The Shape Of Water (2017)

Don’t watch this film! I mean it, do not watch this film. It’s one of those films that’s actually impossible to sit down and watch. You do not watch this, you absorb it. You sit back and let it take over every single ounce of your being. You sit there and marvel at the beauty you see before you, this is cinema as art, and is one of the most awe-inspiring things you’ll see all year. Guillermo Del Toro should now be given free reign to make whatever film he wants. Actually, I’d love to see him do an episode of Doctor Who or Black Mirror. Every shot looks like a watercolour painting, full of the majesty of colours and wonder. The music too is superb, you won’t leave the cinema humming the melodies or anything, but it enhances every single scene it’s in, it really compliments the images to the point where it almost seems like the scenes were made to match up with the music, as opposed to the scene coming first and music being decided later.

It’s not just behind the scenes though, the people in front of camera help make this brilliant. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones deserve every accolade thrown their way. They’re mute characters who have to lead the film, that’s not easy. It could be argued that it’s slightly easier for Sally Hawkins as she at least gets sign language to utilise, but that’s like saying it’s easier to run a marathon with one leg than no legs. It still takes remarkable skill from her. Ordinarily this would be the best performance I see all year, but unfortunately for her, Three Billboards also exists. It’s a shame that both existed in the same year as it meant one had to lose out on deserved awards. Doug Jones is also pretty darn great in this, doing sooooo much with body language that you kind of don’t realise he’s not speaking, he doesn’t need to.

The supporting cast also pulls their weight, obviously since Richard Jenkins got nominated for best supporting actor. Michael Shannon also deserves praise. His character is utterly reprehensible, partly due to the writing, but also due to how he plays it. He completely loses himself in the character, holding absolutely nothing back.

My main issue with this film? It’s really hard to criticise. It’s all so beautiful, everyone is so great, and the story is so heart-warming and emotional, it ties all the loose ends up but also leaves room for different interpretations and questions about the characters. That’s why this review has been so hard to write, it’s difficult to make “this film is amazing!” into a compelling piece of writing. That’s my opinion though, others think differently. Not many others though, mainly Rex Reed from the New York Observer. Who wrote (and I won’t link to it, I don’t want to increase his views):

“This horror film masquerading as a fairy tale is about a mute woman who cleans toilets, scrubs floors and falls in love with a monster from beneath the sea. The pathetic girl is played by the wonderful British actress Sally Hawkins, who specializes in defective creatures herself.”

A few points: 1) it’s not a horror film. At all, it’s a fantasy film. It may use a few horror tropes and conventions, but it’s still at its heart a fantasy film, albeit one aimed at adults.

2) “pathetic girl”. Fuck you. Fuck you in the ear. She’s not pathetic, and if you think that then I worry for you.

3) “defective creatures”. Ok, this is just a horribly offensive comment. Just because someone is mute does not make them a defective creature you ableist asswipe.

The review only goes downhill from there, referring to Get Out as “overrated piece of junk” and getting the director’s name wrong. Look, I know Benicio Del Toro is a good actor, but he’s not a director. Yes, they have similar names, but you can’t call yourself a film reviewer if you can’t distinguish between the two. It would be like getting Billie Joe Armstrong and Billie Jean King confused. I find negative reviews fascinating when they’ve clearly not actually watched the film. The best example of this was Toy Story 3 where the reviewer seemed to only watch the opening 5 minutes, getting the villain wrong, the story wrong, and his final mark wrong. Don’t be like that guy, don’t be wrong. Buy a ticket to Shape Of Water and revel in its greatness, you’ll thank me.


