Monday, 20 November 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I’ve been waiting to see this one for a little while now and to start with, this is a great film to watch in the cinema, especially with a large crowd which, even after a few weeks of being out, my cinema had. As great a ride as it was, it wasn’t without its flaws.

Marvel has had a shaky time with Thor, his films have been released to a mixed response but the characters are still very much beloved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Third time round the studio decided to hire Taika Waititi to direct Ragnarok, the brilliant New Zealander who directed films like What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. And Waititi definitely brought his humorous style of filmmaking with him. When a director as unique and original as Waititi comes along, you expect a different flavour of film and Ragnarok definitely feels like Waititi in the dialogue department. However, it doesn’t really do anything different with Marvel’s formula of storytelling, despite poking fun at it throughout.

There’s signs that Marvel are changing their ways; female characters aren’t love interests (and are allowed to be villains), Earth doesn’t have to play a significant role, the film has some weird and wacky design elements and the old cast is out for a new take on the god of thunder. However, the story is just another case of the big bad being bad and the hero needs to stop the big bad in the final act. There’s a lot of fun to be had in between the setup and the conclusion but ultimately this is another film that follows the basic tropes of what Marvel has already perfected many a time. Spider-Man: Homecoming looked to be the start of a different kind of Marvel film but ultimately we’ve gone a step backwards with Ragnarok. If I hadn’t enjoyed the comedy and characters so much then I might have disliked this one a lot more.

This film really does rest on its characters backs. Chris Hemsworth proving once again he’s a comic to be reckoned with, with his brilliant timing and almost Monty Python esque Thor. Tom Hiddleston kills it as Loki again although that was always to be expected. Cate Blanchett hams it up in a good way as Hela and although the villain is better than most of the bad guys Marvel has put on the big screen, she still didn’t feel iconic enough to be classed as a truly great antagonist. Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie was a very cool addition to the cast, she’s a drunk and a badass, it’s a fun combination. Mark Ruffalo returns with a more developed version of The Hulk and Jeff Goldblum essentially plays himself and it’s a much-welcomed addition to the franchise.

The middle act of the film is primarily set on the planet Sakaar, a junkyard planet with weird and wonderful characters and some odd and medieval cultures. This section of the film is the best, it’s a love letter to artist Jack Kirby and also features some great synth scores. This should have been the film in my opinion, with Hela maybe left to make an impact in the future and the crazy adventures of Thor, Hulk and Valkyrie the main show.

I feel like I’m criticising a film I enjoyed watching, so if nothing else, Thor: Ragnarok is a Saturday morning cartoon come to life complete with some cartoon-y CGI. It’s a fun ride, it’s got a lot of humour but the story just might feel a little familiar after sitting through seventeen entries in the franchise. Mix it up Marvel, we’re going to watch a film with your name on it either way. However, the characters endure and are a joy to watch together as well as being very funny. I’m rating Thor: Ragnarok a 3.5/5.

What did you think of the film, the best Thor of the bunch or the worst? Let me know in the comments below.


Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Kept in the dark, unsure of what is going on, the orchestral score running deep into the pit of your stomach before you’re caught off guard by a striking image, a beating heart (I think anyway, I don’t know anatomy) open in surgery, horrifying but beautiful at the same time. The opening scene of The Killing of a Sacred Deer gives you all you need to know about Yorgos Lanthimos’s new film.

I could end my review now, but I’ll try and put into words my experience of this film without spoiling the story, this is really one you want to go in to with a blank slate. The basic premise is ‘A Teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family take an unexpected turn.’

If you saw The Lobster (and if you haven’t it’s on Netflix, you should see it) then you will know that Yorgos Lanthimos likes to make weird films and this one is no exception. The joy of this film is not knowing what’s going on and trying to figure out from every image and every small tick from the characters on screen, what on earth you’re actually watching. You’re left in the dark for a lot of it as it goes from surreal drama to a plot you might see in a Batman film before it’s tense and jaw clenching final act.

The cast of this film are incredible, the three mains being Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan. Keoghan who was last seen in Dunkirk gets a lot more screen time here to show off his acting chops, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of him after his performance in this film. Like I said before though, the whole cast is on top form, fully investing you in the characters, all relishing in Lanthimos’s dead pan style.

The cinematography is crisp, clean and an awe to look at, pushed along with this loud orchestral score that’s terrifying to behold as it comes through when the tension is at breaking point. It reminded me of one of my other favourite films this year, Raw, with its horror nature mixed with the surreal. It’s a delight to watch even if it could have been a tad shorter but not all of these kinds of films are as easy to watch, be invested and lose yourself in it.

The Killing of a Scared Deer carries on the trend of great cinema in 2017, if you can take a bit of surreal with your film watching then go see this one in the cinema ASAP. I’m rating it a 4.5/5.

Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.


Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049

I’ve returned from my travels and ready to do some more blogging! Today I’m going to review Blade Runner 2049 but I’m going to talk about the whole day I had dedicated to it. Yes, my friend and I decided to have a Blade Runner day and re-watch the original before going in to see its sequel.

