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Excellent, if lacking a little
Dunkirk: bit of a mixed experience for me, but overall, it was really well done and I left the cinema thinking about it, which is more than I can say about the majority of films these days. As Churchill said "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations." The first hour dragged a bit, and I'm not sure I really got a sense of what it was like on the beaches (from wikipedia: "Many troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole onto 39 British destroyers of the Royal Navy and civilian merchant ships, while others had to wade out from the beaches, waiting for hours in shoulder-deep water"). Apparently some Dunkirk veterans claimed it accurately depicted the events though.
The aerial sequences are excellent, and despite the RAFs involvement, a recurring theme in survivors' accounts is that they never saw the RAF in the skies above them. Apparently around 50 Spitfires were lost during the evacuation period. The Little Ships part is likewise excellent, and central to capturing the sense of duty and heroism of the civilian crews.
The film does suffer a little from not having a central character narrative, which can leave the impression that it's a bit cold and clinical. Depending on your view, this could be a negative or a positive. I ended up viewing it as a positive. The coldness serves to heighten the sense of tragedy about it, and it was a tragedy. The director said that he chose not to delve into character stories, as that's not the point: the point is the overall disaster and the evacuation. I would've liked a better depiction of the brave French (and other nationalities) soldiers who stayed (and died) to protect the evacuation.
The three interwined stories (the mole, the sea and the air) were handled well, although the timeline is, in typical Nolan style, mixed up for dramatic effect. Overall, a great film. See it for a dose of realism and history amongst the weak crud that Marvel churns out.
The Mummy (2017)
The Mummy remake is such a disaster of a movie. The writers should be ashamed on themselves. It was so muddled. Whether that was just a half-assed script or micromanaging by the studio, who cares? The end result is a waste of money, primarily mine, and a dull film.
The buddy-adventure start was poorly written: US troops/mercenaries stealing relics is okay as a plot point, but Tom Cruise isn't even close to half as charming as he thinks he is, plus he and Jake Johnson just don't pull it off.
Then throwing in some ham-fisted 'sexual tension' with Annabelle Wallis completely failed as well. There was just no chemistry there. In fact, if they'd used that in the plot, it would've been better. Tom Cruise can't convincing do the roughish charm that writers (or studio) was trying to get.
Then having Johnson hang around wasting time as a zombie/spirit/whatever ended up just being annoying. Adding Jekyll/Hide only further muddled the plot, whilst not contributing anything of value.
The rest of the movie just drags and drags, and the ending is unsatisfying. Avoid at all costs. Even if it was free, second-guess yourself and you still won't be disappointed.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
A good follow-up to Prometheus
Alien: Covenant. Not too bad, actually. Not great, but still good. Fantastic cinematography. I like the way that the story has separated itself from the traditional Alien franchise. It follows on from Prometheus quite well and has a very dark tone. Prometheus tried to introduce some philosophical ideas, but was poorly paced and edited, resulting in an uneven film. Even so, it's a new direction in the Alien mythology, and Alien: Covenant furthers that direction.
It seems like a lot of fans are complaining that it's not like the other Alien films, but really, we've had two good ones (Alien and Aliens), and then a run of b-grade crud (Alien 3&4 and then AVP). The b-grade films are not completely worthless (but close to), but I don't really want any more of it. The Alien franchise needed something different.
In any case, Alien: Covenant has more alien in it (but not too much). The cast are all okay, but only Fassbender is actually good. There are a few complaints that I've read about the crew in the film doing stupid things, but really it's just par for the course. Characters in horror films always do dumb things, and these are no better or worse. In that sense the writing is a bit sloppy, but nothing unforgivable.
I rate it 7 out of 10.
It didn't make much sense
**** SPOILERS ****
In the future (?), memories are able to be downloaded and backed up. During a procedure a man wakes up in a body that is not his own and proceeds to act in an illogical way. That pretty much sums it up. It didn't really make much sense.
EDIT: To clarify, I understand the plot, and what happens, but there's unanswered questions and some illogical points that don't make sense.
It's very Black Mirror-esque, which is good, but it isn't well written. There's too much that doesn't make sense. I spent a good 10 minutes afterwards trying to put it together but not in a fun, mind-bending way. More of a "huh?" kind of way and then just gave up. Whatever. Life's too short to spend on films that don't make sense.
