Oscar 2018 predictions

Yes I know I’m a bit late to the Oscar train but Oscar season is about to come to its dramatic close and Oscar’s old, 90 years old this year in fact but evolving maybe…. with a batch of nominees that feel a bit more diverse and representative of film going audiences (in my view) and while things aren’t perfect maybe we’re getting there.

Anyway with the Oscars coming up tomorrow, I haven’t really done any coverage on the awards thus far but I wanted to give my opinion regardless because there are a few shoe-ins in terms of predicted winners but I’m hoping for some surprises. I’ve also only made predictions for films that I’ve seen and have knowledge to predict on, because I do this every year and predicting winners for films I haven’t seem does seem a bit disingenuous in my view and I always want to give my authentic, real thoughts and views on things, so here goes:

 

Best Picture:

Call Me By YouR Name
The Darkest
Hour – winner
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Very hard category this year with 3 or 4 strong contenders for the win – 3 Billboards has the biggest buzz around it for sure but Phantom Thread is the quintessential best picture film in my opinion, plus it has Daniel Day Lewis but hold on, I’m going with The Darkest Hour, a loved film all around with Gary Oldmans performance stealing headlines and it’s the film I want to win. But thinking logically, it’s flatly between The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread and Three Billboards.

 

Best Actress:

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormandThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – winner
Meryl Streep, The Post
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Another year of strong nominees for best actress, the evergreen Meryl Streep would be a shoe- in any other year but some memorable performances from Hawkins and McDormand may just steal the night, I think Frances McDormand wins this one though, the momentum is with Three Billboards and people seem to love her specifically in the film, so yeah.

 

Best Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour winner
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Very strong list of nominees here, with a notable nomination for Daniel Kaluuya which is pretty incredible, it would be fitting and a perfect send off for Daniel Day-Lewis to get the Oscar but he has enough, right? I think Gary Oldman wins this one, with his dedication to the role and brilliant method acting, he’s also never won an Oscar somehow despite some great performances so it’s about time.

 

Best Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie MetcalfLady Bird – winner
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Maybe one of the more contentious categories with a surprise in store, I don’t see a nailed on winner here but I do think that Laurie Metcalf may just win it, I don’t think Lady Bird will win much on the night apart from this, people may be expecting Allison Janney to knick it for I, Tonya but this may be a surprise win.

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – winner

Interesting category this year with 3 Billboards having two nominees but even without this, I think Sam Rockwell wins on the night, he’s a fantastic actor and is great in the film and it’s surprising he hasn’t won more awards in the past.

 

Best Director:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del ToroThe Shape of Water – winner
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Strong category here with some directors who would win in any other year but I may go with the general consensus and say Del Toro wins it, because he’s a great director dedicated to his craft and I think the academy and people generally love The Shape of Water, Paul Thomas Anderson is an academy darling though, despite Phantom Thread not really having that much buzz around it, it could somehow sneak the win.

 

Best Original Screenplay:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; story by Guillermo del Toro)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
The Bick Sick (Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)  – winner
Get Out (Jordan Peele)

I think I’d like Get Out to win this one, for being such an intuitive and craft idea for a film that worked but Del Toros imagination and attention to world building may just win this category, he’s a great story teller and that’s what may make him rise above the others here, strong competition in general though and especially from 3 Billboards.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Call Me By Your Name (James Ivory) – winner
Logan (Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green; story by James Mangold)
Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin)
Mudbound (Virgil Williams and Dee Rees)
The Disaster Artist (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber)

I’d love nothing more than for Logan to win this and I think it’d be a deserved winner but let’s face it, the academy just doesn’t fancy superhero/comic book films, though Logan is unlike any in the past 18 years or so, I think Call Me By Your Name takes this one, a well liked film with not too many noms but I think it’s the favoured one here.

 

Animated Feature:

The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson – winner
Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

How The Boss Baby is nominated for this I will never know but surely Coco has to win this, a loved film, Pixar… that’s about enough really.

