The Isolation Scripts: Script Two

For more details on this read this.

So here’s the second one. I hesitate to call this “enjoyable” but hope you appreciate it

The Night

I had multiple issues with tone on this, going from too comedic to gross with no filter between them. Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing with this, I was mostly freestyling it to get to the moment of the neighbour not letting her in due to social distancing rules. But looking back at it that’s the section I’d cut. That entire section at that house doesn’t really add much, not once I got to the end. Now the end of this completely changed my enthusiasm for this. Before that, I thought “okay I’m not dealing with this script, but some of the deaths I could use in a slasher”, but as soon as I hit upon that final few pages (after she leaves the second house) I got excited. The idea of a film where a group of people (lets face it, it would be a group of guys) dress up as their favourite horror movie characters and go around killing people. There’s the traditional aspect could be fun, but crucially I could add in A LOT of detail about how we consume horror movies, about how horror focuses more on the killers than the victims, so it’s natural that people will end up idolizing them. Not only that but a lot of horror movie villains are shot like heroes, the angles are the same that were given to heroes in old Westerns. Suddenly I got very excited about this as an idea, and importantly; an idea I think I could write. In that context the tonal changes might not be as jarring as the villains will be movie-obsessed people, so will give me a lot of chances for comedic moments. Plus, just think of the number of references I could put in. The “Freddy” could mix and match costume aspects from the different iterations of the character.

In summary; I’m not that proud of this script as it is, it’s just a collection of scenes and spots more than a coherent narrative, but I can definitely change it into something very exciting if I put the effort in.

The Isolation Scripts, Script One

For those unsure as to what this is, read this first.

So, here’s the first script, hope you enjoy it:

Isolation Script One

This was the first place my head went when I tried to think of a script based in these times. The idea of two people communicating and falling in love through a clear window without being unable to actually speak to each other. I think if I was doing a second draft of this I’d add a little more focus on his upstairs neighbour, he’s mentioned in one scene, really just a way to answer the “why don’t they just call/email each other?” question people would have. I feel if I extended the script slightly I could give him more to do, or even not have him actually do anything but the fear of him watching her inspires more of the story. I did consider having a scene where the guy walks out his flat and punches the upstairs neighbour in the face (or throws him off the balcony) but tonally that didn’t really seem to fit what I had. I feel the same about the ending if I’m honest, it feels a little too, I don’t know, cruel? Which is weird as that was a core part of the script when I came up with it, it was all building towards that moment where they sit across from each other and find themselves with nothing to say (it was either going to be that or one of them actually is deaf). So the whole thing was building up to that ending, but now I’ve actually written it I don’t think I like it. Maybe I should have ended it at the moment where they meet. Have a sappy emotionally charged song playing as they go towards each other. I feel I should have done more on the background world as well, using radio announcements to build up a better idea of what’s going on outside of their flat. Overall I’m not too disappointed with it, I don’t think it’s filmable in its current state but I feel it could be workable in a few drafts time, I just need to feel the personal passion towards it.

The Isolation Scripts: Introduction

So this is a weird time, we’ve done a lot of different post types here but mainly it is film reviews. So what do we do when there are no films to review? I thought I’d attempt to use this new free time to do something else; mini scripts. I realise when I write scripts lately I’ve been aiming for either features or television episodes, which are fine but will be impossible to make. I need to write stuff that I could actually make if I wanted to, but I’ve kind of lost the ability to do short scripts. So I might as well use this new free time to work on that. To stop myself focusing too much on it I set up a few rules:

  1. No longer than 20 pages.
  2. No longer than 2 days spent writing.
  3. No second drafts.

This could be a terrible idea, as one of the most important parts of writing is rewriting. But I feel if I do that I could let standards slip as “well I just need to put something down, then I can fix that in a second draft”. This way I will have to train myself to work on writing instincts. If I do end up feeling passionate about one of these then I could develop it first, but these are primarily a writing exercise. I’ll be posting the first one tomorrow, then from then on posting as I finish them.

2019 Film Awards (lost blog)

So I’ve now run out of films to review and might not be able to review any for quite a while. So to make up for it I’m going to be doing other blogs to fill in the time. This is a blog that was half-written but never posted as I realised it would be a bit weird to post a blog about the best films of 2019 in March of 2020, it felt a bit late. It felt like a shame as some of the films deserved me gushing over how brilliant they are, so now’s the time. Simple enough, I just needed to complete the half-written blog and post, easy. Well, it would have been if I didn’t delete the original like a fucking dumbass. So keep in mind a lot of this is based on films I haven’t seen for over half a year.

Most Disappointing

Killer Kate

I thought this would be fun. It looked fun, and it had a short run time, which for a film like this is usually an indicator that it will move at breakneck pace. The opening scene is a discussion between the killers, and it’s dull. The actual plot doesn’t kick off until way too far into it. Nowhere near as fun as it should be.

It Chapter Two

Far far too long, not enough Pennywise, and it had too many flashbacks of characters we knew were going to survive. It’s a shame as I genuinely love the first one, and I thought I enjoyed this. But the more distance I have from this film, the more the flaws are apparent.

