Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Arrival (2016)

arrival
Image is property of FilmNation Entertainment, Lava Bear Films, 21 Laps Entertainment and Paramount Pictures

Arrival – Film Review

Cast:  Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Synopsis: When 12 alien ships mysteriously appear in places around the world, a team of experts are gathered to assess the extra terrestrial visitors, and to determine: just why are they here?

Review: Alien invasion, a classic trope of the science fiction genre, One that so often delivers films where you sit back and just watch a load of mayhem and destruction with cities getting blown to smithereeens and the aliens must be stopped at all costs. While these can be fun and very enjoyable, science fiction is a genre that has the potential to go really deep and provide the audience with a thought provoking piece of story telling that gets the brain working and leaves its audience in awe and spectacle, and this latest film from director Denis Villeneuve ticks that box, and then some.

Adapted from the short story Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, with a screenplay by Eric Heisserer, we focus on Dr Louise Banks (Adams) a brilliant linguistics professor who is called in by the US military to help deal with the mysterious alien invaders and to understand just who are they, what do they want, and above all are they a threat to humanity? Aiding her in her quest is physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner) and together these intelligent academics must decipher what these extra terrestrial beings are up to. Heisserer’s screenplay is excellent, exploring some really interesting themes that we have seen before in science fiction. Yet these are told in such a brilliant and engaging way that it keeps your eyes firmly transfixed on the screen. The mystery is maintained throughout the film’s running time as for a while, the craft of the visitors is not revealed, and it brilliantly keeps the viewer engaged. It is smart and very thought provoking story-telling that keeps you hooked from the very first shot, all the way to the last shot.

The centrepiece of this story is of course Adams’s Dr Banks, a wounded soul who has suffered some terrible tragedies in her lifetime, and yet, she remains strong willed, determined to do all she can to understand what the alien visitors are after, and not to bow to the will of her military superiors, most notably Forest Whitaker’s Colonel Weber. Adams has had a very distinguished career, earning five Oscar nods, and another one could very well be coming her way next year. She carries the film on her shoulders, and reinforces her reputation as a very stellar actress. Renner also gives a very grounded and superb performance, who does his best to sprinkle a bit of humour here and there into the story, but the limelight belongs to Adams and she absolutely bosses it.

arrival-movie

The directing from Villeneuve is masterful in its execution, aided by flawless cinematography from Bradford Young. The wide shots of the alien craft as they appear in the sky are truly something to behold. The flawless cinematography is aided by outstanding visuals and magnificent visual effects. The aliens themselves feel so real and authentic, you don’t see it as a computer generated image. Similarly with the alien crafts, though they do resemble pieces of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, are beautifully designed and like their inhabitants feel very real and authentic. Re-teaming with Villeneuve after Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score is mesmerising to the ears, as Villeneuve’s visual brilliance is appealing to the eyes.

Language and science are two subjects that rarely go hand in hand, but here they most certainly do and the results are a joy to behold. The mystery will hook you in and will not let go. With the Blade Runner sequel being Villeneuve’s next film, fans of Ridley Scott’s classic can rest assured knowing that project is in very safe and capable hands.

A beautifully refreshing take on what is a very common sci-fi trope, with thought provoking themes and ideas, anchored by a powerful performance from Adams.

a

 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Doctor Strange (2016)

Image is property of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios
Image is property of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios

Doctor Strange Film Review

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong

Director: Scott Derrickson

Synopsis: After a car accident ruins his hands and his career, brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon Dr Stephen Strange, travels across the world in search of a cure and discovers mystic powers beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

Review: You have to hand it to Marvel Studios, and in particular its president Kevin Feige. Under his stewardship the MCU has blossomed into a very powerful cinematic machine, and certainly they have maintained audience interest by crucially throwing some variety in there. The studio is clearly choosing to take risks, rather than just pump out Iron Man 4 or 5. These risks that might not have paid off, but paid off they most definitely have. The likes of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man are perfect examples, and while there is usually some big superhero team up film or a film with heroes turning on each other. Nevertheless, the studio delivers, and they have managed to do so yet again with their fourteenth entry into the MCU, this time, they decided to go a bit mystical and dabble in the world of magic.

