Month: January 2016

The Raid review

Gareth Evans directs this visceral action thriller as a SWAT team gets trapped in an apartment building with thugs, killers and mercenaries and must fight their way through it, the film stars Iko Uwais, Ananda Geroge, Ray Sahetapy. The Raid has a few elements in it that add to its gritty, visceral style and with its single location set up, it’s sort of like the first Die Hard but I’d say The Raid has better and more gripping action, they’re vastly different films anyway but I think they do have the set up in common.

Anyway The Raid is some thrilling stuff and works well because of its simplicity, not throwing an overly complicated plot or characters at the audience, you know what’s going on and what the characters are trying to do and you want to watch people punch each other lot and stuff and that’s exactly what you get, the film delivers what audiences want out of a film like this and it doesn’t disappoint. Because the plot is so breakneck in its pacing and flow with unexpected twists and turns and some thrilling, often extended action sequences, Iko Uwais really shines as Rama, one of the main characters and someone you really get behind as he’s a good guy and has some stellar fighting skills, taking on several baddies at times in ridiculously lop-sided face offs. With Yayan Ruhian playing Mad Dog, Ramas his opposite as the antagonist fighter (though not the big bad of the story), he’s small but deadly and his fight with Raman and Andi is one of the best fights I’ve seen in recent years.

The way the fights are choreographed and play out is some great entertainment, importantly we get a good look at the action and shaky cam isn’t employed like it often is in a lot of action films these days and we see the brutal bone breaking moves/manoeuvres, emphasized with close ups and excruciating sound effects, the fights are really brutal and each hit on characters feels impactful, something a lot of action films don’t quite capture. And although the great action scenes are nine tenths of what makes the film a great watch, it also has some good dramatic moments and character motivations as well, we see extra reasons for why some SWAT members are in the apartment in the first place and we get to see the bad guys plans as well, there definitely is a story here and it serves the action well.

The Raid is simple, thrilling action at its best with some fantastic fights, great pacing and a good sense of tension and immediacy when it comes to the characters, their motivations and actions with a plot that’s easy to follow, a great film overall.

8/10

. Excellent action sequences, hits look very painful

. Great pacing, film flies by and is a great watch

. Characters have believable motivations and actions, aren’t fighting for no reason

Suicide Squad official trailer #1

 

David Ayers upcoming Suicide Squad has a brand new trailer out, encompassing it’s nutty, loose cannon characters and what they’ll essentially be getting up to, building on from the intrigue and darker tone of the first teaser, the trailer’s clearly more upbeat and wacky as the quirks of the members of the Suicide Squad get emphasised.

They truly are a group of misfits and we see that in the character descriptions, which is what should make the film a lot of fun to watch – not to watch superheroes per se but to watch a band of rogues try to get along and somehow complete a mission, which will probably go horribly wrong. I like that we’ve now seen Jared Leto as The Joker, I like his look and I think he’ll be a good Joker, a very different one at that to one that we’ve seen on film before but something nuanced hopefully. We also seem to be in for a significant role from Enchantress who may have a bigger part to play in the story than you may have thought as we see certain mystical and magical entities/things in the trailer, (Enchantress loses it and attacks everyone?) so that angle in addition to the Joker may be an interesting one.

Harley Quinn again takes a lot of the spotlight and I can’t wait to see Margot Robbies’ performance, alongside Will Smith as Deadshot of course and even Jai Courtney, who I’m quite looking forward to seeing as Captain Boomerang, he totally has the grimy waster image down and I think this could be a rarity – a good performance from Mr Courtney (just saying).

Overall I think the trailer’s pretty good, Bohemian Rhapsody is pretty much always a good choice of song for a trailer and it goes pretty well with Suicide Squad funnily enough, the trailer’s emphasised the wacky, crazy nature of the films story and I’m curious to see how everything plays out, any past doubts I’ve had over how certain characters look ha sort of faded to be honest and I’m anticipating see the finished product.

The Revenant review

Steadily growing fan favourite director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu makes his latest cinematic outing with The Revenant, a gritty, dirty tale of survival, resolve and revenge as a frontiersmen vows to avenge his sons death after an encounter with members of his hunting team. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson.

