Ok, I’ll open this with the good: the opening for this is superb. It starts off with a (very) brief history of space travel in the past, then continues on to the future. This sets up the universe brilliantly. We see humans develop anti-gravity, set up a colony, then meet other species from the universe, all whilst Space Oddity plays. This scene is the highlight of the film, and the quality of it is never matched again.
I went into this with low expectations, and it couldn’t even meet those. I expected it to be the best looking film I’ve seen all year, but kind of bland in terms of story. Let’s start with the visuals; yes, I know it’s all very impressive what it looks like, it’s all very colourful and majestic, but you know what else it is? Sterile and cold. There’s no warmth to the visuals, nothing looks lived in. Everything in it looks like a computer generated movie setting, even the “seedy” areas of the spaceship don’t look quite dirty enough, they just have more neon than the other parts. As such nothing seems real, you can’t imagine anybody living in this world. They spent so much time making it look impressive, they forgot to make it look real.
Not just the visuals that let you down though. Their’s numerous devices and technologies which are used once then never mentioned again despite how useful they would be. For example; there’s a gun which when you fire it at someone, it means you can control them via remote control. This is used exactly once in the over two hours of the film. There are also two moments where someone’s mind gets read, both times by different things, which are never ever mentioned again.
I don’t mind bad films, they can be amusing to watch, and can at least sometimes be fun. But a dull movie? That I can’t forgive. And this is dull. It’s not so much that “nothing happens”, more “nothing of consequence” happens. There are entire 20-30 minute sequences which could be cut completely from the film and it wouldn’t affect the story. You know how when you’re playing a video game, you get one door away from the final boss, then suddenly you get “now go collect all these scattered artefacts from around the world”, and you realise that was only done to increase the playing time so they can advertise it as being better than it actually is? That’s what watching this film is like. It’s a shame as it could have been good, maybe if it was released in the 80’s, so it would have had different lead actors. I like Dane DaHaan, a lot, I thought he was fantastic in Life After Beth, and near perfect in A Cure For Wellness. But he is woefully miscast in this. It doesn’t help that his character is kind of a dick; and not a redeemable loveable one. One where when you see him in danger you don’t think “oh no, save him Super Jesus”, you just think “meh”. It doesn’t help that the characters’ introduction consists of him in a weird “I think this is supposed to be sexual chemistry but just looks like sexual harassment” scene.
So, in closing; a film with potential, that is too long, too pointless, and just, well, just not good enough for the budget.
There’s something to be said for the accidental double bill. Films that have nothing to do with each other but seem like they belong together anyway. The best example of this lately I feel is Spotlight and The Big Short. They came out at different times, and were about completely different topics, but tonally they felt very similar. There’s a similar feeling with these two films, only this time it’s actually a lot easier to quantify; they’re both modern films containing a slight throwback feel to them. Baby Driver is basically a modern car chase film, a twenty-first century Bullitt, whereas Spiderman: Homecoming is basically a John Hughes movie with superpowers. Both of them are throwback films for the modern age, you don’t lose anything going into them without knowing the history of their respective genre-homages, but you do gain if you’re aware of them.
So what were they like? I’ll start with Spiderman. I actually liked it. The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.
I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character in particular is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with him already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.
So, onto Baby Driver. If you’re interested in film you need to see this, a true masterpiece of film-making. Almost the entire film has music alongside it, it’s a film which you could put on in the background at a party and just listen to it, and it would work (I will prove that one day). Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey continue to exist.
The most annoying thing about this film is that you will never see anything else like it, but lots films will claim to be like it. The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. In an ideal world Scott Pilgrim would have done that, but at least it has finally happened. One of the best films I’ve seen this year on a technical level, from the opening scene right through to the closing credits it never stops impressing, never slows down, which considering it’s almost 2 hours long is incredibly impressive.
So that’s Baby Driver and Spiderman:Homecoming. Both flawed but worth a watch. Both destined to be movies people put on and watch in large groups. Both have been put on my “buy on dvd” list. So how can I end this? The same way I end everything; cover song! Here’s an acoustic cover of the Spider-Man theme song, enjoy, then check out their other stuff on the youtube and their twitter.
