Friday, 17 November 2017

Justice League (Review)

'Justice League' is a superhero action film which stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Henry Cavill. This film is directed by Zack Snyder.

Like many superhero films, Justice League has been the subject of much anticipation and dread. Each exciting news released is soon met with a red label warning of how much of a mess it will be. It's no secret that DC had been struggling with critics and audiences alike, but public opinion has since changed with this year's 'Wonder Woman', so naturally people are split weather to be excited about this or dread it's release it multiplexes everywhere.

The truth is that this film feel a lot more balanced than one would expect, whether it be a positive or negative aspect of the film, the tone is always confident which is what my largest worry was. The 2 hour run time seems very restrictive for a film of this scale, yet this works both as a blessing and a curse, the positive is that the film is fast paced and each scene feels urgent and essential, yet with a rushed narrative which spends too little building character development. At first when I saw 'BVS' I felt that the world building and visual effects were bad because they didn't look realistic, but watching this film, with it's lighter tone the world fits in naturally with the story that is being presented. As far as the characters are concerned Batman, Wonder Woman and Flash are fleshed out the most, Aquaman has some good scenes, but it's Cyborg who is stuck without much meaningful and memorable dialog, but he's given heavy exposition to explain who he is. As a team, the characters play well off each other and provide the film with some of it's best scenes. The performances are of a good and memorable quality especially from the likes of Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller. The action sequences are very fun to watch because they dial them up to 11 here, if you want realism, you won't find it in this film, but for the type of film it is, it's all the better for it. Most surprising of all is that despite the amount of time Superman is on-screen, he is far more interesting to watch then he is in previous DC installments.

Overall, 'Justice League' is not a runaway success and is problematic, but yet this film doesn't feel like a hot mess unlike 'BVS' and 'Suicide Squad', it's an entertaining film which is serviceable, but disposable, but it was a fairly enjoyable watch nevertheless.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Death of Stalin (Review)

'The Death of Stalin' is a satirical black comedy film which stars Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend and Jason Isaacs. This film is directed by Armando Iannucci.

In the same fashion as films such as 'Dr. Strangelove' and Iannucci's own "In the Loop", 'The Death of Stalin' takes dark subject matter and turns it on it's head with slick dry comedy and a pitch black sense of humour. The film is held first and foremost by the brilliant comedic forces of it's actors. The talented performances in this film are first rate, each actor is remarkably skilled at bringing out the most humour without becoming too broad or over theatrical. Steve Buscemi gives one of his best performances in recent memory as the quick talking, weasely, but manipulative First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev. Jason Isaacs plays Georgy Zhukov in an unexpected, but priceless performance as a masculine no-nonsense northerner.

If you were expecting a historically and culturally accurate film, then you maybe confused as to why all the Russian characters have distinctive British and American accents, once you start to settle into the tone of the film you begin to understand why director Armando Iannucci has made this decision. In terms of tone it feels like a mix between 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'House of Cards' as odd as a mix that sounds it works excellently to create the absurd world that is satirising one not too dissimilar.

The writing, performances and direction make 'The Death of Stalin' a film which whatever your political opinion maybe, laugh at the flawed and desperate nature of the characters, which we can all relate to in one way or another. While I don't have any real criticisms of the film, the film does not leave you on a high note, which is hard to complain about because of the subject matter, but for a comedy, despite all the laughs, the ending did make me feel quite low, however I think on multiple viewings I may grow to like it more.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 27 October 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (Review)

'Thor: Ragnarok' is a superhero fantasy film which stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett and Mark Ruffalo. This film is directed by Taika Waititi.

Any competition is already green with envy with the early success of this new chapter of the MCU cannon. Marvel knew that their new superhero film would need a little something special to compete with DC's upcoming Justice League and that is to dial the style up to eleven by hiring New Zealand director Taika Waititi, his zany flair was a sure fire guarantee for some needed originality.

To my surprise and admitted disappointment, the film was not as visually crazy as it was marketed to be, the film certainly has it's eye catching moments of style, but despite the hype, Marvel has already made more visually captivating films with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The main different between this film and the other Marvel film's is that it plays as more of a comedy than previous avengers related films, for the most part it's successful in creating an amusing and entertaining story with a good amount of character development for it's main characters. For me the highlight is seeing Thor and Hulk/Bruce Banner conversing with each other, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo have a good comedic chemistry between each other which makes the characters all the more human, despite their characters god-like capabilities.

If some of you were hoping for a compelling villain then turn away because you won't find one here. Although Cate Blanchett tries here best at hamming up her performance, the writing is just not there for her to play a villain that you are interested in, plus the fact that each opportunity for her to be threatening is bundled because the film is pushing the humour as far as it can go, even in places were it hurts the tone.

 Overall 'Thor: Ragnarok' is a film which fits in slightly above average marvel fare with fun moments, good pacing, but again another weak villain. it's well made fun and uplifting entertainment, but it's a film which I doubt I'll remember in the future.

Rating: 7/10

Jigsaw (Review)

'Jigsaw' is a horror film and is the 8th installment to the 'Saw' franchise. This film stars Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, ClĂ© Bennett, and Hannah Emily Anderson. This film is directed by the Spierig Brothers.

After a 7 year break the 'Saw' franchise is back with a  sequel which plans to revitalise the franchise into a new era. While no one seems to be excited for this new era, I went in with an open mind and I felt quite excited about seeing the Jigsaw killer return to cinemas, mostly because mainstream horror films have focused more on the supernatural side rather than violent homicidal maniacs and to be honest I prefer my horror films to be about the latter.

