passes, and another year of big blockbusters, smaller films and more sequels and reboots than perhaps we want. Yet nevertheless, it has been an interesting year for cinema. While 2016, might be most remembered for the alarming amount of beloved celebs who we lost, it was still an interesting year for cinema goers all around the world. We had superhero squabbles, private detectives in 1977 Los Angeles, the true story of the 2010 BP oil disaster, hiking in the New Zealand wilderness, and some heart-warming musicals. Of course some films on this list did arrive in 2017 in the UK (my humble abode), but I am counting the ones that I have seen as 2016 releases, as per IMDB. With that said, I now give you my picks for the 10 best movies of the year. I should note that for films like Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Moonlight, that I have not been able to catch these before writing this list. As such, they will instead be eligible for 2017’s list instead as they have yet to reach UK shores.

One thing to bear in mind, is that grades here do not matter, a film may get a higher grade or the perfect grade, it will not necessarily mean that film will be the best film of the year, this is my list of my favourite movies that I had the most fun with or enjoyed the most.  Before I get into the body of my list I do have some honourable mentions, films that were awesome and that didn’t quite make the list with there being 10 spaces, but were still a lot of fun. And first up is…

Moana (review), this was another superb year for Walt Disney Animation Studios, with two absolutely stellar films being released and Moana was just so much fun. You expect gorgeous animation from Disney, but Moana’s animation was just almost on another level, the music is great, the character of Moana is great and it was just a fantastic adventure.

Deadpool (review), superhero films are really popular currently, but we were yet to be treated to be a proper R rated one, until the Merc with a Mouth came along. Hilarious, with a terrific turn from Reynolds, and quite possibly the best opening credits scene EVER, it was a welcome breath of fresh air for the genre, and with its success, it shall be interesting to see if other studios follow suit in making their superhero movies a bit more edgy and violent

Sing Street (review coming soon) movies about music can be terrifying (e.g. Whiplash) but this movie from writer and director John Carney was simply a blast. From start to finish, it was just so much fun to watch as this kid who has his eye on a girl does his best to woo her by forming a band. The acting was great, the music was also so well realised, if you haven’t seen this film, it is on UK Netflix now, do give it a look see, you won’t be disappointed.

Silence (review), Martin Scorsese is unquestionably one of the finest film-makers in history and we’re lucky that he’s still making incredible pieces of cinema. This was a gripping tale of two priests journeying to a country where their religion was totally banned, and the punishments for following it were severe. It’s acted beautifully and the dialogue is extremely well written, and harrowing to watch at times.

Star Trek Beyond (review). Justin Lin took the reins from JJ Abrams after he directed the first two films in this reboot of the long running franchise, and continued down the path of excellence that Abrams started. Once again the action is so much fun to watch, but what makes this franchise so great is its characters, Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov (RIP Anton Yelchin) and a great new addition in Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah. The franchise is certainly living long and prospering, even with the sad deaths of both Yelchin and the great Leonard Nimoy. And finally…

Spotlight (review), yes I know this is technically a 2015 release but it didn’t reach the UK till late January hence why I am including it here. This true story about the Boston Globe journalists who uncovered the horrendous abuse scandal that went on in the Catholic Church was utterly riveting to watch and acted beautifully particularly from Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo, it’s a story that needed to be told and by the time the credits begin to roll, it will leave you speechless.

Honourable mentions concluded, time for the big guns, the top 10 and we start with…

10. Hell or High Water

My Hell or High Water review

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When you get Chris Pine, Jeff Brides and Ben Foster in a movie, particularly in a Western kind of setting, you’re probably going to be in for some greatness, and that is precisely what Hell or High Water gives you. Hailing from Scotland, David Mackenzie brought a thrilling tale of two brothers who resort to robbing banks as a means to stay afloat financially. Throw Jeff Bridges in as your gruff Texas Ranger in very much Rooster Cogburn mode, and the end result is one thrilling Western heist movie with some of 2016’s best acting from all three of its lead actors, and a damn fine spectacle.

9. Deepwater Horizon

My Deepwater Horizon review

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The 2010 BP Oil Disaster was a terrible disaster that claimed 11 lives, and for director Peter Berg, it must have been quite the challenge to make the film that pays tribute towards those who died whilst telling the true to life story of how the worst ever environmental disasters in US history, in a gripping manner, and my oh my was this film gripping! You know going in that the disaster is lurking around the corner, but when the shit hits the fan and it all goes south, this film really goes up a couple of exciting pegs. With an excellent Mark Wahlberg performance at its core, this film will almost certainly shake you to your core, and leave you wondering how on earth such a monumental disaster was allowed to happen, and how no criminal charges were filed.

8. Rogue One: A Star Wars story

My Rogue One: A Star Wars story review

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Another trip to a galaxy far far away, except this time not focusing on the main saga. The first of three (at least for now) Anthology films focusing on the daring mission executed by the rebels to steal the plans for the Death Star, fitting in just nicely right before A New Hope kicks off. Edwards helmed this film beautifully with some absolutely brilliant action sequences, particularly that third act, and my oh my, that Vader hallway scene, you know the one I am talking about, was just an absolute blast to watch. Sure for some of the new characters, their development was not as much as you would like, but the franchise has another awesome female heroine in Felicity Jones’s Jyn.  The Star Wars renaissance thanks to Disney is blooming, and long may it continue.

7. Hidden Figures

My Hidden Figures review

hidden-figures

The beauty of film is that it can bring to the attention to a substantial audience a story that has really not seen the light of day, such is the case with this true story of the inspirational women who worked behind the scenes at NASA to make the US space missions of the 1960s a reality. The three central women are all beautifully acted by Octavia Spencer, Taraji P Henson and Janelle Monae, and it demonstrated that although because of their skin colour and their gender, that even though pretty much everyone in society looked down on them, they were able to make a real difference to their industry, despite the attempts to put them in their supposed place.

6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

My Hunt for the Wilderpeople review

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Taika Waititi is a director to certainly keep a close eye on, certainly with Thor: Ragnarok due to be released in cinemas later this year, and this film will have certainly cemented his growing reputation. A film that is so unique, so original and utterly hilarious to watch, yet made very little at the box office (more on that later). It is just pure gold to watch as this troublesome foster kid and his new guardian have themselves a little adventure in the New Zealand wilderness. Sam Neill is brilliant but newcomer Julian Dennison absolutely steals the show. These two as a comedic duo, simply just hilarious to watch as they go on about their wildnerness adventure, all the while being chased by the authorities. Mayhem in the New Zealand forest, and just non stop entertainment.