There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in some of the performances. I’ve seen films with better individual performances, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a film where every performance across the entire film was perfect. There’s not a single weak link in terms of performances, even characters who are only seen for a few minutes knock it out the park. The lowest mark you can give a performance in this is 8/10, but there’s definitely a few perfect 10’s throughout. She’s not in it for long but Betty Gabriel in particular was absolutely superb and if there’s any justice in the world she’ll use this to springboard herself into bigger roles, I’m sure studios will be falling over themselves to cast the woman who’s in one of the most popular GIF’s of the year, being seen by people who haven’t even seen the film.
There’s a lot of VERY good eye acting in this film. I know this sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. Some of this has been seen in images of Daniel Kaluuya used in promotional material, which, whilst we’re on the subject; the promotional material for this was all delightfully understated, keeping the films cards very close to its chest. It showed a lot, but nothing that will spoil the plot. I’ve spoken a lot in the past about invasive marketing for films, and how that can help create interest for a film, and about how much I love stuff like that and I wish it happened more. Not for this though, it wouldn’t have suited it. This didn’t need marketing to create its universe, as it’s a world in which we can imagine we already live in, this really helps you lose yourself in the film. It’s also a film that sadly I can imagine being relevant for a very long time as a lot of the cultural issues it touch upon are ones which have been relevant for a long time, and will sadly continue to be part of society. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well written.
It’s kind of odd how well written and made this film is. It’s written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively, in fact I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. That being said, it is still very very funny. The mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced, usually in films like this you have the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London.
One final note about this, I have to say my favourite thing about this film; that it’s doing well. Last I saw it had made $136million against a budget of $4.5million and had received universal acclaim from both critics and audiences. I like that, it would be a real shame if this film didn’t do well as it’s superbly well made, as it is this film has broken records and is certain to go down as a modern classic. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.
I was very nervous about this film, I worried it wouldn’t be that good. Actually that’s a massive lie, but it sounds better than “saw the trailer, liked the trailer, was pleased with the final result”. This film was what I expected to be, and to be honest it’s what it needed to be; which is the first truly mature comic book film in a long time. Some people would say that Deadpool deserves that accolade, but I wouldn’t count that as mature. It had lots of blood and adult content, but it was very silly and lowest common denominator, don’t get me wrong, I do love that film (it was one of my favourites from last year), but it’s not mature at all. This film is though. One of the best compliments you can give this film is that it is a fantastic film, not “fantastic for a comic book movie”, on it’s own terms it’s a fantastic film. There’s going to be a lot of people who find this film dull, it takes quite some time for certain things to happen but it’s brilliant. Not every film has to be fast food, designed to be satisfactory but finished quickly, this film is more like a three course meal at a restaurant, you savour every moment and really take your time with it, so that when it’s over you feel completely satisfied and all you can do is sit there and recover from the brilliance you just consumed.
That’s a point, the ending of this film will be talked about, not here as you can’t without spoiling it. It is brilliantly done though, it’s an ending which this series has truly deserved, and it ends with a Johnny Cash song, which most comic book films wouldn’t be able to do but for here it fits. It is pretty much a modern western, a tale of a retired gunslinger coming back for one more gunfight, the last outlaw, in a time and place without purpose and that has moved on without him, causing him to need to go out in a blaze of glory.
Should also probably mention how great Dafne Keen is as X-23 though; the best child in a comic book film since Kick-Ass (in fact I’d argue this one was better as has much more depth), the actress is amazing, so much so that you don’t realise that she’s mute for most of the film. She does such a good job displaying her motivations etc through her body language and facial expressions that you don’t really notice that she hasn’t spoken. It’s kind of like when you’re watching a really good subtitled film and you get so used to it, and it’s done so well that you keep forgetting you’re not actually listening to the words. The fact that this is only her second acting role is amazing (her only previous role being in a TV show: The Refugees). I really hope big things happen to her soon. This film is full of good performances; Hugh Jackman’s performance is genuinely Oscar-worthy, Patrick Stewart is Patrick Stewart, and Stephen Merchant is surprisingly good as well, giving an extremely subtle and underplayed performance.
I appreciate this review has been all over the place, but it’s hard to stay focused on certain parts as every time start talking about something I immediately want to start talking about how fantastic another part of the film was. At some point I’ll be able to write an intelligent and coherent piece about this film, about how it handles themes usually dealt with in Oscar-bait films, about how it’s a true masterpiece, about how genuinely moving and emotional this film is. But right now I can’t do that. I’m still in shock about it (and I saw it over a week ago). This film is too good to write coherently about, and that’s something I’ve never thought about a film.
Brilliant performances all round
Earns the R rating
But not in a gratuitous way.
Emotional as hell.
