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Itunu Itunz Akinbode
Jan 29, 2018
In Film Reviews
Scott Pilgram Vs The World is a Edgar Wright cult classic starring Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a loser who plays base for a band started in a living room with some friends. Now off the cuff nothing really special about what I’ve just described right? Wrong, upon first view, the opening credits hints at exactly what type of movie you are about to watch. We are introduced to Scott (24 yrs) via a highly inappropriate romantic relationship with 17 year old school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). She seems to adore Scott and his friends comment of his decision to date a high school girl following his previous failed relationship, we’ll speak on that later. As the opening scene introduces us to his band (Sex Bob-omb) we witness the stylistic choice Edgar Wright chooses to use for this film. Based off a comic of the same name by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Wright emphasises on comic style imagery, scene transitions and character direction to make it feel as if you were reading a comic book rather than watching a film. As mentioned earlier, the opening opening scene transitions from sex bob-omg simply rehearsing one of their songs into it being the theme song for the opening credits. I am a big fan of Wright’s direction style with his filmography including some of my all time favourite movies (Cornetto Trilogy, Attack the Block), but on this occasion I truly believe he was able to find a perfect balance of comedy with total insanity. The premise of this movie is Scott who is currently in a relationship with Knives meets Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl with a weird taste in hair dye, he becomes infatuated with her and ultimately woo’s her with his strange ways. Unbeknown to him, Ramona has 7 exes, and in order for Scott to truly be with her, he must overcome them, via combat. As Scott encounters all 7 exes, he is faced with having to dig deep and find something within himself to overcome each obstacle. The film follows the narrative in from the comics, with Scott having to fight both male and female exes, and the fight scenes are styled as if you were playing a fighting game like Tekken or Street Fighter, with Scott earning points for combos, there being a consistent trend of someone shouting ‘Fight’ prior to the beginning off every bout and Scott earning a reward if when he defeats each opponent. Wright is able to fuse the comical elements, expertly delivered by Cera, with the dramatic plot of Scott’s fascinations with Ramona, the first fight includes a sing and dance number, something that would seem preposterous on paper but turned out great and fitted with the narrative of the insane world Scott has been thrown into. At first all that is happening seems to confuse Scott and he shows no seriousness towards what is happening, but as he begins to understand that in order for him to get his girl, this is what he must do, we begin to see a shift in Scott from a goofy character to one determined to win at all costs. The film starts to slow a little bit towards the middle of the second act , in which Scott has to fight a movie star, a lesbian ex lover, a super hero vegan, twins who happen to be DJ’s and the final ex Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). Some would ask what exactly it is about Ramona that makes Scott willing to go so far to get her, and from their on screen chemistry, it doesn’t exactly scream comparable. Ramona is often very introverted, mild mannered and quiet, the contrast of Knives, not Scott’s ex, who is outspoken, animated and naive to say the least. This decision to have both women in Scott’s life be the antithesis of each other is a ploy used by the screenwriter to explore Scott’s mental state, dos he want to stay a child, living a stone’s throw away from his childhood home, sharing a mattress with his best friend or does he want to ‘grow up’ an repeated rhetoric lambasted at him by his sister and close friends? This film examines at what point we all must develop an inner monologue about who we are and set standards for ourselves as we look to grow and develop as individuals. By the end of the movie, Scott is tasked with facing the final ex and the ‘Boss Villian’ in gaming terms, Gideon Graves. Graves has somehow been able to manipulate Ramona into dumping Scott and and returning to him, along with signing Sex Bob-Omb (minus Scott) to play for him. It seems like Scott is lower than ever, but the third act delivers Scott’s redemption as he able to harness not the power of ‘Love’ (He tried that and had to restart the level, another game reference), but the power of ‘Self respect’. At the end of the movie and comics Scott ends up with none other than Knives, as he comes to understand that although their relationship may have seemed inappropriate on first glance (Age difference), Scott was enjoyed being with her, he enjoyed quoting obscure facts nobody cared about, he enjoyed playing video games with her and he loved the fact she cared so much about his ambitions to be part of a great band. Whereas, with Ramona it was just an obsession with a girl he had no real connection or compatibility with. Scott Pilgram Vs The World poses that same question to the viewer, are you someone willing to stick with something that might seem inconvenient to you at the time or are you willing to sacrifice your happiness for what you would perceive as a more overtly satisfying relationship in which compatibility is out of the question? The witty dialogue and comedic moments shine at the hands of Edgar Wright and for me its no surprise this film in the last 7 years has build a massive cult following. Although not a smash in the domestic box office, racking in just over $31M from a $85M budget, it has since garnered the acclaim it rightly deserves with many praising Wright for his forward thinking and stylistic decisions. I would suggest giving this movie a watch with some friends and can guarantee a laugh, if not a cheer for our nerdy protagonist. Check out the trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs the World below.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010) @itunzspeaks Review content media
