Category: Reviews

Ready Player One – review

Spielberg is back and directs Ready Player One, an adaptation of the popular novel from Ernest Cline, set in Michigan in 2045 in a technologically advanced future, entrepreneur James Halliday has invented the most popular VR program of all time which most of the population essentially live inside of. Halliday hid special easter eggs inside of his game that players are eager to find in order to win ownership of the Oasis, especially the enthusiastic teenager Wade Watts. Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, TJ Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t go into the film that enthusiastic despite the cool references littered through its marketing and trailers, I didn’t really get that much feeling for a plot and I thought it would be a bit too nostalgic for nostalgias sake but the story handles its nods quite well, yes there are a tonne of obvious in your face ones – King Kong, the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, a DeLorean but there are lots of cool smaller ones that you’ll probably miss, so it’s fun to look back on the film and see what was included. The easter eggs aren’t just in there for the sake of it either, with James Halliday including references to films, TV and games that he loved from the 80s and all the more modern things – they’re just avatars in the Oasis that gamers choose to look like, everything from Halo, to Overwatch to The Iron Giant, though I’m sure the more modern references were added with younger audiences in mind.

The core of the film is The Oasis, a very interestingly virtual world that you can do anything in to escape from the mundanity of the real world, it’s essentially all encompassing and an intriguing imagining of VR that may not be too far ahead in the future and in the Oasis is where the plot really gets going, let by Wade Watts (Percival in the Oasis, played by Tye Sheridan), an enthusiastic 18 year old who loves the virtual world and seems to only have friends inside there. His best friend and technical mastermind H (Lena Waithe) as well as pro gamers Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Phillip Zao), none of whom he has ever met in real life mind you, this may feel somewhat sad but again entirely believable, with online exclusive friends absolutely a thing that exists in the real world. The performances are actually quite good on the whole, Sheridan brings an enthusiastic, driven performance and carries a lot of the story, somewhat naive in places, especially when he comes across Artemis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke) who he convinces himself he falls in love with, although their relationship does feel fairly organic, Cooke especially brings a lot of gusto to her role, bringing some grounded realism to Wade and the situation they’re in. She’s more concerned about the real world and stopping corporations ruining peoples lives via the Oasis while Wade just wants to find the easter eggs, this makes for an interesting dynamic between the two, despite their feelings for each other.

The drama compliments the action in the Oasis quite well, a world laden with fantastical elements, weapons and great action, with some interesting nods to online culture with players like I-ROK (TJ Miller), a high level and skilled player who’s quite a naive nerd who loves and hordes all the things he’s collected in game, it’s also great to actually meet Wades friends in real life who are all a bit different to what you expect. Aside from this and because the story is so important, it’s not really a deep dive into gaming as much as it is an adventure and exploration of James Hallidays life and mind with the vehicle of the Oasis and a touch of Spielberg, this isn’t really a criticism but looking at the film critically, some may feel The Oasis gaming rules are nebulous at best and non-sensical at worst/

Ultimately Ready Player One, is a fun ride, not too deep of a drama and very sentimental with convenient plot events that in a way feel very Spielberg, the world of the Oasis is fascinating and the visuals are great, with a truckload of fun references to boot for lovers of the 80s and 90s, it’s definitely not for everyone but I can enjoyed my viewing and I’d be keen to go back into the Oasis and the futuristic vision of the world present.

7/10

. Good performances all around, especially Sheridan, Cooke and Mendelsohn

. Interesting plethora of references, great visuals

. Some convenient plot points

Murder On The Orient Express – review

So I’ve finally got around to watching Murder On The Orient Express, the latest cinematic portrayal of the novel of the same name, written by legendary author Agatha Cristie, this film is directed by Kenneth Branagh and follows famed detective Hercule Poirot, who has a knack for solving seemingly unsolvable crimes – finding himself aboard a train which a murder takes place on. The film stars Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Daisey Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr.

