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Anyway... that's me, so let's all stick on a movie, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.
My rating system:
★★★★★ - Masterpiece
★★★★½ - Excellent
★★★★ - Very Good
★★★½ - Good
★★★ - Fair
★★½ - Mediocre
★★ - Watchable
★½ - Poor
★ - Awful
½ - Disaster
A Truly Cinematic Masterpiece
This film was just incredible, this is arguably the finest cinema experience I've had, I felt fully invested in the story, on the edge of my seat as these two soldiers dodge bullets and artillery as they strafe across No Man's Land and through burnt-out towns. This is what IMAX was made for.
Regarding the story, it's rather simplistic, two soldiers are ushered to the frontlines to deliver a message that will prevent the slaughter of 1,600 British soldiers, it sounds rather basic, but its the character development of George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, who both deliver stunning performances, that sells the story. The banter and heartfelt backstories that cover the interludes of battle add realism to these characters, they make them relatable and therefore make us care for their outcome.
On a technical level, this is where the film shines. I'm quite biased as Roger Deakins is my favourite cinematographer, Thomas Newman is my favourite composer and Sam Mendes is one of my favourite directors, so watching these 3 come together (for a fourth time) instantly garnered my attention, and I'll be damned if I can't say that this is Deakins' magnum opus, the way the camera moves fluidly to create the illusion of a one-shot take is just incredible, it places us as an audience in the trenches with the soldiers, in the thick of the hell they have to endure. Newman has crafted better scores (with my favourite being 'Road to Perdition - coincidentally also a Mendes film) but this one is undeniably brilliant, the scores during the sequences set in nighttime Écoust-Saint-Mein and the final push across No Man's Land are phenomenal. And whilst I would love to see Newman FINALLY win his Oscar, it'll likely be another heartbreaking snub.
Finally, Mendes has for a long time retained his position as one of my favourite auteurs, with 'American Beauty', 'Road to Perdition' and 'Skyfall' being some of my favourite films, but this is something truly different, this is his homage to his grandfather, and therefore feels more personal, it feels more grounded and is truly a cinematic masterpiece, and I couldn't ask for a finer film to end the decade with.
The perennial sci-fi horror classic.
Tonight I got the chance to view the perennial sci-fi horror classic in all its glory on the big screen, celebrating 40 years since its inception, and my god does it stand the test of time.
Derek Vanlint cinematography is masterful to say the least, perfectly embodying the elements of horror through utilising claustrophobic camerawork and a bleak blue and grey colour palette, however, it's his use of lighting that truly captures the chilling overtones. Shafts of light seep in through vent grates, puncturing the smoky atmosphere in abundance, strobe lighting creates a sense of agitation as the creature hunts the crew members one by one, whilst flurries of neon blue and red shimmers ground it to its science fiction roots.
The sound, or lack of, further builds unease, with Jerry Goldsmith's humming drone of a score crafting an eerie tension that only erupts when utterly necessary, standing as one of the first films to EFFECTIVELY utilise jump scares. The use of clanging chains and scraping metal highlighting the anxiety being established alongside impressive and colossal sets. The production design is utterly stunning, from the confined corridors of the Nostromo to the vast expanse of the alien world.
This film will forever remain an exemplary addition to the sci-fi genre. Gorgeous and terrifying cinematography, a haunting score, immense set design and some brilliant performance from the main cast, that aided in creating one of the greatest female action heroines of all time, upping her game further in Cameron's follow-up action flick. 'Alien' is truly masterful.
Nolan's Perilous Masterpiece That Never Lets Up!
Christopher Nolan. That name alone has the star-power of an acting giant. A name that once heard, turns the heads of an audience, whether it be a superhero movie, a science fiction epic... or a war drama, a typical moviegoer (even those less cinema-savvy or those who lack the traits of a "cinephile") will instantly be attracted to his movie at hand. We saw this with 'Inception', we saw this with 'Interstellar', and now we're seeing this with 'Dunkirk'. And my God, what a film it is. No film is truly flawless, but if a war film comes close to it, it's Nolan's new epic that does so.
