It’s been almost 10 years since the last instalment, but the latest release of Pixars’ crown jewel is still just as good as ever. Acting as an epilogue to the Andy trilogy, Toy Story 4 closes things well, yet still , leaves the door open for more fun down the road.
Directed by Josh Cooley
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks
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5 years after the underwhelming Godzilla, can the sequel make amends and set up the upcoming Godzilla v King King monster showdown? This time around, Godzilla is joined by more of his monster friends……….
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, Zhang Ziyi
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With half the year done and dusted, it’s an opportune time to look back at some of the low lights of the silver screen. What was awful, what simply just let us down? Let’s have a look!
Pacific Rim Uprising
As a standalone movie, Uprising is not all that bad a film, but when you associate it with the surprisingly popular Pacific Rim, is where things collapse. By removing the creative & dark Del Toro elements, and removing a magnetic lead such as Idris Elba, you are left with a very underwhelming film. Gone is the sombre and intense feel of the first, replaced by brightly coloured robots that can now be effortlessly controlled by teens, a la Power Rangers. Gone is the vast scale of grandeur and size, in comes the numerous product placements before the title card even shows up.
Truth or Dare
Considering this was created from the critically acclaimed Blumhouse Productions, whose previous works include Get Out, Happy Death Day and Split.Truth of Dare is a step back to the cheesy horror flick full of jump scares and idiotic characters. The plot is horribly convoluted for a by the numbers horror film, the cast is clichéd, and an ending so shambolic you will leave you astounded by what just happened! And let’s not forget the laughable ‘possessed’ demon faces…….
This really could be filed under ‘So bad, it’s good’, while it was nice to see Gabrielle Union play a role she really isn’t associated with, Breaking In starts off reasonable well, but as soon as the action begins, it loses all its tension and delves almost into parody. Where Union’s character got this military like experience, we don’t know. Guy gets run over twice by an SUV, then just randomly appears later without any sign of damage, sure why not. The entire audience was laughing as the final credits rolled! Which I guess makes it………. a good movie?!
The Cloverfield Paradox
‘’Stop trying to make Cloverfield happen……….It’s not going to happen’’
There was a reason why this convoluted mess was released on the sly on Netflix, at first, this was slated as an original movie, before studio intervention, The Cloverfield Paradox seems to be all over the place, floating between space horror, comedy and mystery, while never really sticking to one path. A shame considering the sheer talent of the cast involved in the project.
At over 140 minutes, Red Sparrow is one drawn out, turgid spy thriller. The premise of this movie were spies that were trained to seduce. But her character is frankly useless as a spy, wondering why she was even releases to go on field duty! The entire plot revolves around a mole in the KGB, which comes out of nowhere at the end with literally zero work leading up to it. It’s just……….boring.
So what movies this year let you down? let us know! 😀
See our spoiler-free review if you have not seen this film!!
(Though if you haven’t seen it by now, come on, what are you doing?)
Be sure to comment any points I may have left out.
So it is the long awaited arrival of the second installment of the new Star Wars Trilogy. There has been a large amount of hype for The Last Jedi and unfortunately for me I allowed myself to be dragged into the chaotic chorus of high expectations. After a nostalgic and interesting setup in The Force Awakens, an unrelated yet enjoyable Rogue One, and a tasty exhilarating trailer (with Porg goodness) I think we can all agree we were expecting good things. I, however, was less than fulfilled and found myself severely disappointed and close to anger on leaving the cinema. Probably not helped by the fact that my friends and I had been to the double-bill feature and had left the cinema at 3am after being there since 9pm!
Before I get into a laboured account of the negatives let’s start with something positive…
Yes they may be unnecessary and not at all relevant but it was an inventive solution to a problem and a creative reflection of the true location. Ahch-To, aka Skellig Michael, is just off the Southern Coast of Ireland and was the perfect location for the remote Jedi monasteries, what with the abandoned monasteries already present on the Island that were once home to Christian monks some 700-800 years ago.
Also present on the Island at certain times of year were PUFFINS! As the Island is a nature reserve, it would be wrong to remove the vast number of birds (not to mention logistically incredibly difficult), and to digitally erase the native birds would be hugely time consuming; so it was decided that they would have to roll with it and create a new indigenous species. Just like on the island, these birds get EVERYWHERE in the film (but thankfully not to an annoyingly obnoxious level) and even have an actually funny interaction with Chewbacca when he tries to eat one of them.
REY AND KYLO
This storyline was genuinely intriguing as you have a bridge between two characters who are still unsure of their paths and roles in the upcoming story (aren’t we all).