We meet Doctor Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon and a rather good one at that, until a car accident leaves his career and life seemingly in ruins. Driven by desperation, he travels across the world in the hope of finding a cure but instead finds a temple of sorts, governed by the Ancient One, and she teaches Strange all about the mystic arts and dabbling in a world that has not graced the MCU stage up to this point, and it is rather thrilling to watch the MCU go in new directions and make a solid success out of it.

Marvel were desperately keen to recruit Cumberbatch for the titular role, going so far as to alter their schedule to accomodate him after he was committed to a theatre run as Hamlet, and it is easy to see why, as Cumberbatch really does shine in the role. After playing the role of the brilliant and cocky but ultimately tragic Alan Turing in the Imitation Game, he shows that cockiness again to great effect. Initially, Strange is about as arrogant as they come, but with good reason. Post-accident however is where Cumberbatch really shines, having truly realised how little he really knows.

Tilda Swinton might have seemed a strange (pun most definitely intended) choice to play The Ancient One, but she also delivers a capable performance. Yet besides these two characters, not one else really gets their chance to shine. Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor do not get the screen time and development actors of their immense talent deserve. Also the Achilles Heel for Marvel lets them down again, this being their villain. Mads Mikkelsen is without question a fine actor, but his performance as the villainous Kaecilius whilst menacing, does leave a lot to be desired.

Director Scott Derrickson, of horror movie fame, also on screenplay duties along with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill deliver a solid script is but certain things could have been better developed. Marvel have made their name delivering some great humour in many of their films, and this is no exception. There are more than a few great moments that will make you laugh out loud. Yet despite the great humour, the script does lack in a number of places as some scenes do feel a bit rushed. Yet the action sequences are directed exquisitely well and the special effects are mind-bendingly brilliant. It’s almost as if the film makers rolled Inception, The Matrix and Harry Potter into one and the end result is some REALLY trippy shit, but an absolute blast to watch, aided by great cinematography and a superb score by Michael Giacchino.

Marvel have shown they are not afraid to take risks, and while that does deserve praise, it does mean that there could be some trips further down the line. For some, Strange could have been this film that doesn’t deliver the goods, but thankfully that just isn’t the case. It’s another unique and incredibly interesting dimension that has been added into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you certainly get the feeling that we will be going back into this world somewhere down the Phase 3 (or maybe even Phase 4) line. Yet so far it’s 14 and not out for Marvel Studios.

Anchored by an excellent performance from Cumberbatch with some astounding visuals, Marvel took their biggest risk to date, but the end result is one mind-bending and thrilling ride. 

Rating: A-

Posted in Film Review

The Girl on the Train (2016)

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Image is property of Dreamworks, Universal Pictures and Reliance Entertainment

The Girl on the Train Film Review

Cast:  Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Edgar Ramirez, Luke Evans and Allison Janney

Director: Tate Taylor

Synopsis: Rachel (Blunt) is an alcoholic, unemployed,  divorced, woman who becomes fixated on the people she sees while on her daily train journey, until one day, she sees something that turns her world upside down.

Review: Ah trains, don’t you just love them? For many of us, they are a valuable asset that we use to get to our day jobs, even if they can be a bit late or a bit too full on occasions. Whilst on board, many of us bury our heads in a newspaper or listen to music, but what if you saw something that shocked you? And before you know it, one thing leads to another and you find yourself entangled in a criminal investigation over a missing persons case? This is precisely the situation the lead character finds herself in in this missing persons thriller.