I, Tonya (2017)

For a lot of biopics, my main problem is that because it’s restrained by sticking to reality, it occasionally hampers its creativity. This definitely isn’t the case here. This takes the same approach to reality as “The Big Short” did (Wait a minute, that film also featured Margot Robbie speaking directly to the camera, hmmm, interesting) and is all the better for it. By that I mean it admits that human recollection is flawed, so some scenes/revelations are completely contradictory. Sometimes this happens mid-scene. At one point Margot’s character just turns towards the camera and says “I never did this”. I liked this approach to The Big Short, and I loved it here. Before this film, the only thing I knew about Tonya Harding was The Incident. I actually assumed she was a lot more involved in the incident than she actually was, so I was kind of annoyed when the film was announced as it seemed like they were glorifying someone who didn’t deserve it. Yeah, I was wrong. I mean, she was not exactly the nicest person in the world, but she was not the villain that popular culture has made her out to be. I also knew that after that she was a boxer, and there’s a sex tape of her available. This film touches upon two of those things, which I like. It shows us the effect the incident had on her life as well, it’s good to know that the film-makers had the bravery to do that as most wouldn’t. The fight itself is actually pretty well done as well, not on “Creed” level, but then again few fights are.

The skating itself was really well done as well, to the point where you completely forgot you were watching actors doing it, and instead focused on the scenes themselves. A lot of that is obviously due to Margot Robbie’s performance, she’s just phenomenal in this (would explain the Academy Award nomination), as is the rest of the cast. Whilst we’re on the subject can I just point out how strange it is that Sebastian Stan, who is best known to a lot of people for his role as the Winter Soldier in the Marvel films, is in a film written by someone called Steve Rogers? Am I the only one who finds that funny? Yeah, probably, but meh.

I mentioned earlier how I liked how it played with truth and reality, there’s one exception, one where it made me feel kind of uneasy. Most of the characters are portrayed as somewhat sympathetic, with one exception. Most of the characters are portrayed as somewhat intelligent, with one exception. Most of the characters are portrayed as being slightly blameless, with one exception. And it’s all the same exception: Shawn Eckhardt, who is played BRILLIANTLY by Paul Walter Hauser by the way. I mean, truly brilliant, he adds a lot of character tics that make him really stand out. Anyway, so back on track. Why did I feel slightly uneasy about this character being the main idiot, the main villain really? Because he’s the only one of the main characters who is dead. That feels a bit weird to me. Now, this might be a case of reality being unrealistic. Maybe it was all his fault and he was the dumbest person alive, and a massive prick. But considering how the film itself admits the lies that a lot of the main people involved tell, it feels a bit weird that they seem focused on attacking the one guy who can’t defend himself. It’s very easy to make Jeff Gillooly out to be the idiot villain, I mean he’s been arrested for driving under the influence, and sold his honeymoon sex tape. Although he did save the life of an 81-year woman, so he’s not all bad. That’s the main message of this film; people are complex and truth is subjective. Also, telling a group of judges “suck my dick” is never not funny. Go see this whilst you have the chance.

Game Night (2018)

I saw this as the final film in a 3-film binge at the cinema which also included I, Tonya and The Shape Of Water. So it was a weird contrast, started with two films which have pretty much swept all the awards this season, and then ended with one that definitely didn’t. So it came as a surprise that I was really impressed with a lot in this. Visually it did more than I expected it to. A lot of the establishing shots were set up and lit so that the houses looked more like toy models on a board game. It’s a great visual trick and one that wasn’t actually needed, which makes me appreciate it even more. They could have just done them normally, but the fact they did, was cute and added to the film. This film is actually a lot better in a cinematic sense than you expect, not just with the aforementioned establishing shots, but also the action scenes. They’re not quickly done, the action lingers on and is really well constructed. Shout out has to go a scene involving the characters playing keep-away with a Faberge egg. A seemingly one-shot scene that tracks all the way through a house and involves all the characters at different locations in the house. A remarkable achievement and one that will surely land in my “best scenes of the year” come years end.

So onto the rest of the film. This wasn’t the best film I’ve seen, but it was very very good. Was funny, had more twists than a pretzel, and the performances did what they needed to. It’s basically the cinematic equivalent of a burger, it won’t change your life, and you won’t rush out to consume it again, but it is incredibly enjoyable whilst it lasts, and you will have fond memories of it.