Each is trying to win the other to their side, while being slightly confused as to whether they are light or dark themselves. A mind bridge is created between the two characters by Supreme Leader Snoke, an ingenious plot to lead Rey to them and turn her to the dark side. Rey falls for this and seeks Kylo out as she still sees good in him. This plan back fires on Snoke, resulting in his death and an impressive fight scene between Kylo and Rey, and the Praetorian Guards. I personally enjoyed this fight, the style being a favourite of mine, mainly because of the way Rey and Kylo interact and fight alongside one another against the guards (however tentative the link between the two and how little they know of each other’s fighting style). Ultimately, they go their separate ways and leave the arc open to perhaps continue in Episode IX…
I liked it! Some people said he looked weird but I was glad to see him, being my favourite Star Wars character. Not only that, he is still schooling Luke even after being “dead” for decades and pushes him past this nihilistic stage of his life. Still the most subtle and natural laughs in the film and humbly awesome.
Well that’s me being nice…moving on!
SUPERMAN/MARY POPPINS/LEIA ORGANA
Right, I get she is force sensitive and there may be precedent for this scene in other obscure pieces of lore, games or series. But COME ON? Really? Also, I get this was filmed before she passed away (RIP, love and respect) but I really thought this was going to be it for Leia in the film. And it could have been so beautiful! I could feel myself tearing up as she gracefully floated through space in a dignified end to a powerful and forever rebellious character. But then she reached out her hand and force pulled herself back?!!? To a door that was not an airlock!! Which did not seem to bother anyone?! Except shields blah blah. NO! Some may say that it was an interesting twist and wasn’t expected but I believe it was just Disney rubbish and I wholeheartedly disagree with this scene. Not only that, now Leia’s death will either be reduced to a minor mention in the opening scrolling text, or some hurried and heavily CGI’d scene in Episode IX. I just can’t…
SLOWEST. CHASE. EVER
I think this was just a plot device whose sole purpose was to legitimise a pointless, convoluted and bloated sub-plot. I’ll get to this. A very long and drawn out plot device. Which also included an unnecessary deception from Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) again, purely a device to allow Finn and Rose to go on their redundant side-mission. They could have evacuated the ship and headed to Crait while the Vice-Admiral light-speed destroyed the First Order fleet, giving more time for a battle on the surface of Crait. This could have allowed more speeder vs. AT-AT battle, a ground siege of the base, and a more interesting utilisation of Phasma. Again, I’ll get to this.
I suppose Holdo’s light-speed attack came as a last minute realisation moment to save the fleet, and I will also submit that it was a visually impressive and made for an emotional scene. BUT even the prospect of an 18 hour snail-paced space chase when it was first mentioned made many people in the audience groan. It drew the pace of the film to a grinding halt and just seemed to me like a bit of a half-baked idea in order to give Finn a quest of his own. Speaking of which…
CANTO BIGHT SUB-PLOT
During the slowest chase in history Poe, Finn and Rose formulate a plan to find an individual named the Code-Breaker, stow aboard the First Order ship and destroy the tracking device inhibiting the Resistance fleet’s escape. Finn and Rose travel to Canto Bight for what turns out to be more of moral journey for Finn; as well as a display of the subtle effects of living under a fascist First Order and how easy it is to spread hope through the galaxy. I do understand the relevance of this scene and when Finn does take a closer look at his extravagant surroundings to the injustice lingering just beneath the surface it does pluck on a few heart strings. However, the execution felt forced, the message rushed and probably did not require as much dialogue as we were given, which collectively dampens the intended impact.
After exploring the casino settlement for a while, they manage to get themselves arrested ultimately due to a parking violation. In their cell they meet DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who they dismiss as some hack criminal. They escape with the help of children, fathiers (space horses), BB-8 and DJ who they then decide to bring along in place of the Code-Breaker. This backfires when DJ betrays them to the First Order, teaching them a valuable lesson about a) trusting strangers they meet in prison cells, and b) about the people who play both sides in war. The First Order Dreadnought is fortuitously destroyed seconds before Finn and Rose are to be executed, allowing a short face-off between Finn and Phasma. This is a gross misuse of both Benicio Del Toro and Phasma; who, although we were promised a grander role for this bad-ass Storm Trooper captain, was barely used and swiftly removed.
FINN AND ROSE
They had ZERO chemistry! And yet she decides to save Finn’s life and confess her love to him? No. Just no. He started out as a deserter and has a change of heart, wait…doesn’t that sort of happen in The Force Awakens? No, it’s all for Rey, always. Could we have a little character development please? The justification for most of his heroic actions is so that Rey is able to return to a safe and protected rebellion. Up until he calls himself “rebel scum”. I must admit I chuckled. Regardless, none of this explains why Rose would inexplicably fall in love with him. They never show anything resembling attraction to one another and yet she sacrifices herself to stop him from sacrificing himself. It felt forced and like so much of their storyline, unnecessary.