Villains could have been better written.
Having Liev Schriber’s character from X-Men Origins in it would have been a nice touch.
Doesn’t answer a lot of questions which it should have (but might be answered in future ones)
Some films you see them and you have an automatic visual reaction, for example when I saw Gone Girl for the first time, after the film ended there was spontaneous applause (something I’ve only ever seen for about 4 other films), but occasionally the most interesting part is when nobody does anything. Sometimes this is bad, it can indicate disappointment or a feeling of being short changed, you have a room full of people sitting there thinking “was that it? That was so boring it almost sent me to sleep”, but sometimes the silence says more than any other reaction possibly could. For example when I saw Buried at cinema in Portsmouth, it ended and the reaction was complete silence, everyone was too depressed to move, the silence lasted for at least 20 seconds (which doesn’t seem long, but sit there and time it, it’s longer than you think) until it was broken by somebody saying “I think I need to self-harm now”. That was pretty much the reaction to this, just a sense of unease among everyone in the cinema, when we left there was a feeling like we’d all just gone through a shared trauma. Yet it was by no means a horrible film, there was beauty in the ugliness. The beauty of the way shots were composed meant the ugliness was more striking. Haven’t seen a film like this since Nocturnal Animals, and even that wasn’t as unrelenting as this was. This film starts off making you feel slightly uncomfortable and uneasy, and never gives you pause throughout the (some would say “slightly excessive) 146 minute runtime.
Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention that, this film is very very long, and I feel it doesn’t really need to be. There are moments where characters do things which they should have done earlier (for example, the main character is constantly woken by a knocking noise, this happens throughout the film, yet he doesn’t investigate it until very late on in the film). There’s also scenes which are slightly repetitive, the film wants you to think something and doesn’t want to risk you not realising certain things. A lot of the supporting characters are also woefully underwritten, Celia Imrie’s character for example was interesting in what we saw, but we needed a bigger investment into her for certain things to have narrative weight. Not the only flaw in this film, in fact this film is deeply flawed in many areas, particularly in terms of pacing, yet (for me anyway) those flaws can be ignored because of how great the film is.
I can see a lot of people really hating this film, it’s an easy film to dislike, and not just “not my thing” dislike, more “I want to harm everybody involved in making this piece of shit” dislike, but I can also see people who like it really loving it. It’s divisive, like marmite, Batfleck, or Fantf4stic.
What this film does well though, it does very well. The aforementioned feeling of dread throughout is remarkable, it feels like the characters spend the entire film with a sword dangling over their heads, and you’re waiting for it to drop (yes, that is occasionally exactly as frustrating as that sounds). It could be argued that when it does drop it not only spends forever making it’s journey, but it also doesn’t seem to live up what it promises, it promises excalibur dropping and all you get is a sewing needle. Yet for me it worked, it won’t be for everybody but I kind of dug how they ended it.
The performances in this were also superb, I haven’t seen Chronicle, so all I know Dane DeHaan from is the woefully under appreciated Life After Beth, a film which he is good in, but the performance he gives is just kind of standard. He is amazing in his, you really feel his fear throughout the film, you feel his anger and frustration at what’s happening, if you don’t buy the characters reactions, the entire film crumbles as theres no jeopardy. Jason Isaacs is as good as you expect him to be, coming off as an English actor who was created by someone attempting to draw Jon Hamm from memory. Just realised he has never won a BAFTA, how is that possible? He’s amazing and obviously talented, it’s about time that was realised. The best performance in this film; Mia Goth. I’m not familiar anything she’s done before, was truly a revelation in this. The vulnerability of the character is shown very well in her performance, not just vocally but the way the character moves adds to the performance, you see her walking across a room and automatically feel fearful for her. Interested to see what she does next.
Is there an obvious improvement that could be made to this film? Only one I can think of is it could have been nicer. If there were more moments of joyful bliss and serenity then the underlying creepy nature would have more weight when it eventually emerges. It wouldn’t have taken long, just a few scenes of idyllic comfort at the building, make it seem more like a genuine place of joy. As it is, everything is so obviously creepy that the fact there’s an underlying creepiness isn’t really surprising. It would be like finding out “Dave The Axe Murderer” is a killer, you’d be like “well, yeah, kind of guessed that”.
