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dazt35
Aug 22, 2018
In Film Reviews
A jawsome but forgettable summer blockbuster Jason Statham battles a 70-foot prehistoric shark after scientists working out of deep-sea research facility, Mana One, accidentally awaken it from the ocean depths in this, the summer's major popcorn flick — bloody scientists! A "does what it says on the tin" kind of film, The Meg harbours no surprises: there's no deeper meaning to be found here, no emotional poignancy to observe. What there is, however, is almost 2-hours of non-stop shark-on-Statham action. Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds, but I found it rather entertaining. Statham's character, Jonas, is joined by Lori Taylor (Jessica McNamee), as his ex-wife, Suyin (Bingbing Li), as Jonas' love interest, Zhang (Winston Chao), her father, and Mac (Cliff Curtis), an old friend, amongst others. The cast, on the whole, is fine, with Rainn Wilson's, Morris – the millionaire financier of Mana One research station – and Ruby Rose's, Jaxx – the stations' engineer – particularly finding their own niche. Jason Statham is clearly having fun in his role, and to his credit, he never takes any of it too seriously; managing to deliver his lines in a humorous and comically well-timed manner. Taking itself too seriously, however, is a problem the film and several of the actors suffer from occasionally: whether this is a case of actors misinterpreting a scene or an issue with the script itself I wouldn't like to say, but it is a problem at times; resulting in more than a few eye-rolling moments. There are plenty of narrative issues present also: aside from a derivative plot, the film suffers from a plethora of plot holes and its inability to decide how to represent the titular creature: should it be a monstrous killing machine, like in Jaws, or merely as an animal, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, similar to King Kong. In the end, Megalodon comes off seeming more monstrous, which is fine, but the film's earlier indecision on the subject leads to the movie feeling disjointed in places. Visually, The Meg is typical of the genre; perfectly adequate special effects, but lacking any of the visually stunning set-pieces, vistas, or "eye-protein" present in so many other releases. The Megalodon itself looks very impressive though, and for a movie of this type that's really all that matters. Verdict There's really not an awful lot to say about The Meg, it is what it is, and if you've seen any of Jason Statham's previous work you likely know what to expect. And whilst the film is deeply flawed, there's good fun to be had in the 113-minute runtime: the gags are well-delivered, the dialogue is delightfully cheesy, and the visuals are pleasing. There's nothing controversial about The Meg, there's nothing remarkable about it either. It is then a perfectly average film, one which I suspect at the end of its cinematic release will be quickly forgotten, but not before accumulating a healthy profit. 5/10
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dazt35
Aug 09, 2018
In Film Reviews
Another outing for Drac and his pack! After years of running the hotel together, Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides her and her father, Dracula (Adam Sandler) need a well-deserved vacation to rest and relax and spend quality time together; booking the gang on the world's first monster cruise as a surprise. After a less than stress-free flight on 'Gremlin Air', the gang arrive, and once aboard, are met by the charismatic Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), with whom Dracula immediately 'zings'. But unbeknownst to our monster holidaymakers, this seemingly innocent cruise will bring them into direct confrontation with Dracula's nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing. It says something when, after almost one hundred years since their big screen debut, and over one hundred and twenty years since the novels which inspired them, variations of these characters (or monsters) and their stories are still being written: and for children at least, the Hotel Transylvania franchise is one of the most endearing. The film's greatest strengths are the monsters who feature, the mythology surrounding them, and the filmmaker's ability to poke fun at the clichés that inhabit, whilst still being respectful to the pedigree. The cartoonish, colourful and surprisingly detailed – if slightly over-the-top – animation is extremely pleasant and accessible; complimenting the tenor of the movie nicely. The world in which it's set is vibrant and rich, and while I really enjoyed the setting of the first film (being primarily set in the hotel and its grounds), the franchise does benefit from occasionally getting away from that area and exploring different locales; something that's always a pleasure: in the second film it was the pack's "old haunts" and California: in this film, it's the cruise ship and the fabled lost (but now found.) city of Atlantis. Love him or loathe him; there's no denying that Adam Sandler is ideally suited to this genre of film: as is the rest of the cast which remains fundamentally unchanged from the first two films; with Steve Buscemi (Wayne-Wolfman), David Spade (Griffin-Invisible Man), Keegan-Michael Key (Murray-The Mummy), Kevin James (Frank-Frankenstein's monster), Andy Samberg (Johnny) and Selena Gomez (Mavis), amongst others, reprising their respective roles. Two notable additions include Jim Gaffigan as Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula's nemesis, and Kathryn Hahn as Captain Ericka, granddaughter of Van Helsing: both do a perfectly adequate job, but both are also wholly unremarkable: this isn't a criticism of Hahn and Gaffigan as actors; more of the movie's ability to extract more from its talent. The narrative and script are the movie's primary drawbacks; neither being able to produce anything innovative or intuitive; making these aspects of the film feel maladroit. Worst still is the character development, which is either non-existent or badly paced; resulting in characters that either haven't changed at all or experience a total metamorphosis seemingly out of the blue. The humour is a mixed bag of slapstick, fart jokes, and eccentric limb gesticulations; all the things kids (and, admittedly, many adults) like, unfortunately, this can make the movie feel a little in-your-face and irritating, even crass. Yes, you can argue it's a kids film, and, as such, it's just playing to its target audience, and you'd be right: however, the film does this even as it references things clearly intended for the adults in the audience; almost as though it can't quite decide who it's communicating to at any given time. And don't get me started on the ridiculous music and dance focused gags. Verdict There really isn't an awful lot more to say about Hotel Transylvania 3, it is what it is; a harmless, good-natured, sometimes irritating kids film. There's no deep, affecting poignancy here; no emotional resonance to be found. If you wanted to assign some deeper meaning to it, you could argue it speaks of the importance of tolerance. Most people will be content to take it at face value; as the entertaining and safe family film, it is. Hotel Transylvania 3 isn't likely to attract a significant number of adult viewers, but it will bring in families in their thousands, and that's great. If you have children wishing to see this, or even if you happen to have enjoyed the first two films, you'll likely not be disappointed: and if like me, you're just happy that these characters/monsters are still relevant and being introduced to a new generation of viewers, you'll be over the moon. 7/10