Adapting from Paul Hawkins’s best selling novel of the same name, Rachel having lost her job and seeing her marriage fall apart has become a hopeless alcoholic who seems destined to go off the rails (pun absolutely intended.) Her life has hit a red signal, and in order to maintain a routine she take the train every day and becomes attached to the people she sees, making up stories about their lives. This is until she finds herself right in the thick of a criminal investigation and after become a bit too intoxicated one particular evening and in a similar vein to Gone Girl, we have an intriguing mystery on our hands.

Hawkins novel is very unpredictable in terms of its narration and storytelling, and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, manages to adapt it for the most part pretty well. The change of setting from London to New York will undoubtedly upset fans of the book, but it doesn’t detract from the story. The main character here is of course Blunt’s Rachel. Although the novel’s version of the book describes her as being overweight, Blunt does her level best and gives a wounded performance as Rachel. The film does a good job of making you feel sorry for her, but at the same time, makes her look like a terrible human being when she’s a drunken mess, giving subtle warnings over the dangers of booze. The blackout scenes are handled expertly by director Tate Taylor, and adds to the intrigue of the story, it begs the question, just what did Rachel see that night? Through a mixture of past and present storytelling, the blanks are slowly filled, and the tension is well built throughout.

Blunt is well aided by an excellent supporting cast some of whom like Rachel are a bit on the unstable side. Haley Bennett as Megan, the person at the centre of this investigation also gives an unpredictable performance. After showing what an unbelievable badass she was in Rogue Nation, Rebecca Ferguson also is excellent as Anna, the new love of Rachel’s ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) These characters get the most character development, understandably so, yet you would have liked to have seen other characters such as Megan’s husband Scott (Luke Evans) get more screen time. The script does lack a bit of focus on occasion, but this does not derail the intrigue and suspense that has steadily been building up.

The comparisons between this and Gone Girl are to be expected, and while Gone Girl is a superior movie, this adaption certainly holds its own as a very suspenseful thriller, particularly for those who have not read Hawkins’s brilliant novel. Adaptations from page to screen can sometimes go awry, but thankfully not on this occasion.

Unpredictable, tense and expertly directed by Taylor with a superb performance from Blunt, be sure to catch this one before it leaves the platform.

Rating: A-

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Swiss Army Man (2016)

swiss-army-man
Image is property of A24, Tadmor, Astrakan Films AB, Cold Iron Pictures, Blackbird Films and Prettybird

Swiss Army Man Film Review

Cast:  Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe

Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Synopsis: A suicidal man (Dano) is all alone on a beach and is about to commit suicide when he sees a deceased man (Radcliffe) on the beach, who happens to have some gassy problems.

Review: Every so often, a film comes along that has a premise that after reading or hearing about it, it just stops you in you tracks in sheer bemusement. You look at it and just think, “Huh???” This is certainly applicable to this film from a pair of directors who call themselves “The Daniels” in what is their first foray into major motion picture film-making. If nothing else this film is certainly a very original concept given the domination of sequels and reboots in Hollywood these days, but sometimes that is not always a good thing.

The story focuses on Hank, a man who has all but given up on life and is about to end it all when he spots the motionless man lying on the beach. This gives Hank a reason to keep going and together the duo go on an adventure in order to get home. Originality in Hollywood, certainly in big blockbusters has become something of a rare thing, so in this respect Swiss Army Man is to be praised, for offering something different to the big screen, like no film has before. Yet there is a difference between originality and just completely fucking weird. This isn’t to say all weird films are bad, but this is not the good kind of weird at all.

You have to wonder at times if a 12 year old boy wrote the script because the humour is very low-brow. Fart jokes were common place when you were in primary school and as adults it can be funny too, but to use it a device in a Hollywood movie is a risky move, and for the most part it doesn’t work. There are some humorous moments and jokes for sure, but it gets to a point where those sorts of jokes stop being funny after the tenth time, and these two very talented actors are ultimately wasted on what is a very weak script. It is trying to have a deeper meaning on life but these messages are negated by the excessive use of the toilet humour, it just simply does not work. The chemistry between the two of them is barely existent, which isn’t a surprise that one of them is meant to be dead!  There are attempts at teaching some life lessons in there but it’s negated by the fact that one of the characters is meant to be a dead man, who through no particular explanation comes to life somehow and starts talking!