The original Blade Runner is a weird film, it revolutionised the way films and culture in general envisioned the future but never actually did that well in the box office. It acquired a large cult following of fans with many heralding it as one of the greatest films ever made.

However, I don’t believe this to be the case. In fact, my first ever viewing of this film I thought it was quite boring, technically amazing but lacking in story and a compelling main character. Upon a re-watch, I found that I actually enjoyed it a lot more, I’ve matured in some of my tastes and developed an interest in philosophy within film but my initial gripes were still there. It’s a good film but maybe just a tad overrated. I originally wasn’t excited at the prospect of a sequel, well not until Denis Villeneuve and Ryan Gosling were attached as Director and main lead.

Villeneuve is one of the most interesting directors around at the moment, I’ve loved most of his films, especially Arrival, and teamed with his cinematographer Roger Deakins they are a cinematic force to be reckoned with. As shown again in 2049, which honestly might be one of the most beautiful looking films this year, if not the decade. Yes, I loved Blade Runner 2049. It amplified everything good about the original, took away everything bad and made an incredible sequel to a good film. I hope this film teaches Hollywood a lesson on how to make sequels.

There was so much depth to this film, the characters are three dimensional, compelling and you actually care for them. Gosling plays it down but the subtleties in his performance really take your breath away in the films more compassionate moments. Everybody in the cast is doing a great job and I was really taken aback by the performances of Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks who were unknown to me before this film.

The story moves along a lot more swiftly, still slow but a lot more engaging that you barely notice the two hour forty run time. The philosophical musings are still present and are the emotional core of the film, better articulated than the original and they branch off into a lot more territories. The main themes of the original are explored further and it really creates some great questions about what life is.

The world of Blade Runner is a place that is great to watch on the big screen, the dystopian smoky cities looming large, explored more this time as well as taking trips to more remote areas of this well envisioned universe. The cinematography of these places looks gorgeous and the loud and lingering score elevates this images to new heights, you really need to see this film on the big screen.


It’s really difficult to review this film without giving away spoilers, even the plot itself is better left unknown as it kicks off pretty fast and takes you on a wild ride of twists and turns. Just go see this film, if you like Sci-Fi that is taken seriously then this is one for you, it’s just a bonus that its presented to you by some of the best people working in the industry. I’m giving Blade Runner 2049 a 5/5. A serious contender for best film of the year. 

What did you think? Masterpiece or slow and boring? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Super Dark Times @ MOTELX Lisbon

I’m away at the moment travelling Southern Europe but that didn’t stop me from sniffing out a film festival during the trip. The film festival was MOTELX, a horror film festival based in Lisbon that was showing films while we were there. Lisbon is a beautiful city, so to not spend too much time in a dark room or annoying my girlfriend, we decided to only catch one film. That film was Super Dark Times. We saw the film in the Tivoli Theatre, a really cool old building that set a great atmosphere for this horror/thriller film.

Super Dark Times feels like it could be categorised into the Stand By Me, E.T and the Stranger Things genre of media. A throwback to the eighties, though it doesn’t wear its inspirations on its sleeve as other recent nostalgic throwbacks have. The film follows a group of friends who find themselves in a dilemma after an accident leaves one of them dead. Young, dumb and scared the remaining friends decide to hide the body and pretend nothing has happened. There’s more to the film than this but it’s better to go into the film blind, as it takes many different routes along the way to its climax. The young cast is made of unknowns (to me anyway) but all are great actors in the making, with excellent chemistry they carry the film along with ease, the main players being Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino, Max Talisman and Sawyer Barth.

It’s more of a thriller than a horror film but it also has a lot of teenage angst boiling beneath its surface, making it a great coming of age film as well. It mixes it up a lot, funny, scary, broody and romantic. It mainly takes places from the mindset of one of the friends, Zach, the camera even inhabiting his dreams as he tries to make sense of himself, his friends, his love life and the dead friend he’s covering up. It’s slightly slow in places but allows the audience to breathe and take in the events and enjoy the beautiful cinematography as it broods over a grey and misty in town in America.

I was really taken aback by this one. I really enjoyed it; I had a feeling I might but I didn’t know I would love it so much. I felt it perfectly captured the troubled mind of a teenager, whether through literal actions or dream sequences and it helped me get invested in the characters and their outcomes. When the more ‘horror’ elements come in, its tense and they do scare you because the film has earnt it. It’s a really incredible film for a debut feature from Kevin Phillips and one of my favourites of the year. I’m rating Super Dark Times a 5/5.

I would definitely go back to Lisbon and I would also love to head back to MOTELX when it’s back on; they obviously pick a great selection of films for their festival. I believe the film itself comes out on VOD later this month. I highly recommend it!


Thanks for reading!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Quick Reviews #19

I thought it was time for another round of quick reviews, mainly for films I have seen in this year that I never got around to giving full reviews to. Not that this makes them bad, at least one of these is more than likely to make my top ten this year… Read on and enjoy!

