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The Jungle Book (2016)
Such a great adaptation of a Disney Classic
The Jungle Book is the next instalment in the growing list of Disney live action remakes that have so far turned out to be relatively alright at best. This is by far the best of the bunch as it gives us something that adopts a slightly more serious and modern tone but still sticks to some of the qualities that made the Disney Classic so beloved. Going into the film, the most impressive aspect that i was looking forward to the most was seeing, or hearing the fantastic cast in action. Having Bill Murray, Ben Kingsly, Idris Elba, Scarlet Johannson, and Christopher Walken cast as the characters we love is enough to get me looking forward to the film. Some fit more than others but overall, the talent paid off. Even though it is a 'live action' adaptation, only like 5% of the film at the most is real, the rest is all done through some of the most impressive CGI i have ever seen. That is a testament to young Neil Sethi's ability to act, as it was essentially him in a green room talking and interacting with nothing.
The overall plot of the film stays very faithful to the original film with changes here and there that are both better and worse, but it's what you expect from these adaptations. They got you invested into these completely CGI animals and you understand their emotions and relationships with each other as if it is done with performance capture. They conveyed themes of love and fear in the characters really well, and it really is those two themes that drive the plot and character development of the film forward.
HOLD ON - 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Trailer just dropped, ill be back in 15 to finish this off..... priorities.
In terms of the characters, i thought the film captured their personalities and attitudes almost perfectly. Bill Murray as Baloo was perfect, he was just as fun and entertaining to watch as his animated counterpart, and completely stole all scenes he was in. Idris Elba as Shere Khan was menacing and was a real force to be reckoned with in this film, you felt that he was the most feared tiger in the jungle. Ben Kingsly was also the best fit for Bagheera as he nailed the very wise and intelligent personality, and was just a really cool character. Neil Sethi as Mowgli was fantastic, especially for his first acting role, the way he managed to show chemistry between him and those non- existent characters so well is something many experienced actors still struggle to do, so i can see him improving and getting more roles in the future. Just the chemistry and relationships between Mowgli and Baloo, Mowgli and Bagheera, and Mowgli and Raksha made many moments of the film so much more entertaining and impactful.
Christopher Walken as King Louie was overall pretty good, i didn't mind hearing his voice as the famous Orangutang/Gigantopithecus. There are some issues with his scene that ill get into in a bit. But by far the most underused character was Scarlet Johansson's Kaa, who to be honest may as well have not been in the film at all. She shows up for 5 minutes max and makes no impact on the main plot, it was a disappointing use of a great character. The film did delve into some humorous exchanges between the characters especially with Mowgli and Baloo, and it helped to lighten the mood at times which helped me stay interested.
A very minor issue i had was that there were some early moments where the film i felt could have been moving along a little quicker, it only lasted like 5 minutes max each time, but it could have been handled better. And my major gripe with the film was notably the scene with Mowgli and King Louie. The film tried to throw 'I wanna be like you' into this scene and it really didn't work, like at all. It was almost as bad as characters in 2015's 'Pan' singing a rendition of Nirvana's 'Smells like teen spirit'. It took me out of the film completely and should have been left out.
But overall i had a lot of fun with this film. It was exciting, emotional, adventurous and it had a solid plot, great characters and performances, and unbelievably perfect use of CGI. It really is a lot of fun and you should go see it this weekend, well worth it.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
Third film in the franchise, still offers a new experience
Kung Fu Panda 3 is the third film in the successful franchise and caps off what is a surprisingly quite enjoyable series of films. The first film was a huge success and loved by families and kids everywhere, the second one for me was a slight step down but still alright and this film was actually a good amount of fun. At the third film is where you start to see most franchises getting very repetitive, and while the film follows a similar base plot from start to finish, it still offers a new experience that sets it aside from other animated films. The plot was basic, easy to follow and enjoyable, the humour was there, and the character performances were once again very fun.
In terms of the plot, as i mentioned it was very easy to follow, it had the good guys, the evil threat, and other real world themes that make the film relatable to people watching. Having the main target audience of young kids, they didn't need to make anything complex, they just had to please them and give something for the families to enjoy, and they did that well. It does have sections that are not as eventful as the rest of the film but overall the pacing was at a nice steady pace. Humour-wise the film delivered, i laughed a number of times throughout the film, it did have its fair share of humour that was directed at the kids but overall there was a good amount to keep me engaged. At this point, you know whats going to happen and how the film is going to end, but you won't enjoy it any less.
The thing i love the most about this franchise is the voice talent involved, and how every actor/actress gives each character a very unique personality that makes them all very unique. You already have Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, Kate Hudson, and David Cross in there, so by adding Bryan Cranston and J.K Simmons it only makes the film so much better. Simmons especially i thought was fantastic as the villain and he was a really cool villain.
So in the end, this was quite an enjoyable film that is a lot of fun i think for the whole family. Easy plot, good performances, and some humour make this a pretty good film. It's just now dawning on me that this was a better movie than Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, would i rather watch BvS? Of course, but in terms of a film that succeeded in doing what it set out to do, this takes the cake.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Less Greek than its predecessor but delivers some good laughs
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the sequel to the 2002 highly successful hit comedy is finally here with the whole family returning for another wedding. Like most belated comedy sequels, i wasn't expecting a whole lot from this film, i expected it to play off what made the first film successful and be relatively average. And that is more or less what we have here, in some aspects it delivers fairly well and in others it really doesn't. One of the things i liked hearing going into this film was that the whole cast was returning and that it was being written by Nia Vardalos who also wrote the first one. It gave me some hope that it would have the same overall feeling, but it kinda didn't in the end.
Unlike the first film, it didn't feel like a 'Greek' movie for around half of it, it was more of a modern Romantic Comedy with some Greek comedy and set-pieces here and there. Structurally the films plot was kinda all over the joint. There were a lot of side- plots in this film and to be honest, there wasn't really a main plot in the film. It kinda jumps around between the romantic stories revolving around Nia, her parents, and her daughter. Neither one took control of the film and the focus kept swapping throughout. And when the film did depart from the Greek aspect and started heading in the Rom-Com direction they just organised a couple of Greek jokes to remind you that this is still a Greek themed film, and maybe that's where Nia Vardalos writing the film helped it but also kinda let it down. But what i really loved was just by watching this film you could tell that she loves this property, she loves the character Toula and she really didn't want it to fail, and i love when a film is written with so much passion.
Now, the comedic aspects of the film were definitely there and there were some very very funny moments. There wasn't really a steady flow of comedy throughout the film, it's sort of delivered in sections here and there. Pretty much, whenever it focused on the Greek aspects of the film there were plenty of jokes, most of the time. And after seeing this film, i gotta say, there are quite a few good laughs..... if you're Greek that is, but if you're not and you don't understand a lot about Greek culture, there really isn't much here for you. Being Greek is really what made a lot of the comedy in the film actually funny. And in terms of who was delivering the comedy, the supporting cast (the entire extended family) were the ones delivering ALL of the jokes, and i mean ALL of them. Unfortunately, Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, and the daughter Elena Kampouris didn't contribute to the humour like at all, not even once from memory. They tried, they definitely tried to have them be funny but it just didn't work at all.
But, one thing i have to give the film 100% credit for is what jokes they did provide. Like all of these comedic sequels it would have been incredibly easy to just re-use jokes from the first film and hope people laugh at them as much as they did in 2002. But this film didn't go with any obvious joke callbacks to the first film, which i loved and more comedy sequels should do. I thought for sure they were going to make Nick and Angelo have Ian say something wrong in Greek, and they didn't which was great. They went for new material so i admire what they did.
In the end, it isn't nearly as good as the original film, there was less of an authentic Greek feeling, and it kinda lost itself in the Romantic Comedy elements. In terms of the plot it was very unfocused jumping around a lot. But it does deliver on the comedy and there are plenty of laughs to take out of this film, mainly if you are Greek.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
A fantastic spin on an existing franchise, backed by amazing performances
10 Cloverfield Lane is a Drama / Mystery Thriller that is a standalone film and a spin off to 2008's Cloverfield. I have not seen Cloverfield but i have heard quite a bit about it since its release 8 years ago. But really, you don't need to know a thing about Cloverfield to see this film. If you have seen Cloverfield then i guess you kinda know what you are dealing with here, but if you haven't seen the film, this spin off is a fantastic standalone film that i can tell you had my full uninterrupted attention. This was a fantastic movie that was intense, dramatic, and had a tinge of humour thrown in there, i was completely engaged and on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was very well crafted in many departments and was backed by three absolutely perfect performances.
