Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Creed (2015)

creed
Image is property of New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures

Creed – Film Review

Cast: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew

Director: Ryan Coogler

Synopsis: Adonis Creed is the son of the legendary boxer Apollo Creed, and when he realises he wants to emulate his father and become a professional boxer, he seeks out his father’s old rival, the one and only Rocky Balboa, to train him.

Review: You would think when a film series gets to its seventh instalment, that it’s possibly running out of ideas and that it may be time to put the series to bed. Yet certain franchises keep roaring on with some making over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. While not quite making those mega bucks the likes of Star Wars and Fast and Furious has been making, the Rocky franchise has come out fighting with a remarkable revival and has reinvigorated the it when many thought it was on the ropes and down for the count for good.

The main focus of this new chapter is on that of Adonis “Donnie” Creed, played by Michael B Jordan who despite being in a decent well paid job, strives for something different, namely to become a legendary fighter and to emulate the great achievements of his father. With six chapters coming before it, the production team behind the film had a choice, do you go with the established formula that the previous films set out, or try to reinvent the wheel and start fresh. Thankfully, the decision was evidently made to go with the former and tread familiar ground by using most of the notes from mainly the very first film in the franchise, and it does this in glorious fashion, providing a brand new Rocky for a brand new generation.

With the abysmal critical and commercial failure that is Fant4stic unfortunately attached to his CV, Michael B Jordan really shows us what he’s all about as the titular character. He’s driven and determined, but at the same time, feels weighed down and somewhat insecure by the name that he possess and also the legacy of his father. His breakthrough role came with 2012’s Fruitvale Station (which Coogler also directed) and with this, he truly cements himself as one of the finest young actors working today. It is his movie, and he owns it, and was mighty unlucky not to land himself an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Stallone as Balboa, in arguably the role that also made his name in Hollywood, is equally tremendous and gives quite possibly the finest performance ever in his long and illustrious career. The sheer enthusiasm of the young Creed gives him a new breath of life, after watching all those he loved slowly fritter away, and when Creed is offered a massive opportunity, it spurs Rocky on even more to see the young fighter succeed. Stallone has been getting nominations and awards aplenty, and a well deserved Oscar nomination too.

Coogler’s passion for the franchise is very apparent, and through his expert direction and the striking cinematography, the fight scenes are tremendously well handled. They’re extremely gripping to watch as you will Donny to succeed in his fight against some extremely obnoxious opponents. As the audience, you want him to succeed in his quest to become as good as his father was.

A perfect example of the underdog story, using the benchmark that was laid down by the first movie, and done right is just about every way possible. This re-imagining of the 1976 classic ensures that franchise is once again pulling punches aplenty, and will probably have a lot more fights in it in the years to come.

Uplifting, powerful and gripping, producing arguably career best performances from both Jordan and Stallone, Coogler has maybe given the franchise its best movie yet.

a

Advertisements
Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Revenant (2015)

revenant
Image rights belong to New Regency Picture, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox

The Revenant – Film Review

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Synopsis: When a fur trapper is viciously attacked by a bear and left for dead by his men, he sets out on a quest for revenge against them who left him to die.

Review: From a story about a man who was a washed up superhero trying to put on a Broadway play in one year, to a chilling tale of revenge for another man in the 1820s, it is quite the contrast for Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. His 2014 effort Birdman for all its eccentricities, won the director three Academy Awards. Yet he surpasses himself with this true story, about one man’s fight for both survival and vengeance in equal measure, and with a whopping total of twelve Academy Award nominations received, it makes what has been a well documented troubled, delayed and hellish shoot all the more worth it, especially as it is almost certain to take home a few golden statues this year.

This frighteningly true story focuses on DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass who is part of a fur trapping expedition in the USA and after being brutally attacked by a bear protecting her cubs, he’s left behind principally by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and left to die, except he doesn’t die, and after personal tragedy, he’s now on an angry quest for revenge, as well as a difficult struggle to survive the severe force of nature, that is well, nature. The bitter cold that the characters find themselves in almost filters its way through the audience as the incredible cinematography makes the audience feel as if they are in this perilous and horrendous situation that Glass in particular finds himself in. It’s a chilling 156 minute tale.