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky is a confident and well-made heist film that plays out with a bunch of characters you wouldn’t usually associate with the genre. It makes a for a low stakes but very funny film, where all threads are tightly woven and come together in a satisfying way in the end. The cast are all great, especially Danial Craig, who plays a role unlike any we’ve seen before, it’s genuinely great seeing him do something completely different to Bond. Also, get ready for the best Game of Thrones joke in a film yet…
4/5

Raw

Wow, this film lives up to its name! Such nail-biting and visceral experience. It was hard to watch at times but I did not want to avert my eyes from the gorgeous horror that was happening on screen. It was a strangely moving experience that stuck with me for the next few days. A unique coming of age film, unlike anything I’ve seen before, surrealist yet still approachable with a lot of subtext, the obvious ones being sexuality, social norms and femininity, with many more I’m looking forward to reading into. It won’t be for everyone but is an experience of a film that’s very inspiring. An incredible work of art. 
5/5

Death Note

Everybody is going on about how bad this film is, and if I had ever seen/read the source material I would probably be upset that it had be turned into a whitewashed, Americanised, one hour forty film - but I haven’t and I kind of enjoyed it. It’s a goofy premise with cheesy characters but it keeps you engaged and I got a kick out of it’s over the top nature and hammy acting. It’s not amazing, the style gets in the way of the substance and the very fast pacing can get in the way of emotional moments, it really could have done with slowing down every now and then to let me readjust. Apart from that, it was fine and it was fun, I understand if you were a fan of the material and hate it though.
3.5/5

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright is back after what feels like way too long! Baby Driver brings the action, the charm, the comedy and the romance as it blasts onto the big screen. It’s a visceral experience as Wright’s camera flair follows the action in an upbeat and unique way, completely choreographed to a kick ass soundtrack, with a dash of Tarantino and Scorsese in the mix. This film is as creative in its premise as it is in its approach, it’s so good to see this style of filmmaking where the camera is being used just as much as the incredible performances are to tell a story. This film is a lot of fun and deserves to be seen in the cinema. My only criticism is the lack of female characters, there’s really only two and they work mainly as extensions of the males they’re coupled with. Apart from that though, great film!
4.5/5

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Pursuit in the Finals

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that one of my scripts The Pursuit made it to the finals of the Stage 32 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenwriting Contest. The winners were announced last night and although I didn't make the top two, I was extremely happy to have made it this far.

The Pursuit was a script I wrote for my final production assignment at Falmouth University back in 2015. Since then it has gone through a few tweaks and changes, placing in the ScreenCraft Sci-fi contest semi-finals that same year and even getting read by a couple of producers. Over the past couple years I've made the odd change here and there but have been mostly working on newer and (hopefully) better scripts. However, earlier this year I saw that Stage 32, a great site for creative minded people, had an opening for submissions for their Sci-Fi & Fantasy Contest, and with a Sci-Fi script under my belt, I thought why not. So now here we are, the furthest I've placed in a competition yet and I am extremely grateful to have gotten so far. The Pursuit needs a few more action scenes and less talking to spice things up but apart from that it seems to be going down nicely with its readers.

So I thought today I would share the first five pages of The Pursuit with you (something I thought I had already done but apparently not!). The logline goes like this:


'Born onto a mission to explore the stars, Lily only dreams of going home to Earth. What was once an impossible dream becomes suddenly more achievable when the ship regains a lost connection with Earth, and Lily becomes friends with a lonely technician named Bry on the other end.'

And the first five pages go like this: 
So there you have it, the first five pages of The Pursuit, the first feature script I wrote. I'm pretty happy with how it's evolved and with it placing so highly in this recent competition makes me think that it could do with some extra attention in the near future with the hope that one day it might win a competition. Wouldn't that be something. 

Congratulations to the winner of the competition Ben Gross with his script The Ladies' Guide to Hacking. You can check out his logline as well as the loglines from all the finalists here. 

If you're a producer/director reading this and want to see more, drop me a message!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Big Sick

I wasn’t looking at dedicating a whole post to The Big Sick but after what I saw the other night and the lack of people in the cinema watching with me, I wanted to give this film some love.

The Big Sick is based on the real-life courtship of Kumnail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, dealing with their cultural differences and an illness that leaves Emily in a coma for a large portion of the film. Kumail plays himself in the film, whereas Emily is played by Zoe Kazan and her parents, who Kumail begins to bond with throughout her illness are played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Everybody is wonderful in their roles and bring a lot of love to a film that is probably one of the most heartfelt films I’ve seen this year and definitely the funniest.

There are belly laugh moments but for the most parts it’s just chuckles at some of the wit and comic timing that makes this film a blast to watch. Kumail has proved himself to be a brilliant comic and actor before, but I think this might be him at his best. Obviously, his personal connection to the film helped but he had this special kind of magic that has you laughing and crying at the same time.

It’s not a massively sad film but it still is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster - juggling love, family connections and cultural differences - making a unique rom-com unlike any I have seen before. It’s not flash, it’s not a technical achievement but flies on story alone, and boy is it one hell of a story. This story would have been relevant and moving whether it was personal or not; it really grips you in and doesn’t let go.