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dazt35
Jul 21, 2018
In Film Reviews
You'd be forgiven for thinking – particularly if you'd watched the trailers, as I had – that Frank would be some ridiculous and zany madcap comical farce. And in fact – and despite being an ardent fan of Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson – I pigeonholed the movie for far too long on that basis; very foolish of me. It was only after I had come across Mark Kermode's review of the film that I decided maybe it was time to see why he had rated it so highly. Believe me, Frank is one of the most surprising films you'll ever see. So, what is it about? Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Frank tells the story of Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) who – after playing keyboard for the SORONPRFBS (don't worry, it's unpronounceable.) following the original keyboardist attempt to drown himself in the ocean – is whisked away by the band to Ireland for what he presumes, is a weekend gig. What should have been a short weekend away quickly turns into a considerably longer affair due to the band's unusual way of recording material. Jon struggles to find his place within the band; finding ardent indifference in Baraque (François Civil) and Nana (Carla Azar) and encountering outright hostility from Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who threatens to stab him for various reasons on more than one occasion. The band's manager, Don (Scoot McNairy) and enigmatic but charismatic lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender) on the other hand, are much more accommodating; Jon quickly starts to become more and more obsessed with Frank. Frank is based on the writings of Jon Ronson and inspired by his time playing in Chris Sievey's alter ego, Frank Sidebottom's group, the Oh Blimey Big Band. It's worth noting this is not a biopic; more an amalgamation of influences ranging from the obvious, Frank Sidebottom, to characters such as Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston. Frank can best be described as a dark comedy: yes, it's funny, but not in the way you might expect. The humour lies within the cast's nuanced performances; in the absurdity of their characters personalities and situations, they find themselves in: its intelligence and understated nature are its strength and are the result of an excellent script, and an inventive and magnificent cast. Perhaps more surprising is the melancholia surrounding the movie and its characters. Frank can be an incredibly funny movie, but it's also replete with sorrow and dejection and regret: it explores and challenges the established conventions which suggest that genius and madness are somehow intertwined; tip-toeing the line adroitly and unravelling an enigma that's both heartbreaking and poignant. It's a film which is, at its centre, about mental illness; exploring this sensitive subject with a delicacy and intricacy rarely seen. Not something I expected from a film I'd assumed would be more akin to a slapstick comedy. Frank is the enigma of whom I speak, and to say he's complicated is an understatement. Fortunately, he's portrayed by one of the greatest, most idiosyncratic talents of our time, Michael Fassbender. The nuances Fassbender brings to the role are numerous (far too numerous to go into detail) and ranging; from the over the top eccentricities to the subtle mannerisms which cleverly hint toward the unveil at the end of the movie: impressive considering any sentiment or response had to come entirely from body language due to Fassbender having to wear the Frank mask throughout 95% of the movie. Frank is such an attention-grabbing, larger than life character, dominating the screen from beginning to end, it's easy to forget this is Jon's story, not Frank's. It's fortunate then we have the wonderful and endearing talent of Domhnall Gleeson to keep us grounded; preventing us from being completely swept away by Frank's almost whimsical nature. Gleeson has the most extraordinary ability to stand out on-screen; projecting his presence throughout a movie, whether in a lead or supporting role. More importantly perhaps is the fact that not only is he strong enough to play lead alongside the likes of Fassbender, but that he's quite willing and knows when to take a step back; allowing others to take the stage. Gleeson's character, Jon, has an awkward naivety about him; an outsider, almost underdog kind of vibe which masks the fact that he's actually rather ambitious and self-centred — which rubs Clara, in particular, up the wrong way. The cast of characters of whom forms the band is brilliant throughout, with Maggie Gyllenhaal (as Clara) delivering a particularly well-received performance. However, I would argue that one of the most outstanding performances of the film was also one of the most underappreciated — that of Scoot McNairy as Don. McNairy presents an ingenious and abstruse performance as Don, the band's manager; a man living constantly on the knife-edge of sanity, threatening to topple at any moment. In many ways, Don is a metaphor for the film as a whole; mysterious and endearing, but wracked with demons. He's arguably one of the most fundamental characters, being the individual who not only brings the group together but also holds them together; containing their eccentricities: something which inflicts a terrible toll on him. McNairy's role in the film is really downplayed, and he does a really good job of fading into the background; getting lost amongst the rest of the cast: as such, it's facile for the audience to relegate and forget about him. This isn't a criticism; it's a conscious decision made by the filmmakers, one which works really well; mirroring Don's character arc: both the filmmakers and McNairy deserve far more credit than they seem to have got. Frank is the kind of movie that gets better the more you view it: it leaves you contemplating the characters, their relationships, and their actions, long after the film has finished. The use and importance of music in Frank make this more akin to a musical in many ways, and the decision to have the music performed by the actors themselves bestows a tangible physicality to the film. As I feel I've waffled on for far too long already, I'm going to quickly wrap it up here. I'll end by simply saying, I love this movie: it will make you laugh, it will make you think, and it will make you cry, and, by the end, it will leave you feeling profoundly uplifted.