I won’t lie, I’m not too familiar with Agatha Christies body of work or with MOTE in particular either but I was drawn to the film due to my own interest in turn of the 20th century/early 1900s in general, the talented Kenneth Branagh both directs and starts in this adaptation which is quite a feat, producing a final product that actually isn’t that bad I feel. Despite all the signs possibly signally otherwise, with such a large ensemble cast and Branagh directing himself, one could assume the film is a bit self indulgent because of the star power on show but it’s not quite that. That being said, the writing does lend itself to the theatrical in a sense, with over the top characters, dialogue and specific scenes that almost feel like you’re watching a play, especially with the lavish sets and fancy old-timey costumes (Oh I do love a period drama).

The cast is actually really sold on the whole, from the lesser known actors right up to Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, with Josh gad in particular bringing a memorable performance, the problem with films with such large casts like this is that you often don’t have enough time to really explore them all which may be a weak point for the story, especially when you have more interesting characters hanging around. And to be fair, MOTE isn’t exempt from this, with a handful of quite weird, intriguing characters that are on the fringes of the story, maybe understandably taking a back seat to the central murder mystery which is fair enough. The good writing of the novels story itself does drive the film forward though, with the murder keeping you mostly engaged as you watch, though the solution does get a tad convoluted into the final third of the film but it does wrap itself up quite nicely I feel.

And speaking of performances, you simply can’t avoid Branagh as the larger than life Poirot, eccentric but a brilliant mind, he is the star of the show and one of the best features of the film as a whole, bringing enthusiasm to every scene he’s in, coupled with serious determination as well, making for a dynamic, interesting character. People unfamiliar with Christies novels may find Poirot a bit cartoonish and strange without any back story to him but it’s a credit to the film to let people sort of fill in the blanks for now, without throwing a tonne of exposition to describe Poirot, we may not know much about him now in the context of the films world but we may find out.

Ultimately Murder On The Orient Express is a decent enough film, not exactly ground breaking but I don’t think it was intended to be, with a large cast that on the whole does a great job, great costume design and production and a memorable performance from Brannagh, I’d like to see more of him as Poirot going forward.

7/10

. Has some strong perfromances

. Engaging plot, keeps audience interest

. Final third may lose some viewers interest, plot gets a bit convoluted

Mute – review

Duncan Jones directs Mute, an almost crime noir drama set in a futuristic Berlin, following a mute bartender who after falling for a girl, desperately tries to find her after she disappears. The film stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Seyneb Saleh and Robert Sheehan.

Duncan Jones once again confuses audiences with a film that is completely different to his last cinematic outing (Warcraft) in every single way but this is a film connected directly to a previous film of his (Moon) and we do return to a futuristic sci-fi setting for the story, set in Berlin in the maybe not too distant future, we do have robots and advanced medical equipment but no flying cars or androids a la BladerunnerAnd in doing this, the world does feel a bit strange but also a bit familiar, the setting really isn’t the main point here either and though the world may have interesting aspects to it to be explored, you’ll be disappointed if you came into the film wanting  answers to questions about lore or world building from the film.

This is a very small character and story driven film, centred on mute Amish bartender Leo (Skarsgard) who has fallen for Naadirah (saleh), a sex worker in Berlin who knows she can’t really be with him and thus you have a set up for a mismatched love story, the film has a bit of an odd structure to it, being half about Leo and his search for Naadirah in a pseudo crime noir style – he can fight but he’s no detective, though that doesn’t stop it. And half about two American ex pats in Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux) who is almost unrecognisable in an odd blonde wig, doing odd jobs for the mob and just living their life, for about 2/3 of the film you may wonder who they are and what relevance they even have to the main story and I think this short coming is a flaw of some poor story telling. There are a few plot threads running simultaneously but not seeing them come together until significantly later in the story is a bit frustrating, that being said Rudd and Theroux are brilliant in the film, over the top in their unique ways, with Ducks in particular becoming central to a particularly dark and morbid storyline which I saw as a bit pointless to the overall story, especially in his relation to Leo who he doesn’t seem to know at all.