The characters are very relatable, I could see a lot of myself in Kumail even with obvious cultural differences. There’s one scene in particular where he’s trying to show Emily a film and keeps watching her to see her reactions and make sure she’s watching it ‘properly’. At this moment, my girlfriend leant over and said “That’s so you!” as she sat beside me to watch yet another film she had never heard of, seen advertised or had any interest in seeing. Luckily, she enjoyed this one though! And I would be surprised to find anybody who didn’t, which makes it such a shame that we were one of two couples in the cinema.


So this week, when your deciding what to do - go see The Big Sick. It’s one of the best films of the year, you will leave the cinema with a big smile on your face and tear in your eye. It’s beautiful and I’m giving it a rating of 5/5

Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Dunkirk & War for the Planet of the Apes

Well this past weekend was pretty awesome one for film. I saw both War for the Planet of the Apes and Dunkirk, and instead of dedicating a post to just one of them, I decided to review both. Read on to find out what I thought. 

Dunkirk

I’m a big fan of Nolan but wasn’t overly excited for his latest project, nothing against war films but they don’t usually do it for me unless they have Star in the title. This one blew me away though, a tightly executed film that felt like the third act of a film stretched into an hour and forty minutes from three different perspectives.

As soon as the film starts you know what you’re in for, the great score once again composed by Hans Zimmer moving the action along, creating enormous amounts of tension from the unseen threat and pumping in tonnes of emotion, heart and most importantly hope.

There’s mixture of great characters in here with a vast cast of excellent performers giving it their all. Mark Rylance was the heart of the film, Tom Hardy was the hero and newcomer Fionn Whitehead is the audience’s way in. And being Christopher Nolan the story is cut into a slightly more complex than it should be narrative that transcends time, sometimes distracting from the story as you try to figure where each scene places. A small criticism in a film that is largely incredible.

The sound was booming and there wasn’t a peep in my cinema that brought in a wide variety of audiences young and old, it was something to be admired. I don’t know how it will play in the States but over here in the UK the cinema was packed and it was quite an experience to see it on the big screen. There was one scene in particular, where a boat is sunk after being torpedoed, that made me think instantly of my Great Grandad that died in WW2 in a similar fashion, it was hard to watch but also something that will and has already stayed with me.

I think that’s what this film gets right, although mostly bloodless, the horrors of war are shown in a completely different way and the desperation and psychological elements engage the audience and make you think long and hard about what the soldiers had to go through. The only thing I could think of that was as good as portraying this was Spielberg’s Band of Brother TV series.


Was this Nolan’s best film? No, but it was still another great addition to filmography. It’s an experience that grabs you by throat and never lets you. It may be his most compact film but it’s still trying too hard to be complex, which is strange considering the story alone is legendary enough to behold on the big screen. It is still done in masterful form, incredibly shot, a flawless mix of live action and CGI, an experience to watch on the big screen, go watch it now. I’m rating Dunkirk a 4.5/5.

War for the Planet of the Apes

The reboot Apes films have always been good but then they kind of drop off the ‘pop culture’ radar after each film. It’s weird considering they are so widely beloved but also good because I was not expecting what I just saw…

War of the Planet of the Apes is a masterpiece in blockbuster franchise filmmaking. It’s a grim and dark film that twists and turns, it’s heavily subtitled and deeply political, how did this film get greenlit and how did this film only get a 12A/PG13 rating? Don’t get me wrong I’m glad it did, I didn’t expect what I saw in this film, each trope was subverted and every moment you thought you knew what was happening it would go the opposite way. The moral dynamics that made Dawn so engaging are back but they are done so much better and the fights seems a lot more personal and emotional, something that was lacking from the last one.

The film is so personal to Caesar’s journey and it’s intricately woven with his mirror image antagonist played excellently by Woody Harrelson. War is kind of misleading with its title, there is action and it is cool but the war is more inner turmoil than external and it’s so well realised and beautiful. Even the big ‘war’ scenes are slowed down for the personal fight and moments between one or two characters.

The cinematography and score is excellent and just to top it off the effects are insane. Like actually photo-realistic insane. It’s got to be seen to be believed but I actually felt like I could reach out and touch each character, I’ve never seen anything like it. If it doesn’t win the Oscar for best special effects next year then it will be a crime, this is the best CGI I have ever seen.

This is a fitting possible ‘conclusion’ to the Apes reboot prequel trilogy and this film really is the icing on the cake, if I was to make any criticism it would be the lack of female characters, but that aside War delivers, firing on all cylinders. The Batman is in good hands of director Matt Reeves who has shown with this film he knows how to handle characters, morality and big themes seriously and with depth and emotion. I’m rating this film a 5/5.

Yes, don't shoot me, I enjoyed War over Dunkirk but only just by a little amount...