We've seen the tale of Dunkirk undertaken several times on screen before, whether back in the 1950's or during that stunning and sweeping shot in 'Atonement', but none have come close to the realism, the grittiness and the intensity that 'Dunkirk' bestows upon the audience. The tale of a retreat that was seen as heroism, wait what? Yes, you read that right, the retreat at Dunkirk became one of World War II's greatest tales of heroism in the face of adversity. How Churchill had asked to ensure that at least 30,000 troops made it home... that number instead came in at a steady 300,000, and not just British soldiers. French, Belgians and some Dutch, it was a tale of spectacle that truly required an honest account from an auteur capable of bravura direction... well that auteur is Nolan.
We're all now used to Nolan's use of non-linear storytelling, and once again he utilises his famed formula to stunning effect, with three stories, each from the land, sea and air, all focusing on a different time frame, but effectively intersecting throughout. Our three heroes are newcomer Fionn Whitehead (land), Mark Rylance (sea) and Tom Hardy (air), each providing near-flawless performances. Lacking of actual dialogue, the sequences instead thrust the audience into a world of visual splendour and build the narrative through the use of sound and peril, the haunting and deafening sounds of diving Stukas, the ripping roar of the Spitfire's engine and the sudden silence, building to impending doom. The sound is this film's highlight, with Hans Zimmer returning once more to unleash yet another stunning score. Now, the cinematography, well what can I say? Hoyte Van Hoytema, take a bow, the imagery is both stark yet beautiful, its gritty yet serene, its claustrophobic yet sweeping... it's utterly encapsulating, from the opening shot, it draws you in, it takes you to that beach, it places you in the thick of it, and all the while avoiding the sight of the actual enemy in person, they're just lingering, unseen to the naked eye.
One side note that I'd love to delve into is Harry Styles, wow what a shocking achievement. Alike Heath Ledger as The Joker, Nolan has turned an unlikely cast member into someone of true talent.
In the 17 years of cinema-going during my life, I have seen some truly amazing movies, some that completely stunned me, many of which have been by the director at hand, including a fantastic IMAX experience of 'Interstellar', but never before have I left the cinema so awestruck, so silenced by the intensity of a movie. 'Dunkirk' isn't a typical movie, it isn't your typical war movie, this is more, much more. This is a film about the prevalence of heroism, the prevalence of Britishness, and how fear can strike drive and willpower into a human entity. This is a visual masterpiece, it is more than a movie, it's an experience, and one that should be witnessed by all!
Baby Driver (2017)
The Coolest & Most Unique Film This Year
Edgar Wright remains one of my all-time favourite directors. Why? Because each and every film he crafts reeks of originality, he takes a few similar traits, throws them together, delves down a completely unexpected route and forms something unique, something masterful. From 'Shaun of the Dead' to 'Hot Fuzz' and so on and so forth, each film feels like something you think you've witnessed before, but on a whole new level, something fresh, something alluring, packed with adrenaline... and of course, 'Baby Driver' followed suit.
'Baby Driver' is an utterly engrossing caper-comedy that is (in my personal opinion) the finest film to face 2017 so far, I couldn't help but smile throughout, from the stunningly executed action scenes and stunts, through to the soundtrack (with an abundance of classic rock and soul tracks) and finally the heavily relatable characters. The lack of disappointment in Edgar Wright's work continues with this masterful film, which is ultimately also one of the coolest films of the past decade or so.
Many of the heist films of recent years have been rather disappointing when it comes to both story and technical achievement, however when something like 'Baby Driver' makes an appearance, it's refreshing to know that indie films are still taking this planet by storm and shunting the blockbusters out of the limelight. To know that certain production companies still trust the creativity of a director over the monetary expectations, and by doing so, unleashing a flurry of fantastic independently "driven" films.
I'm gonna finish with this (partially odd) statement / testimonial... when I went to sleep last night, I had odd dreams of car chases and stunt driving to rock classics, and that is thanks to this film, the fact that it stuck with me even when I wasn't fully conscious. That's how much of a damn cool film 'Baby Driver' is... just go watch it, just throw away your tickets to 'Transformers' and 'The Mummy' etc, and go see this instead.