Upon closer inspection, The Revenant is probably many things but one of the most accurate ways to describe it is – visceral, Inarritus style of direction works perfectly for this type of story, with the camera itself being so close to the action and characters, bringing you into the story and engrossing you as events unfold. Inarritus style of filming is become a staple and it makes for some really great scenes, with some beautiful landscape shots and great panning, tracking shots that work great in action sequences, giving the impression of real time events unfolding and mimicking the chaos and panic that you can imagine would take place during a raid. Immersion, that’s something that film does an exceptional job of doing and it’s absolutely necessary for this story as it’s key that you are interested in the main characters – namely DiCapro as the ever determined Hugh Glass. A story like this needs you to follow its characters and be engaged for it to work and have an emotional impact and I have to say, it works, in part because of the films great performances, notably from DiCaprio who puts it in some great, gruelling work and definitely underwent some punishment.

And I can only speak for myself but I was so engaged that I was practically cheering for DiCaprio/Glass to get his revenge and finally do what he was planning to do. Though Admittedly, there are some lulls in the action and this is far from an endless thrill ride of action and drama, though it has its fair share and notably there is a moment late in the story when not much at all happens but this thankfully doesn’t last for too long.

There isn’t much Hugh Glass doesn’t go through in the story to be frank and it’s certainly an Oscar worthy performance in my book, meanwhile the supporting cast does a great job in regards to the roles that they play and Domnhall Gleeson in particular was great as the likeable, moral Captain Andrew Harry, while Tom Hardy makes for the effortlessly brutal and amoral John Fitzgerald, enveloping the role much like DiCaprio did, with some great casting overall.

Things get gritty and bloody but never quite to the point of being gratuitous which is an excellent feature of the story, the action is often brutal, punches, cuts look like they hurt and this is important as you do sort of feel for certain characters when they’re being in bad situations and with some great filming, you see the action as it unfolds in every painful injury, stab and so son and it makes for some tense, thrilling set pieces. Namely one involving a massive Grizzly Bear in one of the most brutal, if not the most brutal bear attacks I’ve seen in a film.

The Revenant is a great cinematic experience and a fantastic story, with some lulls in the action points and moments that may seem a bit superfluous to the plot, on the whole it’s a very well made and engaging drama with a great motivational main character in Hugh Glass, who you really get sympathise with and get behind because of his ordeal and because of DiCaprios great performance, alongside some great supporting performances.

8/10

. Has some fantastic performances, DiCaprio is great as ever

. Engaging characters, you’ll either love or hate them but you will care about them

. Brilliant cinematography, draws you into the story, makes for some thrilling set pieces

. Engrossing, simple premise with a good story

Zombieland review

Zombieland is a action comedy film set in a zombie apocalypse, directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray, the film follows individual survivors each with their own separate girls meeting and coming to a mutual agreement to travel together to try and reach what they want.

The film has a small main cast but everyone is great and distinct in their respective roles with this film arguably being Emma Stone and Eisenbergs’ breakout roles as Wichita and Columbus, the characters also chose to use states as their names rather than real names, another quirky thing about the movie. Zombieland has a distinct comedic undertone to it and it has no qualms in being more of a silly movie, the tone is understandably light and the characters all fit in well with the world. Highlighted by things like the zombie rules for survival that Columbus brings to the film, ‘Dont forget to double tap’, showing how people improvise in the post apocalypse and go about their own separate ways to do things. The writing for the film is great and the comedy works with effective character idiosyncrasies and traits brought to life by Eisenberg and Stone especially, their awkward dialogue and interaction is funny to watch as they grow closer and Eisenberg nails the bumbling, insecure teen role, which he’s come to be known for now.

The zombies do sort of take a back seat to the story as a whole in the film though, being obstacles in the way to get past but interestingly for a zombie film, surviving in the world isn’t exactly the problem for the characters and they mostly get on just fine, though Columbus can get a bit panicky around zombies close up.

Not everyone is that moral or good in general, Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson) being the closest thing to ‘bad’ in the film, he doesn’t want to be held up or slowed down by others but won’t exactly abandon vulnerable people either. Seeing different people react to each other in different ways is interesting as you don’t know how people will act, whether hostile, friendly or nonchalant.

Tallahasses’ relationship with the others is quite interesting, with Columbus especially who he treats like a younger brother and they practically have a faux sibling rivalry, while Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are like sisters to each other, the group grows closer over time and end up practically becoming family. Zombielands‘ story is great with an engaging, interesting plot with twists you don’t necessarily see coming including a funny Bill Murray cameo, it’s a different kind of zombie film but a solid and quite engaging one.

7.5/10

. Story is great, well written

. Nice balance of drama and comedy

. Well written, interesting characters

2016 Oscar nominations reaction/predictions

Awards season is well under way and the daddy to them all – the Oscars, now has its nominations list out so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the noms and any notable omissions or strange inclusions.

Best Picture:

Carol, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, The Revenant, The Big Short, Spotlight.