Brightburn

I sent the trailer for this to someone I used to work with, that’s how much faith I had in this film. That faith was totally misguided. This film just did not work. The story was boring, it was too in debt to the Superman mythos to stand out on its own, and it wasted a brilliant premise. On the plus side I’m interested to see what happens next.

Ma

The trailer made it look better than it was. The issue is that it was building towards something we knew was happening. We were waiting for something to happen and to see how it would develop, instead what we were waiting for turned out to be the end. It would be like if Halloween only featured Michael Myers in the last 20 minutes.

Winner

Wolf

“It’s a werewolf movie set during ancient Roman times, this is going to be great”. Spoilers; it was not great. Yeah, you’re going to be seeing this film getting mentioned a lot in this blog, and there’s a reason for it.

Best Music

Wild Rose

I don’t really like country music, but I loved it in this. “Three chords and the truth” is how the character describes it, and when she sings, you believe it. I’ve watched the film once, about a year ago, and I still find myself occasionally singing the main song from it.

Childs Play

For two reasons: 1) the new version of the classic theme. 2) The Mark Hamil song that manages to be both kind of creepy, and like it comes from a kids TV show.

Us

Almost entirely because of the really good remix of I Got 5 On It. Although the use of Les Fleurs was damn near perfect.

Winner

Rocketman

It’s a shit load of Elton John songs, so of course it’s going be good. Taron Egerton is REALLY good at capturing his voice.

Best Looking

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

This film should have more uncanny valley moments than it does. Plus the visual world-building is a sight to behold.

Rocketman

It’s not easy to do a film about Elton John. You need to make it look flamboyant without being distracting. This film manages it. It turns out Dexter Fletcher is really good at this, genuinely wouldn’t have guessed.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Yes, I didn’t like the film, but the look was perfect. It genuinely felt like it was from a different time. The atmosphere it created was near perfect.

Joker

The world design for this was picture perfect. This is a gotham that NEEDS Batman. This isn’t a neon-dreamspace you can sell with McDonalds toys. This isn’t “avoid the bad areas”, EVERYWHERE is a bad area with a few exceptions of where the rich live.

Knives Out

Purely for the number of times I watched this film and thought “that would make a cool poster”, it also has one of my favourite closing shots of all time.

Toy Story 4

There were a few moments here where I thought “hmm, they look slightly plastic” and then realised that the characters are plastic, they’re toys. I was so taken in by the animation that I occasionally forgot that. Plus they made rain look real, which is REALLY hard to pull off in this kind of animation.

John Wick 3

The action scenes in these are usually the highlight of the year in terms of how well designed they are, this was no exception. The choreography is again great, and the world they take place in really suits it. The colours, the set design, the cinematography, all of it adds up to some superb visuals.

Us

The colour schemes, the visual foreshadowing, all of it was just so damn magnificent.

Winner

Ad Astra

Normally “a good looking film” means it’s visually busy and crammed with intricate details, this is the opposite. The use of space (lol, pun) in this film is masterful. It genuinely confused me how this film didn’t do better. You watch this and you really feel his isolation. Everything seems so empty and hopeless. I love it.

Worst Looking

Hellboy

Almost entirely for the woeful CGI in one of the final scenes. I’ve genuinely seen better in PS2 games.

Wolf

The make up in one moment of this was AMAZING. They genuinely made it look like the actress had been savaged by a werewolf, the scars looked real and they looked aged. If this was just a “worst make-up” award this film wouldn’t be listed at all. But this is “worst looking” in general, so that’s make-up, visual effects, directorial choices, and editing. It’s that last one where this REALLY fails. There are scenes where it cuts to a character every time they speak, no matter how short what they say is. That line about the bad editing for Bohemian Rhapsody? It could easily be used here, except I don’t want to find an example of it, lest I accidentally watch a single second of this turgid piece of crap ever again.

Winner

Captain Marvel

No, this did not look worse than the others in this list. But I believe it’s a worthy winner because a film with a budget this big should not have CGI as ropey as this. It’s shameful how bad it was at times. It sucks but expectations to have to be taken into account for things like this. If you went to an open mic comedy night and one of the comedians there stumbled over their words and had to rely on notes, you’d still find them funny. If, however, you paid through the nose for a gig at Wembley Stadium and the comedian did that, you’d consider it money wasted. That’s why even though it’s not the worst, it “wins” the worst.

Best Performance

Rocketman: Taron Egerton

He didn’t really look like him, but his performance completely encapsulated the character.

Wild Rose: Jessie Buckley

The whole film is anchored on her performance, and she carries it expertly. It helps that she has a good singing voice, but her non-singing vocal performance is also to be commended. Her emotions and worries are there for us all to see, as is the characters attempts to hide them.

Joker: Joaquin Phoenix

What can I say about this performance that hasn’t been said already? Absolutely nothing considering how much the awards wanked over it. There’s a reason for it though; his performance is utterly compelling.

IT Chapter Two: Bill Hader

I was genuinely surprised by how great his performance is in this. He’s sharing the screen with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Skarsgard. His performance outshines all of them. It is mostly comedic but the emotion he gives it really elevates it.

