Friday, 31 March 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017 - Review)

'Ghost in the Shell' is an American remake of the sci-fi action anime film of the same name. This film stars Scarlett Johansson, Micheal Pitt, Pilou Asbæk and Juliette Binoche. This film is directed by Rupert Sanders.

Going in with a complete blank slate, I had no reservations or any anticipation for this film, largely due to never seeing the 1995 original. What this version of Ghost in the Shell does very well is creating visuals which seem to pop out of an anime and into live action. The cinematography and set design truly is gorgeous. This film is likely to have taken visuals queues from Blade Runner for the films neon drenched aesthetic. Another thing to note from the technical side is the film's direction, which is quite impressive, taking in mind the restrictions of making 12A friendly action scenes, without using jarring quick cuts or shaky cam, although these days that thankfully seems to be a thing of the past. The synth/orchestral score from Clint Mansell is another impressive work to add to his long line of superior movie soundtracks.

Aside from the visuals the rest of the film works fine, but that is the main criticism I have with this film, it reaches it's peak halfway through and seems to decline in excitement during the second half of the film, to give some credit, it feels fast and ends before you know it, but at the same time that maybe the problem why the second act is less interesting, because the second act focuses on character, when the first act doesn't. When your halfway through a movie it's quite a bit harder for an audience to suddenly start caring for the characters once the action is over.

I admire the filmmakers ambition in making a film which is loud, big and somewhat action packed (first half) while still giving time to focus on the characters and the deeper themes within the context of the story. For the majority of the attempts at adding a third dimension to the main character 'Major'  the film succeeds, however it feels rushed and over expositional at times. Overall 'Ghost in the Shell' is a film that's worth seeing for it's impressive visuals and music, however I would personally not say this is a film you must rush to go out and see.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Lost City of Z (Review)

'The Lost City of Z' is an Adventure drama bio-topic film which stars Charlie Humnam, Robert Patterson and Sienna Miller. This film is directed by James Gray.

'Lost City of Z' is a film which after viewing it you wonder why it hasn't received much attention. The film follows the grand story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest to find the ancient lost city of "Z". For a film of such a large scale it's interesting to see how it's been advertised as more of an indie film, this maybe because of the film's advertisers want to cash in on the film's critical praise, it maybe because the film is too old fashioned for modern audiences to become interested in, however this film for better or worse has the feel of a 60s/70s film and if this film was released back in that period it would have certainly been sold as an epic adventure film.

The most obvious aspect to praise "The Lost City of Z" for is it's impressive visuals. Shot on 35mm film by cinematographer Darius Khondji, the film is undeniably beautiful and has a warm feeling in it's visuals which feel lost in today's age digital photography. The casting of this film appears to be quite unusual however it pays off as all of the actors give commendable performances. The score for this film is also impressive and stands out from other recent large scale films. The characters have a good amount of development and the main character played by Charlie Hunnam avoids being the black slate, uninteresting Mary Sue-type character, which is the vain of a lot of lead characters in action/adventure films. While giving time to reflect it is clearer to understanding why this film is not receiving a great deal of advertising, for one the film is targeted at adults because of the focus on the drama and conflict between the protagonists work and family. 'The Lost City of Z' also has a long runtime of 140 minutes (2hrs and 20 minutes) and is for the most part a slow paced affair, however I was never bored and didn't feel the weight of the films runtime because of the realised scale of the story. The only problem I have with 'The Lost City of Z' is that the main characters never seem to age despite the film taking place in a time span of 20 years, apart from that this is a film which is definitively worth seeing if you prefer the old school style of filmmaking.

Rating: 8/10


Friday, 24 March 2017

Life (Review)

'Life' is a sci-fi horror film which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. This film is directed by Daniel Espinosa.

Bringing back the straight forward 70s thrills of Alien with a new modern identity 'Life' is firmly slotted into the sci-fi horror genre while providing the intelligence that makes the film's central ideas interesting without being pretentious or pulling any punches with the horror aspects of the film. The most common complaint that I have heard about this film is that it is too familiar to Alien, although I agree this film takes a lot of inspiration from Alien it manages to create a story of it's own without fully depending on the built in expectation of that film.

The Alien in this film which is named 'Calvin' is one of the most terrifying creatures put on screen, without spoiling this film, it is not the appearance of this creature which is the most frightening. Daniel Espinosa establishes the film with long tracking camera movements that seem to float in zero gravity, similar to the 2013 sci-fi film Gravity. The use of floating and sweeping camera movements are a great way of communicating the unpredictable and unavoidable events which the characters will inevitably face. One of the ways the film progresses from previous films of the genre is the reasoning towards the characters choices and actions, the characters in this film make smart, rational decisions unlike characters in a stereotypical horror movie.

The performances in the film are of a good standard, the actors give it their all and while the film has an acceptable amount of character development, there could have been room for a little more, especially when it comes to the more emotional scenes, aside from that 'Life' is a film which may not live up to the heights of 'Alien' or any other sci-fi masterpiece, but it is simply entertaining from start to finish and is sure to be a film which most sci-fi and horror fans will at least appreciate.

Rating: 8/10

Alien: Covenant (Review)

'Alien: Covenant' is a science fiction horror film which stars Michael Fassbender,  Katherine Waterston,  Billy Crudup and Danny M...