Which brings me on to my next point: the marketing. There was nothing special about, and I feel that was a problem. Batman Vs. Superman did a lot wrong (that’s an understatement) but one thing I loved is that they tied an advert for an airline company into the advertising for the film, it was a unique way of marketing it and I kind of dug it. I’d have loved to have seen marketing materials not about the film, but about the wellness facility featured in the film. Just a short teaser about the facilities there, with a slight underlying creepiness implying the real intentions. Even the website for it is magnificently mediocre;
I mean, look at that, that doesn’t set you on edge, it doesn’t do anything emotionally to you. It’s dull. Nothing about it is unusual or unique. A massive disappointment. They had a perfect opportunity to have a really unique marketing campaign and they blew it. They should have a website for the facility, adverts for it etc, maybe youtube testimonials about how “there’s something in the water” which means you “never want to leave”. Maybe have an alternate reality game that allows you to delve into the mythos, maybe a quick 5 minute walking simulator released online I don’t know. I don’t care what you do, just DO SOMETHING!
So, in summary. Should you watch this film? I’d say yes. This is a film that deserves to be seen, there’s a chance you’ll hate it, but there’s a chance you’ll love it, but either way you’ll have strong reactions to it.
The two teeth-based scenes (not spoiling them here, but trust me they’re horrific).
Let’s get the obvious out of the way here; I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience for this film (a feeling which was confirmed by the cinema being almost entirely teenage girls), so this had an uphill battle to impress me, an uphill battle which was evened out by the release of the trailer, which was funny, slightly heartwarming, and cynical as hell, I’m glad to say the only difference between the film and the trailer is the film itself is a lot more heartwarming. It’s just as funny and cynical as you’d hope, although part of my opinion on that might be because I have a weakness for any film which has “I’m going to kill myself” as the first line.
It’s not just the cynical nature of the film that’s done well, the characters themselves are really well defined. Even when the characters do and say terrible things, you understand their motivations, even though you don’t agree with them. They are all fully fleshed out, and they all get good lines. Unpopular opinion, I tend to dislike “comedy characters” in films and sitcoms, mainly because it means the writers tend to give them all the best lines, leaving the other characters somewhat underdeveloped. That’s a problem which this film avoids, most of the characters could comfortably lead their own movie, that’s a masterful piece of scripting and the writer should be commended for that. Which is why I’m glad the writer also directed it, it’s easier to follow directors careers than writers as more emphasis is put on directors. I was surprised this was directed by the writer, although it kind of makes sense, this seems like a very personal story and they’d be nobody better to get that across than the person who wrote it. It’s more surprising that this is her first film as a director, whilst it’s not exactly full of “wow shots”, or inspiring cinematography, it’s a lot more accomplished than a first time director should be, here’s hoping she gets a chance to do more work in the future with someone elses script, will be interesting to see what she can do. I feel her best work is as a writer though, the script has some amazing pieces of dialogue that really hit home. My personal favourite being (and i’m paraphrasing here) “I just don’t want to have to live with myself for the rest of my life”.
This film is not perfect however, a major problem is that you will feel you’ve seen it before. Within five minutes of meeting certain characters you can guess their entire story arc, you know what they’ll end up doing for the rest of the film. Despite that it’s still a very enjoyable film, it’s a bit like listening to a REALLY good cover song, whilst it’s not completely original, and you won’t be surprised by it, you still have to be impressed with how they’ve done it, and you still love it. Put it this way; I also watched Arrival this week. Probably one of the best films I’ve seen all year, yet i still felt like THIS was the film I should write about.
I will admit, this is not the greatest film of the year, it’s not even in the top five if I’m honest, yet I’ll sum up my feelings about this film on this; I have a belief that everyone should have a self-care box. A box which contains dvds, books, chocolate, tea etc, basically stuff which will cheer you up when you’re at your worst. And whilst this film won’t make it into my top 10 of the year, or my favourite 100 of all time, it definitely deserves to go in the box, and that’s the best thing you can say about it.
Edge Of Glory
Strong performances from the cast (Special mention must go to Hailee Steinfeld, Hayden Szeto, Haley Lu Richardson and Blake Jenner. Actually all of them were really good)
Very very funny and heartwarming.
Possibly one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year.
Director: Luke Scott (Loom, one episode of The Hunter)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Quick Synopsis: Scientists create Morgan, a genetically engineered advanced human, who then goes “grrr”, “arg” and *stab in eye*.