That being said, the setting is… interesting I suppose and the performances are good but a meandering story that takes far too long to really come to any meaningful position is what really holds the film back, with some bad storytelling to boot – we really could have used some exposition in this case! And Leo being mute which was done for dramatic effect I presume, doesn’t really add much to the story either other than making Skarsgard act that extra bit harder which he doesn’t need to – as he’s a fine actor but that’s my two cents.

I really like Duncan Jones as a filmmaker and all of his previous work but Mute feels like a bit of a misstep, a strange and strangely told story with some merit to it, at its core being a tragic love story that is just needlessly convoluted, did it even need the sci-fi setting at all? Why is Leo Amish again? Well, yeah that was weird.

6/10

. Some plot points are confusing, bad storytelling

. Scsi-fi setting seems superfluous

. Has some good performances

The Shape of Water – review

The Shape Of Water is a 1960s fantasy drama, set in a US military base housing a top secret project, which takes interesting turns when a janitor forms a relationship with a creature being held at the base, the film stars Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Visionary director Guillermo Del Toro does it again, crafting a film that is completely different from his last cinematic outing (Crimson Peak), though we’re again presented with a period drama, a bit more modern this time and set in the height of the cold war in 1960, as US forces have captured a humanoid like fish creature and plan to study it – for their own benefit of course, the premise intriguing and right from the offset, evokes a feeling of this being a modern fairytale.

This is in part helped with a somewhat unusual protagonist in the mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who communicates via sign language to those who can understand, Hawkins brings a spirited and dedicated performance to the role and her enthusiasm certainly brightens up an otherwise fairly darkly themed story. The performances are really what make the film overall, with Octavia Spencer being great as Zelda – Elias best friend and fellow janitor at the facility, speaking her mind and pointing out the obvious, sometimes to her detriment – which often relates to the fierce and forceful Richard (Michael Shannon) who is brilliant in this role, really emanating a sense of intimidation and menace that fairly few actors can achieve. And in terms of the actual amphibian man, the practical effects are really well done and Doug Jones really nails the vision of the physicality of a wild humanoid like fish, Jones isn’t new to this sort of character acting if you’re familiar with his work (he’s like the Andy Serkis of TV and film for costumed characters) and it shows, with his experience bringing some heft and believability to the character. And believability, you have to suspend some of it with this sort of premise of course, not just for the fish man existing but for Eliza falling in love with him, it’s a sort of mismatched, seemingly doomed to fail romance in the vein of Beauty and the beast but with a gritty, real world setting in the US in the height of the cold war which makes for an interesting dichotomy, with the added element of Russian KGB agents in the story who help to add tension to the plot.

The setting and set up quite reminds me of Del Toros arguably best film in Pans Labyrinth, with a fantastical element to the story – this time just existing in the real world as a matter of fact and if I was to bring up a criticism, certain characters lack of shock or surprise to the amphibian man may seem a bit unrealistic, almost as if it’s just another wacky experiment that in reality would completely freak people out. Also another element to point out is the soundtrack – which is fantastic, very well suited to the story and with some great albeit a tad out of the blue musical numbers that construe certain emotions that characters like Eliza may be feeling at points in the story.

Overall The Shape of Water is a good, engaging watch with strong performances, a great soundtrack and a well paced story that keeps you engaged, some elements are a bit unbelievable (even for a fantasy film) but not to the point of detracting from the film as a whole.

7/10

. Well done performances, Shannon and Hawkins are brilliant

. Engaging, simple plot with good pacing

. Some plot events may seem a bit unrealistic

Black Panther – review

Black Panther is the latest entry in the MCU, following the events of Civil War, T’Chala is set to be crowned king but has to face inevitable challenges, both to his nation and to his potential royal title, the film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Lupita N’yongo, Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.