Winner

Us: Lupita Nyong’o

Everyone in this plays their dual roles perfectly, but Lupita carries it off best (with Winston Duke as a very close second). It’s not just her movements and vocals that show the difference between the two, the way she holds herself is different too. You can have pictures of the two of them sitting in a chair and figure out which one is which.

Worst Performance

Wolf: Everyone

It’s hard to narrow it down to a single performance in this, they were all so bad. Such a talented cast too, starring the writer/director, the editor…..okay I see what they did. Even as a film student I wouldn’t have pulled that shit, I got actual actors (and paid them in cake), so there’s no excuse for a feature film aiming at cinema release to pull this shi.

Hellboy: Sasha Lane

A bad accent can make you forget everything else about a performance. Does anybody remember Dick Van Dyke’s mannerisms from Mary Poppins? Or how he carried himself? No, because they were too distracted by the terrible accent. It’s similar here, it’s distractingly bad. At times it wanders into slightly Australian via New York. It was directed by someone who’s directed a few episodes of Game Of Thrones, so he MUST have been able to recommend an actual English actor. It was being filmed in the UK, so it’s not as though “oh, well it will be easier to get an American performer”. I’m not saying you have to be English to play an English character, but if you’re not then you have to put at least some effort into convincing us you are, and she doesn’t.

Winner

Killer Kate: Alexandra Feld

No matter how good she was, it would not have saved this movie; but it might have made it slightly watchable if her performance was tolerable. The trouble is that it is so wooden I don’t even have the energy to make an immature erection joke at the word “wood”. It reminds me of me when I try to act, not believable and with zero emotion. It’s so bad I’m convinced it’s a parody. I felt kind of nervous about writing this in case it seemed like bullying. But it is SO bad. I have no idea how she passed the audition, but the fact she was married to the writer/director must have had a hand in it (but for his sake I hope he got more than a hand out of it).

Best Character

Ben Is Back: Holly Burns-Beeby (played by Julia Roberts)

Over the last few years I’ve really started to GET Julia Roberts. I think it’s because of how great she was in the supremely underrated Secret In Their Eyes and Money Monster. She’s picking really interesting characters lately, and this one is no exception. A mother who has to stand by her drug-addicted son. Her character is one borne of frustration, anger, and love. The moment where she yells at the Alzheimer-riddled doctor who was responsible for her sons’ addiction is brilliant to see and really highlights the role of prescription drugs in drug addiction.

Happy Death Day 2 U: Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Roth)

She is a big part of why this film works. She is so…human. Even her stupid decisions are ones which you understand her reasons for making. Her growth over the two films are a sight to behold. This is the best example of that character though. Underneath all the bluster and confidence is someone who is still haunted by her mothers death. When she has to make the decision about going back to her own reality and abandoning her mum in the present multiverse, you truly feel her pain.

The Day Shall Come: Moses Al Shabaz (played by Marchant Davis)

This is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. You are rooting for this character throughout the film, so when the inevitable happens it just breaks you. His motivations are clear, his relationships with the other characters make sense, and his actions always make sense. Every single decision he makes is based on a weird kind of logic. This is one of the few films where I wanted a happy ending, yes it would have felt unnatural, but damn this guy deserved a break.

Good Boys: All of them

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; these characters were so smartly written. They’re in that awkward age where you start making sex jokes, but you have no idea what sex is. It’s a tricky line to walk, if you write them as too young they seem like idiots, but if you write them as too old it seems unrealistic. This strikes the perfect balance between the two and is all the better for it.

Winner

Knives Out: Marta Cabrera (Played by Ana De Armas)

Her character would be quite easy to dislike if she was badly written. Thankfully the script injects her with just enough warmth that you are rooting for her throughout the film. Her character, more than any other in this list, is helped by the other characters reactions to her. Every time one of the family members talks to her they say “I wanted you at the funeral, but other people objected”, every single one. Plus, every time they mention where she’s from they say a different country, indicating that they don’t actually pay much attention to her. It’s almost as though they don’t see her as a nurse (and certainly not as a close family friend, no matter what they say), and instead see her as “the help” for the family. This is best showcased in a scene where a character is mid-conversation with her and hands her his empty plate, as if to say “go take that out for me”. The best part about these moments? They’re easily missed. They don’t have attention drawn to them, not explicitly mentioned, no reaction shots, nothing.

I Don’t Get It

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

I just didn’t vibe with this. Part of it may have been because I was watching it on a laptop, which is never a good way to watch a movie and always requires a film to work hard to overcome it (so far the best example of a film doing it is The Last Word). I get some people would like this, but for me it was just a bit dull. I was never invested in the story or the characters. It spent a lot of time treating the audience like they didn’t know that Ted Bundy was a serial killer, and I don’t really get why.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It seemed like almost everybody loved this film, except for me and about 2 people I know. I just found it lacking any form of coherent structure or purpose. So much of it felt like it was just padding, like it didn’t justify it’s own existence.

