Ready Player One (2018) – Movie Review

*The following review contains spoilers*

It’s been a while. But I’m back! I was writing my review on mother! but then thought I needed a second viewing (which hasn’t happened yet) so that’s coming hopefully in the near future. But my review today was something I’d never thought I’d write because I was never going to see this film. However my friend dragged me along to it (hi Jess), and because I’m such a nice person, I went. Who am I to pass up a cinema experience? I had never read the book or seen the trailer or had a clue what this film was about. I was not looking forward to this film. But after the credits rolled, I was pleasantly surprised.

Ready Player One is set in 2045 and the VR game (OASIS) has taken over the world. When its creator (Mark Rylance) dies, he challenges all OASIS users on a quest to inherit his fortune. We follow Wade/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) and Samantha/Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) who work together to find the pieces of the puzzle. Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) is the CEO of a video game conglomerate and will do anything to stop them, or any other users, from winning.

Sci-fi is my least favourite genre of film and I would say action-adventure is my 3rd least favourite. Side note: 2nd least favourite goes to Western. So like I said, I thought I would have a not-so-good time watching this. But this was such an entertaining film to watch. I had a great time and was engaged throughout the entire thing. There were some major aspects that I didn’t like, but I’ll get to that. First, let’s focus on the stuff that I thought was good. The first act of the film was amazing and probably my favourite part. I loved the world-building and introduction to OASIS and the characters. The premise of this film alone has a great underlying theme; technology taking over society because people do not want to deal with the real world. Though I think Black Mirror executes this much better, it was still great to watch it explored via film.

My next favourite aspect was race track sequence to get the first key. I was gritting my teeth the whole time wondering what new element would come next. The pacing paired with the sounds were fantastic, it actually felt very 3D like. The scene later when Parzival goes backwards through the course was a real treat to watch too. This segues into my next point, which is that the visuals and effects were very well done. The OASIS users felt like Final Fantasy characters and had that distinct look. Even the details that went into the haptic suit looked amazing. A commendable thing they also did was the effects and editing of Halliday’s journals through the museum; the pauses, zooms and change of angles looked effortless.

Now the stuff I didn’t like. This list will probably be ordered from most to least problematic. The love story between Wade and Samantha felt SO forced. My friends told me that the events of the book took much longer than the film, which is fine, but you’d expected the writers to adapt it well. Their avatars had more chemistry than the actual actors did! Which brings me to my next point; I did not like Sheridan’s acting in this film. His portrayal of the character felt really flat and I didn’t end up caring for his character much. Though, he did a great job voice acting for Parzival. I have nothing to compare Sheridan to because I have not seen any of his other films, so the fault could have been the direction given by Spielberg.

Let’s go to another cast choice which I hated. TJ Miller as i-R0k, god what a bad choice. Every time he spoke I could feel myself getting pulled out of the film. Not only did his voice not suit the avatar, but the writing for him poor. Barely anyone laughed at his lines, and when they did, I’m sure it was pity laughs. Now the very ending of the film I didn’t like either. When it faded to black, I remember saying outloud: “Really?!” To refresh, the ending shot was VO of Wade wrapping up how he put the OASIS fortune to good use, while showing us him and Samantha in a swivel chair kissing. Like, really? They couldn’t have had the ending shot be a little bit more epic, rather then focus on the forced and boring love story. It left a sour taste in my mouth when it ended. One last tiny thing was that the video game/film/music references were just a little overdone. But I’ll let that one slide since all the references were justified when they were used.

Overall, I enjoyed myself way more than I thought it would and it was a fun time. I will see this film again, but not anytime soon. Here’s hoping I get to write more reviews because I had fun with this one. I’m going to see A Quiet Place in a couple of days and I’m really looking forward to that, maybe I’ll write a review for that if I feel that strongly about it. Thanks for reading!

Rating: The world-building was the best part. The love story was the worst. Still an enjoyable experience! 3/5.

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Baby Driver (2017) – Movie Review

*minor spoilers ahead*

So it’s been a while. I may have not published a review since the start of the year but I have been watching plenty of movies and television in 2017 so far. But when I saw the trailer for this film I knew it would be something I’d want to watch and immediately talk about. I don’t usually get drawn in to Edgar Wright’s films (I’ve only seen Shaun of the Dead and a third of Scott Pilgrim) but I decided to head in to the cinema as soon as it was released.

Baby Driver follows Baby (Ansel Elgort) who is a talented getaway driver and has been in business with his crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) for years. His skillfull technique is due to listening to various songs and following the music while the crimes are taking place. After meeting the girl of his dreams, Debbie (Lily James) he sees a chance to forget his shady lifestyle. However, he gets sucked into a heist that’s doomed to fail and has to fight for his freedom.

Yes, I did pull some phrasing on the synopsis from a google search. Now I’m going to segue. I had such an enjoyable time watching this film. The characters, the music and the storyline were so well done. The script was witty, heartfelt and had an air of mystery about it that played to the character’s personalities. There were times in the film that I knew what was going to happen but I didn’t know how it would play out, which was exciting. For instance, when Joseph (CJ Jones) and Debbie were introduced as being important to Baby, I knew their lives would be at risk in some way during the last act. But as I said, it was fun to watch how it played out. The dialogue was sharp and clever but at times it felt a little cheesy, particularly in the warehouse planning scenes. And like, half of Doc’s lines. The only minor script problem I had was during the climax when Doc was talking to Baby and Debbie in the underground parking area. Also the last 10 minutes felt really quick, like they had to tie Baby’s story up. Other than that, a very solid script. Which brings me to characters.