First off, this film has been horribly marketed. I haven’t seen a single trailer at the cinema, or a poster. In fact if I wasn’t checking comingsoon.net every day I wouldn’t even know this film existed. Which is a shame as the trailer showed a lot of potential, a more human Ex Machina starring Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, and the lead from (the very very creepy) The Witch. This could be a true cult classic. So my expectations were high going in. The opening scene is very well done, it’s shot like security footage and the screen is full of lots of little details which help make it seem more real. Actually there’s a lot of stuff like that, there’s nothing visually that seems fake. The environment they’ve created looks like people live there, and have done for a while. One scene in particular stands out; when Kate Mara’s character (I wouldn’t really call her the protagonist, and I’ll go into that later) is speaking to Toby Jones’ character. They’re just watching something on his computer screen, now, ordinarily you can just do that and it will be fine. But they did something different here, they wrote notes on post-it notes and dotted them around the room, notes on the facility etc. This really helped the world seem real and they should be commended for that. Also, Morgan, the title character, isn’t too heavily featured in the opening section. The scenes of her are either from far away, or the security footage which is almost overhead, as such you never really get a good look at her, you just see her through people’s descriptions of what she’s like. This is a masterclass in setting up a character, a masterclass in which they forgot to do the final exam and just spat on a piece of paper and handed that in. See when you do something like that, the reveal has to have a certain weight to it, you need the main character to step out of the shadows, or step into frame in a certain way, basically you need to have a moment where it feels like you’re opening the curtains to the character, and this film doesn’t do that. The first main look at this character is just a standard shot, someone’s talking to her and it cuts to her. As such this robs the audience of that “wow” moment, it makes her seem ordinary. Which is another problem I had with this film, most of the time you’re told she’s intelligent and advanced, but she’s not given many chances to showcase this as (spoilers) they don’t have her attack people on a large scale until quite far into the film. As such they have to just have other characters tell you how brilliant she is, then follow that up with things we associate smart people with, like playing chess, listening to opera music, and…..actually that might have been it.
That’s kind of a running theme with the movie, they built up Morgan to be something she’s not. The way the actress plays her is more Children Of The Corn than anything else, but only in the present day scenes. There’s a few flashback scenes where Anya Taylor-Joy REALLY nails it, in those fleeting moments the character is brilliant, likeable, and human, everything that’s not there in the present scenes. No idea why there’s such a stark difference between the two but it’s kind of disappointing. This would be more acceptable of course, if Kate Mara’s character was engaging, but she’s not. She’s not even really the protagonist, which is odd as it means the movie doesn’t really have one. It’s not a problem with the acting, she does brilliant with what she’s given, it’s just the way the character is written means she doesn’t have much substance. There are two characters who I found interesting, Boyd Holbrook’s character, and Michelle Yeoh’s character. Yeoh’s character is really the emotional linchpin of the movie, but it’s not one they do enough with. Boyd Holbrook is given what could be a really unimportant character, the chef. Yet his character has some of the best lines of the script. He’s the only one who finds the character of Morgan a bit “off”, and one of his reasons for doing so is that she made a perfect risotto, and he was unnerved by that as he feels cooking requires heart and passion, things which are inherently human. As such the fact that she managed this shakes his whole belief system and the actor handles it subtly and perfectly. In fact, whilst we’re on the subject, I really think Holbrook could be a fantastic romantic lead in a film, and I hope he’s given the chance.
Honestly I think this film’s biggest problem is another film. Throughout this whole film I was just thinking, “that reminded me of Ex Machina, I really need to watch that again some time”, and that’s the main thing I got from this film, that I need to watch another film again. I wasn’t thinking about this film, I wasn’t thinking about how character’s deaths effected me etc. On the bright side this meant I also wasn’t thinking of the really asinine obligatory twist ending, and I also wasn’t thinking of how much I hated some of the fight scenes as they were cut too quickly so they didn’t flow naturally, it was shot exactly how a student would film it, which is an accurate summary of the entire film actually: a very well made student film.
Creates the universe very organically.
Good side characters.
Some very good shorts.
It feels more expensive than it’s budget would make you think it is.
Lacks a good protagonist.
Really obvious twist.
Waste of Paul Giamatti.
Most things it does well, Ex Machina did better.
The trailer made you think the film would be about Morgan turning violent, but that doesn’t happen until the final third of the film.
In a world where the colour palette of superhero films can mostly be described as Fifty Shades Of Grey (only much more painful) it’s refreshing to see such bright colours in a film such as this. Pinks and Greens are all over the place, it’s like a film taking place in a neon nightmare, and it’s brilliant. It gives the film a unique look, you can take a lot of still photos from this and know that it’s this film.