WASTED TALENT AND CHARACTERS
I have touched upon a couple of these points already but I think I should re-visit them in a little more detail. As the sub-title suggests, this film has failed to utilise both actors and characters that were presented to it. Top of the list for me, personally, was Supreme Leader Snoke. He could have been an immensely superior bad guy, resembling the Palpatine/Darth Sidious kind of presence; and yet, we learned nothing of his history, back-story or motivations. What makes this even more disappointing is that Andy Serkis gives a great performance, typical for his calibre. The scene where he finally meets Rey is interesting, he was at least given the chance to display some of his own power and I liked that he had orchestrated the mind bridge between Kylo and Rey. He’s a more stable villain than Kylo Ren and is way more sinister in my opinion. But he is killed-off in an instant in a way that an all powerful being should have seen. No matter how sneaky Kylo was being.
Battle for Supremity
That does not look pleasant
Speaking of Kylo Ren, I believe this character has so much potential but in both episodes VII and VIII he is a little whiny for my taste. I understand that he is conflicted about whether he is light or dark, but he could be played as a little less emo-teenager; having tantrums and hissy fits doth not make a Supreme Leader. I also understand that this is likely down to script and direction rather than Adam Driver’s portrayal, which is very good given the material he has received.
Another First Order character to lose out in this film was Captain Phasma, Rian Johnson has inexplicably risen her from the jaws of trash compactor only to give her an insufficient amount of screen time and a second apparent death. The new films are quite saturated with antagonists, what with Snoke (Darth Sidious), Kylo Ren (Darth Vader), General Hux (Grand Moff Tarkin), Phasma (Boba Fett?) is more in the background but then why hype up the character so much? Why put a prominent actress under the mask? And not just for the lulz like with the Princes and Daniel Craig. It was just a waste of quite a sinister, mysterious character, a great actress, and a waste of bringing her back.
Moving swiftly through to the next underused talent, Benicio Del Toro as “DJ”. Firstly, DJ isn’t even the “Codebreaker” Finn and Rose were sent to find, they decide that it would be a GREAT idea to recruit a man they meet in a prison cell and are then SHOCKED when he eventually betrays them to the First Order. Showing once and for all that War is an endless cycle with an area of grey between the opposing sides full of indifferent people profiting from the spoils. Although this is a great a message and something we haven’t seen before in the Star Wars movies, the creators could have focused more on the character’s back-story, motivations and given Del Toro more room to actually perform, rather than the over-edited scenes of Canto Bight we were actually exposed to. Again, I get the relevance of Canto Bight in Finn’s development from “I must help Rey” to “Rebel Scum”; but this could have been done using DJ as the “Codebreaker” to perhaps further delve into the deference, corruption and greed seen in that Casino town. But then where would we fit in space-horse racing?
CONTINUITY DOES NOT EXIST
J. J. Abrams gave us a nostalgic return to the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens in 2015; although many people criticised it due to it’s uncanny resemblance to the Episode IV plot (doesn’t seem so bad now doesit?), I very much enjoyed this instalment and many times found myself squealing and fan-girling in my seat. Unfortunately, Rian Johnson has decided to ignore most of what the previous film gave us and almost create a stand-alone movie.
The fact that the Resistance destroyed the Star-Killer Base in The Force Awakens seems to be of little consequence to the First Order, as they are now chasing the Resistance to the ends of the galaxy. This is a recurring theme even within The Last Jedi, even though Holdo destroys much of the First Order fleet with her light-speed attack, the First Order still have an army with which they can launch a ground assault on Crait. Furthermore, we still aren’t really sure where the First Order have come from and why they arose. Sure we have the maniacal ramblings and speeches from General Hux in both films, and the Opening Crawl text describes them as “risen from the ashes of the Empire”, but no real explanation as to where they came from and how they have amassed apparently infinite numbers of followers in just 30 years since the Empire was destroyed. If you read a little bit deeper in to the story outside the movies, you find out that Hux’s father was part of the previous Imperial movement as an overseeing officer at Arkanis Academy. But you need to look online or watch the Star Wars Rebels series to find out any of this.
This sort of comes under both continuity and characters but I decided to put it here as it’s another example of Rian Johnson’s complete disregard for the events of The Force Awakens. Rey’s parents. Her family was introduced as a mysterious enigma, a premise that had the fan theories going wild all over the internet. Is she a Solo? Is she a Skywalker? Is it going to be another obscure character from the numerous films, literature, games, or series? Nope. They’re nobody. But we all knew that in our hearts, right? I, like so many other people, hope that Kylo was lying so that he might destabilise her and draw her to his side. Please J. J. Abrams??
I wanna just circle back to Phasma for one second. A trash compactor?! But it’s OK! She’s fine! The chrome suit is just that strong! It will probably save from that fire too…
DO YOU REMEMBER EPISODES IV, V AND VI? DO YOU? DO YOU?!