Crawl

I saw quite a few good reviews for this, oddly enough praising the things I didn’t like about it; how the characters were dumb and some bits didn’t make sense. Why are these seen as good things?

Joker

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie. But for it to get THAT many Academy Award nominations? No, just no.

Winner

If Beale Street Could Talk

I wanted to like this film, it seems very important and with a story that needs to be told. I just felt it wasn’t told in an effective way. For two reasons: the narration and the length. Some scenes had a natural ending point, and then decided to continue on for a few minutes long. The narration didn’t really add anything a lot of the time and it felt like it assumed the audience were dumb.

Best Scene

Alita: Rollerball

The rest of the film was nice, but the way these scenes were set up…I loved it. Was so well done, and you could easily follow the action because of how well directed it was.

Avengers: On Your Left

Yes this film was all over the place, yes it closed off many other potential films which would have been interesting. But that moment, where everyone we love from the franchise starts making their return? Very satisfying.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio Acting

Okay that’s not exactly what happens. But there’s a moment in this film where DiCaprio’s character forgets his lines. But then gives a superb performance motivated by his own fear. It’s an incredibly powerful moment full of nuance and unsaid character motivations.

Spiderman Far From Home: Post-Credits

The scene which changed the arc going forward, and is without a doubt one of the most important post-credits scenes in the MCU. Not only is JK Simmons in this franchise, but Peter Parker’s identity has been revealed. A great double whammy and a genuine shock.

Us: reveal

When you realise what’s actually happening, and how widespread it is. I distinctly remember thinking “you magnificent bastard”. It was set up SO well and was an incredibly satisfying reveal.

Winner

Knives Out: Ending

Truth is, there are so many perfect moments in this that it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to narrow it down to one then it would be this bit. The first reveal is incredibly satisfying and goes against all your expectations, but the ending for this is sooo well done. The genuine reveal leading up to it is superbly written, and the closing shot might just be one of the most simplistically brilliant that I’ve ever seen.

Worst Scene

Childs Play: the ending

Okay, not the very end. But once everyone was locked in the toy store the carnage felt incredibly subdued, it should have been bigger. It felt like the whole film was building to this scene and it felt really neutered.

Stuber/Good Boys: fight scenes

I’m counting these as one because they do the same thing, and it has the same effect on both films. They’re fight scenes which just break up the momentum of the film, not only that but there are things done in the film which would kill someone if they actually happened. So when they’re just shaken off in this it reminds you that you’re watching a film.

I Love My Mum – Fake Cancer

Right near the end the mother character admits that she faked having cancer because she didn’t want her son to leave. Now already she was unlikeable, but that pushed her into being hateable and ruined any dynamic the two of them had.

Escape Room – The Opening

There were a lot of options from this film. I was tempted to go with the cliche “rich people are placing bets” ending. Instead, I went with this because it showed a character alive, then spent 80% of the film catching up to that moment, so any scenes where that character nearly died were devoid of any tension.

Winner

The Wolf – The Opening

5 seconds. That’s all it took for me to go from “this film is going to be amazing” to “this will be a steaming pile of shit won’t it?”. That’s a record (Hellboy came close with the narration though). Too much happened offscreen, the acting was bad, and the editing was woeful. Kind of like the film itself tbh.

Most Awwww-ful

Fishermans Friends

This is your typical British film, which means it’s incredibly heartwarming. Yes, you’ve seen it before, but it knows the best way to engage emotionally with you, and you’ll have to have a heart of stone to not feel affected by it.

Ben Is Back

This has a different kind of beauty, the beauty of love that a family has for each other. A love that involves you hating each other occasionally when they deserve it. But this means that when the sweet moments do hit, they hit a lot harder than they would otherwise.

Good Boys

This film is incredibly sweet in a way I didn’t expect. It really showcases that awkward age where you’re not mature enough to be a teen, but you’re not a kid. It’s a weird time in life and it’s refreshing to see a film approach it so honestly whilst talking about male friendships during that stage in life.

Stan And Ollie

A tale of friendship, of loss, and of age. It’s helped by the performances, but the film, in general, is just so touching that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. This was one of the first films I saw in 2019, so it set a kind of high bar for the rest of the year.

Winner

Wild Rose

This film shows the power of music, how it can change peoples lives and how much of themselves people put into their art. incredibly powerful and a real surprise highlight of the year.

Most Disgusting

Childs Play

Yes it could have gone further, but there were quite a lot of moments in this which did make me wince. Plus the scene where the guy in the costume sprayed blood all over a group of kids was disgustingly brilliant

Greta

For one moment and one moment only; someone’s finger being chopped off with a cookie cutter. Came out of nowhere and you REALLY felt it.

IT: Chapter 2

This film had many flaws. But it was visually well done, and some of the gore was incredible. This is mainly here for one other moment: the homophobic beating at the start. It’s…..it’s ugly.

If Beale Street Could Talk

The racism inherent in the American law system is disgusting, and this film highlights it incredibly well. To the point where you yourself feel beaten and trapped by the end of the film.