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Itunu Itunz Akinbode
Jan 11, 2018
In Film Reviews
Baby Driver is the 6th film in the filmography of Edgar Wright, starring Anlsel Elgort(Fault In Our Stars, The Divergent Series), Jamie Foxx (Ray, Django Unchained) & Kevin Spacey (House of Cards). The film is based around a guy by the name of Baby, who has found himself being the unfavourable position of being the get-away driver for a natorious criminal gang. Baby, an exceptionally skilled driver battles his inner demon’s after the loss of his parents in a car accident when he was young and dealing with tinnitus, a side effect of said accident. He uses music to drown out the noise and is determined to overcome his past mistakes and build a better life for himself and those he cares most about. Edgar Wright infuses his classic high octane style with his patented musical narrative to produce a well balanced product. If you have read my review of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World then you know I love his style of direction and a lot of his films have found their way into my favourites list. Baby Driver is no different but what I found to be most commendable from Wright was his ability to deliver an action film without falling into the pot holes that most do when delivering a film of this type. What you tend to get sometimes is the overindulgence of explosions, car chases, things that look good on the screen but have no real substance or even engages the characters you are watching to you in any sympathetic or relatable way. However, Wright is able to provide all of the above without neglecting things like character development, ensuring that the story makes sense and that the motivations of the characters fit into the narrative he is creating. Baby driver could be seen as just another heist/action film with a romantic subplot, and to a certain degree it is, but what it has going for it however, is it’s ability to keep the viewer occupied, whether that be with its musical soundtrack, turning a simple coffee run into a fun continuous long take, infusing some of the lyrics into the backdrop of the scenes to give it a music video type feel, to the comedic moments that gives it a freshness from the intense action that follows. Although when you compare Baby Driver to other classic heist films of the past it may not have all the twist and turns that encompass a classic but it did more than enough to make the main protagonist an empathetic figure in the viewers eyes. It can be one of the most overlooked narrative points when directing a movie but ensuring that the audience relates to the struggles of your main character ensures that towards the end of the film, we as the audience are all in to see a happy ending. Certain traits like love, loyalty or even courage are all tools the screenwriter & director uses to sell the main character to the audience as someone to root for, and even of they end upon mankind bad decisions, as we see at the start of this movie, we as the audience tend to justify their actions in our head because of the fact we are now empathetic to why they have made these bad decisions. So as we are introduced to Baby (Ansel Elgort) driving a get-away car after a bank robbery, we wonder what possible reason does he have for being a criminal, later down the line we see his home dynamic and this unlikely candidate wins the audience over as he displays not only his quirky charm, but also his skills and with the introduction of his romantic interest, the love he has to give. Jamie Foxx (Bats) stands out for the criminally short amount of screentime he was given in this film, along with Kevin Spacey (Criminally underused in my opinion in this), as Foxx plays a unstable criminal with trust issues who takes a particular interest ion Baby. Spacey’s character, who is a blank, straight to the point leader of the ever-changing crime gang, has a character change near the middle of the third act but for the first half of the film excels as the criminal mastermind who has one over on baby and seems to be extorting him, further empathising Baby in the audience’s eyes. The addition of the love interest, Debra (Lily James), gives the film a new dynamic and gives Baby the motivation he needs to rebel against the situation he has been forced into motivating his coming of age as he becomes his own man. The ending was a little rushed and it felt like his happily ever after, although earned, was only placed there to ensure the movie didn’t seem pointless, often a narrative heist movies end up having. I still utterly enjoyed this movie and would recommend you watch it with some friends over a pizza or something.