5. Zootopia (Zootropolis)

My Zootopia/Zootropolis review

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The 1st film to be released by Disney Animation Studios in 2016, and one of the best animated films to emerge from the Mouse House in recent years. In an animal metropolis where animals live and work, seemingly in harmony, but only on the surface. For an animation, this film has a lot of really deep and significant undertones that will really get the adult viewers who watch the film really thinking about what is has to say and the messages it gives off. With some great little easter eggs to some classic movies thrown in for the adults to enjoy, as well as some great jokes, and a really great leading duo, this proves that Disney studios have certainly not lost their magic when it comes to making great entertainment that is a lot of fun for both kids and adults to enjoy, as well as a thumping good tune from Shakira!!

4. Captain America: Civil War

My Captain America: Civil War review

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This was the thirteenth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe array of movies. Unlucky? Not a chance! This was another truly superb comic book movie that proved Marvel is still leading the way in terms of their extended cinematic universe over DC, by A LOT. When looking at the film’s promo, it certainly seemed as though this wasn’t Captain America 3, but Avengers 2.5. Well without spoiling too much, its most definitely a Captain America film, despite the massive ensemble of heroes which included terrific first appearances by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa AKA Black Panther, and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. The story is told tremendously well and it does a tremendous job of splitting your loyalties and it’s not a simple case of one being right, and the other being wrong, it is much more complicated than that. And that airport battle was simply put, one of the best superhero battles ever put on the big screen EVER.

3. La La Land

My La La Land review

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Much like with Sing Street, this is another musical picture that was just an absolute bundle of joy to watch, from the opening spontaneous song and dance number on a LA Freeway to the very end. Damien Chazelle is a writer and director who certainly takes great inspiration in musicals as Whiplash and this film demonstrate, and he might just be the best director currently working in this genre. The music does not feel overbearing or annoying, every time a character sings or breaks out and dances, it feels like it’s necessary to the scene, to the development of the characters, and with Stone and Gosling both on outstanding form. Everyone has had a dream at some point in their life, and this film’s message about dreams will undoubtedly resonate with all who watch it.

2. Arrival

My Arrival review

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Sci-Fi movies do like to have big explosions, aliens and a cool battle where the aliens and the humans face off, but there is none of that here in Denis Villeneuve’s latest film. One of the smartest, most inventive pieces of story-telling to emerge in recent years, with a screenplay that really gets the brain working, and will blow your mind. Focusing on 12 alien ships who have arrived on Earth, a linguistics professor is recruited to help understand who these aliens are and their purpose on Earth. Villeuneve,  is fast become one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, and after watching this film, it is easy to see why. At its core is a truly superb performance from Amy Adams,in a role that could land her some Oscar gold at long last. A film to really get the mind working, it’s a very human story with a lot to say for itself, and not to mention some of the  best visual effects in 2016, and some gorgeous cinematography to go with it.

And my #1 favourite film of 2016 is……………………….

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1. The Nice Guys

My The Nice Guys review

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Ryan Gosling is clearly doing something right! So many films this year are continuation of franchises, sequels, reboots and so on. Yet every year, there are plenty of original pieces of work that are brought to the big screen, yet sometimes this new and fresh ideas, despite great critical receptions, absolutely tank at the box office, and no film typifies this more than Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two PIs in 1970s Los Angeles, with a story focused on a missing girl, and the porn industry. I mean how the fuck did more people not go to see this film??? The action is great, the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is fantastic and there’s a great break out performance from Angourie Rice. This film is hilarious, the dialogue is great and Black is doing what he knows best. It is no wonder studios focus their efforts on properties audiences know and are aware of, because they make more money, and no one chooses to watch new and original content. Yet if you’re reading this, and you have not seen this movie, I implore you to go seek this film out via any legal means you can, rent it, buy it on DVD or Blu Ray because this film is a gem, and more films like this need to get made. It is by far my favourite film of 2016, and although Hollywood these days is dominated by sequels, I would love to see a sequel to this movie.

So there you have it! My top 10 picks for the best films of 2016. But what are your top 10 best films of 2016? Let me know in the comments below. Or you could hit me up on my Twitter and don’t forget to like Through the Silver Screen on Facebook to ensure you never miss another review of mine! Let us hope that we are treated to more cinematic gold on the big screen in 2017, and for the must see movies coming out this year, be sure to give my Top 10 most anticipated films of 2017 a look see!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

Hello 2017!! 2016 was a year that might be more remembered as the year the world went a bit mad, as well as for the multitude of beloved celebrities that sadly passed away. It is also  a year that cinema goers across the world were given, let’s be honest, a bit of an underwhelming year for movies. Sure there were a few gems, but there were more than a few colossal disappointments, and films that just didn’t quite deliver on epic trailers that they teased. However, a new year promises well more superheroes, more reboots and sequels, and the odd original piece of film making in there too for good measure. So it is that time of the year where I look ahead to see what I’m most looking forward to to hit the big screen in 2017.

As seems to be the case every year in the UK, there are a number of limited 2016 releases such as La La Land and Hacksaw Ridge,  that arrive in cinemas in January here, but they will not be on here as I count these as 2016 releases, and will be on my best of 2016 list, should they be good enough of course, which will be published mid to late January. But there are more than a few films in this year that do look very intriguing to see and so let’s get cracking with the list. The release dates you see below are these films respective UK release dates, as such they might be different if your humble abode is not in the UK like me, but anyway, let us begin as usual with the honourable mentions:

Justice League, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman were both on my list anticipated list of 2016, and they had the hopes and dreams of every DC fan riding on them to set up the DC extended universe, and unfortunately, neither film met those lofty expectations that many people placed on them. Both had their moments, but both had their fair share of problems too, BVS more than Suicide Squad for me, and for that reason, Justice League is only an honourable mention, as I worry if Zack Snyder will have learnt from his mistakes. Time will tell but for now I am cautious…

Ghost in the Shell, The premise for this movie is certainly extremely intriguing and the from the trailer this world certainly looks great and Scarlett Johansson is a very capable actress, who can do great action scenes as her role as Black Widow in the MCU has demonstrated for many years now. However, criticism of a white actress in the lead role has resulted in some very fierce criticism of more Hollywood whitewashing. This is justifiable but hopefully this adaptation can be translated well for the big screen.

The Dark Tower, Stephen King novels being brought to the big screen has produced some of cinema’s greatest films, and this is the latest one to come out, and so automatically that captures intrigue. Thrown in Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba in lead roles and this is immediately one of to watch for when it arrives in cinemas in July of this year.

Lego Batman Movie, Back in 2014, if you had proposed that a movie based on the popular toy Lego would be an absolute smash hit with film goers and critics, people would probably have laughed at you. But that happened alright and 2017 will go back to that crazy world of Lego, for a spin off film featuring one of the Lego Movie’s standouts, Lego Batman getting his own movie, and it looks to be just as entertaining as the first film.

Beauty and the Beast, love them or hate them Disney’s campaign to bring some of their most beloved animated films the live action treatment shows no signs of slowing down, and following on from Cinderella, and 2016’s surprisingly decent The Jungle Book. this is the next film to get the live action treatment. Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens and The Beast are the leads among a very talented cast. The trailers certainly looked to have captured the magic of the animated classic and many people will be eager to be a guest when this arrives in cinemas.