Dano doesn’t really break any ground with his performance, but Radcliffe does try to give him credit. It is certainly a very different role when compared to The Boy Who Lived, but as The Man Who Farts, not quite as enthralling to watch. The film visually is impressive, there are some nice wide shots on the island and the Daniels helm it well. The soundtrack too is also of a decent quality,  but that is of little importance when you’re script is weighed down a very silly way of telling the story, which at just over an hour and a half shouldn’t feel long, but this felt like like it was a lot longer, which is never a good sign. Movies that take risks deserve attention and when done well, deserve merit, but that is not applicable here.

Points for originality and a creative premise, but these are negated by a very weak and messy script that is full of holes and bogged down by an over reliance on childish toilet humour.

Rating: D

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

deepwater-horizon
Image is property of Summit Entertainment, Participant Media, Di Bonaventura Pictures and Lionsgate

Deepwater Horizon – Film Review

Cast:  Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Kate Hudson, Dylan O’Brien

Director: Peter Berg

Synopsis: An account of the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the desperate bid by the workers of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to stay alive.

Review: Making a film about a true to life disaster cannot be an easy subject matter to tackle, especially if the disaster that you’re focusing on just happens to be the worst ever oil disaster in US history, and one that cost the company behind the oil rig, British Petroleum a whopping 18.7 BILLION dollars in fines after a total of just under 5 million barrels of oil spilled out into the sea, causing devastation for the local environment and for the nearby communities, and also claimed the lives of 11 of the men working on the oil rig.

After directing the gripping Lone Survivor, Peter Berg along with screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, certainly do their best to tell this story and tell it in a very gripping manner. The first act is a little slow at times, but the build up is necessary as with each passing minute of screen time, and every test that they make whilst on the rig, the tension is built up ever so slightly. You just know that something is not right, and any minute things will go wrong, Soon, it gets to the point when you know, that sooner or later, the shit (or mud in this case) will hit the fan and the rig workers have an unmitigated catastrophe on their hands and soon are in a desperate bid to get off the rig before they go down with it. Once the disaster has struck, the tension is enormous and it remains that way for the rest of the movie.

Berg wasn’t the original director attached to the project as originally it was J.C. Chandor who was set to be calling the shots. Yet due to creative differences Chandor left and Berg came on board, reuniting with his Lone Survivor co star, Marky Mark Wahlberg. It’s from his perspective as real life oil rig worker Mike Williams that we watch with bated breath as the bumbling BP idiots naively assume that there’s nothing wrong with the rig, but Williams and the rest of the crew led by Mr Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) know otherwise. Wahlberg’s performance is the centrepiece of the film, and it’s his character that we get to know the most with his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter. Beyond him, there isn’t much character development to really any of the other characters, but all involved give excellent performances.

Berg helms this project excellently, with confident and assured direction throughout, but especially when the drama has fully unfolded. The production design to recreate the oil rig is tremendous and the camerawork and the fast editing does a great job to to heighten the tension when the workers find themselves in peril. These scenes are packed with tension right throughout as you will these people to safety. “Hope is not a tactic” reads the film’s poster, and in this situation, hope could be the difference between life and death. With a thought provoking and moving ending, and one that could and should get you all riled up. When considering how this tragedy came about, how no one was found culpable is almost beyond belief. It was one that changed lives forever and is almost certainly still having an effect on lives to this day, and one that will have you thinking once the credits begin to roll.

The heroism of these workers is given the credit it deserves and Berg nails it with a gritty, tension filled ride that is incredibly well executed and one that pays tribute to those who lost their lives.