The aforementioned cinematography is simply flawless, and is almost certain to bag a hat-trick of Oscars for DP Emmanuel Lubezki after winning for Gravity and Birdman. The decision to use natural lighting was a masterstroke, giving a real look of authenticity and the film is visually magnificent with more than a handful of spectacular shots that will take your breath away. It is without a doubt one of the most visually impressive movies that has ever been made.

Through all the stunning cinematography, there are a handful of really unpleasant and brutal scenes, namely the bear scene. It is a tremendous visual achievement, and is gripping to watch, but also equally disturbingly realistic and gory. The performances from all of the cast are all excellent but the two that stand out by far are those of Tom Hardy and Leo DiCaprio, the latter of whom really threw himself into the role, to the point where he must have got hypothermia on several occasions.

You watch with suspense as he crawls across the landscape, driven by a fierce desire for revenge and the sheer will to survive against the uncompromising force that is nature. You root for him and you want him to succeed and again, it could be the role that finally lands DiCaprio the Oscar at the sixth time of asking, and also gives Hardy a decent shout at getting his first statue.

Hardy is also equally mesmerising as the film’s villain, yet there were times when he was very difficult to understand, often reverting to his sort of trademark mumble. Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson, who has had quite the year after Ex Machina and Star Wars, are also tremendous. Yet this is the DiCaprio show, and he totally owns it.

The violence on show here is pretty intense and certainly not for the faint of heart, yet for all the production problems, rebellion by the crew, and the delays to the shoot, which forced Hardy to drop out of this year’s Suicide Squad. Their efforts paid off, in a big way, with an equally tremendous score to go with it. It is uncompromising, brutal, and one of the best movies of not only the past twelve months, but this decade and one of the most riveting pieces of cinema you will ever watch.

Visually magnificent, with tremendous performances from DiCaprio and Hardy in particular,  this is an incredible film-making achievement and is not to be missed. 

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Most Anticipated Films of 2016

It is 2016!!! And with a new year comes more films for film fans across the globe  to get excited about. Those who may have been hoping for the death of the comic book franchise are set to disappointed with a considerable number of both old and new comic book properties to get films. The Coen brothers are making their return, and of course there are plenty of sequels to come, with some new stories from franchises we know and love. 2015 was quite the year in terms of the Box Office, but 2016’s offerings could very well give 2015 a very good run for its money. Lots to be enjoyed, with hopefully some great gems.

I know a lot of Oscar type movies like The Hateful Eight, Creed, The Revenant, The Big Short and others are all out in January in the UK, but I am counting these as 2015 films and as such they will not be featured here. Also I do have some honourable mentions:

Bourne 5, I can’t quite get excited because there isn’t much to go on, as we haven’t had a trailer yet, but Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reuniting should mean some more greatness from this franchise, with the likes of the very talented Alicia Vikander joining the cast.

Fantastic Beasts, I really enjoyed the Harry Potter films and the expansion of this world is very intriguing, with Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in the lead, with David Yates at the helm, it looks like more magical fun from the wizarding world.

Passengers, a film with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, directed by The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum. Don’t know much more about it than that, but the stars as well as the director of my favourite film of 2014, yes please!

The Nice Guys, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, two very good actors, in a comedy directed by Shane Black. The trailer was extremely funny so sign me up please!

With all that said and done, I give you my top ten most anticipated movies of 2016 starting with:

10. Finding Dory

The long awaited sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo, in which the focus turns on the lovable but forgetful Dory, voiced by the awesome Ellen DeGeneres, as she goes in search of her family. Last year Pixar triumphed with Inside Out, and while some of their sequels haven’t always delivered, hope remains that this can match the quality of the 2003 hit, which definitely ranks among Pixar’s best.