The pacing of this film was pretty much perfect for most of the film, it slowly builds to some big moments and when not much is happening, it keeps you in the film with a clever use of music and a creepy score. There was a 5-10 minute section of the film in the middle that did start to drag but it quickly moved along to some more juicy material. I gotta also note that the dialogue in this film was on point. It is so easy to write cheesy dialogue that is clearly just actors reading off a script, but they managed to have really interesting dialogue so that you completely buy into the conversations they are having. The 3 main characters are also very grounded and fully fleshed out, and that was done amazingly in a short amount of time, getting it out of the way quickly. You really learn to love these characters or love to hate them, and that is because of the great writing in the film. But it is also down to the 3, absolutely fantastic performances leading this film.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. were just downright amazing in this film and were 110% committed to their roles. Winstead and Goodman in particular elevated this film so much with their performances, it would not have been anywhere near as good with anyone else. The back and forth between those two made the film so much more intense and dramatic and added a lot of weight to certain parts of the film. The visual style of the film and the cinematography are also something to note because it was beautiful. The way the film was shot in this bunker made every scene a little bit more appealing to watch. It won't be winning any awards but it was a surprising highlight of the film.
So, VERY MINOR spoilers ahead (NOTHING PLOT RELATED)
One last thing that i absolutely have to talk about is the amazing way in which this film handled being part of an existing franchise but at the same time being its own thing, and how this could be the beginning of a revolution in filmmaking regarding spinoffs and standalone films. As you may already know, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a spin off from 2008's Cloverfield and unlike other spinoffs it wasn't concerned with trying to connect itself to the universe every 5-10 minutes. It just went and did its own thing, told its own story whilst still being in the same world. Really, if you didn't know it was connected to Cloverfield going in, you won't walk away being confused and left 'out of the loop'. This film very much stands completely on its own and isn't restricted by having to conform to what the previous film set for it.
This is the PERFECT way to create new and interesting ideas within a franchise to avoid becoming repetitive to the point where no-one is interested in the franchise anymore. Look at the genre's of these two films for example, Cloverfield was an Action/Adventure/Horror filmed as a found footage film, and this is a Drama/Mystery Thriller that took the franchise in a completely new direction. I still haven't seen Cloverfield but i want to see more standalone films set in this same world to see what they can do to change it up every time. I can only hope that more franchises see the success of this film and introduce similar ideas within their worlds. The only thing i think would stand in the way of this becoming a common sight in Hollywood is if a studio tries it and completely messes it up that will turn off other studios from trying it. But i hope that doesn't happen and we get more films that take a similar approach to this one.
Triple 9 (2016)
Some early complaints but an overall very engaging film
Triple 9 was a surprisingly very enjoyable film that played out like you average every day crime film with some differences here and there that made it quite unique. It is essentially about some criminals, corrupt cops, and the Russian mafia and how they all tie together in a mission to set up a seemingly impossible heist. One of the first things to note is the huge talented cast in this film, they include: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Gal Gadot, and Clifton Collins Jr. And every single one of them i thought put in solid, convincing performances that helped me to stay invested in the early parts of the film. The film has an overall very dark and grim tone throughout that i really liked. There is not much fun to be had at all but it worked for the story they were trying to tell. The story is also very interesting for the most part which was great. But not everything was smooth sailing.
The story mainly after the first act of the film was very engaging and it did a great job at blending the heist/crime elements with the action/thriller themes. There were some very intense moments that did have me holding my breath in anticipation of what may happen, which was great. Apart from maybe one or two instances the events of the film were not at all predictable, which allows you to anticipate and look forward to what was happening next. Some of the latter portions of the film introduced some mystery/thriller themes and reminded me a lot of Prisoners which is an incredible film.
The film suited having a very dark tone as it doesn't sugar-coat any of the violent moments. It does get a little violent and gruesome at times but the gore didn't feel overdone or out of place like it does in many other action/thrillers. Here it added more of a sense of realism to the film and added to the gritty nature. It also had an interesting visual style that came through at certain times throughout the film that i really admired. This was most likely the work of Director John Hillcoat who has done some other very visually engaging films, although that isn't what he is known for. I wouldn't mind seeing the film again just to see some of the foreshadowing and little details that hint to events later in the film that i may have missed.
The majority of the issues with the film occur in the first 30 minutes and it is mainly down to the pacing. There were some very exciting moments but there were also moments where it was starting to drag quite a bit and it took its time to move along. If it wasn't for the performances the initial parts of the film would have been very hard to watch. Some of the story elements early on were thrown at you a little too quick and it did get a little overwhelming. It did make more sense a little later but it was kinda messy at times in the first act of the film. One thing i wish the film did a little better was getting invested in some of the characters early on. Some characters it does a great job with getting you to care about their agendas and their situation but there were moments where it was trying to get you to feel more for some of the characters but because of the nature of the film or those characters you kinda don't... But that's just a minor thing.
So in the end, apart from some complaints about the early parts of the film, it actually shaped up to be a very good one that you can definitely enjoy if you like the crime/heist genre. I don't know where a lot of the highly negative reviews for this film are coming from because this was in no way anything less than a good film. The ensemble cast was great, the story was engaging and it kept you invested in the character right till the very end.
Surprisingly very interesting led by a fantastic performance
Risen is a Biblical Drama/Adventure film that follows Roman Tribune 'Clavius' (Joseph Fiennes) who is tasked with investigating the disappearance of the body of 'Jesus of Nazareth', who has been rumoured to have resurrected. This movie was a very pleasant surprise as i went into it expecting just an average film about a story that has been represented on the big screen many many times, but i got a very interesting, and dramatic film that had me hooked right to the very end. Many of these biblical films do touch on many of the same beats, but this film approached the story in some interesting ways and offered enough new to differentiate it from the others. The film featured some excellent/very good and convincing performances, but also had one or two miscasts. The story progressed at a steady pace for most of the film making it very easy to follow, and the film was also accompanied by a pretty good soundtrack that i did not expect at all.
One thing this film did with its story that really worked in its favour was tell the story through the eyes of a non-believer, and that added so much more to the story and more interest in the film. This added element let the story take turns that you wouldn't get from just an average biblical film and was great to see. The film also 'looked' very good in terms of the scenery and cinematography, it was very subdued and didn't really have grand set pieces and scenery that were obviously CGI. This really helped the film seem very grounded and i couldn't be distracted by any obvious CGI.
I have to say that i enjoyed the last 2/3 of the film much more than the first 1/3. I felt that there were some pretty big pacing issues in the beginning where it either felt like it was progressing too slow or it was moving too fast. There was a lot of jumping through time and skipping over quite a few scenes, and it was quite jarring at times. But as the story developed it quickly flowed at a very steady pace for the rest of the film and i quickly forgave it for its earlier blunders. In terms of performance, Joseph Fiennes was fantastic in the film as 'Clavius', he was the standout in the film and put in a very convincing and engaging performance that carried the film, especially early on. There were also good performances from other side-characters who elevated the film especially later on, but they weren't all good. Peter Firth who was cast as 'Pontius Pilate' was really not good at all, the way he delivered his lines felt very forced and not natural at all. Tom Felton was also a complete miscast, he just did not work at all as a Roman Soldier and his dialogue was very wooden and fake and just gave the impression that he was overacting and did take me out of it a little.
So in the end this was a surprisingly very good biblical film that offered enough new elements to this familiar story to differentiate it from the countless other similar films. This film would have been much better had they cast someone other than Tom Felton, as he was bringing down the film when Joseph Fiennes was putting in a fantastic performance. It's no 'Passion of the Christ' but it is better than a lot of other biblical films to come out in recent years.
Ride Along 2 (2016)
Just another generic buddy-cop comedy.... skip
'Ride Along 2' is the sequel to the 2014 comedy 'Ride Along' also starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. Now i was one of the people who did not see the first Ride Along, but this being a comedy sequel, i had pretty low expectations going into it. And those low expectations worked in the films favour, i expected complete trash, and i ended up with a film that was just 'not good', so you could say it was better than i thought it was gonna be (if you want to be nice). The film is a very cliché, by the numbers buddy-cop comedy. It hits all the points you expect it to hit from start to finish, you already know how this film ends, so without that engagement in the story you need the humour to carry you through the film. And with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube teaming up, you expect to get a lot of back and forth jokes between these two complete opposites. There were quite a few times where the film genuinely had me laughing but most of the time it missed the mark and that was a shame.
A lot of the humour in the film did come from Cube and Hart clashing but Olivia Munn also put in her fair share. The film was very patchy in terms of its humour, it took a while for it to actually get funny, the first half of the film was pretty dry in terms of jokes and then it picks up with some laughs here and there, but especially with Kevin Hart bringing the laughs, you'd expect more than just a couple of gags. The back and forth as i mentioned, between Hart and Cube was definitely the star of the show, but i was incredibly surprised by Olivia Munn in this film. For me, she almost stole the show because she was so entertaining in the film, from an acting and comedic standpoint. Sometimes the film has her be the generic tough female cop / love interest but most of the time she was probably my favourite character in the film. Other than that, everything else was very generic and nothing you haven't seen before. I don't want to go so far as to say it was lazy film-making because i have a feeling they were trying to go for the same formula that made people love the first film but it didn't sit right with me.