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

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Image is property of Defender Films, Piki Films, Madman Entertainment, The Orchard, Vertigo and Sony

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Film Review

Cast:  Sam Neill, Julian Dennison

Director: Taika Waititi

Synopsis: In the heart of the majestic New Zealand landscape, a national manhunt is launched after a mischievous teenager and his grumpy foster uncle, run away into the forest.

Review: The incredible and quite breath taking New Zealand countryside has certainly featured on the big screen before, most notably in Peter Jackson’s tremendous Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as his not-quite-as-tremendous-but-still-great Hobbit trilogy. It’s quite fitting then, that New Zealand born director Taika Waititi, in his latest film, a character makes a quite brilliant reference to the former trilogy, as the main characters find themselves in a very similar situation to one in the Lord of the Rings, but this is by no means a similar movie to the aforementioned trilogy.

There are no rings or orcs to be found here, instead we have Ricky Baker (Dennison) a troublesome teenager who has been given a chance for a new life with new foster parents. All appears to be going well, yet due to various circumstances, Ricky and his “uncle” Hec (Sam Neill) begin an adventure in the New Zealand shrubbery. All the while, the duo become the centre of a massive manhunt in order launched by the authorities in order to bring these two home, and a hilarious and very heartfelt adventure begins.

Adapting the screenplay from the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, Waititi blends the humour of the story (of which there is plenty) and this is combined with some brilliant acting from the two main leads. It is clear that upon their first meeting Uncle Hec is not exactly keen on Ricky, but through time, they begin to develop a connection and an understanding of one another and the path that lead them to meet. Neill is tremendous but more often than not it is Dennison who steals the show with his obsession with everything “gangster” related, even going so far as to name a dog after a very famous rapper! The chemistry between the actors is tremendous, and the dialogue between them is equally so, and Waititi himself makes a cameo that is a contender for cameo of the year.

As well as the quite brilliant LOTR reference, there are plenty of other superb either visual nods to classic movies, or some rather amusing references to other Hollywood classics packed throughout this quirky picture. The cinematography is also spectacular, with Waititi taking full advantage of the New Zealand landscape in a similar vein to Jackson with both of his Middle Earth trilogies, with plenty of awe-inspiring wide shots that will make the viewer feel like they are in the deep dark wood with the characters. With a great soundtrack to boot, Waititi has crafted a quite brilliant piece of film-making that combines memorable characters with a very genuine, heartfelt story that is hilarious to boot. Given that his next project is a massive Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, namely Thor: Ragnarok, a universe that is known for its excellent use of humour, the director is certainly going from strength to strength. MCU fans can rest assured that this Marvel picture is in very safe and capable hands, hands that might be able to lift Mjolnir!

With a very witty and sharp script from Waititi, excellent performances from the lead duo, fasten your seat belts for a very entertaining romp through the New Zealand wilderness! 

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Hell or High Water (2016)

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Image is property of CBS Films, Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and OddLot Entertainment

Hell or High Water – Film Review

Cast:  Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges

Director: David Mackenzie

Synopsis: Two brothers (Pine and Foster) begin robbing banks in order to keep their finances afloat. However, their crimes soon come to the attention of a Texas Ranger (Bridges)  

Review: Chances are if the premise of a film that is centred on two guys who are resorting to robbing banks as a means of financial support, you’re unlikely to want to see these guys get away with their crimes and you hope that the full justice of the law catches up with them. You think the crooks are the bad guys and the law is the good guys? Well yes and no is the answer to that in the case of this enthralling crime heist movie with a modern Western vibe.

Toby (Pine) and Tanner (Foster) are the criminals in question, brothers who have remained close even after Tanner has had some spells in prison. The pair are in severe financial trouble and so in their desperation, they hatch carefully hatched plans to rob some local banks in order to stay afloat. However their deeds unsurprisingly begin to attract unwanted attention on their part and it is up to a Texas Ranger, played wonderfully by Jeff Bridges to investigate and foil their schemes.