After much hype and anticipation, Black Panther is here and is sort of a game changer for the MCU in more ways than one, being the first film in the cinematic universe with a majority black cast for one of course but the change brought on by the film goes deeper than that, though to start with that. The tone and feel of the film is just very different to previous Marvel films and you get Wakanda – and I mean a lot of Wakanda which is great and it’s crazy to think that at just over 2 hours, you barely scratch the surface of the nations lore and history. But you still get a real historical sense and understanding of it which is incredible for the average movie-goer, with just 1 or 2 brief mentions of Wakanda in the MCU previously, now knowing a fair amount about the fictional nation.

With the mis-en-scene and great production to help evoke the feeling of Wakanda being a real place – shielded by technology to the outside world, the visuals are fantastic and the vision of a technologically advanced African nation is so at odds with our modern view of Africa that it makes for great spectacle. It’s just great to see so much alternate cultural representation in a Marvel film of all things, with clear honouring and referencing to real African culture, clothing, jewellery and even body modification done respectfully, Wakanda is sort of a mish-mash of a lot of African tradition and culture rolled into one, making it quite the unique place.

The visuals on the whole are great, with well shot action scenes and a particularly notable and memorable fight sequence all done in one take – Netflix Dardevil style, from T’Chalas fight style to the Dora Milajes, the set pieces are well done and exciting with an emphasis on physicality and close combat, especially when it comes to the Panther suit itself.

One low point of the action is that early on some of it feels a bit out of focus which may be a technical error but it doesn’t remain an issue for the duration of the film, the CGI at times also looks a bit weightless. That being said, the films strengths far outweigh its few downfalls and it’s also an audible feast, with a brilliant soundtrack that evokes the culture represented in the film. Where Black Panther really shines is with its characters, a great ensemble cast with pretty much everyone giving an A+ performance, especially Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan who kills it as Eric Killmonger (pun not intended), Andy Serkis is again great as Ulysses Claw and is clearly having a great time playing him. While the likes of Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker bring some added gravitas to the film, with the dramatic moments hitting home and not being played off for laughs like previous Marvel films have been guilty of *Cough* Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, there’s weight to death and sacrifice in the story and it helps to ramp up the drama.

The film brings maybe surprising depth with the themes it tackles head on with some unwavering bravery, even making you sympathize with the antagonist in Killmonger, it also raises some fascinating thoughts on the idea of tradition Vs modernity. the notion of your heroes being imperfect and nationalism, can/should loyalty to your nation stop you helping people from other nations? There’s a lot to unpack and delve into. But in my eyes the film may have a big enough impact on the MCU to rival even Civil War with events to take place in the future – though details would be spoiling things.

Ultimately Black Panther is just sort of great, a deep, emotional film with thought provoking and pertinent themes that feels very of the times, the Marvel-isms are there of course with frequent humour, inevitably conflict and action but the film felt like a well done character drama that just happens to be in the MCU. Opening up a new type of storytelling for future films and while this may not be the first big black or majority black film, it’s still a great step forward regardless in its depiction of women and for diversity in genre films – especially in the comic book film variety.

8/10

. Fantastic performances throughout the cast

. Engaging plot and story

. Brilliant characterisation, complex characters throughout the story

Jumani: Welcome To The Jungle – review

Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle is sort of a direct Jumanji sequel directed by Jake Kasdan and an update for the the 21st century, as we follow 4 very different teenagers in high school who are thrust together in detention, finding themselves playing a Jumanji video game and finding themselves inexplicably sucked inside of it. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas.

Right off the bat, the film is derivative and feels inspired by other entries, I mean it definitely is Breakfast Club meets Tron with its set up of different teenagers in detention getting sucked into a game but I have to give the film its own credit for taking an existing idea and expanding on it. Things are changed around with the teenage characters becoming drastically different avatars in the game which is a central source of a lot of comedy in the film, the shy, scrawny Spencer is now the ripped Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), while Fridge, the built football player in real life now finds himself in Kevin Harts body. The same applies with body switching for social outcast Martha who finds herself in a kick ass martial arts fighting woman and shallow popular girl Bethany who finds herself in the body of a middle aged man as she puts it as Jack Black.

