Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)

The best way to describe this film: effective. It did what it needed to. You go to it to see giant monsters hit each other, and that’s what you get. And those parts are good. The monsters themselves look fantastic, mostly. There’s a few where they look a bit too much like they belong in a PS2 video game. Also one of them looks like it’s kinda sexualised, which for a giant monster is kind of weird. Now, the humans. A complaint of the first Godzilla film was that the people weren’t that interesting (outside of Bryan Cranston who died early on), and this film definitely improves on that. Millie Bobby Brown’s character, in particular, is a delight and will make you feel all the emotions, the rest? Not so much. That’s probably because there’s so many of them so you don’t really get to connect with many of them. And the ones you do connect with are, well there’s no kind way of saying this, kind of dumb. Not only do the characters doing shitty things do them for stupid reasons, but the people opposed to them miss out on giving them a really obvious armour-piercing response (partly because if they did I don’t think the writers could have given them a good response). But yeah, a lot of the characters aren’t needed. Sally Hawkin’s character, in particular, seems like a complete waste of her talents. Did they not see Shape Of Water? She’s really really good, guys, and you have her in for about 2 minutes. And it’s not even done in a way like Psycho where it’s shocking to kill of an established actor to set off an “anything can happen” tone because her death is incredibly underwhelming to the point where I can’t actually remember it happening.

It’s not all bad though, the action scenes are actually well-defined so you can tell what’s happening, it doesn’t just look like an incomprehensible mess. That’s always the hard part, Transformers is a great example of really incomprehensible action scenes. To be honest, though I think part of that is because it’s live action and I feel the new version of The Lion King could have similar problems. In animation, each character (well the main ones anyway) are visually unique in terms of colour schemes and stylised looks. Yet when it becomes live-action you kind of lose that in the name of “realism”. There was a concern that could happen here, that it would all just look like blobs and fur randomly hitting each other. Thankfully that’s not the case, the monsters are all visually unique, and amazingly they all have personalities too. They’re not mindless things with an appetite for destruction, slashing through cities in a November rain.

This film is A LOT bigger than the previous one, everything is amped up. Which brings me up to the big downside; what happens next. The next film is Godzilla Vs. Kong. But in this film, Godzilla is a fire-breathing giant. There’s no contest, Godzilla is too overpowered by comparison. I can’t see how they’re going to make it seem like a fair fight, it’s like having Mike Tyson vs. Stephen Hawking in a boxing match, after Hawking died.

Isle Of Dogs (2018)

Have you ever seen a Wes Anderson film? Or even the poster for one? Did you hate it with every fibre of your being? If so this is not the film for you. The reasons you hate it: the colour schemes, the odd idiosyncratic nature of it all, they’re all prevalent here. But if you’re a fan of his work, then the reasons you love it: the colour schemes, the odd idiosyncratic nature of it all, they’re all prevalent here (thank you copy+paste). Personally, I adored it, and I chose that word specifically. I didn’t love it, it’s not the kind of film where I have a deep personal affection for it and will sing its praises to all and sundry. It’s not a film where I can spend hours talking about how it’s brilliant and everybody should love it. But it is a film I have warm feelings for, it’s the film equivalent of a cosy chair by a fireplace. You watch it and everything just feels, I dunno, right.

Part of that is down to the look of it. The stop-motion REALLY helps this. The style suits the story and is a great example of animation-story integration. If this was a heavily polished CGI film it would lose some of what makes it work. Even if it was animated like a 90’s Disney film it wouldn’t quite work. Characters are roughed up and damaged, this is great as it makes them seem real, like they’re actual things which have been damaged. So when someone is hurt in a fight, the damage stays with them throughout. The vocal work is great too, sometimes in animated films with all-star casts (and with Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray,Ken Watanabe, Scarlett Johansson etc, this is a definitely an all-star cast) it can be hard to be truly invested because every time a character speaks you go “hey, I know that voice”. You don’t really do that with this, probably because of how well suited the voices are to the characters, the characters sound exactly what you expect them to sound like when you look at the character designs.

The way the voices were handled was actually really well done too. The human characters mostly didn’t speak English, but Japanese, because the story is set in Japan (I know that seems obvious, but you’ll be amazed how many films make everybody speak English no matter what the location). The English come from either the dogs, an American, or a translation service, where the Japanese is still audible under the English (they essentially find an in-universe method of dubbing voices, and it’s genius).

So would I recommend seeing this? Definitely. Not if you’re a kid though (and if you are, why are you reading this?) Despite being marketed as a kids film I’m not sure how well this will be received by them. Also, it’s not quite as twee as the marketing and visual style might have you believe. It’s incredibly dark at times, one of the opening moments of the film features a dog dying of starvation, and it doesn’t lighten up too much in terms of story. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, watch it, if not, this won’t change your mind.