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dazt35
Jul 03, 2018
In Film Reviews
Unlike previous Cartoon Saloon films – which have mixed the fantastical folk-tales with the modern, more grounded elements – The Breadwinner, very purposefully keeps them separate. That's what I'd like to talk about in this post: How the movie uses these vastly contrasting narratives that dance between reality and fiction to explore grief and courage; creating one of the most heart-breaking, uplifting, and powerful film endings I've seen for years. Be warned, this post will contain spoilers; I'd advise you not to read before you've seen the film. The Breadwinner is a movie of two parts: The visually lavish sequences of digitally recreated cutout animation; reserved for Parvana's tale of the "brave boy" and his struggle against the elephant king. In contrast, we have the grittier, dirtier, more grounded style of Parvana's existence. Intercut with Parvana's, the story of the boy is, at first, a form of escapism; for the audience as well as Parvana: A simple plot device to take the edge off some of the more uncomfortable subject matters. In fact, it's far more meaningful, and, as the film progresses, the story becomes an avenue for Parvana to overcome her fears and address grief. During the second act, Shauzia – another girl in disguise, a childhood friend of Parvana's – asks Parvana about her older brother: "But you have an older brother don't you? He used to bring you to school on his shoulders, what's his name?" "Sulayman" - Comes the reply. Parvana is reluctant to talk about him; saying merely he died some years ago, and that her mother won't talk about it. Sulayman's death is clearly still affecting the family deeply, and Fattima – Parvana's mother – has clearly not dealt with it well and seemed to me, to be suffering from depression; explaining Parvana's disinclination to address it directly. When Parvana leaves her house to earn money and buy food for her family, it's Sulayman's clothes she wears; reinvigorating her brother's spirit and memory. Fattima regularly, and unknowingly refers to Parvana by her brother's name; providing us more evidence to suggest she's not fully come to terms with his death. However, after this awkward exchange, Parvana does begin to open up more; bestowing the "brave boy" the name, Sulayman. This seemingly fantastical tale becomes a medium Parvana uses to express herself, conquer her fears, and acts as an insight into the state of her mind. During the more joyous times, Parvana spends with Shauzia; the tale of Sulayman is jovial and humorous. As she recites the story to her younger brother or mother, it's calmer, safer, but also more melancholic. And, as she faces down the horrors of her situation, the story is dark and menacing but full of the strength of courage. As the film reaches the final act, and amidst a bombing raid, Parvana races to the prison in a last, desperate attempt to save her father. Running in parallel, is the "brave boy" (Sulayman), who is struggling up the elephant king's mountain in what appears to be, a vicious and loud storm; perfectly echoing the bombing raid. Parvana begins shouting the story aloud to herself as a means of finding her courage. After arriving at the prison, Parvana witnesses the Taliban lining up prisoners and executing them. Placing her hands over her ears, she calls out for her brother and the movie cuts to Sulayman; fending off several of the elephant king's jaguar minions, and finally coming face-to-face with the elephant king himself. "I have not come to kill you!" - Shouts Sulayman: The elephant king rears up and bellows in provocation. "Sulayman! Soothe him with your story, the one that Mama-jan can't speak of. Tell him!" - Insists Parvana, who has now summoned the strength to confront the truth of her brother's story. "Tell him what happened. Tell him your story!" "My name is Sulayman!" - He begins. "My mother is a writer. My father is a teacher. And my sisters always fight each other." Then, comes the truth of it all: "One day I found a toy on the street. I picked it up. It exploded. I don't remember what happened after that because it was the end." The elephant king roars again and charges down the mountain towards Sulayman who repeats his words. "My name is Sulayman. My mother is a writer. My father is a teacher. And my sisters always fight each other. One day I found a toy on the street. I picked it up. It exploded. I don't remember what happened after that because it was the end." Stopping dead in his tracks, the elephant king stands in front of Sulayman: Reciting his words once again, this time, in a noticeably more melancholic manner. Sulayman has conquered the elephant king, and Parvana has conquered her fears, and rescued her father. The Breadwinner left me awestruck; almost breathless. I've seen it several times now, but the effect from those last few scenes has never abated. To me, everything about this film is as close to perfection as is possible to come. Jeff and Mychael Danna's soundtrack is superb and melancholic. The casting is flawless, as are the direction and screenplay. The stunningly hand drawn and lovingly recreated, digital cutout animation works perfectly together; particularly within the narrative of this movie. In my eyes, The Breadwinner is a must-see film; a testament to the power of animated film, and is arguably one of the best films of the year so far.