Now that the honourable mentions are done, let’s get cracking with this list:

10. Spider Man: Homecoming

Release date: 7th July

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One of the many awesome things that emerged from Captain America: Civil War was the introduction of Tom Holland as Spider-Man, who FINALLY made his MCU debut after Sony and Marvel thrashed out a deal to allow him to appear, and Holland might just be the best on screen version of the web-crawler to date, so to see him put on the Spidey suit again should be a lot of fun to watch. In his first solo film inside the MCU, we get to see Peter still in high school taking on ex Batman Michael Keaton’s Vulture with assistance from Tony Stark himself once again. After the overall mediocre tales that were Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies, hopefully this reboot gets the franchise back up and running again.

9. Wonder Woman

Release date: 2nd June

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Prior to the arrival of BVS, many wandered if Gal Gadot was the best actress they could have picked to play Diana Prince, and as we all saw, she was (along with Ben Affleck’s Batman) one of the saving graces of BVS. For all of the MCU’s greatness, they have yet to have a film that’s lead by a female superhero, though one is currently on the production schedule, DC is taking a lead in this respect. The action from the two trailers we have had looks great, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is an excellent addition to the cast. DC fans must be hoping that this film is the one that finally achieves proper lift off for the DCEU, and give it its first truly great film after their 2016 efforts didn’t quite do so.

8. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Release date: 29th September 

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One of the absolute surprise hits of 2015 was Kingsman: The Secret Service, an extremely funny take on the spy/espionage genre, with a superb break out performance from Taron Egerton in the lead role as this down on his luck kid who becomes the ultimate badass, and they’re certainly upping the stakes considerably for this sequel. As this one will feature the Kingsman’s US counterparts, the Statesman to help save the world. The cast looks incredible with Julianne Moore following in Sam L Jackson’s footsteps as the bad guy, with a cast that also includes Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal and Colin Firth again (WHATTTTTTTTTTT?????)

7. Thor: Ragnarok

Release date: 27th October

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Thor is undeniably a popular Avenger, but his solo outings have been a bit hot and cold so far. Thor was a fun time if a little bit rushed in places, whilst its sequel The Dark World was fine, but nothing truly spectacular when compared to Civil War or Guardians of the Galaxy. Hopefully this will change with Thor’s third outing. With Taika Waititi directing, the man behind this year’s extraordinary Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and a superb cast that includes Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Cate Blanchett as the villain and Mark Ruffalo back as everyone’s favourite green rage monster, along with of course Tom Hiddleston back as Loki, this has every potential to be the best Thor film yet.

6. Blade Runner 2049

Release date: 6th October

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The sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic is getting a sequel after development began back in 1999, and the project is in the hands of arguably the hottest director in Hollywood right now, Denis Villeneuve, who blew everyone’s minds this year with one of the smartest pieces of science fiction storytelling with Arrival. Harrison Ford is back as Deckard and with a stacked cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto and Robin Wright. This sequel has all the potential to be just as good as its predecessor, almost three decades after the original came out!

5. Logan

Release date: 3rd March

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When you think of the character of Logan/Wolverine, you think of Hugh Jackman and the incredible work he has done bringing this character to the big screen for well almost TWO DECADES now is remarkable but sadly all good things must come to an end and this is Jackman’s last hurrah as Wolverine. In what many could argue is one of 2016’s finest trailers, Wolverine looks a little bruised and beaten, and the suggestion is that this will be an adaptation of the Old Man Logan storyline, with a Last of Us kind of vibe as well.  With Patrick Stewart also back as Professor X, this has all the makings to give Jackman the swansong he deserves before he hangs up the claws for good.

4. Dunkirk

Release date: 21st July

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Has Christopher Nolan made a bad film? For many the answer to that question is a resounding no, and it’s easy to see why, he has forged his name as a superb director over these last few years. And his latest film, Dunkirk is looking like it could very well continue that path of excellence. Set in the heart of the Second World War, the film focuses on the Allied operation to evacuate soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk (shocker!) With an absolutely amazing cast that includes some Nolan veterans such as Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, as well as some newbies such as Oscar winner Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh along for the ride too. World War II films are not exactly in short supply so it will be interesting to see what Nolan can bring to the table. Furthermore, it will be intriguing to see if Harry Styles’s acting is better than his singing….

3. War for the Planet of the Apes

Release date: 14th July

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APES ON HORSES!! Director Matt Reeves  is back with his 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Dawn was an absolutely stellar film that managed to build on the first film and make it even better, and Reeves is once again behind the camera for the third film is this rebooted franchise. As the title suggests it is all out war between the humans, now led by Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel and Caesar, once again mo-capped by Andy Serkis, who has seriously earned an Oscar nomination for his incredible work that he has done in motion capture over many many years, particularly for his work as Caesar. The teaser trailer that recently dropped was excellent, and if the film can deliver on that promise, then we could be looking at a very solid and well made trilogy of movies that have given this franchise a lease of life.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Release date: 28th April

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No one could have possibly predicted that when 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was set to be released what an enormous hit it was going to be, or how fucking amazing it was! The characters were great, the dialogue outstanding, the action was excellent and that soundtrack was just perfection. So James Gunn is back for more madness from the Guardians, with a few secrets set to be revealed such as who is Star Lord’s father. The movie could honestly be just be two hours of Rocket and Groot arguing and I am sure many people would pay to see that! If the latest teasers are anything to go by, it looks to be more of the same explosive fun that the first movie was, and Baby Groot might just be the cutest thing ever…

And my #1 most anticpated film of 2017 is……………………………………………………

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1. Star Wars: Episode VIII

Release date: 15th December

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Was there ever really any doubt? After the enormous successes of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, excitement is understandably at galactic levels for another trip to a galaxy far far away. This film’s plot is so far being kept closely under wraps but director Rian Johnson is taking the directorial reins from JJ Abrams in a continuation of the story with Rey, Finn, Poe, BB8 taking on Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. And having had what amounts to a cameo in Episode VII, Mark Hamill will hopefully have some lines as Luke Skywalker in this next chapter, and certainly when he find out about the fate that befell his old friend Han Solo in episode VII. Of course there are many more questions that need answering so hopefully those the answers we seek will be delivered.  Johnson is a very capable pair of hands, having made an incredibly smart sci-fi back in 2012 in Looper, so may the force be with him to deliver more greatness to this franchise! With the incredibly sad death of Carrie Fisher, fans will certainly hope that this film gives one of cinema’s most badass female characters a truly fitting send off!

And there we have it, my top 10 most anticipated films that are set to be released in 2017. What are your most anticipated films for this year? Let me know in the comments below or hitting me up on Twitter. Don’t forget to give my Facebook page a like! Through the Silver Screen on Facebook Thank you for reading and here’s to hopefully a great year for cinema!