 

Best Cinematography:

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins – winner
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

Deakins, Deakins, Deakins, he’s just got to win this hasn’t he? Somehow he’s never won an Oscar for his work but he far and above deserves to win won just retroactively, let alone for the visual feast that Bladerunner 2049 was, come on Academy! That being said, Dunkirk also had some pretty spectacular cinematography.

 

Film Editing:

Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss – winner
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

Baby Driver all the way for this one, maybe a bit of an obvious choice but the skill and effort that went into editing that film is something else, a very snappy, stylish film in ever sense of the words and yeah, it’s a shoe-in, Dunkirk a strong competitor though.

 

Sound Editing:

Baby Driver, Julian Slater – winner
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Interesting category here with some interesting choices like The Last Jedi…. anyway this may not be as predictable as people think (Baby Driver) and I think Bladerunner 2049 could surprise people with a win… but who do I want to win? Baby Driver for sure, Dunkirk may also be a favoured choice for some.

 

Production Design:

Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola – winner
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

Category with some strong nominees here for varying reasons, Beauty and the Beast may be a strong favourite for many but it’s going toe to toe with Bladerunner and Shape Of Water for me, it’s a very close to call category overall but I think Bladerunner wins this one.

 

Original Score:

Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat – winner
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

Very hotly contested category here with some great nominees, Hans Zimmer is a legend in the industry of course and by all means should win but I think The Shape of Water may just be a favourite here, with Dunkirk not quite having the momentum or buzz it has, maybe just due to one film being more recent than another. SOW wins.

 

Costume Design:

Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran – winner
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle

Category with some strong choices but I think it has to go to the obvious one this time around, not Phantom Thread, Beauty and The Beast of course! It’s a film steeped in its mis-en-scene and fanciful, extravagant production design so I think it’s a shoe-in, plus everyone loves Disney (though not everyone loves the live action film trend)

 

Best Visual Effects:

Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer – winner
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Fun category, I really like all of the these films…. apart from Bladerunner, but yeah it’s an odd one to call because I think that film may just win the category outright, the Academy tends to shun comic book films and Star Wars has barely made a dent at awards in recent decades so it seems pretty obvious, I can’t see it going to Kong either but War For The Apes is the other best choice imo, if it’s not going to Bladerunner.

All in all I hope it’s a good, interesting night with some surprises.

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

March film preview

March, March, March, my birth month, the start of spring and the end of the misery that is winter, springtime is seeing increasing amounts of big budget blockbusters and indie films nowadays and 2018 is no different, with a plethora of anticipated films coming out, here are some to watch out for. (US release dates by default).

 

Red Sparrow – released on the 2nd of March

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary Louise Parker and Charlotte Rampling.

Russian spy Dominika is inducted into a deadly spy prorgram and made to use her appeal and wits to secure information and take out targets, though one American target in particular may prove a complication for her and her mission.

 

A Wrinkle In Time – released on the 9th of March

Directed by Ava DuVernay

Starring: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Guga Mbatha-Raw, Michael Pena, Storm Reid, Zach Galifinakis, Chris Pine and Levi MIller.

Fantasy film set in the US as child Meg aims to find and rescue her father, working with her younger brother, friends and some other worldly help.

 

The Strangers: Prey at Night – released on the 9th of March

Directed by Johannes Roberts

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman.

Direct sequel to the 2008 film Strangers, a family staying in a mobile home park are visited by three masked strangers with nefarious intentions.

 

Tomb Raider – released on the 16th of March

Directed by Roar Uthaug

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West,  Nick Frost, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

Updated reboot of the Tomb Raider mostly based on a recent video game reboot from 2013, charting Laras upbringing and origin story as she becomes stranded on an island  where her father disappeared after a shipwreck, being tested every step of the way, she has to find a way to survive.

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising – released on the 23rd of March

Directed by Steven S. DeKnight

Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Rinko Kikuchi, Jing Tian and Adria Arjona.

Direct sequel to the 2013 Pacific Rim, 10 years later, the Jaeger program has developed and grown but the Kaiju have found a way to return to earth, evolving themselves and once again the Jaegers must fight to protect earth with a new generation of fighters, including Stacker Pentecosts son – Jake who vows to keep his fathers legacy and protect humanity.