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Itunu Itunz Akinbode
Jan 11, 2018
In Film Reviews
Blade Runner 2049 is a Denis Villeneuve directed film starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and MY Joker aka Jared Leto. Villeneuve is one of the best directors working in film today, infact if you look at his filmography, with the last 2 as your point of comparison, he continues to surpass himself film after film (Check out Sicario and Arrival). Blade Runner is a follow up to the Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner (1982) that starred Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a retired cop, known in the year 2019 as a ‘Blade Runner’ who is tasked with retiring (Killing) human-like androids called replicants. In the original, Ridley Scott is able to create a film noir masterpiece, still highly regarded for its artistry and substance, as it delves on the themes of identity and love. The original ask’s the audience to question their sense of loyalty to ones species vs their sense of compassion and empathy as we witness yh witch hunt of rogue replicants who strive for more than their creators will. Scott was able to paint these non-human characters with so much humanity and complexity, whilst creating an almost un-human like characters for the actual humans in the movie. In the dystopian future he creates, due to man made pollution and destruction, any wildlife or organic foods are a thing of the past and have been replaced with genetically created crops and mechanically created animals. This absence of life is shown to have utterly deprived humankind off its humanity and they, are the ones shown to behave mechanical, without emotion and completely rational. Deckard is shown to be the same, until he meets Rachel, who is shown to be, unbeknown to her a replicant, through a series of tests Rickard is able to conclusively determine her to be a replicant but when faced with the decision to kill her, he decides against it but instead decides to flee with her. Throughout the film, Rickard is plagued with dreams, specifically of a unicorn, Scott uses this imagery along with Rickard’s tick for tat relationship with Gaff, a colleague who seems to know the contents of his dreams. This was an indicator to the audience that Deckard might have been a replicant himself. The film ended without conclusively stating whether or not Deckard was a replicant but when asked in interviews following the re-relaease of the directors cut of the film, Scott confirmed Deckard to be a replicant. Blade runner 2049 picks up with this same world 30 years later, as we are introduced to K (Ryan Gosling), a blade runner and replicant who after terminating an older model of replicants stumbles upon a mastery that will drive the film as its main narrative. Within the last 30 years since the original, much has changed, along with the new model of cooperative replicants, the Tyrell company who were the originators of these human-like droids have long since gone bankrupt and have been bought out by the Wallace group headed by godlike mogul Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). Similarly to the original 2049 places K as the central figure in the storyline as it is he who we first meet, we find out what drives him as a replicant and a blade runner and also what differentiates him from others in the world we are watching. K is shown to have a longing desire for love and companionship, a void he attempts to fill by attempting to role play a human like romantic relationship with an artificial intelligence, shown in the form of a woman called Joi (Ana De Armas). Throughout the course of the film, their relationship is shown to have all the traits of a normal relationship apart from the physical sexual experience, an action Joi tries her best to fulfil using another woman (Don’t ask me, just watch it for yourself and see). Villeneuve is known for not placing style over substance, although his stylistic choices look excellent on screen, he still able to play with numerous concepts whilst delivering a visually outstanding film. On this occasion he had big shoes to fill, with the original being a stand out for Sci-Fi, Scott painted a beautifully disastrous post-modern world with bleak backdrops filled with beautiful neon colours as technology is shown to have advanced well beyond what we can say we have achieved in reality in 2017, 2 years off the original date in the film. 2049 does deliver a visually stunning world, outdoing its predecessor, as the vibrant colours, practical and CG effects blend beautifully to place us the viewers in a believable post-post modern world, its safe to say I am eagerly anticipating a world where flying cars can have drones that survey a large mass of area to let me know if there’s traffic ahead. Back to the Villeneuve, he dances around similar themes to the original with K having an identity crisis near the middle of the second act leading to him to believe he might be the first of his kind, a replicant not created but born. What is important to note with Gosling’s performance is the expectation leading in, during the marketing campaign, he was sold as