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 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Film Feature

Ranking all the MCU films

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In this era of superhero movie dominance that are making the studios mega bucks, and the actors into huge stars, there is without a doubt one studio that is firmly leading the way, and that is Marvel Studios. While DC got their Extended Universe finally off the ground with this year’s Batman V Superman, to mixed results, and Fox has had mixed success with some of their properties with X Men doing well, Deadpool doing brilliantly and well the less said about Fantastic Four, the better. Yet Marvel has almost consistently delivered satisfying stories to the screen with some very popular characters to boot, Marvel is currently the Kingpin of comic book movies!

With a now considerable 13 movies of their Extended Universe graced the big screen, there have been some truly spectacular flicks, and so it is time for me to rank all of these movies so far from worst to first. Please bear in mind, that these are my picks, and so I very much doubt you will agree with all of my choices. You might completely agree with me, or maybe you will hate my list altogether, it is all good! Having different opinions is what makes movies and discussions about film so entertaining. So with that all said and done, it is time to Hulk smash into this list!!!!

14. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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Speaking of The Hulk, it is where I begin my list. I’m pretty sure if you ask people do they remember this movie, the answer would probably be no. It has become the forgotten movie of the MCU especially since they recast Mark Ruffalo in the role for The Avengers, replacing Ed Norton as everyone’s favourite green rage monster. As a result, this movie has slipped from many people’s minds. While Ed Norton did a decent enough job as Bruce Banner, and the story was interesting to watch. The action between The Hulk and his nemesis The Abomination just got a bit cartoonish at times and very CGI heavy, in a similar vein to the Star Wars prequels, and it was just a bit boring watching two forces matched in power fight one another and was nowhere near as enthralling as the other MCU movie that came out that year, but more on that later.

13. Iron Man 2 (2010)

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This movie is a classic case of a studio just pumping out a sequel too quickly after the explosive success of the sequel. While this movie does have its moments such as the showdown in Monaco which was undeniably entertaining, and seeing Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in action for the very first time was awesome. The story did feel a bit rushed and uneven in terms of its pacing. There was potential for a really good story, but this was not fully realised. Despite having two antagonists, neither really stood out (more on that throughout this post) and the movie struggled to recapture the brilliance of Tony Stark’s first outing as Iron Man. It is by no means a terrible film, but much could have been done to improve on it and definitely ranks as the weakest film in the Iron Man trilogy.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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This film showing the birth of Steve Rogers as the iconic Captain America showed what the character was all about. A loyal and determined man who thanks to the super soldier serum is transformed into the awesome superhero, who is fiercely patriotic and just wants to serve his country. Chris Evans was an excellent choice to play him and he has done so right throughout his tenure as the character. The rest of the cast were also excellent with Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones all delivering excellent performances. Equally great was Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, although his accent was a little dubious in places. This film was a bit light on the action scenes, but it was a perfect introduction to see Cap get his stars and stripes, and as we will see, the Captain America franchise only got better and better.

11. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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While the first Thor film was all about Thor learning what it means to be a leader and a warrior, all while being without his God-like power, in this film he had his hammer by his side at all times. While director Alan Taylor did bring some impressive visuals to this story, and there were some really solid and entertaining fight scenes. Furthermore, we got to explore the God of Thunder’s relationship (if you can call it that!) with his brother the mischievous Loki who Tom Hiddleston has so brilliantly portrayed.  The real trouble here was, as is so often the case with MCU movies, the villain. Christopher Ecclestone is a fine actor but his portrayal of the Dark Elf Malaktih left a lot to be desired, as he was another of the many disposable Marvel villains and he wasn’t memorable at all. His motivations for his actions were just not explained at all, and it is problematic. Furthermore, Hiddleston’s performance as Loki completely overshadowed him. Let’s hope the third Thor movie can improve things and judging by the recent cast announcements that looks possible!

10. Iron Man 3 (2013)

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The first film of Phase 2 of the MCU, and the third solo outing for RDJ as everyone’s favourite billionaire/playboy/philanthropist. With Shane Black on board as writer and director, this had the makings of a great flick, with a great villain in The Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley lined up. Except what they did with that character in the film, whilst it was admittedly a clever plot point, it just seemed such a bizarre decision to have made with an extremely popular character in the comics. As such hardcore fans were quickly alienated, and as such the movie has attracted a lot of hate.  Yet the villain we got instead of The Mandarin was one of the better villains this universe has provided. The action was however really solid with the plane scene being a particular highlight and it was an interesting premise, but it ended up being almost too much about Tony Stark rather than Iron Man, and less of the annoying kid would have been good!

9. Thor (2011)

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A movie based on the Norse God Thor might have seemed something of a far-fetched concept when it was first pitched, but under the vision of Sir Kenneth Branagh, this movie really worked. Chris Hemsworth as the titular character was a tremendous casting choice, as was casting Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief Loki. The sibling rivalry between the two of them is what ultimately drives the movie forward It’s Shakespeare in Asgard, what more could you want? With the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Rene Russo as Thor and Loki’s mother, and Natalie Portman as Thor’s human love interest, the cast was excellent and it was well acted but maybe a little bit rushed in terms of its plot, and again a largely throw away villain in Laufey, leader of the Frost Giants. Like with the sequel, Hiddleston’s brilliant work overshadowed the role of the Frost Giants, and that was something of a waste. The CGI was excellent and it was a very different movie to those that had come before it.

8. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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When the first teaser for this movie arrived, it exploded all over the internet, with Ultron looking like he was going to be the badass awesome villain that the MCU had been craving for a very long time. When the final product arrived, while it was still really enjoyable to watch and to see the Avengers reunited. The introductions of Scarlet Witch and Vision were welcome ones to the plethora of characters we have seen so far, and the action was as is often the case with Marvel really well handled. However, despite being all badass in the trailers, the Ultron we got was ultimately a little bit disappointing, he had his moments of brilliance but was far from being the quality villain we had hope he would be. For all of his efforts, Joss Whedon couldn’t manage to make a film to go one better than the original, which is what a sequel should do. Plus, a few of the side plots could have been very easily taken out of the finished product, and it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference.

7. Doctor Strange

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The MCU up to this point had dabbled into many fascinating subjects, but until this movie, they had not dabbled in the world of sorcery and magic. It certainly was an interesting direction for the MCU to go in and ensures that the franchise retains interest for the audience going forward. Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent in the titular role and it provided some of the most remarkable visuals that we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point. Yet once again, this film’s real let down is the villain. Again Mads Mikkelsen, as an actor, excellent but the script does not give him the chance to become a villain on the level of quality like Loki.

6. Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man (right) in battle, in the movie

The film that started this mad universe off, and aren’t we all glad it did! It’s by no means the best film in the MCU but if this film had not been the storming success it was, what has since come after it might not have been green-lit. This film revived RDJ’s career and transformed him into a huge star and he has since become one could argue the face of this whole universe. Jon Favreau put together a very gripping and emotional story telling of Iron Man’s origins and how he became the awesome superhero that he is. While Jeff Bridges gave one of the better performances as an MCU villain than many of the others. the final fight while deeply entertaining and very well made gave a taste of things to come as it was two people with essentially the same arsenal fighting one another, which again proved to be a bit frustrating.

5. Ant Man (2015)

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When Edgar Wright, who had been attached to direct this film for a long time, left the project, it looked as though this project was doomed, almost destined to be a complete train wreck with very small odds (sorry!) of it being a successful hit. Fortunately that didn’t happen and the movie that emerged was one of the funniest MCU movies to have emerged so far, maybe even the funniest. Paul Rudd excelled as the titular character with Michael Douglas brilliant as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly also on form as his daughter. New director Peyton Reed did a tremendous job with the action sequences, both small and big, but yet again, the real trouble with this film was the villain, the Yellow-Jacket. Corey Stoll’s performance was one of the better ones, but he proved to be another one of those throw away villains which is again frustrating. In addition, it was another case of two characters with very similar power bases fighting, which while it made for some great viewing, was hard to ignore.

Read my original Ant Man review here.

4. The Avengers (2012)

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Back when Iron Man in 2008 came out, a post credit scene hinted at something called the “Avengers Initiative,” and fans went crazy thinking something like this could actually be possible. After four years since Iron Man was released, the fans dream came true courtesy of supernerd Joss Whedon, and it was glorious to watch. As you might expect when the team meet up initially, it is fair to say that they don’t exactly get along. In fact, they bicker and squabble about a lot of things until they’re needed to come together to help save the world from the threat of a familiar face, Loki and his extraterrestrial army. In Loki, the MCU has produced its best villain to date by far, as like all good villains, you understand why he is doing what he’s doing, even though you really don’t want him to succeed. Whedon managed to also make the movie really funny in places, and Whedon deserves enormous praise for making this film the storming success it was, and it set the benchmark for other studios to try and create their own cinematic universes.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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Prior to the release of this film, if you had asked your average comic book fan: “Name a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy,” chances are good that you would have received a perplexed look in response. When this movie was first announced, there were suggestions that a movie about these characters simply could not and would not work. How wrong they were, how very wrong they were. Director James Gunn brilliantly brought these characters to life with a funny, and exciting story that probably ranks as the funniest film the MCU has seen thus far. Our quintet of anti-villains turned heroes were all very interesting to watch and each and every one of them had the screen time needed to flesh out their characters and to make the audience care about them. Who’d have thought a talking tree that only says three words could get the viewers tearing up? What’s more, the action was extremely exciting and that soundtrack was just the icing on a very delicious cake! Bring on Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2!

2. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The thirteenth film to have exploded onto the big screen, and certainly one of the biggest movies that Marvel has made to date. But was it unlucky? Not a chance. Many dubbed this film Avengers 2.5, but at its heart, it is most definitely a Captain America film. Throughout the movies so far, it has all been building to this titanic clash between Captain America and Tony Stark. The Russo brothers along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delivered a really emotional story that was just gripping to watch from start to finish. You might have decided what team you were on before the film’s release, but the film does a tremendous job of making you see and understand where both sides are coming from. What’s more the terrific introductions of new characters such as Black Panther and Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man, only added to the collcetion of great MCU characters that we have assembled so far, along with all the characters we are familiar with from the previous movies. The Achilles Heel of these films has often been that the hero and the villain are too similar, well that is thrown out of the window here! The handling of the action scenes was once again tremendously well done by the Russo brothers, with that airport battle scene being quite possibly the best action set piece that we have seen in the MCU so far. Phase 3 got off to a flying start that is for sure!

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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The cream of the MCU crop for me  is 2014’s The Winter Soldier. This movie took the character of Captain America that was established in the first movie, and made him a very unique and interesting character without a doubt. On top of that, this film provided an enthralling storyline that really went past the standard Marvel formula, and it became this gripping spy/espionage thriller, as we watch that SHIELD is not what we thought it was at all, as the sinister Nazi organisation HYDRA has been lurking in its shadow for decades. Besides Loki, the Winter Soldier proved to be a very capable villain who certainly left his mark on the MCU, as did the film’s other antagonist Alexander Pierce played by Robert Redford. The decision to put the Winter Soldier in was perfect because as a character, he’s a very significant one to Steve Rogers. What’s more he did not become one of the many throw away villains that we have seen in a few of these movies. Throw in Black Widow kicking ass once again and the introduction of Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and you have for me, what is the best MCU movie we have had so far!

So, there you go! My list ranking all the MCU films we have had so far! Do you agree with my list, or do you disagree? The MCU has certainly produced some great movies, and some less than stellar ones. Yet despite their great films, getting a good villain has been something of a problem for them with too many of them being in some cases completely forgettable. One can hope that Thanos or one of the villains in Phase 3 can break that mould. Let me know by commenting below or tweet me at @martin_rich_91! I would love to hear your thoughts and your own list on how you would rank these movies!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

88th Academy Awards- Predictions

 

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Image credit: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Well it is that time of year again! Awards season in the world of movies, and Hollywood’s biggest night in the form of the Oscars has arrived!  The bow ties will be being tied, the dresses will have been chosen Well what a year of movies we have had! The 2007/08 housing crisis, A return to a galaxy far far away, eight angry strangers stuck in a blizzard, the scandal of the Catholic Priests abuse, the return of an icon of cinema in Rocky Balboa, Cold War drama, and a romance between two women and many more. Lots of great movies and great performances, but as usual a lot of snubs too, most notably in the acting categories

Controversially, for the second year running, all 20 of the acting nominees are white, leading to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trending throughout social media. Some have elected to even boycott the ceremony in response to this snub. While there were opportunities for the Academy to nominate some incredible performances from some talented black actors and directors, the problem is more to do with Hollywood itself rather than the Academy.  It is important that the Academy is taking measures to do something about this, because it is a problem, and one that you would hope we don’t see again when it comes to the 89th Academy Awards in 12 months time.

Anyhow, tonight will be the night that the all the hard work of all the actors, directors, composers, cinematographers, costume designers, sound editors, visual effects will be recognised, but of course there can only be one winner in this category, and so I give you my hopes and predictions for this year’s awards, as well as some of those who I feel could have been nominated. Let’s get started!

Best Supporting Actor:

5 remarkable performances from all here, and perhaps the most open category of all the acting nominations, Stallone and Rylance have both been claiming the honours throughout awards season, so one would think it’s between them. Tom Hardy was a massive surprise nod, given he did not at all feature in any of the awards shows previously, but his inclusion is well deserved, whilst Mark Ruffalo’s turn in the journalism drama Spotlight was heart-wrenching to watch, but very powerful and arguably a career best work from him. I would like to see Ruffalo triumph but I think this one is Sly’s for the taking.