Back to the performances; Billy Magnussen, in particular, was impressive. From what I saw in the trailers, and from his opening scene, I assumed his performance would be “Poundland Alan Tudyk”, but it was a great performance. So more like the Pepsi to Tudyk’s Coca-Cola, not quite the same but enough similarities where you like it anyway. His character is basically a smart idiot, which is always a great character for comedy. Actually, the entire thing is full of well-developed characters. 10 characters are given extensive screen time, they all have their own personalities and quirks. Whilst the film itself doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel, the characters do.

I feel special mention has to go to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. Not only for their performances on their own but also their on-screen chemistry. They make an easily believable onscreen couple, which makes it easier to root for them. Also, thank God this film doesn’t go with the traditional “couple fights after a misunderstanding” sub-plot. No matter what goes on in the film they’re a tight couple, it’s actually genuinely heartwarming and sweet to see such an idyllic vision of love and relationships in modern cinema. The montage where we see their relationship develop and grow is a brilliant piece of relationship-building, very good, very funny, and incredibly sweet.

So, in summary. I’d highly recommend this film, a welcome piece of comedy to watch during the overly serious Oscar season. A fun caper that you can lose yourself in briefly. Buy on DVD if you see it in a 2 for 1 deal.


Black Panther (2018)

Different films inspire different reactions (shocking, I know). That instant gut feeling you have no conscious control over, that just enters your head when you leave a film. Sometimes it’s “that was good”, sometimes it’s “that ending was a real letdown”, my reaction to this can be summed up in just one word:


Finally! FINALLY, we get a black lead in a mainstream comic book movie of extremely high quality. FINALLY, Marvel has a “personal connection to the hero” villain that really works (and isn’t Loki). FINALLY, a Marvel movie has a great soundtrack, as opposed to a great compilation album. Similar to Wonder Woman last year, this film NEEDED to succeed, and it needed to do so unquestionably. If this was anything less than a massive success then it would have been deemed a failure, and people would have said “well this just proves no films should ever have a black lead”. Thankfully it’s a massive hit, unarguably so.

There’s a reason this film has been a hit: it’s really really good. The script is sound, the characters are all fully formed, there’s none of that “but that character is just a stereotype”, even the minor characters have arcs and motivations. The villain, in particular, is superb. Fantastically written, and blessed with one of the best performances of the year so far (and considering that this is when the “Oscar movies” are released in UK that says a lot). His motivations make sense, you can see why he’s doing what he does. Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis also do well in their roles of Tolkein White Guys.


With Moonlight, Get Out, and now this, there seems to be a real renaissance for mainstream, critically acclaimed black cinema. I usually dislike that term as it tends to just mean “films where the main character is black”. These films are different though, they explore concepts and issues which are specifically black, they’re films where if the main characters weren’t black the stories would be completely different. It helps that this has been brilliantly researched. There are countless nods to African culture throughout, some obvious (the clothing and jewellery), some really subtle (the hair). Yup, even the hair tells a f*cking story in this, EVERYTHING has been meticulously planned and executed.

I wasn’t joking about the hair

One disappointment is that it doesn’t really continue the overall MCU story arc they have going on. If this film came out earlier this wouldn’t be an issue at all, but this is the final film before Infinity War. Actually, they’ve completely screwed up the order of this phase. It should have been:

  1. Civil War
  2. Guardians Of The Galaxy
  3. Black Panther
  4. Doctor Strange
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Thor: Ragnarok

This way it slowly sets up the background arc of Thanos gradually becoming a threat, then you have the comedic calm of Spider-Man working as a breather before the chaotic storm of Infinity War. It also introduces the idea of magic later on, which cuts out a lot of “why doesn’t this guy help?”. Also, Guardians would make a great contrast if it came after Civil War. You’d have the story of a team falling apart, and then one about a team gradually getting bigger. This also meant that the fact the soul stone wasn’t in Black Panther isn’t as disappointing to audiences as it is at the moment. It also means the ending of Thor has an actual “holy shit, things are going to get serious really quickly”. As opposed to now, where it’s “holy shit, things are going to get serious in the film after the next one”. See, this film was so good one of the only things I can criticise is the running order of the series. It’s like criticising an album by saying the songs should have been in a different order. Go see this film, then buy it when it comes out.