2. The Performances.
Shockingly, and I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, I’m going to have to praise Cara Delevingne, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever do for two reasons:
Her performance in Paper Towns severely weakened the film.
I can’t spell her name.
But her performance in the first half of this is superb. She plays the part of a woman who’s scared of her internal demons spectacularly. You really see her inner torment, and it’s just subtle enough to not be overbearing and too on the nose. She’s also involved in one of the visual highlights of the film when the thing inside her body starts to come out, and the hands wrap around each other, it’s simple but beautiful.It’s not just her though, Will Smith’s performance almost makes you forget about After Earth.
3. The Characters
This is not an easy sell to casual theatre goers. The most well known characters in this film are Batman and The Joker, and they’re in it for a combined total of about 15 minutes. As such the film has to make sure the audience knows who the main characters are, which for an ensemble piece is not easy. Yet by the time the film ends you feel like you know the characters well enough that most of them have enough background that a solo film wouldn’t be out of the question. Special mention must go to El Diablo, as played by Jay Hernandez. He’s the only character I didn’t really know anything about, I knew about Harley Quinn from various Batman comics, Deadshot from video games etc. Yet his character is really smartly set up, his reluctance to fight makes complete sense considering his back story. His character is one with real emotion and heart.
Iron Man changed the game when it came to music in superhero movies, when they used AC/DC it set a new standard for the genre; no longer could they slack off in the music department, they needed popular rock songs by established bands, and a few classic rock songs in their too. This was perfected in Guardians Of The Galaxy, which had one of the best soundtracks of 2014. This film continues in that tradition, with songs from Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Animals, CCR littered throughout the film.
5. The Joker
Leto is completely terrifying in it. Just like the joker should be. He owns every scene he’s in and carries a genuine sense of danger and does it in a way that’s completely different to the way that Heath Ledger did it. Heath Ledger’s Joker always seemed uncertain in his own skin, like he was made by his vulnerabilities. Leto’s one is completely different, he’s confident, he’s calm, he’s in control of every situation.
1. Yeah But….
Everything I mentioned on the plus side? They all come with caveats. The still shots look fantastic, but the way it’s edited? Holy hell do they make some of the most basic editing mistakes ever. The shots are not given enough time to leave an impact, there’s quick cuts between different things in scenes which should be slow paced. Whilst Cara Delevingne performance in the first half is awesome, the second half is awful. She seemingly forgets the meaning of “subtlety”, and she does a weird thing with her body that makes her seem like a wooden marionette. The characters bond and start talking about being like “a family” without any reason or bonding moment. Whilst El Diablo’s sacrifice (oh, spoilers), was noble, it made no sense, it would be like you sacrificing your life for your classmates on the first day. Yes there is a lot of good music, but there’s also A LOT of music. There’s so many moments where you sit there thinking “jesus, another f*cking song? We get it, you’ve got an impressive record collection. How about actually working out how to match the music to the scenes?” The Joker is good? Shame he’s only in it for about 10 minutes. Now I’ve seen people complain about people complaining about this. Saying things like “you could tell he was only going to be in it for an extended cameo”. Really? Tell the advertising campaign which was HEAVILY focused around him, or even the posters which had Jared Leto as the second billed actor. He was billed higher than almost all of the main characters. Now, if you were following press releases etc then yes, you knew he wasn’t going to be in it for long. But the majority of cinema goers aren’t people who spend all the time online looking for details about this film, they’re people who see the trailer, see the poster, and decide to see it.
And that, ultimately is the biggest problem, it’s hard to say something nice about this film without having to quantify it. And as with most modern films, the plotting is all over the place. The opening half hour is nothing but blatant character building, with someone sitting there literally telling you about the characters. There are way too many shots of Harley Quinn that are blatant fan-service (and a scene where an entire group of people manages to climb stairs quicker than a lift travels up 5 flights). That, added to the length equals a film which, despite being almost sold out when I went to see it, had nobody stay through the credits. The second the closing credits started,everyone left, and with a film like this that shouldn’t be the case, and it’s disappointing that it is
If you go cinema a lot, go see it. If you only go to the cinema a few times a year, and going is a true event, then don’t make this one of your visits.
First off, yes, it is better than Annabelle, although for it to be worse than Annabelle it would have to be basically a group of people shining torches and going “woo” in the dark (and Most Haunted have already got that covered). It contains some good scares, it’s beautifully directed and it has child actors who are actually good.