Who I think will win: Sylvester Stallone

Who I think should win: Mark Ruffalo

Who I think should have been nominated: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) or Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh- The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara- Carol
  • Rachel McAdams- Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander- The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs

Another very open category, and again a good batch of performances. Kate Winslet has been taking some of the awards for her work in Steve Jobs, but Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara have received wide praise for their work in The Danish Girl and Carol respectively, but some have argued that these ladies should be in the lead actress categories, while Vikander should arguably be nominated for her magnificent work in Ex Machina. While Jennifer Jason Leigh’s work in The Hateful Eight was also excellent, and was one of the standouts in a very well acted film. It’s going to be a very tight contest.

Who I think will win: Kate Winslet

Who I think should win: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Who I think should have been nominated: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

This category is not the strongest it could be, Quentin Tarantino’s work on The Hateful Eight  is a notable absentee from this list, and while I immensely enjoyed his work, it was not his finest writing not by a long shot. The clear favourite among this year’s crop is Spotlight, a movie that was driven by dialogue that was just enthralling to watch, and really made you think when the credits began to roll, it’s odds on and one would have few complaints should it emerge victorious. That said, Ex Machina was also insanely gripping, while Inside Out, as well as being my favourite movie of 2015, could arguably lay claim to be Pixar’s finest work. Nevertheless, this is Spotlight’s to lose.

What I think will win: Spotlight

What I think should win: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay

A category that is much stronger than its counterpart. The Big Short has been taking many awards in this awards season, and while it was funny it places, I really feel it fell flat in places as it just overloaded the audience with too much economical mumbo jumbo that unless they were well versed in the subject, it would sail over their heads. Emma Donoghue’s Room was a dark but uplifting tale, while Drew Goddard made one man’s solitude on Mars, a lot funnier than it could and maybe should have been. The Big Short is definitely the favourite though.

What I think will win: The Big Short

What I think should win: The Martian

What I think should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin- Steve Jobs

Best Animated Feature

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy & The World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

This seems to be a two horse race between Inside Out and Anomalisa, which is yet to reach UK shores, but has received a lot of praise. However I cannot see anything dethroning Pixar’s work of utter genius.

What I think will win: Inside Out

Best Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies- Thomas Newman
  • Carol- Carter Burwell
  • The Hateful Eight– Ennio Morricone
  • Sicario-  Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens- John Williams

As much as I enjoyed John Williams’s score for our return to a far away galaxy, Ennio Morricone’s work on The Hateful Eight was incredible and will probably take home the award.

Who I think will win: The Hateful Eight

Who I think should win: The Hateful Eight

Best Costume Design

  • Carol- Sandy Powell
  • Cinderella- Sandy Powell
  • The Danish Girl- Paco Delgado
  • Mad Max Fury Road– Jenny Beavan
  • The Revenant- Jacqueline West

Who I think will win: Cinderella

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Who I think will win: Mad Max Fury Road

Best Visual Effects

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What should have been nominated: Ant Man

Best Film Editing

  • The Big Short- Hank Corwin
  • Mad Max: Fury Road- Margaret Sixel
  • The Revenant- Stephen Mirrione
  • Spotlight- Tom McArdle
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens- Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

The editing in The Big Short really bugged me and is one of my main gripes about the film, its editing is scrappy and made to look almost like a documentary, whereas it just looked really scrappy. The editing in Mad Max was crisp, likewise with the Force Awakens, so I would like to see either of those two win, although Big Short is the favourite, undeservedly so in my opinion.

Who I think will win: The Big Short

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Cinematography

  • Carol- Ed Lachman
  • The Hateful Eight- Robert Richardson
  • Mad Max: Fury Road- John Seale
  • The Revenant- Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Sicario- Roger Deakins

Despite an incredible 13 nominations and not a single win, Roger Deakins is one of the finest cinematographers working today. Yet I cannot see anything usurping Emmanuel Chivo Lubezki from claiming a hatrick of Oscar wins, and it would be well deserved as The Revenant is visually breath-taking with every single shot, although a win for Deakins would be well deserved.

Who I think will win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Who I think should win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Sound Editing

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Sicario

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens or The Martian

Best Sound Mixing

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Director

  • Adam McKay- The Big Short
  • George Miller- Mad Max Fury Road
  • Lenny Abrahamson- Room
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu- The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy- Spotlight

Last year’s in this category, Mr Iñárritu is looking good to win again for his terrific work on the Revenant, and his main competitor is probably George Miller. The Australian showed how to film and direct an action movie, and he did it without a shaky camera in sight. Lenny Abrahamson’s work in Room was also quite an acheivement to be fair, A win for one of those three would be more than a fair decision but I think Alejandro Iñárritu will do the double.

Who I think will win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Who I think should win: George Miller

Who I think should have been nominated: Ryan Coogler (Creed) or JJ Abrams (Star Wars- The Force Awakens)

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett- Carol
  • Brie Larson- Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence- Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling- 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan- Brooklyn

While she remains one of my favourite actresses, and her performance was the bright spark, Jennifer Lawrence does not deserve to be the one clutching the statue this time around, and for me is fortunate to be nominated at all. Cate Blanchett did do some amazing work in Carol, but it would be a major shock if Brie Larson doesn’t triumph. Her work in Room was heartbreaking to watch, but she gave a terrific performance that is absolutely deserving of an award. However, two ladies I do think deserved nods here are Charlize Theron and Daisy Ridley. The former outshone Tom Hardy in Mad Max, while Ridley delivered a superb breakthrough performance in the year’s biggest movie. She stole the show and even though it’s a blockbuster, she deserved it. Even if they had both been nominated, this is Larson’s trophy.

Who I think will win: Brie Larson 

Who I think should win: Brie Larson 

Who I think should have been nominated: Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

 Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston- Trumbo
  • Matt Damon-  The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio- The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne- The Danish Girl

Like the lead actor category, this one is almost certainly nailed on to be the moment Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY wins that Oscar. He would absolutely deserve it as his work in the Revenant was truly extraordinary. I mean, eating raw liver to get into the role is commitment. Michael Fassbender did do a great job as Steve Jobs, and Matt Damon’s work in The Martian was also top notch, but I cannot see The Academy giving this award to anyone other than Leo, sixth time’s a charm (hopefully)

Who I think will win: Leonardo DiCaprio 

Who I think should win: Leonardo DiCaprio 

Who I think should have been nominated: Michael B Jordan (Creed)

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

With ten slots open I don’t understand why the Academy chose to nominate only eight as there were more than enough good films to give the final two slots to. And while I feel that the majority of these movies do deserve to be up for this award, The Big Short is for me extremely fortunate to be up there. Nevertheless, out of those scrapping for the honour, the three top contenders in my eyes, are The Revenant, Spotlight and Mad Max Fury Road. While Mad Max did fall a bit short for me in terms of its script (weak villain mainly) it was an enthralling time and impressive given its long spell in development hell. The Revenant has got its BAFTA triumph going for it but Spotlight has been taking some crowns along the way too, so it’s an open race. Any of the three would be deserving winners but I have a sneaking suspicion that The Revenant will take the top prize, but Mad Max or Spotlight may yet sneak a win.