Once i was able to completely shut off my brain, the last 20 minutes or so of the film was pretty entertaining. Not so entertaining that i was having the time of my life, but it gave me a little kick that allowed me to finish my experience with the film on a high note. Having not seen the first film, i would describe this film as being a tame, not so good version of 21/22 jump street, so if you just want a generic buddy-cop comedy that isn't as good as those two i just mentioned, you may enjoy this one. Also, i gotta mention, there is one scene in this film that was so completely unfunny it kinda did anger me. It involved Kevin Hart and an obviously CG Alligator, at this moment it got really really comical and so silly it felt out of place from the rest of the film. But there is another use of CG involving a car chase that was very clever, so credit where credit is due.
And yeh, thats it, nothing special here, just go watch Jump Street, also starring Ice Cube, a funnier Ice Cube.
A very BIG Oscar Contender - Fantastic Acting and Amazing Directing
'Spotlight' is a Drama/Biopic that tells the true story of the Boston Globe reporting team known as 'Spotlight' and their investigations into the allegations of child abuse in the Catholic Church and how what they uncovered in Boston had a huge affect on the rest of the world. This isn't a topic that people really like to discuss openly and is something that happened fairly recently and is still having an impact on society today. And this film did an amazing job at presenting this story in a way that makes it easy to understand for the audience and keeps it very grounded and real without making it a very uncomfortable thing to watch. It is impossible to tell the story without having to go into some of the horrifying and somewhat confronting details, so the film did great at finding a balance between being too controversial and being too Hollywood. That aside, this movie was very well put together through multiple departments. The acting was fantastic as is expected from a cast of fantastic actors and actresses, Tom McCarthy did an astounding job directing the film rather surprisingly, the writing was exceptional and it really is a big Best Picture contender.
The performances in this film were just so damn amazing to see. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Shreiber, Stanley Tucci, and John Slattery all killed it in their roles. This was probably the best ensemble cast of the year as everyone was fully committed and delved deep into their roles to the point where you stop noticing that it is Keaton and Ruffalo. Amongst all the greatness, Mark Ruffalo was still the stand-out performance of the film, watching him act in this film makes me wonder why the guy isn't a bigger actor than he is. It is a shame that most people only think of The Hulk when you mention Ruffalo as he has other roles where he puts in some solid performances. Michael Keaton as always was great, he is one of the best working today so you just know he is going to nail any role you give him. Unfortunately because of the other amazing performances around him he couldn't stand out enough to get a Best Actor nomination but he was very entertaining nonetheless.
The directing by Tom McCarthy was a surprise for me after i had looked at his previous work. I was unfamiliar with his 3 earlier films so really all i had to go on was last years 'The Cobbler' and well, it didn't have me really excited to see how he does on this film at all. But after seeing the amazing work he did with this film, it is hard to say that the same guy who directed 'The Cobbler' also directed the Best Picture nominated 'Spotlight'. The way he ties this film together and arranges all of the individual stories going on was very impressive to see. For quite a bit of the film you have the various characters all going off and investigating certain aspects of the case, and to be able to follow each one of their journeys in a way that allows you to keep track of everyone and not get lost is a great achievement. I also like the way he paced the film, there were a couple of moments fairly early on where i felt it could pick up the speed a little, but after 30 minutes in it was smooth sailing. But when much of the scenes involve interviews, meetings and scenes of those sorts it is very difficult to try and cover everything without skipping things or boring people, so well done again.
So in the end, Spotlight is just an amazing movie and manages to remain entertaining for the entire 2 hour runtime. It provides you with many of the facts and information regarding the allegations and mixes that in with a very interesting and entertaining story and film. The performances are all great and definitely worth watching just to see these great actors doing what they do best. I love a good biopic and this is definitely one of them so i highly recommend checking it out. Will it win Best Picture? Although my pick is still 'The Revenant' i would have to say this one of the top 3 nominated that actually has a chance.
Beautiful, Emotional, Intense, and Dramatic. A Truly Gripping Story
*** IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THIS FILM - DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER AND TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM THE SYNOPSIS' - THE TRAILER ESPECIALLY SPOILS WAY TOO MUCH AND GOING IN AS BLIND AS POSSIBLE IS THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THIS MOVIE***
'Room' is a Drama that focuses on the relationship between a mother and her 5 year old boy as they are trapped within the walls of a single room with no signs of ever getting out. This movie was truly amazing, it was intense, emotional, had a beautiful, unpredictable and gripping story, fantastically written characters backed up by even more incredible performances, and was directed and shot amazingly. The plot of the film was amazing in terms of the events of the film, but where it really shines is when it explores this very interesting and unique relationship between Jack and his Mum, and you get to understand these very fleshed out characters and learn a lot about them. I was completely mesmerised from start to finish and not once was i bored, as the story of these characters is so emotional, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and dramatic that you care for them as if they are real people.
Going into this film without seeing the trailer made this film infinitely more enjoyable and surprising. There were sequences that made me feel ways that no other film ever has. I have experienced intense edge of seat moments in films before but there were part(s) of this film where i could feel my heart beating like crazy and no other film had ever done that before. That is really a testament also to the amazing directing by Lenny Abrahamson, i have not seen his other films but the way he captures all of the emotion and all of the drama in such a unique and effective way makes me interested to see what he works on next. The way the film was shot was so confronting that you feel like you are going through everything with these characters, and that you are trapped in this room with them.
The performances from both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay were absolutely phenomenal. They delivered every line and gave off every emotion so perfectly that it sucks you into the film and it makes everything incredibly grounded, realistic, and personal. Brie Larson was astounding, you could tell her character was very damaged, and you didn't need much of an explanation of what she has been through, simply from the way she talks and acts in certain scenarios you can gather a lot of information about her past, and that shows how amazing she was in this film. But even more surprising was the astounding performance by Jacob Tremblay, this kid is going places, usually you have child actors who show signs of being great but never really make it, but this kid has just put in what is probably my favourite performance from a child actor ever. He commands the screen in every scene and was one of the biggest highlights of the film. But even more astounding was that neither one overshadows the other and both of their amazing performances are front and center the whole time.
So overall this is an incredible film, from the directing to the performances, to the plot, everything tied together really well and made for a very gripping, dramatic and intense story. Late in the film it does get a few pacing issues here and there but nothing so substantial as to dampen my overall enjoyment. This is a must see film, and although it will most likely not win Best Picture, i think it is the dark horse in the competition.
The Big Short (2015)
Well...... That was disappointing......
'The Big Short', nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.... and i have just one question. Why? I thought the trailer looked pretty good, it was about a somewhat interesting topic that i knew jack about, but with big names attached and a very positive response, i was expecting more, a lot more. This is not going to be a popular opinion as clearly lots of people love this movie, but i must have missed something, or lots of things as for a good 50% of this film i was bored out of my mind. This was a Drama/Biopic focusing on a very serious and from what i gathered very complex topic revolving around the collapse of the economy, bank stuff, the housing market, and a tonne of other stuff i have no idea about. So it had an uphill task from the beginning, trying to get me interested in the film for 2 hours. And in the end, it only managed to do that for about half of the film. I thought the acting was definitely a positive from everyone, the flicker of humour was well implemented and some unique or interesting choices made in the editing of the film had me really enjoying it at some moments. But everything else..... yeh not so great.
The film started out rather engaging, being introduced to all these various characters was fun. It had a serious yet slightly quirky tone, and i gotta say it was great that they kept that tone consistent the whole way through. I was following what was going on, and it was going at a nice calm pace allowing me to pick up most things and piece things together. The film at this point was very interesting and entertaining and had pleasantly surprised me with the editing choices made so far. And that lasted for about an hour, then it just kept going, and going, and i began to lose interest fast, to the point where 20 minutes later i just wanted this thing to be over. I was barely following what was going on with all these numbers and who all these people were and their connections to the story, and it severely hurt my enjoyment of the film. The film even tries to carry people along by stopping the film to have various famous faces explain some of the concepts and banking terms being used. Now although i found these moments surprising and rather fun to watch, i was still just as lost afterwards as i was before. All of this may just be my inability to understand what was going on, or the story maybe was presented in a shitty incomprehensible manner with terrible writing. I'm not right and i'm not wrong.