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dazt35
Jun 29, 2018
In Film Reviews
In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we rejoin the story three years on: An impending volcanic eruption threatens to wipe out the surviving dinosaurs on Isla Nubla, and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), has created the 'Dinosaur Protection Group' in an attempt to save the dinosaurs from extinction. After the U.S. Senate rejects plans to rescue the dinosaurs, Claire is contacted by John Hammond's former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who is planning to move the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary. Whilst discussing the rescue operation, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) – Lockwood's aide – voices concerns that locating Blue, the sole surviving velociraptor, will be near impossible, compelling Claire to recruit Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to help on the mission. J.A.Bayona directs this sequel to Colin Trevorrow's, Jurassic World. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom promises to be a "darker film", one more "scary"; exactly what you'd expect from Bayona. However, with a huge franchise production such as this, there's always going to be a back-and-forth between the director and studio; usually resulting in any influence the director has being significantly watered down. Regrettably, that's exactly what's happened here. Bayona does what he can with a lacklustre script, naff story, and a franchise too afraid to take risks. There are – and entirely to Bayona's credit – some visually beautiful and brilliantly put to together scenes; some of which are actually quite scary. The opening scene – one of the best – Is full of promise: The pitch dark setting, tropical thunderstorm, lashing rain, and general murky gloominess provides a sincere horror movie ambience; comparable in tone to Jurassic Park's opening scene. And again, during the third act, there's a remarkable scene, set in a sprawling gothic style mansion, which sees the indoraptor – Henry Wu's (BD Wong) latest lab manufactured horror – hunt Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon, playing Benjamin Lockwood's granddaughter), who is seeking solace in her bedroom. The creature, slowly creeping over the rooftops, silhouetted against the moon, strikes an imposing figure; the iconic Wolfman look. The scene shifts to a Nosferatu feel as the creature, with long reaching claws, purposefully and delicately opens Maisie's bedroom window and enters her room: Shadows creep slowly across walls, and claws tap menacingly against the wood floor as the creature moves in a measured, loury manner towards Maisie; hiding under the covers of her bed. Extreme close-ups of both subjects follow; creating a palpable sense of uneasy closeness. Making good use of long unbroken shots, slow purposeful movement, and intense close-ups do add a tangible sense of dread: I enjoyed these sections of the film very much and really appreciated the directors nods to various classic horror monsters. Unfortunately, these scenes are few and far between; any sense of threat is quickly extinguished within the first quarter of the movie as you realise this is the safe franchise film you knew you should have expected. The cast is adequate if not exemplary, and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard obviously enjoyed a friendly working relationship. There are a slew of new faces, all of whom do a perfectly acceptable job in their respective roles, most of which are destined to end up as one-hit wonders. And therein lie the problem. Neither of the main cast has anything in the way of character development (They're reunited in this movie in exactly the same way as in Jurassic World; with Claire having to recruit Owen, who's at his trailer, at the behest of somebody else, after an awkward break-up), and none of the new characters are worth spending any time or effort on as they'll never be seen again. Much of the storyline seems rushed and badly paced, particularly the island rescue scenes: There was a good deal of build-up to this section of the film, and many people were anticipating a Jurassic Park: Lost World kind of feel; those people must be feeling let down. Too much time was spent on scenes either side of the island rescue section, but particularly just after it takes place. The section of the movie between the Isla Nubla rescue and Lockwood estate scenes is long, unnecessary, and just boring. Much of this could have been scrapped and more time could have been spent on Isla Nubla, developing characters and giving us more dinosaur action. From a technical point of view, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has some wonderful cinematography, and is perhaps where J.A.Bayona's influence is felt most staunchly. The use of animatronics is something which has been sorely missing from these movies for many years and make a welcome return here: A shame then that the movie relies far too much on CGI throughout much of the duration and never uses it to its full potential. While the CGI isn't bad in and of itself, it does feel unsubstantial and holds no weight. The scenes using animatronics were instantly noticeable and more enjoyable: Consequently, this leads to many of the scenes using CGI to feel a bit limp. Verdict Maybe I expected too much from a child-friendly franchise movie, maybe I'm being overly harsh; I just couldn't help but feel massively disappointed. In all fairness, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom achieves what it sets out to make; a loud, fast, and entertaining enough action-adventure movie which families will flock in their thousands to see; I have no doubt that it'll have a huge taking at the box office. I just wish J.A.Bayona had more free rein, or that the studio had been more willing to take risks. What we've been left with is a movie which is as average as they come: A movie which showed such promise, and really could have been something special. For me, the movie is saved from falling into complete mediocrity by the (admittedly few) windows of greatness that could have been; something I attribute to the director. Should you go see it at the cinema? Yes, absolutely. Is it something I'd want to purchase on release? Probably not. 6/10