No huge surprises here as these have been the front runners for a while, it’s great to see Fury Road on there, though The Force Awakens should also have gotten a look in imo, Bridge of Spies is understandably here but I thought Steve Jobs would also have been nominated. As for which film win this… well it will probably be The Revenant or Room but I’d personally want to see The Martian win.

Actor in a leading role:

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Matt Damon (The Martian), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs).

Again no shocking inclusions here in an ever contested category which is really good this year, DiCaprio and Fassbender will be duking it out I imagine, though if there’s any time to ever give DiCaprio that Oscar, it’s now surely, though I’d like to see Fassbender win as well. I’ll be optimistic and say DiCaprio wins the Oscar.

Actor in a supporting role:

Christian Bale (The Big Short), Mark Ruffalo (The Big Short), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Tom Hardy (The Revenant).

Another strong category here, I think it’s out of Rylance and Stallone for this one really as both seems to have critics abuzz with their performances, Rylance will probably win it.

Actress in a leading role:

Brie Larson (Room), Cate Blanchett (Carol), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn).

I think it’s safe to say that Jennifer Lawrence won’t be winning this year with some tough competition with Cate Blanchett and Brie Larson who’s probably the frontrunner at this point, though Saoirse Ronan is also a critics favourite, Brie Larson wins this for me.

Actress in a supporting role:

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Rooney Mara (Carol).

Tough one, Jennifer Jason Leigh was pretty good in The Hateful Eight but Kate Winslet was brilliant in Steve Jobs and off the back off some awards hype, I think she may just be in the running for this one, though it will be out of her and Jason Leigh.

Animated Feature film:

Anomalisa, Menino Mundo, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep movie, When Marnie Was There.

Yeah there are no surprises here and also Inside Out’s winning this for sure with critical praise and it being a box office success, 2015 was’t the strongest year for animated films.

Cinematography:

Ed Lachman (Carol), John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road), Roger Deakins (Sicario), Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight), Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant).

All great choices, though I’d have loved to have seen The Martian nominated as it had some great cinematography, this is also genuinely hard to call but I’ll hazard a guess that The Revenant may just be front runner at the moment, Inarritu is well known for his visuals in his films and his latest is no exception, though there has been the emphasis on 70mm and an authentic feel to The Hateful Eight, though I didn’t like it, it does look good. So this may be a fairly contested category.

Costume Design:

Sandy Powell, (Carol), Sandy Powell (Cinderella), Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road), Paco Delgado (The Danish Girl), Jacqueline West (The Revenant). 

Well Sandy Powell has a good chance with 2 nominations for 2 films but it’s a bit of a toss up here but I think Cinderella and or The Danish Girl are the most likely to pick up this Oscar.

Directing:

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Adam McKay (The Big Short), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant).

The critics love Inarritu so he’s always a hot favourite to win, especially because The Revenant looks set to a bunch of awards home by the time the Oscars come around, though George Miller did a fantastic job with Fury Road, making one great comeback, critics also love Room so that may be a top choice for a lot of people. To to go out on a limb, I’m going to say that Lenny Abrahamson wins for Room.

Documentary Feature:

Amy – Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees, Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin, The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, What Happened, Miss Simone? – Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes, Winter on Fire: Ukraines’ Fight For Freedom – Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor.

I think Amy and Cartel Land both have awards traction so either could win but I’m going with Amy.

Documentary Short:

A Girl In the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Body Team 12, Chau, Beyond the Lines, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres Of the Shoah, Last Day of Freedom.

I’ll be honest, haven’t seen any of the films so I’m going to hazard a guess and say Body Team 12 wins this.

Film Editing:

Mad Max: Fury RoadSpotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Big Short, The Revenant.

What’s Spotlight even doing in this category ahead of say, Ex Machina, Sicario, The Martian… but anyway this could well go to Fury RoadThe Revenant is also a good shout but I’ll say Fury Road wins this category.

Makeup and Hairstyling:

Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road), Love Larson and Eva Von Bahr (The 100 Year-Old Man Who Jumped Out of The Window and Disappeared),  Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini (The Revenant)

Interesting choices but I think Fury Road may just win this category.

Music – Original Score:

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman, Carol – Carter Burwell, Sicario – Johann Johannson, Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams, The Hateful Eight – Enio Morricone.

Enio Morricone has a great chance of winning here for a great score for The Hateful Eight but it’s gotta be Star Wars that wins surely? Even though the film didn’t have the best score for a Star Wars film, it was still pretty great.