Seriously... Another One?
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...
A Gritty & Emotional Adventure Into The Vulnerability Of Superheroes
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. 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.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
An Enjoyable Ride Thrusting Us Back Into The Lego Universe
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.
T2 Trainspotting (2017)
A Resonant Sequel To A Classic
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.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
A Raw & Emotional Gut Punch
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!
La La Land (2016)
Nostalgic, Colourful, Joyous CinemaScope Magic
Do I like musicals? Not really... but damn, 'La La Land' is a nostalgic, colourful, joyful marvel!
Damien Chazelle gained international acclaim and recognition from his masterful drama 'Whiplash', what were the chances that he could pull off similar success two times in the row? Well, if 'La La Land' is anything to go by, then I'd say he did the job. With just three films under his belt as of 2016, Chazelle is slowly becoming the next big thing this movie industry has seen. His passion for classic movies and musicals is evident as he references and pulls influence from films like 'Singin' in the Rain', 'The Umbrellas of Cherborg' and even 'Rebel Without a Cause', the latter of which is one of my favourite films so seeing the nod to it was something I was pleased about.
The chemistry between Gosling and Stone is strong to say the least, after two previous collaborations, their already-strong bond helped them become one of modern-day cinema's finest couples. The music is bouncy and toe-tapping catchy, the cinematography is utterly stunning with gorgeous colours and impressive long takes, and the locations sum up the American dream and the passion the characters hold for Los Angeles. 'La La Land' is by far one of the finest cinema experiences I have had in the past 5-10 years, and although this isn't a film I would typically enjoy (genre-wise), Chazelle has instead crafted one of my favourite films of this decade. A film I would recommend everyone see in the cinema to truly witness the CinemaScope magic.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
One Of The Rawest Dramas Of Recent Years
An emotionally hard hitting and raw film that focuses on Lee Chandler, a man whose life has gone down the drain and is now leading one of personal emotional mayhem. There may be those out there who find that this film drags in certain parts, however the cleverly executed non-linear plot and near-flawless performances of conflict, hate and sly humour from the likes of Casey Affleck (who is now my favourite for the Oscar) makes 'Manchester by the Sea' one of the most gritty and emotionally-reverent dramas of recent years.
With a plot that dashes backwards and forwards, Lonergan has crafted an intense and almost shocking plot that gradually builds Affleck's character through the clever use of flashbacks and disguised thrills. Affleck has slowly been proving himself as an acting body to be commended, and this film has finally given us his most complex performance to date, that of a man on a path of self-inflicted emotional trauma. A film that hits hard and leaves a lasting impression.
Masterful In Craft & Rich In Experience, But Dreary In Nature
To this day, Martin Scorsese remains my all-time favourite director, a man whose approach to cinema completely differs to others in Hollywood, his appreciation towards cinema as an art form is his finest quality in what makes him arguably the greatest film director around. With 'Silence' promoted as Scorsese's 20-year passion project, it was a film I couldn't resist seeing, the legend back behind the camera focusing on a subject not fully studied in cinema, a subject that's mostly misunderstood.
I want to start with my conclusion and go from there. 'Silence' won't be everybody's film, the same way other ambitious films like 'The Revenant' or 'The Tree of Life' weren't, however despite my respect to Scorsese's mastery and level of detail, in my own honest opinion I believe this film fell short due to the lack of insight into it's main theme and thus instead transformed into a slow and somewhat dreary tale that arguably didn't need it's near 3-hour running time to tell its tale.
Now don't get me wrong, in regards to the film's craft it is a masterpiece, the cinematography is raw and epic, the direction from Scorsese is phenomenal and the set design is gorgeous. Accompanying this are a series of fine performances, most notably from Andrew Garfield who should receive monumental praise for his role, I haven't seen such a visceral performance in years, the raw emotion is uncanny. But unfortunately the technicalities and craft can't cover up the flaws that lie in the running time and the tediously slow plot that didn't want to end.
