Month: November 2017

IT – review

IT is a modern horror film adaptation based on a popular Stephen King novel, following a group of bullied school kids in the late 1980s who band together to defeat an evil shapeshifting being, the film stars Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer and Wyatt Olaff.

Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the original It, though I’m familiar with the general story and premise, it never really grabbed me even as a fairly avid horror film fan but the new film did grab my interest as I wanted to see the story in full and get a taste of the hype as it were. Stephen King is very hit and miss for me – and for quite a lot of people, with a lot of novels, TV shows and films, the majority of which not being too great but I had hope.

Anyway about the film, it capitalizes on the fairly recent 80s nostalgia trip that we seem to be having and that is mostly nailed in the characters clothing, lingo and the setting itself, the time period itself of the late 80s has a feel good association to it and the Goonies, E.T. vibe is unavoidable, watching a group of kids o on a summer adventure, uncovering something mysterious. That something in this case is Pennywise, a pretty creepy looking clown with supernatural powers, as you do, played really well by Bill Skarsgard, so much so that he’s pretty much unrecognizable and quite unsettling to watch for anyone under the age of say, 16 but generally Skarsgard has an interesting physicality and presence to the way he plays the role.

Skarsgard had a huge job to really pull the role off and he did, though the rest of the cast is actually quite good too, with some very enthusiastic and believable performances, mainly from Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis), with even some of the side characters getting interesting plot arcs to play off of, the characters interaction and chemistry is also quaint, again believable for a bunch of 12-14 year old kids trying to have fun in summer in the 80s. An interesting point to make about the film for me though is that it’s not scary, I mean not really, I say this as a seasoned horror film fan so I don’t really get scared by films apart from the rare exception but to its credit It, is still pretty damn creepy and unsettling, with a fair bit of disturbing, gross out imagery and things that pennywise does (I hope not too many kids watched the film!). But to be fair for the films target audience, I’m sure it’s a terrifying experience and if so, it succeeded in what it tried to do.

The plot is also a highlight, seemingly quite long, clocking in at a bit over 2 hours but it definitely flies by, without too much slowing down between important plot points while including some interesting side stories that take things a bit deeper than expected out of a supernatural horror film.

Ultimately It, is a pretty good horror film, a rare thing to say in 2017, with effective imagery and scares (not for me but still), strong performances and an engaging plot that has some good pacing to boot, there are surprisingly deep moments and elements to the story as well for the adults and plenty of horror for the kids, an entertaining and somewhat surprisingly disturbing romp.

7/10

. Strong perfromances from most of the cast, even side character actors

. Engaging plot with great pacing

. For horror die hards, some of the lore around Pennywise may seem stupid/nonsensical

Deadpool 2 – teaser

So we have our… first official teaser for Deadpool 2 after an initial teaser a little while ago, very much keeping in line with Deadpools irreverent, absurdist humour as the character takes on the persona of the late, seminal painter and TV host Bob Ross (who was also a ray of sunshine), the teaser is quite crude but very much in the line in the first film and the humour seems to also be in the same vein.

We do actually get a quick run through of some footage from the film as well near the end though, possibly teasing the first official trailer and in it we see Nega sonic teenage warhead, Deadpool de-costumed and angry as well as action sequences that don’t really make sense without any context to them. Anyway we also see a few returning characters from Deadpool – Dopinder and Deadpools best friend Weasel, as well as the assassin Domino, a prominent new character. We still haven’t really seen Josh Brolin as Cable just yet but we do see his robotic arm right at the end. The painting at the end which was teased to us a few weeks ago shows all of the films main side characters, so that should give people a good feeling for who’s in it.

Deadpool 2 is set for a 1st of June 2018 release date.

5 reasons why I think Justice League will be a hit

It’s time… well it’s almost time, time for DC to lay all their cards out and see what happens with Justice League, the film with an entire cinematic universe kinda riding on it, will it be a commercial hit? Will critics love it? I’m pretty curious to find out for myself but we’ll all find out in about a month but until then, here are some of my thoughts on the film and on why I think it’s going to be a hit. (P.S. I wrote this a little while before the social media embargo on the film was lifted recently, so I had no idea what general thoughts on the film were/nothing was out yet!).

The Wonder Woman effect

Make no mistake about it, Wonder Woman was a very, very important film for DC and could well have tanked the DCEU going forward if it flopped but it didn’t, it was a commercial hit and almost everybody loved it and here we are, a month away from Justice League. And with the positive sentiment from the film, I’m sure that a few fans are going into DCs next film with high hopes and anticipation, for a number of reasons I’m sure, because they love DC characters, maybe because of Whedon working on the film and for sure also because the last film in the DCEU was quite good.

