Reviews written by registered user
CalRhys

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71 reviews in total 
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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Another film... from a theme park ride?, 27 May 2017
4/10

After the dreadful predecessor that was 'On Stranger Tides', I entered the cinema with rather poor expectations... how I left with even lower enjoyment is beyond me.

Perhaps it's the fact that a theme park ride can't sustain a story for an entire film franchise? Maybe it's the fact that I've seen this story before in four other films? Perhaps the lack of character development and me not giving a damn about any of the new characters? Or maybe it's just because it's an orgy of CGI madness? Who knows? Either way, this film is a complete over-the-top mess. Watchable? Yes. Enjoyable? Hell no!

I admit that 'Dead Man's Chest' and 'At World's End' weren't "fantastic" movies, but they rounded off a rather enjoyable trilogy, especially following the ultimately brilliant first film. But the two sequels' success should not have been an excuse for a fourth and now a fifth film, with each film the reception lowers and the standards and eagerness for the next further lowers. However, Disney as the opportunistic blighters they are, take their box office success with stride and look to creating the next underwhelming, money-making sequel. This time it's in the form of 'Dead Men Tell No Tales'.

The overuse of jokes we've heard on several previous occasions, the fact that the beloved Jack Sparrow is now becoming a character we look at in contempt because he's worn out, much like the franchise. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, milking upon its previous success... both terms that can be applied suitably to this movie (if that's what I can call it). And do you know what the worst part is? This film will make its money back, it'll double, triple, quadruple its budget in box office returns, thus giving the producers a reason to create yet-another dull sequel.

All-in-all, I actually think I had an aneurysm whilst watching this film...

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Welcome to the frickin' Guardians of the Galaxy., 29 April 2017
8/10

How they were able to spawn a sequel to 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is beyond me, but the creativity and exceptional directional ability of James Gunn continues to impress after the success of the fantastic predecessor.

Pratt and co return as the titular 'Guardians of the Galaxy', slowly expanded by a few new (yet familiar) faces along the way. The gags, whilst occurring less than the first one, are once again brilliant, especially from Pratt himself. The action sequences are epic, the effects are stunning and of course, the soundtrack is as powerful and toe-tapping as those in the first film. The opening use of ELO's 'Mr. Blue Sky' is utterly fantastic, alike the closing use of Cat Steven's 'Father & Son', both creating memorable bookmarks to a brilliant sequel.

One aspect that especially wowed me with this film, was its ability to create a shocking twist, something that first film didn't contain, further expanding upon the story of Star Lord and his departure from Earth in the 1980's. The supporting cast consisting of Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, the Hoff and more, add to this well-executed plot.

Whilst 'Guardians Vol. 2' will arguably not remain as memorable as the first film, it is nonetheless proof that Marvel are consistently working at creating sequels that are more revolutionary than their predecessors.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A mediocre caper-comedy with three strong leads, but underwhelming humour and plot, 20 April 2017
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Great Scott! I'm going to write this review with as much effort as went into this so-called caper-comedy... very little.

I personally like Zach Braff, but he had three huge charismatic veterans at his disposal and completely lacked in utilising them, that said, their performances are the only thing this film has going for it - oh and Christopher Lloyd, he is the "silver lining" of this film, the small shimmer of brilliance.

The first hour of this film slowly drags by with gags and quips that I'm supposed to be laughing at, but just can't... maybe I'm lacking a funny bone, who knows? But I just found the humour lacklustre and at times (a scared man wetting his pants) offensive to those with ACTUAL intelligence. The last half hour however does pick up the pace and gives us an interesting heist scene, undertaken on a relatively smart-level - à la Ocean's Eleven... but without the class, or the wit, or the charm, or the... yeah, without much... but Sinatra and his buddies make an "appearance". The uncovering of how the heist was conceived and pulled off makes for some more entertaining viewing material, but the predictability of several scenes just sells it short.