The acting all across the board was really good, Steve Carrell did a great job as whoever he was, Ryan Gosling put in a strong performance, Brad Pitt was good i guess, and Christian Bale did a great job also and was probably the best of the bunch. They definitely committed to their roles and each one of their personalities felt different and their characters at times had some very interesting dialogue and things to say. But their performances just couldn't get me invested in what was going on. The humour was well delivered, i laughed a few times, and it was a pretty nice blend of humour into this very serious topic and breathed a bit of fresh air into the film. But for me, after that half way point i just couldn't appreciate any of that stuff anymore because i was so bored from my lack of interest in what was going on. I am not saying this is a god awful movie, and i'm definitely not saying that it doesn't deserve to be nominated for all of those Academy Awards, but if it was up to me, Terminator Genisys would be up for Best Picture before i even consider this.
So if you really want to see this film, go right ahead, you will probably get something out of it that i most certainly did not. If you end up agreeing with me that's great, if you end up completely disagreeing with me then that's even better.
Fun for kids. Fun for fans. Not so much for everyone else.
'Goosebumps' is a Family Adventure/Comedy based on the popular series of books from the 90's written by R.L Stine. In the film, all of the iconic Goosebumps monsters escape from their books and unleash their terror on the world. Now Zach (Dylan Minnette), the new kid in town must team up with R.L Stein (Jack Black) himself and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) to put the evil back where it belongs. I loved the Goosebumps books, they were so scary and entertaining and when i had nothing to read, i'd just crack open 'Night of the Living Dummy' or 'Scarecrow Walks at Midnight' and treat myself to a good scare. This film brings these monsters to life and although they don't get as dark as they do in the books, the way the film manages to balance being kid friendly and quite spooky was really cool. I found this film overall quite entertaining, the characters were mostly very likable, the plot of the film was actually quite interesting and there were some mildly funny moments here and there. But there were some things that weren't that great.
Lets get the bad out of the way. The film i thought went for a generic cop-out when it came to the first 20 minutes of this film, the setup. I felt like i had seen the exact same scenario played out over and over again in hundreds of films, it was like they took this section from every other film and plopped it in front of a Goosebumps movie. Move to a new house, new school, meet the girl and then begins the movie.... i know it's keeping it simple for the kiddies but they could at least look like they tried. My biggest gripe with the film however was one of the secondary characters, Champ, played by Ryan Scott Lee... my god this character was infuriating, he was a complete waste of space, and way too much time was spent on his completely unfunny scenes. He was seriously 100% useless in the entire film, i don't know why he was even there, he wasn't funny, wasn't needed and just made me angry every time he opened his mouth. Right from the moment you first see him you know you're going to hate this kid, and you do. The film would have been SO much better without him, he just sucked the enjoyment out of the film the whole time.
One other thing i was disappointed with but was rather unavoidable was the fact that you don't really get to fully experience more than like 3-5 of Stine's monsters. You get a lot of cameo appearances from the monsters but only 3-5 are featured for a large chunk of the film. I guess when you have hundreds of monsters it is hard to fit them all in one movie so you can't hold it against the film too much. But hey, seeing Slappy the Dummy on the big screen was great, and he is just as scary as in the books, so i guess that was worth it.
The overall plot of the film was really entertaining and managed to keep me interested the whole way through. When i first heard about the synopsis of the film i thought it was a genius idea, and i just hoped that it didn't turn out to suck. But it really worked, it had its fair share of surprises and 'twists' and was hands down a very fun movie to watch. Even the main characters i really liked and i thought the performances were all very well done, from the main 3 characters that is. It isn't often where i get to say i really liked Jack Black's performance but in this film i really liked his version of R.L Stine. It was fun, quirky and fit with the tone of the film so that was really well done. There isn't really much else to say about this film as you should know what you're getting into by now.
So despite some major and some relatively minor grievances the film holds up quite well and is an entertaining family film that appeals more to kids and fans of the books than it does to adults.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler shine in an OK comedy
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler headline this comedy about two sisters who decide to throw one last party in their childhood home before it is sold, and as you can expect, not everything goes as planned. I was pleasantly surprised by this film, only because the initial trailer that came out was absolute GARBAGE, and i thought this would secure a place on my worst of 2015 list. But Fey and Poehler really were the ones holding this film together, they are both really hilarious and watching their back and forth comedic moments were the highlights of the film. In terms of the laughs, there was an alright amount, 98% of which were delivered by Fey and Poehler, and the rest were rare one-offs from secondary characters. The first half of the film is where most of the jokes were successful and then as the film went on there were less of them and they weren't as funny. This film also managed to incorporate themes and messages involving family and all that stuff which i liked for the most part.
The main thing to note is that i cannot see this movie working with anyone else other than Fey and Poehler. Their positive chemistry and the way they are able to bounce jokes off each other (some of which were most likely improv) really carried this film and provided some really enjoyable moments. Unlike, if you had Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara you would have a completely unfunny borefest, besides, who would put them two in a buddy comedy anyway? *cough* Hot Pursuit...... If you like the comedy that you have seen from the two of them in the past such as on SNL or when they hosted the Golden Globes, you will definitely get more of that in this film. One thing that was quite noticeable in the film were the comedic moments that were delivered and probably developed by Fey and Poehler and those that were written for the other characters. While the 'Sisters' offered their fair share of laughs, the secondary characters really didn't do much. There were one or two moments that got me, but it was probably down to the fact that all of the secondary characters were cliché caricatures of the types of people you see in most other comedies.
As i mentioned though, in the second half of the film, when the party has gone on for a while, the film started to go downhill to the point where the last 15 to 20 minutes was just tacked on and felt so forced, it did take me out of it. You could notice that they were starting to run out of ideas of things to do at the party that hadn't been done in every other house party comedy. It got a little chaotic and that may be what they were going for but it took away from the comedy of Fey and Poehler and wasn't as enjoyable as the rest of the film. Also they try to put a dramatic spin on the film that was there the whole time, but it was playing second fiddle to the overall idea of a house party for adults. So stuff happens simply to thrust the dramatic and thematic elements to the forefront and wrap things up quickly. It felt so forced and thrown onto the end of this movie that it almost seemed like the director was like to Fey and Poehler "you've had your fun, now to end the film my way" and so you get a generic uninteresting cliché moral ending..... great. I know they wanted some sort of dramatic plot device but the way it was tacked on made no sense and should have been handled a lot better.
In the end 'Sisters' is simply a showcase of the comedy from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and their back and forth chemistry that makes their content so enjoyable. They provide a good amount of laughs that make the first half of the film quite enjoyable, but as it drops off towards the end it wasn't as enjoyable and ended with some moral crap that you didn't want or need. So see it if you really want to but there's better stuff out there.
The Danish Girl (2015)
Incredibly well acted and highlights a very emotional transformation
'The Danish Girl' is a Romance/Drama Biopic that highlights the story of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener and how their relationship evolves during Lili's transgender transformation. This movie was very emotional, incredibly well acted, fantastically shot and told a very interesting and dramatic story that had me fully engaged pretty much the whole way through. The biggest draw to this film was the inclusion of two of my favourite actors right now, Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. Put one of them in a film and i am most likely going to see it, put both of them in a film and there is no way i'm gonna miss it. Their performances are the real highlights of the film, i feel that Alicia's performance isn't going to be as recognised as Eddie's because he did have a much more complex role and did it amazingly. Redmayne managed to transform into this person to the point where you only saw Lili, it was fantastic to see not only Eddie transform into the character but to also watch Lili's transformation from Einar into her true self. Will Eddie follow up his Oscar win last year with another one? Probably not. But i do see a nomination on the horizon.
The big focus of the film was Lili's emotional journey, and her transformation from a Danish painter to the Danish girl. The topics and themes surrounding transgender people are not so widely talked about or represented today, so it was incredibly interesting to see this film represent those themes and how the idea of being transgender differed in the 1930's from the way it is today. I would have liked the film to go a little more into those complications than it did, but seeing some of it play out was somewhat eye-opening and does raise many questions that are still fairly relevant today. I found this journey very engaging and knowing nothing about the story it is based on made for a very unpredictable plot that surprised me on more than one occasion. Where i would say the film was a bit of a let down was where there were times where i felt like i had already seen similar emotional scenes a few times throughout the film. There were a few moments where it didn't feel like the film was going anywhere, and i think all of that was due to the second act being so long. The first act ends rather early and the third act begins fairly late and the second act was pretty long and did have a few repetitive moments. But when you are very invested in the journey of Lili's character, it didn't matter so much in the film overall.