Production Design:

Bridge of Spies – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich (Set Decoration), Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson (Production Design); Lisa Thompson (Set Decoration), The Danish Girl – Eve Stewart (Production Design); Michael Standish (Set Decoration), The Martian – Arthur Max (Production Design); Celia Bobak (Set Decoration), The Revenant – Jack Fisk (Production Design); Hamish Purdy (Set Decoration).

Interesting category here, I’m immediately leaning to The Martian and The Revenant, more so to the latter just because of the effort and time taken to produce and put together The Revenant, shooting the wilderness and going through a gruelling shooting process, I think that may just edge it for the win.

Sound Editing: 

Mad Max: Fury Road – Max Mangini and David White, Sicario – Alan Robert Murray, Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Matthew Wood and David Accord, The Martian – Oliver Tarney, The Revenant – Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender.

I think The Revenant may do really well in the technical categories so I’m pulling for it here, though Fury Road would also be a great choice.

Sound Mixing: 

Bridge of Spies (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin), Mad Max: Fury Road (Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson), The Martian (Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth), The Revenant (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek).

Some good choices all around here but I’d go with it being out of Star Wars and The Revenant and The Revenant may just win this.

Visual Effects: 

Ex Machina (Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett), Mad Max Fury: Road (Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould), The Martian (Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner), The Revenant (Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer).

What a category, Fury Road again nominated and I mean how do you even choose out of The Force Awakens, The Revenant and The Martian? All worthy and deserving winners, this is genuinely hard to call but screw it, I’ll go with The Martian, the effects were spectacular, Mars looked incredible and so did a lot of the set pieces/sequences in the story.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): 

Brooklyn – screenplay by Nick Hornby, Carol screenplay by Phyllis Nagy, Room screenplay by Emma Donaghue, The Big Short – screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Martian – screenplay by Andrew Goddard.

I have a favourite of these choices straight away with Andrew Goddard for The Martian but in terms of the academies’ voting, Room and Carol are probably the big frontrunners unsurprisingly, this is a pretty strong category overall though so there could be a surprise in store.

Writing – Original Screenplay:

Bridge of Spies – written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, Ex Machina – written by Alex Garland, Inside Out – Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen, Spotlight – Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, Straight Outta Compton – Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff.

Here we are with the last and another strong category, the Coen brothers have a great chance to win with Bridge of Spies, though if I’m picking purely on best original screenplay, Ex Machina wins hands down for me, though it’s great to see Straight Outta Compton also included.

So yeah, that was long… surprisingly long – I’ve also left out a few categories for the nominees that I haven’t seen, so can’t really make an informed opinion on.

But these are my thoughts on the 2016 Oscar nominations with some predictions thrown in, The Hateful Eight and Steve Jobs almost completely snubbed from the major categories, that’s surprising, more so for Steve Jobs though. Also will DiCaprio finally win that coveted Oscar? I sure hope so, now there’s just a month and a half to find out, I hope we’re in for a good show.

The Hateful Eight review

Acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino makes his latest outing with The Hateful Eight, a period drama and Western, set in Wyoming in the late 19th century as several strangers are drawn together, being forced to stay in an isolated inn during a blizzard, the film stars Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bachir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern.

The Hateful Eight has all the trappings of a familiar Tarantino outing and even weeks before it came out there were Tarantino fans claiming it was Reservoir Dogs meets Django Unchained and for the most part, that description is fairly apt, the film doesn’t really stray way from Tarantinos’ iconic style with long extended dialogue, Samuel L Jackson starring once again, gritty, visceral sequences and of course a lot of blood and violence. The film was shot in 70mm and as such looks lush with some great landscape shots and generally a great look to it, coupled with a pretty solid cast, of whom Samuel L Jackson, Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh shine, though Kurt Russell is also great in it. Certain characters, like Daisy and Mannix are clearly over the top, stage play-esque characters who would be unbearable in any other film but for this story, they work.

Tarantino can clearly bring out some of the best in certain actors, namely Samuel L Jackson and when it works well, it really works. And of course, Tarantinos’ signature writing flair is present with some great dialogue and character interaction and some memorable monologues.

Unfortunately, my positive thoughts on The Hateful Eight stop just about there, while watching and about 1/2 of the way through I had a weird feeling, this is a Tarantino film through and through but there was just something missing, I wasn’t captivated or thrilled, I was engaged in the story but I just didn’t care about Marquis Warren, John Ruth or Daisy Domergue and for the first time in a long time watching a Tarantino flick, I didn’t really care about the characters. Even though the structure is similar to Reservoir Dogs, with a lack of back story for the characters and the single setting, Reservoir Dogs is still streets ahead in its storytelling, engagement and plot development and The Hateful Eight really got bogged down in its single location and ultimately just didn’t go anywhere interesting, literally and figuratively.