All of the actors were exceptional. Elgort of course suited the character of Baby perfectly and he had his mannerisms and facial expressions down to a tee. From the opening scene of him miming Bellbottoms, it was clear to me that he would nail the role. I’m going to have to watch out for more of those patterns in my second viewing. The character who surprised me was Buddy, played by Jon Hamm. His character was really entertaining to watch and had such a presence in all the scenes he was in. Debbie was sweet, charming and a little bland but James pulled it off well. Her and Elgort’s love story was something I hadn’t seen in a film for a long time – real chemistry. I truly believed they both cared deeply about one another. Jamie Foxx played Bats and his character was kind of… eh. I wish the writers wrote him a little more passive because every scene Foxx was in was too much of killer looks and anger towards other characters. Spacey as Doc was fun but I couldn’t help but cringe a little a couple of times. His performance was just shy of great. Perhaps on my second watch I’ll feel differently. Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) was a lot of fun as well. Her playful chemistry with Hamm was definitely something I noticed and both of those characters were unexpectedly awesome.

Like any blockbuster, the cinematography was great. There were a few shots that caught my eye; the tracking shot/opening where Baby was walking down the street with the lyrics to the song he was listening to. The CU shot of Baby and Debbie tapping their feet to the music – I don’t know why I love it so much, it was short and sweet. The blocking of multiple characters in the elevator was really pleasing to the eye. And of course the first car chasing sequence was so unpredictable and fun and a great set-up to the tone of the film. Of course, the music in this went hand-in-hand with the script. I’m listening to the soundtrack as I’m typing, and I don’t know how, but it SOUNDS like the film. That’s how much the music carries the film, and it totally pays off.

Going from the music to the editing. From word of mouth and conversations about it, Wright’s editing is always very stylised and detailed. I thoroughly enjoyed each beat of music being used to, for example, have a character close the boot of a car and cock a gun. The editing wasn’t overdone, but it added an element of surprise and entertainment to the story. Another mention of a shot that I love was when Debbie was in the diner and talking to Baby on the phone. The lighting on her face was gorgeous. And the lighting in general was really well done. And the practical/visual effects looked great on the big screen too. The death of Bats was so sudden that I accidentally yelped in the cinema. Awesome.

This was such a fun movie. I’ll need to see it again to strengthen my opinions of some things, but for now please see this film if you love action/comedy movies. Or if you’re an Edgar Wright fan, you won’t be disappointed. The trailer is below, and it doesn’t spoil anything – huzzah! I even had a ball watching the trailer again. Also, sorry if this review was all over the place. It’s been quite a few months. Hopefully my next review will be sooner rather than later.

Rating: So I guess I’ll need to watch more Edgar Wright films if it’s anything like this. 4.5/5

P.S: If you want to hear another review (that’s far better worded than what I could ever do) check out Adam Johnston’s review of Baby Driver on YouTube. I’ll link it here.

Dirty 30 (2016) – Movie Review

I love watching YouTube. No, not the cat video side of things. But rather the comedians, artists and other content creators that the website has to offer. YouTube personalities have already been changing the game by getting into Hollywood and creating films. Known as “The Holy Trinity” of YouTube, three women have just released their second feature film online and with a small cinema release. I personally think they are the funniest women I’m subscribed to on YouTube (besides Natalie Tran ofc) and have been following their careers for years. I bought the film on iTunes because I want to support their work, but did I like the film?

Dirty 3o follows Kate (Mamrie Hart) who is about to turn 30 and finds a blast from her past that reminds her she’s not where she wants to be in life. Her two good friends Evie (Grace Helbig) and Charlie (Hannah Hart) decide to throw her a big birthday bash to get her out of her rut. Old friends reunite, new people come along and Kate lets loose for one night of fun.

This film has all three women as executive producers, M. Hart and Helbig created the story, and M. Hart and Molly Prather wrote the screenplay. So clearly these three had a very prominent part in the creation of the film. The good parts of the story for me was the pacing of the film and the amount of set-ups and pay-offs it has. It’s set over 4-5 days and it packs a lot of content into a 90 minute film, but it works in the way that its written. There are a lot of plot lines in this film as well as many characters, but somehow an equal amount of time is spent going through a lot of plot lines and resolving them. A particular section of the film that I enjoyed was Kate’s inanimate letter. It was the inciting incident for the film, rolled through the middle and by the end it definitely paid off. The dialogue is definitely more millennial/slangy than any other  recent party film, which is definitely related to the actors and writers who’s professions are on the internet. It was a bit overkill and made the overall tone of the film just a tad cringey. Another section I really didn’t get was when Evie had a massive freak out when Charlie punched the teenager. I didn’t understand the motivation behind it at all. The bad parts of the story though had more so to do with characters than the overall story.