Winner

The Day Shall Come

The film alone is depressing, but when you read up on it and read the cases it’s based on, it becomes even more so. This is a film which should light a revolutionary fire underneath you, but because everything is so bleak and depressing at the end it just makes you wonder what’s the point; the system will win and will rig the game to keep certain people down, and it’s all legal. We’re fucked as a species.

Worst Film

Hellboy

This film lost me in the opening scene. It was trying so damn hard to be mature that it came off as childish. I’d have loved this if I was a 14-year-old boy, but when I was 14 I also thought that one day I’d be happy, so I was fucking idiot back then. It also features some of the most embarrassing CGI I’ve ever seen.

Dark Phoenix

“surely this can’t be as bad as everybody says?” It can, and don’t call me Shirley (I make the most original jokes). A film so bad it taints the X-Men franchise (and this was a franchise that survived Last Stand and Origins). I think that’s the worst thing about it, it takes all the goodwill built up by Logan and flushes it down the toilet, and then blocks the toilet and makes you unblock it by hand, leaving you holding shit and shit-water and wondering what the point is.

Songbird

I can’t remember the plot of this film, and I don’t think the people who made it can either. It was apparently mostly improvised, and it shows. The scenes don’t move forward, don’t serve the overarching narrative, it was like watching someone’s holiday videos.

Killer Kate

I’ve said a lot of bad things about this movie, and will continue to say more, and for a good reason; it’s awful. It starts off with a way-too-long scene of the killers just sitting around talking in a manner which isn’t consistent with their later characterisation (and we don’t see them again until the 40 minute mark. We then cut to boring family drama for about 30 minutes before the horror starts. It’s not even good family drama which lets us enjoy the characters, so many of the scenes are not needed; I would love the makers of this film to explain the purpose of a 2-minute scene where characters flip through television channels. The entire film is full of moments like that, scenes which don’t advance the plot, aren’t scary, aren’t funny, and don’t tell us anything about the characters. Essentially, they’re worthless

Winner

Wolf

Obviously, this was going to win. I maintain this will remain the worst film I ever see at the cinema in my entire life. This wouldn’t even get a passing grade at a film school. I saw it for free and still want my money back. The acting, the script, the fact that they couldn’t afford tracks so every time that characters spoke they had to stand completely still even when they were supposed to be moving quickly to escape something. I forgive every bad word I’ve said about any film, because this film is the one that truly deserves my vitriol.

Best Film

Rocketman

Academy Award nominations for Bohemian Rhapsody: 5. Academy Award nominations for this: 1. That should not be the case. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did better. It suited the artist better, it had a more unique visual look, it was more honest about the subject etc. Whilst we’re on the subject, how in the blue holy hell fuck did Bohemian Rhapsody win “best editing”. Look at it! That scene’s got so many cuts it’s being used to execute people in China. The Bohemian Rhapsody finale was about the performance, the finale of this was more focused on the personal. You learn a lot more about Elton John through this than you ever did about Mercury in the Bo-Ho. Also, it reminded me of how many great songs Elton John has done.

Toy Story 4

I can’t think of another franchise which has maintained this high level of quality four movies in. By this point of a franchise, the quality has got so bad that the next movie is a soft reboot. This continues the high benchmark that the first three have set. I’ve been nervous about the quality of these films every single time I’ve been to watch one, and every time I’ve been shown to be a fool (I’m used to that though). Normally Toy Story films wait until near the end to hit you with emotions, this goes the Up method of teabagging you with its emotional balls right off the bat.

Us

Films like this just highlight how stupid the Academy are for ignoring horror films so much. This film is a visual and thematic masterpiece. Is it as good as Get Out? It’s hard to tell, this had higher expectations thrust upon it because of Get Out, and the fact that it managed to not be hated despite that points to how strong a film this is.

Winner

Knives Out

I think this was the last film I saw of the year, and it seemed like 2019 saved the best for last. Warning, you will see a lot of mentions for this film in this blog. So if you didn’t like it, prepare for a lecture on why whilst opinions are subjective and as such can’t be right or wrong, yours is still wrong. A near perfect film that I REALLY struggled to find negatives with. Every so often I remember a moment from this film and think ‘damn that was impressive”

The Invisible Man (2020)

It pains me to see that current events will forever taint this movie in my memory. This film was the last one I saw at the cinema before the coronavirus happened. So this might be the last recent review we post for a while (an update will be up shortly regarding our status in regards to continuing this site). That’s a shame as this movie deserves better, it’s an incredibly solid piece of film-making, albeit frustratingly inconsistent. It does some things brilliantly but then does the same thing badly a few minutes later, almost like it was made by two separate people.

The main areas of this for me: visuals and audio. There were times where the film seemed to think “music played at a volume that causes it to muffle” is tension. When it happens in climactic scenes and the music is built towards, then yes it is effective, but there are times where it seems just annoying. Similar with visuals, there are some brilliantly subtle moments, where we just see a breath cloud in the background. But this is let down by other scenes which take place in a frustrating amount of darkness. I get the appeal of hiding a lot, Alien etc did it well, but that was done differently. This was done where the main characters were in darkness, so all you could see were blurry shadows moving around slowly.