So in the end this is a very engaging film with a lot of emotion, great performances, is very well shot, and covers many themes related to being transgender that raises a lot of questions for the viewer. This is a vey 'Oscar Bait' film, it is clearly made to hopefully be a contender at the Oscars, and i feel like it may have tried a little too hard to appeal to that audience and it may have suffered in some other areas. But it is still a film i would recommend if romantic dramas are your thing. - 7.9/10
Incredible Stop-Motion work, but a very overrated film
Whether a film is overrated or not is very, very subjective. 'Overrated' is a very strong word and should not be thrown around lightly when trying to describe a film as it will tend to lose its meaning. That being said, this movie is by far the definition of an overrated film, to me. 'Anomalisa' is a Stop-Motion Drama that highlights a day in the troubled life of Michael Stone where something out of the ordinary happens and he explores a relationship with a woman named Lisa. This is an incredibly small film and not many people would have heard of it. But once i did hear of it, seeing all of the incredible reviews it was getting and the 5/5's on the poster made me very intrigued as to what all the fuss was about. And as it turns out, i didn't think this movie was anything more than average, and far from the 'Masterpiece' it is being labeled as. A masterpiece of stop-motion technology? Definitely. But a Masterpiece film it is not.
What this film did incredibly well was it managed to capture human emotions, movements and performances so perfectly that you completely forget you are watching an animation. The way Director Charlie Kaufman brings these figures to life is amazing to see, and the performances he gets out of them are better than what you get from real people. This also brought life to the characters of Michael and Lisa and really allowed you to see them as real people with real distinct personalities. Michael is one of the more realistic and grounded human characters of 2015, he is clearly conflicted and has many flaws but none of them are hidden in favour of the story. I cannot stress enough how much he seems like a real person, that aspect of the film, the character creation, development, and exploration is like nothing i have ever seen in a stop-motion film, so i will give credit where credit is due. But other than that the film didn't have anything to offer.
The storytelling was rather dull, depressing and only had a few moments where it was kinda engaging. When i say 'story' i am really talking about Michael's journey to Cincinnati and the relationship between Michael and Lisa that ensues. It is rather light on story as it is focusing on the characters more, but with the overall tone and the events that occur it does get to some fairly dark and depressing levels that were hard to get into. It takes some kinda interesting turns occasionally and most definitely was not predictable but for the rest of the film i was left wanting more than just impressive Stop-Motion. The film begins and you start asking questions, then it keeps going and you start asking more and more questions whilst only receiving a few ambiguous answers. The reason why i feel this film is going to generate a lot of differing opinions is that it does require quite a bit of thinking on behalf of the viewer to come to a conclusion to what it all means. This is very evident from the directors choice to have David Thewlis voice Michael, Jennifer Jason Leigh voice Lisa, and Tom Noonan voice literally "everyone else". It is definitely an artistic choice and not one based on laziness or budget issues, but it will raise a lot of questions with some people, and just bore others.
So in the end this was an overall disappointing and very overrated film that still had what may be the best use of stop-motion animation i have ever seen. It takes someone with a love for the artistic side of films to really get anything at all out of it, as to any casual movie-goer it will probably come across as a boring mess which is completely understandable. Watch it if you want, form your own opinion, i just hope it doesn't make an impact at the Oscars. - 5.8/10
The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Funny, Emotional, and just an overall enjoyable animated film
'The Peanuts Movie' is a children's Animated Comedy following Charlie Brown and Snoopy as they each go on their own little adventure, one to defeat the evil 'Red Baron' and the other to try and win over the love of his life. Firstly, i really really enjoyed this movie, this was such a pleasant surprise to watch and i had a smile on my face pretty much the whole way through. This was definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, i expected this to be a very childish film that would only appeal to young kids and try to draw in those who grew up with these characters. I really thought i was just going to have to try to survive through it and then be done with it, but i don't believe how much fun i had watching this movie. It was immensely funny, had great emotion, great characters and chemistry, a great score/soundtrack, and an interesting yet repetitive plot that kept me intrigued. My past experiences with 'Peanuts' is limited to knowing basically who Charlie Brown and Snoopy are, and you can definitely still enjoy this even if you don't have an attachment to the property.
One of the biggest things that makes animated movies successful is including elements that an older audience can really enjoy, as 'Pixar' have done so well. And when an animated film doesn't do that it really isn't enjoyable to anyone over like 10, it doesn't mean the film is a failure but it should aim to attract an audience outside of the little kids who are going to see it regardless of what its about. This film accomplished that really well, it was a very charming film with plenty of laughs and many positive and uplifting moments that i couldn't help but to smile at. The animation style combined with many unpredictably funny moments made for a very good time watching this movie. I thought they balanced the use of comedy with the more plot driven, emotional moments very well, and a lot of that was due to Snoopy. Snoopy is such a lovable cute character and whenever he was on screen playing around, they happened to be some of my favourite moments of the film.
The plot of the film was simple and a little predictable in that you knew how it was going to end, but there were a few surprises here and there that i liked and kept me interested. It did get a little repetitive by the last 20 minutes, but being aimed at kids, you can't knock them down that much for a simple and repetitive plot. Somehow i don't think an 'Interstellar' style of plot in a Peanuts movie would go very well. The other thing i really thought was a huge positive for the film was the great score by Christophe Beck. Beck, is in no way a household name when it comes to memorable scores but hearing work like this makes me want to hear more of what he can do. The score was very uplifting and kept a very positive and adventurous tone the whole way through.
In the end, peanuts was an enjoyable movie filled with emotion, funny moments, great characters and a fun time for people of all ages. It had a very positive and light- hearted tone that made this a very fun film and one of the strongest animated films of the year. - 7.8
Amazing central performance in an average film
'Legend' is a Crime Thriller Biopic focusing on the lives of twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray at a time where they were large influences in London's East End during the 1950's and 60's. As a crime thriller/gangster film this had many issues but mainly after the 45 minute mark where the tone almost completely flipped and it tried to be a very serious and dramatic retelling. But the biggest highlight for this film and the main reason to maybe check it out is the dual performance by Tom Hardy as both of the Kray twins. This film is a testament to his incredibly diverse acting ability, as he manages to play these two very distinct characters side by side and make the audience look past the actor and see two very different people. Could a Best Actor Nomination be on the way? I don't think so as the year is already pretty stacked with better performances but i wouldn't be against it. The biggest things this film couldn't get right were A) The tone they were going for, and B) What the overall focus of the film was.
Firstly, the overall tone of this film was all over the place, it was quite focused in the first 45 minutes apart from 1 or 2 scenes but after that it flips and i kinda lost interest for a lot of the film. The film starts, and it has a pretty quirky tone, there is a blend of some gangster elements and it is introducing the characters, but there is also this very comedic undertone that had me laughing unexpectedly quite a bit. I was really enjoying the film and also confused as i didn't expect a crime thriller to be this funny, and so my hopes for the rest of the film went way up. But then at the 45 minute mark, it seemed as though the person in charge of writing the humour left the film, as that element was completely lost all the way until the credits rolled. I'm not saying it should have been that humorous the whole way through but to go from what it was to just a straight up crime film was quite jarring and i didn't enjoy the film as much as i should. Even after this section where it ditched the comedic tones, it still struggled with whether it was more of a drama or more of a thriller, it never really blended the two together and just jumped back and forth. Maybe this was a flaw, or maybe it was intentional as the film does deal with a paranoid schizophrenic and it did help to keep the film very unpredictable.
The other thing was the overall focus of the film. The parts of the film i absolutely loved seeing was definitely the brotherly relationship between Ronald and Reginald. I thought how they interacted together and the way they treated each other at various points throughout the film was very interesting and whenever the film was focusing on them i was completely engaged. But there were times in the film where it felt like the primary focus was with Reginald and the girl he has taken a liking to, i didn't mind that side plot but it would have fit more in moderation. There were times where it started to take over the film and i just wanted to get back to the Krays and so i was getting a little uninterested. The third act also felt quite rushed, there were quite a few moments where the film jumps in time so quickly and it took me a few minutes to realise what the hell was going on.
But even though the film seems to be very flawed, there were very interesting dynamics explored with Ronald and Reginald's relationship, and the way the romance in the film occasionally tied in to this main plot i thought was interesting. There were some very interesting moments and events that happen involving the Krays, but i felt like the film didn't give me enough to really understand their influence on London at the time and why they were so notorious. There were hints of it throughout, but despite the characters being interesting, the story itself wasn't as compelling as i wanted it to be.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Spielberg delivers another incredible dialogue driven film
'Bridge of Spies'.. A Drama/Spy Thriller Biopic.. Directed by Steven Spielberg.. Written by the Coen Brothers.. Starring Tom Hanks.. Seriously, this film deserves WAY more love and attention than it got. This film told the story of James Donovan, a lawyer who defended a captured Soviet spy and was then thrown into the middle of the Cold War where he was responsible for organising an exchange: a captured US pilot for a Soviet spy. This was an incredible movie all across the board, Spielberg as usual has done a fantastic job at directing this film and Tom Hanks puts in one of the performances of his career (It seems as though everything he does is 'one of the performances of his career') as they tell this story in the most captivating way possible. One thing you must know about this film and the thing i loved the most about it is that this is, from start to finish, is a dialogue driven film with fantastic visuals to make you feel like you are in East Berlin. You don't get any high stakes action scenes, and no fast paced violent depictions of the Cold War, this is a very focused story about one man and his mission to organise a trade between two opposing governments.