Films to look Forward to in 2016

Batman V Superman: March 25

PHDHoUG4AUNdHI_1_lBecause despite the last trailer giving WAY too much away, who isn’t going to see this film? It’s Batman fighting Superman…for at least a third of the film anyway. And despite that trailer there’s still hope. The idea that Batman is turned against Superman because of the chaos he caused in Man of Steel is good screenwriting; it makes sense from a character point and helps bring the films together. The casting is also very solid, with Batfleck actually looking to be one of the best iterations of the Dark Knight yet. But we all still need to take a step back to wait and see whether Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is the trainwreck everyone is HOPING it will be, or whether like Keaton and Ledger before him he will turn in a great performance despite the naysayers. I have no idea, but I at least love how much fun he seems to be having.

 

Deadpool: February 10

I limited this list to only Deadpool_postertwo superhero films because I didn’t want it to be inundated with them, and I wanted this to be a cut away from a lot of most anticipated lists by not just focusing on the big blockbusters coming our way (but saying that I am looking forward to Civil War and Dr Strange).
Now Deadpool; the reason I chose this over the many superhero flicks of 2016 is because this is by far the riskiest. R rated, fourth wall breaking, X-Men Movie universe expanding, and Ryan Reynolds’ starring; it’s had the best advertising campaign of any superhero film that manages to introduce the character while staying true to his roots, and is being made by people who clearly care deeply about making it an authentic adaptation. So let’s hope all those good intentions don’t pave the way to hell this time.

 

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Hail, Caesar!: February 26

Because it’s the Coen brothers (who I’m not the biggest fan of so not just dick sucking), doing a satire of the golden age of Hollywood with an all-star cast of old (Clooney and Brolin) and new talent (Hill and Tatum), with a the truly Coeny plot about a Charlton Heston type movie star being kidnapped, and the hapless Hollywood fixer who has to find him. It should be a very gaudy picture, with its only hurdle to clear is the early February release date, which could be a) a sign that the Coen’s just don’t give a shit, or b) the studio wants to drop it where no one will see it. We will see.

 

 

 

Everybody Wants Some: May 13

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His first film since his cinematic milestone and masterpiece Boyhood, Linklater returns to his stoner roots, with the spiritual sequel to possibly the best hangout film ever, Dazed and Confused; the 70s set stoner comedy that always found the chuckles, but never lost the poignancy of leaving your teenhood behind. This latest outing is set in the 80s and picks up exactly where Boyhood left off (if a few decades earlier) with a group of teens (played by refreshingly unknown actors) integration into their first year of college life and their college baseball team. Now this doesn’t sound that different from your typical stoner/gross out comedy of today, but with Linklater’s sensitive directing and thoughtful mind for youth and character, what sounds like a typical set up will (hopefully) be another timelessly funny and heartfelt film that captures that moment between teenhood, everything else, and who knows what.

 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: November 18

I like the Harry Potter films about as much as the next guy, I grew up with them. But honestly I might be looking forward to this more than any of those films, because I always found the most fascinating part of them to be the world itself. And now we have a film set in that world, Seventy years before the original films (so in the 20s), set in New York, led by one of the best young British actors working today Eddie Redmayne, and was penned by J.K Rowling herself…I’m shocking myself how game I am for this film, and you all should be too! It’s Harry Potter without Harry Potter!

 

The Disaster Artist: TBA

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The adaption from the unsurprisingly hilarious but surprisingly poignant novel about the making of The Room, the infamously best worst movie ever made, but is really about the friendship between its crazy maker Tommy Wiseau and his co-star Greg Sestero. Produced by Seth Rogan and directed by James Franco (who with his directing record doesn’t scream hope), but with a screenplay adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the screenwriters behind The Fault in Our Stars, The Spectacular Now, and 500 Days of Summer, I became far less worried. And that was before the all-star cast started flocking to it like moths to an eccentric flame. James Franco of course is taking the role of Mr Wiseau himself, and his little brother Dave is Greg, but as well as them; Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Alison Brie, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, and Bryan fucking Cranston, are also co-starring. With such a shockingly A-list cast, we can only hope they’ve all gathered because of the strength of the script and talent involved, and nothing less. If Franco can make this even half as good as the novel, this could be one of the best films of 2016.

 

The Nice Guys: May 20

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If my look at Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang didn’t give it away, I love Shane Black when he does buddy movies. So it’s great to see him return with what looks like a spiritual sequel (or prequel) to that, with this 70s set dark comedy crime thriller that brings us the inspired pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling; an enforcer and hapless private eye who team up to find a missing girl and solve the murder of a porn star…how can you not be stoked for that! So let the guilty violence and laughs commence!

 

 

 

 

Moana: November 23

moana-poster-conceitual-camundongoDisney’s next animated film after the disappointing Big Hero 6 (and fuck you it wasn’t that good) brought to us by the directing duo behind some of Disney’s greatest films (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Treasure Planet) and will follow an ancient Oceania tribal girl as she searches the South Pacific for a fabled island, helped by a demi-god voiced by Dwayne Johnson. Don’t know much beyond that, but with the talent involved we can but hope for another Disney classic, or at least something up there with Tangled and Frozen.

 

 

 

kuboKubo and the two strings: August 19

 

But this is the animated film I’m looking forward to most in 2016! Brought to us by the same team and studio behind the stop-motion masterpieces Coraline and ParaNorman, comes this action fantasy set in ancient Japan about a teenager fighting demons and searching for the magic armor his legendary samurai father once wore….it’s a STOP MOTION ANIME! I MEAN…how can you not be wetting yourself at the awesomeness of that! And with an all-star cast, the talent behind the scenes, and the recent trailer for it, all we can do now is wait and hope.