What did you think of the films, has this been the best month for film in 2017 so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Big Spider-Man fan over here, but you guys probably already knew that. I’ve been quiet on my thoughts for the latest Spider-Man reboot, trying to keep my expectations at a minimum and not release a mega Spidey post for a film that could have disappointed. I’ve been cautiously optimistic, I haven’t liked all the decisions made, it was starting to look like Iron Man 4, but Marvel studios have rarely let me down so it was in good hands. Or was it…

I’m kidding, I believe I can safely say that this is a good Spider-Man film, not the best ever (Spider-Man 2 will probably never be beaten) but a solid entry into the character’s history. Read on to find out why.

Back in the capable hands of Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Homecoming catches up with Peter Parker post-Civil War, trying his best to impress ‘Mr Stark’ for a place on The Avengers, dealing with the dilemmas of High School life whist attempting to stop an underground arms dealership that’s being run by the deadly Vulture. Tom Holland is back as Spider-Man and now being supported by Michael Keaton as The Vulture, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Laura Harrier as Liz and Zendaya as Michelle. Jon Watts is now in the directing chair, he proved himself as a capable director with the small indie film Cop Car and has transitioned well into blockbusters because he got a Spider-Man reboot right, not an easy thing to do!

What this film got right that the previous reboot did not is that it is completely different to what has come before. I was worried about a Spider-Man who was younger than me but it works, mainly because the cast is so young as well, so they look the part, but also because this feels like a high school drama mixed with a superhero film. It’s jarring but it works because it highlights the struggle Peter Parker has to go through constantly. It also helps that the soap opera ‘John Hughes’ High School drama is handled very well. We also get a different Spider-Man to what we’ve seen before, not only is he young but he’s also hasn’t got a handle on his superpowers, constantly making mistakes and learning the ropes throughout the entire film. He’s definitely a very ‘friendly neighbourhood’ Spider-Man because apart from one set piece in Washington, he pretty much sticks to Queens, so don’t expect Spidey swinging around skyscrapers just yet. It leaves you excited to see them develop his character in future films.

With every hero must come a villain and The Vulture I’m happy to report is great. Michael Keaton kills it as Adrian Toomes and has a great physical presence in the film, in and out of the costume. The design of Vulture looks awesome on film and with his wingspan being pretty huge he’s a scary and intimidating threat when he comes across the wall crawler. He’s not just another punch bag, he has depth, motivation and a little bit of sympathy as a working man adapting to the world around him to make ends meet. Easily one of Marvel’s better villains and on a smaller more grounded scale, something I hope they keep for new villains in the next instalment.

Tony Stark was another worry of mine, I didn’t like him being so integral to Spider-Man, making his suit or having too much of a leading role in his film. Thankfully though he doesn’t outstay his welcome, this is still very much Peter’s film and he’s still learning about ‘great responsibility’ without Stark. The gadget filled suit looks great but Stark’s involvement isn’t to my taste still, although there are some great sequences throughout the film with him testing the suits abilities that come close to redeeming that. Instead of world building, the film is more interested in placing Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I have to throw away some of my ‘comic book accuracy nerd annoyance’ and accept that this version is going to be shaped by a world with super powered beings already inhabiting it and being very present in his home town. Though any time Spidey needs saving from Iron Man will always hit a sore spot with me!

Back to the tone of this film, it’s very funny! This is something we’ve come to expect from Marvel films now but it feels more at home with Spider-Man. He’s an awkward kid and it comes across and there are a lot of jokes at his expense. Not all of them land, there’s a lot of emphasis on Aunt May being hot which came across as little bit creepy rather than funny. There’s a good ratio of action to down time, and when the action scenes roll out they are all well done, but there are occasions when Spider-Man looks more like a cartoon character than something ‘real’ in the scene. The light-hearted nature of the film is helped along by a good score from Michael Giacchino, it’s not iconic but it’s different, more playful than other entries in the MCU and differentiates itself from other heroes, something I hope future MCU films continue.  

There are some decisions made in the film that still make me cringe a bit but revealing them could be considered spoilers so I’ll stay clear for now. Some of the smaller characters don’t get a lot of development and Zendaya’s Michelle is very under used to the point where I’m not sure why she’s such a big part of the marketing. Depending on your age and fondness of high school dramas, some of the scenes may not be as easily relatable, but for me it was nice to see a younger perspective in the MCU. Is Tom Holland my Spider-Man? No (or at least not yet), his character may have been easier to relate to because of my age but I wasn’t as emotionally invested as I have been before and this feeling was made apparent near the end of the film, as a ‘classic’ spidey moment plays out and I wasn’t quite sure if the film had earnt it yet.

The more I talk/write about this film though, the more I like it. It’s not my favourite Spider-Man film but it’s a solid entry and a refreshing take on the character that differentiates itself from the films before. We haven’t seen a fully developed Spider-Man in the MCU but he is a teenager and has a lot more developing to do, so it’s actually quite exciting to see where they go with the character next. Who knows, this could be our best Spider-Man yet, only time will tell. I’m rating Spider-Man: Homecoming a 4/5.

What did you think of the latest (and hopefully last reboot of the character for some time!) Spider-Man film? Hit the mark or too much Stark? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Is Spider-Man 3 Actually Good?