If there's anything I can leave you with from this review to help you decide as to whether it's a worthy watch or not, let me just say this: 'Silence' isn't a piece of entertainment, it's instead an experience; and whilst a technically masterful one at that, many audience members may find themselves slowly drifting off to sleep - as my neighbour in the cinema did. It isn't really a case of liking it or disliking it, it's more a case of the adventure, and despite my partial disappointment with it, the adventure was more than worthy enough for the viewing. Scorsese is still an exquisite auteur, flaws or not.
Denis Villeneuve's magnum opus!
Prior to approaching this film, a word of warning that it is what many like to call a "thinking person's sci-fi". If you're going to watch this, I beg that you dedicate your utmost attention to it, as it is truly one rewarding experience, one of the smartest, most well-constructed science fiction marvels of recent years. 'Arrival' is Villeneuve's magnum opus.
Firstly, to put your mind at ease, I won't be analysing the plot, thus avoiding the use of spoilers. This decade, Villeneuve has crafted some fantastic works of art in the form of 'Prisoners', 'Sicario' and now this science fiction gem, and here's hoping his career further develops with more movie masterpieces coming our way. In a world where mysteries remain and the possibility of extraterrestrial life still stands unanswered, 'Arrival' approaches this with it's cliché-free take on the genre.
The relatively unknown Bradford Young provides the film with some of the most stunning cinematography ever conceived, taking advantage of the twilight hour to give the film its somewhat unique look, supported magnificently by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson whose score is both haunting and beautiful. If you're someone looking for a science-fiction tale that keeps you guessing and thinking throughout, with fantastic performances, cinematography, music and near-flawless direction, then 'Arrival' is the film for you. The masterpiece of 2016!
A Convoluted, Yet Well-Executed Premise!
After seeing this film at Cannes, it left me with rather mixed emotions, and I continued thinking about it for quite some time after; so after much thought, I decided it was time to write a review of this new French new flick. 'Elle' is a thought-provoking thriller from the hands of Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven that is definitely not suitable for the younger audiences. Verhoeven has a tendency to venture down more explicit routes (think of 'Showgirls'), but this time took a psychological approach creating a film that will definitely leave you thinking.
Now, the plot can be rather convoluted. The film runs several plot lines alongside each other and at times, you can lose track of certain characters, but if you pay close enough attention, you'll fully appreciate the complex, yet original structure Verhoeven has created. The performances in the film are all fantastic, and the direction is magnificent (Verhoeven actually took to learning French as a new language so he could utilise an entire French crew), the cinematography and soundtrack both make great accompaniments, but I personally think the film's structure was the only downside to the film.
The subject matter is rather grim, revolving around sexual assault and the estranged relationship between the main character and her parents, but there are instances of humour that just give that little hint of lightheartedness to a relatively dark premise. All-in- all I would definitely recommend this film if you're a fan of dark thrillers along the lines of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' etc, but be prepared for a no-holds brazen thriller. Nonetheless, Verhoeven has made a sincere thriller that kept me thinking well after the credits had finished, so congratulations to him for that, and for undertaking the somewhat "risky" subject matter.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
A Smarter, More Complex Superhero Film
I'm going to be honest in saying that over the past few months, I've slowly become bored with the constant superhero releases, the current box office seems rife with them, not that that's a bad thing, it's just a tad repetitive. But then there's the Captain America series of the MCU films which seem to venture away from the typical action-packed, over-the-top aesthetics of other superhero films and instead focus more on the drama, the plot, the characters, and instead form a thriller in the style of 'The Manchurian Candidate' or the 'Bourne' films.
Personally I was a huge fan of 'The Winter Soldier', abandoning the action to instead create a political thriller was a fantastic idea, and it seems that the Russo's have yet again gone down a similar route in creating a more complex film (that does unfortunately contain plot holes here and there) that instead leaves the audience thinking rather than just presenting mindless action, however 'Civil War' is definitely more "actiony" than 'Winter Soldier' was, and unfortunately I dislike the overuse of CGI which this film does contain, but thankfully the interwoven smart plot allowed for some material that'll hopefully be an influence towards other superhero movies, to actually create clever content instead of dumbed-down footage. Definitely one of the stronger Marvel films!