It may feel like quite a minor point, sentiment but it sure goes a long way, Marvel has worked off of this with the MCU for 9 years and even with so-so films in the series coming out, none of them have been slated or destroyed by critics because in part none of the films are that bad but you have to admit that audience sentiment plays a part and people will forgive a lackluster Marvel film over a lackluster DC film 9 times out of 10. Because of positive sentiment and familiarity, if you have one one bad experience at your favourite restaurant out of the 10 times you’ve been, you’d be disappointed but probably forgive it, if you have 2 or 3 bad experiences at a new restaurant you’re trying out of 5 times, you’ll probably slate it, so the same sort of logic applies in my view.

Wheeeeedon

This almost goes without saying but…. I’ll say it, Joss Whedon is ironically maybe one of the best things to happen for Justice League, taking the reigns over from Zack Snyder a few months ago, his touch is already evident in recent trailers and I have positive hopes for the films dialogue and character interaction. The film clearly has a lighter touch to it, something fans have been crying out for with Ezra Millers Barry Allen and Aquaman being the conduits for it seemingly, hell the film literally even looks lighter with brighter colours and character costumes, something very deliberate for it.

And say what you want about Whedon but he’s excellent at quippy dialogue and at writing for ensemble dramas, helping to engage and enthrall audiences, all the while getting emotion out of plots as well, all features that should work a treat for Justice League, a film that by no means should be dark, gritty and overly serious.

Your favourite DC characters

A pretty straightforward reason as to why people will flock to see the film (at least I think so) is because of the characters, DC has some of the most beloved characters in comic books in general and seeing Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman etc on screen together, in live action is something nerdy DC fans have wanted for ages, I mean I know I have. It’s going to be something never before seen and the spectacle alone will bring in a lot of fans, the same way it did for Batman V Superman, despite critical reception.

Great casting

Say what you want about the DCEU, it’s had some pretty great casting in my view, Henry Cavill has been a superb Superman (RIP), Ben Affleck was a wonder stroke as Batman and some peoples favourite even, Gal Gadot is fantastic as Wonder Woman and the rest of the League seem to be great fits also. Not to mention the likes of Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Keaton, there are some great supporting actors in the DCEU so far and the leads have been excellently cast I feel, so whoever has been doing the casting for the films, hats off to you sir/madam because you have been killing it. Oh and let’s not forget Suicide Squad, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis… you get the point.

I wonder who we’ll see in Justice League as a brand new face and I’m looking forward to that actually, simply going by the DCEUs past track record.

An underdog 

This is more of a personal viewpoint but people love an underdog story and they like to see an underdog succeed, DC is clearly the underdog in the comic book film stakes and I want them to succeed, maybe a lot of other comic book film fans do as well and I’m sure a lot of DC fans want them to, so you know, fingers crossed. It takes more than the will of the people for a film to succeed of course but I think people will be a bit easier on Justice League actually, even if it’s not that great simply because they want DC to do well and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing less savage take down reviews and more middle of the road ones.

Happy Death Day – review

Christopher Landon directs this mystery thriller set in a college as we follow sorority girl, Tree, as she is forced to relive the same day over and over until she is killed, she attempts to break the cycle and identify her killer, the film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken and Laura Cliften.

Ah the old ground hog day plot in which a central protagonist is forced into a time loop and forced to re-live the same day, trying to break the cycle, you’re familiar with the plot structure and you’ve seen it all before but not quite like Happy Death Day, which does manage to set itself apart in the end, both with its premise (of the main character re-setting their day because of dying) and because of little plot intricacies here and there that differentiate the film from others of the same type.

Giving too much away would be spoiling things of course but the story is refreshingly… different, helped in part by a relatively unknown but fresh faced and enthusiastic cast, especially in the lead – tree (Jessica Rothe) who pulls off a convincingly believable performance, there’s just something very genuine about her personality and while it’s not wholly unique, it feels realistic, as do some of the other characters like Carter (Israel Broussard) and even the stereotypical ones. The plot is actually pretty engaging as well as you go along the story and probably have your own ideas and and conclusions as to why Tree is stuck in a timeloop, who her killer is and so on but importantly, the plot manages to keep you invested and will also probably keep you guessing.

The films dialogue and writing in general is also a strong point to the film, with an irreverent slice of life look at modern college life for a girl in a sorority, portraying stereotypes in a humorous way and mocking the over the top nature colleges can in real life take while not really making them the main point of the story. It’s sort of like Dear White People meets Evil Dead and while that’s a bizarre mashup indeed, basically the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. And interestingly, while the film is a thriller, it also has a surprising amount of drama and genuine character development namely with Tree, who goes on an interesting journey and quite visibly changes throughout the course of the story, rather than going through the motions and just surviving, this makes the plot more than just a slasher and a generic who-dunnit with a mystery element to it.