Release date: 29th July 

©2013 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

9. Hail Caesar!

The next film by the Coen brothers looks set to be extremely entertaining. focusing on 1950s Hollywood and the production of a film incidentally called Hail Caesar! With a very large and very talented cast that includes George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Josh Brolin. It promises that eccentric, but brilliant humour that the Coens are so good at, with a very interesting and unique story among the many sequels we will get this year.

Release date: 4th March

Hail-Caesar-trailer

8. X Men Apocalypse

The climax of the trilogy that started with 2011’s First Class, then continued with the brilliant Days of Future Past and will end with Apocalypse. No one knows this franchise better than Bryan Singer, and with primarily the First Class cast as well as younger versions of popular mutants such as Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler facing off against the incredibly powerful Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac.  It promises to be an even bigger spectacle than Days of Future Past was, even without Mr Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, with a very impressive and large cast.

Release Date: 19th May

x men apocalypse

7. Doctor Strange

The second helping of Marvel that we will be treated to, and unprecedented territory as we venture into the world of magic with Dr Stephen Strange, who will be portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, along with a decent cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor. With the director of Sinister Scott Derrickson at the helm, this could be a very interesting and very different kind of film from Marvel.

Release date: 28th October

doctorstrange

6. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

DC’s icons are going head to head, with two of the biggest ever superhero characters fighting. After 2013’s Man of Steel, this along with Suicide Squad will kickstart the DC universe at long last. Ben Affleck looks great as Batman despite the naysayers, Gal Gadot looked sweet as Wonder Woman, but the latest trailer did reveal A BIT too much. That being said, it’s still on this list because of the aforementioned fact that Batman and Superman are gonna kick the shit out of each other, and that is AWESOME! I just hope certain things such as Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor works, cos I am not 100% convinced.

Release date: 25th March

batman-v-superman-and-wonder-woman

5. Star Trek: Beyond

The third film in this rebooted version of the Star Trek franchise. Unsurprisingly since he went off to make Star Wars, JJ Abrams is not directing this instalment. The captain’s chair is now occupied by Justin Lin of Fast and Furious fame. While the new trailer does promise lots of action, it does have the feel of Fast and Furious in space. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but with all of the same cast back and Idris Elba as the villain, this does have a lot of promise.

Release date: 22nd July

stb

4.  Deadpool

The Merc with a Mouth is getting the proper big screen treatment. With the plethora of superhero films we have had in recent years, we have not had one that looks set to be as violent and as vulgar as Deadpool is looking set to be, and all the better for it! Ryan Reynolds is back as the titular character and from the trailers and various promotional material we have seen, this could well prove to be an absolute smash, and a very bloody one at that!

Release date: February 12th

DEADPOOL Ryan Reynolds is Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs.  TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars story

The first Star Wars anthology movie that is set somewhere before the events of the first Star Wars movie, in which a band of rebels, led by Felicity Jones, set out to steal the plans for the first Death Star. Not much is known beyond this, except for the fact that Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards is in the director’s chair. 2015’s The Force Awakens reinvigorated the franchise, and has recently passed the one billion dollar mark at the global box office, and counting.

Release date: 16th December 

star-wars-rogue-one

2. Captain America: Civil War

2014’s The Winter Soldier was for me, the best movie the MCU has given us so far, and with the Russo brothers back directing this follow-up, yes give it to me. The story focuses on the Superhero Registration Act (or Sokovia Accords as per the trailer) and a divide between the heroes with Captain America and Iron Man on opposite sides of the spectrum. With Cap being against the act, and Iron Man being for it, it promises an epic clash between arguable the two most popular Avengers. The trailer that was released teased some very interesting set pieces, and some cool action sequences, including our first look at Black Panther. The film looks set to be a big movie for Marvel, and the launch of Phase 3 of their Universe, with some possible big ramifications going forward.