I’ve been back and forth Spider-Man 3 since it came out. As a child, I loved it and it was one of the first films I eagerly anticipated and saw on the day of its release. Since then, I’ve taken in its criticisms and come to disregard it as one of the first missteps in Spider-Man’s cinematic journey, but what if I was wrong?



It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it and upon revisiting it I’ve come to believe that maybe we’ve giving this one a bit of a hard time. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t anything bad, there’s some definite strange choices made throughout and unfortunately, they seem to have detracted from the good, and do you know what, there is a lot of good stuff in this film. I would argue that at least the first hour of this film is pretty amazing, the setup of the characters, the darker side of Peter Parker before the symbiote even bonds with him, when his pride and selfishness takes over and the incredible visuals that show and not tell the story. Any change from source material is made to inform the main character who in turn informs the story, like Gwen Stacy being smart, successful and having a caring Father is everything MJ wants, making her the perfect unknowing antagonist, and it surprisingly works really well.



Talking of MJ, I always used to think her character was really annoying in this film when I was younger. However, having now grown up a bit, I think that most of her actions are justified, she’s a woman who wants more from life than to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend, she needs something independent to that, something that Peter isn’t helping her with. And although this aspect is not concluded, it does add some depth to her character.



Now obviously, the emo styling and dance scenes are a weird choice but an argument could be made that they are Parker’s own dorky version of what he thinks is cool, either way it’s still odd. Ultimately, it’s Venom that doesn’t work, he’s shoehorned in and should either be given more time or just set aside for Sandman who, along with Harry Osborn, bring some emotion to the core of the story. And I’ve got to say, Pete and Harry fighting alongside each other at the end brings a great smile to my face as that storyline is resolved.



Overall though, I think it’s time for people to re-visit this one, it’s a smart, pulpy, energetic and a high stakes conclusion to a brilliant trilogy that I wish never concluded. There’s no denying it’s the weakest of the trilogy but each film has been about Peter Parker, building on his character and making it interesting to watch and develop even past his origin story and this one is no different. This is something hopefully that’s Marvel Studios will bring along to their own solo outings for the superhero. Man, I wish we were on Raimi’s Spider-Man 6.

I'm  sure not everybody will feel this way, so let me know what you think of Spider-Man 3 in the comments below.

Can we all agree though that we don’t want a Venom solo movie? 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Quick Reviews #18: 2017 So Far

We’re halfway through the year already! So in this quick reviews post I wanted to talk about some of the films released in 2017 that I haven’t given a full review to. This in no way means they’re worse than the ones I did a full review of (especially Get Out, which as of now is still my favourite film of 2017), it just means that I probably didn’t have the time to write one. So read on and find out my thoughts on these five films from 2017.

Get Out

This film is absolutely brilliant. The way the film plays out is so smart, lots of intriguing elements get paid off by the end that it will have you grinning in your seat. All the technical elements of this film, the camerawork, the score, the performances are so well executed. I was also surprised by how funny it was, and yes I know the director has a background in comedy (I love The Key & Peele Show!) but I thought he was going for a straight-out horror/thriller with this film. It never set itself on one genre but this never dragged it down, it worked through all the emotions, creating tension in one scene and having you laughing in the next and then back to getting me well and truly freaked out and I loved it for doing so, this could have so easily not worked but thankfully it did, it really, really did! If anybody has watched Inside No. 9 on BBC 2 then it’s kind of like a feature version of one of those episodes.
5/5

Casting JonBenet

I usually hate re-enactments of horrific crimes; they tarnish the realism of a situation and make it something trivial. This documentary however, uses the re-enactment in the most unique and cleverest of ways, making it a starting point for a discussion with people who are very loosely tied to the story, allowing them to delve deep into the minds of the real people involved and what might have been going through their heads. It’s therapeutic in a way and makes this documentary more than its subject matter. I knew little of this case beforehand, and although it was frustrating at times to not be given all the information, it was a creative and thought provoking way to look at a homicide like no film I’ve seen before do. It’s on Netflix, you should definitely go watch it!
4.5/5

Beauty and the Beast

Do you know what? I enjoyed the hell out of this! Yeah, I’m surprised as well, I went in with little to no expectations but came out with a massive goofy grin on my face. I knew it had songs but I was not expecting a full blown musical! It really worked, the music just heightened everything and took what could have been a bore of a film to the next level. The design was great, the CGI wasn’t always amazing but it still fitted nicely into the aesthetic of the film. It was very theatrical, most of the performances are great, Emma Watson does well with what she is given but is not the strongest actor in the film. Probably the best live-action Disney remake yet, it just felt more classic and nostalgic. Lots of laughs, lots of music and lots of fun, I really liked this one.
4/5

Split

For the most part I really enjoyed this film, its premise was interesting and the focus of the film was amazingly performed by James McAvoy. However, I did find some of the choppy ambiguity at the beginning to be off putting, and when the exposition did come it was handled very clumsily. This film was tense but I never got scared, it’s a good thriller but I wanted to be on edge, the film for me did not do that. Also, this is only the second ever M. Night Shyamalan movie I’ve seen (mainly due to his reputation and because I’ve heard all the spoilers from his first film!), so when the “twist” came at the end it didn’t do anything for me and felt like a strange ending for what was a pretty solid film. I will definitely check out more of his early work.
3.5/5