Who I think will win: The Revenant

Who I think should win: Spotlight or The Revenant

Who I think should have been nominated: Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ex Machina

 

Whatever happens, the movie world should be in for a fun and enjoyable evening!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Top 10 Best Films of 2015

2015, a year that broke box office records here, there and everywhere! A return to a galaxy far far away, more dinosaurs, more superheroes, a fair few spy movies, the revival of some long running franchises, and some original pieces of work thrown into the mix as well. It was a promising year for movies, and it some cases it delivered, some it did not. In any case, there were more than a handful of great movies that came out in 2015. With all that said it is time, now that some of those limited release films that came out at the end of the year have reached me here in the UK ( I am classing these as 2015 releases, as per IMDB) With that said, I now give you my picks for the 10 best movies of the year.

One thing to bear in mind, is that grades here do not matter, a film may get a high grade or the perfect grade, it will not necessarily mean that film will be the best film of the year, this is my list of my favourite movies that I had the most fun with or enjoyed the most.  Before I get into the body of my list I do have some honourable mentions, films that were awesome and that didn’t quite make the list with there being 10 spaces, but were still a lot of fun.

The first of these is Kingsman: The Secret Service, this movie knew it was a silly spy movie, but it was extremely entertaining and very violent in places, but the action was extremely exciting, and we got to see Colin Firth beat people up! Next up is Spectre, the 24th James Bond film. Now I know some people, including one very good friend of mine, did not like this movie at all but I thought it was a well directed film with some great action sequences, and a very sexy but badass Bond girl in Lea Seydoux. The villain played by Christoph Waltz was admittedly a little underutilised, and while it did revert to established Bond formula a bit too much, it was still a blast to watch, although it’s not on the same level as Skyfall or Casino Royale.  Third is The Walk, the new film by Robert Zemeckis, this was a gripping watch, telling the true story of Phillippe Petit, the man who strung a tightrope between the Twin Towers. While a little slow to get going, the scene where he walks the wire was among the most gripping scenes I saw all year.

10. Ant Man

Read my Ant-Man review

Image rights belong to Marvel Studios

When the year began and we had two new MCU films to look forward to, nearly everyone was more excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron than Ant Man, yet for many, the former was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps suffering from very large expectations. And while Ultron certainly was not a massive failure, it was not nearly as enjoyable as Ant Man. When Edgar Wright exited Ant Man, many thought it was a doomed project destined for failure, yet it came through in great style. Paul Rudd was tremendous as the titular character, Michael Douglas was fantastic as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly was also in great form, it exceeded all expectations and ensured a sequel has been added into Phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

9. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Read my Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review

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The fifth entry in this franchise that continues to pack awesome action and among the handful of spy movies that were released in 2015, Rogue Nation is arguably the best, and has a claim to be the best Mission Impossible movie to date. Tom Cruise as usual doing all of his owns stunts including actually hanging onto a moving plane, as well as the introduction of the awesome Ilsa Faust played by the amazing Rebecca Ferguson, as well more awesome humour providing by the great Simon Pegg. Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay and direction was excellent and it’s no surprise that he’s back on board to direct the sixth film in the franchise.

8.The Martian

Read my The Martian review

the martian

A real return to form for director Ridley Scott, whose recent films were disappointments to many, so to see him come back with a truly great movie was awesome to see. Matt Damon was brilliant in the lead role as a man who is left behind on Mars. The screenplay was sharp and surprisingly very humorous given the dire nature of his circumstances, and the rest of the very large cast were also great with the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean all giving excellent performances, with amazing visuals and outstanding special effects that were almost a throwback to Scott’s early science fiction roots.

7. Mad Max Fury Road

Read my Mad Max Fury Road review

mad max

The fourth film in this franchise, and the film that could and should rewrite the book on how to film action movies. It was an utterly thrilling film filled with practical effects and mind blowing action sequences, with cars, explosions and flaming guitars to boot, and not a shaky camera to be found anywhere. Tom Hardy didn’t have much dialogue but he was excellent in the title role, but the person who stole the show was undoubtedly that of Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, showing Hollywood writers how to write an awesome badass female character who doesn’t need a man to show what a strong character she can be. Take note please writers and directors!!!

6. The Hateful Eight

Read my The Hateful Eight review

Hateful eight

The eight film by Mr Quentin Tarantino, and another superb addition to his near flawless filmography. A brilliantly shot film with wonderful cinematography, a terrific score by Ennio Morricone, and a tremendously talented cast including Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L Jackson, it’s not quite on the same level as Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained, but it was still a well written and very entertaining film with a great mystery at its core that was just fascinating to witness on the big screen, of course with Tarantino’s signature dialogue and violence.

5. Creed

Read my Creed review

creed

The seventh instalment of this series, and it might just be the best the series has ever produced, certainly one of the best performances ever from Sly Stallone that has been ensuring he has received well deserved awards nominations and victories, but another top notch performance from Michael B Jordan. The fight scenes were tremendously well handled, and the story to boot, whilst taking many notes from the original, was an inspired decision as we have a new Rocky for a new generation.

4. Ex Machina

Read my Ex Machina review

ex machina

In this age of films when prequels, sequels and reboots dominate, it is always refreshing to see an original film be brought to the table and when they’re as thrilling, intriguing, and exciting as Ex Machina was, then that is a bonus. This was a mesmerising take on what is very familiar ground in the sci fi genre, artificial intelligence. The main trio of actors, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander were all magnificent in their roles in a beautifully directed film with a very sharp screenplay from Alex Garland which also marked his directorial debut.

3.  The Revenant

Read my The Revenant review

revenant

Sixth time lucky in terms of landing that elusive golden statue for one Leonardo DiCaprio?  He bagged the Golden Globe so here’s hoping but if he doesn’t win it for his terrific performance in this film, I don’t know what will win him the honour. His dialogue is minimal but he threw everything into this role and it was a gripping and enthralling movie from beginning to end, with another great performance from Tom Hardy who has had quite an extraordinary twelve months. The action scenes, most notably with the bear did not make comfortable viewing, but the cinematography was perfect, it was a visual masterpiece and is being bestowed with some well deserved awards and cemented Alejandro G Iñárritu’s reputation as a truly formidable director.