And at first it may seem rather boring, you may ask; How are they going to fill 2 hours and 20 minutes with conversations and discussions about a trade for two men in a 'Spy Thriller'? Well by utilising amazing and incredible dialogue, they manage to capture your attention at every moment and you are fully engaged the whole time so that the film goes by really quickly. I cannot express enough, how amazing the dialogue is to be able to carry the film all the way through without needing any big exciting events. The dialogue is so smart that you start picking up on the little hints that tie in to things said an hour prior and start noticing moments of foreshadowing and it only goes to show the amount of attention and thought from the Coen Brothers that went into crafting the dialogue in the film. There are a few scenes in the film where Spielberg creates the feeling of tension extremely well without using any dialogue or little music, just visuals. These relatively quiet moments were so powerful and managed to get the message across without any exposition, that it is another testament to Spielberg's incredibly diverse directing abilities.
Tom Hanks was just absolutely amazing in this film as James Donovan. This film showed why he remains as one of my favourite actors of all time. Especially in these dramatic roles, the way he embodies the character and their traits and personality, you never feel like he is just playing the same character over and over. The dialogue alone isn't enough to captivate an audience, you need a top tier actor to put in a stellar performance and make it all seem believable, imagine Adam Sandler delivering the same lines, it simply would not work, and would just turn into a shitty comedy. Tom Hanks it seems can be anyone, need a Captain Phillips? Walt Disney? James Donovan? Hanks is your go-to guy. If i was to pick out anything i think could have been done better i would be nit-picking because it is a variation of minor stuff. But there is a brief moment around a third of the way into the film where there is a shift in the overall focus of the film and i thought it happened a little too quick and would liked to have seen it drawn out a little, but seriously, just a fairly minor thing.
So in the end, this is a film you should definitely check out, a Dramatic, Suspenseful Spy Thriller that takes out the big action set-pieces and replaces them with interesting and captivating dialogue delivered by Tom Hanks to perfection.
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Disappointing, Average, and way too many parallels to another Disney classic
'The Good Dinosaur' is the latest film from wonderful Pixar studios, and their second one this year after 'Inside Out'. It is a very light-hearted family friendly film that follows a dinosaur who gets lost from home, makes friends with a little human and goes on an adventure... a rather uneventful adventure. Pixar are known for their striking visuals, great themes and morals, fantastic humour, memorable characters, and their incredible ability to craft unique and original stories. Well, the visuals definitely deliver, some of the themes and morals were fairly strong, the humour is kinda present, the characters were OK, but where this movie completely dropped the ball was in the originality and storytelling department. This movie was supposed to be released way back in 2013 and has since been riddled with many issues and problems that ultimately did have an effect on the quality of the film. The film was pushed back to 2014, where there were lots of re-writes to the point where the director and producer left the film, making the final product completely different to what it was originally going to be. It was pushed back to 2015 due to more story issues and it is definitely visible in the final result.
I will start with the positives, this movie is probably Pixar's best looking film to date, the visuals of everything from the dinosaurs, to the nature and landscapes and even the weather effects were so beautiful and stunning that it really does suck you into this animated world. Everything was so perfectly polished that it looked very realistic whilst also incorporating Pixar's signature animation style that only gets better and better with every new property. In terms of the performances i thought it was just average, pretty much the whole film is led by performances by young child actors and none of them really did anything great with the performances. I thought the best of the performances were by Steve Zahn and Sam Elliott who gave their secondary characters very distinct and interesting personalities that i wanted to see more of. It isn't really the kids' faults as they are probably very inexperienced but still, there was nothing great about their performances.
This movie, like pretty much all other Pixar films deals with certain themes or morals that are designed to allow viewers of various age groups to connect with the film on a more personal level. This film deals with the obvious ones like family and belonging, but also goes into confidence, and overcoming fears, and i quite like how they were handled in the film. None of them were force fed to you and they play out naturally over the course of the film so it feels very natural. The film does incorporate some humour but pretty much all of it is suited for young kids, there isn't much for older audiences and that is a real shame coming from a studio like Pixar. And even then, there wasn't much in this film that even kids will find particularly humorous. There were a few moments that were very cute, but no real laugh out loud funny moments that would get the whole audience laughing.
As i mentioned, the biggest thing wrong with this film was the lack of originality and a plot that was very basic for Pixar's standards, and something we had seen in other films. The film hits a lot of the same plot points as other animated films, most notably, 'The Lion King'. And i'm not talking about a few scenes that were reminiscent of events in 'The Lion King', i'm talking about 3/4 of this film pretty much being a semi- reboot of the iconic 1994 film. There were so many parallels to draw between the films that it honestly did seem very lazy because they had to know whilst writing this that it was strikingly similar to 'The Lion King'. Not everything in the first 3/4 of the film is taking from Simba's adventures as there are scenes and sequences and events that occur that does differentiate the two. But overall, as a main concept it hits many of the same beats and did make me lose interest at times because i felt like i had seen this before just with more interesting characters and more depth to the story.
In the end, 'The Good Dinosaur' is a very average film and a step down when you consider the quality of Pixar's other memorable films. Kids will get a lot more out of it than adults, i hope.... as the humour for a wider audience isn't really there. The many similarities to 'The Lion King' for me was a huge strike against the film but i managed to still come out of it having seen a decent/average movie. - 6.2
Fantastic performances, and Villenueve directs another great film
"In Mexico SICARIO means Hit-man"
'Sicario' is an Action Thriller / Crime Drama that follows an FBI agent who gets thrown into a war against the drug cartels operating along the border of the US and Mexico. Apart from the stellar cast leading the film, i was most excited to see this film because of it being directed by Denis Villenueve. For those of you who don't know, he directed 2013's 'Prisoners' and 2014's 'Enemy', both are incredibly fantastic films that were directed to near perfection and you should definitely check out. This was still a fantastically directed film by Villenueve, but compared to those films i just mentioned, this one has many other flaws that didn't make it quite as intense as i hoped it would be from seeing the trailers. If you are looking for a fast paced, high octane action thriller, this is not it. Much like his previous films, this is a very character driven story where the film at times is carried on the backs of the amazing performances by Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. Despite these praises, there are elements of the film that i didn't enjoy and harmed my overall experience with the film.
The film started off very promising, it showed off some some of the thriller elements whilst also introducing our characters and the main overall plot of the film which was pretty meh up until the last third of the film. I was initially intrigued by what was going on and wanted to find out more about what is really going on behind the scenes, especially with Del Toro's character. But for almost the entire second act of the film, i found myself checking my phone a few times because it dragged on and on and didn't look to be ending any time soon. It had some short moments that were quite interesting in terms of character development and getting me a little more interested in the plot. But overall, the second act wasn't all that compelling to watch like the rest of the film was. I feel like they tried to do a lot to set up the finale, and just the way it was structured became an issue for me. A lot of scenes didn't quite make sense and took me out of it a bit. It all ran at a fairly slow pace which i was expecting but there were no dramatic or intense tones to get me engaged with what was going on, apart from one or two moments. A lot of this middle section relied purely on the performances of Blunt, Brolin, and Del Toro, and even though they were fantastic it wasn't enough to make me enjoy this section. It's hard to explain, but just a lot of the writing in this section looks and sounds good on paper, but the execution wasn't great.
That being said, the last 30 minutes of this movie....... SPECTACULAR. Not going to give anything away but it all hits the fan from a storytelling standpoint, a character standpoint and an action thriller standpoint and this really saved the film for me. All of the little bits and pieces that were set up throughout the film come full circle and you realise a lot of things that maybe didn't make sense earlier make total sense now, such as 'why is the film even called Sicario?....... **You know what, stuff this, i'm gonna revoke some of the things i have mentioned so far MID REVIEW but not edit it out, because thinking about the end, and then thinking about what happened earlier is making me realise that this film was a lot smarter and well crafted than i thought it was 5 minutes ago. I obviously can't talk about any of the things i am thinking about, but this is probably going to make me watch it again like i did with 'Prisoners' and 'Enemy', and i reckon i might enjoy it more the second time, only time will tell.
But as i mentioned before, the performances of Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro were all absolutely fantastic. I am not necessarily surprised because they are all incredible actors but in this film when they came together no-one took anything away from the others' performances. One did stand out well above the others but it didn't make me love the other performances less, if anything each performance added to the others. There is also quite a bit of talent in the supporting roles but due to the scope of these three large actors always commanding the screen they will most likely go largely unnoticed.