Now onto the good; the performances. Elisabeth Moss is PERFECT here. Her broken nature is obvious for everyone to see. Even when her partner isn’t on the screen you can see the effect he has had on her just through her performance. She anchors this entire film brilliantly; if her performance wasn’t as good as it is then the film would suffer.

The worry with taking a classic story like this is making it appropriate for the modern age. “scientists and a special magic potion” isn’t really a formula (hah, science pun) that works for modern movie audiences. Maybe this is because people have access to the internet so fraudulent science will be found out easily. They updated this in the best way possible; it’s a suit made of cameras. This not only is a perfectly logical way to fix some flaws in the power of invisibility (vision works on reflection so if you’re invisible, you can’t see either), it being cameras fixes this. Plus it causes a great scene where the suit gets damaged and starts to glitch in and out of visibility.

So in summary; if you get a chance you should definitely watch this. It’s brutal when it needs to be, but is incredibly human too. If the Dark Universe started with this instead of The Mummy (or the Dracula one they attempted to start it with) then maybe it wouldn’t have been dead on arrival. It’s slow but it makes the most of the time, and it has a truly chilling ending.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

I should preface this with the following disclaimer: I don’t like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think she tries to hard to be “crazy” and it hurts the performance as it seems incredibly cartooney. It reminds me of “crazy” pro-wrestlers in the 80’s who would just sit in the background and pull funny faces whilst their manager spoke. It hurts films like this as she’s essentially a cartoon character in a realistic world, and I personally don’t think those two worlds mesh well together. It’s my big issue with Jared Leto’s Joker too; the instant that character has “damaged” tattooed on himself he’s no longer that character as, it’s done for stylistic movie effect rather than in-movie reality. Basically, it makes it seem like he’s doing everything for the benefit of an audience, and it hurts the character. That’s my issue with Robbie’s performance. So if you’re a “OMG Margot is SOOOO perfect and wonderful” then you might want to skip this review.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. It received a lot of hate for having the sheer audacity to be a film which features women both in front and behind the screen. I wanted to write this review and be like “no, support women in film, go see this movie”, but I can’t (and not just because all the cinemas are shut now). My biggest issue is it reminded me of Suicide Squad, like they didn’t learn their mistakes. The complete tonal mess? That’s present in this film. The fear that the film wasn’t comfortable with silence so filled everything with unnecessary noise? That’s here too. The fact that a group of people go from complete strangers to bestest buddies forever? Yup. The Birds Of Prey don’t even really occur until the final scene. So much of the film is about Harley Quinn that it forgets about the group, and not in an effective way. It doesn’t make me want to see more of them (with the exception of one character who I’ll get to later). Harley Quinn is all over this film, which when you’re trying to use the film to introduce a 3-person group for a future movie, seems like a mistake. You know how people felt Captain America: Civil War was more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie? This is the opposite, it feels more like a Harley Quinn movie than a Birds Of Prey one. Actually that comparison isn’t really apt, this is more like if Age Of Ultron was called “The New Avengers” based on the final scene. This is a terrible sign for the future because nobody will go see a Birds Of Prey movie without Harley Quinn now, why would they when the studio has done such a terrible job of introducing the characters? Although considering how little money this is making, that’s unlikely (personally I think it was a huge mistake to market this film towards teenage girls and then have it R-Rated so they can’t go see it).

The lack of characterisation hurts none of the characters more than it hurts the villain. Ewan McGregor is clearly having a lot of fun, but he’s not really given enough to do. His character isn’t given anywhere near enough detail, which is a shame as when he is on-screen he’s terrifying.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this film, unless you loved Suicide Squad, in which case what the hell is wrong with you? If it’s part of a box set or if it’s on Netflix then check it out, but it’s just not for me. As I said before though, that might be because I don’t like Margot Robbie’s performance in this (LOVED her in I, Tonya though), so that’s definitely tainting my view of the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect in it though, and is the only reason I would see a Birds Of Prey film. Her performance, her character, everything is just so wonderful.

Parasite (2019)

I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this before I watched it, but I knew it was supposed to be really good. All I really knew was that it was a South Korean film, and it was VERY good. I don’t think I’ve watched a South Korean film before so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of cinematic culture. South Korean or Japanese (and yes, I know they’re distinctly different but this point does apply to both so stay with me) films tend not to make much of an impact on the western world unless they are one of the following two things:

  1. Incredibly fucked up.
  2. Animated

So when I heard the buzz this was getting I imagined it to have a really fucked up twist somewhere. I think that somewhat hindered my enjoyment of the film, I kept waiting for a twist that wasn’t going to happen, which was especially damaging because there were a few points where I sensed it approaching it and thought “okay now it’s happening”. Really that’s the main issue I had with this film. That’s quite telling that the main issue I had with this film was basically my own idiocy, if the Oscars gave a shit about horror films then the best actress nominations from the last few years would have been a lot more interesting.