Release date: 29th April

civil war

 

1. Suicide Squad

Those who know me well will know that I am a big fan of Marvel and their cinematic universe, but it’s this story from the new DC universe that has me the most excited and earns the title of my most anticipated movie of 2016! As director David Ayer put it: it’s not your usual good vs evil that we so often see in comic book movies. This time it’s bad vs evil, and that is an unprecedented premise for the superhero genre. In addition, the film has a top cast, including Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Cara Delevigne as the magical Enchantress and Jared Leto as a new incarnation of the Joker. The trailer that was dropped at Comic Con last year was awesome, with a very eerie and sinister tone to it, and I just get the feeling this could be DC’s answer to the Guardians of the Galaxy, except with a lot less humour, but hopefully the same amount of awesomeness that Guardians had.

Release date: August 5th

Suicide Squad

Posted in 1980-1989, Film Review

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return_of_the_jedi_old
Image rights belong to 20th Century Fox and LucasFilm Ltd

Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi – Film Review

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid

Director: Richard Marquand

Synopsis: With the Empire seemingly victorious, the small band of surviving rebels must retrieve Han Solo from Jabba the Hut, and prevent the Empire from claiming total victory over the Rebellion by destroying the Empire’s brand new Death Star battle station. While Luke is battling to try and restore his father to the good side.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Review: When the previous film in your franchise got pretty much everything right and made one of the best movies anyone has ever made ever, the sequel to said film was always going to have a very tough act to follow. Thus sadly for Richard Marquand’s Return of the Jedi, it doesn’t live up to either The Empires Strikes Backnor George Lucas’s original. It does have its shortcomings, yet despite this, it does have something to say for itself. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had and it does wrap up the original trilogy nicely.

The Empire struck back hard in the last film, and aims to move in for the kill with the construction of a brand new Death Star in a bid to defeat the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Similarly, the Rebels seek to make a last ditch effort to destroy the Empire’s brand new battle station. All the while, following the revelation at the end of Empire, Luke is determined that he can bring his father back to the good side.  With Empire, the tone was understandably a lot more darker with the Empire claiming a glorious win over the rebels, Han Solo trapped in carbonite, Luke’s hand chopped off, and while that tone is maintained in numerous parts, there is a return to a bit more jovial and upbeat moods, starting with the scene in Jabba’s Palace.

R2D2 as a waiter, ridiculous music by some sort of 80s style pop band, dancing, it’s all a bit ridiculous at times, but you cannot help but laugh and smile, for the most part, as there are some more annoying changes (we’ll get to more of that later.) Unnecessary CGI creatures but they’re thankfully not on show for very long. The true introduction of Jabba the Hutt and he’s this slimy nasty slug like being that you just detest every time you see him on screen, and cheer when he duly gets strangled by Princess Leia in her slave outfit, which quite possibly make some people lose their minds. Criticism has been aimed at the fact that she’s being totally devalued and reduced to a sex object, which is fair enough but ultimately that is the point, and it’s one of many reasons to dislike Jabba.

It’s here that we come to the crux of the story. We have seen Luke transition from a whiny brat (remind you of anyone?) to an awesome badass Jedi, courtesy of Yoda, who we see again briefly who has some more vital information to part before he goes to “forever sleep.” The scene with Yoda is enjoyable and there is more humour to be found, but it is ultimately a bit too short. There could and should have been more scenes with our little green friend before his passing. His training complete he goes off to try and turn his father back to the good side, enter Emperor Palpatine, the one who is truly pulling Vader’s strings and the one who has overseen all the death and destruction in the Galaxy. Ian McDiarmid plays him brilliantly, from his posture, to the make up to his voice. Like Jabba there is something just abhorrently grotesque about him, but he provides some fascinating viewing with some more memorable dialogue, and another very emotional ending with Vader redeeming himself by saving Luke from being fried by the Emperor’s Force Lightning.