All-in-all, it's not a terrible movie, but due to underwhelming humour, "directionless" direction, predictable twists and underdeveloped characters, a film I was looking forward to, turned out to be a film I will soon forget. A mediocre effort that's only bolstered by the chemistry of the three leads (and an entertaining cameo by Doc Brown)... better luck next time Zach.

Free Fire (2016)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A very British 'Reservoir Dogs', 7 April 2017
9/10

Ben Wheatley's 'Reservoir Dogs'-esque vision, with a quirky British tone, American, Irish and South African characters and a large scale Mexican stand-off... it's basically a multicultural haven.

Ever since Ben Wheatley started his career, I have been keeping a close eye on his progression as an upcoming auteur. Many of his films are like Marmite, you either love them or hate them, but with each new film he takes a Tarantino approach, taking a recognised genre and twisting the traits to create something unique, usually down the black comedy route, and this is why I respect his works.

'Free Fire' is his next endeavour, and boy is it a blast. The film is practically a 90 minute shootout with fantastically-written dialogue and humour thrown in. The story follows a group of IRA members in 1970's Boston as they aim to acquire weapons to take back to Northern Ireland... a rather touchy subject I imagine for a British director, but hey it worked. The fact that an arms-deal can be instantly transformed into a barrage of laughs and thrills is inexplicably fantastic, with well-developed characters, a brilliant soundtrack and the fluent pace throughout. Way to go Wheatley!

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly charming, despite noticeable flaws, 7 April 2017
7/10

Growing up in the 90's, my childhood was primarily all about Disney films, those animated tales that helped us escape from reality, with the original 'Beauty and the Beast' still holding up today as one of Disney's finest efforts. So when a film that's as important to our childhood is remade into a live action adaptation, opinions are going to be divisive, as they are here. To sum it up however, this film (against my expectations) isn't actually bad... but damn was it still embarrassing to ask for a ticket for this at the cinema...

Bill Condon is an unknown director, primarily for one reason, his catalogue of films are practically tripe, yeah I'm looking at you 'Twilight', so why Disney entrusted him with a project of this scale is beyond me, probably revolving around financial gain, but heck this is still his strongest effort to date.

The best way to describe this film is that it's technically a shot-for-shot remake, but with extra filler scenes in-between. The main "wow" factor of this film is in its gorgeous production design and costume design, of which I wouldn't be surprised got Oscar nominations next year. The cinematography is generally rather alluring and the visual effects are pristine, but lack in comparison to say 'The Jungle Book' (arguably Disney's strongest live-action adaptation of recent years). I can't fault the acting (maybe Ewan McGregor's flimsy French accent aside) and the songs were executed brilliantly.

My main issue however, was how "dumbed-down" this film was in comparison to the original, perhaps kids of the 90's were just a little more intelligent and didn't need those gags... who knows, but despite it all, the film has that magical vista we all need in our life, something to make us smile. Sure, it'll never stand up to the original, and there are noticeable flaws lying about, but this aside it is still a charming film.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A fair attempt at an adaptation, that ultimately falls short, 2 April 2017
6/10

Visually, Rupert Sanders's adaptation of 'Ghost in the Shell' is stunning, featuring gorgeous cinematography and mind-blowing CGI, oh and of course Scarlett Johansson - but then there's EVERYTHING else about it.

Firstly, don't get me wrong, 'Ghost in the Shell' is not a bad film, but equally it's far from being an excellent film, maybe just balancing above mediocre, and the reason for this is down to the clichéd and convoluted storyline, underdeveloped two-dimensional characters and lack of relation to its source material - but as I stated above, visually this film is a marvel. The original version of 'Ghost in the Shell' was one of the first anime films I ever had the chance to see, and whilst it does delve into the "weird" side of anime at parts, it is nonetheless an abstract piece of art and still stands the test of time as one of the finest anime films, however this will never come near that.