Main characters first. Out of the three women, M. Hart hands down was the best actress in this film. Knowing her personality and style of humour from her YouTube videos, it was hard at first to try and think of her as ‘Kate’ but she played the role very realistically and had me really rooting for her character. Helbig and H. Hart’s characters were the same amount of charming but I still felt like they were actresses more so than characters. One of the big problems I had was the relationship of Evie and Todd (Andrew Ridings). I couldn’t understand how they had even had a successful enough relationship to get married. Their relationship felt very black and white to me and I wished they had explored it some more. The stoners and the homeless man didn’t need to be there. They added humour to the story, but it felt awkward and unnecessary. Richard aka “Raven” (Adam Lustick) was an added layer to the film. I didn’t hate his character but it felt a little childish to have a grown man go goth on weekends. Kate’s love interest Dan (Matt Dellapina) acted the heck out of his character also. Their chemistry was very lovely to watch.

Other secondary characters like Oliver (Mikey Murphy) and Kinsey (Katherine Hughes) were a pleasure to watch on screen as well. I want to also give massive props to the antagonist, Ashley (Anna Akana) who was definitely the outstanding character in this. Akana is herself, also a YouTuber and I knew her personality from her videos and social media. She killed this role. Her dialogue was delivered really well and I could understand her as a person. The character of Rufus (Drew Monson) didn’t have much screen time but his role was very endearing. It was a nice change to see him in a different character than that of Not Cool, which was one of my first reviews! Time flies when you’re doing nothing with your life but watching movies.

The cinematography of the tee-pee scene was epic. I wasn’t expecting it to look really pretty on such a great scale. Overall, the camera work was great, which went hand in hand with the editing. The party montage was edited really nicely along with the rest of the film. The colour grading of the film was a bit too saturated for my liking. And some of the music choices (with said party montage) was weird and hard to listen to. There was a moderate continuity issue I noticed in my first watching with Kate drinking most of her drink then it being almost full in the next shot. I usually don’t notice those things, I just wanted this to be a humble brag for myself that I caught a conti issue.

The trailer is down below and it sums up the film but doesn’t give much away which I luuurve. Overall, I had a fun time watching this and am proud of these women. This is their second feature film they have worked on together, the former being Camp Takota. I enjoyed that film too, so if you want to give that a watch, please do so.

Rating: When you give YouTubers a chance to produce good media with great stories, it’s always a wake-up call to mainstream media. I love that. 3.5/5

Ruby Sparks (2012) – Movie Review

SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not seen this film but want to, I implore you to do so before you read after the first two paragraphs. There is more to it than meets the eye.

Trivia: This was the first film I saw by myself in a cinema. I skipped class and wanted to go to a movie. That may sound a little sad but I relish in that experience. It’s good sometimes just to see a film in a comfortable dark space with only your thoughts. It had just come out too and I hadn’t heard much of it, I went in with no expectations with just having had seen the movie poster. I was reminded of this movie recently so I watched it for a second time.

Ruby Sparks is about a successful yet lonely author Calvin (Paul Dano) who is struggling to write his next novel. He starts to create Ruby Sparks, a woman he created in his head to be his muse. One day, Ruby (Zoe Kazan) appears in his home, acting like they’ve been together for a while. Calvin believes he’s crazy at first but discovers she’s real and becomes immediately fascinated and enamoured with her. She becomes apart of his life and truly start a relationship together.

I remember coming out of the cinema in awe. I wasn’t expecting this film to have such strong themes and become very sombre.Kazan wrote the script, with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris as Directors. In my re-watch those feelings came flooding back and I fell in love with the film again. But I also tried looking at it with ‘film brain’ and in the end I still enjoyed it overall. What I noticed more was the overarching theme of perfection. This trait was of course portrayed through Calvin who kept getting more controlling and self-indulgent towards Ruby as the film progressed. Reading other various reviews like Roger Ebert’s made me wonder if this film had the intention to comment on the re-writing of women in cinema and the need to change their stories. There is a shift of mood in the story completely when Ruby wants to spend a little time away from Calvin (the phone call exchange while she was the a bar). From then, tensions are running high and suddenly it flips from a romance to an almost dark comedy. Calvin’s need to keep her close and to keep her perfect in his eyes is what’s so tragically great about the last 30 minutes.

Which brings me to actors. I always find Dano so fascinating as an actor, he plays very obscure characters. The most memorable being Dwight from Little Miss Sunshine. Calvin is an example of a great passive protagonist, and his occupation as a writer adds to his perfective nature. Dano was very well cast, his look overall completes the character. He speaks with his eyes a lot in this film and sometimes says many thoughts with a look. A notable scene is at the cafe when he finds out people other than him can see and interact with Ruby. Kazan has been in many features before this, but I had never heard of her. Like Dano, she has an unusual and striking face. As Ruby she brought strength and personality to this character, still managing to capture that naivety and grace. Kazan is just too good in the final typewriter scene (if you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about). It made me look at the story in a different light and her performance was very commendable. There were supporting characters such as Calvin’s family, ex-girlfriend and therapist but I really felt like it was Calvin and Ruby’s story all the way through.

Cine wise, this film looked fairly good. There were no moments were I was ‘wowed’ with the shots. Pro: the shots of Calvin vs. the typewriter. Minimalistic shots suited this films style well and it served a purpose to what Calvin was feeling. Con: the slow-mo underwater shots between Calvin and Ruby. Too cheesy. Especially with the VO. The costumes were so great as well. I liked how Ruby was dressed a little kookier than everyone else as to show that she was “out of this world”. Music was great too, normally I hate the overuse of ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’ in films but it worked for the montage. And even though it wasn’t explained how Ruby came to be, the climax + ending worked well for that mystery.