I preferred this to the first one too, which was one of the most highly regarded horror films of the last few years. Does this mean it’s better? I have no idea, I’m aware of how strong personal bias can be, and I saw the first one in a house, whereas this one I saw in cinema, and horror is a genre made for cinema. Not just for the darkness and the volume, but also because of instant audience feedback, much like laughing, when you hear other people be scared it sets the tone and makes you more scared. And of course you’re forced to pay attention to it, you can’t sit there checking your phone (well, you can, but if you do, you’re a c*nt).
I also worry part of me preferring this is because it’s set in England, and as such it’s nice to see all the little nods and references. Sadly this usually means there’s one other risk; Americans attempting English accents. Luckily they cast an actual English actress as the mother, oddly enough though some of the kids aren’t English, one’s American and one’s Australian. But aside from a few minor vocal discrepancies, it’s very hard to notice and you could easily believe they’re English. Whilst we’re on the subject; when did actress’s in horror films get so good? It’s supposed to be a cliche that if you’re on a film set surrounded by people who can’t act you’re either on a porn or a horror. Yet with Maika Monroe in It Follows, and now Madison Wolfe in this, studios will no longer be able to get away with dud casting. I cannot overestimate how strong Madison Wolfe’s performance is in this, giving a performance well beyond her 13 years, bringing to mind Linda Blair in The Exorcist. She’s been in other films before but usually as a “main character when she was younger”, but on this the entire film is dependent on her. If you don’t buy her character and her fear, then the film is dead quicker than one of Henry VIII’s wives.
The other performances? Well they’re okay, Vera Farmiga seems to be slightly phoning it in as Lorraine Warren this time, Patrick Wilson doesn’t have much to do but furrow his brow, Lauren Esposito does well with what she’s given but reminds me too much of someone I know for that not to be a distraction. Make no mistake though, this is definitely Wolfe’s film and I’m looking forward to see where her career goes from here, she’s definitely got potential. Special mention must also go to the make-up team, who do a fantastic job on the characters, making you question whether they’re possessed or just really exhausted, the pale faces the red eyes really help sell the fear contained within the film. Praise must also go to James Wan, who’s directorial style makes me really excited about Aquaman (which is something I never thought I’d say). There’s a fantastic shot near the end of one of the children standing near an open window in the rain and it just looks perfect, it’s like a poster shot it’s so sublime.
Now, onto the bad, again, the story is a little weak. It repeats the same story beats as a lot of horror films as such you’re never really invested in it and you don’t lose yourself in the moment, and it all got a bit silly towards the end. There’s a reveal at the end (which I won’t spoil for you) which they seem to use as an excuse to throw in different “scary” images and characters, but not really that effectively, it’s too short to stick with you, but so long that you get bored with it, almost like they were trying to get as many iconic characters invented for potential spin offs as they could. Secondly, the scares. Now, this film does have some great scares, but they won’t stick with you, some of them are almost literally a guy sneaking up behind you and saying “boo”, they’re instant scares. They make you jump and provide good reaction shots for people to use in publicity, but once you leave the cinema all fear is over. You don’t see the world differently like you did after It Follows, you’re not left changed by the experience, every scare takes place in the moment. As such it’s destined to be one of those films teenagers watch in groups and sit in the dark (a genre I shall now deem; “frat house horror” as that seems to be the most popular place to watch horror movies according to American TV and films). Basically, it’s the feature length equivalent of one of those jump scare videos your asshole friend sends you, only over two hours long. Oh, that’s another point, this film’s over two hours long (two and a half if include trailers). That’s way, way WAY too long for it to keep momentum. The longer a film, the more chance someone will have to leave to go piss, which in a cinema completely breaks all immersion.
So to sum up;
If you like horror (or are interested in film-making) then see this film, but it won’t change your mind if you don’t like the genre.
If You Liked This:
Watch: The Conjuring, obvious really. Now you don’t need to have seen that film to understand the sequel as it does a pretty good job of telling you about the characters without it seeming like it’s repeating itself.
Read: About the Enfield Poltergeist, the situation which this film is based on.
Two very different films, but both suffer from from the same flaw: the background characters are the best ones in the entire film. Not the only problems however.