The script from Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote last year’s Sicario, is absolutely tremendous. The winner of the 2012 Black List, it certainly borrows elements from movies in this genre. It is hard to not see the very obvious comparisons to the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. That being said, it certainly holds its own as an excellent and riveting piece of storytelling. Though the brothers are far from perfect human beings, one certainly being far more unlikable than the other, it does a splendid job of making you want to root for these guys even in spite of the crimes they’re committing. Even when the rozzers soon start to piece together their investigation, there is a dilemma, as to whether you want the coppers to catch them or hope that they get away and rebuild their lives.

Pine and Foster are excellent in their roles. You buy their chemistry and even though it is clear Toby has a few misgivings with Tanner, their relationship and love for each other as brothers is absolute. Pine in particular has made his name as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, but here he arguably gives the finest performance of his career. Yet more could have done to flesh out and give bones to the brothers’ back story, as it could have been touched upon in a bit more detail. Bridges, in a very similar role to his eye patch wearing, half mumbling performance as Rooster Cogburn from the 2010 remake of True Grit, brings his very unique and very funny sense of humour to his role as the Texas Ranger, even if he is a bit hard to understand in places. The back and forth between him and his partner (Gil Birmingham) certainly provides the laughter. Yet it is the leading men who undoubtedly steal the show and don’t be surprised to see potential award nods come their way.

After directing Starred Up, David Mackenzie does a tremendous job of bringing this gritty story from Sheridan’s screenplay to the big screen. The cinematography is majestic with some tremendous wide and panoramic shots of the Eastern New Mexico landscape, cleverly doubling up as Texas. These are fused brilliantly with the scenes that take place in the town. In addition, the bank robbery scenes are masterfully executed, ensuring the tension and suspense is maintained right throughout. The movie does lag in parts as it is a slow paced film, the cat and mouse chase that ensues from the first bank robbery scene combined with brilliant performances and a first rate score. All of the aforementioned elements ensure that the film stakes its claim as an awards contender as awards season starts to come into view.

Tremendous performances from Foster and Bridges, with arguably a career high from Pine, combined with a tense and superbly written script. Come hell or high water, you should definitely see this film!

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Entertainment and RatPac Entertainment

Suicide Squad – Film Review

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtenay, Jay Hernandez, Cara Delevigne, Scott Eastwood, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Director: David Ayer

Synopsis: A group of criminals are recruited into Task Force X to run covert missions for the government in exchange for time off their prison sentences, and when the world comes under threat, they must unite to save the world.

Review: It has been hard to ignore the rise in prominence and popularity that comic book movies had enjoyed in recent years. Yet so often with these movies it’s a tale of good going against bad. Yet this trend has for the most part been abandoned this year, with Marvel’s heroes turning on each other, and DC’s flagship characters going head to head. Now DC, who it could be argued has some of the best villains in comic books, now rips up that formula even more. This time it’s not good vs bad, it’s bad vs evil as writer and director David Ayer presents as the movie’s tagline states: the “Worst. Heroes. Ever.”

In a world post Batman and Superman’s tussle, people seem to be afraid that the next person who possesses superhuman abilities might not be so friendly as the Man of Steel. So, government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) creates Task Force X or as she puts it “A team of very bad people who I think can do some good.” Leading the line up for this team is Will Smith as Deadshot, a lethal assassin who is always on target. Next on the roster is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, the significant other of the Joker, who like her “puddin” is just flat out crazy but a lot of fun to watch.

These two are the main players in this squad, but they are aided well by Jai Courtenay’s Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the beastly Killer Croc, Karen Fukuhara as the lethal Katana and Joel Kinnaman as the team’s leader Rick Flagg. While it would have been great to see Tom Hardy play the role, Kinnaman brings steel and grit to the role, showing he won’t take any nonsense from the team.