While all this is happening, the Rebels are preparing their attack on the second Death Star: from space in the Battle of Endor, and down on Endor itself with Han, Leia, Chewie and co aiming to take down the shield that is protecting the Death Star. All these scenes are very well handled but mainly the Battle of Endor. It doesn’t quite reach Battle of Hoth levels of awesomeness but it isn’t far away. Similarly, the ensuing battle on Endor is also thrilling, albeit the presence of those fuzzy bears, otherwise known as Ewoks, does irritate some, and it is easy to see why. Although cute and fuzzy, these bears do feel somewhat out of place, and the fact that they helped to topple the evil Empire with sticks and stones, does leave some scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Empire was spared from a lot of changes, just because it was so damn good, but Jedi has had some rather grating changes. The aforementioned CGI creatures in Jabba’s Palace. The stupid “noo” Vader makes when throwing the Emperor to his doom. The brilliance of that scene is that even though he has a mask on, you can see from the camera work that Vader is conflicted as he watches his son seemingly die in front of him. The addition of the stupid “noo” just ruins the greatness of the scene. But by far the most infuriating change is the replacing of Sebastian Shaw as the ghost Anakin right at the end, with the actor who played him in the prequels  (I refuse to even say his name.) With Obi Wan and Yoda in their older bodies, the change to make Anakin his younger self just makes ZERO sense.

But with all that said, there is still much to be enjoyed with the closing chapter of the original trilogy. John Williams’s score remains as perfect as ever, and there’s plenty of action to keep the pulses up right to the end, and it closed the book on the trilogy that remains to many one of the best trilogies ever put to film, and for good reason, because it deserves to be.

Not as good as Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back, and with probably the most amount of annoying later edition changes, but there’s still plenty to enjoy with some solid thrilling action, and a good deal of heart and emotion too. 

a

Posted in 1970-1979, Film Review

Star Wars (1977)

star-wars-iv-a-new-hope-poster1
Image rights belong to Lucasfilm Ltd and 20th Century Fox

Star Wars – Film Review

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guiness, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew

Director: George Lucas

Synopsis: A young farmer gets recruited by an old Jedi along with two droids and a smuggler in a mission to stop the evil Galactic Empire from bringing death and destruction in the galaxy, and to rescue Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!

Review: If ever there was a debate on films that have left their marks on the film industry, and indeed the entertainment industry in general, you would be hard pressed to find a film that has had the extensive impact that a film that was released in 1977 did. This film is of course Star Wars, and its impact is almost immeasurable. From the revolutionary effects, to the wondrous score, to the exciting story and instantaneously memorable characters, not to mention knocking Spielberg’s Jaws out in terms of the box office. This film had everything a film fan could want, and it is easy to see why it is still loved by legions of fans across the world, and remains insanely popular, nearly forty years after it was first unleashed on the world.

Immediately, right from the off, the sheer scale of this universe is just mind blowing. With every hint of dialogue, the universe is grown and becomes more and more expansive. The iconic “In a galaxy far far away…” is fully realised as it is made to feel that this is a world in which you can go and visit, but ultimately you can’t (sob.) With the incredible world set up, we need our characters, and back when Lucas could write compelling and exciting characters and not have some whiny kid moaning about how much he hates something.

Although having said that our main hero, Luke does have this attitude to begin with, but through some tragic circumstances, he is changed and grows as a character.  Before long we meet a character who many (for good reason) see as one of the finest characters put to screen, Han Solo. A smuggler by trade, cocky, but awesome and a lot of fun to watch, and for the record, it has been said many times, but it’s worth saying again: Han DEFINITELY shot first! Of course, there are lots of other popular characters, the likes of Princess Leia,  Obi Wan Kenobi,  Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO,  and all are played brilliantly by their respective actors in what is one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled. The connection between the audience and these characters is very strong, much like the force!

Of course with all the good characters, there are the villains. We have a character many consider to be one of the greatest and most iconic villains the world of film has ever seen, Darth Vader. Ruthless, menacing and very frightening, with the booming voice of James Earl Jones. However initially he is not top of the tree of the Dark Side, that honour belongs to Grand Moff Tarkin, brilliantly played by the late Peter Cushing, the man keeps Vader in check, preventing him from force choking everyone. All the while, the Empire is making their mark with the colossal Death Star they have constructed, that has the ability to devastate planets with just one shot, and the Rebel Alliance and their attempts to destroy this space station of terror.