The Way Way Back (2013)
A Heartwarming Coming-Of-Age Tale
In all honesty, I completely loved this film, it is one of the most heartwarming coming-of-age stories of recent years and blends comedy, drama and emotion perfectly. With top notch performances, most notably from Sam Rockwell as the overzealous-yet-lovable waterpark manager Owen and Steve Carrel as the somewhat unexpectedly despicable Trent, both James and Robb also do wonders as the young duo. The film itself has a nice indie feel to it with a fantastic acoustic score, supported by some fine music choices and a generally satisfying story as a whole. A definite must-watch if you enjoy coming-of-age dramas with that hint of heartwarming humour.
The Revenant (2015)
A Powerfully Bleak & Masterful Film
Take the direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu, combine it with the stunning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki and toss in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy for their acting charms and what do you get? An extraordinary and masterful film.
Fresh off of 'Birdman,' Iñárritu moved straight on to 'The Revenant,' a western-epic inspired by the true-life experiences of frontiersman Hugh Glass in the winter-struck landscape of 1820s America. The film gained some notoriety in mid-2015 for its production problems and has thus been regarded one of the most challenging film shoots in the history of cinema. Rightfully so. The film opens with the soothing sound of running water, thrusting the audience into an almost meditative state, and then it strikes, an action-packed sequence ensues with a near single sweeping take. Now this is a spoiler-free review, so I'll leave the pleasure of viewing that scene to you.
This film heavily evokes reactions from the audience and does so well, whether it's staring at the screen in awe or gasping at the visceral violence, if you face this film with the right attitude and expectations, it will be a thrill ride like no other. Lubezki has proved that he is one of the most fantastic cinematographers of modern cinema, and the extensive use of natural lighting over artificial supports that statement even further, the film is beyond stunning. Supporting this is the score from the relatively unknown composers, believe me, when the sudden orchestral boom strikes your eardrums, it's mesmerising.
The makeup, the direction, the editing, the visual aesthetics, and of course the performances from a hopefully soon-to-be Oscar winning DiCaprio, 'The Revenant' is a visual treat for those who appreciate cinema and for those who wish to just get absorbed by the immense landscapes and poetic justice Iñárritu has given it. This is, for me, a modern masterpiece.
The Force Has Indeed Awoken
We waited for years, and it's finally here. At 3 o'clock this morning I entered the cinema wide-eyed, full of hope. As was with many people's childhoods, Star Wars was a staple of mine, and to this day the original trilogy still stand as some of my favourite films. J.J. Abrams famously managed to reignite the Star Trek franchise with two fantastic films, so when tasked with doing similar to Star Wars, some people were sceptical, but nonetheless excited. The main questions is: did he deliver? Yes he damn well did!
You know that tight throat feeling you get when you have a sudden urge of adrenaline, for the last hour of the film, I had that feeling, sitting there on the edge of my seat, heart pounding fast. What I was watching was exhilarating to say the least.
Let's look more at the film (don't worry, there will be no spoilers featured). First off, the opening - the classic text followed by the panning shot to a planet (or death star) with a Star Destroyer emerging into the frame, it all features, as does the use of practical effects and puppets / robots over the extensive use of CGI that was utilised in the prequel trilogy, thus giving fans the old school style of Star Wars they wanted oh so much. The film is fast-paced, with stunning action scenes and spectacles, but not rushed, the shots linger and the camera moves gracefully, giving us a spectacular view of the situation at hand.
The prequel trilogy shunted the franchise on a downward spiral, the overuse of CGI and the introduction of some of the most annoying characters in film (a-hem Jar Jar Binks), but Abrams, the finest choice of a director to reignite the franchise, did nothing more than show pure love for the films and has created a sequel that definitely exceeded my expectations. A film that features endless nostalgia with appearances from Ford (who is beyond fantastic), Fisher, Hamill even Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and constant references to the original trilogy.
The only partial negative aspect is its somewhat lack of originality, it acts more as an homage to 'A New Hope' than an original tale. But if you overthink points like this when viewing it, you won't enjoy it, so just empty your head of that and watch the film for what it is: a space opera that acts as nothing more than a sheer piece of movie magic!