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dazt35
Jun 07, 2018
In Film Reviews
A comfortable contender for film of the year. The Breadwinner depicts the story of Parvana, a young girl living in the early 2000s, Taliban controlled Afghanistan. Selling her family's meagre wares on the dusty streets of Kabul with her father – a teacher by trade, and crippled veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war – it's soon made clear that the presence of females on the streets is unappreciated. Amidst potential customers and gun-toting fundamentalists, Parvana's father - Nurullah reminisces about his youth. "When I was young, Parvana, I knew what peace felt like, here in the city. Children went to school, women went to university." It's clear that these are values Nurullah still holds dear as he openly teaches Parvana about history; capturing the attention of the local Taliban. After a heated exchange in which Nurullah insults Idrees – a former pupil, but now a young and volatile member of the Taliban – Parvana and her father decide to head home: Where Pavana begins telling a story that guides us through the duration of the film. Unfortunately, the Taliban have also followed them home; led by a still incensed Idrees who has Nurullah arrested for owning "forbidden books" and "using them to teach women." Left with no means of supporting themselves (women aren't allowed out without a male escort, and Parvana's older brother has died), Parvana takes it upon herself to cut her hair and don her older brothers clothes so she can provide for her family and set her father free. From Cartoon Saloon, the creative minds behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea comes – quite possibly – the studios most brilliant film to date. Directed by Nora Twomey (The Secret of Kells), The Breadwinner is as heart-breaking as it is uplifting, as sombre as it is humorous, and as unpleasant as it is beautiful. The animation and soundtrack work in tandem to create something incredibly special: A melancholic and salient movie suitable for the whole family. Beautifully rendered and lavish cutout animation serves as the backbone of the film; providing a channel for the all-important mythical folk tale told throughout by Parvana. The scenes set in the present – the main body of the film – use Cartoon Saloon's signature, stunningly hand-drawn animation, and if you've ever seen Song of the Sea, it will be instantly recognisable. This time, however, a conscious decision has been made to keep separate the whimsical and the ordinary:Where the animators in Song of the Sea mixed the folk elements with the actual throughout, The Breadwinner uses its signature style to ground us in the present and create striking, haunting, and poignant visuals of a country torn apart by conflict. The narrative flits between these two elements cosily; increasing in cadence as the movie progresses, building to a thrilling climax which is exciting, terrifying, and ultimately, heart-breaking. I'll go into more detail about this in a separate and spoiler-filled post, as I really, really enjoyed the way this movie used the animation, soundtrack, and different narrative elements; weaving it all together to create a brutally frank, yet uplifting experience. "Stories remain in our hearts when all else has gone" - Says Nurullah. And stories, whether they be historical or fantastical, represent a consistently fundamental theme throughout Cartoon Studio's films. Here, they serve as our gateway into the culture and history of a proud nation wracked by foreign intervention. A nation, whom until very recently, appreciated a radically different way of life: One of freedoms and equality. The Breadwinner deals significantly with the issue of women's rights and prompted me – rather strangely – to think of Babak Anvari's fantastic, Under the Shadow; at least in the way, it approaches its female characters and the problems they face. And, like Under the Shadow, The Breadwinner is a celebration of the strength of the women living under such a harshly patriarchal, and authoritarian society. Verdict The Breadwinner is not just an amazing animated film; it's just amazing, period. The voice casting is superb, the story is magical, and the striking animation and beautiful soundtrack bring everything together to make something truly special. Genuinely, this is quite possibly the best movie of the year so far: I wouldn't be surprised if it was still at the top spot by the end of the year. The Breadwinner has quickly become one of my favourite movies of all time: I fell in love with it immediately and I honestly can't recommend it enough. It takes some tracking down, but you need to see this movie, even if you're not a fan of animated film. It's so important to support this kind of filmmaking; mature, animated films for the entire family which doesn't attempt to shield children from unpleasant situations, and aren't afraid to explore the darker and deeper aspects of life. The Breadwinner is a movie I'll not only be purchasing on release to watch again and again but one I'll actively be searching out and collecting memorabilia for. Please, go and see this film, take your kids; you won't be disappointed. 10/10
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dazt35
May 20, 2018
In Film Reviews