The plot twists and turns, although a welcome introduction, just weren’t all that surprising as we already knew about the set up with someone or some of the characters being liars. I just felt really disappointed with the plot as a whole, for a Tarantino film there was a real lack of scope or excitement about it despite there being an inherent edginess about lawlessness in Westerns and in the archetypal characters that inhabit the genre. And I have to talk about the violence, a staple of Tarantinos films but for possibly the first time, I did mind it, finding it excessive to the point of it taking me out of the film, Tarantino isn’t known for his subtlety but certain things really could have been toned down I feel, with reference to excessive use of a particular racial slur as well which just did nothing for the story.

I hate that I like that I didn’t like The Hateful Eight, I mean it’s Tarantino, it’s a Western (sort of), it has Kurt Russell and Samuel L Jackson, I should have loved the film but I just really didn’t and I think it’s a notable misstep for Tarantino not that he’s past his best or anything but it’s a misstep nonetheless. I feel he’s let his self indulgence run a bit too far with emphasis on violence over plot development and sympathetic, engaging characters this time around, with a great set up and premise but poor execution.

6/10

. Plot is plodding, takes a while to get going

. Great cast but lacks sympathetic, engaging characters

. Violence in the film feels excessive at points

. Visuals are good, soundtrack is good

The Hunger Games Mockingjay: Part 2 review

Francis Lawrence directs the 2nd part to the Mockingjay films and the final part to The Hunger Games series as Katniss, District 13 and rebels across Panem team up to take on the Capitol and President Snow in a climactic showdown, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Mahershala Ali.

Mockingjay part 2 kicks off right where the previous film left off, a short while after the end of Part 1, with Peeta and Katniss seemingly now forever torn apart and things get off to a fairly slow start but once they get going, they really get going. What I think the film does well is combine some great drama and tense thrilling action, something that Part 1 just didn’t quite manage to do, being more of a slow moving drama that didn’t really go anywhere interesting.

The performances here are again on point and have been in general for the entire series, Jennifer Lawrence is in her element as Katniss again and boy has she been through a lot and by this film you just really feel for the girl but importantly, she’s shown progression as a character and has clearly matured, still being quite sentimental as she wants to protect everyone close to her but ultimately can’t. And as far as the supporting cast goes there are some notable performances, even Luke Hemsworth, I feel did a great job and was arguably at his best as Gale in the series, meanwhile Josh Hutcherson is again great as the confused and multi-dimensional Peeta, whose relationship with Katniss couldn’t be any more dysfunctional.

Impact, that’s something the film does well and with the stakes being at their highest in the series so far, you know that some characters may not make it and things get emotional and surprisingly so in fact with certain scenes )even though I knew they were coming as I’ve read the books) and this is a credit to how certain scenes are set up with tense, frenetic set pieces. And importantly, there’s a great flow between the action and the plot never sits around in one place for too long, resulting in it being a bit of a hectic roller coaster ride of traps, twists and turns and it’s great to watch, this is easily one of the most exciting films in The Hunger Games series if not the most exciting overall.

And even with all the action, the drama is also clearly evident, exploring war and its effect on people – namely Katniss who is in some pretty severe PTSD at this point, a surprisingly mature theme for a young adult film to tackle head on, while the allegory of modern voyeuristic culture and reality TV is ever present in the background as the Capitol and the Rebels both use the media as a tool at all stages as the war goes on. Also the more dramatic scenes are impactful and they work quite well involving characters that we’ve come to know and become fond of over the series as a whole. Mockingjay Part 2 is a really good film, shocking in points, emotional, thrilling and surprisingly multi-layered, a suitable (though possibly divisive) end to The Hunger Games series with some great set pieces, genuinely tense scenes and good performances.

7.5/10

. Tense, frenetic set pieces

. Great exploration of themes, used in tandem with the plot

. Well done dramatic, emotional moments

2016 Golden Globes predictions

It’s that time of year, awards season is here and about to kick off with the Golden Globes this sunday, the awards no one really cares about that are still a lot more fun to watch than the Oscars (let’s be honest) but anyway the Globes are this weekend and I haven’t done much on awards season so I thought I’d make my own predictions for the nominees.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant, Room, Spotlight

Winner: The Revenant

The Best motion picture category this year isn’t that hotly contested and isn’t that packed with quality films either but I Think The Revenant has this on lock, though Carol I think will also be successful through the awards season due to Leo DiCaprios pedigree, performance and Inarritus’ great direction, I’d love Max Max: Fury Road to win but I don’t think it will do it unfortunately.