La La Land: July 15

Stars On The Set Of 'La La Land'

 

A musical dramedy about the romance between a jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling, and an actress played by Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons is in it too. Really the only reason this has made the list is that its writer and director Damien Chazelle’s follow up to his jaw-breakingly great Whiplash. Whether he’ll be able to live up to that will have to be seen, but I find it a good sign he appears to be going for a very different vibe for this film.

 

 

High-Rise: March 18High_Rise_2014_Film_Poster

The new and probably highest profile film from the bizarre director of Sightseers, A Field in England, and Kill List (the only of his films I have seen), Ben Wheatley; and stars Tom Hiddleston as the newest resident in a self-contained block of highrise apartments with a vicious classiest system, in this dark comedy Sci-fi thriller…or something like that. Co-starring Jeremy Irons and Elisabeth Moss, there is still a bit of mystery about this film, for all those who haven’t read the books it’s adapted from, as the advertisement has done a good job in being vague on plot but specific on tone and style. And with early release reviews beginning to come in I’m seeing almost equal people calling it a failed attempt at something grand, or hailing it as a masterpiece. So I’m glad its release date isn’t too far into this year, before we get a chance to judge for ourselves whether Mr Hiddleston has been using his Marvel down time on worthy projects.

Live by Night: October 7

2E0BBB1A00000578-3300941-image-a-62_1446500565850Ben Affleck finally took a break from acting to get back to his much more interesting career as a director, with this follow up to Argo. Adapted from another Dennis Lehane novel like his first and best film Gone Baby Gone, it’s a period crime thriller that follows the prodigal son of a police captain as he becomes a bootlegger and later a gangster legend. Again here because of the director and writer’s track record, he’s currently three for three on great thrillers, and I doubt Affleck’s in a hurry to break the streak; especially with his next directorial project being the first solo Batman film in the new DCCU. And that’s before mentioning that Mr Leonardo Dicaprio has taken on a producer hat for it.

Of course these are only vague predictions on what will be some of the best films in the coming year, as we all know that best films tent to come out of nowhere with a sharp left hook, not let us see it coming from months away.

Why We Love….Breaking Bad

Well where do you start? There’s just so much about this show that works. It didn’t outstay it’s welcome is an important one. I don’t think there’s many fans of the show who think “well it started good, but it went a bit downhill in the later seasons”. This might be because it only had 5 seasons, but American dramas have gone downhill in less.

Just leaving this picture here with no comment
Just leaving this picture here with no comment

In fact it could be said that the final season was one it’s best. It certainly contained one of the best episodes in Ozymandias. Usually the best episode in a final season is the final episode as that’s the culmination of everything, but in this case the third from final episode is one of the greatest, not just of the season, not just of the show, but of any series. People say the calm before the storm is the best narrative place to be, but in this case it’s the storm before the calm. The moment where the entire episode is basically soundtracked by someone next to you going “oh shit, holy shit! Holy mother of!” until you send them off to make tea.

Then they come back and you try to explain this
Then they come back and you try to explain this

The narrative for the show made sense. There weren’t any (that I recall) moments where you felt someone acted out of character or inconsistent with earlier characterisation. Everything people did made sense, ok, maybe it didn’t make logical sense because a lot of the decisions were stupid, but they made narrative sense, you can see why everyone did everything they did.

This is actually more creepy in the show
This is actually more creepy in the show

There’s something else about this show that I love, Walter White Jr. He’s a character with cerebral palsy, but it’s never really mentioned. It would have been so easy to make it a big deal, to discuss it and make it a big part of the father’s motivation. Or even to make him holier than thou, the kind of weirdly condescending attitude a lot of television has towards disabled people, where it makes them oddly overnice and friendly. Here, he’s occasionally a dick, because he’s a teenager, and teenagers are usually dicks.

breakfast
Dicks who eat a lot of breakfast

Finally: the performances, it’s been said before that Bryan Cranston gave the performance of a lifetime, but it deserves to be said again: he’s damn good in this. He gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a drama. He’s matched by the supporting cast too, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito (thank you google) et all create a fantastic ensemble cast, great performances and great chemistry, there’s barely a weak link between them. I think I have to bring up the performance of Cranston again though, before this he was mostly known for the role of the dad in Malcolm In The Middle. For British audiences, this would be like Jay from The Inbetweeners next role being the lead in Threads.

Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama
Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama

I think that might be a small part of why people love this, it’s a genuine surprise. Nobody saw this coming. The brilliance of it kind of sneaked up and surprised everyone, so if you caught on early enough you felt like you were in some kind of secret club. By the time it caught on it became so well known that anybody starting to watch it would have surely felt the slight bit of doubt that it could be overrated. So yes, that’s why we love Breaking Bad, and you should at least give it a try, you owe it that much, and I doubt you’ll regret it.

Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after
Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after

Like it if you like:

  • The Wire
  • House Of Cards
  • Hannibal