Secret Life Of Pets
I have two problems with this film:
As I alluded to earlier; the main characters are the least interesting ones, which, considering one of them is played by Louis CK is kind of unexpected. It’s not just the characters, the main plot is not that interesting either. The entire main plot is shown in the trailer, nothing new or exciting. There is, however, a fantastic B-story that shows up; the idea that animals that were once pets were thrown away and are now bitter and angry and ready to get their revenge. THAT’S a film, that’s the kind of thing that Pixar or Disney would do. On the subject of Disney there’s already been a lot of controversy about Finding Dory. People are saying that it could lead to an increase of people having exotic fish as pets and then discarding them when they get bored (like they did with owls after Harry Potter And The Quantum Of Solace or whatever it was called). The idea of an animal-led film that has discourages people from getting pets just because they saw them in films? Not only would that be good but it would also be a subtle attack to Disney and Pixar, a “This is why we have a problem with you, you’re irresponsible, not like us, we’re truly wholesome and safe for children to watch with their families”.
The realism. I know, it’s an animated film aimed at kids so I shouldn’t expect 100% realism. But at the very least I should expect it to stay consistent within the world it’s created. The world within the film is supposed to be our world. This is decided very early on when a human character hear’s one of the main characters “talking” and it’s just barking. Yet there’s lots of moments in here which break that realism, moments such as a rabbit and a dog driving a bus off a bridge. Pixar usually does this kind of thing very well. Look at Finding Nemo etc, it takes place in our world, and we do see humans, but the interactions between the humans and the main characters is minimal, and the main characters, although living in a human world, don’t effect that world that much. This film has way too many instances where the animals have a major influence on the human world, there’s the aforementioned bus crash, there’s a break in at a sausage factory, a rabbit beating up a dog catcher etc.
But other than those two problems how was it? It was thoroughly ok. The closing shot was beautiful. It’s one of the great things about animation is that you can occasionally get absolutely gorgeous visuals, but apart from the closing shot it never really does that. In fact it doesn’t look great throughout, the animals just look ok, and the humans in it look like they’re made of twigs. The story is serviceable and does what it needs to, but I don’t feel I need to see it again. It’s biggest flaw isn’t the fault of the film, it’s just circumstance. A lot of times studios release films which (judging by poster alone) look very similar. Has happened a lot before: Antz/A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo/Sharks Tale etc. This films competitor? Zootopia. For this film to come anywhere close to that would be difficult. Zootopia (so far) is probably in my top five films of the year. This? Well be at the bottom of the top half so far. But considering Kubo isn’t out yet, this can easily be pushed down. Although this film did have a subtle Mario green shell reference, which is kind of cool.
Nope. Just no. Here’s my massive problem with this film: you have a character get arrested, then when they’re released they go to a Girl Scouts meeting and decides to set up a new business luring Girl Scouts from their group into a new group helping her in a business with communist workers overtones (their logo is a red badge with a picture of a girl raising her fist in the air and wearing a hat). When one of the mothers at the group objects to this, she calls her a cunt, then insults her daughter, whom she later knocks out. The daughter’s age? Between 11-15. So, the “hero” of this story bullies and beats up a school girl just because she doesn’t like her mum. Comedy!
Actually this film, tonally is kind of weird and all over the place. It attempts to get cheap laughs and sacrifices story to do that, destroying all story momentum for the sake of a joke. For example: there’s a scene where she goes to her old business associates, and they all tell her they hate her and want nothing to do with her. It’s the kind of scene that’s like a large roast dinner, it’s a lot to take in and you need to give it time to settle. Instead, just after the scene takes place the film makes her fall down a flight of stairs, thereby pouring custard on the emotional roast dinner of the previous scene. It’s like the film was written by different writers who never contacted each other to check if their bits lined up. You have important characters turn up for one or two scenes and then are never mentioned again.
It’s a shame as I really want to like Melissa McCarthy; she was great in Bridesmaids, and Spy was excellent. I just feel she has a habit of picking bad films, films where she is only asked to do her usual shtick and doesn’t allow her to stretch herself (otherwise known as Jim Carey syndrome). Which is a shame as when she’s good she’s amazing, check out the aforementioned Spy for evidence of that, and St. Vincent, where she manages to be one of the best characters in a film which contains Chris O’Dowd and Bill Murray (or to give him his full title: Bill Fucking Murray). She can do better than this, and her continual choosing of below-par films just provides ammunition to her increasing number of detractors. Luckily the next film she has lined up is Ghostbusters, I’m sure that is under no pressure.
I also saw Independence Day; a film which (ironically) seemed like it was written by aliens, completely devoid of human emotion and everything seemed slightly fake and contrived.