 

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Nominees: The Big Short, Joy, The Martian, Spy, Trainwreck

Winner: The Martian 

I just really can’t see past The Martian for this compared to the competition it has, it’s also in the completely wrong category of course and the Globes seems to do this every year with a prominent film, making this a bit unfair for the rest of the films in the category but it’s easily the best film out of the nominees with a great performance from Matt Damon with a visually poignant aesthetic, engaging and captivating story and a great cast. Though The Big Short may have some awards traction.

 

Best Actor, Motion Picture Drama
Nominees:
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs),  Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Will Smith (Concussion)

Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Fassbender is also a great shout for the award but I think Leo has this down, he’s a popular and charismatic guy and we all want to him to that long awaited Oscar, which he may end up not winning still but I think he’ll take home a Golden Globe at least, he always puts in a great shift with a lot of effort and dedication to his roles and The Revenant is no exception.

 

Best Actress, Motion Picture Drama
Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Rooney Mara (Carol), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Winner: Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Now here we go with a fairly contest category with 3 potential winners, Brie Larson has a lot of awards traction for her performance in Room and will do well in award season but I think Carol is a bit of a critics darling and is probably set to pick up some prominent awards, Cate Blanchett is a great actor and consistently good as well.

 

Best Actor, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short), Steve Carell (The Big Short), Matt Damon (The Martian), Al Pacino (Danny Collins), Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear)

Winner: Matt Damon (The Martian)

I think Damon is set for a good Globes this year and with how well The Martian was received all around, he did put in a great performance for the role as well and I also I haven’t seen or know what Danny Collins or Infinitely Polar Bear even are so it’s narrowed down to Bale, Carell and Damon for me, I think Damon comes out on top.

 

Best Actress, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominees: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Melissa McCarthy (Spy), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van), Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

Winner: Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)

I think this category may be a bit of a surprise with who doesn’t win it compared to who eventually does, though she personally does nothing for me, I get why Amy Schumer’s popular and and Trainwreck was pretty much a hit and very well received, Schumer winning over Melissa McCarthy, Maggie Smith and Jennifer Lawrence (though Joy has been a bit lukewarmly received) may be a bit hard to swallow for some people.

 

Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture
Nominees:
Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Winner: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

There are some great choices here but Rylance for me wins this with a great, measured performance, brought out in part by Spielbergs great directing and while Bridge of Spies may not set awards season alight, I think the film will get this one at least.

 

Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture
Nominees: Jane Fonda (Youth), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Winner: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

A pretty strong category with some great nominees here, Kate Winslet was awesome in Steve Jobs, Jennifer Jason Leigh was great in The Hateful Eight but I think Alicia Vikander will walk away with this one, she was brilliant in Ex Machina and is one of, if not the most memorable thing about the film, really helping to carry it, she has a bright future ahead of her and I’d not be surprised if she does fairly well in awards season.

 

Best Director
Nominees: Todd Haynes (Carol), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road),  Ridley Scott (The Martian)
Winner: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

This is genuinely one of the hardest categories to choose from with some great nominees there, Ridley Scott did a fantastic job with The Martian as did Miller with Fury Road and Iñárritu with The Revenant, Iñárritu is loved by critics so I think he may just edge it but I think Miller did something that’s hard to do and quite exceptional, re-boot an old franchise successfully and make a great action film – something seemingly increasingly rare in the modern film landscape.

 

Best Animated Feature Film
Nominees: Anomalisa, The Good Dinosaur, Inside OutThe Peanuts MovieShaun the Sheep Movie

Winner: Inside Out

This is pretty much a no brainer to me, though Anomalisa is well received as well, Inside Out was a smash hit and beloved pretty much everywhere, with a great concept and equally great execution on an original idea from Pixar, it’s also quite a bit better than the competition in my opinion.

 

Best Drama Series
Nominees: EmpireGame of ThronesMr. RobotNarcosOutlander

Winner: Mr. Robot

Holy strong category Batman, all great shows with critical pedigree and great reputations, Game of Thrones is the obvious choice for most but season 5 was possibly the most divisive yet due to one reason or another (though I think it was still great) but it had some great moments. Mr Robot on the other hand is seen by many as a masterpiece and is beloved seemingly everywhere, I wasn’t blown away by it personally but I can completely see it taking this category by a whisker.