Berlin Syndrome

A really well shot, quiet and subdued thriller. I mainly wanted to watch this because of my love for Berlin and I was not disappointed as the city looks beautiful in this film. The whole film has this great mood and feel to it that is kept throughout and constantly keeps you on edge. Spending so much time with two characters, I did find myself wanting to get inside their heads more than we did but overall I enjoyed this one, a great, smart and tense psychological film. I will definitely be checking out more of Cate Shortland’s work!
4/5

Power Rangers

The Breakfast Club meets superheroes. I have never seen the original TV series and films and whatever else the source material may be. My only knowledge of this franchise is the toy store where I work, and the toys are a pretty big deal there. It never looked great but… This film may be my new guilty pleasure. It’s overly cliché, has a terrible taste in music, is borderline Transformers cringey at times and takes way too long to get to the action. However, it won me over with its heart, it’s cheesiness and its message of friendship. It’s very light hearted, doesn’t take its self too seriously, and it filled me with a lot of joy. Billy, the autistic Power Ranger was a breath of fresh air and Elizabeth Banks stole the show with her brilliantly over-acted Rita Repulsa. Haters gonna hate, I really liked this one. 
3.5/5


What did you think of the films I've reviewed above? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Wonder Woman

It’s here, it’s finally here, Wonder Woman’s first live action feature debut. You may be worried that the latest entry into the DC Extended Universe would follow the trend of their less than great previous films, but worry no more, Wonder Woman is the superhero film the studio needs right now, but more importantly it’s film the world needs right now! Read on and find out why.

This film tells us the origins of Wonder Woman, a long time before the events of Batman V Superman, during WW1, when a pilot crashes on the mysterious island, Themiscyra, he tells the young warrior who saves him, Diana, of the war to end all wars and without hesitating she joins him to help bring an end to the fighting.

In the wide range of superhero films on offer today, Wonder Woman is kind of generic, it’s a good mix of Thor and Captain America but is able to stand on its own two feet. Its main strength lies in the films message, this is what makes it stand above the rest, delivering a solid superhero origin story that commentates and criticises our world, views and values. When Diana first ventures from her island, it’s her first interaction with ‘man’s’ world. She’s naïve and obviously there is comedy to go with that but there is also a fresh look on the way we do things, which in her eyes isn’t all that good and throughout the film she begins to learn that men aren’t all bad but they’re also not all good. Diana’s arc throughout this period of realisation is one that insights hope and joy within the viewer and that’s what brings this film home, elevating the formulaic superhero film into something more special.  

Playing the icon is Gal Gadot and boy does she bring her A game. She truly carries this film and breathes life into Diana, making the character her own and diminishing any doubts audiences may have had about her taking on the role. She owns Wonder Woman. Everybody in this film does a great job, even with the little amount that some characters get. Up there with Gadot though is Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, the two have amazing chemistry and together they steal the film, creating real emotional connections between the two characters in the space of a couple of hours, you care about these characters and what happens to them.

My favourite element of this film is the action. The action is so badass, it’s so cool, it looks beautiful with great cinematography and sounds awesome with an excellent score. The theme we heard first in BvS is truly earned in this film and when it arrives, it really does deliver. Wonder Woman in full costume, in all her glory, taking out bad guys is a moment to be experienced on the big screen, it gave me goosebumps and I have read barely any Wonder Woman comics.

No matter how much I’ve raved about this film, it’s not perfect. It’s a tad too long for a start and the CGI does not always hold up, which is shame considering previous DC films have been pretty good with this element to date. And as I’ve stated before, it’s a bit generic, it doesn’t take many risks or feel much different from previous superhero films, but also as I’ve mentioned, because it works the tropes so well and has a message worth spreading, it is still able to stand above many that have come before it. Talking of other DC films, if you liked the grim tone and serious nature of this films predecessors then you may not like where they take this one, this one has jokes, is uplifting and is a film where the hero is heroic.  

Patty Jenkins, the director, should be applauded for bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen in such glorious fashion, a job I’m sure brought a lot of pressure on getting it right. Finally, we have a female led superhero film that is great and will hopefully usher in a new era of equality within the genre. This truly is a film and a hero the world needs right now, not flawless but still great, a solid 4/5. Go see Wonder Woman now!

I'm actually a little excited for Justice League now, even if it is just to see Wonder Woman again!

What did you think of Wonder Woman? Have the DCEU taken a step forward or backwards, let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Alien: Covenant

I’m a Prometheus sympathiser. I loved it when it came out and after watching it recently, I still do. I do see and realise the flaws throughout but can get past them and enjoy the ride. With Alien: Covenant, you may think that Ridley Scott would have learnt from his mistakes, however that’s not the case. Covenant is a flawed film that many will not be able to see pass. I however could and I still enjoyed what felt like a great sci-fi thriller that’s truly trying to grasp onto more than what the films that have gone before and after it have. Read on to find out why.