the mark 2 version of Deckard’s character from the original, but watching the film I was pleasantly surprised by his performance. His subtle yet strong performance as the lead of the movie would have you believe, as the narrative teased, that he was the character in question, but as we find out in the final act of the film, the child in question isn’t K, leading to this existential crisis. The whole movie had teased his identity being more than what he had always known it to be, but as his character development lead to him breaking out of his usual cycle, it is then shown to be nothing more than a bluff. The film gives subtle red herrings before the final reveal and although the ending teased at the possibility of a final film to complete the trilogy, the ending of K’s story was bittersweet, with his desire for love and a greater identity beyond what he known being left unfulfilled, his final choices maybe gave a glimmer of hope for a far greater development than what is witnessed on the surface. In the first scene of the movie, K before terminating a rogue replicant called Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) is told that he has never witnessed a miracle, this seems to be what drives him to investigate this rare information of a born replicant, and what ultimately what causes him to help reunite Deckard with his child. Clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, 2049 is not for the easily distracted or impatient. It is a slow build, a trait of Villeneuve’s recent work (Seriously, check out Sicario and Arrival). The pacing starts off slow and with little to know action in this film, Villeneuve really asks the audience to pay attention, to feel the emotions of the characters both human and replicant and like the original, decide for yourself who the real villains are. This film is not jam packed with dialogue either, yes Leto is in two scenes in the entire movie and his character seems to fall into the Jared Leto archetype character of long emotive dialogue that leave much to be desired, but this film does a lot in silence. It builds, it holds and it grips you with tense and clever camera work. The score alone was excellent but attached with the stunning visuals I spoke about earlier, it really questions your patience as it meticulously plods along with no real desire to rush its conclusion. It may be easy to say 2049 adopts a lot of what the original started, and so it should. It pays homage to what Scott started but does a nice job of not simply repeating the same narrative in its attempts to appear like a continuation. As I said with K’s character, it’s easy to misjudged and assume he is nothing more than a copy and paste version of Deckard, what it does however, is subte neaunces of the original but with an originality that makes it unique and different. It has no qualms with taking your criticism of it being a replicant itself, but buys into it gaining your attention then delivering a masterpiece that to me stylistically but maybe not thematically surpasses its superior. When Deckard finally meets K, I expected there to be a witty repartee between them and to a certain degree there was, but at the time the narrative lead to their relationship being more than just an old replicant meeting its newer model, what we did get was great acting. Ford buys into the film and it showed as he seems to have all the charm and vigour he showed in his other reprised role (Han Solo). The scene that stood out to me was the involvement of Rachel’s character from the original, she is repurposed and used as a way to convince Deckard to give up the location of his child, but what I found pretty cool was the way she was used and how CG continues to develop in Hollywood today. When I watched Rogue One, one of the stand out moments was the involvement of the Tarkin scenes. Now everyone that knows Star Wars knows that the actor that played him is longer alive but with the development of CG he was able to still be a fleshed out character before our very eyes. Many weren’t fans and quoted begrudgingly the uncanny valley (Google it), for me, the computer-generated Rachel (Sean Young) that appears in 2049 may be the best example yet of CG being used to resurrected deceased or aged actors for new roles. Villeneuve said in a recent interview “It [takes] very long to do. That’s the thing that maybe saved my ass–is that I limited the amount of shots [with CGI Sean Young in them]“. I can testify that on this occasion, Blade Runner has far less Uncanny Valley than Rogue One suffered. Blade Runner 2049 has a lot going for it, it is beautiful to watch, smart, and slow but entertaining for the length that it is. It treats the audience, whether you have watched the original or not, with a level of respect allowing you to interpret it how you see fit, but delivers on what the narrative the original started. And although nothing beats an original, I found it to be exactly what it was meant to be, a new story told through the lenses of the old without being an echo but rather creating a harmony that does justice to the beautiful melody the original created.
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