There are quite a few of these so I’m going to bullet points these:
Rebels have been found by first order and are escaping their base aka Hoth
Ahch-Too aka Degoba
Black hole on Ahch-Too aka dark tree on Degoba
Rey sees her reflection, Luke sees himself in Vader
“I feel the good in you” spoken by Luke to Vader and Rey to Kylo
Obi-Wan, A New Hope – “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. Luke, The Last Jedi – Pretty much the same thing
The Emperor, Return of the Jedi – “Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance and the end of your insignificant rebellion”. Pretty much the same as Snoke’s scene with Rey where he tells her to watch the destruction of the Resistance.
Over the last few weeks we’ve heard a lot about whether Mark Hamill loved or hated the film. Also seen a couple of “Not my Luke Skywalker” posts.
I didn’t hate the character entirely, again these points go across sections so I made a special section, but I didn’t appreciate the injection of comedy and the very uncomfortable space-cow scene. It also seems strange to me that he can be so trusting and sure of the good in Vader during the original trilogy, but toys with murdering Ben Solo (before Kylo) because he’s sees a little darkness. The real issue we’ve had is the inconsistency; in The Force Awakens, we are told that Luke left a map behind so that the Resistance can find him if they find themselves in great need. But now he acts stubborn and obstructive when he is found by Rey. I understand why he would be reluctant to train Rey (at this point I turned to my friend and said “Too old, yes, too old to begin the training” nearly right) but he should be more supportive of the Resistance. I see the shift from Hero to Hope they are going for in this film, but it doesn’t quite match up with The Force Awakens, and will it progress into Episode IX?
Last but not least SPOILER Luke’s death. It was very creative the way they hinted at his projection by not leaving the red indentations on the planet Crait; however, would it have been cooler if Luke had actually been there? Sure there might be a timing issue (how’d he get there so fast?! A la Batman in Dark Knight Rises) but if he’d have actually deflected that attack it would have been an incredible display of power! Or, if he’d had projected himself, then NOT died, that would also have been good. I think him allowing Kylo Ren to defeat him would have been way too similar to Obi-Wan in A New Hope.
Overall, I guess you could say I was disappointed. The Last Jedi looks and feels like a Star Wars movie but lacks conviction, continuity and emotion.
Looking forward to the next movie, in the immortal words of Master Yoda: Failure is our greatest teacher.
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With 2017 coming to an end, it’s that time again to look at what films bring shame to the year! This is a list of the terrible films that I watched myself, can’t watch every movie! So if I’ve missed anything, leave a comment! 🙂
So in no particular order…..
Somethings are better left in the past, and Rings is a perfect example of this. One of the aspects that made the original so eerie was the vintage feel of the VHS tapes, with their disturbing static images. It loses this vital aspect when the story is moved into the present time of digital media. That aside, Rings was still an appalling reboot, riddled with all the cliches that haunt many poor horror movies. With a story that becomes a random investigation, that takes way too long during the middle act, it feels all over the place. The CGI on Samara is also overdone, making her look like a video game character, when the effects looked more chilling over a decade ago, it’s not a great sign.
Following on from the lamentable Ghost in the Shell remake earlier in the year, Deathnote was the latest Manga incarnation for the West, and being produced by Netflix, fans would have hoped for a respectable adaptation. Moving the story to America may have irked some fans, but this was not the biggest problem, moving it the US would make the film more appealing to the Western market. The issues were several fold, it ruined the main protagonist, who went from a smart calculating student, to an emotional stroppy teen driven solely by his hormones. The cerebral nature of the source, is reduced to hardly anything, and the directors choice to make this into some sort of tribute to Final Destination, with it gory over the top deaths made this comical.
A film so highly panned by critics and audience alike, it’s pretty much destroyed the hopes of Universals ‘The Dark Universe’, an extended monster-verse using the likes of The Mummy, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, before it even began! If it felt like DC were rushing their progress to The Justice League, The Mummy attempted to do everything in one movie! Even the star power of Tom Cruise could not save a film in which The Mummy is a supporting character, the hero and his love interest have zero chemistry and a detour in the middle of the film in which the entire movie is bought to a halt, just so they can tease future movies! A shocker!
This was by far the most underwhelming movie of the year for me. The Snowman is almost laughably funny, for a film that’s supposed to be shrouded in the gritty Scandinavian crime noir vibe. What we end up with is a hilariously predictable & tepid villain (seriously, they never explain why they were obsessed with snowmans), plot lines that literally go no where (oh hey there random winter Olympics bid) and characters making shockingly bad decisions for the sake of creating any sense of drama. Though it had a strong cast in Michael Fassbender & Rebecca Ferguson, both are utterly forgettable. Even the talented J.K Simmons is reduced to nothing here. Hard to see the movie follow up on a sequel, that it was teasing at the end of this dire movie.
Special mention to……
Something about Jamie Foxx being undercover for 5 years, mixed with some scenes from Taken. Pretty much all the time I shall give to this mundane thriller!