Darkest Hour (2017)

I should preface this review by pointing out that no matter what I say in this, never let it be said that I didn’t think this film was impressive. The cinematography was superb, the way the shots were composed was a thing of beauty. The acting was magnificent and hard to fault. But the downsides. Over the last few years I’ve noticed I get emotional very easily during films when I watch them at the cinema. It truly doesn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes during films lately. I felt nothing during this movie. Absolutely nothing. There was not a single genuinely emotive sequence during it. There were moments which had emotive performances, and emotive music, but I never really felt anything whilst watching them. It was all too sterile. It was like an aliens idea of what human emotion would be. There is one exception. There’s a scene near the end where Churchill takes a tube train to Westminster and starts talking to the general public. This scene is emotive. You get to see panic, fear, and hope. As a piece of screenwriting, it’s great, and as a character piece, it’s superb. It’s also bullshit. There’s no evidence that it happened, at all. So in a story set during a period of time where you couldn’t throw a dart out of a zeppelin without hitting an emotive story, this film has to invent something to get an emotive response. There are countless other historical inaccuracies. Some you’d have to be a bit weird to get annoyed about “the trains don’t look exactly the same”, to some which just seem a bit cruel. For example, it paints Neville Chamberlain and Halifax (the person, not the bank) as scheming villains who did their best to destroy Churchill, which is something neither of them even attempted. I have a huge problem with this kind of thing. Because, like it or not, people will be taking lessons from this. Doesn’t matter how many times the writers or directors say “this is mostly embellished”, people will still believe it. For evidence of this look at the damage that Robin Hood has done to King John. This isn’t a fictional character you’re saying these things about, these are real people with actual ancestors still alive today, ancestors who would like to take pride in the actions of their descendants but are unable to because of BS like this. Did you really need to give a real character a villain upgrade just for your film to work? If that’s the case, then your film has a broken concept and doesn’t work. Plus, it’s not as though World War 2 was lacking in villainous characters, you didn’t need to invent one. There’s some stuff which is a bit weirder than that in terms of historical accuracy, one of the main characters wasn’t even in the country at the time of the events. It would be like if you were watching a show about 9/11 and one of the main characters was Justin Bieber.

I know this sounds like a negative review and that that I disliked it. That would be wrong, I did like it. I just didn’t really love it, and everything positive has already been said, and by people much smarter and more eloquent than I am. So going over them again would be a bit pointless.


2017 Golden Raspberry Awards

*indicates winner

Worst Screenplay




Fifty Shades Darker

The Emoji Movie*

The Mummy

Transformers: The Last Knight

Did it deserve it?

Hard to say really. The issues with it are ones which you could easily imagine being ones which were mandated by the studio. So I wonder whether the actual scriptwriters are to blame or whether it was mandated from up above. There were A LOT of issues with this film, but the plot was actually relatively consistent. Out of the films nominated I’d say The Mummy had the worst script in terms of consistency and storytelling, with at least the opening 20% being completely worthless, repetition of the origin (they must go over it at least 3 times during it), and WAY too much narration. If I include films which weren’t nominated I’d go with either Geostorm (because I’m pretty sure the script for that was just “Science! Explosions! Romance!”), or The Dark Tower, for being an incomprehensible mess.

Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel



Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

Fifty Shades Darker*

The Mummy

Transformers: The Last Knight

Did it deserve it?

No idea. I try to see as many films as possible, but if I know a film will be diabolically awful, I will avoid it, doubly so if it’s a sequel to a film I haven’t seen/disliked. As such, I didn’t watch 50 Shades (or Transformers for that matter). In terms of films that were nominated: The Mummy was a much worse film, but Baywatch was a more confusing film in terms of brand identity. Fans of the original would not like it, so why bother making it? So I’d say Baywatch should have won, for that reason, and because I get the feeling The Mummy is going to be winning a lot more before this blog’s out, and if I say it should win any more I’m going to begin to feel like I’m kicking a wounded dog. If it was extended to films not nominated, I’d go with Rings. A film so bland I’ve almost forgotten it existed.