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

Ranking the Superbowl trailers

I know, its a bit late now for a Superbowl post but It’s another year and another Superbowl has gone by (which I didn’t really watch, due to being British) but I did catch a few trailers as I was still awake and excited to see first looks at a few films. Anyway here’s my ranking of what we did see, noting that some most ‘trailers’ were just 30 second TV spots.

 

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The new MI film is a film I had no expectations for up until about last week when I saw Cruise, Cavill and some of the cast on Graham Norton the other week and well, I’m pleasantly surprised as I ten to be with every new MI release. The premise looks interesting, Cruise again looks to be in his element and the action looks great, especially knowing he did all of them himself and with almost no CGI. The cast is again solid and the additions of Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett should spice things up, colour me interested.

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Now that’s now how you make a good Jurassic Park trailer, following the events of world, Owen and Claire are back on the island but not for long, volcanic eruption and all – and saving dinosaurs seems to be the main theme here but here comes some nefarious people who have gone and created another artificial dinosaur – cos that worked so well the last time right? Anyway it’s notably smaller this time but looks pretty menacing, I have to say I didn’t expect that and it may be tied into the notion of making armed, weaponised dinosaurs from Jurassic World, its stupid but still something different. Anyway the trailer’s good, with action, some horror elements and surprises, muc better trailer than the first one.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

We already have our first full trailer for the film, just 3 months away now and of course, it looks good but we get some new footage here, mostly character stills from different locations with some interesting interactions – Iron Man and Dr Strange, Cap and Black Panther (which we saw already) but with Caps new shield in action. I’m intrigued to see why the Avengers are all in varying locations and how everything ties together with Thanos being the big threat but Wakanda seems to be the central location for the action to took place…. or so I think. Good teaser overall.

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I’ve wanted to see something, anything from Solo for a while now and we finally got our first look at it, it’s hard to really judge anything of note from 30 seconds or random footage but it looks…. not terrible I guess? Alden Ehnreichs hair still looks a bit ridiculous but there’s some interesting looking action and the visuals look a bit gritty in the vein of Rogue One so if it’s anything approaching the quality of Rogue One then we should be in for a treat.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox

I have not yet seen Paradox but I don’t really know what to make of this teaser either way, it was so out of the blue and well, strange and though I love Cloverfield, I’m a bit wary on the announcement of random sequels/prequels with no build up whatsoever. Anyway its enough to get me to watch the film but yeah, it’s a bit odd.

 

SkyScraper

In what may be the most Dwayne Johnson film ever, DJ is a loving father with a wife and 2 kids who has to somehow get them off a really high floor on a skyscraper that’s on fire… of course he does, it looks stupid and generic but I’ll probably watch it, because Dwayne.

February film preview

Hey, hello reader, I’m still here – I’ve just been busy and admittedly a bit neglectful to the blog and I somehow missed the January film preview for 2018 which is a shame, but I didn’t want to let that become a habit so here is my first official film month preview for the year.

And would you look at that, after a so-so January for films, we have a few big’uns on the way already as we delve further into winter. (US release dates by default)

 

Black Panther – Released on the 16th of February

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.

The latest entry in the MCU and last film before the game changing Infinity War sees the action take place in the secluded Wakanda this time around, as we follow T’Chala ascendence to the role of king after the death of his father, though he has to contend with direct challenges to his rule and ot the safety of his nation.

 

Early Man – released on the 16th of February (already out in the UK)

Directed by Nick Park

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall, Miriam Margoyles, Richard Ayoade.

Stop motion comedy in the pre-historic era as Dug and Hognob unite together against an enemy force.

 

The Party – released on the 16th of February (already out in the UK)

Directed by Sally Potter

Starring: Sally Potter, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cherry Jones.

Black comedy set around the events of a house party thrown by Janet to celebrate, that quickly goes off the walls as things aren’t exactly what they seem and revelations come to the surface.

 

Anhilation – released on the 23rd of February

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac

Sci-fi fantasy film based on a novel of the same name, based around a group of soldiers who investgiate an environmental disaster, after finding a lone surviving soldier, trying to uncover what caused the disaster.

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