So what are the memorable qualities in this film? Um, there's, um... well there's Scarlett Johansson when she... um... yeah. Virtually nothing. It depicts a metropolitan future on an almost frightening note - but that's been done before time and time again. In this future, around 70% of humanity have cyborg-like alterations made to their body, and the general vistas of the city, whilst stunning, add an almost claustrophobic quality to them. Tight smothering streets, and enough fluorescent lights to make 'Blade Runner' jealous.

The story itself is rather straight forward, a woman is cybernetically-enhanced and forced to act as a weapon to prevent the occurrence of "terrorism" and "hacking", however along the way she begins to uncover more about her past and how she became the titular "ghost in the shell". But the problem is, this plot is clichéd to hell, and characters dash in and out of the story never having any real relevance within the movie's world, including the concluding villain (don't worry, no spoilers here). It tries to be smart, but just ends up convoluted and over-blown.

All-in-all it's a fair attempt at an adaptation, which is more than can be said for Sanders's film before. But it just falls short in too many places to really make its mark as a sci-fi great. If we were just there for the visuals, this film would be near-masterful, but that's not the case here.

Logan (2017)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A Gritty & Emotional Adventure Into The Vulnerability Of Superheroes, 3 March 2017
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a time when Marvel continues to churn out the same superhero film time- and-time again ('Deadpool' and 'Guardians' aside due to their fresh take on the genre), it's refreshing when something as intricate and beautifully- executed as 'Logan' is made, and on the extremely rare occasion I have given a superhero film a "masterpiece" rating. I mean let's face it, that first trailer was a dead giveaway of how damn good it was going to be.

I understand that Marvel has made the attempt to build characters through a series of films previously, such as they have tried with the Avengers films, but never have I seen a film that treats character development as seriously, and pulls it off with such precision, as they did here in 'Logan', a film that focuses more on the "humane" aspect of the character and how vulnerable he is as a superhero, instead of the over-the-top execution that's usually featured ('X- Men Origins' I'm looking at you).

Two characters that we've come to know and love, James "Wolverine" Howlett (aka Logan) and Charles "Professor X" Xavier, are put to the test of time as we see them in their new state, once characters that resembled strength and power, are now withering and vulnerable. And the gut-punching, adrenaline- pumping action has been swapped out for slow-moving, emotional drama and character development. Does it work? You bet! From start to finish we are led on a journey of discovery and empathy, with James Mangold more than making up for his previous effort that is 'The Wolverine'.

I think it's the uncertainty throughout that gives the film that powerful punch. In the other X-Men films (and most other Marvel films for that), we are faced with a plethora of superheroes each fighting a seemingly impossible army, but no matter what, there is always a general feeling that the good guys will win, and this usually happens. So when attending a superhero film, you sit back in ease, knowing the protagonists will succeed, however in 'Logan' that never happens, there is never that sense of safety, we can't be certain of their outcomes. Every step of the way, Wolverine looks tired, he looks sick, he's dying gradually, and due to his weakened form, we are left worrying for the character, there is that emotional attachment that most other superhero films lack. This is the harrowing truth throughout, we are emotionally-concerned from start to finish.

With utterly stunning cinematography, a hard-hitting score, fantastic direction and a superhero performance that might just be the first Oscar- deserving one ever. Wolverine's outing makes for the best Marvel film to date, a gritty and vulnerable adventure into the vulnerability of superheroes.

16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
An Enjoyable Ride Thrusting Us Back Into The Lego Universe, 6 February 2017
7/10

Growing up, Lego meant everything to me, my aspirations of becoming an architect, and even the result of me studying design engineering in university, were all due to my fascination with Lego as a child and the complex structures you could craft and create. In 2014, upon the announcement of 'The Lego Movie', despite my love for the toy, I was kinda doubting the general premise. How could you make a movie out of Lego? Well, that question was soon answered as I gawped in awe at the screen, the movie was fantastic. Now, the character from 'The Lego Movie' that garnered the most love was Batman, a cocky, sarcastic, childish take on the superhero we know and love... well it was only going to be a matter of time before he got his own motion picture.