All of the team play their roles well but the leading lights by far are that of Robbie as Harley and Smith as Deadshot, with the former stealing the show on more than a few occasions. but Davis is also on top form, although her methods do leave a lot to be desired. Of course, there is the small matter of Jared Leto’s Joker. Following the brilliance of Heath Ledger was always going to be a tough act to follow but Leto impresses in the role, and he more than looks the part as the Crown Prince of Crime. Yet his role in the film is minimal which is undeniably frustrating. Cara Delevigne completes the roster as the mysterious Enchantress, a lady who is harbouring some very dark secrets.

In the wake of the misfire that was Batman V Superman, Ayer had the unenviable task of steering the DC universe out of the doldrums in the wake of Marvel’s continuing dominance of the market. The script is a little bit choppy and uneven in places. Certain characters could have been better fleshed out, as such character development for some characters is very thin on the ground. Yet for those that have that character development, it is very interesting to watch. Ayer also helms the action scenes excellently, with some scenes being tremendously impressive, although some scenes are somewhat choppily edited. The score by Oscar winner Steven Price is also first class and does help get the blood pumping, which is also aided by a great soundtrack. The real villain here (no spoilers!) was undeniably creepy and on the whole did a very good job in presenting a force for the squad to tackle.

After the negative reaction that greeted Batman V Superman, fans must have wondered if it would have been a fatal blow to the DCEU before it has even got going. This latest offering has also had a less than kind critical reaction, yet it is by far the best DCEU movie we have so far. The board is set and the pieces are moving at long last, and with a solo Harley Quinn reportedly in development, don’t be surprised to see the squad reunite for more madness later on down the line.

A few script issues and the lack of character development and screen time for certain characters is undeniably a bummer, but there is more than enough for DC fans to sink their teeth into and enjoy.

b

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Finding Dory (2016)

finding dory
Image is property of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Finding Dory – Film Review

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olsen, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba

Directors: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

Synopsis: Set one year after the events of Finding NemoDory begins to get flashbacks about her past and her parents. Determined to find answers, she sets off on a quest to reunite with her long lost family.

Review: It has been thirteen years since we were introduced to a bunch of lovable fish that swam their way into the hearts of audiences in Finding Nemo. It could be argued that of those group of fish, there was one who perhaps swam her way into the hearts and minds of viewers more than most, this of course being the blue tang Dory. So of course it was only natural that this phenomenal piece of storytelling would get a sequel. Sequels for Pixar are generally a mixed bag, for every Toy Story 3, there’s a Cars 2. However, given Dory’s immense popularity, the head honchos of Pixar decided to make this movie about her, and what an inspired decision that turned out to be.

Nemo director Stanton, along with Angus MacLane, with a scripted penned by Stanton and Victoria Strouse take us back to the big blue, and one year after Dory has helped Marlin reunite with Nemo after the latter went somewhat astray. Seemingly content with life, and still a bit forgetful, she begins to have flashbacks about her past and believing that somewhere out there she has a family, Dory goes off on her own adventure with Marlin and Nemo in tow. Pixar certainly knows how to give its audiences full on emotional punches, as last year’s brilliant Inside Out demonstrated, and once again, they have delivered a heartfelt worthwhile story with a great new batch of characters and a script that is packed with plenty of laughs.

Once again, Ellen DeGeneres is on outstanding form as Dory, her humour ensured she was one of the funniest movie sidekicks of the 2000s but now she is front and centre and she absolutely holds her own. Brooks returning as Marlin is his usual somewhat grump self and Hayden Rolence replaces Alexander Gould as the voice of Nemo. Adding them on their quest are a great bunch of new characters, the standout by far though is Ed O’Neill’s Hank the Octopus. He may be a bit grumpy too, but he certainly adds a lot of humour to the story. Ty Burrell as a beluga whale and Kaitlin Olsen as a clumsy whale also add a great deal to the plot. The seagulls were another highlight of Nemo, yet they have been replaced by a pair of equally amusing sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West.