The performances are all pretty on point as you’d probably expect, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart again show their great chemistry and sort of steal the show with their back and forths and interactions with Martha and Bethany as well but importantly, none of the performances feel too forced or like the actors are trying to hard, which is a fear I had for the film. Johnson especially is great as a make believe naïve teenage boy who can’t believe he’s now muscle bound and a de facto ladies man while Jack Black is quite funny as a make believe 16 year old girl.

Plot wise, things are a bit by the numbers and play out like the original Jumanji in more ways than one, which is a bit disappointing as the story could have done things a bit differently in the vein of its premise, events are localized in the video game rather than real life which is different but the plot fails to capitalize on the endless possibilities of being in a video game. You do get a few fun video game tropes but again, they’re not really expanded on and could have made for some really fun comedic beats – the idea of a controller dying/not working, glitches, invisible walls and barriers, leveling up etc are all things I just thought of off the cuff and things that could have provided some added laughs.

But ultimately the film is alright, not knee slapping-ly hilarious but not terrible either, it takes the idea of the original Jumanji and gives it a modern spin which is completely fine and the performances are quite fun but not enough is really done with the creative world of the video game which could have made the plot a bit more exciting and less generic.

6.5/10

. Well done comedy, good performances

. Plot is a bit generic

. Character interactions are fun, wouldn’t mind seeing them together again

The Cloverfield Paradox – review

The Cloverfield Paradox is the latest film in the sci-fi Cloverfield series, this outing is set in space, following a crew aboard a space ship aiming to get a source of energy that may just save humanity from itself, the film stars David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha raw, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz and Ziyi Zhang.

Ah where to start with Cloverfield Paradox, it’s sort of in the name actually… because the film sort of makes no sense and trying to tie it into Cloverfield or 10 Cloverfield Lane I guess does make a paradox. Time travel, inter-dimensional travel, god particles, the concepts are pretty high level but the basics are that we follow a crew in space trying to get endless renewable energy for the Earth, simple enough…. but this is apparently a prequel to Cloverfield, so the world we see is exactly the same as the 2008 film but they seemingly have nothing in common, with no mention of the Shepherd (the space ship in this film) or the energy crisis.

But non-sensical continuity aside, more than anything, its disappointing that the film missed a great chance to expand on previous films and give out some real answers, the story goes full JJ Abrams, raising about 10 questions for everyone one answered, with events happening seemingly at random as things go on. Almost as if to shout to the audience “Hey this is weird, betcha didnt see that coming!”, at best it’s intriguing writing and at worst it’s pandering to an direction-less engima machine with no real end goal in sight, effectively JJ Abrams ‘mystery box’ at work.

Which is further disappointing because the film actually has some good production value, it looks great and has a pretty good cast to boot, the likes of Daniel Brul, David Oyelowo to name a few and some great dramatic moments and nice sprinkling of levity in between. That being said, the film isn’t a completely LOST cause (pun intended, this is totally like LOST) and it is an engaging watch, the plot moving pretty much without taking a break but unfortunately the quick pacing and writing makes each new event feel a bit cheap and forced for the sake of a new random crisis as engaging as this also makes the plot.

I just don’t quite get the point of Cloverfield Paradox, a film that barely ties into the previous two in the series, a film that apparently wasn’t even a Cloverfield film at all but got adapted into one for some reason. Answering almost nothing but raising a number of new possibilities and despite a good cast and good production overall, the final product is something that adds nothing substantial to the overall series aside some incoherent new mythology and a bunch of new mysteries. Marketing itself on the back of the Cloverfield name to cynically get more eyes on the films in my view.