'The Lego Batman Movie' was definitely an enjoyable ride, and whilst I think it lacks in comparison to its predecessor, it stills thrusts us back into the universe that we came to revere in 2014. With an admirable cast of voice talent, and stunning animated visuals, 'The Lego Batman Movie' boasts undeniable creative talent, but does at times seem to be trying a little too hard to be funny, building off the reputation the initial film garnered.

Is this film worth viewing? Most definitely, it's a hilarious feel-good animated comedy, and definitely perfect for the younger audience. I actually saw this film prior to its full release during a preview a few days early, however I believe it may have been aimed more as a kids matinée... I was literally the only adult there, shameful I know, but heck, I didn't care. The kids in the audience continually laughed with glee, so its definitely something suited for that kind of audience, but don't skip over the older adults who are still children at heart, it's an alluring comedy that piles on the laughs, definitely worth a watch.

9 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
A Resonant Sequel To A Classic, 4 February 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After 21 years of waiting, the sequel to 'Trainspotting' has finally become a reality, and what a fantastic ride it is. Sure it lacks the flare that made the original the classic it is, but with new ideas and a worthy plot that wraps up the original's ending, 'T2 Trainspotting' finds inventive ways to allow us to love the characters we grew up with.

Returning to Edinburgh after 20 years in Amsterdam, Renton tries to re-connect with his former crew (Spud, Simon and Begbie) despite leaving them robbed at the conclusion of the first film. With a mix of black comedy and emotionally resonant drama, we are launched back into each of the individual's lives as their past comes back to haunt them. With beautiful cinematography, a fantastic soundtrack that once famously featured Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' and Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' and a rather intense conclusion that leaves us on the edge of our seats, a very worthy sequel.

12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
A Raw & Emotional Gut Punch, 28 January 2017
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With its late release over here in England, by the time the film was released, it had already come to prominence with overwhelming reviews and 6 Oscar nominations to its name, so I entered with relatively high expectations, which I generally find to be a bad call as you tend to be let down, however Gibson's first directorial effort in a decade, 'Hacksaw Ridge', is a raw and emotional gut punch.

With the history of cinema being littered with the production of World War II films, primarily in the form of over-the-top propaganda pictures such as Saving Private Ryan (which nonetheless I still love), it's nice to see a movie that delves down the path of anti- war and focuses on the true-life tale of an uncaped superhero over fictional splendour, and 'Hacksaw Ridge' is just that. The film starts with rather over-sentimental, soap opera style tendencies which are occasionally funny to watch, but nonetheless they are perfect at delivering character development to our front-running hero Desmond Doss. I was initially expecting a 'Pearl Harbor' approach, with over an hour of lovey-dovey sentimental crap followed by under-accomplished action, but it was quite the opposite. The opening features the stated character development drama, but gives us an insight into Doss's personal reasons for his faith and religious approaches, then thrusts us into war.

Now, the war scenes... well, let's just say they're some scenes I doubt I'll be forgetting anytime soon. They're epic, they're visceral, they're emotional, they're gory, but above all else, they are executed perfectly. Upon reaching the top of the Maeda Escarpment, nicknamed "Hacksaw Ridge", the squad are instantly driven into the horrors of war, the loss of friends and hope. The raw and visceral images are maybe even a little too realistic. Dead bodies are strewn across the ground, innards and entrails litter the floor, smoke and fire choke the landscape. This is war.

'Hacksaw Ridge' is a hard-hitting film that if watched and truly understood, will be an unforgettable experience, and the concluding interviews with the real-life Doss add to the emotional core. The cinematography is stunning, the music is beautifully alluring and the performances, especially from Andrew Garfield, are beyond fantastic, Garfield completely embodies the persona of Doss with sheer accuracy. Further shoutouts to Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington and the surprisingly brilliant Vince Vaughn. This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest films to have graced 2016... or 2017 here in the UK! We forgive you Gibson!


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