In the end, Sicario is a film that definitely not everyone will appreciate. It is more than an action thriller and incorporates great amounts of drama, and plenty of intense moments. The second act of the film whilst watching it did really hurt my enjoyment of the film in the moment, but as i mentioned, it didn't bother me nearly as much and i actually now praise some of the decisions they made. If you like Villenueve's previous films this one is not quite up to par but you can still see a lot of his signature all over this film and that is what i enjoyed about it. - 7.2
A fun and enjoyable adventure that deserves more love
'Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" is a zombie horror/comedy that well, pits a group of scouts against a zombie apocalypse.... pretty self explanatory. The title alone should give you a really good idea about the type of film you are going to get, a very campy zombie comedy that isn't fussed with what people would really do. For me, i really wasn't expecting much at all from this film, the trailer looked OK and i was expecting to book in an average horror comedy, but i really enjoyed this movie. Was it incredibly original? No, it follows a lot of the usual beats that you tend to find in these zombie apocalypse comedies. So where it can't perform in original storytelling it has to excel in the comedy and horror elements, and i thought it did a good job at that consistently after the 30 minute mark. There were some kinda funny moments, some really funny moments and a few horror elements thrown in there. Overall it was actually a really fun time.
I will start with the first 30 minutes of the film which wasn't that good at all. It spent the opening 30 minutes introducing a tonne of characters and hinting at many things that would come into play later on whilst also just teasing the presence of zombies in a few scenes. It was really starting to drag on as nothing of interest was happening except for a few small laughs here and there. The biggest thing that got me through this opening was the characters and also the performances behind them. I really liked the chemistry that the trio of scouts had, it made for some really funny and entertaining moments and made you care about them. Even the secondary characters and their interactions with the scout trio were pretty fun to watch. But this opening was just all over the place and oddly paced and should have been condensed down to 20 minutes to get straight to the point of the film quickly. But once the zombie apocalypse rather abruptly arrives, the fun begins.
From the moment you find out the zombie apocalypse has really begun, the silliness of the film takes over and i loved every minute of it. This film clearly doesn't take anything seriously and that was the best part. The way they react to the zombies and choose to deal with them throughout the film makes for some really really funny moments. There was one moment in the film, without spoiling anything major where a zombie joins in to a Britney Spears musical number and i completely lost it. It was hilarious, and although it was only short i wanted it to keep going, it came out of nowhere and was probably my favourite part of the film. Also just the distinct personalities of these characters play off each other really well and as a result you also get some surprisingly interesting character development throughout. Who thought i would be praising character development in a silly zombie comedy.
In terms of the horror, it wasn't scary at any point because of the overall tone of the film being very silly, but there were a couple of tense zombie moments broken up by some more campy humour. But even though there wasn't any horror, the fact that the film uses practical effects for what i thought was like 98% of the film was not only really impressive for how good it looked but it also made everything better to watch. The fact that you see these zombies getting smashed up and it is all using practical effects with blood splatters made it really gory and it looked real and disgusting as oppose to a bunch of CGI crap.
In the end, this was a really fun, enjoyable movie after the first 30 minutes with plenty of humour to go around. The use of makeup, puppets and other practical effects helped to make the film more gory and realistically exaggerated violent. If you are a fan of zombie horror/comedies such as Zombieland it is definitely a good watch. - 6.8
More or less the same crap, thankfully its now over
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the sixth and final instalment in the franchise that once played a big part in starting the found footage craze that seemed to almost take over the horror genre entirely. But thankfully this trend is dying out rapidly and we can finally put this thing to rest that should have ended after the second one back in 2010. Everyone is familiar with this series by now and you know exactly what you are going to get, so it really does leave no room for surprises when you are six films in. For the most part the film follows the exact same formula as the previous films and as a result, the scares don't make much of an impact anymore. The jump-scares are terrible and predictable and ruin whatever tension the film tries to occasionally set up. Of course you have yet another possessed child who can see things other cant, cameras left in rooms overnight, loud noises and blah blah blah, all the same stuff you have seen before.
The horror elements in this film were not really effective. They were predictable jump- scares and an overuse of CGI that was more spooky than it was terrifying. But, there were some moments that despite being used over and over were actually quite chilling and creepy. Those moments that had no jump-scares and no sudden loud bangs actually got me enjoying the film momentarily. When it was more calm and it just had a very creepy tone like you are waiting for something to happen and some creepy imagery shows up or passes by that is what was successfully creepy. But there were very few of those moments. Small things like the moment in the trailer where the girls on the T.V say 'bless you' to the girl watching the T.V was very very creepy and if there was more of that i would have enjoyed the film a lot more.
Also, the tagline for this film is "For the first time you will see the activity", which i really hate. Now i know that one of the biggest complaints from people is that in the whole film nothing happens, and you don't actually see what is happening and everyone wants to actually see the demon not just things moving around. But the fact that you don't actually see the 'Paranormal Activity' is what made the films very effective. Look at how terrifying 'The Babadook' was. Now i get they wanted to change things up a bit but it was totally unnecessary as it didn't make people enjoy the film anymore. Take note people, sometimes what you think you want to see, you don't actually want to see. And because they chose to 'show the activity' you have this CGI effect that shows up throughout the film that isn't scary and takes you out of it completely. Despite what people wanted, they should have stuck with the really low budget, and minimal to no CGI. The film also loses points for the way it handled the last 15 minutes or so, because (((MINOR SPOILERS IN BRACKETS (((((( It turns into a found footage exorcism film with a CGI extravaganza and felt very odd compared to the rest of the film)))))))).
I have to give the film some credibility because i thought it did an alright job at attempting to tie up the loose ends left by the earlier films in the series regarding Katie, Kristi, and Hunter. The only problem with this is that honestly, no-one really gave a crap about what happens to them. People only watched the films for the cheap jump-scares, no-one was going in wondering 'where is Hunter??' or leaving asking 'what happened to the little girls???' It was something that when stuff was being explained in the film i was thinking that it was cool that they stuck to finishing off the loose story they had going on, but i really didn't care and just wanted to be scared some more. But as i said, points for trying.
So is this going to change the game and spark a new interest in found footage horror films?? No. If anything this is going to hopefully cement the fact that this sub-genre is dead and it should never happen again. If you just want some cheap scares and you like the idea of jump-scares then go ahead and check it out i guess. - 4.1/10
Sleeping with Other People (2015)
A surprisingly fun Romantic Comedy with very likable characters
'Sleeping With Other People' is a romantic/sex comedy starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. It focuses on their relationship and the events and circumstances that force the way they interact to change. I went into this film expecting to get an unoriginal, formulaic rom-com with mildly entertaining humour at the most, and unlikeable characters. But i was pleasantly surprised by this film, now it is no game- changing rom-com but i actually enjoyed watching this almost the whole way through. This movie had the comedy in some capacity, it had the romance, the sex, and a basic plot, but it was the likable characters that tied the whole thing together.
Rom-Com's nowadays seem to recycle the same overused jokes and comedic moments and it just makes for a dreadful movie because you know the punchline before it hits. But here we had multiple pretty funny moments spread throughout the film that got me to laugh quite a few times. There was no moment that got me crying of laughter but a lot of these moments are worth a good laugh because i didn't see them coming. Is it void of bad ineffective jokes? No. It has its misses here and there and it has a few comedic sequences that last for around a minute too long, but i laughed on more occasions than not. One thing i would say is that to me it didn't feel consistently funny, like, there weren't long 20 minute sections where it focused on the humour alone, it switched between romantic and comedic moments constantly, occasionally bringing them together. The romance i did like in this film, i was interested seeing how the scenes with Sudeikis and Brie together played out and also how the scenes played out when they were separated. It was handled well, was balanced well with comedic moments and the big driver for my interest in the romance was the characters.
Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) were quite interesting characters and also very likable. They both seemed like fun, lively people and even though they get a little silly here and there, they seem pretty grounded and it helped to keep me interested in the film. Even though the plot was fairly basic, because these characters were interesting and not made dumb just to get some cheap jokes it made the plot seem more unique and different and i really liked that. I would have liked this movie more and given it a higher score if it wasn't for the last 10 minutes or so where i felt the film lost that uniqueness and went all unoriginal. I thought it was finishing off on a strong note until it went for a cliché predictable ending that really annoyed me and did have an affect on my overall enjoyment.