Down below is the trailer but if you have yet to watch this film and want to don’t watch the trailer. It doesn’t really spoil anything but I found it doesn’t match the style at all. I mean you could watch the trailer before the film. But don’t. I’ll put it below anyway.

Rating: Came for a romantic tale, saw so much more than that. 4.5/5

Suicide Squad (2016) – Movie Review

If you guys know me personally, you know I’m not a fan of superhero movies. It’s not a genre I particularly enjoy, and this goes with full on action flicks. But this film has got a lot of people talking. Most critics conclude that it was terrible. So I was curious as to why people thought it was bad (except my friend Jane, she loved it) and went in to the cinemas today. I didn’t want to go in having other people’s thoughts in my film brain so I went in with a clean slate. Clean-minded slate. Whatever, you get what I mean.

Suicide Squad (from now I’ll just type SS) is about a group of meta-human criminals who are promised early release from their prison sentences if they complete a mission from the U.S Intelligence. The mission is to stop The Enchantress (Cara Delevigne) from corrupting and taking over the world.

This film is getting torn to pieces by critics. And I’ll admit I kind of sided with them for a bit even before seeing the film. Which people shouldn’t do at all because then they’re hating something that they haven’t even seen. Basically, I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen either, but it definitely is not deserving of all the constant hate. This movie had quite a few problems though, one of which I’ll bring up now, since it’s related to the story. So Amanda Weller (Viola Davis) was recruiting these criminals at the very beginning of the film. But The Enchantress didn’t start wreaking havoc on the city until about 20 minutes after that. So that didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. Why was she recruiting them, because she had a hunch? I may be missing a part of the story, but if I’m not then that was really badly done. The script for this film was pretty average. It just felt like a whole bunch of jokes and punchlines (which I’ll get to soon) with a sprinkling of plot. The plot is VERY vague. The SS were just going around from one part of town to the next fighting. Films need plots.

Okay, let’s talk about characters. Firstly, the introduction of them. It really annoyed me that Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) got these big winded backstories, yet the other members of the SS like Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) got 1/3 of screen time. Yes, Smith and Robbie were the selling points for this film. But you don’t base your character arcs off of who you want to see in that role. Besides that, I actually enjoyed how the character introduction were done. It made me want to see these people in action. I did have a problem though with all the text that came up on everyone. The shot is over in a few seconds that audiences don’t have time to read all that. Just put something like ‘Harley Quinn: loves her puddin’. That was a bad example by me but you get the point. Take Guardians of the Galaxy‘s character introductions/backstories that audiences get. It’s quick, entertaining and we feel like we know those characters a bit more. I don’t favour Marvel over DC, as I said I’m not super fan of either. That example just popped into my head, don’t kill me.

All of the actors did a tremendous job. Though Davis’ character could’ve been written a little better. Her delivery was great, just a couple of her pep talks felt cheesy. Smith, Courtney and the whole SS gang were acting their butts off as well. The whole SS really clicked and had great chemistry. An honourable mention has to go to Ike Barinholtz, who played Griggs (the guard who gets on Deadshot’s nerves). I know him from The Mindy Project and his role was completely different in that tv show. He NAILED this character. I was really impressed with his performance. After the first few minutes, I forgot that he was in TMP. Right, let’s talk Harley Quinn now. As said, Robbie was flipping awesome in this role. People often said to me that she was over-sexualised, which wasn’t the case for me. Those short did show her ass a little, and there was that risqué dance in the gold clubroom,  but that was about it. It was her character’s writing that I didn’t like. I mentioned this, but I felt all her character’s dialogue was, was PUNCHLINES. Every time a character would say something, she would chime in. It kept going (until the final battle with the Enchantress) and it was really not fun to listen to. I liked none of her punchlines. Why were they all given to her?! Correction, she got 99% of them. The other 1% were shared by Deadshot and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). When she said the line ‘Love your perfume, what is that? The stench of death?’ I WAS SO UNCOMFORTABLE. The only line that I thought was funny from her was the ‘weeee!’ she did when it was a wide-shot of her getting wheeled out of the prison.

I almost forgot to write this paragraph on the Joker (Jared Leto). It’s probably because I wanted to forget about him. His performance was the worst thing of this film for me. I hated when he was on screen. Even when he was with Harley Quinn I couldn’t stand him. And it’s not because I’m comparing him to any other Joker. I haven’t seen some of those Batman films in years. It’s just because it was really bad. Ugh, I hated it. He looked so animated too.

Let’s talk about cinematography and design. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding. There was nothing, camera-wise that wowed me. But there is some pretty terrible CGI. That concoction that The Enchantress was weaving looked really fake and over-the-top. Speaking of, that crown thing on her head was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen on top of a person’s head. The rest of her outfit was cool though. I actually felt like this film was filmed entirely on sets and soundstages. It looked really artificial at some points (eg. the SS bar scene, any scenes on helicopters/airplanes). But, there were actually some cool scenes in this film. The underwater scene where Batman saves Harley Quinn then punches her in the face. June’s first transformation into the Enchantress in the film (particularly the close-up of the two hands coming together). Harley’s fight in the elevator, and her hanging from the drapes when we first meet her.