Worst Screen Combo


Any combination of two characters, two sex toys, or two sexual positions – Fifty Shades Darker

Any combination of two humans, two robots, or two explosions: Transformers: The Last Knight

Any Two Obnoxious Emoji’s – The Emoji Movie*

Johnny Depp & his worn-out drunk routine – Pirates Of The Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Tyler Perry and either the ratty old dress or worn out wig – Boo 2: A Madea Halloween

Did it deserve it?

As the only one of those films I’ve actually seen, I can’t say I entirely disagree with it. Although I’m not really sure it counts as a combo, I feel this award isn’t being taken seriously (weird, I know). but in terms of actors who had absolutely zero chemistry, I’d have to consider Power Rangers. This film is dependent on their being tremendous chemistry between the group, and that’s not there. Which is a shame, I’m not saying it would make the film brilliant, but it would improve it. But the winner, by a country mile (or a city mile, whichever is longer), is Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan in Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. If you were somehow able to witness a complete vacuum, where nothing existed inside it, there’d still be more chemistry in that than between these two actors.

Worst Supporting Actress

Goldie Hawn – Snatched

Kim Basinger – Fifty Shades Darker*

Laura Haddock – Transformers: The Last Knight

Sofia Boutella – The Mummy

Susan Sarandon – A Bad Mom’s Christmas

Did It Deserve It?

Again, no idea as didn’t see it. This category represents a problem I have with these awards in general, they don’t distinguish between a bad performance and a bad film. The Mummy was not a good film, but Sofia Boutella is not the reason for that. They weren’t great performances, but they weren’t noticeably bad, the problems were with the films themselves, or the way the characters are written, not the performances. Plus, considering she’s the title character, is Sofia Boutella really a “supporting” character in that movie? If anything, Annabelle Wallis’s character is the supporting one. For sake of clarity, I’d suppose I’d give this to Kate McKinnon for Rough Night, mainly because of her accent.

Worst Supporting Actor


Anthony Hopkins: Collide, and Transformers The Last Knight

Javier Bardem – Mother, Pirates Of The Carribean

Josh Duhamel – Transformers: The Last Knight

Mel Gibson – Daddy’s Home 2*

Russell Crowe – The Mummy

Did It Deserve It?

No. Russell Crowe did. His performance was over-exaggerated and not in a good way. It was so hard to take seriously as a performance that it was almost laughable. I didn’t see Daddy’s Home, but I cannot believe the performance was worse. If it was down to any film: Matt Passmore from Jigsaw. A performance so flat it’s almost 2-dimensional.

Worst Actress


Dakota Johnson – Fifty Shades Darker

Emma Watson – The Circle

Jennifer Lawrence – Mother!

Katherine Heigl – Unforgettable

Tyler Perry – Boo 2! A Madea Halloween*

Did it deserve it?

I didn’t watch any of these (luckily). But I’m going to say yes, purely because I’m bored of typing that title out again and again. Find it hard to believe Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for this, I’d heard her performance was really impressive, albeit in a divisive film. If it was down to any film: Cara Delevingne in Valerian. I defended her performance in Suicide Squad (the first half of it anyway), but I won’t in this.


Worst Actor


Jamie Dornan – Fifty Shades Darker

Johnny Depp – Pirates Of The Carribean

Mark Whalberg – Daddy’s Home 2, Transformers: The Last Night

Tom Cruise – The Mummy*

Zac Efron – Baywatch

Did it deserve it?

Yes. Although I think the choice to cast him was worse than any performance choices he made in this film. He is completely the wrong actor for this type of role at this stage in his career. If I included films that weren’t nominated: Jamie Foxx in Sleepless. As a fan of professional wrestling, I understand the importance of selling when it comes to performances. For example; if a character gets hit in the leg, acts hurt for a few seconds, but then in the next scene is running and jumping perfectly normally, it ruins the illusion of what happened. It doesn’t matter if in the next scene you show his leg hurting again, that moment where the audience realised it was fine completely ruins it, even on a subconscious level. That was the issue with this film; Jamie Foxx plays the character as a normal action hero, as opposed to one who is tired, oh, and GOT STABBED IN THE ABDOMEN IN THE SAME DAY! If you don’t watch the opening scenes, you wouldn’t notice the character is in pain. Completely takes you out of the film. I’m not sure if that’s down to him, or the director, but either way it’s a terrible decision.