Flatliners can’t decide if it’s a medical drama, thriller, teen dorm comedy or just everything! What starts off as a unique concept, becomes so corny, you just don’t care!
Starring Emma Stone & Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes is the dramatization of the real life events in 1973 which lead to the creation of the WTA, the Women’s Tennis Association.
Battle of the Sexes takes a look back at the monumental clash between former men’s Number 1, Bobby Riggs (Carell), in the twilight on his career. Up against one of the top women’s players at the time, Billie Jean King (Stone) in an open challenge to the Women’s tour. Back in the early 70s, the Women’s game was highly disregarded in the male dominated game, with far less pay and recognition than their male counterparts. So the consequences of this clash would go far beyond the court.
Though the subject of the movie may be Tennis, the film takes a greater look into the inner conflicts and demons that our two protagonists are facing. King is struggling to deal with her sexuality, and the pressures of being away on tour from her husband. Whereas Riggs is trying to balance the end of a career with his increasing gambling addiction, which is causing immence strain in his relationship with his wife.
Battle of the Sexes is a slow burner, as the first hour focuses mainly off the court, with both Stone & Carell excelling in their performances. Though the role is far more serious than what he usually does, Carell still brings his trademark flair to the role of Riggs, bringing sympathy to a character who revels playing the pantomine villain in this show.
The struggles faced especially by King, against a system which simply does not treat her colleagues as a serious threat and the credibility they deserve provides the movie with an antagonist we can all get behind, the USLTA commsioner Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman). Sarah Silverman also shines bright as the resourceful & sassy manager of the breakaway LTA organisation.
Battle of the Sexes is a must watch for any fan of Tennis, as the influences of this event still reverberates today. It may feel like it does drag on at times, and the actual showdown isn’t as hyped up as it could have been, it feels like the drama on the court could have been built up far more greater. The 2 actors are not known for the physical roles, so it probably was expected to reduce the on court scenes in a minimum. However it’s the players personal battles off court, that soar above their battles on court.
Following on from the immense success of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, who had already scored hits such as Memento & The Prestige, was creating huge buzz and excitement with whatever his next project would be. What we got was a superbly stylish, deeply layered (pun intended!) movie. Inception may have been very ambitious with its design, but it has provided fans with several unforgettable scenes and a simply iconic score.
Dom Cobb (Di Caprio) is what they call in his business, an ‘Extractor’, along with his partner Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), they enter the dreams/unconscious of people to extract information, mainly for corporate espionage. After a botched mission, Cobb is offered a chance at redemption, and an opportunity to go back home, only if he carries out something known as ‘Inception’, the concept on planting an idea in someone’s mind. As skilled as Cobb & Arthur may be as Extractors, the idea of Inception could be even beyond their talents. But with the chance to see his children back home, he puts together a team, and heads out on his mission.
Off the bat, the movie is a visual treat; the dream concept allows the movie to create amazing set pieces, such as the mesmerizing folding streets of Paris, to the dazzling exploding café scene. There’s also the stunning corridor confrontation, in which Arthur is forced to fend off foes while the halls start rotating. What’s more incredible is that the entire scene was filmed within a structure, with no CGI! Everything is filmed perfectly, to make it look absolutely on point. With the cast all suited and booted, and the dream world setting, it is one classy film.
The cast is incredibly strong, you have Di Caprio as the star man, but the supporting cast are also a joy. Tom Hardy excels as Eames, his constant bickering with Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and generally all round charm shines through. Ellen Page is the talented Ariadne, who has the most vital role in the operation. Her young character is pretty much how the audience feel at various points, pretty confused at times! You also have the likes of Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard all contributing to a stellar cast.
(Clockwise from TOP left) LEONARDO DiCAPRIO as Cobb, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT as Arthur, CILLIAN MURPHY as Robert Fischer, TOM BERENGER as Browning, ELLEN PAGE as Ariadne, TOM HARDY as Eames, and KEN WATANABE as Saito in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Legendary PicturesÕ sci-fi action film ÒINCEPTION,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
The plot is one that will take multiple viewings to really get any sense of what’s happening! To put it simply, there are layers, so many layers! In order to get an idea deep into someone’s unconscious, will not only require going into the dream of their target, but also several dreams within that. It can be a convoluted mess, and at times, you will probably not really grasp the finer details. But that’s what repeat viewings are for! The storyline may leave you puzzled at times, but the sheer spectacle and scale of the movie more than make up for it! It is an audacious project, and it has to be applauded for it. After multiple viewings, things will get clearer, and you’ll enjoy the movie even more!
Let’s not forget to mention the score, which is put together by legendary composer Hams Zimmer. Tracks such as the triumphant ‘Time’, and the pressing ‘Dream is Collapsing’ are synonymous with the film. The recurring lyrics from Non, je ne regrette rien will be stuck in your head after watching this, and then there’s the now iconic BOOONG! This now appears in pretty much most trailers nowadays! Combining such a quality score with the slick production, produces one impressive looking, and sounding 2.5 hours!