The film itself is nothing like what I was expecting. Like I said, it’s a South Korean film called Parasite and it has a seemingly perfect rich family with something hidden in their basement, so you can see why it took me so long to get used to it not meeting my expectations. It’s actually kind of a nice film. It’s about a family. Yup, that’s all you’re getting. They con their way into all working for the same family. The scenes where we see them do that are pretty damn good; brilliantly edited and paced, very reminiscent of a heist movie. There are a few surprises later on, but really you’re not here for the shocks and twists, you’re here for the experience. On that note, I doubt you’ll see another film like it. On the downside, the satirical nature of it may be a bit too subtle. On the bright side this means more people will watch it, but (and I recognise this is personal opinion) I prefer my satire to bite a bit harder. That’s not a slight against the film, it’s just a personal preference. The final scenes do have to be seen though, incredibly heartbreaking and with just a slight touch of hopelessness that overwhelms you, I love it. So yeah go see it, it’s funny, warm, and features a dog eating sausages next to a corpse.

Fantasy Island (2020)

I was actually excited about this. The idea of a group of people getting what they wish for but it leading to their destruction is perfect for a horror movie. Think about it, since there’s really no limits you get to showcase some incredible set-pieces full of imagination. You can use the characters wishes to display who they are as people. Plus the whole “be careful what you wish for” allows for some creative scripting as well, the idea of your dreams being cursed or not up to what you expected. That’s definitely not the case. The script is formulaic, as is the direction and performances. I’m mainly annoyed by two things, two major issues I had with the film:

  1. The horror wasn’t linked to the dreams.
  2. The ending.

I’ll go into them in further depth. The first one: the way the wishes end up causing deaths is not really linked to the wishes themselves, there’s no sense of clever Twilight Zone/Black Mirror karma going back to get you kind of thing. I’ll go through them here:

Melanie

The wish

She wants to torture someone she went to school with.

How it goes wrong

It turns out it’s not a hologram and she is actually torturing her. I’m going to go into this specific moment in more detail later on. It then gets darker as she breaks the woman free and they end up getting chased by the torturer. So it just becomes a standard slasher film.

What would have made sense

Simple; have Melanie kill her but then realise that revenge doesn’t fix everything and she’s haunted by the memory of what she did. When she tries to sleep at night all she can think of is what she did.

Fantasy-Island-First-Trailer-e1573493063804

JD And Brax

The wish

“having it all” Basically a massive party at a big house

How it goes wrong

The house used to belong to drug dealers who come to the house to kill everyone

What would have made sense

This could have been the most interesting. All they needed to do was show the toll that lifestyle takes. Basically have them trapped in a never-ending party, forever. No sleep, no rest, no escape. Every time they go to leave the building they’re transported back in, every time they sit down they get forced to join a conga line. Show lots of asshole strangers there who refuse to leave the party.

Gwen

The wish

To accept a marriage proposal she rejected years ago.

How it goes wrong

Okay this is where the film gets weird. She gets exactly what she wanted but realises that her new life with her now-husband and daughter doesn’t actually belong to her and she has memories which aren’t hers. Interesting concept for a horror movie, right? This was done magnificently in Happy Death Day 2 U, in this it lasts a few minutes and then she changes her mind and asks to go back to a hotel fire she caused. Now she’s there again she changes the past by………she doesn’t. The fire still happens. It’s very important to the plot though as she sees everybody else from the island (minus Melanie) there on the night of the fire. So really this only happens for plot reasons.

What would have made sense

Have you seen The Butterfly Effect? Make it that. Show how her decision would have impacted her life; have it mean she failed in her career etc. Basically, have her first wish matter.

Patrick

The wish

To be in the army like his dad.

How it goes wrong

The army think he’s pretending to be a soldier and hold him hostage. This section actually provided the strongest moments of the film, he’s transported to the past when his dad was alive and meets him. There are some great emotional moments where his dad realises what’s happened and they have a great reunion and talk about how his dad died saving his troop. Patrick ends up disappointed when his dad goes to leave as he doesn’t want to go on the next mission because (as Patrick told him) it leads to his death. “but you dying saved your men, that’s why I thought you were a hero, you have to go do it” is essentially Patricks argument. An argument which makes no sense, the only reason he died is because he walks into an ambush he wasn’t prepared for, he’s prepared now, so can tell his men to avoid the ambush. His dad ends up dying anyway when they walk into the house where the aforementioned party is going on (in the present, and no they don’t mention the time discrepancies, the closest you get to it is “oooo magic island water”).

What would have made sense

Keep the “transported back in time to see his dad” part, that part works. But change it so it is his dad’s final mission, and he didn’t actually die saving his men in an ambush. He was part of a top-secret mission to attack something non-human; so a demon, a monster etc. Basically, turn it into a monster war movie (similar to Predator). Ordinarily, I would have gone with “show how his dad was not really a hero and instead killed lots of innocent people”, but the emotional moment of the film is the only part that worked, so it needs to stay.