I don’t usually talk about editing and music often in my reviews, but this is another hot topic of discussion from this film. Everyone hates the editing of this film, but I only disliked the first 30 minutes of it. I was so relieved when it just changed back to a normal editing style. What the heck were all those weird “artsy” quick cuts in the beginning? The one where the Joker has Harley on the examining slab comes to mind. There were definitely a few more that came out of left field. After that, the editing was pretty standard. I was a fan of the music they used. I wasn’t a fan of how often they used it. It felt like they were beating us over the head with “cool hip song” after “cool hip song”. We just need a few good hits and a score.

But like I said, this film does not deserve being torn to pieces. I just watched the trailer now, and I’m glad I didn’t before. It doesn’t spoil the film necessarily but it does have all the cool moments in there. And it looks like there’s a few scenes that didn’t make the cut. Please don’t just hate this film because others are hating it. See it for yourselves and then form your own opinion.

Rating: An average score for an average film. 2.5/5

 

The BFG (2016) – Movie Review

Edit: I started this review weeks ago then uni work decided to take up all of my time, so apologies for the lateness. I hope to write more regularly in the future (but it’s me, so who knows what’ll happen)

It’s been a while since I reviewed a family/kids film, even though I see them a lot. I knew nothing about The BFG when I was looking through my local cinema movie times, but my friend, Jess, really wanted to see it. So we got our tickets and headed in to watch it. She told me that it was based off of a Roald Dahl book – when the credits were rolling, she thought it was a very accurate portrayal to the book and loved it. But did I?

The BFG follows a little orphan girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who discovers a giant (voiced by Mark Rylance) roaming around her street in the middle of the night. Not wanting to be discovered, the giant takes her back to his land – Giant Country – to live out her days there. Sophie nicknames him the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and follows him along his profession of catching dreams. When Sophie is threatened by other giants who are stealing and eating various children, she hatches a plan with the BFG and calls upon the Queen of England and her army to defend Earth and fight off the 9 pesky giants.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. I imagine if you’re going in knowing the plot of the BFG, this wouldn’t surprise you much at all. But, like I said, I knew nothing about it so I was surprised as to how this movie panned out. There were elements that I liked about this film, but the bad outweighs the good. Dahl definitely has a vivid imagination when it comes to storytelling. I have not read the book so I can’t compare book vs. film but the universe adapted by Director Spielberg was pretty solid. I believed the world of Giant Country and all the characters in it. What I did have a problem with was the script. The overall plot of this film (though very out there) was fine, but the dialogue of everyone was very cringey. I also don’t like flatulence humour and that was 15% of the writing. What made it worse was that it wasn’t even executed well. While the scene was happening in the Queen’s palace when they all drink the weird green bubbly fizz, you could feel the uncomfortable in the cinema. What I also particularly had a problem with was the BFG’s misunderstanding of English vocabulary. The first few words were cute, but the joke was overdone and some of the words he mistook for the actual words, sounded nothing like the actual pronunciation. Also his occupation was never really explained. He just had to catch dreams. Dreams of who? And for what purpose?

There wasn’t one character that I thought was written well. This would’ve been okay with me if this didn’t include the bloody TWO MAIN CHARACTERS that take up most of the screen time. I’ll talk about Barnhill first. The writers wanted to make her cute yet feisty with a heart of gold… but I was terribly annoyed. There were moments when I thought she was adorable but overall her character came off as demanding and narcissistic. She also seemed to say her lines in a very slow-paced way, where she had to annunciate every word. Barnhill wasn’t the worst choice for this film, but she certainly wasn’t the best. I thought Rylance did great acting work for the BFG, but the material he was given was the worst part. Though he was animated really well, which brings me to other points.

What this movie lacks in writing it makes up for in location, cinematography and design. This film is SUPER pretty. Not only the CGI locations, but how they shot the streets of England as well. The best scene of the film for me was near the beginning when Sophie is taken and the BFG is hiding in the streets. It was done really fluidly and I loved watching it. One other scene in particular that I remember is when the BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country through the pond and there’s a sequence of Sophie interacting with the different types of dreams. Going off of that, the special effects pay off in a good way. Sophie climbing into the snozzcumber, the BFG making the dreams, the sequence of the giants tormenting the BFG, the helicopters carrying the giants away in large nets… it all looked pretty realistic. The score in this film was heartwarming as well. It’s got a Disney feel to it and it accompanies what’s happening in the scene very nicely.

I wasn’t disappointed in this film, I just was moreso confused and left the cinema with an uncomfortable feeling. It does have great elements but writing wise, it just didn’t do it at all for me.

The trailer actually doesn’t spoil this movie?!?!?! What are the chances!!!! If you are planning on seeing this film and want to know the style, the trailer is spoiler-free so watch away. But I will say I had more fun watching the trailer than the film.

Rating: Sorry Jess, I really tried. 2/5

Eddie The Eagle (2016) – Movie Review

I was invited to go to an advanced screening of this film back at the start of April, and was super pumped to go. Biopics are always fun, especially when it has an endearing story. Of course, a week later, my friend’s birthday dinner was on the same night. So I was a good friend and went, but as I was eating my gyoza I thought of that sold out session where people were forming an opinion on Hugh Jackman’s American accent. But the birthday dinner was fun too! Cheers for inviting me Natalie. So last night I finally got the chance to watch this film.