Though as great as it all looks and sounds, Inception will not be for everyone. The film is very dialogue heavy, with various key plot details hidden within various speeches. It is also a very slow burner, with the operation not commencing well past the first hour. The finale is also quite perplexing, especially if you weren’t paying attention in the finer details. But don’t let that take away from what is a thrilling, cerebral, and enjoyable film.
Adaptations and reboots of Stephen King’s work are popular right now, what with The Dark Tower, It, and Gerald’s Game recently released and with many others in development. Plus, with it being Halloween it only makes sense to revisit one of the frequently listed scariest movies of all time.
Look up any “Scariest Movies of All Time” list and you can bet that The Shining will be floating near the top, along with many adaptations from Stephen King. Combine “the master of horror” with Kubrick’s genius, it’s really no surprise this film has such a cult following; and after seeing it for the first time just a few days ago, it did not disappoint.
Before the film, we watched “Work and Play: a short film about The Shining (2017)” directed by Matt Wells for Park Circus. This documentary investigates the creative process and incredible efforts behind this unique movie; intense research into the horror genre, the innovative use of the newly developed “Steadicam”, and a look into the personal musings of Kubrick and his views on film-making.
Featured in the documentary are: Lisa and Louise Burns (The Grady Twins), Garrett Brown (inventor and operator of the Steadicam), Diane Johnson (co-screenwriter on The Shining), Katharina Kubrick (Stanley Kubrick’s daughter) and Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s producing partner and brother-in-law).
If you want to watch something with tension and suspense on Halloween, then The Shining is for you. The music is really stand out for me, combining rapid high pitched strings with slow and deep brass makes you believe something terrifying is about to happen. The long Steadicam shots of corridors, the set and environment make it seem that something may jump out. The music and camera shots were eerie and surprisingly good at building suspense; I could feel myself tensing up and even jumping a little at the changes in instrumentation.
Of course, I cannot overlook the incredible acting of Jack Nicholson. His long, dead-eyed shots, creepy mannerisms, and seriously animated eyebrows, portrayed complete insanity with little to no motive or justification required. And he’s not the only one, many of the characters you meet throughout the movie are played in a seriously creepy manner.
If like me you haven’t seen this film before, the short version is Jack Nicholson plays “Jack Torrance” who gets a job as caretaker at The Overlook Hotel over the winter months during closed season. He brings his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) but the isolation, and something in the hotel’s past, makes Jack lose his mind and turn on his family.
Nicholson is great at being terrifying and Lloyd is good at being terrified, but I was not completely convinced by Duvall. A few things she does seem quite smart and resourceful in a pretty hopeless situation; however, her tone seemed forced and vacant, and she seemed to have little control over her limbs as she ran aimlessly around the hotel. Also, Nicholson gets a lot of praise for this film but I also think Lloyd was very good! He’s a very young boy but plays this part with maturity and intelligence.
Ignoring what I thought of Duvall’s portrayal, which I can probably attribute to the age of the film, this is a great scary movie that will really mess with your mind and the accompanied short is very interesting. I would highly recommend re-visiting this film this Halloween if you can, and be sure to get there in time for the short! And remember….All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy!
The Shining is in cinemas across the UK on 31 October 2017 accompanied by short film “Work and Play: A Short Film about The Shining” (Director Matt Wells).
This is a story that you might find difficult to believe. Adapted from a book written by Sharabani Basu, which is based on the journals of Abdul Karim recently discovered in India; we see an unlikely friendship develop between a common Indian Muslim man, and the Empress of India and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
I personally don’t think there’s a cast or director out there who could have done a better job portraying this particular story. Dame Judi Dench (James Bond, Philomena, Mrs Brown) once again takes on the role of Queen Victoria, alongside Ali Fazal (Furious 7) as Abdul Karim; surrounded by other brilliant actors (Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Piggot-Smith, Olivia Williams) playing the members of the court disgusted and insulted by the development of this relationship. All led by the director Stephen Frears, who was present for a Q&A after the screening, his most recent successes include The Queen with Helen Mirren, Philomena with Judi Dench, and Florence Foster Jenkins with Meryl Streep.
Dench and Fazal at the Queen’s writing desk
The real Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim at the Queen’s writing desk
The film begins in India and follows Abdul’s journey to England to be involved in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee; after some actions deemed highly inappropriate by the court, the Queen decides to keep Abdul close and begins to learn much about India and Islam from the man the court repeatedly referred to as “one of the Hindus”. She confides in Abdul, revealing her more vulnerable side to the audience, regarding her feelings towards her position and life in general. Although the beginning is quite humorous with many good laughs from both Dench and Fazal throughout, the film takes a darker path as we continue to learn about the Queen’s difficult life, and the court’s ignorance and prejudice against Abdul.