The film boasts plenty of memorable scenes and lines, from “that’s no moon! It’s a space station!” to “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” to “I find your lack of faith disturbing!” With these great lines of dialogue, there are more than a few great scenes: Han VS Greedo, The Mos Eisley Cantina scene, Vader VS Obi Wan,  and the final Rebel Assault on the Death Star to name but a few. Iconic and brilliant film-making all round, with effects that still hold up today and will do for a very very long time to come. What is also iconic is John Williams’ score, so recognisable and so loved by all. Like all great scores, it adds so much to the events on screen, giving certain events so much more impact and make them that more memorable and iconic in equal measure.

For sure, since its release, there has been much tampering with the original theatrical release, and a lot of those changes have irked fans. For good reasons, there are some changes that just don’t make much sense, namely the Han VS Greedo scene, and the addition of a bunch of unnecessary CGI creatures that just add nothing to the plot. Yet for all of the unnecessary changes, the core elements of the film remain unchanged, and the film remains one of the most iconic pieces of film making ever. Even more so considering the problems that were experienced in the production of the film, with many wondering if all of the efforts were even going to come to fruition. They did, and in terrific style. Star Wars remains timeless, and it will probably remain so for decades and decades to come, even more so with the planned trilogy and spin off films that audiences have got coming their way over the next decade.

A classic in every sense of the word, great characters, exciting story, terrific action and an iconic score will ensure this film will never escape the galaxy that is popular culture.

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Spectre (2015)

Image rights belong to Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures
Image rights belong to Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures

Spectre – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Naomi Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Monica Belluci, Andrew Scott

Director: Sam Mendes

Synopsis: With a clue left behind by the recently deceased M, Bond uncovers a link to a sinister organisation known as Spectre. While the new M battles to keep MI6 afloat from sources at home, Bond must go it alone and uncover the dark truth behind Spectre and its leader, Franz Oberhauser.

Review: How do you top a film that smashed box office records for the franchise, won two Oscars and was hailed by many as one of the best Bond films ever made? Well quite simply, you rehire the same director who brought us Skyfall and ensure that the steely blue eyed Daniel Craig is back on board as the man with the license to kill, globe-trot like never before and up the stakes considerably. Skyfall certainly raised the bar after the less than stellar effort from 2008 (which shall not be named) but with this newest addition into the long running franchise, it proves once again that the accuracy of this franchise is right on point once more, and with this new film we may have our best film of the franchise, certainly the best film of Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond. If this is his final run as Bond, then he can certainly say he went out on a massive high note.

Carrying on from the events of Skyfallfrom the wreckage of Bond’s childhood home comes a dark clue and it is one that leads Bond to the dangerous organisation known as SPECTRE, making its triumphant return to the franchise after a lengthy absence. Events that were set in motion from the previous films have come full circle for Bond, and now Bond has to face off against this menacing organisation and its all powerful leader, Franz Oberhauser, who has some close personal connections to Bond and in typical Bond fashion, there is a plan that needs to be foiled, by forces both at home and abroad.

The exact same team that wrote Skyfall, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, again joined by John Logan must have thought how on earth could they beat what they achieved in 2012? Well whatever were the results of their  super secret script meetings, they pulled it off and in some style with one of the best Bond scripts in recent times.  With an incredible opening scene set in Mexico, that surely ranks amongst the series best, to an intense finale in North Africa. The film boasts ar remarkable set of locations. Sam Mendes knew what worked with his previous Bond picture, and upped the style and then some. The dialogue is sharp, witty when it needs to be, but most importantly of all, keeps the audience engaged, which in no small part helps due to the magnificent cinematography, this time by Hoyte van Hoyetma. Like Skyfall, visually the film is breathtaking with some more excellent directing by Mendes.