A worthy sequel for the potty-mouthed red menace After suffering a personal tragedy and hitting rock bottom, Wade Wilson (Deadpool) finds himself seeking consolation at the X-Mansion where he's reunited with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. However, after a training mission goes badly wrong and spending time in the Icebox – a notorious mutant prison – Deadpool's priority changes. Deadpool sets about building a team of rogue mutants with the aim of rescuing Russell – a 14-year-old boy and fellow mutant – from the clutches of the brutal, time-traveling mutant known as, Cable. I had been concerned about Deadpool 2 after the news that director, Tim Miller had left the project over "creative differences" with the lead actor, Ryan Reynolds: stating he "didn't want to make some stylised movie that was 3 times the budget." I have to say, that is essentially what has happened, and something that made Deadpool the success that it was has been lost along the way. Deadpool 2 then, is another example of bigger not always being better. Fortunately, the film retains enough of its predecessor's charm, wit, and other unique qualities to get it through. The cast from the first film are back in full force: Ryan Reynolds reprises his role of Wade Wilson (Obviously - who else?) and T.J. Miller returns as Weasel, Wade's wise-cracking but cowardly friend. Fan favourites, Brianna Hildebrand and Stefan Kapicic return as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus respectively, along with a mixed bag of new mutants including the brilliant Zazie Beetz as Domino. Deadpool 2 is another strong outing for Josh Brolin in his second Marvel appearance of the year and – like Thanos before him – is able to create a truly three dimensional and sympathetic character in Cable. Overall, the cast is excellent, I enjoyed all the new characters and was thrilled to see Brianna and Stefan return. My only issue with the film (in regards to the cast at least) is that I'd like to have seen a good deal more from Brianna and Shioli Katsuna - who plays Yukio, a new addition to the cast and Negasonic's girlfriend. Negasonic was one of my favourite characters in Deadpool, but here, she never really gets involved, and Yukio's abilities are teased towards the end of the third act but never really explored sufficiently. The soundtrack and cinematography are adequate but nothing like as memorable as Deadpool and the action scenes are competently shot, although some of the larger set-pieces do suffer from the usual Marvel movie problem of looking over-manufactured. In contrast, the smaller fight scenes feel considerably more physical, concise, and enjoyable; something sorely missing from many recent Marvel releases. Verdict Whilst never quite reaching the same heights as its predecessor, Deadpool 2 retains its razor-sharp wit, deadpan humour, and proves itself a worthy sequel to one of my favourite 'superhero' movies of recent years. Deadpool 2 keeps up the tradition of its fourth wall breaking, self-referential humour and parodying of superhero genre cliches, even if it does fall into a few in the process. The cast is superb and – working off a splendid script – delivers their lines faultlessly. Where the film falters slightly is, firstly in the story, and secondly in trying to be bigger and louder than it needs to be. No-one goes to see a film like Deadpool 2 to watch something with an underlying, philosophical message about the importance of family. I'm sorry, but they just don't, and yet that's exactly what this film attempts. There's also a real fear for me that the Deadpool movies may be getting a bit too big for their boots, as they say. The first film was better for being less over the top and more modest in the scale of its set-piece action scenes. I fear that future films could soon become more corporate and lose more of what made them special; until they're just more of the same. For now at least, this will be another film to add to my collection and one I very much enjoyed seeing at the cinema. 8/10
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dazt35
May 15, 2018
In Film Reviews
An admirable attempt, but ultimately flawed. Thanos, heads for Earth in search of the missing infinity stones, leaving behind a heartless, empty trail of disappointment across the galaxy. Infinity War, for me at least, can best be described as a missed opportunity. A film that could — no — should have been great. An accumulation of 10 years of storytelling and character building...for this. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad film by any means and what it does right it does really well. And yes, I know there is a second Infinity War movie coming out next year (whatever it ends up being named), I just can't help but feel that this movie was a massive anti-climax. Avengers:Infinity War is big in every way. The running time is big, the cast is big, and the action is big. Unfortunately, bigger doesn't always mean better, and that is certainly the case here. Compared to some of Marvel's more recent releases (Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, etc.) Infinity War falls short in several ways. However, it is saved from falling into mediocrity by some excellent on-screen chemistry and superb super-hero match-ups. And this is Infinity War's greatest forte; its cast and the efficiency with which it handles so many big-name heroes on screen. The structure of the film allows for some unusual groupings (Thor and the Guardians being one of the most entertaining), and seeing these characters meeting and reacting to one another is an absolute treat. There are far too many actors involved in this film to be detailing everyone's performance, but I think it's fair to say that everyone was terribly good. Honourable mention goes to Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Josh Brolin, who worked really hard to make Thanos as intimidating, and as big a screen-filling a presence as possible. In many ways, Infinity War is Thanos's movie, and Josh Brolin is able to make it his own. Due to his performance, Thanos comes across as more than the usual zealot hell-bent on destroying the universe and more of a troubled soul who has been burdened with the knowledge that the universe can't sustain itself. Unfortunately, he never feels as intimidating as he should, due – in no small part – to the way the film is structured. I, like most people, knew going into this film that some of the characters would die. In fact, I was banking on it. The problem is, the film is set-up in such a way that any of the deaths can be rescinded on a whim, and as a consequence, none of the deaths really had any emotional impact. Clearly, I can't really elaborate on this point much more than I have thus far for fear of entering spoiler territory, but this made the movie feel cold-hearted and