It is a difficult time, with Muslim-led mutinies against British rule breaking out in India, and some deceptions by Abdul does not help his case against the accusations by the court and Prince Edward or “Bertie” (Eddie Izzard). Regardless, the Queen keeps him on as her “Munshi” (teacher), she describes herself as being truly happy for the first time in a long while, and likely as an intentional provocation. Despite numerous attempts to discredit Abdul and blackmail the Queen, Abdul was in the service of the Queen for the final 15 years of her life. This, along with many incidents in the film, appear to be close to the real events that took place over 100 years ago.
His first sight of Victoria
Prince Albert aka Bertie
Victoria before Abdul
I believe that the performances in this film were emotive and believable. It was quite a different kind of performance from Eddie Izzard than what we are used to, but he gave a strong and compelling portrayal of the jealous heir to the throne. One character who may not get as much notoriety is that of Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), he is the other Muslim, Indian man involved in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. However, he is not lucky enough to have captured the Queen’s attention and is kept in England against his will and in detriment to his health. Nevertheless, he remains faithful to his Indian brethren despite attempts of the court to get him to disclose information about Abdul. Of course, Dench and Fazal are touching in their representations; you laugh when they laugh and you cry when they cry. You feel as amazed as Abdul does in his new experiences, and you feel as trapped and depressed as Victoria does as monarch.
The Q&A with Stephen Frears gave an interesting insight into the making of this film. He was very blunt and to the point in his answers, extremely matter of fact. We found out that it only took 10 weeks to complete filming and it was the first production allowed to film inside Osbourne House, a former Royal residence on the Isle of Wight. He admitted he enjoys making provocative films that test the waters and opinions of the time; despite this fact, we were told the actors were professional and generally of a liberal mindset, this meant the idea of pushing any boundaries or causing controversy did not phase anyone involved.
In conclusion, I highly recommend seeing this movie; it’s fun, silly and emotional, with stellar actors who perform to a high standard. The story is simple but not one that’s been told before, and will make you want to more about this beautiful, heart warming, and unlikely friendship.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to the premiere of the British made “Eat Locals” at FrightFest in Leicester Square. I met the director, producers and cast, and got to watch their hilarious creation.
With a low budget of just £1.6 million, you are not expecting “Tchaikovsky” as first-time director Jason Flemyng put it in our interview, you are expecting a fun piece of cinema lovingly put together by a group of friends. And that’s exactly what we got. After quite a sincere start, you soon realise that the actors are not taking themselves so seriously, creating a more laid back (and surprisingly realistic) environment than any other modern vampire movie you will have seen – until the violence commences.
In a quiet country farmhouse, 8 British vampire overlords have met to discuss matters of feeding quotas and territories. Following the death of one of their own, they will also decide whether to turn or kill poor, unwitting Sebastian (Billy Cook); led to the farmhouse by sexy vamp Vanessa (Eve Myles). Before they can carry out their verdict, the vampires are interrupted by a team of Elite vampire-killers sent by the Vatican and under orders from Captain Bingham (Robert Portal) and Larousse (Mackenzie Crook), chaos and blood shed ensues.
The dialogue in the vampire meeting is natural but quite serious (with a slightly eerie and ominous soundtrack), making reference to some current events and expressing a few opinions on such matters (from a vampire perspective of course). The conversation devolves into quite a grim scenario, but with the introduction of Sebastian humour is injected into these scenes. This is later followed by what sounds like a pretty horrific scene between the vampires and some soldiers. This variety of scenes display a contrast of character and a breadth of acting ability; they attempt to be both modern, civilised individuals, and the viscous vampires they are. Others are just viscous vampires *cough*Tony Curran*cough*.
Converse to Tony Curran’s crazy portrayal of vampire “Peter Boniface”; Charlie Cox, having been temporarily poached from Netflix and Marvel, plays a slightly softer vampire than some of the others. His character “Henry” is a vampire who refuses to feed on humans, and tries to keep the peace between his fellow vampires and keep young Sebastian alive during the battle. Between martial arts proficient Chen (Lukaz Leong) and sweet old Alice (Annette Crosbie) with an assault rifle, there’s plenty of action for everyone to sink their teeth into. And with Jason Statham directing the fights, it maintains a good level of ridiculousness.
Alice (Annette Crosbie)
You grow to seriously dislike “Captain Bingham” and “Larousse”, which is always key to making good villains and gets you rooting for the vampires; however, even though he was on their side, I liked “18” (Johnny Palmiero). He was terrified of the vampires and sympathetic to the Thatchers (Dexter Fletcher and Ruth Jones) who own the farmhouse, both of which make him smart and a good person, which I like.
There’s a few twists and little surprises, and many, many, MANY laughs. Everyone in the cinema was laughing along, cheering for their friends when they came on screen, and woo-ing whenever anyone did anything cool. Eve Myles was sat in front of me and believe me she was LOVING every minute of it.