6/10

. Good cast and performances but mostly wasted on the film

. Seemingly random enigma machine in the vein of LOST, more unanswered questions

. Disappointing for anyone that wanted answers to the previous films

Nerve – review

Nerve is a high school drama and thriller directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, as a frustrated senior student in high school finds herself thrust into the world of the online game ‘Nerve’, which sees people performing dares for money as a community of people online watches. The film stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis, Emily Meade and Miles Heizer.

This is not your typical high school drama, as we follow Vee (Emma Roberts), a somewhat shy, anxious high school senior about to embark to college in a few months time, she has a good set of friends and a stable upbringing but she feels like she could be doing more with herself, which comes to the forefront as it turns out that her friend see her as being a bit safe, lacking an adventurous spirit. And thus the story in essence begins and say hello to ‘Nerve’, a near future online game that’s sweeping her high school and teenagers all around the city, seeing people dare each other for money, increasing in value as the dares get more outrageous and you know, illegal.

I really like the premise for the film as it strays away from the typical high school drama, involving technology quite heavily in the story, it’s almost like if the Watchdogs game got a live action spin off film, set in high school. Though that being said, you do still get the tropes of high school drama with Vee and her best friend Sydney having underlying issues with each other and with things coming to the surface over boys, the good thing is that the plot doesn’t necessarily drown in this melodrama however and the pacing keeps things moving at an interesting, engaging pace.

The fun of the ‘Nerve’ game is its unpredictability, which takes the plot in a visceral, interesting direction as you don’t know what dare Vee will take on next or if she’ll do any dares whatsoever, with the wild card Ian (Dave Franco) bringing an interesting dynamic the plot and serving as a love interest for Vee simultaneously, Franco shines in the role and comes across very naturally in a sort of reckless, cocky way with a touch of charm to himself. Meanwhile Emma Roberts is again great as the main character in a high school drama, effortlessly switching from mean queen in some TV shows she’s starred in, to out of her depth shy girl in Nerve. With the acting on the whole being quite solid.

Nerve is a pleasant surprise, an engaging story that feels of the time with online communities and what anonymity online can make people do, making an interesting social commentary while also charting a sort of coming of age story for Vee who does change along her journey. The plot serving like a cautionary tale to young peoples obsession with being online and fringe activities they may participate it in, just to be a part of the conversation among peers.

7/10

. Well paced, engaging plot

. Good performances

. Interesting mix of technology with story

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – review

Yorgos Lanthimos directs this psychological horror/mystery film, centred around a seemingly normal family, headed by a celebrated surgeon whose life is flipped upside down after he befriends a mysterious teenage boy, the film stars Colin Farrel, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Alicia Silverstone and Sunny Siljic.

Boy do I have thing to say about this film… but let’s start off with the seemingly inherent hypocrisy a reviewer can face when it comes to mysterious, enigmatic films like this that present an intriguing premise but offer little in the way of explanation and I’m guilty of this, either quite liking a film with such a set up or completely being turned off, I quite liked It Comes At Night for example but I left The Killing of a Sacred Deer a bit disappointed.The frustrating thing is that slow burn mystery horror films like this are almost all set up the same narratively but can elicit such vastly different responses and in itself, that’s a great thing about films. The films’ tone and set up quite reminds me of Dogtooth actually, also by Lanthimos, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

But honestly the film’s just not great, despite a pretty good cast as well, Colin Farrel as Steven, figurehead of the Murphy family and a caring family man, alongside Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two kids Kim and Bob, they’re a pretty normal family but then again they’re kind of not aside from the parents, the kids are sort of twistedfgrom the offset, even without the even stranger Martin (Barry Keoghan) coming into the fray. And this is part of where the film loses me, it’s almost like the writing is trying to make the film strange and unnerving right from the start with very odd dialogue and line delivery that sticks out so much it had me practically saying “no one talks like this” and with such dialogue, Lanthimos seems to like flattening certain characters in his films to almost one dimensional levels, making it hard to connect with or empathize with them. This is in part played for black comedy I’m sure, with the Murphy kids especially talking so bluntly to each other and their parents without a hint of humor to the absurdity of what they’re saying, the kids are also strangely emotionless throughout the film and this distance from the characters makes it hard to empathise with them.