Pixar has certainly shown in the past that they’re not afraid to go deep (pun absolutely intended) with their films. They tug at your emotional heart-string and it’s one of the many reasons why they have cemented their reputation as an animation powerhouse. There is no real villain here, but it’s not a hindrance to the plot in any way, as the struggles of family life and finding your place in the world are themes that almost anyone out there can resonate with. A debate could rage all day about whether Pixar or parent company Disney make the better movies. However it cannot be argued that both have put out tremendous pieces of work so far this year, and both of these are centred around animals.  This particular Pixar sequel was not out of its depth, but instead swam its way to success, and that bodes well for the sequels that are currently in the works. The price of a ticket is worth it if just to see perhaps the cutest animated short you will ever see in your life too.

Pixar produces another superb piece of storytelling, beautiful animation, with more well developed characters, and another superb performance from DeGeneres, a worthy sequel to Finding Nemo. 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Jason Bourne (2016)

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Image is property of Universal Pictures, Pearl Street Pictures and Perfect World Pictures

Jason Bourne – Film Review

Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmad

Director: Paul Greengrass

Synopsis: Ten years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne is now laying low and living a relatively peaceful life, until an old acquaintance resurfaces with some new information on Bourne’s past.

Review: When it comes to near invincible badasses who dabble in the world of spies and espionage, then there are a handful of individuals that have established their reputations as the best of the best. The likes of a certain Mr James Bond, or Ethan Hunt or Jason Bourne are ones that are more than likely will jump to mind. While the likes of Bond carry themselves with class and elegance, and usually kicking ass whilst wearing a tuxedo, the likes of Bourne do not carry such sophistication, but he will still kick your head in regardless if you dare to cross his path, and after spending years living his life free from any CIA entanglements, he’s back in the game.

The events of The Bourne Ultimatum saw Bourne finally get some closure about his past and how he got involved with this predicament and that appeared to be that. However one of his former associates now has some new information that could potentially lead to some new answers concerning Bourne’s past and so, somewhat reluctantly, Bourne is back on the grid. Of course, it isn’t long before the CIA have him back in their cross-hairs, under the new leadership of Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who will do anything they can to either capture Bourne or kill him, and so begins another enthralling chase across several continents and some very intense action scenes.

This is a role that Matt Damon has made his own, and is the role that the majority of people will associate with him the most. Although it is not his best performance as the character by any means, he is once again tremendous in the role bringing that grit and incredible fighting ability he possess to the fore. Out of the new recruits to this franchise, it is the work of Vikander, Jones and a ruthless assassin known only as The Asset played by Vincent Cassel that produce the best performances. Vikander, fresh from her Oscar triumph, shows great determination to lead the op against Bourne, all the while, trying to get him back on board. Cassel is usually bad news whenever he’s on screen, and here yes he’s very bad news indeed.

After coming on board to the franchise after The Bourne Identity, to direct the Supremacy and Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass has certainly cemented a reputation as an accomplished director of action. He is perhaps one of very few directors working today who takes shaky cam action and uses it, for the most part to great effect. By doing this the action scenes carry a lot of grit and realism to them, all the while making them utterly compelling to watch. This certainly applies here as the action scenes are once again tremendous, whether it be a chase in the middle of a riot or a high speed chase in Las Vegas, Greengrass knows how to get the viewer gripping their seat with excitement.

There is a sub-plot connected to a social media launch, and with several references to Snowden and the privacy controversy that that particular issues raised, thrown in there. Yet these do feel somewhat tacked on to the main story, which is that of Jason Bourne and his quest for the answers about his past. As such, you would have liked to have had a bit more on that story and less about Snowden and social media etc. The dialogue in places is a bit iffy too, and while it could have been better, you are here for the action. Nevertheless, Greengrass and co-writer Christopher Rouse have given us an exciting fifth entry to this franchise, and one will certainly hope that there will be more adventures with Mr Jason Bourne to come.

Bourne is back in business and while the action remains as gripping and as intense as ever with Damon once excellent, the story could have been much more streamlined to focus more on our titular character.

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