Eddie The Eagle is based on a true story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) and his ambition to compete in the Winter Olympics. With help from former ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) and the support of his mother, Eddie wins over the hearts of many and shows sheer determination and bravery.

First and foremost, the best things about this film were the music and colour grading. I usually have a format in my reviews (some might say) but had to mention this first because it added to the film’s story and characters in a significant way. Onto the actual plot and characters. This of course was Eddie’s journey as he struggles to find his way to fulfil his lifelong dream. From the very first scene, we start to understand his character through his determination and ambition to stay underwater. The script was different from what I’d thought it would be, in a good way. It didn’t over-do the whole hero’s journey aspect and stayed focused on the characters. The dialogue was well paced and the beats were all there.

Now onto Egerton. From seeing the trailer earlier this year, I didn’t have any clue this was the same actor who played Eggsy in Kingsman. This role just proved that he is very versatile, not only in his delivery but in his mannerisms and body language. The stakes were high throughout the whole film and 95% of that was for Eddie. Egerton played the ambitious and almost innocent parts and that brought out a reaction in me where I really wanted the character to succeed. And when he didn’t my heart would break a little. And just quickly I’ll say Jackman always delivers. After I saw the horribly written character of his in Chappie, I wasn’t expecting a spectacular performance in this film. But he was pretty good. Though I will say his small storyline with him and Christopher Walken’s character was a bit of a derail from the overall story. You could tell that the crew definitely wanted to milk all the availability of Jackman and throw in unnecessary scenes. But all in all, a great cast!

Onto the technical side now. This film is SUPER pretty. As I said, I thought this was due to the excellent colour grading and mise-en-scene. That’s right, I know lingo. Every shot was really placed well from the actors to the props and the environment. The grading just enhanced that, which added to the films’ vibrant and uplifting story. A colourful plot deserves colourful shots. There’s also something about super-imposing text in the middle of a film that either makes or breaks it. The editing of these info texts (eg. 70m Jump and Calgary, Canada 1988) was very well placed and enhanced the audience’s reactions to the plot points. The only scene that I thought felt out of place was when Peary did the 90m jump and it became this weird slow-motion dreamlike scene. Set-design! I don’t talk about that much on here because for me I don’t notice in much as other aspects (mainly character and editing, let’s be real). But set-design and cinematography went hand in hand to make the 70’s and 80’s look realistic. I loved the layout of the Edwards home in 1973 and the use of the skip ramps. Kudos art department!

Music was another thing that I mentioned that I loooooved. Everything about this film was so hopeful and heartwarming and the music fit in really well with the mood. Bit of a sidenote: I recently finished my 2nd watch of all episodes of The Carrie Diaries (yes, I know) and it really used a lot of popular 80’s songs in every episode. So much so that it became cringy and overbearing. But this film did it quite well, bringing in the original score when it needed it.

If you’ve read all of this new review, thank you very much! If you’ve just skimmed, thanks as well! I know many people use it as an excuse but I have been quite busy these past few months. Hopefully I get really into writing reviews again, I sure as hell missed it. I actually would recommend watching the trailer before the film. Most trailers for biopics are edited well, as a large number of people know that person’s story. I would really recommend this film, it teaches an important lesson about perseverance and strength. Blah blah blah, give your rating now Sam.

Rating: Edwards studied law after this. Fascinating! 4/5

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) – Movie Review

*spoilers ahead*

I hadn’t heard about this film very much in the media. I just saw the one trailer and was hooked – I had to see this film. Because I had no idea what it was about after watching the trailer. Shocking, I know. From what I saw it looked captivating, so the day after it came out I saw a night time session and settled in. I almost don’t want to watch the original film out of fear that it’s not as good as this was.

10 Cloverfield Lane follows protagonist Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) waking up from a car accident in an empty half-finished room, her leg chained to a pipe. She soon finds out that a man named Howard (John Goodman) rescued her from said accident and from the contaminated air that killed most of the population on the planet. Howard is now living in a bunker with Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) who built the shelter. As soon as the three settle down into their new lifestyle, Michelle starts to speculate and soon finds unusual clues that lead to a discovery of something shocking.

Go me, writing that plot synopsis. Like I said, I hadn’t seen Cloverfield (2008) and am not a huge fan of sci-fi so I was going into this blind. When the alien element was brought into the film 15 minutes before closing credits I thought “Eh, alright, I guess they’re doing this.” And that’s just me being picky, it was clear from the get-go there would be some supernatural element behind ‘the attack’. As for the rest of the story, it was pretty bloody great. Pacing in a suspense film can be very tricky but I think this was handled fairly well. I found myself actually holding my breath at a few points in the film. Every turning point that the film took was a little bit predictable but it was written in such a creative and out-of-the-box way. For example, the confrontation in the bathroom with Howard, Michelle and Emmett. I knew it was going to end with Emmett dying, but still felt upset when he did. (And by a bullet no less) I would have liked a little bit more of a resolve on the Howard/Megan/Brittany situation, that felt like a red herring. Maybe in my second watch I would understand more, but that was the only real part of the story were I thought it could’ve gotten more attention.