It's an interesting idea to begin with, and throws in some tantalizing concepts, but then proceeds to not follow through with them. I think that the writer had a good initial concept, but tried too hard to make the plot twist and turn rather than laying out a film plot that connects together.
**** SPOILERS ****
Who is Gavin? Why did he pay Emma? What's her daughter got to do with any of it? Why does he goes bonkers? Rather than leaving things for the audience to think about, it instead just doesn't tell a coherent story. I tried googling it in the hopes that someone would explain it (since the plot doesn't really make any sense), but alas I couldn't find anything.
Watch it for yourself. Maybe it'll make more sense to you.
Brilliant thematic sequel to Unbreakable
Split is the thematic sequel to 2000's Unbreakable. Unbreakable is about super heroes and villains who are almost ordinary people, except for some small, almost coincidental, differences. It's a slow film, but a brilliant concept.
If Unbreakable is about the rise of a new super hero, then Split is about the rise of a new super villain. Kevin suffers from DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder, or split personalities. These personalities were created to protect Kevin from childhood abuse and trauma. There are 23 of them, and they are all distinct as individuals. There is a rumour of a 24th personality, known as the Beast. Just as the other personalities surfaced to protect Kevin, the Beast now protects the personalities.
James McAvoy is great in the lead role. Anja Taylor-Joy follows up from the recent film The Witch, but this is McAvoy's film. The set is sparse, the dialogue uncomplicated, and the sense of rising dread expertly handled.
Any film requires you to buy into it's premise. If you're not prepared to do that, then why bother going to the movies at all? Unbreakable required that. Aliens required that. Split does as well, but keeps it's premise within the boundary of what might be possible. That's the underlying concept of both this and Unbreakable. It's not Marvel-style super heroes, but the everyday things that can't quite be explained away.
The Beast. He's on the move and when he arrives, he brings with him a gritty, bleak new super villain.
Interesting, but not fascinating
All the reviews said this was an amazing film about big ideas and concepts. Well, there's really only two ideas/concepts. There's the aliens and why they're here (pretty standard stuff at it's core) and then there's the the two leads (this one is a bit more interesting).
I really hoped to come away from the film with some things to mull over, but found that it was all pretty straightforward. The ideas were interesting, but not engrossing.
It's a much more minimalist style of sci-fi, which really works well. The sets are pretty sparse, the locations are kept to a minimum, and it manages to capture a few moments of reflection amongst the confusion of dealing with aliens.
The theory that language shapes how we think is an interesting one, and this film makes a great platform to explore that. This theory is still largely unsubstantiated, and while this film doesn't really challenge that, it does play along the same lines. Language is just a tool though, and it can't truly be isolated (from other factors such as culture, up-bringing etc) to the extent that the theory suggests. Otherwise all people who speak a particular language would see the world exactly the same way, which is clearly not true.
The ending feels a bit rushed, and there's a particular moment (when saving the world) that I felt was a bit lazy. It didn't fit in with the rest of the story.
Other reviewers will claim that the main character goes through a journey of self-discovery, but she really doesn't. Her character doesn't actually change at all during the film - this is the real indicator of whether there has been any self-discovery. There's no actual self-reflection, nor any real questioning of what makes us human (this isn't addressed at all). There's the usual fear of aliens etc, but it's presented in a flat two dimensional way.
Other reviews have crazy headlines like "Arrival is a stunning science fiction movie with deep implications for today", except, of course, it really doesn't have any implications for today, as it's a sci-fi film about things that will never (in the foreseeable future - pun intended) happen.
I think the real problem is that so many modern films are weak and rubbish that when a film with even a hint of something more profound come along, people go gaga over it.
It's okay, and it's interesting. It's a welcome change from the blandness of Marvel films, but it's also not a profound as the reviews claim.
Gothic, dark, off-kilter, sometimes silly
Loved it. It's dark, Gothic, off-kilter and refreshing cinema. The story of strange children with bizarre gifts was a welcome story after the glut of dystopian, adult-hating, children-save-the-world YA rubbish that has beset our cinemas (and book stores) for years now.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is itself from a YA novel, but it's deliciously strange and non-mainstream. The first "reset" scene is wonderfully strange and unusual. The plot isn't about the world being destroyed. The villain is (mostly) crazy and unusual. The peculiar children have "abilities", but they're unusual and diverse. It's nice to see strange abilities that are not what you expect and even seem to have no real purpose (although the film does use them to their advantage).