Worst Director


Alex Kurtzman – The Mummy

Darren Aronofsky – Mother!

James Foley – Fifty Shades Darker

Michael Bay – Transformers: The Last Knight

Tony Leondis – The Emoji Movie*

Did it deserve it?

Fuck it, I’m going with The Mummy again. For how they made the villain look ridiculous, and for the length of the opening narration. As a director, he should have questioned that moment in the script and refused to do it. If it came down to any film, The Bye Bye Man. The script let it down for sure, but the directing choices didn’t help. Completely ineffective at building any tension at all. As such it didn’t work as a horror movie, actually, I’m not entirely sure it worked as a movie either.

Worst Picture



Fifty Shades Darker

The Emoji Movie*

The Mummy

Transformers: The Last Knight

Did it deserve it?

No. It was not as terrible as it seemed. Although to be fair, nothing could be as bad as the reviews made this seem. And I’m really surprised Baywatch was nominated, there was nothing terribly notable about it in terms of terrible films, and if that was nominated, why not CHiPS? That was far worse in every way and had an extremely problematic approach to its female characters. Out of the nominees, again, The Mummy is the (un)lucky winner. In terms of any film: Wish Upon, for reasons I go into here.

So there it is, the best of the worst. Surprised that The Book Of Henry wasn’t nominated, neither was The Space Between Us, The Mountain Between Us, or Shut In. They were notable in how bad they were. The worst you can say about a lot of the nominees this year is that they were bland.


The Mercy (2018)

In a few reviews of films based on true stories, I have mentioned that I can find it hard to be fully engrossed in them when I know how the stories end. I’ve also mentioned before how it really annoys me when films put so much of the story in the trailer that the entire film is playing catch up to the trailer when you watch it. Who’d have thought I’d finally see a film that combines both? Lucky me!

I’m not underestimating that by the way, if you watch the trailer then you’ve seen the film. I mean, sure you miss the final five minutes (possibly less), but other than that the trailer is basically a condensed version of the film. I kept waiting to see something new, to see a plot point that propelled the final third of the film into an area I didn’t expect, but nope, just same old, same old.

I think this films biggest problem is it’s a bit too Colin Firth-ey, not Tom Hardy-ey enough. Colin First is a great actor, this cannot be denied, but a lot of films he is in, they tend to be kind of twee and lovely. Tom Hardy, however, chooses film roles in films that could break your spirit. That’s what this film needed. It needed darkness, it needed to stop focusing on beautiful scenery (and it is beautiful, don’t get me wrong) and focus more on inner turmoil. It also needed to stop CUTTING AWAY FROM THE MAIN CHARACTER. I mean, seriously, the film is about a man hopelessly lost and completely isolated from those he loves. The most effective way to do this would be to keep him as the main focus, you focus so much on his on this small boat that you begin to feel trapped with him. You begin to miss the other characters just as much as he does, you feel his loss. This film doesn’t give you an opportunity to do that, it continually cuts back and forth between him and his family, in both the present and the past. I get why they did that, it’s showing what he’s missing and has left behind, I just REALLY don’t agree with it. If they didn’t show that nobody would think “yeah, it’s just his family though, why’s he so bothered about that?”. It’s his family so the initial assumption is that he loves them very much, we don’t need to see it and the fact we do hurts the flow of the film and means we never really get to feel trapped with him, because narratively we’re not.

There’s a great story told somewhere within this film, I just felt the director was the wrong choice. I’m not saying James Marsh is a bad director, but not every story is suitable for some directors, you wouldn’t expect Tim Burton to do a historical drama, if Michael Bay was doing the new Saw it would be a mess. Marsh’s style is focused on beauty, this film needed to be uglier to work, then it could have been truly spectacular.