It’s safe to say that Goodman stole the spotlight in comparison to the two other actors. Even though I tried not to picture him as Sully from Monsters Inc. when he first came on screen, that soon went away when he gave a brilliant performance of a borderline psychotic. You kept wondering if Howard was the good or bad guy in the entirety of the film until his off-screen death near the end. His presence was so big and frightening I actually believed he would come up for one last jump scare until Michelle left the farm in the car. He’s a good man that Goodman. HA. JOKES. Onto Winstead who did a pretty great performance in her role too. Throughout the whole film, you could tell by her face and actions that she never truly trusted Howard, or even Emmett (in the beginning). Her responses to the terrible things that had happened to her (waking up in an unknown room, watching Emmett get shot, avoiding the alien) all seemed like appropriate reactions any normal person would do if they were in that situation. Gallagher Jr wasn’t bad by any means, his performance I think just wasn’t as memorable as the others. I would argue even the old woman banging on the door and who called Michelle a ‘bitch’ gave a more memorable performance. I’m typing ‘performance’ a lot, I’ll stop.

Still on characters for a moment, that whole montage of the three of them living their life in the underground bunker with cheery music playing in the background was a little too out of place for me. That montage happened very abruptly and either should’ve gone on for a bit longer or should’ve been showcased in another way. And now segueing onto music, besides that scene, the use of scoring + 80’s hits was integrated well in the film. It had a nice balance that created a sense of false hope in the audience and aided in the way the characters were feeling. The session I went to wasn’t too packed, but when Howard started dancing to ‘Tell Him’ everyone erupted with laughter. Too good. Too freaky.

The way this film was shot was actually pretty average. There were great opportunities for things to be shot really creatively (i.e the reveal of the ‘HELP’ scratched into the window, the spaghetti dinner scene/Howard’s outburst and the reveal of the alien) but the writing made me happy enough. It did some quick pans to reveal Howard listening in on conversation a few times, there was nothing too extraordinary about the cinematography. I of course, have to mention the opening credits. I haven’t seen a film do that in a while and it was a nice introduction to the film. The editing was pretty good as well as sound mixing. I also like that set-up and pay-off of the bottle of alcohol she snatches away right at the beginning and uses it near the very end to defeat the monster.

As always, I will leave the trailer down below and I implore you to go watch it, even if you’ve already seen the film. I had a watch of it again and it’s so refreshing to see a trailer that’s mysterious but still wants to make you go to the cinema. I’ll hopefully be watching this again soon with my mother, who perked up when I mentioned there was a sci-fi element. Steady on, mum.

Rating: Good for a film. Incredible for a sci-fi thriller film. 3.5/5

Spotlight (2015) – Movie Review

*trigger warning, for this review and the film itself. this film deals with sexual abuse and graphic language.*

I love films about touchy subjects, whether to see they’ve done the topic justice or not. And I also have… an average intelligence when it comes to the law system, which makes investigation movies all the more wondrous to me. If my friend Eleanor was watching this movie or Making A Murderer with me, she’d understand every bit of it and I would pretend to nod along and know what the characters were saying. (That sentence is funnier if you know she is studying law.) Anyway, I was pretty hyped for this film going into the cinema and taking my seat. 2 hours later when the credits rolled, I didn’t want it to end at all.

Spotlight is centred in Boston 2001 and focuses on a team of investigators called “Spotlight” at The Boston Globe who uncover the truth about the molestation of children among priests. This then uncovers a shocking investigation and revolution surrounding the Cardinal law and the Church and how everyone knew about it, but never spoke up or decided not to do much about it. The “Spotlight” team is pictured above; Mike (Mark Ruffalo), Walter (Michael Keaton), Sacha (Rachel McAdams), and Matt (Brian d’Arcy James). There supervisor Ben (John Slattery) is also pictured.

Now that I think back, it’s amazing at how little action happened in comparison to dialogue, yet it still felt suspenseful and like there was lots at stake. This is a testament to the script and the performances of course. The glue that made this film stick together was the issue from the Catholic Church and that it is a true story. I think that definitely aided to the films’ urgency. The pacing was well done, it felt like everything was unravelling really slowly. A few scenes with the victims were quite confronting and  then the line “About fifteen hundred. One percent is fifteen… six percent is ninety.” (In relation to the percentage of priests everywhere acting out sexually — yes, I looked up the script because I couldn’t remember the line.) From that point, the mood felt a bit more hectic and climactic. As I said, I wanted the film to keep going, but it was good for its length. You know a film is fairly good when you think “NO, SHOW ME MORE!” when the credits hit. I also liked how there wasn’t one single antagonist and that it wasn’t shoving bad messages about the church down the audience’s throats. We simply were told the story through 3rd person POV and got to make our own opinions about the story. Very cool.

OKAY, acting! Every time a scene involved the whole “Spotlight” team talking or simply working together I was hooked. All these actors together have such a presence and great chemistry. I need to watch more Keaton films because I loved his performance, almost as much as his role in Birdman. The character suited him quite well and even though he was very stoic, Walter was written really well. The same can be said about James’ character Matt. I sympathised with him the most out of the four because he probably showed the most emotion out of everyone in the main cast. McAdams is always great in everything, dammit. I will say that with Sacha’s character, I was expecting a bit more emotion. In some scenes she just seemed a bit unfazed by what was going on. Okay, now I’m going to talk about the two things that made the film fall flat. The first being Ruffalo. Not his character, like I said, the script was great. But his performance was really awkward to watch. He kept doing this weird thing with crooked thing with his face — mouth especially — that made me wonder what kind of direction he was getting. His stance also just made me feel a bit uncomfortable. It distracted me from his scenes, which I didn’t WANT to be, but I go to film school. I can’t help but be nit-picky.