With the great story comes great characters, Craig remains electric as Bond, and the rest of his ensemble cast all bring their best performances to their respective roles. Having taken over the role as M, Ralph Fiennes shows he is more than capable of filling the role that Judi Dench played so magnificently for so many years. He had enormous shoes to fill, but he filled them and then some! With Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris both impressing in their roles once again as Q and Moneypenny respectively.

But it’s not out with the old and in with the new entirely as the new incoming cast certainly shine arguably the brightest. The identity of Waltz’s character has been the subject of much scrutiny (saying nothing…)  the two time Oscar winner certainly demonstrates his great ability in an extraordinary performance. Equally magnetic and brilliant is Lea Seydoux, one of our two Bond ladies, who shows she’s more than capable of being a badass whilst when wearing an evening dress, while Dave Bautista brings his strength and silent presence in the form of ruthless henchman Mr Hinx. Yet for all the greatness with the new characters, there are some frustrations with Monica Belluci’s Bond lady being almost criminally underutilised, while other characters feel somewhat underdeveloped and their plot lines left a tad unexplained as to their true motivations.

Yet take nothing away from Mendes and his team. The gauntlet they had set themselves after Bond’s 23rd outing was a big one, but they absolutely rose to the challenge and in terrific style.  The series has arguably never been stronger and firing on all cylinders, and it will take a brave soul to step up to the plate to take on Bond 25, cos the bar has been raised once again, almost higher than never before. Although next time, a better theme song would be most welcome!

With some stellar acting Craig, Waltz and Seydoux, whilst remaining visually beautiful with some extraordinary set pieces and some tremendous directing, the franchise is all guns blazing, and is not going to miss!

a

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

WALK_INTL_1SHT_TSR_LK2_3DIMX3D_02.indd

“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:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

bb8

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!

Posted in Film Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

GBH
Image rights belong to American Empirical Pictures, Indian Paintbrush, Babelsberg Studio, Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Film Review 

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum

Director:  Wes Anderson

Synopsis: An elderly gentlemen tells the story to a young writer of how he came to be the owner of the titular hotel

Review: Throughout life, you will probably compare many things and see how much two different things may be alike in a number of ways. This is certainly applicable when it comes to the world of film. Many people compare this film to that film through various criteria, and while some films do share similarities,  when it comes to the filmography of one Wes Anderson, it is almost clutching at straws to compare his works to any other film that graces our screens every year, because there really isn’t anything quite like them, and with his latest picture, that trend continues in glorious fashion.

Set in the fictional land of the Republic of Zubrowka in between the First and Second World Wars, it brings us the tale of the titular hotel, and how it fell into the hands of one elderly gentleman (F. Murray Abraham). We then travel to the past to see a younger version of said gentleman, back when he was a lobby boy (Tony Revelori) along side the hotel’s main concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) and the tale of their friendship. His affection for elderly resident Madame D turns sour due to her possession of an invaluable painting which is left to him in her will. Triggering a wild goose chase between her rather peeved family and our lead actors, through museums and ski slopes. With the influx of superhero movies and reboots of popular franchises that were littered throughout 2014, it is refreshing to see that extremely original films like this are still being made, and that they can be uproariously entertaining and just as exciting just like a big budget blockbuster adventure. The sets are full of colour and character, with the costumes also of excellent quality, and it is no surprise that the film bagged Oscars for both Costume and Production design

With a rather large cast in this film, it would seem difficult to stand out, Ralph Fiennes certainly does giving a truly exceptional performance as Gustave H. Prone to outbursts of rather posh sounding expletives aimed at policeman and anyone who dares to be rude to his lobby boy companion, his performance is an undeniable highlight of this picture and was arguably unlucky to miss out on a Best Actor nomination. It is always rather satisfying to hear someone swear in such an elegant manner and through his upper class accent and elegance, he provided some of the most entertaining dialogue of 2014. Newcomer Tony Revelori bursts onto the scene in a terrific debut performance as the lobby boy Zero. The chemistry between the two provides some compelling and extremely entertaining viewing as they go on their adventures of trying to ensure the valuable painting does not fall into the wrong hands. Willem Dafoe is no stranger to the role of a villain, but here he’s not so much Green Goblin, instead channeling a Bond like sort of villain, and here he is again in spectacular form.