 

Best Comedy Series
Nominees: CasualMozart in the Jungle, Orange Is the New BlackSilicon Valle, TransparentVeep

Winner: Silicon Valley

This is more of a wishful win for me but I think Silicon Valley deserves it, it’s funny writing, satirical and more celver than it appears on the surface with some great writing and genuinely consistently funny moments too, Orange Is The New Black is ever popular but I think it’s dropped off a bit with its latest season, so SV it is.

 

Best Actor, Television Drama Series
Nominees: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Wagner Moura (Narcos), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)

Winner: Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Don Draper wins this one, though that’s a strong category overall and Rami Malek is also a great shout and could well end up surprising, but with Mad Men ending and Jon Hamm being Jon Hamm, I don’t see past him for this one.

 

Best Actress, Television Drama Series
Nominees: Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Winner: Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder)

I’ll be honest, I don’t watch any of these shows apart from Penny Dreadful and Eva Green’s pretty good in that but I’ve heard great things about Viola Davis in How to Get Away With Murder so I think she’s a decent bet, though Caitriona Balfe is also a good shout and the critics seem to really like Outlander, so this could be an interesting category.

 

Best Actor, Television Comedy Series
Nominees: Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Rob Lowe (The Grinder), Patrick Stewart (Blunt Talk), Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)

Winner: Rob Lowe (The Grinder)

Jeffrey Tambor may be a good bet but I think Rob Lowe just has great energy and versatility in his roles and he’s also just generally really funny in the shows that he does

 

Best Actress, Television Comedy Series
Nominees: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep); Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)

Winner: Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin)

Another category with some great choices here, Jamie Lee Curtis had a lot of fun and was great in Scream Queens and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is ever funny and popular for Veep among other things but I think Gina may just win another award here, she’s charismatic, likeable and great in Jane the Virgin. 

Top 10 most anticipated films of 2016

A new year has just begun but entertainment and the film industry never rests and 2016 has a plethora of hotly anticipated and hugely hyped films in store for global audiences across a variety of genres and here are my top 10, most anticipated first but you know what, I really want to see all of these films.

 

1. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice 

Possibly the most important live action film for DC in quite some time, if not ever as they look to kick off the DCCU proper, Dawn of Justice has insane amounts of hype and understandably so, pitting two of DC and comic books most iconic and popular characters against each other, based on the decidedly dark and game changing Frank Miller novel The Dark Knight Returns. I’m excited for it not just because Batman, Superman and Wonder woman will share the same screen in live action for the first time but because of how interesting the film looks and the concept of hero infighting (something Marvel are also touching on) is pretty intriguing, it also looks great and I always trust Zack Snyder to make visually spectacular films.

And whether it’s good or bad though I think it will be good let’s face it, it’s probably going to be a monster box office hit.

 

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars film that isn’t a part of the main Star Wars episodic line you say? Yes please, I love the idea and I’ve longed for standalone, spin off films set in the Star Wars universe that expanded it and though it does sort of go back to the original trilogy focusing on the Rebels trying to steal the Death Star plans, with no characters from the main story and possibly no Jedi or Sith, I’m really curious to see how the story pans out and how it will feel as a non-episodic Star Wars film.

 

3. Captain America: Civil War 

Another comic book film makes my top 10, of course and it’s Civil War, based on the critically acclaimed marvel series of the same name, this is easily one of Marvels biggest and highest stakes films to date and pitting friends and heroes against each other is an interesting and nuanced angle for a comic book film, the trailer has given us a tantalising look at what to expect and it looks pretty great for sure. With a plethora of big Marvel characters, Black Panthers live action debut, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and a little known character called Spiderman having a role as well, Civil War will be a massive film for Marvel, forever changing the MCU, the Avengers roster and who knows what else.

 

4. Triple 9

An intense, gritty looking crime drama with Norman Reedus, Woody Harellson, Chiwetel Ejiofor among others, directed by John Hillcoat, Triple 9 looks like it will be satisfyingly engaging and supenseful and the trailers for it so far have been fantastic, it also looks to be a bit more than just a flashy action flick with fire fights and may focus more on drama, which should be a nice touch.

 

5. X-Men Apocalypse

Bryan Singers latest entry in the new, younger X-Men series is possibly the biggest and it will be one of the most highest stakes films for sure, with super strong mutant Apocalypse (who can do pretty much everything in terms of mutant powers) being centre stage as he tries to take over the world, the X-Men will face their biggest threat and have to come together to combat. Meanwhile Apocalypse uses his abilities to coerce people, including some X-Men to join his side, great premise and with a wealth of iconic X-Men characters, including Cyclops, Beast, Havok, Nightcrawler, Storm et al, we should be in for a treat.