seemed like a missed opportunity for something special; a melancholic and poignant superhero movie. Visually, most of this film is fine. However, there is some unforgivably bad CGI to be found throughout. (Hulk fighting Thanos looked awful.) This has been a problem with Marvel films for some years now and really shouldn't be happening anymore. The problem Infinity War has is that it relies too much on CGI, which is a drawback when you're not that good at it. With Thanos and his "children" all being computer generated – something that works for Thanos, but is a bizarre design choice for the others – and the usual over the top leaping through the air and punching each other through walls, the movie promptly started to feel nauseatingly familiar. Verdict Regrettably, I can't go into any more specifics about the things that really bothered me in this film as I'd end up to my knees in spoiler creek without a paddle. But I think (for me at least) the film seemed like too much of the same, and far too many of the little annoyances Marvel films often accommodate, and far too long. The film does sort of take risks; killing a throng of characters that you'd perhaps not expect to see die, but ultimately, it's meaningless. I know this review has perhaps seemed unreasonably negative, and as such, I'd like to end on the more positive aspects. Infinity War was inevitably going to be an enormous undertaking, and on the whole, the Russo's have done a commendable job at keeping it all together. Particularly impressive is how they've handled so many different actors and their intertwining storylines. The humour is on par with what you might expect from a Marvel movie and works well throughout. The cast of characters are all brilliant, and Thanos is exemplary in every way; impressive for a CG creation. Maybe if I were more invested in the characters or the Marvel universe in general, I might have enjoyed the film more. There's no doubt in my mind that for its main audience, the film will be seen as a remarkable success. Should you see this film at the cinema? Absolutely! Would I buy it on release? Probably not. 7/10
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dazt35
May 05, 2018
In Film Reviews
The horror experience that silenced an audience It's well recognised that in horror, both silence and sound can be equally terrifying. This is a dynamic A Quiet Place plays around with extremely well, following a family trying to stay alive as sounds sensitive creatures stalk them. It's a risky move for a first-time horror director, as films with a singular central premise tend to live or die by how consistently they are implemented. It's difficult to get right and easy to slip-up; creating inconsistencies that can completely derail a movie. John Krasinski clearly has a keen eye for detail, and I made sure to take note of as many of the sound related specifics I could; but not once did I spot something that took me out of the experience. That's what this film was for me, a true cinematic experience. "An afternoon showing of a film like this should be pretty quiet" - I told my partner (with no pun intended), as we stood in line for tickets, undeterred by the crowds of people whom I assumed had children with them. As we got seated in one of the larger screens at our local cinema; waiting for the film to begin, it became apparent I had been mistaken. Near to capacity, the screen was very busy and loud. Something that had troubled me having known about the movie's reliance on sound, or the lack of it. Phones beeped, people chirped, the cinema snacks rustled and crunched, and I despaired. Finally, the lights dimmed, the screen did that weird stretchy thing, and the film started. Then, silence. Within seconds, utter silence. The opening scene: an abandoned supermarket with little other than crisps left on the shelves and the Abbott family carefully, and quietly scavenging for supplies. The leaden nature of the film was apparent immediately, and the severity of the consequence of making any sound was made horrifically clear soon after. The Abbotts, in general, seem to have adapted to this new-found need for silence better than most. Thanks – in no small part – to their daughter being deaf, an important plot point, and meaning they can communicate through sign language. Never before have I been in a screening for a movie that had the audience so united in fear of making any noise themselves. The feeling of dread and distress I felt watching this film hadn't been so jarring since my first viewing of (Ridley Scott's.) Alien. It was Brilliant! The cinematography here is excellent, with both panoramic and close-up shots being used to ruthless efficiency to create a sense of eerie loneliness and claustrophobia. It's a really clever pairing that works well in horror if applied correctly. The vast openness of the landscape creates the illusion of freedom and opportunity, their situation dictates otherwise. Much like in Alien – which used the vast openness of space and a spaceship with incredibly narrow corridors to create the same ambience – the family are little better than prisoners, being unable to travel far, or anywhere unfamiliar; it's just too risky. The soundtrack is also outstanding and is particularly important in a movie like this. Mixing understated, mood-setting music with many natural, ambient sounds is something Crimson Peak did extraordinarily well; A Quiet Place follows suit. The cast is superb. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as husband and wife – Lee and Evelyn Abbott – both give (perhaps unsurprisingly), excellent and genuine performances. Their relationship as a married couple is never in doubt - perhaps because they are actually married? Special mention should unquestionably go to young Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe – Regan and Marcus Abbott – however, who are exemplary in every aspect of their performances. This is the first time I've seen either of them on screen, and I can't wait to see what they've both done before, and what they'll both do in the future. These two are definitely ones to watch. Verdict "I was never a horror movie guy" - says John Krasinski, which makes this movie's success all the more impressive. After adapting the screenplay and deciding to direct the film, John watched several modern horror movies; Crediting "Get Out", "The Witch" and "The Babadook" as "influential with how people do tension and terror." I agree. But, the film also borrows heavily from classics like Alien, Jaws, Rosemary's Baby, and The Birds and it really shows. A Quiet Place is a masterclass of suspense and edge of your seat horror, and it draws you in and clutches you from the very first scene; not letting go until well after the end credits roll. 10/10