The second thing that wasn’t so great was the music. The scoring all sounded the same! The script was very emotional but I didn’t cry once, and I think that was the music’s fault. Especially during when the victims were telling their stories about their abuse, it was so heartbreaking – it needed something extra, like a nice emotional piece of music. Guess you can’t have everything. In saying that, editing was great, lighting was great (except for that short shot of Matt getting out of bed, that annoyed me) and set design was – you guessed it – great!

Trailer is below, and its actually a decent trailer for once that doesn’t give away everything. WOAH, I know guys. I would definitely check out this movie in cinemas.

Rating: Fix your mouth Ruffalo. 4/5

The Hunger Games – Mockingjay: Part 2 (2015) – Movie Review

*spoilers ahead*

*seriously, you’ve been warned, don’t blame me when you find out certain things*

Is it just me or has the craze of Jennifer Lawrence halted a bit? She’s still a fantastic actress, but I hadn’t seen that much hype and anticipation over this film. But I wanted to see how it ended. And yes, I’m one of those losers who hasn’t read the books. And yes, I saw it in Gold Class. I wanted to drink a hot chocolate while watching Katniss and her squad be badass okay?! So going in I wasn’t really sure what to expect and how the plot and characters would all play out. Honestly? I was a tad disappointed.

In the final film of the franchise, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) along with boyfriend-but-not-really? Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and boyfriend-but-not-really-#2 Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and their squad, team up to finally rid Panem of President Snow and terror that is caused by an outlandish dictatorship. That’s basically the over-arching plot, with the addition of a wedding, sea monsters and meltdowns with a cat. Major deaths include Primrose, Finnick and President Coin and the film ends with a hopefully future and a semi-cheesy line of dialogue.

I’ll say this off the bat, this wasn’t as good as the first two films. But it was definitely better than Mockingjay Part 1, thank GOD. The mood and aesthetic of this film felt different than the rest though, even the action sequences felt a bit different to me. It felt like The Hunger Games’ older, more mature cousin that was a world traveler and who has a love of white wine. My analogies are killer, aren’t they? I liked the beginning of the film because it left off right where the last one ended. And Katniss wasn’t saying ‘Peeta’ every 5 minutes which was refreshing. Establishing the mission to take down the Capitol and Snow was a little bit boring, mainly because it was exposition and strategy. And in saying that I might be a little picky, but I don’t normally watch an action genre, and when I do I expect action. The last 2/3 of the film though were much better than the first third. When the action was amazing, it was amazing.

Too bad the script wasn’t all that thrilling. Usually Katniss’ scenes with Peeta, Gale, Prim, Haymitch etc are a mini-emotional roller coaster but it just felted forced and cheesy at parts. Like when Katniss was all ‘Stay with me.’ and Peeta was all ‘Always.’ BLARGH. Their scenes were always organic in the previous movies but I wasn’t team Peeta this time around. And Gale was just white noise to me this whole time, until that scene near the end where he totally went off at Katniss. Then I was confused. Sorry Liam! Anyway, the performances by actors weren’t the problem. Lawrence was amazing was always and even though THERE WASN’T ENOUGH, I loved me some Elizabeth Banks. I also wanted to know more about Annie Cresta and even Finnick’s backstory. We got a little in Catching Fire but dammit, I’m a sucker for secondary character backstory. I’m not a very political person and I felt that Part 2 was definitely more so political/military centred than the other films. Those parts went over my head a little, and as I said, was a bit boring. There were too many new characters introduced for my liking and though the saga had a satisfying ending, I didn’t have chills when the credits rolled.

I will say that I always loved the world of Panem and how it looks physically. The setting, the costumes, the districts looked fantastic. The editing was exceptional too. Sound mix was fantastic, especially with the way they did the traps while trying to reach Snow’s mansion. And the scene with bombing the children… LOVED IT. (Never thought I’d type that sentence.) Music in these films are always quite mediocre though, so I never expected to be impressed with that.

Overall, it was satisfying but I was more excited by the start of the film then by the end. I don’t really have much else to say because it wasn’t the best in the four. In fact, it made me want to watch the first two even more. I wouldn’t watch it in cinemas again, but I most likely watch it again in the future.

Rating: Why did Finnick have to die? 😦 Time to watch Catching Fire again! 2.5/5

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P.S Sorry this went up late, I wrote the second half of this today. I hadn’t found motivation to write the rest of my review when I started. That might reassure you in why I gave it that rating.

P.P.S If you like film reviews in audio form, you should totally check out the ‘Fish and Connor Saw a Movie’ podcast on Facebook and iTunes. I’m not getting paid to say this, I genuinely like their stuff. They are doing a whole Star Wards tribute right now. I don’t care for Star Wars. And I’m listening to their episodes anyway. Dedication. They’ve done 60+ episodes (including one for this film) so if you like yelling & swearing + film critiquing + talking bullshit about directors/actors/etc, check them out! Fish and Connor, I am expecting payment in cash by next week.

Again sorry for the late review and thanks for reading guys!