The dialogue is so bad that it both takes you out of the film in fact and reduces any potential emotional impact and I struggled to really come to terms with anything that was happening in a logical sense (much like the parents in the story I suppose) but with no real backstory for Martin and no explanation of anything whatsoever, things happen and the story goes it course…. and that’s basically it. There are some well framed shots and long takes that linger on a bit too long to help evoke a feeling of nervousness and an unsettling feeling does pervade the film so it does succeed in that regard, with Barry Keoghan giving a truly twisted and bizarre but nonetheless memorable performance. While a scene in particular was so disturbing that I could barely watch it – this coming from a guy that is un-phased by the vast majority of horror films.

Anyway the film did nothing for me despite instilling an unsettled feeling and I feel like the story is a big missed opportunity, structurally it could have been put together better, especially with the writing. For more detail on it, the premise is sort of based on an Ancient Greek tragedy – ‘Iphigenia in Auglis’ and reading up on it does bring the basic layout of the story to a more coherent place but this modern adaptation of it left me well, un-phased. Because no film deserves a pass on good writing and plot, for the sake of the viewing experience, no matter how big or small it is.

5/10

. Poor pacing

. Bad writing, trying to evoke an unnatural feeling through dialogue that feels too forced

. Plot feels a bit hollow and void of any impact, in part due to the writing and detached tone of the film

The Big Sick – review

The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter is a romcom / drama rolled into one, sort of following the real life of Kumail Nanjiani, essentially playing himself as a Pakistani stand up comedian living the USA who falls for an American woman, forcing him to keep secrets and create a rift with his family that he has to confront, alongside an illness his girlfriend contracts. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff and Adeel Akhtar.

This is a pretty different type of romcom in my view, being more or less a story based on a real person in Kumail Nanjiani, who basically plays himself in the role, we get a real taste of his sense of humour and personality which feels authentically like him, if you’ve seen him in past TV shows or interviews and this helps to make more of an emotional connection with Kumail in my opinion. This could have worked just as well with Kumail and the story being fictional but with the story being real (Kumail is now married to writer Emily Gordon who Emily in the story is based on) it’s all the more impactful.

The emotional aspect to the story was much more pronounced than I thought it would be actually, played quite subtly but it hits heavy, I was expecting a lot more laugh out loud moments than there were but the humour is done well nonetheless, not forcing in jokes every 5 seconds but using smart, sarcastic comedy at key moments. This is helped by the script being written by Kumail and Emily themselves, who lived the experience so this helps to add authenticity to it, the scenes involving Kumails family in particular are some of the funniest and also the most relatable, despite cultural and religious differences between his family and yours, you can probably relate to wanting to please your parents, despite their plans for you maybe being different to your own life plans.

And in that the story really resonated with me, because of potential awkwardness when dealing with family in your adulthood, especially if you’re living in a western country that you weren’t born in or even if you were, with parents that are still very traditional and conservative – a source of comedy for sure but another thing that I’m sure a lot of young adults in the US face everyday. The performances in the film are also really good, Kumail is great in playing well, himself and he brings a reserved yet surprisingly emotional touch to the story, playing off really well with Zoe Kazan who plays Emily and is pretty fantastic at it, nailing the emotional rollercoaster that is her relationship with Kumail with all the twists and turns that accompany it.

I like that the film also doesn’t exactly go the way you think it will either, keeping you guessing as to what will happen and it’s a more accurate representation of real life and not a fictional story, again helping with relatability and engagement in my view. The Big Sick is a funny, touching film with more emotional impact than you may expect going into it.

7/10

. Great performances from main leads, especially Zoe Kazan

. Well done comedy spread throughout, without taking away from dramatic moments

. Engaging plot