Through all the quirkiness and comedy, the film does have some thoughtful and touching moments. The mixture of comedy and touching moments can be a very fine line to walk on, but like a true pro, through Anderson’s masterful direction, the combination of comedy and sadness hits all the right notes, along with the Oscar winning score by Alexandre Desplat. The Grand Budapest Hotel delivers the best service possible, so much so that you will find yourself wanting to book another stay many more times.

Quirky, hilarious, stylish and tremendously acted by the large cast, the latest addition to Wes Anderson’s filmography surely ranks as one of his best

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Boyhood (2014)

boyhood-poster
Images rights belong to IFC Films

Boyhood – Film Review

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

Director: Richard Linklater

Synopsis:  The story of one boy’s journey from childhood to adulthood

Review: Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” While it is true that these are a certainty in anyone’s life, there is much more to life on this earth then these two things. Thus, it is an unprecedented feat indeed that a film that was 12 years in the making that sought to capture life, all the trials and tribulations that we as human beings go through. Richard Linklater has pulled off a remarkable feat in this respect. The sheer ambition of the project, and the hard work and effort that undoubtedly went into the production of this film does deserve praise. This film was a gamble and for plenty of people it paid off big time, for others, not so much…

The film follows six year old Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane growing up in the USA with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and his mother (Patricia Arquette) while his dad, portrayed by long time Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke as they go about their lives. There are certain things that audience members can relate to, particularly if they had a sibling growing up. Pop culture references are there in abundance and in that the film does have things that we can all relate to as the years go by. The actors naturally age as their characters evolve on screen and it is intriguing to watch as they naturally age.

However, despite this innovative idea, the movie falls flat as there is no plot to speak of. The key job of a film is to tell a good story, but that good story is really lacking here, rendering it is difficult to maintain interest in what is happening on screen. The film trickles along from one scene to the next with very little coherency and painfully boring scenes in which characters just tend to talk, mope around, whine or be abusive. The scenes are at times painfully tedious. There is no powerful emotional punch, no hard-hitting moment that leaves you reeling. Life is full of those key moments, the moments that will stay with a person forever.

For instance, completing school, graduation, getting a job for the first time, moving away from home. These moments are usually full of emotion for people and their families and they should have an impact here, as everyone goes through what Mason goes through but they don’t, they really really do not, and that is a major disappointment.

With 12 years to shoot the film you would think the acting on show here could and maybe should be top notch, yet in many of the performances, there was no spark. Being cast as a six year old was probably a daunting task for the young lead and in all fairness he does get better as the years go by, but in spite of this, his acting still felt a bit wooden at times, almost as if he was reading lines. Lorelei Linklater is equally a bit lacklustre at first but she too does grow in her role.  Patricia Arquette gives what some would say is the strongest performance here but again there is no spark, no really hard hitting moment that blows the audience away. Furthermore, her choice in the men she marries leaves a lot to be desired.

However, Ethan Hawke’s turn as the father provides the film with comfortably its strongest performance. An anchor of emotional support when his children needed it most, given the fact that a lot of the time they’re surrounded by deplorable alternative father figures that make you want to throw bricks at the screen. Arquette did sweep the board among the major award ceremonies, but there were lots of better performances that were far more deserving of the prizes.

Much of the praise for this film has been that there isn’t anything like this that has been attempted in cinematic history, and it is true that this film is an unprecedented feat. Yet for all the scope and ambition, the twelve years of hard graft and effort that went into the production of the film, you would hope for a golden end product. The film is relatable in proportions but with all these events that we as human beings go through, you would hope for that emotional moment. The ambition and over a decade of work is an undeniably impressive feat but the quality is severely lacking.

An extremely ambitious idea from Richard Linklater, but great ambition does not always mean great storytelling. One great performance  does not save the film from its tedious scenes, a complete lack of plot and dearth of emotional moments. 

D+