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Now is as good a time as any to mention the wasted talent in this movie

There you go, it’s fixed. Now what you have is more like an anthology film, with each section having a different tone, with different scares, albeit ones which merge together well. Now onto the ending. The ending twist was that the whole thing was actually Melanie’s wish, and she wanted them all to die because she blames them for her not-boyfriend dying in a fire; Patrick because he didn’t rush in and save them, JD and Brax because they were friends with him and didn’t check he had left the room before they left the hotel, and Gwen because she started the fire. This would have worked if we didn’t see Melanie early on act really confused by the fact the powers of the island were real and she didn’t realise the woman she was torturing wasn’t a hologram. But if she was behind it all, then she knew all the time what was actually happening. So why was she pretending? She was alone in the room so the only people who were watching her were the audience. It was like the ending was written by somebody who hadn’t read the rest of the script. It makes ZERO sense and completely kills the small amount of goodwill I had towards this film. It wasn’t even needed, just play the film straight and let it scare people, not everything needs a twist. If you must have a twist, make it a different way. Cut out the fire sub-plot completely. Yes, if you had them all die and this was hell it would have been obvious, but it would have made sense.

So in response; avoid this movie. I can see 2020 having worse films than this, but I can’t imagine I’m going to see one that wastes its potential as most as this. It’s truly awful, not even worth a netflix watch.

1917 (2019)

I was worried I wouldn’t like this film, if only because I’m really bored with films based on the two world wars at the moment. There’s been so many of them and a lot of them haven’t really distinguished themselves enough to stand out (I still can’t remember which of the many Churchill films it was I actually saw). This feeling of boredom was so strong that I wasn’t even going to see this film. That was until I found out it was done as one continuous shot, I like to see interesting films, so I had to see it, and I’m very glad I did. It’s not a film I have much personal love for, it’s not really something I NEED to see again. It is something I’m glad I did see though, it’s a technical masterpiece. Even if you ignore the whole “done like one continuous shot” (well, technically two) it’s a superb film to look at, the cinematography is astounding. There’s a scene late on where the character walks through a bombed town at night, the only light coming from the buildings that are on fire, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The way the shadows interact with the scene is a real masterpiece in film-making, I wish more films did interesting stuff with shadows as they can provide a nice contrast to a scene.

None of this would matter if it wasn’t for the performances and the story, both of which are great. Dean-Charles Chapman (or as I know him: “is that Taron Egerton? Oh it’s not, ah well) has an incredibly difficult performance; especially since he needs to die in real-time on camera from blood loss. This brings me to a moment which I’m amazed they did; when he’s dying (which comes out of nowhere and is a real shock to the audience, in a good way) you can see the colour drain from his face, considering they couldn’t just cut away, apply makeup, then cut back I’m genuinely interested to see how they did this. George MacKay is the best performer though; his character looks absolutely broken by the events of the film, his eyes look haunted. It’s great that Sam Mendes got such accomplished performances from some (let’s face it) relatively unknown performers. Personally, I did find it a bit weird that it had two actors I wasn’t familiar with, and then almost cameo performances from actors you do know. Those moments do take you slightly, but not enough to ruin the film and I do know that is just a personal thing. This is still a film you need to see, even if it is only once.

The Gentlemen (2020)

I liked this film, not enough to ever need to watch it again, but it was okay while it lasted. A return to form for Guy Ritchie after the flop of King Arthur, pretty much confirming to studios that nobody wants to watch films based on King Arthur, rather than the truth, which is nobody wants to see shit films, oh wait, they do. It’s a shame as those films can be good, and whilst King Arthur did flop, I believe that The Green Knight will be the blue bill that cures the flop.

This is definitely a return to form, but I think that’s one of the biggest criticisms I have of it; I’ve seen it all before in his previous films. At times this doesn’t seem like a new film, but more like a re-recording of his greatest hits. To make matters worse, the story isn’t as clever as it seems to think it is. For a seemingly complicated plot, it’s remarkably straightforward. I hate to talk about it again (that’s a lie, I love discussing it whenever I can), when I got to the end of Searching I thought back to earlier moments in the film and suddenly a lot of things I thought were mistakes made sense, it made me immediately want to go back and watch the film again and look for more things I missed. You don’t get that with this film, there’s no “ohhhhhh, that’s smart” moment, and I feel it really needs one. There is one clever subversive moment, a gang of youtube rappers stumble into a drugs den, where they get caught by the security. I expected it to go like this:

  1. The security beat the shit out of the kids
  2. One of the kids turns out to be related to someone important.
  3. Bloody revenge

Instead, the teens beat the holy hell out of the security, then upload the video of it online. It’s clever and new, and is something I wish the film did more of.

The performances are okay, personally, I couldn’t unsee Charlie Hunnam as a discount Tom Hardy though. The real MVP is Hugh Grant though, he’s had a great last few years when it comes to weird roles; this, Paddington 2, Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists etc. He’s really developed from the “oh golly gosh if I got you a wine would you touch me?” roles from the 90’s into some incredibly fascinating ones, and is all the better for it. There are a few members of the cast I would have liked to see more of (not like that, settle down you pervs), and at times it does seem like there are so many characters the script has forgotten what’s happening. On the bright side the audience never feels lost, which is a risk with a fractured narrative like this. The editing and directing are skillful enough that you are always aware of where you are, there’s none of that “okay who was that who died, where are we now?” style editing that haunts lesser films. That being said, the ending is a bit shit.