An Action Spectacle Showing The Vulnerability Of 007
If there was anything we learnt from 'Skyfall' it's that Sam Mendes can make a damn good Bond film, veering away from the over-the-top, explosive nature of the franchise, and focusing more on Bond's personal life and his vulnerability. Well what can be said? He did it again.
'Spectre' will definitely appeal more to those who were fans of the early films in the franchise, most notably 'You Only Live Twice' whose inspiration brings back one of the finest villains to ever face Bond. Mendes has since seemed to take a new direction on Craig's series of films and led away from the gritty, thriller aspect that 'Casino Royale' and 'Skyfall' had and instead propelled the film as an action spectacle, full of beautifully orchestrated stunts, stunning cinematography and non-stop explosive action. The locations are stunning, the score is exhilarating and the cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema is dazzling.
Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista, whoever the casting director was on this film, you deserve a huge pat on the back, this film stars two of the most perfect actors to plays villains ever. The much-loved Austrian Waltz whose Colonel Hans Landa has earned him recognition as a fantastic and plausible villain, and ex-wrestler Bautista proving that he is one person not to screw with.
'Spectre' manages to reflect back upon its predecessors in the franchise with references to prior villains, allies and lovers, further drawing upon a story that was in need of a conclusion, a conclusion all fans just couldn't wait for. But... will 'Spectre' be the conclusion we expected? Or will there be more to follow from Daniel Craig and 007?
Obviously you don't have to take my word for it, I'm just a mega- Bond fan, but allow me to shed some light upon it if you are having a hard time deciding whether to see it or not? I went and saw this in IMAX - I was blown away. This is the ultimate British action film and one of the finest instalments!
The Martian (2015)
Thrilling Sci-Fi Survival Adaptation
In an era where science-fiction survival tales are becoming a popular occurrence - with 'Interstellar' last year, and 'Gravity' the year before - writer Andy Weir and sci-fi connoisseur Ridley Scott team up to craft a complex tale that is carried by a single character, that character being Mark Watney, played fantastically by Matt Damon (Hollywood's biggest calamity, who requires being rescued... again).
As the film tees off, we are instantly given a first-person view of the dangers of Mars and the fight for survival each astronaut is living out each day on the planet's surface, that is until their emergency evacuation - but nope, even Damon couldn't do that right. Abandoned upon the desolate surface of Mars after being presumed dead by his crew, Damon must do all he can to endure the martian environment. One huge thing I admire about this film's plot, is that it doesn't care about the intellectual level of its audience, as the quote above states so well: it'll science the s**t out of them. It's such a complex and well-executed premise that on paper seems nothing more than a impossible feat to pull off.
Technically this film is stunning, the cinematography, the CGI, the production design, all utterly gorgeous, and according to the Golden Globes, it's one of the best comedies of recent years too... yeah, sure. Admittedly the tongue-in-cheek humour does add a more fresh appeal to the film, making it a little more unique than previous sci-fi adventures, it piles on layers of thrills, emotional value and complex character development to create one of the finest science fiction films of recent years.
A Stunning And Savage Epic Drama
Fantastic adaptation of Shakespeare's iconic tragedy, Justin Kurzel's drama is a stunning and well-crafted epic, featuring some unforgettable performances from Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris and of course, Michael Fassbender in the role of the savage tyrant, Macbeth. Joining the other great Shakespearean masters such as Olivier and Branagh, Kurzel has created a brutal and ambitious depiction, caught by the awe-inspiring cinematography of Adam Arkapaw. Featuring glorious locations across the bleak and wintery Highlands of Scotland, 'Macbeth' is a film adaptation that even the great playwright himself would be proud of.