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dazt35
May 02, 2018
In Film Reviews
Greta Gerwig's warm and fond tribute to family, love and home Lady Bird is the coming-of-age tale of Christine McPherson; or "Lady Bird", as she demands to be known. It deals with all the usual genre tropes; angst, high-school popularity, rebellion, bad sex, there's even a prom scene. What sets Lady Bird apart from similar films is that these cliches are only the setting. The basis being the relationship between the two leads. It's where the film really shines; with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf both giving a sincere and intense portrayal of the up and down nature of mother-daughter relationships. Lady bird isn't a movie that deals with false, over-the-top dramas for the sake of excitement. It's a movie that has been carefully put together, piece by piece, by director Greta Gerwig, as a loving homage to her own pre-adolescence. Sacramento, California, 2002. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother - Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf), are driving home after a tour of Californian colleges. Although initially enjoying listening to the radio together, the mood soon sours with Christine declaring she wants to apply to out-of-state colleges. "I want to go to the east coast! I want to go where culture is!" Marion is dead set against it, knowing the family can't afford the tuition. An argument begins and quickly escalates as Marion berates her daughters' work ethic: "The way that you work... or the way that you don't work... you're not even worth state tuition, Christine." During the climax of this argument – which is now just Marion talking over her daughter – angry, and not wanting to sit and listen anymore, Christine throws herself out of the car; which results in a broken arm. This opening scene tells you all you need to know about Christine and Marion and their relationship; which is central to this film. Christine is impulsive, melodramatic, and sometimes selfish; believing herself to be the unfortunate product of her upbringing, declaring: "I wish I could live through something." But, she's also ambitious and artistic; proving to be a talented actor. Marion is a loving and caring mother; a nurse by profession. But, she's clearly troubled by the situation her family has found themselves in. As a result, her behaviour can be unhelpful. Larry McPherson (Tracey Letts), Christine's father has lost his job and suffers from depression, something her age won't allow her to appreciate. There's a really interesting dynamic at play between these three that never feels insincere. With both parents playing very different roles; dad being more placid and agreeable, someone Christine regularly confides in. And mum being of stronger character, more realistic, and as a consequence, more irritable; at one point, scolding her daughter for leaving her clothes out and unfolded on the bedroom floor. "Some of your friends' fathers could employ your father, and they're not gonna do it if it looks like his family is trash." What impressed me most about this movie is how coherently it characterised the monotonous but overripe nature of adolescence, with the oft-unappreciated sacrifices of being a parent; all through the eyes of one character. All whilst never seeming unfair to anyone. In many ways, Lady Bird reminded me of Richard Kelly's brilliant, darkly comic Donnie Darko. Not in tone, but in the sense, they act as an antithesis to the cliched teen movie. Now that I think about it, there are many similarities between the two films and I wouldn't be surprised at all if some influence hadn't been garnered from Donnie Darko as a whole, or from Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Donnie himself. Either way, bravo! The performances here are superb, and the cinematography and soundtrack create a warmth which radiates throughout the film. Whatever issue Christine may find and/or imagine with her surroundings or even the people in it. This is home; and she treasures it, whether she realises it or not. Verdict Whilst Lady Bird contains several coming-of-age cliches, it distances itself from similar, more contrived movies by being about more than that. At its heart, this is a film about family, friendship, hope, and love. Thanks to some excellent writing and directing by Greta Gerwig and stellar performances throughout, this film feels personal and almost caring, not just for Greta herself, but to the audience in general. So accessible is this movie, that almost anyone could find something familiar; something to relate to. A younger audience may attach itself to Christine, whilst an older audience may look upon it in nostalgia. The parents among us will undoubtedly be more empathetic towards Christine's parents, their sacrifices and the unreserved love they have for all their children. Regardless, lady Bird is a beautifully well-made movie, one that made me cry, made me laugh, but more importantly, filled me with a warmth that reappeared every time I thought about it. I've thought about it a lot. 10/10
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dazt35
Apr 20, 2018
In Film Reviews
An incredible and absurdist film, but one that's profoundly relevant With not being particularly familiar with Wes Anderson's previous work, but a big fan of stop-motion animation, I had no idea what to expect. I thought – having seen the trailer – I may get some slightly bizarre, other-worldly tale of a boy and his dog. And I suppose I did really! But there's so m