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2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Read my Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions

The anticipation for the return of Star Wars was off the charts, with real pressure on the shoulders of JJ Abrams to deliver a satisfying film after the disappointments that were the Prequels. However, Abrams pulled through and ensured this franchise returned to form. Like with Creed, it did borrow a lot from previous films, but with seven films now in the franchise, there is kind of an established formula to follow that all six films previously tried to follow, with some being more successful than others. However, the story was thrilling with exciting new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren, as well as the old cast all returning. It got the new trilogy off to a perfect start, and is still raking in the dough.

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1. Inside Out

Read my Inside Out review

inside out

The animation juggernaut that is Pixar has produced some of the most beloved animation films of all time. The likes of Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles all jump to mind. And after some sequels, they reverted back to the original ideas and produced what for me, might just be their best film yet, in Inside Out. This film, exploring the inner workings of a girl ‘s mind and her emotions after she moves home, was simply put, genius.  As human beings we all experience different emotions at significant moments in our lives, and to see this portrayed on screen was just a joy (see what I did there?) to witness. These animations do work on two levels that give lots for kids and adults to enjoy, but this film definitely panders more towards the adults with its story that will resonate with all who see it. Gorgeously animated with a mixture of great humour and some very emotional moments that will bring you to tears, and a tremendous cast of voice actors including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling. Inside Out is certainly one of the best animated films so far this decade, and my favourite film of 2015!

So there you have it, my best films of 2015. What were your picks? Comment below and tell me what were your favourite movies of 2015, or feel free to tweet me at @TTSilverScreen, and be sure to like me over on Facebook!

Posted in Film Feature

Top 10: Most Anticipated Autumn/Winter Films (2015-2016)

oscar 2016 season

Summer movie season is officially over, and we now enter Oscar season territory, the time when studios release their films that they hope will be celebrating come Oscar season next February . There has been some great cinema so far this year, but there’s some very interesting pictures on the schedule. So without further ado, I give you my 10 most anticipated films of the next few months.

First up I have a few honourable mentions. The first of these is The Danish Girl, this is a new film from Tom Hooper, director of The King’s Speech and Les Miserables, winner of 4 and 3 Oscars respectively, and this looks like it has lots of awards potential with Eddie Redmayne being strongly tipped to get a second Oscar in succession. The second is Steve Jobs, the second film attempting to tell the story of the legendary Apple CEO. The first Jobs film with Ashton Kutcher I have not seen but it did not get the best reception, however with Aaron Sorkin on screenplay duties and Danny Boyle behind the camera, there is scope for greatness. The Good Dinosaur, this summer’s Inside Out is my favourite film of the year thus far, and thus Pixar could be on a roll with two original pieces of work this year. Last but not least is Joy. Despite having one of my favourite actresses in Jennifer Lawrence, I am not entirely sold just yet, and although David O Russell is in the director’s chair, the teaser didn’t blow my mind, but I remain hopeful given David O Russell’s track record of previous films with J Law. With that done it’s time for the top 10 and we start with:

10. Bridge of Spies

Tom Hanks (left) stars in Steven Spielberg's (right) Untitled Cold War spy thriller, which is the true story of James Donovan, an attorney who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.

Steven Spielberg’s follow up to his 2012 picture Lincoln, reuniting with Tom Hanks once again, set in the Cold War focusing on one man’s efforts to save a pilot trapped in the Soviet Union. The time period, the director and cast all look great so here’s hoping for more excellence from arguably the greatest director working today.

 

9. Everest

everest

It would be easy for a film like this to decide to shoot on green screen, as was the case (for obvious reasons) with 2013’s Gravity. But the fact that the crew actually went to some pretty dangerous, mountainous locations will definitely give this film a real authenticity, and here’s hoping that the story is just as enthralling because it looks like it will be.

 

8. Black Mass

black mass

Could this be the return to form for Johnny Depp? His films as of late have all been pretty much panned, the likes of Mortdecai and Transcendence come to mind, but in this picture, it definitely looks like it could be that much needed comeback for Depp and early reception is looking very promising indeed.

 

7. The Martian

the martian

Ridley Scott’s recent films have also not had the best of receptions. However, this film adapted from the hugely popular novel by Andy Weir also could be the return to form for the great British director. He knows the sci-fi genre well with Blade Runner, Alien and Prometheus. With Matt Damon in a role that bears a throwback to his role in last year’s Interstellar, so here’s hoping.

 

6. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

mockingjay2

Katniss’s story will finally be brought to a close this November. Judging from the trailer, it looks like this will make up for the lack of action that left many audiences wanting in the first part, and if you’ve read the book, you know there is going to be some fireworks! Be prepared!

 

5. The Revenant

revenant

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s next film after his Oscar winning Birdman looks very intriguing with Leo DiCaprio in the lead role as a man who is after his comrades after being left for dead. The trailer alone boasts some astounding cinematography and this MIGHT just be the role that FINALLY lands DiCaprio that long overdue Academy Award. 

4. The Walk

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“The artistic crime of the century,” what many people call Philip Petit’s remarkable feat as he tightrope walked between the two Twin Towers in 1974. With Robert Zemeckis on directing duties and Joseph Gordon Levitt as Petit, this will hopefully be an amazing cinematic experience that will get audiences on the edge of their seat.

 

3. The Hateful Eight

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Mr Quentin Tarantino’s next film hit a bunch of production problems. It wasn’t happening at one time after a script leak, but it is and the teaser trailer is awesome. Teases that tension that Tarantino is brilliant at but does not reveal any major plot points. With a top notch cast including Sam Jackson, Bruce Dern and Kurt Russell, this could well be another great addition to the Tarantino filmography.

 

2. Spectre

spectre

The follow up to the phenomenally successful Skyfall, Sam Mendes is back as director and so too is Daniel Craig. This time we’re reuniting Bond with villainous organisation SPECTRE and the trailers so far have been awesome and with two time Oscar winning actor Christoph Waltz as the main antagonist, there’s every chance we could see the best Bond villain the franchise.

And my most anticipated movie of Autumn/Winter is:

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1: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

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Are you surprised? Like many people I am a huge fan of this franchise and this film has got me extremely excited. When it was announced that a new trilogy was on the way I was a bit sceptical but with JJ Abrams as director, and the very talented cast they have assembled, with an exciting mix of Star Wars veterans and newcomers, I am sold. The trailers have been very intriguing and quite rightly everything is under close wraps. With JJ Abrams’ past work in reviving Star Trek as anything to go by, this should be the return to form that the Star Wars franchise needs, due to er, the unfortunate event of those prequels. The first of a new planned trilogy and with many more films on the slate, Star Wars isn’t going anywhere, and all the better for it.

There we have it, my top 10 most anticipated Autumn/ Winter films. What are your most anticipated movies of this upcoming Oscar season? Any movies on my list that you feel should not be on there? Comment below and tell me what you think. Or you can tweet me at @Martin_rich_91. We should be in for a great few months of cinema!