Jurassic World (2015)
Worthy Sequel To One Of The Greatest Films Ever Made
Let's start this by stating how much of a die hard fan I am of 'Jurassic Park', I love that film, always have, always will. 'The Lost World' is a worthy followup, but at the same time lost the panache the first one had, as for the third entry, I'll overlook it because it just got too silly for my liking... anyway, on to 'Jurassic World'. First of all, the positives outweigh the negatives by far, so to start I shall begin with the flaws. 'Jurassic World' near enough scraps the use of animatronics that made the original films so realistic in comparison and instead overuses CGI, but that aside the visual effects are stunning. And the story, well, it's a little too far-fetched to say the least, but not to the point where it's completely ridiculous, just enough for you to have a laugh but still enjoy it nonetheless. Trevorrow's direction, Pratt's acting and Giacchino's score are all superb, and these combined make the film a worthy watch. The film perfectly blends drama, emotion and action, and when I say action, I mean full-on awe- inspiring action. The closing battle is just rife with intensity, to the extent that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat in the cinema, it was perfectly choreographed (if maybe a tad predictable) but my heart was racing, I hadn't felt that excited with a film's conclusion for a long time. All-in-all, it's a well- executed and beautifully-crafted sequel, but will never outdo the original, the best 'Jurassic Park', but a second spot grab? I think so.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Oh, What A Day! What A Lovely Day!
An action essential through and through, it's plain and simple! Since the days of 'Die Hard' and 'Terminator', the action genre has turned into a repetitive, over-the-top array of films trying too hard to create entertaining sequences that instead look too cheesy due to bad composition or an overuse of CGI, of course along the way we have had some fine exceptions in the style of 'Casino Royale' and 'The Dark Knight', but certain directors *cough* Michael Bay... don't seem to be able to use their knowledge of an action sequence to its full potential and instead have constant fiery explosions and over-the-top shaky camera-work among other things... oh but then there's 'Mad Max: Fury Road', talk about epic action pieces. It has been 30 years since the release of 'Beyond Thunderdome' back in 1985, and George Miller decided to return to the directorial chair for a Mad Max reboot, and my God, he truly is a mastermind of action. After creating the epic scale of an action film in the form of 'Mad Max: The Road Warrior' it was going to be hard to live up to the previous films in the franchise, but Miller didn't just do that, he excelled at it and instead beat his previous films. With Tom Hardy as the new face of Max and Namibia as the new backdrop for post- apocalyptic Australia, 'Fury Road' is an exhilarating action fest that goes beyond its boundaries in creating what might just be one of the greatest action films ever made. Hearing that nearly 90% of the stunts and effects were practical literally blew me away, the sequences are extravagant and complex with frequent fireballs and car crashes filling the screen. George Miller's 2015 vigorous tale blends emotion and brutality with drama and action to reignite Australia's greatest film franchise and create the epitome of the action genre.
Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Intense, Entertaining and Emotional
By about 2009 when 'Fast & Furious' was released, the franchise had slowly began to veer away from its initial focus of street racing and instead began to turn its attention to the action genre and over-the-top big budget sequences. However along with this change of style, the franchise was actually getting better and better with each film. Today I saw the most recent instalment in the cinema... talk about action-packed. 'Fast & Furious 7' is a no-holds, over- the-top and mindless action film, but this aside, it is an extremely entertaining and fun film to watch. With an all-star cast and some brilliant action sequences, 'Fast & Furious 7' is proof that certain franchises can continually make great movies. The most notable moment however in the entire film is the emotional and respectful ending during the send-off of Paul Walker, the film finishing with a montage of Walker in the previous six films, finishing with just two words, 'For Paul', this is the first time a Fast and Furious film has affected me emotionally, and it is arguably the best in the franchise.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Quintessentially British, Hilariously Funny, Brutally Violent
Stylish, brutal and hilarious. 'Kingsman' is an extremely quintessentially British flick full of over-the-top yet hilarious comedy, brutal violence and a quirky image of England. Since James Bond's debut in 1962, a number of films have attempted to reinvent the genre, with films like 'Johnny English', 'Get Smart', 'This Means War' and many more, however, none have come close to displaying the perfect blend like 'Kingsman' has. Matthew Vaughn has become renowned for taking on action-comedy projects, for instance 'Kick-Ass' (which is still stronger than this but only just), and along the way has kept that feel-good British aspect to it that makes our greatest secret agent (James Bond) such an icon. All-in-all 'Kingsman' is a brilliant, well-executed film.