In the end, this was a fairly good romantic comedy. It had a few issues with the comedy but overall it got me to laugh quite a few times throughout, the romantic story was interesting enough and the characters were very likable. Some pacing issues and a crappy ending bring it down but overall it was enjoyable. - 6.1
The Walk (2015)
A slow start leads to an Intense and Grippingly Realistic Finale
One of the things i hate the most happens to be heights/high falls..... This is the closest i'm going to get to facing that in real life. Anyway, to the review. 'The Walk' is a Drama Biopic about Philippe Pettit, the man who made it his mission, his dream, to walk on a wire between the World Trade Centre Towers in August 1974. This was a story that i had not heard about until this movie was announced, and when i heard of the premise, i thought it sounded very interesting and being directed by Robert Zemeckis only increased my intrigue. This movie looked really dramatic and suspenseful from the trailer, and was it? Well..... yes and no. The movie has a very slow burn, it started off quite flat and the entire first act was filled with introduction and setup that wasn't that interesting. The second act is where the film picks up and i started getting pretty interested in the story and just how Pettit was going to pull off this feat. But the third act is where the film hits its peak, the last 30 minutes or so was intense, edge-of-seat stuff that had me frozen with fear, but was it enough to make up for the slow build.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Philippe Pettit and although i do like him as an actor, he really didn't work in this role. Some of his performance was definitely convincing and dramatic at the big moments in the film but at all other times his performance was just distracting. My biggest issue was with the French accent he tries to put on, lets be honest, it was not good, like at all. It bothered me in the trailer and at the beginning of the film but i hoped that as the film went on i would get used to it and it would become part of the character.... Nope, it was obviously fake and distracting at the beginning and it was obviously fake and distracting at the end. It would initially seem like a minor gripe but it did take me out of the film quite a bit, especially during the first two acts, so it was a disappointment. My other issue was with the decision to structure part of the film as a narration, where you have sections that are just showing Gordon-Levitt narrating the current situation or hinting at what will happen next. These scenes really were quite pointless, they break up any of the tension that the film is trying to build up and what is described in these scenes you could have understood from the scenes preceding it and following it. I guess Zemeckis was going for something a little different but the film would have benefited more without those scenes.
Like i mentioned, the majority of the first act was rather flat; there wasn't really anything of interest going on. There were a few short moments focusing on his journey into the art of 'tightrope walking'(?) that i kinda liked and were alright scenes. The second act is where a lot of the build up was happening and it was feeling much like a heist film where you have intense planning stages and testing and where the stakes for later are introduced. I do like a good heist film, so this second act was very refreshing and definitely added to the big finale. And what a finale it was. It was grand, and tense and it really was a spectacle to see how it looked from the roof of the World Trade Centre. The visuals were incredible and you felt like you were hovering 110 floors above ground, sweaty palms and all. That final sequence was incredible and enhanced my overall experience watching this film. Also, the cinematography combined with the great visual effects made for a very visually beautiful film that was very cool to look at even when nothing really was going on.
So in the end, 'The Walk' suffers mainly from a slow first act and a distracting French accent. But the heist-like second act and the intense jaw-dropping finale make up for the early woes and the result is a good film that was worth watching if you are at all interested in the story. - 7.3
A good kids film, but a not so great family film
'Pan' is the story of a young orphan who finds himself on a magical adventure in Neverland and eventually grows into the legend known as Peter Pan. I personally thought the trailer for this film looked pretty cool, after seeing it 20 times it looked like this was going to be a huge, spectacular, fun adventure film that was going to have a light-hearted but slightly dark tone. And after seeing it, i have to say that it really wasn't that great and was quite disappointing actually. The biggest thing to point out is that this isn't as much of a family film as i thought it was going to be, it definitely is more of a kids film that those aged 10 to 15 would enjoy the most. The performances were OK, save for Hugh Jackman who was understandably the stand-out role. Some characters were a little too comical and over exaggerated, and i believe it was more the fault of the writers rather than the actors. The plot was structured pretty well and i thought it was easy enough to follow and moved at a relatively steady pace, good for the audience it was aiming for.
Firstly, the CGI in this film i thought was mostly pretty impressive, and it needed to be because at least 90% of this film is just CGI. There were some really cool shots of the various locations in Neverland and i gotta say i really liked that aspect of the film. Although you know it is all completely fake, it still does suck you into the world. There were a few moments though where the CGI was a little too much and did take me out of the scene. Most of this was during the action sequences where you had a lot of stuff going on and the screen got very busy. There was one moment especially, in the Tribal area, that was so obviously fake it just looked very wrong and took me out of the film completely for the next 5 minutes or so. So the CG effects were definitely one of the highlights of the film for me.
Performance wise the film was just average overall. I didn't mind Levi Miller's performance as Peter Pan, he did a fine job leading the film and had some pretty good individual moments where his potential talents came through. Hey, the kid's a good cryer. Garret Hedlund as the infamous pirate Captain Hook was one of the low-points of the film for me. I really don't think it was Hedlund who chose to act that way, i think it was written in the character and he took me out of the film a few times. His rendition of Hook was comical and was just very exaggerated in his line deliveries and actions, and that was one of the aspects i thought just didn't fit in with the rest of the film. There is another character who shows up occasionally and is there purely to serve the purpose of comic relief, but it was all humour for young kids and just didn't interest me or make me laugh. Hugh Jackman as i mentioned was really good as Blackbeard in this film, he is such a versatile actor who can play a wide range of characters and definitely had the standout performance. Overall he felt like the most grounded character but even then he did have some moments that were slightly out of character and also a little comical.
One final problem i had with the film was with some of the dialogue that was very very unnatural and felt forced at times where i just wasn't buying into their conversations. Like, there were some lines in the trailer that worked well in the trailer, but in the film, as i mentioned, they felt thrown in there just to be used later on in the trailer. So yeh the dialogue wasn't great. Bust despite what i didn't like i have to say the film did have some somewhat entertaining moments. I was never completely engaged in what was going on but i thought the film was consistently average from start to finish. There were no sequences i HATED and no sequences i really LOVED, it was all just average the whole way through so i guess it did well at focusing in on that younger audience who would love the film more than others. - 4.8/10
Plenty of better Spy Thrillers out there, go watch those...
'Spectre' is the 24th Bond film and the 4th film starring Daniel Craig as the infamous agent 007. Now for me when it comes to the James Bond films, i was never a big fan, but i lost almost all interest when i couldn't get through 'Quantum of Solace' and i didn't even bother with 'Skyfall'. And going into this film i expected nothing new, just the same generic Bond formula we have seen over and over again. This film overall was just boring, it had some entertaining moments but for most of the film it came across as very dry compared to some of the other Spy Thrillers from this year and last. There were moments where i had to really try to stay awake because most of this film wasn't even interesting let alone exciting. And it didn't have anything to do with me missing the last 2 films as the majority of the connections are only minor side- things and the few major ones are shoved down your throat enough to make sure you get it. The film wasn't all bad though, there were a couple of cool action sequences that were well done and kept me up, a great performance by Christoph Waltz, and what i thought was a very good last 30 minutes.
First i have to say, this film was just too damn long. 2 hours and 28 minutes is good for some films but not for this one, should have kept it down to 2 hours or less. I found that many many times this film was just dragging on and on and i was dying for something exciting to happen. And this wasn't just during non-action scenes. The first 30 minutes or more, including the opening sequence was just a bore, apart from like one or two quick cool moments the rest felt like generic bond stuff that wasn't exciting to me. Some people might have loved the opening fight sequence but for me it wasn't intense, new or interesting and so the film started out on a low note. From then on, any scene featuring Christoph Waltz worked really well and a few action scenes were cool. There is one fight on a train which i really enjoyed, all 3 minutes of it, but other than that, the rest of the action throughout was pretty meh. The biggest issue had to be its pacing, it would constantly fluctuate from being dreadfully slow to really fast paced sequences and back in ways that felt a little jarring. And the slow pace definitely out-did the fast moving sections in terms of their duration making the movie feel like 3 hours.
The performances in this film were mostly just alright, the Bond girl in the film played by Lea Seydoux was serviceable to the plot when she needed to be and wasn't anything great. Daniel Craig was fine as Bond again, no surprises with him really. Ralph Fiennes returns as M in this film and i thought he was one of the better performances and one of the more interesting characters. He is such a great actor and so was really engaging and made me just as interested in his journey as i was in Bond's. But the best performance was undoubtedly Christoph Waltz as our Bond villain. He was by far the most intriguing character in the film and for the entire film i was just wanting more of his character. Mainly because he could have very easily been an evil 'I want to rule the world' type of villain but wasn't really. He was a very smart villain, and had some interesting motivations and an interesting past i would have liked to learn more about. Christoph Waltz is just such a fantastic actor in any role and he shows that here where he steals the film from James Bond.
This film would have been a disaster if it wasn't for the ending sequence that i thought was really great. It was very engaging, intense, and dramatic, everything the rest of the film should have been. I won't go into any spoilers but it had to be noted that it did save the film from being way worse. So in the end, as a Bond film, it really wasn't anything new or interesting that you hadn't seen before. It doesn't come close to Casino Royale which i thought was really good. But if you are a Bond fan, you will probably be more interested in the film than i was. If you are looking for a better spy thriller, watch 'Mission Impossible Rogue Nation', or 'Kingsman: The Secret Service', even 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' is more worth your time. - 5.1/10