From my critical stand point 'Jigsaw' is not a good film. It's writing is clumsy, the acting is sub-par and the story, while admittedly makes more of an effort than previous saw films, it eventually becomes a quite convoluted and cartoonish.

With that being said though, if you know what your expectations should be from the saw sequels then you'll probably have a good time. The pacing is good, the traps are fun in a blood-lust sort of way and are more plausible than in previous films (except the first). The music works well and the production is fairly impressive. Above all though, the filmmakers actually tried to make something a little different and I think praise should be given, although not all of it sticks there a some ideas in there which are put to effective use. The film has a sense of self awareness and dark humour that the other ones lack and while I usually find postmodernism to be forced and annoying in recent films, I felt that the film really needed it to make the experience more enjoyable.

Overall it's not, from a critical stand point 'a good movie', but it's one of the better installments from the franchise (the best since Saw II) and despite it's flaws I found it to be enjoyable and entertaining.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 (Review)

'Blade Runner 2049' is a Neo-Noir Science Fiction film which is also a sequel of the 1982 film 'Blade Runner'. This film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and is directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Every person I know who is a sci-fi nerd has seen Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, it's become a right of passage viewing for anyone wanting to make a science fiction film. I for one felt underwhelmed by it, again like many films it felt over-hyped for me. I loved the visuals and atmosphere, but I wasn't as engaged in the story.

Now the sequel is finally here and the buzz is almost deafening, which is why I avoided all reviews before seeing this film. Denies Villeneuve is one of the most praised filmmakers in Hollywood right now and rightly so, with the likes of 'Arrival' and 'Sicario' to name a few, he has made some of the most intelligent blockbusters of recent memory, multiply him with the talents of Ryan Gosling, returning Harrison Ford, a Hans Zimmer score and the cinematography of Rodger Deakins? I'm in.

This film is visually astonishing and I don't use that word lightly. Deakins cinematography is so good that it's hard to even believe a human being can achieve it. The use of colour, the use of shadow and the framing not only looks impeccable, but also fits the atmosphere beautifully. Deakins, Villeneuve and Zimmer are all working at the top of their craft, creating one of the most atmospheric films to date. The visual effects are some of the most impressive you will see in any film, it's honestly outstanding. I could not even tell you most of what is practical and what is CG in this film. The best asset this film has is the display of pure talent that from it's filmmakers.

However, despite the impressive technical aspects of the film I found it quite hard to engage in the story of the film, there are points in the story which completely drew me in, however more often than not I felt uninterested in the events going on. This may be due to the films pacing, as the film has to do a balancing act between the story, themes and characters. If the film had a simpler story, but had a larger focus of the themes and characters then I feel like I would be more engaged. The film does make a good effort to be more thematic and character based in the second half, which is the parts of the story I felt more engaged in, however I wish the film was almost entirely thematic and ditched the heavy handed plot. I know that wouldn't please most people, but for me it's difficult to be invested in a plot which feels rather uneven.

Overall Blade Runner is a sequel that I mostly enjoyed and think clearly succeeds as it is true to the original, while exploring it's world further. For me I like it as much as the first. Both films I have a lot of respect and admiration for, however I am not blown away by either of them. Underwhelming? maybe, but very far removed from disappointing.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Victoria & Abdul (Review)

'Victoria & Abdul' is a British biographical period comedy drama which stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal. This film is directed by Stephen Frears.

Living in a country with a proud history of monarchs it's no surprise that a film about one of the most celebrated is so heavily advertised, especially when the film stars Dame Judi Dench in the title role. From the advertising the film looks like a standard Oscar baitey bio-topic drama, however underneath the surface lies one of the best comedy films of the year. This film while dealing which some emotional topics has a good sense of witty humour threaded thought the film, which just makes this movie not only more enjoyable, but also more touching because through the humour the characters feel more humble and endearing.

It comes at no surprise that Judi Dench gives a fantastic performance as Queen Victoria, her performance felt more subtle that I believed it would be. Ali Fazel has the most weight on his shoulders as his character is the one who carries the story and he achieves it with the prowess of a true leading actor. The film features other note-worthy performances from the likes of Eddie Izzard as the spiteful and pompous Bertie Price of Wales and the comedic acting talents of Adeel Akhtar.

Overall, Victoria & Abdul is a story which will connect with most people and is executed well in the process. The film does play it safe when dealing with the history, however as a character study I believe it is engaging. Victoria & Abdul won't be the most effective film you will see this year, but it could be one of the most charming. All in all, it's a perfect Sunday film.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 22 September 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Review)

'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' is a action spy comedy film which stars Taron Egerton,  Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal and Julianne Moore. This film is directed by Matthew Vaughn.

After the success of the first Kingsman, Matthew Vaughn is back witch a second installment to a rapidly growing franchise. Kingsman, like a lot of 2010 films takes a meta stance on it's genre. Similar to 2014's '22 Jump Street' the film takes pride in it's tongue and cheek approach of doubling everything down, a self aware parody of what most sequels do. As easy as that sounds it's hard to actually surprise anyone anymore, which the new age of cinema goers obsessed with budgets, box office and rotten tomatoes people already know what to expected before going in.

'The Golden Circle does achieve in making this sequel interesting with the likes of Julianne Moore's character and it's wider world scenarios, however while the film still has a good sense of comedy and is well paced, you can't help but feel you are treading through a familiar territory and that to a film which is 30 minutes longer than it needed to be than you are left with a satisfactory sequel to a surprisingly strong first entry into this comedy spy franchise.

Rating: 6/10

Justice League (Review)

'Justice League' is a superhero action film which stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Henry Cavil...