Crazy Mr Thatcher (Dexter Fletcher)
Sebastian (Billy Cook)
If you want something that is easy and fun to watch, and are a fan of something a little silly, you definitely need to watch this film. But ensure you begin with no expectation of this being a masterpiece of film making. The cast and crew have clearly had a fantastic time making this and we all had an awesome time watching it with them.
It’s also nice to meet people who you’ve been watching on screen for years and find out they’re genuinely nice, funny people.
And Jason, as promised, I think I’ve been pretty nice 😉
Sure it’s based on a true story which sets some limits, but a change of pace here and there would have been much appreciated.
This is the story of Barry Seal (played by Tom Cruise), a tired TWA pilot recruited by CIA agent ‘Schafer’ (Domhnall Gleeson) to run reconnaissance flights in Central and South America. Over the course of the movie Seal evolves into gun runner, drug smuggler for the Medellin cartel, and informant for the DEA. Through all this Barry and his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) raise a family and contribute to their community. As you can imagine, juggling so many jobs, things start to fall apart.
You’d hope that a film starring Tom Cruise and directed by Doug Liman (responsible for such action-packed flicks like The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper, Fair Game, and Edge of Tomorrow) would have some excitement and good action. Especially if that movie is about a guy simultaneously working for the CIA, DEA and Escobar. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there was a lot lacking in terms of pace, excitement and much emotion of any kind. I left the cinema not really filming anything, but not quite feeling like it had been a waste of time.
Domhnall (Left) and Cruise (Right)
Cruise (Left) and Wright (Right)
The story is an interesting one and the actors play the characters well, there’s even a few decent laughs thrown in; but the film itself had no dynamics, it seemed to sit at the same level throughout. I can’t fault the actors for their portrayal, they were smart and most importantly believable; especially Sarah Wright as the wife, she was often skeptical of her husbands behaviour and was pretty vocal about it until he told her the truth.
More than likely it’s the script that has no flavour and lacks the changes in pace to make this film a little more intriguing. Unfortunately, in this case the story of Barry Seal has been narrated, but not really told.
Ip Man (2008) was the fantastically gritty drama that was based on the life of Yip Man, the legendary mentor of a little known action star, Bruce Lee! The film was well received for its wonderfully choreographed fights and the harsh depiction of life during the Japanese invasion of China. Donnie Yen, who was cast in the role as Ip Man, is now pretty much synonymous with the role!
Ip Man 3 (2015) is the latest chapter to the saga, following the sequel to the original in 2010, and looks to further add to the journey of Yip Man. This had a limited release over in the UK, so I managed to catch it on the big screen in the little time it was out!
The movie sees Yip Man as he moves into a less hectic role in life, away from all the Kung Fu and drama. He lives the quite life with his wife & child, while acting as a mentor and figure of responsibility to his community. This doesn’t last long, as his neighborhood starts to suffer badly from the acts of a brutal property developer Frank, who is working in cahoots with the local gangs to force the local people out. There’s also the small issue of a local rival, Cheung Tin-chi, attempting to usurp him as the best in Wing Chun, a problem he really could do without, but is forced to confront.
The main driving force behind the movie surprisingly is not to do with our evil property mogul (Mike Tyson!), or the rising upstart trying to move him out the scene, but his wife, who has been by his side since the first film. We are used to seeing Yip Man handle multiple thugs, soldiers, criminal lords etc. but this sees him deal with a totally different type of battle, one that really puts him through a challenge he can’t simply fight himself out off. It’s this that really makes the film stand out from what could have just been a run of the mill Kung Fu film.
That said, the fight scenes are as always, exhilarating. Mike Tyson brings a level of fear, and the intimidation to the table, but his role is clear in the movie, minimum talking, show the power, leave. Sure Ip Man 2 had a Boxing v Wing Chun showdown, but this fight just feels so much more savage, and Tyson’s sheer size and brute force does all the things it has to here. You have the usual Ip Man v several faceless thugs scene which combines humour and action, but another highlight is the superbly choreographed elevator fight with the hired Muay Thai muscle. It’s not just himself he has to protect, but his wife as well, which gives the fight a different dynamic.
The film does struggle a tad to balance out the multiple plot lines that are being told, as there are 3 separate arcs, and at just over 100 minutes, it didn’t really have the time to resolve them all fully. The film didn’t require two antagonists, it’s understandable why Tyson had little screen time, but maybe a cameo would have been better suited, as he is marketed as the main villain!
Ip Man 3 at times is a genuinely touching movie, and the scenes between Ip Man and his wife bring some sentiment not really seen since struggles of War in part 1. There’s also the usual verve and energy in the combat scenes you would expect in a film like this, and yes, you finally have an appearance from Bruce Lee! Most definitely worth a watch if you like your martial arts, as it is currently on Netflix UK!