All in all, Happy Death Day is quite the pleasant surprise, a quirky, fun thriller with an engaging plot and some strong performances, it’s a film you may not be too bothered to see but you may just enjoy if you have even half the fun that the film has with itself.

7/10

. Strong riting

. Engaging plot

. Nuanced in parts but also cliché in others

American Made – review

Biographical drama directed by Doug Liman, following the real life exploits of pilot Barry Seal who became a drug runner in the 1980s for the CIA and for drug cartels, later being exposed by the authorities, the film stars Tom Cruise, Domnhall Gleeson, Sarah Wright and Jesse Plemmons.

Crazy, unbelievable stories are often times very true, real life ones based on the lives and exploits of normal people put into extraordinary situations one way or another, these stories however don’t always make for the best cinematic stories and the quality of them is quite variable. But hey, stories such as these, following the real life Barry Seal do make for interesting viewing in my personal view and Tom Cruise enthusiastically portrays the high wired pilot, driven to succeed and make a quick buck, despite certain moral and ethical iffy-ness about the whole thing.

In fact the film is sort of portrayed more as a comedy than anything, though there are dramatic elements, namely with Barrys’ strained relationship with his partner Lucy because of his job, the tone of the film is just very at odds with what Barry was doing (drug & arms running) for me and I found it hard to find any of the story humorous, despite how outright insane some of the events are – though I’m sure some are made up for dramatic effect. I guess I just don’t really understand the point of the film, aside from simply re-telling the major life events for Barrys career and his exploits, he isn’t really portrayed in a negative light but is shown as a bit of an amoral character, though he doesn’t ever actively hurt or try to hurt people, he is complicit in drug running which hurts people in the long run. And it’s a bit uncomfortable to watch the charming Everyman that is Tom Cruise, portray him in a cheery, chirpy manner.

We see what he did and we know why he did it but beyond that, we know nothing about Barry, his upbringing and get no real voice against what he’s doing apart from his wife Lucy, who probably remains the most sane person in the story, interestingly we also get a few people who represent the government (CIA)  that were essentially employing Barry through the mysterious Monty ‘Schafer’ (Domnhall Gleeson) who does put in a good performance. His portrayal being that of an immoral government agent out to benefit the government at all costs, not caring much for Barry and ready to disavow him the second he gets exposed, very much the stereotype but also very believable in the context of the story and this essentially did happen in real life, so yeah.

Ultimately American Made is a bit of a damp squib in my view, an interesting real life story that re-tells events but haves me leaving after the viewing asking, ‘So what?’, a similar feeling I’ve felt to other biographical dramas in recent years, the film fails to engage me to the level to make me real really feel anything or care that much at all and that is the major downfall for it.

5.5/10

. Decent performance from Tom Cruise

. Plot feels a bit hollow, empty

November film preview

So 2017 is really winding down now and we’re almost at the finishing point (where did the year go!), as we get well into awards run in season and into a number of prominent films to come, here are a few to look out for. (US release dates by default.

LBJ – released on the 3rd of November

Directed by Rob Reiner

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Michael Stahl-David, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan and Jennifer Jaosn Leigh.

Political and biographical drama set in America, following Lyndon B Johnsons life as he eventually grows up to become president.

 

Thor: Ragnarok – released on the 3rd of November

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban.

Marvels latest entry in the MCU is somewhat of a comedy action-adventure, buddy film as we follow Thors latest exploits, losing his hammer and being banished from Asgard… maybe not the best way to return after his 2 year absence from the MCU. Anyway Thor must find a way back to Asgard with Bruce Banner and regain his powers to save the realm as it’s beset by Hela, the goddess of Death.

 

Murder On The Orient Express – released on the 10th of November

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley.

Classic murder mystery drama set on the titular Orient Express train, in which a murder takes place… pretty self explanatory, 13 strangers of varying backgrounds are stranded on a train together as the mystery of the murder and the murderer takes centre stage, with one man investigating it, before they can strike again.

 

Daddy’s Home 2 – released on the 10th of November

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardinelli, John Cenga, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson and Alessandra Ambrossio.

Sequel to the comedy Daddys Home with fathers Brad and Dusty dealing with their intrusive fathers in the holiday period, while Dusty must also come to terms with his childs biological father in Roger (John Cena).

 

Justice League – released on the 17th of November

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons and Diane Lane.

The DCEUs tentpole film is Justice League, set after the events of Batman V Superman with Supermans death, violent attacks have increased worldwide, Bruce and Diana have set about gathering a team together to fight evil, while an alien force in the form of Steppenwolf and his army attacks Earth.

 

Coco – released on the 22nd of November

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor.

Disneys latest animated film centred on the concept of the dia de muertos (Spanish day of the dead), following a young 12 year old boy called Miguel who dreams of becoming a musician, as he sets about on an adventure of discovery.