Eva Green was wonderful as the dignified Miss Peregrine. Asa Butterfield did well. The other peculiar children were good. Samuel L Jackson was a fantastically unhinged villain (for the most part).
That's not to say that it is perfect. The first three quarters are excellent. The last quarter is less so. It's a dark tale, and there are stakes. The plot is good, although the villains are a little under-developed in terms of their motivations. The climax is a little unexciting, and Samuel L Jackson descends into silliness at the end (which I assume was to lighten the mood a little). The love interest between Jake and Emma is unconvincing. The ending is a bit rushed.
However, I was impressed enough and the strength of the film is enough to overcome it's flaws.
8 out of 10.
Point Break (2015)
Such a terrible film
A truly s#!t film. It's so dull. The script is like it was written by a thirteen year old; it's shallow and unexciting. For a film about adrenaline junkies, no one looks like they're having any fun.
Yes, there are a bunch of extreme sports stunts in the film, but the truth is I can see much better stunts on youtube. The surfing scene was reminiscent of the original, but lacked the heart. The wingsuit scene was less impressive than dozens of youtube videos. The snowboarding scene was less impressive than dozens of youtube videos.
One of the characters dies during a snowboarding scene and it barely even registers. Why? Firstly because the characters are so poorly written that the audience literally doesn't care when one of them dies horribly. Secondly, the loss of one of the crew doesn't even affect the other characters. It literally makes no difference to the plot.
The original film was great. It had style, it had a coherent plot, and it had heart. This film is just another soulless s#!tty remake. There's no sense of camaraderie amongst the crew, there's no examination of the lifestyle or of what binds the crew together.
It sucks. It's a shame because it could have been great if they'd either made a faithful remake of the original, or just frigging written a decent script. It has glimmers of interesting ideas that pop up from time to time, but they're under-utilised.
For everything this film fails at, and for all the ways in which something good seemed like it might happen, only to be submerged in more bulls#!t, I give this 1 out of 10.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Average, average, average
The short: Average. Lots of SFX, a dull villain, a convoluted story-line and none of it matches previous films.
The long: The X Men franchise has been quite disappointing overall. X1 & X2 were both good, and then a dramatic nose-dive with X3. First Class was pretty good, and Days of Future Past was as well.
The film suffers from an uneven quality of writing. Magneto. He's clearly a sociopath, but is he good? Is he bad? Is he even the same character from the first films? The same could be said for a few of the characters. Mystique, for example. Good? Bad? The mutant with wings: the same guy from X3? Who knows? For all his twisted character contortions, Fassbender does a good job as Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence is okay, but not great. James McAvoy again does well as Xavier. Olivia Munn looks smoking hot as Psylocke, but doesn't get much screen time.
The villain is bizarre, purple and dull. And he wants to destroy the world. I'm getting a bit sick of world-ending villains. What's the sun-powered technology? Why is he a 3000 year old techno-looking mutant? Who knows? Maybe that's what he looks like in the comics, but it doesn't translate well to screen.
Unfortunately, the franchise has also decided to go down the modern path of casting kids in big roles. I don't mean that kids can't act, but that it's now all about children and teenagers saving the world. Hollywood has had a taste of YA market money, and it's addicted. Whilst films with kids who save the world aren't necessarily bad, they're very light and shallow.
So yeah, it's okay, but it's a bit crap too. Whilst you have to hand it to the writers for swinging for the fences, it falls short. We've seen it all before. Mutants vs humans. It's getting a bit stale as a plot line. Some good SFX. The really big scenes are a bit overblown.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
This is not a Captain America film...
... it's an Avengers film, which kind of sucks. The Winter Soldier was a great film, and I had hoped for a good wrap-up to Cap's trilogy. There's always been a reasonable amount of cross-over (such as Iron Man 3 drawing on events from the first Avengers film), but the Captain got short-changed on this one.
The second issue is one of the plot. The idea of registering super heroes is a good one, and has been explored in other works (such as Watchmen). Here however it's a bit half-baked. The motivations are all mixed up and wrong. The split between the Avengers seemed forced and unnecessary.
Iron Man's motivations for signing were okay. Captain's refusal is a bit shaky. It would have helped to show a situation where the Accord prevented them from doing something.
It's not a bad film, but disappointing that it co-opted for the Avengers, especially when they have two more films coming up (Infinity Wars).