 

6. Hail, Caesar!

Quirky co-en brothers drama and hell anything Coen brothers is something to look forward to and Hail, Caesar! looks to be another good entry to the acclaimed filmmakers repertoire, with a great cast, Tatum, Clooney and Johansson to name a few and with an interesting premise to boot, this is a drama to look out for.

 

7. Zootopia 

My only animated film on the list, a fun, genuinely funny seeming animated film from Disney… it feels like it’s been a while but I love the premise of Zootopia, it’s so simple that it really seems like someone should and probably has made the film already but not in the way Disney does films like this, the quirky characters having personality traits related to animal characteristics should make for a lot of fun scenes and the film has a great voice acting cast.

 

8. The Jungle Book

To be honest, this film wasn’t really on my radar until I saw the trailer for it but it got me pretty excited, with a strong cast and a gritty take for the film which is something we’ve never seen before and it’s in stark contrast to Disneys animated film of course, it looks visually spectacular and I’m quite curious to see how it plays out.

 

9. Suicide Squad

David Ayers’ gritty and intriguing looking comic book film, not a superhero film importantly, looks great I have to say and based on the DC comic series of the same name, we’ll be seeing rogues, mercenaries and outright villains who are forced to team up and essentially go on suicide missions for government agent Amanda Waller, the concept is awesome and so different that I think it will be a hit, giving audiences a break from typical superhero film structures. Plus that cast, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, I’m excited.

 

10. Assassins Creed

In what could be a game changer for video game films, there’s a lot of potential here for a great video game to film adaptation and with Michael Fassbender at the centre of the project, we could be in for a treat, the games are based on a fantastically creative idea and hopefully it will be executed well on the big screen and be a departure from the style of previous video game films that are all pretty awful to be honest.

Honourable Mentions:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemPassengers, Doctor StrangeStar Trek Beyond, Doctor StrangeDeadpool.

All in all 2016 is shaped up to be a fairly good year for films, we’ll see where audiences are at with comic book films and if superhero fatigue is a thing, after we’ve seen the 6+ comic book films this year, it’s another big year for Marvel and also a fairly important one for video game to film adaptations, with Assassins Creed and Warcraft potentially opening the flood gates for quality video game films to come.

January film preview

Wow where has the time gone, it’s only 2016 in a day and we have a whole year of films to look forward to but first, let’s start at the beginning with the usually quite dull month of January, these are some of the films in store for us for the next 4 weeks.

The Forest – released on the 8th of January

Directed by Jason Zada.

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney.

The Forest is a supernatural horror film set in the Aokigahra forest in Japan, a young American woman goes in search of her sister who has disappeared but discovers something else entirely in the forest, which may come to harm her and her plans.

 

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – released on the 15th of January

Directed by Michael Bay.

Starring: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Toby Stephens.

Yes a new film by Michael Bay and a very Michael Bay-esque film at that, chronicling the real life events of an attack on an American compound in Libya, in 2012, as US soldiers, marines and veterans opt to defend the compound and each other at all costs.

 

Ride Along 2 – released on the 16th of January

Directed by Tim Story.

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Benjamin Bratt.

Follow up to Ride Along, Ride Along 2 teams up James Payton and Ben Barber again as the hopelessly mismatched cops who are assigned to a new case in Miami, in the effort of taking down a drug lord, I think we can expect some decent laughs with the ever funny Kevin Hart being paired up again with Ice Cube and his icy on screen demeanour.

 

The Fifth Wave – released on the 22nd of January

Directed by J Blakeson.

Starring: Chloe Grace Mortez, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maika Monroe, Liev Schrieber.

Sci-fi thriller/alien invasion film about an ongoing alien invasion of Earth that has been carried out in calculated waves in order to subdue humans and now after four waves, humanity and main character Cassie Sullivan prepare for the fifth wave and a new alien threat as Cassie, on the run, aims to survive and save her brother. Young adult War of The Worlds anyone?

 

Kung Fu Panda – released on the 29th of January.

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni.

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons.

The hit animated film Kung Fu Panda returns for a 3rd instalment as Po re-unites with his father and meets with other pandas at a secret sanctuary, also meeting a female panda that he’s been pre-arranged to marry, meanwhile an evil force arises and Po must gather together the pandas around him in order to defeat it.

 

Jane Got a Gun – released on the 29th of January

Directed by Gavin O’Connor.

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich.

Jane Got a Gun is a Western drama centred around titular character Jane as she strives to defend her ill husband, who is being hunted down by the vicious Bishop Boys gang, she seeks help from a former fiancé in order to protect her husband, her home and herself.