Covenant follows the crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, as they discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination. This film twists and turns pretty much from the get go so it’s difficult to go into more detail than this without spoiling things. Michael Fassbender returns yet again to play another synthetic android, and man is he as incredible as ever! Fassbender is the MVP of this franchise, I could watch him act all day long and never get bored. Joining him is a new cast, the stand outs being; Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride and Billy Crudup. The rest of the cast are just as good but there is quite a lot of them and these three are the main drivers of the story.

I liked this film a lot but I’m not oblivious to its flaws. Like I’ve said before, I can see past many of them but I’ll highlight them here first as they do detract from the film but not to my overall enjoyment of it. You do not really care for any of these characters, maybe Katherine Waterston’s as you follow her for most of the film but I was never too worried if any of them made it to the end. Part of this is probably down to the decisions the characters make, weak ones, stupid ones and some which just have no logic or reasoning behind them. It’s obvious how stupid some of these decisions are and I’m surprised they weren’t picked out before the film was made. Maybe it’s something to do with the philosophy of the film, are they highlighting the biggest flaw in humans is the fact that we are? This feels like I’m clutching at straws but who knows. If you can look past this, and I’m sure there will be many that can’t, then there is a great sci-fi film lurking and it comes into its stride once the story kicks in.

The film only gets better as it goes on, revealing its sinister threat and delving deeper into the philosophy that Prometheus started musing about. Maybe some came for the Xenomorph, and there is a lot of that, but I personally loved the philosophical element of this film. It makes its feel like it’s grasping for more than just being another killer alien film and trying to make us think like many other great sci-fi films. At times, it feels like it’s two films battling each other, one being an Alien prequel and the other being a Prometheus sequel. In a way these franchises may have been better off separate from each other but I don’t care, in my opinion both Prometheus and Covenant, even with their flaws, are really solid films and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Despite the flaws I’ve picked out, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. It’s tense, it’s scary, it’s gloriously gory and it’s thought provoking. It’s a great addition to the Alien franchise and I would definitely watch it again even if it’s just for some very memorable Michael Fassbender scenes… Not perfect but a great sci-fi film, I’m rating Alien: Covenant a 4/5. I’m hoping that the possible sequels to this film can be more thought out with deeper layered characters but also keep the philosophical element that has me hooked.

What did you think of the latest instalment of the Alien franchise, classic sci-fi or another dud? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, 1 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I was travelling in California with my family when the first Guardians of the Galaxy came out. Being the Marvel fanboy that I was and still am, I begged them to go watch it opening day. After many grumbles about how I was taking time out of the holiday to see a film about a talking tree and raccoon, they gave in and we saw the film at the Cinemark Monterey 13 cinema. They were not ready for how US audiences enjoy films because unlike us British, they are loud about it. I’ve never had a movie-going experience quite like it, there was clapping and cheering throughout, it was well deserved and I absolutely loved it! My parents, well they left the cinema exclaiming how it was one of the best films they had ever seen and how much they loved Rocket and Groot!

Now here we are; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. My parents loved it, so there’s their review. Me, well I’m the film guy, I like to go a little more in depth with my opinions and although this film was a fun watch, it was a little bit messier than its predecessor. Read on to find out my SPOILER FREE verdict.

In their second outing the Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. All the main players are back as well as few new faces in the form of Kurt Russell as Ego, Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha.

If you think that description of the story is vague, that’s because there’s not much more to it than that and that’s where the film trips over for me. In what feels like a TV episode structure, the film’s plot is pushed along by one or two characters of its ensemble cast, whilst the others are just reacting to what’s going on, trying to make sense of it. Yes, most of them have their small arcs which do work nicely into the film, but if you were hoping characters like Groot and Drax were going to be more than comedic relief then you will be disappointed.

Thankfully where the story doesn’t add up, the character interactions do. They’ve set up the family dynamic really well for the group, they’re brilliant to watch together and bring a lot of laughs. You know how you could watch the The Avengers just chilling out drinking beer together for two hours, well you could definitely do the same with the Guardians, the chemistry between the group is amazing. This film is full on comedy, it’s the most jokey of all the Marvel films so far and thankfully most of them land. It’s a load of fun to watch with a large audience and because you care for the characters a lot, when the going gets tough, you do genuinely feel for them. And with film being about father – son relationships, it does have some emotional punches.

I could honestly watch this team together all day, even when the story doesn’t hook me, the characters are so good and well defined that in the moment it didn’t matter. Drax stole the show in the first film and he is just as funny here, but for me Rocket was the MVP of Vol. 2. The CGI was flawless and you get to see Rocket be a full on badass when he takes out a whole bunch of guys single handily with just his fists and few gadgets. The music is great yet again and I love how it still plays a big part in the film, even if the playlist isn’t as good as the first (this is becoming repetitive, I know) but that is of course subjective.

You guys get the gist, it’s still good, a lot of fun but not as well balanced or (some would say) as perfect as the first. Another solid entry into the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is great time at the cinema, I’m rating the film a 4/5.

What did you think of Marvel’s latest cosmic adventure? Loved it, hated it? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!